Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's All "Relative"

First of all, sorry about the late posting of yesterday's entry.  I finished it by midnight and was certain I had posted it, so I was surprised when, shortly before noon, Walt came to ask me if I knew that my journal entry was not up.  I was sure he was mistaken an went to show him that yes, it certainly was up.  But it was not.

I think -- again -- that my mother's dementia is contagious.

She is wonderful at covering up her dementia.  I am leaving the photo of the day for another day, since this refers to that.  My cousin Kathy's daughter Karen had a nice visit with my mother yesterday and wrote this on Facebook:

    Such a fun visit! She kept telling me she was 100 years old and I kept telling her we needed to call Willard Scott and get her face on a jelly jar--belly laughs all around. Love Aunt Chubbie!!

I'm delighted that they had a good visit and that Karen came away feeling so good about it, but today my mother has no memory of the visit, does not know who Karen is, doesn't remember who Kathy is, and has never seen The Today Show or Willard Scott in her life, even before the dementia.

(She did, however, when prodded, remember Cousins Day)

But she has all sorts of tricks to cover and to make people think (a) she knows them, and (b) she is following what they are talking to her about.  I know there are people in the family who get angry with me for talking about her dementia because it's perfectly clear to them that she's not nearly as bad as I make her out to be.  I invite them to spend a month with her!  Or even a few days!

I've watched her have a lovely conversation with people on the phone and when she hangs up and I ask her who it was, she has no idea, but she can hold up her end of the conversation and from listening to my end of the chat, I'm sure nobody has a clue she doesn't know who she is talking to.

I made the mistake of trying to make a joke today.  She was saying how frustrating it is not to remember stuff, and not to remember people.  I asked her if she still remembers her family. She is forgetting what her siblings looked like and she says she can't remember a lot about her father but thinks she will always remember her mother (whom she sees in her dreams most nights).

She then asked if I ever forget people like that.  I said that yes, I sometimes forget who my mother is.  She did not get the joke at all, but sadly remembered that my aunt Marge was my mother.  When I  told her I was joking and that she was my mother, she then remembered that she is, but didn't understand that I was joking.

But I am thrilled that Karen visited her and have no doubt that at the time, though my mother had no idea who she was, that she enjoyed the visit.  I won't let Karen know that she doesn't remember her or the visit.  So few people visit her and I hate to harp on it, begging them to come.

One of my cousins, a cosmetologist, comes to give her a manicure and a pedicure occasionally, but she has not been for a very long time.  I love that she does it and she brings such joy and energy to my mother, but her toenails are getting to where they are starting to curl under and I'm going to have to make an appointment for a pedicure for her if my cousin doesn't show up soon.  (I could cut her nails myself and if worse comes to worse, I will, but my distaste of touching feet, even my own, prevents me from doing it when there are other options available)

In other family news, watch this space tomorrow or the next day.  I have spent the week helping Peach with a project that she made me promise I would keep secret, but if all goes well, it will be revealed on October 1 and then not only can I tell the whole world, but I am encouraged to do so.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Read a Banned Book

There are four books on this list which I have not read.  Obviously I must put them on my Kindle.

This is banned books week (9/27-10/3), an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.  It focuses on efforts across the country to remove certain books from libraries and schools because some people find them offensive.

Who are these people and don't they have anything better to do?  A list of America's most surprising banned books include such books as "The Diary of Anne Frank," for sexually explicit passages, and in 1983 the Alabama State Textbook Committee banned it because it was "a real downer." God help us if we discuss the Holocaust in negative terms!

A specific illustrated book of "Little Red Riding Hood" was banned because the young girl is shown carrying wine in her basket of goodies for Grandma and rather than seeing the message that children should not talk to strangers, school officials in Culver City, CA saw the book's message as "alcohol is yummy."   The LA Times reported that "After reviewing the award-winning book from the state-recommended reading list for first-graders, Culver City Unified School District officials concluded that its message conflicted with the anti-drug and -alcohol theme they promote in the classroom."

"Hansel and Gretel" was banned because it "gives witches a bad name."

In 1952, "Charlotte's Web" was banned in Kansas because it was felt that humans are the highest level of God's creation and so any book featuring talking animals must be the work of the devil.  They felt it was sacrilegious and disrespectful of God.

And who would ever think that "Where's Waldo" would appear on a banned book list, but it does.  It was banned in Michigan and New York because there was "a sunbathing woman suffering a wardrobe malfunction the size of a pinhead in a corner of one of Martin Hanford's drawings."

Who is so dedicated to smut eradication that they would examine every page of a Waldo book to find something objectionable, and ban a book based on such a teeny tiny drawing.

The top banned children's book in the last decade is a book called "The What's Happening to My Body? Book for Boys," deemed inappropriate and banned in 21 school libraries in Texas, following a 2010 complaint by the father of an 8 year old who was shocked that his son could see this book. (I wonder if this Dad has taught his young son how to shoot a gun...?)

Even the dictionary is not free from complaint. School administrators in Alaska have banned both the American Heritage Dictionary and the Merriam Webster dictionary in schools and libraries for its "objectionable" entries — particularly slang words, including "bed," "knocker," and "balls."

I checked the list of books that are frequently challenged or banned.   They include books like "The Great Gatsby," "Catcher in the Rye," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Grapes of Wrath," "Beloved," "Of Mice and Men," "Farewell to Arms," "Gone with the Wind," "Call of the Wild," "Lord of the Rings," "Sophie's Choice," "Brave New World," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The Sun Also Rises," and a host of others.  (You can read the reasons why these books were banned here.  It's an amazing list of reasons!)

I feel positively wicked...I think I have read every single one of those books.

Do yourself a favor and flout a banned book this week.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Volunteer Appreciation Day

Walt has been on the board for Citizens Who Care, whose mission is to improve quality of life for the elderly and their caregivers in Yolo County, for many years now.

From the web site:  The organization's roots formed in 1975 as a Citizens Advisory Committee of the Mental Health Association of Yolo County. In 1985 we established our one-on-one visitation program in convalescent hospitals. In 1986 we developed our in-home respite visiting program. More recently we established our Time Off for Caregivers Program - now called Saturday Club. 

As a member of the board, one of Walt's duties is to help with fund raising projects.  Twenty-three years ago, several selfless and very talented members of the Davis theater community were asked if they could put on a musical show to help raise money.  The format was four couples sitting at tables while moderator, Stephen Peithman, at that time host of a weekly radio show called "Musical Stages," which talked about all things musical theater, with recordings to illustrate his stories, read the background of a particular composer, lyricist, or performer while the 8 people sitting at the tables got up and did solos or duets or ensemble numbers.

Nobody dreamed how incredibly popular it would be or that they would end up doing the concert for twenty years.  Some of the original performers still performed, but it's getting more difficult since we are all aging.  A new group took over last year and will be performing this year.

But today we went to a reception to honor and thank all of the "old timers" and many of the long term supporters of the concert, as well as the members of the board.  It was held at the Stonegate Country Club, overlooking "Lake Stonegate," a manmade lake where our kids, as teens, ran "The Pirates of Stonegate," a summer activity for little kids, for several years.

The event was catered by Dos Coyotes and featured drinks (including sangria), a salsa bar, a selection of several Mexican-ish things on sticks, and at the end, the inevitable cake.

There was schmoozing for an hour or so and then a program put on by several of the performers who attended the event.  The host of the evening introduced the three widows in the audience, Edelgard Brunelle, whose husband Dick was the accompanist for this show for many years; Pat Hutchinson, who, with her husband, got the annual concerts started and ran them every year until his death; and Jackie Shack, wife of Peter Shack, who performed with the group for many, many years until his death. All three men much beloved and sorely missed.

Then it was time for music.  It was like the old days, with Steve introducing each performer and telling a bit about the background of the song he or she was going to sing.

A particular delight was a performance by Martha Dickman, the producer of the show for all those years, as well as a performer, now in her 80s, but with a voice still strong and clear and smooth as melted butter. (I wish the video were longer.)

And then there was cake, more schmoozing, and then back home again.  A really nice, low key event, but lots of love and lots of catching up with people we hadn't seen in years

We brought home leftovers from the party so didn't need dinner.  At 8 we went to Atria to watch CSI with my mother.  She used to be a huge fan of the show but stopped watching when William Peterson (Grissom) left.  However, when I found out he was returning for the finale, I thought she might enjoy it but knew she'd never watch it by herself, so Walt and I went to watch it with her.

Ultimately I think she enjoyed it, though after I turned it on, she asked if I wanted to turn it off so we could visit (NO!!!!!).  When Walt arrived, she asked him if he was Walt.  And at every commercial break, she asked me if the show would be continued next week and I would tell her that no, this was the finale.  It was good to have Walt there because he got a taste of what I go through every time I visit.  But she kinda sorta followed the story once she got into it and even cried, with me, at the emotional ending, so I think it was good that we did that.  I'll have to keep my eyes out for things on TV that I think she might like and have more TV parties.  We get to have quality visits and we don't have to just sit there and stare at each other!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Back to Back Chekhov

I started "critic-ing" in 2000.  For many years, I referred to myself as a "faux critic" because I really didn't feel comfortable in what I was doing, but whatever I was doing seemed to work.  I called myself a faux critic because I was very aware of my lack of credentials.  I never finished college; I didn't read a lot of the "high fallutin'" plays that I might be reviewing.  I never learned how to appreciate Shakespeare, etc.

I could do musicals in my sleep.  The best review I ever wrote, or the one I felt most comfortable writing, was of Piratesof Penzance, a show I know backwards and forwards.  It's the only show I ever reviewed in 15+ years where I actually knew more about it than my colleague, who intimidates me with his body of knowledge, did.

I never read Chekhov and so was uncomfortable when I reviewed my first Chekhov play a year ago.  It seems that most reviews I read to prepare for seeing it (thank God for the Internet) were  written by people who knew Chekhov as intimately as I know Gilbert & Sullivan.  They compared this translation to that translation and talked about the characters as if everyone already knew who they were.

I managed to produce a serviceable review of that show (3 Sisters) but still don't feel comfortable with it.

Now that I'm also reviewing for Sacramento News and Review, there are four of us critics and we put up a list of the shows that need reviewing for the coming week and then find out who is available to review what, who wants to review what, and who will review what because nobody else is available.

There was a Chekhov play opening here in Davis (Uncle Vanya) which would not get a News and Review review because it only plays the one weekend, so there would only be a review on Sunday, its final performance, in the EnterpriseSNR publishes once a week, on Thursday, so a review of it there would be useless because the show would already to over.

A Sacramento theater company was also opening 3 Sisters this weekend and my colleague, the one who intimidates me, said that he would really like the weekend off, but then again, this might be his only chance to see "back to back Chekhov" (he lives in Davis and would be seeing that show only for pleasure, since I would be reviewing it).

I'm not sure how it happened that I ended up with the back to back Chekhov reviews after all. 
Uncle Vanya was first and it was OK, but I had problems with it, primarily that I had a very difficult time hearing some of the actors.  There  were whole swatches of dialog that I missed, so I really wasn't sure what the play was about after it ended.  It also didn't seem to have a lot of energy, but since it is about a bunch of bored Russians lolling about in the heat complaining about being bored, the lack of energy could have been deliberate.

(The one thing that production did do for me, though, was to convince me that I must get hearing aids after we return from our cruise in November.  I am missing entirely too much dialog on stage lately and I have to check with Walt to find out if he had trouble hearing or not to know if it's just my hearing or if the actors are really not speaking clearly)

The actors seemed to be doing a good job and I managed to get a fairly good review written, though, like the previous 3 Sisters, I still don't feel like I did the show justice.

The next night we saw 3 Sisters again, by a different theater company, a year after the first time I saw that play.  I was blown away and suddenly understood why everyone enjoys Chekhov so much.  This was night and day a different play from what I had seen the year before.  This had life.  Energy.  Understandable dialog. Wonderful performances.  It will be a pleasure to write this review because this time around, I feel I'm on firmer footing and don't have to figure out how to review a show I didn't understand because I missed too much of the dialog.  I'm even relieved that I will be writing the longer review for SNR this week instead of the shorter one, as originally planned, because it will give me a greater opportunity to review the performers.

I still feel like a faux reviewer, but more confident than before.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Today at Logos

I  relieved Peter and Susan, who were off to the home of a hoarder, who had a large collection of partially decomposed books.  "Peter just loves this stuff," Susan says.

I was going to choose a book to read and then saw this staring at me from the bookshelf facing the desk.

Nearly 300 pages of behind the scenes of the writing, producing, decorating, and acting of Downton Abbey.  Wonderful book.  I loved it.  Filled with great photos.

It was 40 minutes before my first customer(s) showed up, a group of 3 (2 women and a man), who looked like they were seeing the place for the first time.  One woman wore a neat, attractive paisley print skirt, something you rarely see around here.  The other woman, wearing long, shabby cargo pants, asked me about the store policy of donating proceeds to charity.  She said she will donate books to the cause.  She also bought a contemporary fiction book.

A big guy named Charlie came in to talk about donations. He says he is consolidating two homes into one newly built home and he has "24 feet of books" to donate.  A lot of books "more than 100" (which doesn't actually sound like all that much!) and he pulled out his cell phone to show me both a bookcase of books and his house, currently under construction in Napa.

It was 30 more minutes before I made my second sale, 2 bargain books.

A quite colorful couple came in.  She had pink hair the color of Easter Peeps, which clashed terribly with her red "Animal Place" t-shirt.  He had shoulder length greasy looking hair that looked like it was being grown out from bleach blonde because the new growth was dark brown.  He also wore red boots with the laces untied.  They didn't buy anything, but they added color to what was starting to look like a pretty boring day.

At 4 p.m., things picked up a little.  A woman in a long flowing filmy type black dress with a long black coat over it and shoulder length black curls bought two bargain books.  (To this point my total sales for the day were about $9)

A father and daughter came in.  The daughter asked about kids' books and then asked if we had any bibles.  The father, dressed in shorts and a shirt with wide muted blue and red stripes, asked if there were still a Logos Books in Santa Cruz.  I explained that we were not connected to that store, and he wondered about the legality of two stores in California having the same name, but not connected.  He seemed troubled by this, but he bought a copy of one of those "pretty" books of Dickens stories (the kind of book you buy to dress up the appearance of your book shelf)

A guy came in looking for "Of Mice and Men," was pleased to find it, bought it, and left.  We usually have a good collection of Steinbeck books.  Maybe people want to get rid of Steinbeck more than some other authors.

A guy in rumpled white cargo pants and a faded aloha shirt wandered around for awhile, then left, then came back in again to check one of the books on display in the front window, but again left without buying anything.

A large woman came in wearing a sleeveless black top with lacy panels on the side that showed off her polka dot bra and her many tattoos.  She also had anklets visible under her jeans, one bright pink and the other chartreuse.  She, too, bought a bargain book.

My friend showed up at 5, saying he had not been here last week because he had gone to Ashland and told me about the six plays he had seen in 4 days.  He bought a book on the art of Black Africa.
A white haired woman with a flowered shirt over a yellow t-shirt bought 3 cookbooks, a book of Japanese prints, a book about barns, and a book of "miscellaneous facts."

A woman carrying a huge tub from the local frozen yogurt shop came in to buy a bargain book.
And in keeping with the theme of "colorful day," my final customer was quite a sight.  She was short and petite, had a round face and curls that encircled her head.  She wore a short brightly pattered skirt that was the length of an ice skater's skirt, but with something under it that made it stick out like a ballerina's tutu.  She had tall Mary Jane type heels with bright pink socks with lace cuffs.  Her blouse, which had short puffy sleeves, was black with a large white lace triangle accenting her neck line, down to her cleavage, and she carried a pink backpack.  She didn't buy anything, but she certainly added "character" to the day!

Walt arrived about 10 seconds after Peter and we rushed home because I had to review of production of Chekov's Uncle Vanya at 7 p.m., which gave us about 20 minutes to have dinner and get to the theater.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

55 Questions about Books, Part 2

31 How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I write theater reviews for money and have no problem giving negative reviews if deserved. I think the worse review I ever gave was for James Patterson's Zoo.

32 Do you make up stories, or ever think about an alternate ending for a book because you want to?
No.  I'm happy with what the author came up with.  Or if I'm not, I don't waste time trying to think of something else.

33 Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Why?
I don’t understand “intimidating” books.  Perhaps “Babi Yar” because it dealt with such an unpleasant subject, but I was still interested in reading it.

34 Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? How come?
Moby Dick. I’ve never read it, have heard nothing good about it, have no plans to read it. (But I’m not nervous about it at all!)

35 What book do you try to steer people away from?
ZOO, by JAMES PATTERSON!!!! If you feel you must read it, please read my review first!

36 What book do you recommend most to others?
“The Mother Tongue” or Patrick Conroy’s “Prince of Tides” (MUCH better than the movie)

37 Do you ever re-read books? How many times have you re-read a favorite? If you don't re-read books, why not?
I don’t have time to re-read books now though I will re-listen to parts of any of the Outlander series when in the car because I love narrator Davina Porter. As an adolescent one of my favorite books was “Marjorie Morningstar” and read it many times.

38 Favorite fictional character and why?
I have a soft spot in my heart for Detective Harry Bosch because I’ve enjoyed watching his crime solving abilities and the hidden soft spot that few get to see.  I also love Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar...but I also love Claire Frasier from Outlander. Who doesn’t envy her finding the love of her life, even if she had to go to the 18th century to do it.

39 Favorite fictional villain and why?
I guess Voldemort in the Harry Potter series because I kept wanting to find out what his back story was.

40 Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Crime/drama books. Those are the easiest to read though I did read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” on a trip to France because it seemed that everyone else was reading it too. (Great book, by the way!)

41 The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I can’t even think. Not more than a day or two, surely. At least not lately.

42 Name a book that you could/would not finish and why you couldn't?
“Left Behind” by Tim LeHaye, which was highly recommended to me by my cousin, who loved the series. I found it so much religious manipulative crap that I threw it across the room and never finished it.

43 What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
My husband trying to tell me something.

44 Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
“Gone with the Wind” was pretty good.

45 Most disappointing film adaptation?
“Prince of Tides.” What Barbra Streisand did to that beautiful book was criminal. It may be a good movie, but as an adaptation of the book, it was terrible.

46 The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I haven’t spent a lot of money in book stores in a long time. I buy kindle books one at a time and if I buy real books, they are from the used book store where I work If I ever spend $20 in one purchase that’s a lot for me.

47 How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Never. Only to make sure the print size is large enough for me to read it.

48 What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
See question 42. Other than that, bad grammar. Some of the self-published books these days don’t have editors and that is a huge mistake. And I nearly did not finish Patterson’s “Zoo” because it was such a horrible book, but it was SO bad I figured it would be fun to review it...and it was.

49 Do you like to keep your books organized?
Surely you jest. I do not know the definition of “Organized” in any aspect of my life.

50 Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I either keep them or take them to the used book store where I work, which uses its proceeds to raise money for charity ($200,000 in the last four years)

51 Do you read for enjoyment or to gain knowledge?
Both, but mostly for enjoyment.

52 Name a book that made you angry. Why did it?
“Zoo” because Patterson used to be one of my favorite authors and this bunch of crap was so poorly written and the plot so bad that I can’t believe he actually wrote much of it. Patterson should think better of himself than to publish this junk.  From what I've seen of promos for the TV series, television has not improved the story.

53 A book you didn’t expect to like but did (from 2015)?
“The Martian,” which we read for book club. It’s very technical throughout, but the author has created such an interesting character and put him in a harrowing, yet not completely fatal situation that I kept reading to find out what happened.

54 A book that you expected to like but didn’t (from 2015)?
“The Rosie Effect.” The book club decided to read it because we all had enjoyed “The Rosie Project” so much, but the sequel was not nearly as good and I got tired of it quickly (though finished it so I could participate in the discussion – we all seemed to have the same reaction)

55 Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
All of my readng is guilt-free pleasure reading.  If you’re going to feel guilty for reading a book, maybe you shouldn’t be reading it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

55 Questions about Books, Part 1

 1 Favorite childhood book? Why is that one your favorite?
There were so many books. Difficult to pick "a" favorite. In grammar school, I read the Five Little Peppers series and the Bobbsey Twins. I read my first Black Stallion book in the 4th grade and devoured all the rest. I read every Nancy Drew ever written, and read all the animal books and books about nurses I could find.

2 What are you reading right now? What are your thoughts on it?
"Angry Optimist," about Jon Stewart (trying to ease my way through weaning off The Daily Show).  It's an interesting book and I'm learning things I suspected, but didn't want to know about the off screen Jon, who is  quite different from the on-screen.  Like Johnny Carson, he is not a social person, guards his privacy and has few close friends.  Also a stern taskmaster on The Daily Show.  But really all I cared about was his Daily Show persona, which I can't fault.

3 Do you go to a library? If so, what do you currently have checked out there? If not, is there a reason?
I live 3 blocks from a library and have not been inside in years. No reason except I just have hundreds of books at home that I need to read so feel no need.

4 Do you collect any authors/series or certain types of books? What are they?
I have a large collection of Albert Peyson Terhune books, and most of the David Gerrold books up until about the mid 1990s.  I don’t really "collect" any other authors/series, though I make it a point to read all of the authors I like.

5 Do you have a yearly goal on amount of books you want to finish? What is it? Are you ahead of, or behind in your progress?
Fifty is a nice goal. Right now I’ve read 42 this year, so I will reach the goal well before the end of the year. (In 2012 I read 78)

6 Do you have an e-reader? What kind? Do you read both "real" and ebooks, or just one or the other?
I have a Kindle. I read a lot of books with it, but I also read "real" books.  And of course listen to Audio books.
7 Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? Why?
I always have several books going – at least one on my kindle, an audio book that I’m listening to in the car and another audio book that Walt and I are listening to together as well as at least one "real" book that I probably started while at Logos.

8 Do you have a blog or GoodReads where you post reviews? If so, give your URL ~ if not a one word answer IS ok here.

9 What sites, if any, do you go to for getting recommendations of books? If you don't use any sites, how do you get recommendations for new books?
I don’t go looking for recommendations, but reading Good Reads reviews and Amazon notices is helpful.  Recommendations Amazon or send me will get me investigating...and of course Char has pointed me in the direction of a lot of books.

10 Favorite book you’ve read this year (so far in 2015)? Why?
Maybe Stephen King's "11/22/63."  That was definitely my favorite audio book.  For favorite reading book, "The Martian," which I bought before I knew it was going to be a big blockbuster movie.

11 Least favorite book you read this year (so far in 2015)? Why?
"The Rosie Effect," sequel to the delightful "The Rosie Project," both of which I read for book club. While "Rosie Project" was quirky and fun, "Rosie Effect" was boring and repetitive.

12 Book due to be released this year (2015) that you are most looking forward to and why?
"Playing with Fire" by Tess Gerritsen. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a new Gerritsen. Also looking forward to "Do Unto Animals," written by Jon Stewart’s wife and recommended highly by her husband.

13 What is your reading comfort zone and How often do you read out it?
My comfort zone is crime/drama type books, but I very often read out of it.

14 Favorite place to read? Why do you like that place best?
Sitting in my recliner with a glass of ice water at my side, since it’s the most comfortable seat in the house

15 What are your thoughts on book lending?
Since most of the books I read are kindle books, I can’t lend them. But if it’s a "real" book, I’m more likely to give it to someone rather than lend it to them.

16 What are your thoughts on pirated books?
Bad, bad pirates. Unfair to struggling authors.

17 What are your thoughts on "Banned" books?
Banned books lists are ridiculous. Depending on the group doing the banning, they would ban many of our most beloved classics.

18 What are barriers you have to reading more? (work, family, etc)
My TV addiction.

19 How many books did you read during Jan - Jun (1st 6 months of year)? How many more books have you read in Jul & Aug?
28 from January to June, 14 so far since July (close to finishing one more, though)

20 What makes you love a book?
Caring about the characters, good plot, believability.  It helps if I get so emotionally invested in the book that it makes me cry.

21 What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I finished a book and think "I need to talk to someone about this" I’ll recommend it.

22 5 of your top read genres & one Recommended book for each genre
Crime/drama - "Chasing the Dime" by Michael Connelly
Historical Romance - "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon
Sci Fi - "Flying Sorcerers" by David Gerrold and Larry Niven
Animal books - "The Elephant Whisperer" by Lawrence Anthony
Bio - "Stories I only Tell My Friends," by Rob Lowe

23 5 authors you read a lot & one book you recommend for each
I read a lot of Michael Connelly (all of his, actually) and any is good, but one of his early books, "The Last Coyote" where hero Harry Bosch investigates the cold case of his own mother’s murder is a good one.

I love David Baldacci and his "Absolute Power" was a favorite. It will change your mind about the abuses of power!
I’ve read all of Diana Gabaldon’s "Outlander" series and my favorite was "Voyager," where Claire returns to Scotland to find Jamie.
I am working my way through Harlan Coben books, and loved "Drop Shot," which centers around tennis this time.  I love his "hero," Myron Bolitar.
*  I have read most of John Steinbeck’s books and my favorite was "East of Eden." I loved it for the descriptive passages of places I know quite well. Every time I am reading Steinbeck, I find my own writing improves.

24 Do you read non-fiction? Biographies? What is one of your favorites? If you don't read them, what keeps you from them?
Yes, I read both non-fiction and biographies. In the non-fiction category, anything by Bill Bryson is wonderful. I particularly like his "The Mother Tongue".
Anatoli Kuznetsov’s "Babi Yar" is not a pretty book–-and it’s huge--but it tells the important story of how he, a gentile adolescent, survived the Nazi occupation of Kiev and the atrocities he saw.

25 How many times do you read a week?
I read every day, even if only briefly while waiting in line somewhere.

26 Do you feel you read better with or without noise? What kind of noise can't you read through?
I can read through anything except someone standing in front of me talking to me.
27 What influences your book choices?

A book by a favorite author I haven't read yet, recommendations from interviews I hear, or whatever seems to hit my mood when I read the cover of the book.

28 Favorite reading snack? Favorite reading drink? Do you eat/drink while reading, or do you put the book down for snacks?
I usually have water with me, occasionally a snack, but not usually.

29 Do you literally judge a book by its cover, title, or author?
In order, probably author, cover, and title. But sometimes title, cover, author.

30 What is the longest book you have ever read? The shortest?
Ever? Tough to remember. Tom Jones was 1,024 pages. That may be the longest. The shortest was a book I read recently, "My Roller Coaster Ride with Sallie: An Alzheimers Story" by Judy J. Harritan, which was only 37 pages long, but which nicely told her feelings about dealing with her mother’s dementia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Searching for Pumpkins

When we drove to Santa Barbara on Friday, we encountered horrific traffic.  Fortunately most of it was going the opposite way, but we did hit a really bad patch a few miles from Gilroy (the garlic capital of the world).

This happens to be a part of California that Walt is quite familiar with because in the days when he used to go out on field trips to work with farmers on water projects, this was an area he visited often.  So, being the smart, resourceful person that he is, he got off the freeway at Morgan Hill and drove into town so he could drive the city streets until we could see that traffic on the freeway had loosened up a bit.

Unfortunately, a lot of other people seemed to have that same idea so it was heavy traffic here too, with the additional slow-down of stop signs on every corner.  But going through an old farm town area, with its quaint shops and interesting theater marquee....

...was kind of fun.  Morgan Hill is near Salinas, where John Steinbeck lived and set some of his stories, particularly "East of Eden" which is set right where we were driving (it was less developed then, of course), hence the outdated movie playing today!

One of the things we passed by too quickly for me to get my camera out and pointed in the right direction was this cool pumpkin pyramid at a pumpkin farm that is about to open for business next week.  I was disappointed not to have the photo, but it was not the end of the world.  However, when we got to Santa Barbara, I told Walt that on the way home, I would like him to drive through Gilroy and Morgan Hill again so I could get the picture then.

We left Santa Barbara around noon, after a late lunch and more visiting with Alice Nan and then on up the road.  My friend Kari takes wonderful photos with her iPhone from a moving car (some really lovely ones from their recent trip to Europe) and so I was practicing to see if I could also do that.  Many turned out blurry, as my iPhone photos almost always do, but I did like this picture of the Gabilan Mountains, of which Steinbeck wrote to eloquently,

and this wall of trees that I really like, just out of King City.  I've always wanted to photograph it, and today I did.

Walt got off the freeway in Gilroy, as I had asked him to, and we drove through town.  I thought I remembered the pumpkin patch being on a corner lot, but we got all the way through Gilroy and no pumpkins.  It had been a huge pyramid and as this isn't even October yet, I couldn't imagine they had sold them all over the weekend.  

We kept driving and driving and eventually, I just put my camera away and was going to tell Walt that he could turn at the next stop and head back up to the freeway, when suddenly there it was:  my pumpkin pyramid!

I got out to take a photo and that's when I discovered that the disc for the camera was still in the laptop, which meant that all those photos I took at V's restaurant that I was so thrilled to get, I didn't get at all. If I hadn't been trying to be surreptitious, so that I just took the photo quickly and then hid the camera, I would have noticed the warning that there was no disc in the camera. 

Walt parked, unloaded the trunk, got out the laptop and I retrieved the disk and took my pumpkin photo.  I was very happy with it, after all.  We came home, collapsed and watched the two Jeopardy episodes we had missed, and I watched the Emmy broadcast from last night.  (I realized with great guilt that when Alice Nan turned the show on about 2/3 of the way through it, after Joe had finished watching golf and football, I asked if we could turn it off because I wanted to watch it from the beginning.  How selfish of me!  I knew I had it recorded at home, but I deprived her of seeing any of it without even thinking about what I was doing.  Sorry, Alice Nan!)

The dogs are very happy to see us again, and I'm glad to be home.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Where is the Bouncy House?

What if you invited 10-15 four year olds, their parents and their siblings to a party at which the bouncy house was one of the main attractions...and the bouncy house did not show up? That was the situation facing Tom and Laurel when it got to after 11 a.m., the invite time, little kids started arriving and there was no bouncy house...and not only that, but the company they hired was not answering their phone.

To keep the kids occupied at this Finding Nemo themed party, they fired up the movie on the outdoor TV and the kids started watching, but Amazon instant video was having problems and there would be 25 seconds of movie and 15 seconds of buffering. Over and over again. Things were not looking good for the party, though Lacie was too excited to notice.

Fortunately they had also hired a face painting lady and she showed up and everyone lined up to get their face painted.

Finally the bouncy house arrived and it was set up in no time.  I was amused to notice that they had velcro signs that they attached to the front when it was set up, with a Little Mermaid theme.  Presumably had this been a Superman theme, there would be a superhero velcro sign affixed!

It was an afternoon of mayhem and fun, the most fun watching all those painted faces get together, especially during a tense moment of the movie.

I loved Bri watching with her best friend from school.

Somewhere in there, a mountain of pizzas was delivered, including dairy free and gluten free choices.

I missed the cake cutting and candle blowing because I didn't know it was happening and by the time I realized it was, there were 40 billion people with cameras in front of me.  Presumably eventually one of those photos will be posted on Facebook.

A professional grade snow cone maker had come with the bouncy house, so after the kids finished cake, Tom was making snow cones for whoever wanted one...and it was a good thing, since it was so hot that the ice felt good, even after cone making was done and snowball fights started!

The kids had been asked not to bring gifts.  Some brought flowers or balloons. The only ones who brought gifts were the kids of long-time friends of Tom and Laurel, which Lacie opened after most of the kids left.  There was still a pile to get through. Laurel's mother had given her a Little Mermaid nightgown and when she opened it, she was very excited and said "I've been wanting this for years!" Then we had given her a Frozen nightgown and after she opened it she took both nightgowns into her room to put them away before she finished opening packages. The kid's not a Virgo, but darn near!

And then, because this is the computer age, there was a Facetime call to her other grandfather so he could watch her open the gifts he sent.

After she opened her gifts, she took the phone outside to show him the bouncy house.
So, despite a rocky start, the day was a big success and Lacie had a wonderful time.  So did everyone else. Her grandparents were worn out.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Grandparents' Day

By the time I got all the work-arounds figured out and yesterday's entry posted, it was 2 a.m. and I was sweating.  I took a shower and then collapsed on the couch and slept until 7.

Joe was going out to help a friend saw logs out of an old felled tree, Alice Nan cooked breakfast for the rest of us and we kind of lazed around until 11, when time to go to Bri's soccer game. I didn't get to see her play last season, though Walt did.

Her team is the Pink Panthers and they are all 7 or 8 years old, though Bri is by far the smallest on the team.  But she's fierce, fast, and nimble.  Last week she made 3 goals, though this week her team lost 2-0.

While the game was going on, Lacie and I sat and she told me (several times) about her birthday party tomorrow.  "Wanna talk about my birthday party some more?" she would ask.

When the game was over, we returned to our respective residences.  I took nap; Walt looked through some old letters and other documents his mother had saved (including part of a biography Jeri wrote when she was 9).

At 4 Tom called and we went to his house for an afternoon watching the girls play.  I decided Lacie is learning how to be a street person, as she carries all her valuables around in a shopping cart.

While she was doing that, Tom and Bri were fixing a hole in her bike tire.

Then, unbelievably even to me, I went in and watched the new movie of Annie, which has become a favorite of the girls.

(People who know me well will understand why this is "unbelievable.")

After a nice dinner, the girls went in to take a bath and I sat and watched Laurel start frosting what will be a Nemo fantasy for the party tomorrow.

The girls are all turned on about the party and I decided that having grandparents added to the mix was the last thing Tom and Laurel needed when they were trying to calm things down and get the girls to bed, so we came on home.
Now to see if all my work yesterday paid off for an easy, trouble-free upload again tonight.  If you are reading this, then I guess it did.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Two a Day

In the theater when you have a "two a day," the cast of a show puts on two performances in the same day. I think of some of the more "energetic" shows and wonder how they keep it up month after month!

In my own way, I had a "two a day" today.  In the morning I had my last 4-hour training session at Sutter, and in the afternoon I worked at Logos.  I may be too old for a two a day (especially when I have laundry to deliver to my mother in between!)  I have to be at Sutter by 8:30 (preferably earlier, to get things set up) and I discovered today how much I am loving this new habit of mine, sleeping in until about 8.  It's not that I have a lot of sleep, but my 3 a.m. wakings sometimes stretch for 2 hours and then it may take another hour to get back to sleep, so I love being able to snuggle down and sleep in until I wake up.  But not today.  I had THREE alarms set (the alarm clock on my phone, the timer on my phone, and the timer on the stove!)  I got up in plenty of time, but I was really foggy headed and not happy until I got into the swing of the info desk.

I still do not have computer access!  I don't know what's so bloody hard about adding my log in and password.  But apparently it is quite complicated and is going to take FIVE DAYS to get me set up.  But presumably, by the next time I work, it should be OK.

But once I got settled and Chris arrived to put me in the driver's seat, things went well.  We are quite near the birthing center and I found out that when a baby is born, they play a lullabye over the loudspeaker.  We had 2 babies born within 30 minutes  today.

By noon, Chris' husband came to get her and she determined I was OK to work the desk until 12:30, the end of the shift, so I was set to solo.  All went well except for giving not one but two people directions to the wrong place.

I stopped by Atria for a short visit while dropping off my other's laundry and making sure she had taken her meds.  I didn't visit too long.  it amazes me that she can sit with the newspaper in her lap and not know there are wildfires, and doesn't think she ever heard about 9/11, but was quick to mention that I was wearing new shoes.  I would love to find out what goes on in that diseased brain of hers, but I am certain that given another 10 years or so I will start to know.

Then on to Logos, where we dropped off 4 boxes of book donations from Char, who is doing yeoman's work cleaning out their book collection, especially Mike's.  Susan was working when I got there, and had Sammy with her (their dog...oh to have a dog that calm!) but she left right away.  I found a Peter Mayle book to read and settled down to "work."

There was an old couple outside looking at bargain books.  He was bent at a 90 degree angle (I swear I'm going to be like that eventually) and she looked like my friend Jeri.  But they didn't come in.

A guy wearing a Cape Cod shirt and carrying a plastic bag from Henry Pordes Books in London wandered around for awhile, but didn't buy anything.

Someone else dropped off a bag of books and then a guy rushed in with a copy of a Scott Turow book, tossed it at me and said "for you to sell."  Looking at it, I saw that it had been a bargain book when he bought it originally.

At 3 I made my first sale to a guy who had come in with 2 women.  He bought six California history books and "The Knights Templar."

A young man with swarthy complexion and a head full of unruly medium length black curls. bought Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and said that he "took great pleasure in purchasing this book" and hoped he can learn more about the human condition.

A woman was delighted to purchase three copies of Analog magazine for $1.

A delightful Mexican man pulled up a chair in front of the self improvement bookcase.  He was there awhile and ultimately didn't buy anything but was carrying around a book called "Zhuan Falun," a best seller in China until it was banned.  I suspected it was about the organization of Falun Gong, which we encountered once at a demonstration in Los Angeles, and came home to check Amazon, to find out I was right.  The guy hoped to find a book on yoga or about photography.  He spied a card we have of a dragonfly...a photo taken by a local photographer and whipped out his cell phone to show me a similar photo he had taken the day before, two different views of the same type of insect.

A woman with what I thought was a gorgeous 3-legged collie came in with very specific requests--the art of making perfume, books on Russian art of the Renaissance era, and I can't remember the third one.  The dog's name was Marshmallow and I told her I had never seen a collie quite that color.  Turns out he wasn't a collie at all, but a Malamute mixed with something else.  He reacted to a blood sugar monitor she has attached to her belly and I asked her if he was a service dog. She said no, but she trains service dogs up in the Lake Tahoe area, where she has six of them right now.  Marshmallow had just picked up some of their tasks.  Ultimately she didn't buy anything, but I enjoyed talking with her.

A guy bought a coffee table book of black and white war photos from World War II.

A guy who looked like he might be a university coach, with the barrel-chested build and a navy blue shirt with UC Davis on the left corner, bought a book about San Simeon, where he said he had visited many times.

When a woman came in and bought a Halloween book for a child, I decided to check the children's room again and bought 3 more books for Lacie's birthday.

A couple came in trying to sell cosmetics, but she didn't seem surprised when I told her I didn't use them and they left without trying to give me a sales pitch.

A guy came in chuckling as he paid for a bargain book called "Pumping Mad."  He said he "couldn't resist the temptation to share bad taste."

A tall African American man bought a Bargain Book thesaurus.  Says it was his "first day here...and his last" and that he was just visiting friends.  (But how can you pass up a thick thesaurus for $1?)

An older man sat at the table for awhile and finally bought a book by Orson Scott Card.

Two men, whom I assumed were father and son came in.  The father looked like Tom Bergeron if Bergeron had a belly on him.  They looked around for awhile, but didn't buy anything.

About this time someone outside started tremendously loud and violent sneezing, about four or five times.  Never did see who it was, but the sound penetrated the glass of the window and door.

An Asian woman checked out the cookbooks, but didn't buy anything.

Peter arrived about the same time the nightly jogging group runs past the store and he was followed just a few seconds later by Walt.

So it was a busy day, but I felt productive at the end of it, and definitely more energized than I felt when the alarms woke me up.

I just realized my friend didn't come in today.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Unanswered Questions

I have been watching the Republican debate all day, it seems.  I watched the "kids' table" and then the big people's discussion.  This is how I feel.

Maybe it was when Jeb said that his brother kept us safe, or when someone intimated that Planned Parenthood was a baby-generating machine that did abortions so they could sell body parts that got me looking for an exploding head graphic.  But I felt the need many times throughout.

While I agree that the moderator was better than some in creating a real debate and trying to keep everyone, even Trump, on topic, but he, like most interviewers I have seen, allow statements to go unquestioned and it is driving me nuts.

How many times has Trump told you that he's going to build a beautiful wall and that Mexico is going to pay for it?  Has anybody ever asked him how he's going to get Mexico to pay for it?

Or those 12 million aliens that Trump is going to get rid of in the first two years.  Nobody ever questions him on statistics.  First, he seems to assume that they are all Mexicans and that he can just put them on trains and buses and send them out of the country.  First of all while, yes, there are a lot of Mexican illegals here, they are not all Mexican.  If you have Chinese illegals or Nigerian can't put them on a bus or train.  How do you send THEM back to where they came from?

Secondly there are the legal children of illegals.  Whether Trump likes it or not, right now the Constitution says that if you are born here you are a legal citizen.  He seems to think that it's a simple matter to ignore that and send the kids back with their parents, which means deporting legal citizens of the United States.  He also seems to forget that you can't just change the Constitution without vote in Congress (which he seems to think will be easy to get.  Has he watched Congress the past 8 years???) and then passage by all 50 states.  But never mind.  He's the Great Trump.  He can do it because he is very rich and he knows how to run a business.

So assume that somehow you can deport families, illegal and legal members,  Where do you find them?  Haven't they been hiding all these years?  Are they just going to voluntarily present themselves to the bus or train station?

Someone else mentioned a path to legal residency saying they'd have to pay taxes for the years they lived here.  What about the illegals who get fake Social Security cards so they can work and do pay taxes?  (I've known some who do.)

And then there is Trump's plan to keep businesses from establishing plants out of the states. Ford is building a big plant in Mexico.  If Trump is president, he'll call the president of Ford ('cause he knows him, dontcha know) and tell him that unless he builds his plant here he will face at 30% tax on every car brought into this country. OK.  Sounds good.  But how does that happen?  The president can't arbitrarily charge a special tax just 'cause he feels like it.  Nobody has ever asked him that question.

Then there is ... who is it? ... maybe Rubio.  Maybe not.  Someone wants to tear up the Iran deal on day one of his presidency.  Is he aware that the deal was signed by not only the United States, but also Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China?  The U.S. President can't just tear it up because he doesn't like it.

And how about those who are going to repeal Obamacare on day one.  What happens to the millions of now insured citizens who currently benefit from Obamacare?  Are you going to tell them they no longer have health coverage?  What will you give them in return, on Day One?

But nobody asks those questions and those are more important questions than the fantasy beautiful country that all those candidates envision if we just give them our vote. Heck, vote for me.  I'll make sure every road in the country is repaired, gas prices don't rise above $2 a gallon, every dog has a forever home, and everyone has a daily chocolate allotment.

With all this, there is one BIG reason why we simply cannot let Trump be president.  After 8 years of the Bush smirk, I don't know if I can live with 4-8 years of the Trump supercilious pout.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Where is my camera when I need it?  A group of us were sitting around the table at the Senior Center in San Ramon having a nice discussion of the book, "The Martian" when suddenly people were craning their necks in the direction of the window and one woman had whipped out her cell phone to snap photos.

There were about half a dozen wild turkeys peeking up over the window sill to look into the room.  The room looks out on a small concrete patio which ends at a wall and behind it is a weed covered hill.  The turkeys had come down the hill to check out the patio.  

My camera was in my purse on the floor by the wall, with three people in chairs between me and it, so I had no chance to dive for it.

Last month while we were discussing another book, we saw a mother deer and her adolescent fawn.  I felt so bad for them since they were obviously looking for food (like the turkeys) but it was slim pickings.  I can hardly wait to see what other wildlife will visit our book discussion group!

Seeing turkeys everywhere seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon.  The first time I noticed wild turkeys in Davis was a couple of years after an infamous battle at the cemetery between the people who wanted to continue to use a hidden area behind the grave area as a dog run, and those who objected to dogs walking  through the cemetery to get to the run.  I was one who argued for keeping the dog run and said that my kids would be happy to know that dogs had come to visit them.  Others felt that having a dog possibly pee in the area of their loved one's grave was a desecration.

After the ban was put into place and the dog run closed, we discovered that one advantage of having dogs in the area was that they kept down the population of wild turkeys.  Now it seemed, the turkeys had taken over the place as their nesting area.  It was common to drive by the neighborhood of the cemetery and find turkeys strolling around the homes or sunning themselves in someone's driveway.
We live a couple of miles from the cemetery, but the turkeys have even made it into our neighborhood.  Walt found a bunch of them sitting on our roof one day.  

They are almost always wandering around the cemetery and they are nasty buggers too.  You don't want to get too close for fear of being attacked.  They have become as ubiquitous as Canada geese, who used to migrate, but lately seem to just stay and stay.

I wonder how those folks who argued for closing the dog run feel about turkey poop on their loved ones' grave!  You can't ban turkeys...they don't comply with the rules.

It was a full yesterday.  This was the first time we had a vehicle conflict on my book club day.  I was going to San Ramon to go to the book club with Charlotte and Walt had a dentist appointment in Berkeley.  He usually takes the car down to Berkeley and spends the day there, but that was going to be difficult.  But his appointment was fairly early, so I just drove him to Berkeley and then drove on to Char's house on the other side of the Berkeley hills.

The discussion of the book was fun and it was interesting to see how many of those >50 year old women would, if given the chance, like to travel to Mars.  The woman next to me, however, said she would wait until someone else had already developed it and I told her it sounded like she was waiting for the Mars Hilton.  

When the discussion was over, we went back to Char's house and I waited for Walt to call me letting me know he was on the BART train headed for Walnut Creek, where I was to meet him in the parking lot of Target.  Turns out that was fortuitous since traffic was horrendous and by getting off the freeway early and driving through town I missed the huge mess where the freeways merge.

I let Walt drive the rest of the way home while we listened to our audio book ("The Enemy" by Lee Child).  We had only 2 hours left in the book, so didn't finish it, but on our next trip we will.

We're old people and were both exhausted from our respective days when we got home, Walt fixed himself a tiny dinner and I skipped dinner entirely.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

More Decay

Charlotte liked my "sufficiently decayed" button and wanted one, so we brought one to her when we met for lunch today.

We were meeting at Fentons, an ice creamery in Vacaville, about half an hour from here.  The photo at the left is hanging on the wall in the restaurant an I just love it.  It says a lot without words! 

Jeri and Phil (the other Jeri and Phil--Jeri's godmother and her husband) were in the area and suggested getting together for lunch.  They live in their RV and travel around the country, spending the winter months in Arizona.  But Jeri has kids and grandchildren in Washington state, the Sacramento area and Kentucky and Phil has kids and grandkids (and I believe great grandkids) all over the country, so in good weather, they travel around visiting family.  They usually get into this area one or two times a year.

Since we were getting together with Char for lunch, we also contacted Rich and Pat in Sacramento and Audrey & Gene in the Sonoma area, on the other side of the state.
These are the friends of our lives -- the remaining members of the Pinata Group.  We've lost Jeri's first husband Bill, our friends Concetta and Michele, and, last year, Char's husband Mike.  But we all remain close friends, valuing our 55+ years of friendship.  We were happy that all but Gene made it to lunch.

The last time we met for lunch it was a year ago, at the same restaurant, just before Char & Mike and Walt & I were to head off on our cruise to the South of France.  But we never made that cruise, and Mike never made it home from Germany, their first leg of the trip.

Fentons has a nice selection of food, but I usually go for the crab salad sandwich.

I knew it would be more than I could finish but figured I'd have half for lunch and half for dinner.
Fenton's is mostly famous for its hand made ice cream treats. The original Fenton's was in Oakland, and we occasionally visited it when we lived there.  Char's son had his wedding reception there.  But when they were building a new mall to replace the wonderful and legendary Nut Tree and replacing it with shops, restaurants, and kiddie attractions, we were pleased to see that Fenton's had come to this neck of the woods.  We couldn't leave the restaurant without having dessert.

This is their "petite sundae" with chocolate peanut butter sauce.  Yummy.  

I came home and went to take my mother's pills to her.  I realized I wasn't feeling well.  I had no energy, had zero patience with the repetitions and "not really there"-ness of my mother, and just wanted sleep. I came home and took a nap and skipped dinner, and by later in the evening, I was feeling better.  Still didn't want food, though, so offered my leftover sandwich to Walt for dinner (I honestly don't know if he ate it or not).

It was a fun afternoon, always special when you can spend it with lifelong friends.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sufficiently Decayed

14 September 2015
When we arrived at  the party, we were directed to a basket filled with buttons, and told we had to each wear one.  (It refers to a quote from The Mikado, where KoKo asks Katisha, "Do you think you are sufficiently decayed.")

This was a reunion of members of the Davis Comic Opera Company, which was a big part of our lives for most of its 33 year history.  The company called it quits in 2006.  It fell victim to the curse of many community theaters like it, formed by a group of people who wanted to do a specific kind of theater (in DCOC's case, Gilbert & Sullivan), and who enjoyed getting together, working together, partying together and putting on good shows.  The audiences came to see their neighbor, their barber, their attorney, their doctor, etc. acting on stage.

In fact, the shows were good enough that they attracted actors from the surrounding area, who wanted to perform Gilbert & Sullivan, but who had a long drive to make after the show, so didn't stick around for the socialization part.

In time, the original members started to get older and, with few of the newcomers as dedicated as the original members had been, it was more difficult to find people to do the grunt work and audiences, who no longer had friends and neighbors to see perform, dropped off.  Eventually it was decided to close the company down.  I read once that 30 years is about par for community theater groups like DCOC.  They made it three years past the norm.

But it's been nearly 10 years now and someone decided we should have a reunion.  Many of us still see each other from time to time, but this would be a good old fashioned DCOC Party.

In 10 years, we have all aged.  We are in our 60s, 70s, and 80s now.  There were three in wheel chairs, at least two in walkers and I don't remember how many of us (me included) walked with canes or walking stick.  One was in a full body brace from recent back surgery.

But aches and pains notwithstanding, it was a glorious celebration, with, as always, food as the central gathering point.

The famous DCOC quilt was on display.

Nobody that I talked to could remember who made it but we all knew there had been an auction and nobody remembered who won it.  (Presumably the person who won it was at the party, but I didn't pursue the identity.)

There was lots of visiting and "do you remember...." conversation going on.
My friend Nancianne arrived, looking as if she had found another St. Baldrick shave-a-thon to participate in.  She was wearing a shirt that proclaimed her principal role in DCOC (among many other things):  Cheerleader!

I asked her about her hair and she told me she had been in a store wearing her "ask me why I'm bald" button and someone told her she shouldn't wear the button any more because she was no longer bald. She said the button gave her the chance to talk about St. Baldrick's and children's cancer and the guy said "if I make a donation to St. Baldrick, will you shave your head again?"  She said sure.  He did, and she did.

She asked me if I'm going to shave my head again next year and I have decided not to do it again while my mother is alive.  It was too traumatic for her.  Better to wait.

As the light began to fade, Gary, our host, set up a movie screen to start a slide show.  It was difficult to see at first, and he tried to act as guide, but eventually he moved the screen under an overhang, where it was darker, and we could all sit around and watch the show, 33 years of DCOC history parading by.

Everyone had a good time trying to recognize those faces, from the earlier shows, who were now 30-40 years older.  This picture below shows Natalie, sometime in the mid 70s, and today.

It was getting dark when we finally left, but we left with such good memories, both of the party and of the friends we made through DCOC, who are still some of our best friends in Davis.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Stealing

Mac'n Cheese Meme
Stolen from: Love me some surveys

Can you ever get enough of mac ‘n’ cheese?
Well...yes, eventually.  But I love the stuff.  Both home made and Kraft Dinner.  We have Kraft Dinner every May 18, the anniversary of our son David's death, because he loved it so much.  (We served it at his memorial service)
Are you allergic to nuts or diary products?
Do you think age matters in relationships?
If it's legal and they are both of the age of consent, no.
Has anyone ever called the cops on you?
Walt was working outside on a project one night.  We have a 10 p.m. noise ordinance, where you can't make loud noise after 10 p.m. (unless you are the university or high school football team, apparently).  He had one more piece of wood to cut at 10 p.m., cut it, and was putting away his tools when the cops showed up.  Our very unpleasant neighbor had called the police on him.  At the time we had a student from Congo living with us, who was terrified, because in Congo, when the police come, it's to kill you.

Did you talk to someone until you fell asleep last night?
We came home from a party last night and I seemed to fall asleep almost instantly.
What’s the connection between the last person you texted?
My daughter is about the only one I text regularly.  She sent me a photo, I sent back a comment.
Are you in a good mood?
As good as anybody can be at 3;30 a.m.
Excited for anything?
Our granddaughter's upcoming 4th birthday.  How did she get so old so soon?
Do you have a hard time controlling your emotions?
I don't know that I control them, but don't emote much.  However, I cry at supermarket openings and Hallmark card commercials.

Do you like your height?
I used to be 5'7-1/2" and years have shrunk me down to 5'6"  I hate that I can't reach things I used to be able to reach with ease.

How long have you lived in your current home?
43 years

Could you go a week without brushing your teeth?
I once went twenty years without brushing my teeth.

Have you ever given any amount of money to the homeless
Of course.

Own anything from Bath & Body Works?

Have you ever had your nails so long that they curved down at the ends?
Ewwww.  No.  I keep my nails cut short.

Have you ever swallowed a bunch of salt water by accident?
Not that I remember.

Does it take you over an hour to go to sleep sometimes?
Yes.  I hate those nights.

When you get home from school/work do you change into your pjs right away?
Since I am retired, no.  But I never did even when I was working.

Have you ever stayed up all night and the whole next day without any sleep?
The last time I remember doing that was the night our son Paul died.

Has anyone ever told you that you have pretty feet?
Good lord, no.

What is the temperature currently in the town you live in?
It has been >100 all week, but fortunately we have cooled down into the 90s.

Do you ever actually drink milk alone?
I don't really drink milk any more, unless it's on cereal.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Birthing Center Smell

Best part of my day in my second training session at Sutter today was delivering flowers to a new Mom in the birthing center.  Usually the Patient Services people do that, but nobody was working that day, so we took them in.  Walking into the Birthing Center and sniffing that unique fragrance of birthing moms, new babies, and whatever else is mixed in there was as much fun for me as sniffing puppy breath.  I never spent that much time in the birthing center when I was working for Women's Health, but apparently I was there often enough that the smell was a familiar, happy smell for me.

I feel better about training today than I did the last time.  This gal was on her game and took me through a lot of stuff that I should have done last time.  She also introduced herself to me and said "Your name seems very familiar..."  Turns out she's a theater go-er and reads my reviews.  We discussed mutual shows we had loved (and hated).

At some point she introduced me to the lady who was running the gift shop today and she said "Oh, you're the one with all the kids doing theater."  I pointed out that "all the kids" were now pushing 50, and she said she had been in Davis a long time!  Very nice lady.

I got a vest today.  They didn't have one my size when I did my first training day and that trainer was trying to see if I could fit into a medium (maybe one half of me could!).  Today they had an XXL for me and it fits just fine, so I was dressed in my uniform.

This trainer also told me, which the other one did not, that we have to wear closed toed shoes.  No Birkenstocks at the hospital  I wonder why the other woman didn't mention that...

The woman today was more hands on.  She takes people upstairs to the patient rooms, if they are there for the first time, and accompanies delivery men to the office where they should deliver tings rather than just leave them off after giving directions.

Things were fairly quiet today, though I am assured that it's not always like that.  We had a woman who looked like she might be homeless show up for a test that she didn't know the name of, and my trainer was able to find out which test she was having and where she needed to go.  Also a homeless man pushing his worldly goods through the hall told us it doesn't look good to see people sleeping in the halls.  There aren't any, of course.

Nobody complained about the abandoned van which was such a problem last's still there, I saw on my way out.  A thicker layer of dust and dirt, but untouched otherwise.

My trainer told me today that one thing I must do every time I work is check out the gift shop and buy something.  She smiled and said "well, that's what I have to do."  But midway through the morning, I went and bought some almonds to munch on.  I had remembered to bring a bottle of water this time, though I'm sure I could have bought one in the cafeteria.  

The small gift shop is really neat.  I must take more photos sometime  It had the most unusual sox I've seen, so I did take a picture of them.  There are all sorts of baby products, and things to buy for kids who have to pass the time while mom or dad is visiting someone.  The Information desk has a big file of pages to color and a large supply of little boxes of crayons for restless children.  The gift shop also has magazines in both English and Spanish, greeting cards and floral arrangements. Also jewelry and little tsatskes.  A wide variety in a shop so small.

Back at the desk, I learned about the special codes I need to remember:

CODE RED is fire
CODE ORANGE is a hazardous materials incident
CODE YELLOW is a bomb threat
CODE GREEN is evacuation
CODE PINK is the abduction of a child under 2
CODE PURPLE is the abduction of a child over 2
CODE GREY is abusive or assaultive behavior
CODE SILVER is a weapon/hostage situation

I asked her if there had ever been a bomb threat, weapon threat, or child abduction and she assured me she had been working there for 13 years and to the best of her knowledge there had not been.

So I have lots of information floating around in my head and will go back for round 3 when the guy in charge of setting up my account on the computer finally decides he has time for me.  Best of all, I got out of there before the temps reached 100!

Friday, September 11, 2015

105, 106, 107

I kept an eye on the Weather Channel's reading for outside temps today.  When I got to Logos, it was 104.  By 5 it was the predicted temp, 106, and by the time Walt showed up it read 107.  And today was not supposed to be the hottest day this week.  It's predicted to be 108 tomorrow.

The heat sure reflected the "action" (or lack of same) at Logos.  I think Sandy had 5-6 sales recorded when I got there.  There was no one in the store and her granddaughter was at school, so we chatted for about 40 minutes.  She's always a ray of sunshine since we talk politics and are of the same mind on everything (so far). It was nice to have someone to rant and rave to, who would rant and rave back!

I felt sorry when she left.  She wasn't going to be riding her bike home like she usually does, but had brought her car.  But you can't park for more than two hours in the downtown area ('cause this is such a shopper-friendly town. Not.) so she had to park about four blocks away, which isn't far, but everything is far at 104 degrees!

There were no customers when she left and I went searching for a book.  I decided I wanted something other than the mysteries I usually grab, so I checked out the Literature shelves and found a copy of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," which filled two of my most important criteria:  the print size was large enough for me to read, and it was short enough that I could finish it during my 4 hour stint.

In truth, I think I finished it in two hours, though took a few breaks throughout, mostly to go "shopping" in the kids' room.  Lacie has a birthday coming up and I bought a few books for her.  With the price of children's books new these days, getting "gently used" books from Logos seems to be much more sensible, since they are in good condition and if they are slightly less crisp than a new book, they'd get that way in a day or two with the girls reading them anyway.  Also there are some wonderfully eclectic books to be had at Logos for children!

I settled in at the desk to read my book.  At 4:15 my first customer walked through the door.  He was carrying a motorcycle helmet and he browsed for a bit and finally bought a quantum physics book, "In Search of Schroedinger's Cat" (which I would not know anything about at all, where it not for The Big Bang Theory).

I made a comment to him about the heat and he said he had left his helmet out in the sun and it was too hot to put on, so that's why he came into the store, to give it a chance to cool down in the air conditioning.

After he left things were very quiet for almost an hour when my friend showed up.  We talked about Mr. Chips and about the weather.  He bought a bargain mystery and a book on wooden engraving.  He also showed me a book on display, "The Surgeon of Crowthorne," which he said he had read under a different name.  After he left, I went to check the book and found the "or" title to be, "A tale of murder, madness and the Oxford English Dictionary."  I started reading it.  Looks good, "one of the most bizarre and intriguing literary friendships in history." Apparently a true story of the friendship of lexicographer James Murray, who compiled the first Oxford English Dictionary, and one of his most valued contributors, who was a homicidal lunatic, confined to Broadmoor Asylum for murder.  I can hardly wait to see how this all developed!

After my friend left there was a flurry of activity, common around 4 p.m.  A total of 5 people came in within a minute or two of each other, none of whom stayed more than a couple of minutes and none of whom bought anything.  This is just not book-buying weather.

I did a get surprise when my old co-worker Crilly Butler (we both worked for the same psychiatrist for awhile, me as a typist, he as a therapist) burst through the door with a friend.  They were on their way to the pub for a beer, but he came over and gave me a hug.  We are Facebook friends and he frequently comments on my Facebook posts, but I haven't actually seen him in years.

And so the day ended.  I think I took in about $20 for the day and $12 of that was from me!

Tomorrow is my second training day at Sutter, but my stint will be 8:30 to noon and temps won't get to 108 until later in the afternoon.  This time I will bring a bottle of water.  I nearly died working 3 hours last time with no water!

I see from "Today in My History" that 15 years ago today I wrote my very first review of a show...since Geocities is no longer on line, I can't remember now what it was.