Sunday, November 29, 2015

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

I went to Atria yesterday to let my mother know that Peach had died.  She was shocked because she hadn't remembered that she was sick.  We talked for a long time and I told her I would be over today for lunch.

There was no answer when I knocked on the door, which always scares me.  I let myself in with my key and she was lying on the couch.  I checked to make sure she was breathing and as I sat down to wait for her to wake up, her eyes opened and she groaned.  She was more out of it than I have ever seen her.

She wasn't in pain, she wasn't nauseous, but she was completely confused and very anxious.  She knew she had to be doing something, but she didn't know what.  She says this a lot, but it was worse than usual this time.  She told me she hadn't eaten.  At first she said she hadn't eaten in 3 days and then she said that she had not eaten since she moved into Atria and had not been in the dining room.  When I told her she had been there for 2-1/2 years, she was amazed.

I checked the refrigerator and saw that she had eaten half the piece of pumpkin pie I had left for her, so told her that she had eaten something, at least.

She told me about "the nice girl" who comes every day to find out if she has eaten and that she said she would bring food, but she doesn't know if she ever did.

I sat and listened for almost an hour as she told the same story over and over again about her confusion and about how she would wake up in the middle of the night, convincing herself that she had to keep from telling me any of her fears because it would bother me and she didn't want to be a bother.  Apparently her biggest fear was running out of clean underwear (she still has 4 pairs in her drawer)  

I definitely learned what it's like to be a therapist, as I just let her talk and talk and talk, though she was making no sense.  I had the feeling that what she really needed was some kind of anti-anxiety medication, and it made me angry yet again (I get angry about this a lot)  that no doctor has given her a baseline mental health exam, though I have asked each doctor who has seen her to do it, and she has no relationship with any doctor. 

Her primary care physician is mine and I chose her not because I thought she was such a wonderful doctor, but because I could e-mail her.  I have written here more than once about the difficulty ... impossibility ... of getting an e-mail account set up for my mother, which apparently even God can't do.  My doctor is a numbers person.  She keeps track of all of my numbers -- lab numbers, blood sugar numbers, heart numbers, but she has never asked me personal questions and is not a person I would turn to for a talk about something bothering me. But since I haven't needed more than that I haven't tried to find another doctor.  She's been my doctor for about 10 years.

I tried to contact the patient services person at Atria, but she won't be in until Tuesday.  I just wanted someone to TALK to to find out what was the best course for her.  Is it time to move to assisted living care, with someone coming in to check on her meds and make sure she gets to the dining room every day, and just be a daily predictable person she might come to rely on?  I don't know.

Then I came home and wrote to her doctor, who is out of the office until Monday, of course (I got a return message to that effect).

Of course all this is coming about at exactly the wrong week for me. I have four doctor appointments myself this week, three with the eye doctor (one of which is my cataract surgery on Friday) and another with an audiologist to get the process started for hearing ads.  I also have my first work day at Sutter on Monday.  And after my surgery, I'm not going to be able to drive until the doctor gives me clearance.  So even if the doctor thinks my mother should see someone -- her, or someone else  -- I may not be able to get her there.

At one point I told her that I thought maybe the severe deterioration in her dementia seemingly overnight might be a reaction to the news about Peach.  She didn't remember and was shocked all over again when I told her Peach died.

She finally calmed down enough that I could make sure she got to lunch and during lunch she improved a lot.  I also made sure she had a glass of wine, which I thought would relax her (and it did).  But when we got back to the apartment, she said she was dizzy and wanted to lie down.
I picked up her dirty undies and brought them home and will return them to her tomorrow.
I am very worried about her.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's Over

Peach has finally ended her journey and has gone home.
I am numb


Friday, November 27, 2015

The Thanksgiving that Was...and Wasn't

Well, Thanksgiving didn't happen the way we planned, but was very nice anyway.

The plan had been to take dinner to my mother so we could have a family thanksgiving together in her apartment.  This was Ned's idea and better than mine, bringing her here to share Thanksgiving dinner with us.  Ned and Marta were bringing mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls; I was cooking the turkey and stuffing and making the pies.

My mother had never been particularly interested.  I had hoped the idea of having a family dinner would have pleased her, but she had been particularly blas√© whenever I mentioned it, merely saying "well...whatever you want."

In the morning, hoping to help her remember that we were coming by in the afternoon, I brought the pumpkin pie, and a floral arrangement for the table.  I sat and talked with her and she said that she was feeling sick to her stomach.  Jeri called and we did a facetime chat and even that didn't help my mother.  She said she felt like vomiting.  It was obvious we needed to cancel our plans.  She said she was going to bed, and I left her lying on the couch looking miserable.  I will go over there today and see how she's doing.

I contacted Ned and he said that he and Marta would bring their food to our house and we'd have Thanksgiving dinner here.  So we did.  I had recently heard of an interesting way of basting the turkey, which is to soak cheesecloth in melted butter and wine and cover the turkey with it, basting a couple of other times with the remaining butter-wine mixture.  It resulted in a delicious, moist turkey!
Ned carved the bird (Walt very happy to turn this task over to the oldest son!)


It all came together very nicely.


I had left the nice floral centerpiece at my mother's but we ate on placemats that we had bought around the world--Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Germany.  And I was able to use our wedding china, which I rarely do because we have only 4 place settings.

During dinner, Tom called and we had a face time chat with the family in Santa Barbara.


And after the pumpkin pie, Walt opened the cherry brandy that we bought in Croatia.


We had eaten early and Ned and Marta were gone before Jeopardy started.  I fell asleep before the show ended and slept until 2:30, at which time I wrote this entry...and will now go back to sleep!
All in all, a lovely Thanksgiving; I just wish my mother had been well enough to join us.  But I suspect she was just as happy she didn't have to. 

 Our Thanksgiving "family portrait"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Merry Minuet


Many years ago, in the folk song era, the Kingston Trio recorded a song called "Merry Minuet," which I have thought of many times in the past weeks.

After I woke up to hear that Turkey had shot down a Russian plane over Syria this morning, I thought about it even more.  The whole world is going crazy.  I decided to check on the attacks that have taken place just in the last month.  This is not all of them, but it gives you an idea.
  • Paris is attacked
  • Turkey fires on Russian jet
  • The US State Department has issued a rare global travel alert for possible travel risks due to “increased terror
  • Brussels is on lockdown and highest terror alert and Thursday’s Europa league match between Club Brugge and Napoli will be played behind closed doors in Brugge, Belgium’s Jan Breydel Stadium after the city’s mayor cited increased security concerns amid ongoing terror threats.
  • 12 were killed and more than a dozen injured in an explosion in a bus carrying Tunisia's presidential guard.  It is considered a terrorist attack by Isis.
  • 4 killed and 12 injured by a suicide bomber at hotel in Egypt where judges overseeing Egyptian parliamentary elections staying
  • Suicide bombs by the Islamic State in Beirut kills 43
  • There was an Al Quaeda attack at a hotel in Mali. >2 Dozen killed, 100 held hostage
  • 12 killed in suicide bomb in Mogadishu
  • 48 killed, 80 wounded by Boko Haram in Nigeria
  • Boko Haram suicide bombs in Chad and Cameroon
  • 2 killed in suicide bomb in Sarajevo by Salafi movement (an ultra-conservative orthodox movement within Sunni Islam)
  • 31 killed in bombings in Baghdad
  • 4 killed, 24 injured in bombing in Philippines, part of Moro conflict (part of the ongoing civil conflict)
  • 7 killed, 3 wounded suicide bomb in Yemen
  • Xenophobia is running rampant across the United States
  • Demonstrations in Chicago after indictment of policeman...5 demonstrators were shot (since 2001, more Americans have been killed in Chicago than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined--residents of the south side of Chicago refer to it as "Chi-raq")
And then there's Israel...
Terror attacks by numbers (as of November 24):
74 stabbings
10 shootings
12 car rammings

The whole world is, indeed, festering with unhappy souls.  Friends of ours planned a trip to Turkey to celebrate their anniversary, and have changed and are now going to Japan, which, at last count, has not had any terror attacks or threats.


If there is anything to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving is that our cruise is over, we are home, Davis is an unlikely terrorist attack, and we have no plans to travel anywhere in the foreseeable future.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday Stealing


Stolen from Would You Rather...
  1. Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone who talks incessantly?
    Alone.  Definitely alone
  2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
    Too cold.
  3. Would you rather have a cook or a maid?
    A maid who would also plan meals and shop...I'll cook.
  4. Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling?
    I was oldest, so I'll go with oldest
  5. Would you rather get rich through hard work or through winning the lottery?
    The lottery, of course...instant gratification.
  6. Would you rather have a 10-hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, or attend a 10-hour concert for a music group you detest?
    I'll go with politician.  Like 10 hrs with Chris Matthews.  Might be interesting.  I couldn't handle 10 hrs of music I hate.
  7. Would you rather be an Olympic gold medalist or a Nobel Peace Prize winner?
    Nobel Peace Prize winner
  8. Would you rather have a desk job or an outdoor job?
    Desk Job
  9. Would you rather live at the top of a tall NYC apartment building or at the top of a mountain?
    Oh definitely a NYC apartment building
  10. Would you rather have Rambo or The Terminator on your side?
    Good lord.  I don't know enough about either of them to choose, but since if I had to choose between Stallone and Arnold, I guess I'd go with Arnold.
  11. Would you rather be proposed to in private or in front of family and friends?
    In private.
  12. Would you rather have to sew all your clothes or grow your own food?
    I suspect if I had to do either, I'd be naked and starving.
  13.  Would you rather hear the good news or the bad news first?
    The bad. 
  14. Would you rather be your own boss or work for someone else?
    My own boss 
  15. Would you rather have nosy neighbors or noisy neighbors?
    What terrible questions these are.  I guess I'll go with nosy.
  16. Would you rather be on a survival reality show or dating game show?
    I'd never survive on a survival show so I guess dating game show, though that idea is abhorrent! (are there any dating shows for fat old ladies who are already married?) 
  17. Would you rather be too busy or be bored?
    Bored, I guess.  I can always read or watch TV, so I'm never really bored.
  18.  Would you rather watch the big game at home or live at the stadium?
    At home, where I can see the plays better and have it all explained to me.  Plus the food is cheaper
  19. Would you rather spend the day with your favorite athlete or you favorite movie star?
    Movie star
  20.  Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?
    Constantly winter

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Getting the Holiday Spirit


I'm not sure why, but it seems that most of the theater companies in this area are opening their Christmas shows much earlier than usual.  The two shows I saw this weekend were both Christmas shows opening before Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving, I'll be seeing "Miracle on 34th Street."

On Friday, we saw "In-Laws, Outlaws, and other people (who should be shot)" at the Winters Theater Company.  Winters is a little town about 10 miles from Davis.  It has a population of about 7,000 or less  There is one main street, which runs about 3 blocks long, and the theater company performs in the community center, which is very much like a high school auditorium.

But I love these guys!  They don't aspire to be more than they are--a nice community theater, emphasis on community. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they are not so good.  Sometimes the cast has one or two good performers, sometimes there are more good performances.  But they remind me of the Lamplighters in the early days...you love them because they love what they are doing and make no apologies about their shortcomings.  They include everyone who wants to be a part of the company.  They also usually do shows that you aren't likely to see on any big stage.

They also give the opening night audience cheesecake and champagne before the show.  How can you not love that?

Friday's show opened with a children's chorus singing Christmas carols.  But this wasn't any formal chorus, just a bunch of kids getting up and singing, more or less in tune, and between acts they did "Little Drummer Boy" with drum accompaniment.  I couldn't help myself.  I had to take a photo. They were just so darn cute.


The show was funny, too, about a quirky family being held hostage on Christmas Eve by two bumbling would-be robbers, who needed to hide out from the cops until the coast was clear.  There was a predictable "aww shucks" ending that sent everyone home with a good feeling about the holidays.

Then today it was A Christmas Carol at Sacramento's B Street Theater.  I was expecting a traditional version of the Dickens classic, and the set certainly did not indicate that it would be anything  else.


But I should have known from reading that this was director Buck Busfield's interpretation that it would be anything but the classic story.  A lot of the Dickensian elements were there, all right, but in this version, Scrooge is fed up with having to recreate his redemption story year after year ever since 1843 and he kind of takes control of the story and directs the ghosts.  A little odd, but by the end of it, I was enjoying it.

Now we get a break to celebrate Thanksgiving and then see Miracle on 34th Street next weekend.


God bless us every one.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Today at Logos


One of my first customers today was the tallest man I'd ever seen.  He had to duck down to come through the front door.  It took all my self control not to gawk at him, make dumb jokes about basketball, or make any comment on his height whatever (I couldn't resist, however, snapping this picture as he went out the door).  He was a very nice man who bought a bargain book and a philosophy book.  As he paid, his hands were large and his fingers long and slender, as befitted the rest of his physique.

I was relieving Susan today.  Sandy is on vacation again and won't be back until after Thanksgiving.  Susan and I talked theater and the news that DeLuna Jewelers, just a couple of shops down from Logos, is going out of business.  They have been in that location 47 years.  The place was filled with customers all day long.  In fact, my very first customer was a guy who bought a bargain book (a Tony Hillerman mystery) and said he had to get back to DeLuna to relieve his wife, who was waiting in line!

I don't know what I will do now when my mother's watch battery dies.  I think they are the only jeweler left in town.

I had had lunch at Atria and then rushed home to take a nap before my shift, so I wasn't quite awake when I took over at the store and felt that customers were intrusions causing napus interruptus.  But I was happy to see Bruce outside at the bargain table.  I hadn't seen him in a couple of months.  I noted he was in clean, well-fitting clothes (still all in white), with no hat.  He didn't find anything he wanted, so didn't come in.

A guy wearing a Honeydew Country Store, Honeydew California sweat shirt wandered around.  I asked him where Honeydew was and he told me it was in Humbolt County, in the northern part of the state.  He bought a bargain book on Napoleon and then looked around some more and found "Brooklyn" in the contemporary fiction section.  I saw a preview for the movie based on the book today and was sorry I didn't see the book first!

An older professorial type guy in a tweed 3 piece suit and a newsboy type cap looked around for awhile, then asked if we had any Bill Bryson books.  I took him to the travel section but he was looking for books on English, so I showed him "The Mother Tongue" and other books on the English language.  He didn't buy that, but did by the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research.  He also asked when Peter works and I gave him an e-mail address.

The next customer was an older woman bundled in grey with sunglasses and a wonderful cloche hat.  I loved the hat, but she didn't stay long and left without buying anything.  (I'm not a hat person because hats never fit on my big head, but this one was nice.)

A woman in a sweater with a quilt pattern in light fall colors, over a navy blue pleated skirt went directly to the mysteries, selected two books by Amanda Cross (a mystery writer I with whom I was not familiar) and left within 5 minutes.

A woman with a young boy (maybe 9 or 10) with a neat crew cut went right to the children's room, but they were looking for a hard cover copy of Harry Potter #3 and didn't find it.  She said they'd check again.

Another woman with a son was looking for picture books of minerals and rocks, but didn't find what she and her son were looking for.

An eager guy who obviously knew his way around the store said he was looking for the history section and ended up buying a book called "Bolsheviks."

An interesting looking middle aged woman with thick, short curly grey hair and a sturdy physique who looked at things over the top of her glasses reminded me of "Mama" on the old Carol Burnett show.  She carried two backpacks and a large purse and bought two bargain books and two English-Russian dictionaries.

An Asian guy came in very happy to have found a Mexican cookbook among the bargain books.
A guy with a bag from the Avid Reader (a store that sells new books a block away) came in to buy a bargain book.
A young woman spent a long time looking at books and ended up buying: "Back Roads of California," "Grasshopper Pueblo," "Ishi," "Ecology of Fear," "Ulysses," "Babbit," "30 Simple Things to do to Save the Earth," "Cannery Row" and "Breakfast of Champions."

My friend (who had not been in last week) arrived at 4:45.  He was coughing and said he didn't want to get close, but we talked about the cruise and he bought a bargain book and one other, that I forgot to record.  It was good to see him again.

A rotund man wearing a cap and using a cane had a pouty lower lip and looked like Harry Potter's Uncle Vernon.  He didn't stay long or buy anything.

A hobbit-y nerdish guy with copper colored John Denver style hair and a huge backpack as big as he was, was looking for a book by Francoise someone.  Each time I asked him to repeat the information he said it faster and quieter.  I finally sent him off to what I thought was the logical section but he left shortly after.

Susan arrived at 5:45 and then went out to get coffee and a baklava.  She asked if I wanted anything.  I said no, but heck, if I'd known she was going to get baklava!!!.....

Probably just as well.  My intestines were feeling funny.  I came home and had no dinner, but went to sleep early (which meant, of course, that I was awake at 3 a.m.).
 


My heart is breaking.  Peach's husband called to let me know the priest has given her the last rites and she will be gone soon.  I told him she has been more a sister to me than my own sister was.  This is very difficult.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Family Video Night

I'm really sleepy and so I'm just going to link to this page on Funny the World because I don't want to take the time to do all the "embeds"

So go here http://www.funnytheworld.com/2015/Nov/20.htm

Sorry.  I just pooped out tonight. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Specimen Life


Jon Carroll, a wonderful columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, who retires this week after many decades of wonderful columns wrote a piece this morning called "Reality theater:  Its joys and sorrows" which hit a chord with me.  He reflects back over his time with the Chronicle and how his column evolved from
I didn’t know what I was doing. Absolutely without a clue. I didn’t have much time to think about consequences, either; I was just grindin’ ’em out as fast as I could. Anything could be a column. See this rock here? Column potential. See this dead spider? Maybe something about killing spiders and the various fears and reservations around that simple act.
When he began to run out of material,
Eventually I began plagiarizing my own life. Writers are monsters. They feed off other people’s experiences, other people’s emotions. All the time they are sitting there pretending to be entirely in the moment, laughing or crying or going “oops,” and actually they are taking notes, arranging impressions, maybe even writing sentences. They are with you, except in the sense that they are somewhere else.
He began to get regular readers and started to feel they were part of his circle of friends and family to whom he was speaking when he wrote about his life, or his thoughts on the world in general, or his cat.

I looked back on nearly 16 years of Funny the World and reflected on how it began pretty much the way Carroll's did -- not having a clue what I was doing, but wanting to do something.  The very first entry was easy.  Ned had just moved into a playhouse his radio station erected on a 24 hour gas station in Sacramento to raise money for shoes for the homeless.  I posted it and was off and running.  But where...? 

Over the coming weeks, I discussed watching animals on Africam, trying to learn how to write grants, a fraud scam that had been perpetrated using our credit card, The Lamplighters, gay kids, our new dog, and my first Oscar report ("totally tacky and I loved it")

From the beginning it has always been eclectic and over the years, people seem to have continued to follow it.  I don't watch stats, so my only indication is from the guestbook comments I get, but in the days when I did check stats, there were more than 300 hits a day from around the world, and if that isn't heady stuff!  You and I have shared my Weight Watcher years, various death watches (the most painful of which was Kathy's death in 2011), my mother's worsening dementia and Peach's cancer. You enjoyed all the foster dogs, my biking experiences (I got cheers when I conquered the "dreaded overpass"), loved hearing about Cousins Days, followed all of our vacations, and were there to offer a "there there" like yesterday, when I was in a mood.  There are even those who enjoy "Today at Logos," which is why I continue to write it week after week.

Carroll talks about the change in human dynamic over the years, especially how it affects those of us "of a certain age."
In the family culture, there was always someone to talk to. A failed romance? Ask Aunt Sophie how she coped when that bastard Ira moved to Connecticut. A little drinking problem? Uncle Tony had one of those, and so did Pop-Pop’s wife, Clara. Pain in the genital area? Billy is a doctor; he’ll see you for free.
These days, when you reach a certain point in your life, if you don't have in place a close group of friends to whom you can turn when in need, writing it all down helps.
It’s the way we connect now, waving at each other from our mediated redoubts.
Throughout my life I have had close circles of friends, but they gradually dissolve.  Even the Pinata People aren't as close as we once were.  I have lots of acquaintances with whom I have lunch or a coffee a few times a year and share our frustrations about the political scene, but none with whom I have curled up and cried as we shared secrets and wine, not since Kathy died.  It's just not the same to choose an acquaintance at random and spill the sorrows and frustrations of your life. There is a certain "history" that needs to be in place before you feel comfortable doing that.

So I do it here.  I was asked recently why it's such a passion of mine and, honestly, I can't tell you except I have this thing within me which needs to express what I'm feeling.  I have all of my life, I think.  I used to have half a dozen people with whom I corresponded and now other than Char, there is nobody...and if I can't share correspondence or buy a cheesecake and share it with a bunch of Golden Girls here in town, Funny the World is the next best thing.  We each have our own way of coping with the stresses in our lives.  If I could run to my mother and cry in her arms about how I'm feeling about Peach's impending death, for example, I would do it, but knowing that she doesn't respond that way any more leaves me hanging out to dry.

So Funny the World is more than my blog.  It's my circle of "imaginary friends" (as a CompuServe friend used to call us) and my extended family.  In the beginning I shared too much and by the time the Internet world started worrying about privacy, I was already an open book and there was no point in trying to be anonymous.  I learned to edit myself, not to share everything, especially after a few things that upset my kids. 
The global village gets succor from those tales....semipublic humans leading what Terry Gross called “specimen lives.”

On Friday Walt and I have a meeting with a Kaiser counselor to help us fill out Advanced Care Directives (which I have to have on file before my cataract surgery next month).  The form is 16 pages long and much more involved than I realized.  But one question "Life would no longer be worth living if I were unable to...." stumped me a bit.  I realized that one of the things that makes life worth living for me, at this point in my life, is being able to write Funny the World, which is why I lug my heavy laptop around the world with me and get so frustrated when Yahoo shuts me out for 2 days.  It's my drug, I guess.  It's one of the things that make life worth living for me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

They Don't Tell You This

The problem with growing up and especially getting older is something we don't think about until it happens to us.  We either die early, or we watch all of our friends dying, one by one.  Both situations suck!

Before my computer died (even computers get old!) I had started keeping a list of all of our friends who died and which year we lost them.  One year we lost 13 friends, friends of ours, not friends of our parents.  But it's too depressing to try to compile that list again.

This week we lost Mitch Agruss, grand old man of Sacramento theater, recently given a lifetime achievement award.  We knew Mitch first when we first moved here and the kids watched his "Captain Mitch" cartoon show every day.  It was not until he was about to do a show a few years back and I went to interview him (my photo at left) that I learned what an amazing man he was.  His apartment was like a museum of show business, and he had tales of doing summer stock with the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Moss Hart among others.

Following that interview, we became casual friends.  We had friends in common and we occasionally had lunch with them.  We drove him and my colleague to a lot of shows in Sacramento.  I loved watching him "holding court" in the lobby as everyone in the theater, it seemed, wanted to come and say hello to him.

But it became obvious that he was not going to live much longer and after a brief hospitalization, he died of a stroke in the ambulance, headed back to his apartment.

At the same time, we recently went to the 95th birthday party of our friend of >40 years, Arthur Sullivan, who is probably not going to live much longer, according to his long-time partner, a physician.

Arthur has been a friend ever since he joined The Lamplighters a bazillion years ago.  World's sweetest man and though we didn't see him often, I am saddened to know that he is on his way out.

Today we had news of the hospitalization of another friend of >40 years.  I don't know the degree of seriousness, but he had to be transported to Sacramento because they did not have the resources to care for him at the hospital here in town.  I know he has not been well for a long time and I just pray that we hear good news about him.

And then I called Peach this afternoon.  I had not spoken with her since before I went on the cruise.  She had difficulty speaking, slurring her words, and pretty much not making much sense.  She gave the phone to her daughter, who says they are kind of in a holding pattern, knowing that the end is near and just trying to bring a smile to her face as often as they can.  They have met with the priest and have made preliminary arrangements for her funeral, which makes me cry whenever I mention it.  She has been more of a sister to me than my own sister ever was, and especially following Karen's death.  A big part of me wants to fly to Iowa, but I know they have more than they can handle right now--and it's about ready to snow (I was there last year at this time), so I'm better off staying at home, but my heart aches for her, and perhaps more for myself, knowing that she is on her way out.

With her death, the death of our cousin Kathy in 2011, and the death of our cousin Shirley a few years before that, it will leave me as the oldest survivor of our generation and that is a sobering thought. 
You reach a certain age and you don't make new friends any more and just watch the ones you have fade away, if you don't do it first.  But it gets more and more lonely as there are fewer and fewer people to whom you can turn when you lose another friend.  My mother is still here, but losses don't faze her any more and she responds by saying "well...life goes on..." which isn't the kind of shared emotion that I need and is, in its own way, another daily manifestation of another loss, whether she is still alive or not.

I'm just in a real funk today, needing a big "there-there."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My New Hobby


Believe it or not, I seem to have developed a new hobby this week, the very last I would have expected.  I can't seem to stay awake.  At all.  This morning I slept until after 10 a.m., which is unheard of.  And then, waking so late, I was very lethargic trying to get moving so took a nap.  In the afternoon, i went to Atria and stayed my usual hour, then came home and fell asleep.  I have been napping off and on throughout the evening and finally just got up (12:30) to ssee if Yahoo was finally finished with its upgrade and if I could still post entries to Funny the World.  But as I sit here, I am ready to go back to sleep as soon as I can.

I never think of myself as having jet lag.  Traveling never seems to bother my sleep patterns much since they are so weird to begin with...and this seems a bit late to suddenly start experiencing jet lag, but...whatever...I'm enjoying the sleep, even if I'm missing my life while I'm doing it!

This Yahoo thing has been frustrating.  I knew it was coming.  Yahoo sent out messages a month or so ago, but I chose not to pay attention until I suddenly could not access anything on Funny the World.  Yahoo has become Aabaco Small Business and it involved a re-working of the web site.
I didn't remember if it was ultimately going to affect me or if things would continue as they always have and so I have worried these past 2-3 days when I could not connect.  Whenever I tried, I got the message
Sorry! We're currently updating our system. Please return and complete your request after 6:00 p.m. PT on November 15. When you do, you'll see our new name, Aabaco Small Business, and a completely rebranded website.
We apologize for any inconvenience this delay may cause."
First it was after 6 p.m. on November 15, then November 16 and finally November 17.  i had little hope of it actually being ready for prime time tonight either, but when I tried just now...there it was ,looking like it always did (when I figured out how to connect, that is...it's different, but now that I've bookmarked the pertinent pages, I shouldn't even notice the difference). 

The visit with my mother was nothing out of the ordinary.  I finally remembered to break it to her that her friend died last week.  I wasn't sure how that would go and if she would have to be reinded of who Dodie was, but she didn't need reminding and was shocked and saddened.  I told her I had no information on the cause of her death and she said, somewhat wistfully "maybe someone will call me," so I let her other friend know that it was OK to call.  I couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't be like breaking the news all over again, but her friends were concerned about the effect of telling her over the phone and I think that will be OK now.

She's developed a new "thing" -- reading her watch.  She can be at times obsessive about it and seems to have trouble each time trying to figure out what time it is.  She obviously doesn't need a watch, since she has noplace to be, but having it on her wrist is important to her.

The weather continues to be a big topic of conversation.  Today she asked the usual question "is it hot outside?"  I told her that no, in fact it was cold (about 59).  After that each time she looked outside she would tell me that the sky was so blue but somehow it looked cold.

I've read some new thigs about Alzheimers / Dementia in the last week.  One was a list of ways to tell if a person has dementia or Alzheimers and with I think one exception, it described my mother to a T.  The other was a book written for caregivers (as in people in an assisted living facility who care for dementia patients) about how to enrich their lives, how to handle difficult situations, etc.  So much of the situations discussed sounded so familiar.  I sure wish I could get her doctor to do a baseline, but that would involve getting her to a doctor and that's not likely to happen until her required annual physical since it takes an act of God (literally) to get her to agree to see a doctor.  But next time I'll try being more insistent.


But for now I find I am once again falling asleep.  Apologies for a really boring entry.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Use the Farce, Luke


This was a 3 show weekend, but I only had to review two of them.  The third was this afternoon.  We went to San Francisco for the 50th annual fund-raising gala.  The Lamplighters is 62 years old and in its 15th year, they were having money problems and decided to put on a special show for which they would charge more money and serve champagne.  For the first year or two, a winery donated all the champagne, but I guess that we drank too much and they have bought it ever since.

I have fond memories of ushering at that first Gala (where a fire broke out backstage which delayed the start of the production) and after the show was over, standing in the theater getting snockered with leading tenor Adrian McNamara.

Tonight they asked from the stage how many people had been coming for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years.  Only 5 of us in the audience had been coming for 50 years (though we skipped a few years during our baby-raising days).

Tonight also honored Bill Neil, who has been performing with the Lamplighters for 50 years (and was in tonight's show).  He received a proclamation from San Francisco's mayor, Ed Lee, congratulating him on his record.

In the earliest galas, and for many years, the shows consisted of songs from the current season used to fit some sort of silly plot.  There were no lyric changes, just the songs out of context to move along a new story line.  Things changed in about 1982 when then-office manager David Witmer and I convinced musical director Gilbert Russak to base the new show on soap operas and to use the entire Gilbert & Sullivan canon and change some of the lyrics to fit the silly plot.  Gilbert, certain that would be too much for the chorus, fought us on it, but eventually he agreed to try it. The three of us wrote the show and Major General Hospital was a phenomenal success and though when viewed today, the show can't hold a candle to the work that is being done now, it got rave reviews from critics who had not seen anything like it before.

Gilbert and I wrote the show the next year, under a lot of adverse conditions, and by the third year, we had begun to assemble a small writing committee, foremost among whom was Barbara Heroux, who would go on to become general director years later, and Geoff Colton, patter man and lyric writer extraordinaire.  The year before he died, Gilbert wrote his magnum opus, a Gilbert & Sullivan salute to Wagner's Ring Cycle.

After Gilbert's death, we worried about how the show would get done, but so many talented people stepped up, with Barbara and Geoff in the lead.  I stuck around for 2 or 3 more years, but learned that you really have to be there to effectively participate in all the silliness that are gala writing committee meetings. The galas now are head and shoulders above Major General Hospital and the writers. led by an extremely talented guy named Mike Dedarian with 13 other writers far more talented than Gilbert and I were in those early days.

Tonight's offering was Return of the Deadeye or The Farce Awakens" and was based, very loosely, on the first Star Wars movie, with characters like Luke Moonwalker, Princess Ida Organa, Obi-Bun Thornobi, Juan Solo, and Poohbacca. The actress who played the 3-CPO character (GCPO) was in gold costume with gold paint on her exposed body parts.  she had the movements of 3-CPO down pat, while the actress playing R2-D2 (Mark-O) was riding on some sort of ...gosh, I don't even know what it was.  It was like a hoverboard, controlled by her feet.  She explained to me that each half of whatever it was she was standing on had a motor and she could activate each independent of each other.  She did it so seamlessly that it seemed all one piece of her costume.

The songs were wonderful (I particularly liked one about the current drought called "I once was a very hygienic person") and easily understood thanks to supertitles (and a book of lyrics you could buy to read later)

It was another winner.  During intermission there was an auction which raised about $15,000 for the company.  I met the auctioneer before the show and found out he lived in Davis.  When we started playing the "what part of town do you live in?" game we discovered that we live just a block apart.

The champagne reception was upstairs at Herbst Theater and when my knees gave out, I found a chair to sit in.  I loved just sitting there watching all these people who had paid nearly $100 a ticket for this event and thinking back to its beginnings and its history through the years.  I wish Gilbert could have seen it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Stealing


Are any of your friendships on a fine line? No
Have you ever witnessed a birth? 5 of my own, nobody else's (except on video)
Where’s your favorite place to be when you feel depressed? At home in front of the TV
Are you currently looking forward to tomorrow? Oh YES!  Lamplighters Gala!
When was the last time you held someone’s hand? Walt's, on the trip, plus all those guys who helped me off buses and onto boats!
Have you ever faked sick? Not often, but yes.  Especially when I was young.
Are you currently wearing jeans? I don't own jeans.
Have you gone to a coffee shop within the past week? We went to a cafe in Venice for cappuccino and gelato.
Would you like to be able to read thoughts? I don't know.  Scary thought.
Do certain swear words just roll off your tongue? Hell, yes.
Are you often the last one to understand a joke?  No.  I'm pretty quick.
Can experience be gained just by reading? Not really.  Nothing like living through it.
Does playing the guitar make a person more attractive?  No.
Have you ever slept in a tent, indoors or out? Sure.  We used to camp all the time (not now, though)
What does your hair look like at the moment? Cut about 1-1/2" and curly
Are you mad right now?  if you mean in the "angry" sense, nope.
Who did you spend your summer with last year? Did not go on a formal vacation, so the same old people.
Did you eat a cookie today?  Not yet, but I'm about to make some for a bake sale.

This is from last week, but I wasn't around to answer it last week.

Is there anyone else in the room with you atm? What are they doing?
I am all alone in the room, except for MSNBC reporting on Paris. 

Do you show your teeth when you smile, or do you prefer smiling with your lips closed?
I don't smile with my lips closed, but my teeth are set back far enough that when I smile, usually my teeth don't show anyway.

Would you rather be told the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear?
Yes.  It keeps me from making things up that may be wildly untrue.

What is something that you plan to buy, as soon as you’ve saved up the money for it?
No big plans to purchase anything of that nature in the foreseeable future.

Do you play Sudoku?
No.  My brain doesn't work that way.

Have you ever had a migraine?
A few times, but not in a very long time.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?
Most of the books I read are for pleasure.  The last one was "Not My Father's Son" by Alan Cumming.

What was the last item of clothing you purchased for yourself?
I bought a pair of slacks for the cruise.

Your first serious relationship, do you still talk to him/her?
That was more than 60 years ago.  We dated for 4 years.  He became a Jesuit.  We exchange Christmas cards.  I recently discovered he has been moved to a semi-cloistered location because of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Who is the last person you texted?
My daughter.

How close is your family?
Geographically, too far scattered (Sacramento - Santa Barbara - Boston).  Emotionally, I hope very close.

Is there anything too serious to be joked about?
I joke about a lot of serious things (death, for example) but there are many things too serous to joke about --the terrorist attacks in Paris, for example.

Do you like to understand and have good knowledge of things?
Depends on the "thing," but as a general rule, yes.

What is worse? Back pain or shoulder pain?
I have no shoulder pain, but have back pain, so I'd have to go with back pain.

Have you ever almost fallen off of something high off the ground?
Thankfully, no.  (Unless you consider a bike "high off the ground.")

What’s one fruit you love in drinks?
Orange juice, or pureed strawberries.

What is something simple that you’re afraid of?
Big trucks on the freeway.

Has this weekend been good?
Still recovering from our cruise, but things are leveling off.  Show to review last night, show to review tonight, show to see (not review) on Sunday.  My mother seems to have survived our period of absence.

How much time do you take to get ready in the morning?
Under 5 minutes.

Last movie you watched in theaters and with whom?
Walt and I went to see Mr. Holmes a few months ago.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday 9


The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!


Saturday 9: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1972)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The lyrics tell us about a young man who stopped at a bar named Webb's before heading home. What's the last restaurant or bar you visited? What did you order
We went to Hostaria Galileo on our last day in Venice (Monday) and we had pizza, our last in Italy.

2) In this video, Vicki Lawrence is obviously lip synching. If you had to participate in a competition, would you do better at karaoke or lip synching? And what song would you choose to perform?
Oh, definitely lip synch.  Something from the 40s, 50s, or 60s.

3) Back when this song was popular, so was the Rubik's Cube. Can you solve that 3-D puzzle?
Not in a million years.

4) Vicki Lawrence is a hyphenate, meaning she's a comedienne-actress-singer. Using hyphens, describe yourself.
Writer-volunteer-dog lover

5) Back in the early 1970s, songwriter Bobby Russell first offered this song to Cher, who refused it. Give us the name of a song Cher did record.
"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves"

6) Vicki Lawrence won her first big break playing Carol Burnett's kid sister because of her resemblance to the star. Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity?
Best day of my adolescence.  I was walking down Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco when a guy rushed out of a car dealership and then stopped in disappointment when he realized I was NOT Judy Garland.

7) She also starred on Mama's Family in the role of matriarch of an argumentative Southern clan. As we head into the holiday season, do your plans involve a lot of family time?
Less this year than usual.  Ned & Marta are going to Jamaica with Jeri & Phil (and maybe Walt's sister and her husband).  They all want to spend Christmas somewhere where it's warm. Tom and Laurel will be visiting Laurel's cousin in Sacramento and will come to Atria to have a little Christmas with my mother.  That's about it for family this year. I miss our big family dinners.

8) After The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family, Vicki became a staple on daytime TV. She hosted Win, Lose or Draw and was a contestant on The Match Game and $25,000 Pyramid. Do you watch much daytime TV?
TV is white noise for me.  Best days are those with NCIS marathons, but I'll pretty much watch anything.  During those quiz show years, I watched pretty much all of them, when I could.

9) Random question provided by a Sat 9er: Bugs/insects. Do you like 'em or fear 'em? Tell us something/anything you know about them.
I don't like them.  I don't necessarily fear them, but just hate to be around them.  Don't dragonflies sew your mouth shut?  (Well, that's what we believed when I was in grammar school)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Blue Day at Logos


It was mid-afternoon before I realized that, first of all, when the temperatures turn cold, the clothing of customers is pretty boring.  No interesting outfits, hats, shoes, etc. today.  Bummer.  Second, it seemed that just about everyone coming into the store was wearing blue.  Amazing.  I didn't start tracking it until late in the afternoon, so it won't show up in "Today" until later in this entry.


I replaced Susan this morning, not Sandy.  I sat there, kind of in a daze trying to get into "Logos Mode" again.  After today, the Mediterranean seems very far away indeed.  I decided to check the travel books and see if there was anything that would speak to me re the places we had visited.  A man came in and asked to see travel books, so I went back to the desk and let him browse.  

Another man came in looking for "Travels with Charlie" and I directed him to the Lit section for Steinbeck.  It occurred to me that one thing I love about working at Logos is discovering how many authors and/or books I know and can give information about even if the customer didn't know more than the title of the book.

The travel book guy brought his selection, a guide to New York, to the desk and asked my name.  I told him and he said "I thought so!" and then asked if he could induced me to go to see his daughter's play at the high school tonight ("you don't need to review it; just see it!")  As a parent of theater kids, I understood his plea, but I told him I had just returned from vacation and have 3 shows this weekend, and just couldn't.  At this stage of the game a free ticket to a high school production is just not the "treat" that some might think it would be.

He then told me that he was re-starting the Davis Life Magazine, which had disappeared several years ago.  That was good news to hear because I always enjoyed that on-line magazine. I gave him my e-mail address and told him to keep in touch.

A European couple came in looking for maps of Davis.  I sent them to the Avid Reader.

A young woman came in wanting to donate books and wanting to know "when are the donation hours?"

There had been a middle aged man (dressed in blue, now that I think about it) who had been talking to Peter when I arrived.  He was probably there for another half hour and ended up spending $50 on:  3 bargain books (he returned two of the five he had chosen, originally), 3 Literature, 2 Native American history, 2 political science, one American History....and a bag.

The next woman who came in gave me a start.  She was tall and had the bearing and movement and appearance of Peggy, though on closer observation, her hair was curly, her nose more aquiline, and her earrings were not hoops, but it did startle me for a moment.  She bought an Ann Taylor book. 

A guy bought 2 bargain books and 3 Literature and you would have thought I was giving him a special gift when I told him he could choose some bookmarks.

2 women came in together chatting and chatted throughout their time there.  The first woman was rather large and greeted me with "OK...where are your tarot books?"  She wore a Mickey Mouse jacket over a purple shirt.  She removed the jacket midway through her visit.  The other woman asked for a bathroom and I sent her across the street.  She returned, stopping to pick out two books in the bargain section and came in saying "This store is too damn good!"  The two of them together bought lots of books.

A tall, balding guy with his sunglasses slung over the neck of his sweater bought a book on feminists and a book on San Francisco Victorian houses.

A couple who were probably grandparents came in asking if we had the "Great Brain" books for children, which we apparently did not, but they left with a copy of "Harriet the Spy."

A bearded buy in a navy blue puffy jacket bought "Day of the Locust."

A woman with snow white hair and an electric blue sweater with a Navy blue scarf wanted to put up a flyer ("A Day in Gaza").  She also bought a bargain book.

A guy with blue jeans and a blue shirt, with a blue bag over one shoulder looked around for a long time, but eventually bought nothing.

A mustached middle aged guy in blue jeans, blue shirt, and blue sweater took a book from the display table and stood leaning against a chair reading it.  I swear he read the whole thing and then left without buying anything.

A guy in a wheelchair (with blue jeans and a blue shirt) passed by the window, looked at the bargain books, then twirled his chair around and sped off.

A guy in saggy khaki pants and a blue jacket with "Converse 08" on it bought a bargain book.

At this point I desperately needed a nap!  Also, it was now after 5 and my friend had not shown up.  Outside it was getting dark.  Gone are the days when we will leave in daylight.  Winter is approaching.

A woman in an aqua plush jacket, pink scarf and pink trainers looked around for a long time before leaving.

A buxom woman in a tight blue sweater wants information on donations.

A man with a blue sweater and light blue jeans also wants to donate.  He says he always writes in his books, the date he bought them and where.  He asked if we would take those books and I said that we would.

Susan came in about now and we talked, with difficulty, because she has a sore throat and could barely speak and I need hearing aids and could barely hear, but I did tell her about our trip, what she had not already read in this journal.

Finally Walt arrived, and I was amused to see he was wearing a blue shirt.

When we got home, Walt fixed the TV in my office while I dozed off during Jeopardy...then woke up to the big TV having no sound.  Walt called ComCast who suggested various things and finally said we would need a service call and scheduled it for Monday! (4 days from now!)  But later, Walt decided to kick start the thing (unplugged it and plugged it back in again).  That worked and we have TV again.

I slept so long Walt had to fix his own dinner and then I wasn't sleepy, but it is now 3 a.m. and I think once I post this, I'll have no trouble getting back to sleep.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Back to Normal

Well, today was a normal day.  I visited my mother at Atria, brought her laundry home, and then went to the supermarket and did a big shopping since we were out of everything.

Where is my room service?  Who is going to prepare a beautifully presented dinner for me?  What show is in the theater tonight?  Where is my all-you-can-eat crab?  Where is the gelato? Good grief, even the ground beneath my feet has finally stopped rocking.  It's almost like it all never happened.  Dorothy is back in Kansas again.

And that normalcy began, of course, with going to see my mother.  I took a selection of post cards to tell her about the trip, figuring that eventually I will make a selection of the best photos to show her.  She didn't seem to remember I had been gone when she opened the door, but then she did and, of course, it took many retellings but that was OK.  We had things to talk about.  And she laughed a lot when I told her about Walt getting left in the bathroom of the bus.

But the best part was going to lunch.  Robert joined us.  He is a regular at her normal table but came in late today, as did we, so we were at a different table.  Her whole demeanor changed when he arrived.  She was back in flirty mode again.  She has always needed a man in her life to flirt with. The two of them are good for each other, he can't hear much and both of them have dementia, so they speak the same language.  Robert's dementia was particularly bad today but somehow they were able to enjoy a conversation. I was amazed that she greeted him by name.  I didn't know she knew ANYONE at Atria by name.

While they were chatting, I was talking with Carol, a woman I hadn't met before, but who has been there not quite a year and says that "Mildred is my favorite person here."  She was a very nice lady and we had a chat until she got vehemently pro-christian and anti-any other religion, even pounding on the table and using "dammit."  I stayed away from that topic!!

Loretta came in while we were lunching. Carol told me I should see Loretta and my mother trading barbs when they are together.  I told her that I had and that they were even better when they had a little wine with their meal.  Loretta is starting to get that 'Atria look' that all the older people with dementia seem to get (my mother included) where they have completely lost interest in their appearance.  In addition to wandering around looking for a friend to eat with, I noticed that she had not brushed her hair and her clothes were "askew."  My mother is frequently like that when we go to eat.  It seems a good way to tell the ones with dementia from the ones without is to check their hair.  Robert's normally well coiffed white hair stood up in back like Alfalfa's.

But all in all it was a good visit.  I dreaded getting back into the Atria routine, but it wasn't at all depressing, and she desperately needed underwear washed.  I don't know what she did in my absence.  She had told me she would wash things by hand, but doesn't remember now whether she did or not.

And yes, I went to the supermarket.  As I said, we were out of everything, since i had done a fairly good job of not leaving perishables to sit and perish for 2 weeks (I missed the bananas, which were uniformly black when we got home!)

Before we left, Walt took all of our reusable bags out of the trunk, to make room for luggage and he couldn't find where he'd put them before I left, so I had to pay for paper bags.  I told the checker that in this town, which is so ecologically conscious, I felt like I should be wearing a shirt that said "Really!  I DO have reusable bags at home!"  But nobody tossed anything at me while I was accompanying my paper bags to the car.

I normally refuse help with taking groceries to the car because I'm always afraid I will be embarrassed to admit I'm not sure where I left the car.  But, still stiff and sore from the trip, and knowing EXACTLY where I parked the car, I accepted the offer of help.

Only it turns out I did NOT remember where I had parked the car.  Fortunately, I knew I had parked next to one of the "return the cart here" racks, and found it easily enough, but yes, I was embarrassed to stride confidently into the parking lot only to discover that I didn't know where my car was after all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Day of the Gimp

I don't know what time it is body time, but it's nearly 1  a.m. Davis time and I have been awake about 20 minutes. (I wonder when my brain is going to realize i am on dry land and no longer give me the sensation of gentle rocking on the ship.)  I didn't have to worry about cooking dinner.  Walt and I sat down to watch the news, for the first time in two weeks.  He had a glass of wine, I had a handful of Wheat Thins.  Next thing I knew it was midnight and I had slept about five hours.  I don't know when Walt went upstairs to bed.  Polly informed me, very pathetically that it was way past her dinnertime and she was still waiting.

What a day.  It could be titled "day of the gimp."  Through the course of this trip, Char and I have probably experienced every kind of "assistance" that you can have.  But if you have any kind of mobility problems, asking for wheelchair assistance is the way to go, I'll tell ya!

We met in the hotel lobby at about 4:00 a.m. and picked up bags of breakfast -- yogurt, an apple, crackers, cheese, and a bunch of other stuff.  I ate the yogurt and left the rest at the hotel.  I notice a lot of other people did too.  We walked through the thick fog along the canal to a place where there were water buses waiting. It all looked very much like something out of a 1930s London spy movie, with it being pre-dawn, and the fog being so thick, dark figures huddled across the canal and bodies being loaded onto boats.

We got on a water bus and rode down to a bus station of sorts where we got onto vans for the ride to the airport. There was a bit of a kerfuffle getting into the airport proper with some gate that wouldn't open.  It involved a lot of our driver getting out of the bus, angry words in Italian and a lot of hand waving, but eventually we arrived at the airport entrance, picked up our luggage and headed inside, where the crowd was enormous.  I asked the Viking rep if we would make our 6;30 flight and she assured me that the plane would wait for us.  I reminded her that Char and I had requested wheel chair assistance and it was amazing how many doors that opened for us.  Wheel chairs were procured and we were whisked to the front of the line, to the consternation of those waiting for hours.

After we had been checked in our pushers took us on this wild ride through the airport and through security and then to our gate, which included being taken out to a contraption that has a ramp for wheel chairs, and room inside for several chairs.  When it was full (6 of us on that ride)


When we were loaded up, it drove out to the plane, raised the box we were sitting in, and the back door of the plane opened up and the six of us hobbled on to the plane and we were headed for Amsterdam.  Schiphol Airport is enormous.  Like a small city.  There we were put onto a conveyance that held 7 gimps and given a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride through the whole airport, getting from Gate C to Gate F.  It was Christmas in Schophol.


The driver had several other passengers to deliver to gates, so we got a complete tour of the airport, all the while the driver was keeping up a happy banter with all of her passengers.


In fact, she was such a joy, so pleasant, that I had to take her picture when we finally arrived at our gate.


The 10 some-odd hour flight was enlivened by two babies who cried almost the whole way, I think.  One was a boy, not a baby really, who looked about 3-4 years old,  His family was sitting behind Char and he screamed most of the flight while his younger sister kicked Char's seat.  When we arrived in San Francisco, this kid was still screaming in the customs line.  But other than that, the flight was uneventful.  I watched 3 movies which, with my noise-cancelling earbuds made the noise of the crying babies disappear.

I watched MacFarland USA, a wonderful movie with Kevin Costner in the real life story of Jim White, a failing high school football coach who creates a cross country team at his go-nowhere high school into a winning cross country team.  One of those life-affirming movies which includes pictures of the real members of the team and an update on what they are doing today.

Then I watched American Sniper, which I had not wanted to watch when it came out because I don't like war movies, but I had been reassured that it wasn't so much a war movie as it was a relationship movie between sniper Chris Kyle and his wife.  Well I'd like to add up all the NON-war parts of this film.  Bet it would not amount to 20 minutes in this 133 minute film.  I suppose it was quite good, if you can stand all the noise.  I didn't like it.

I wasn't going to watch a 3rd movie, but we still had 3 hours+ to San Francisco, so I chose something that sounded like it would be the total opposite of American Sniper.  I chose it strictly on the name alone, BoyChoir and was pleasantly surprised to find out, when the movie started, that it starred Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates.  Sort of a formulaic film about a troubled boy with talent landing in a school for boy singers and how he fits in (and doesn't) and what becomes of him.  Perfect antidote to American Sniper.

I am still kicking myself for not having my camera in when we flew over SF.  I almost NEVER get to fly over the city, and especially not on a crystal clear day and especially not while sitting in a window seat.  I'll just have to remember how beautiful it was to fly over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our Gimp Experience was just starting, we discovered.  There were twelve people needing assistance and only five crew to get us through customs.  It was a real sight.


Those pushers earned their pay today, that's for sure.  They were running their little tushes off, but they got us past all the line up at customs, through to the luggage, got our luggage and wheeled us past the security station and out into the terminal.  

Then our grand adventure had come to an end.  It was a wonderful odyssey but I sure am glad to be home.  Waiting for me in e-mail was a special offer on Viking River cruises next year.  Too soon!  Too soon!!!!!

All's right with Polly's world again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

And so It Ends

This will be my last entry before returning home. Tomorrow's entry will be written from Davis.
When we looked out the window this morning, it looked like the world was disappearing.


Looking across the lagoon, you would not know there was anything out there anywhere.  But the shuttle boat got us to the pier safely and we had to decide what we wanted to do.  My friend Laurie Feldman (who started her career as a 5 year old memorizing all the lyrics to G&S operettas and has gone on to become an opera director for such little companies as the SF Opera, the Met, and La Scala, had told me about a restaurant we must find.  Acqua Pazza, which is off the beaten track, so that was our goal today, but first we had to walk there, and that involved some detours.

I must say that I am extremely grateful to the IDA (is there an Italians with Disabilities act?) responsible for this:


This has resulted in ramps being added to many of the bridges along the promenade.


They may not look as picturesque as the steps themselves, but today I had to walk up a few small bridges without ramps and realized that this would have been quite a different trip for me if I did not have ramps to walk on.  Of course, the ramps may have cut walk-in customers to some small businesses, but we helped take care of that at this one lovely glass shop.


It was the last day, after all, and those of us who had restrained ourselves in purchases suddenly threw caution to the wind and perhaps made the shop keeper's day in the process.  There were just gorgeous things.  Most very expensive.  I did NOT buy these, for example, though they were very cute.


Purchases made, we hefted our bags and wended our way across a couple more bridges (with ramps) to where we could buy tickets for the vaporetto, the water bus, to take us to San Angelo station, from where we could walk to the piazza where the restaurant was.  I was excited.  Laurie had made this restaurant sound SO wonderful and I was happy to be actually following her directions.  Additionally, our adventure was taking us out of the main part of Venice and into the less traveled parts, which was nice.

The vaporetto was jammed to the gills.  This woman seemed to feel that she and her child deserved the seats reserved for the old and disabled (Bob and I qualified on both counts).  The child looked to be a bit older than Bri and decidedly able bodied.


We got off the vaporetto and wended our way through tiny streets until we finally founded it.  Acqua Pazza, right on the plaza where the web page photo shows it to be.  Closed on Mondays.  Arrrggghhhh!!!


However, there was a place next door, and we were its only customers.


I don't know what Acqua Pazza has to offer, but this place had really good pizza, my last in Italy.
.

Nicely sated, we asked the waiter for directions to La Fenice, which Laurie said was a theater where she directed and was nearby.  Like really nearby.  This out of the way, unassuming looking theater is apparently one of the oldest and most respected opera houses in Venice.   It is one of "the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre", and in the history of opera as a whole. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers—Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi were performed.


Its name means "Phoenix," and like the famous phoenix, it has risen up from ashes three times. In 1774 the house was destroyed and rebuilt, but not opened until 1792; the second fire came in 1836, but rebuilding was completed within a year. However, the third fire was the result of arson. It destroyed the house in 1996 leaving only the exterior walls, but it was rebuilt and re-opened in November 2004.

The result is magnificent


More of my dwindling Euros were spent here.

From here Walt discovered it was just a "hop, skip and a jump" to St. Mark's square.  And it truly was.  Quite an easy walk.  What a difference on a foggy Monday than on a sunny weekend day!


We were in need of gelato, so we found a place which was right in front of a place where musicians were setting up.  We each got a cone and settled into the tables.  Suddenly a waiter came out and told us we had to leave.  We said we just wanted to finish our cones.  He said that no, we had to leave.  Bob asked if he could order something from the menu.  The waiter said no, we had to leave.  So we left.  I guess he was expecting a large influx of people in the next 10 minutes.


The musicians began playing to an empty house and we headed back to the shuttle boat and back to the hotel.

In the hotel we rested for a bit and then met at 6:30 for our last supper.  We all wanted something light.  I ordered foccacia, remembering that wonderful bread of my youth, which my mother would buy in North Beach.  It came with olive oil, a little tomato sauce, and scallion greens on the top, I remember.  That was what I expected here, not an Italian veggie burger!


I could only eat half of it and gave most of my chips to Walt.  Char who wanted something light, ordered prosciutto and melon, which sounded like it would fit the bill nicely.  Uh...not so much.


Enough prosciutto to feed a small army.  Even with my help, it didn't get all finished.
But eventually we had to pay the bill and head back to our rooms.  Linda and Bob aren't leaving here until 6:30, so we have seen them for the last time.  The rest of us will be staggering down to the lobby at 3:30 a.m.  If the weather is OK, we will go to the airport by boat, a 30 minute ride, they tell us.  That will also be an adventure.  If it's as foggy as it was today, they will probably send us by bus.
So this ends the Mediterranean Odyssey and I'm already realizing that I have to actually plan and cook dinner when we get home tomorrow.  One does return to reality with a bang!

"The Best People I Know"

Monday, November 9, 2015

We've Got a Golden Ticket!

I had not intended to wear my jello shirt two days in a row, but we had to have our bags out for pick up by 10 last night and I put all my clothes in the pick-up suitcase and that left only the clothes on my back.  So. Jello, Day 2 (though I have to admit it has had nice comments from fellow passengers!)
It was so nice to wake up, look out our window and see this:

I guess they got so many complaints yesterday that they decided to bus EVERYBODY to the terminal and there was a fleet of transports for us.  Much better.

The ride over to the Hilton Molino Stucky (this is an old flour mill run by a guy named Stucky) took a fraction of the time it took to load up the boat.  Goodbye, Viking Star.  Sniff.  We will miss you!


The hotel is a big old thing and sits right on the water of Canale Della Giudecca, facing St. Mark's square.


This is the view from the hotel.
 

This is the view from our room.


Brackish water in a canal and somebody's garbage.  But that's OK.  We'll hardly be here and then be winging our way home before we know it. 

Check in was a nightmare and took forever.  The hotel was not set up for checking in 150 passengers all at once (though they should have expected it) and had only ONE clerk working.  When they finally got a couple of other clerks things went faster.  We just sat around until we could check in.  Walt and I got our room right away, but they hadn't assigned rooms to Char or to Linda and Bob, so they just put all their carry-on stuff in our room and we got back on the transport and went to St. Mark's again.

First order of business was something to eat, since we all had almost no breakfast, so we went to a cafe near the boat dock.  A lovely young man served us and was quite pleasant.


We all ordered paninis but Walt decided to have pasta with pesto, since he loves pesto so much.  He was thrilled to find out that the pasta was trofi, a pasta Jeri and I discovered in Italy in 2010.  In truth, I don't like it much, but Walt does, so he was happy.


Bob, Linda, Walt and I wanted to ride a gondola.  Char passed, since she had done it before.  There was no line to get on the boat (when we came back it was mobbed), so we got on--a treacherous proposition when you are large and have difficulty balancing!--and started off.  I had actually considered not going on this ride, thinking it was just too clich√© and touristy, but I am so glad I didn't say that.  

They had to balance the weight right, so Walt ended up paired with Linda, while Bob and I sat on opposite sides of the boat.


Once we got onto the side canals, it was magic.  Every minute was worth taking pictures.


The house below was apparently the residence of Casanova, for a while.


Definitely a not-to-be-missed experience.  Of course then we had to get OFF the gondola, and that was no easy feat either, but the gondolieri are very experienced at what they do and got both Bob and me off without dropping either of us (or our cameras) in the water.


So this is why Char didn't go with us!

We found a small street where you could walk next to a canal and enjoyed looking at some of the shops and restaurants, like this fish place.
..

...and this place that sold Christmas ornaments and other things made of glass.


We walked as far as a small piazza, where Linda and Walt found a shop that each of them wanted to buy something in...


...and then we found another small street which took us, again, back out to the main street.  We stood around for a bit trying to decide what to do next, which seemed a good time to take more pictures.


But we all admitted that we had had enough walking, so we went to where the shuttle boat would pick us up, and returned to the hotel.  Bob and Linda finally had a room assignment--next door to Walt and me.  Char went off to her room and then sent a note letting me know where she had made reservations for dinner.  It was time for her to make good the "golden ticket" she gave us on our 50th anniversary (dinner in Venice).


We went to Bucaroni, here in the hotel.  It was a small place, but the staff could not have been more friendly or the food any more delicious.  We had one more group photo taken of "the best people I know..." (Bob's standard toast).


When dinner was finished, we found a spot arranged just like the spot where we sit and talk every night on the Viking Star.  Well, maybe not quite the way we visited each evening on the Viking Star.


But eventually we had to admit that we were all fading fast, and so we ended the visit and headed off to our rooms to sleep some.


Tomorrow we can sleep late, breakfast late, and then head over to the other side.  We are going to try to find a restaurant that was recommended to us by my friend Laurie Feldman.  We figure we'll have a late lunch and then not worry about dinner.

Tomorrow night it's bags out at 10 and from there home....