Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Best Day of My Life (2013)

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

1) This song begins by mentioning clouds. Do you see clouds in the sky this fine Saturday?
The one thing I love about living here is that on a crystal clear day, like today, when there is a chance of rain in the mountains (2 hours away), the skies are filled with fluffy clouds against a bright blue sky.  It is so beautiful, it almost hurts your eyes!

2) Lead singer Zac Barnett sings that, "Everything is looking up." What are you looking forward to today?
Today not much. We are going to a play tonight, but that's "work" (I'm a theater critic) and I'm not exactly looking forward to it.  Looking at my calendar for the month of May, there is nothing I'm really "looking forward" to.

3) 2016 is not yet half over, but what's been your best day so far this year?
When our daughter was here, visiting from Boston, and we went to our Mexican daughter's restaurant, with Jeri and our son and his wife, for dinner.

4) The members of the group, American Authors, met in college. When is the last time you heard from a school chum? Do you know them from grammar school, high school or college?
I had lunch with 3 friends from grammar school sometimes toward the end of last year. And, of course, I get together with Char (college friend) regularly.

5) One of the all-time best-selling American authors is romance writer Danielle Steele. She's been writing for more than 40 years and has sold more than 800 million books. Have you read any of her work?
I think I read one to find out what all the hullaballoo was about. It was OK, but not my genre.

6) Have you ever dreamed of being an author?
I am one, sorta.  I co-authored a book, wrote most of a second, and write theater reviews for two local papers at the present time.

7) Do you have an e-reader?
I love my Kindle.  But I also like "real" books too.

8) American Authors rang in 2016 in Chicago, giving an outdoor concert on New Year's Eve on a stage not far from Lake Michigan. There are 5 Great Lakes in all, including Lake Michigan. Without looking it up, name the other 4.
Huron, Ontario, Eerie, and the one that starts with S.  (Superior...I looked it up)

9) Random question: You see photos on Facebook of a dinner party hosted by a friend. You recognize most of the attendees, yet you weren't invited. How do you feel? Left out and angry? Do you wonder what you may have done to offend your friend? Or do you just forget about it and move on?
I don't really think like that.  Glad they had a good time, probably relieved I didn't have to go (and happy that my friend realizes that).

Friday, April 29, 2016

Today at Logos

I brought two big bags of books to Logos today and Walt was able to find parking right in front of the store, so he carried them in for me and then decided to browse.  By the time he and Sandy left, there was a dad there with a son who was about 2-3 (probably 2, but nearly 3).  Dad wore a shirt with a big smiley face on it, his son was in a shirt with the Count (from Sesame Street) on it and "1, 2, 3."  It looked homemade.  Dad and son sat at the front t able reading, and son would run back to the kids' room when Dad finished one book and get another. Mom later joined them at the table. They were probably there in total about 20 minutes.  When they left, Mom bought 8 kids' books, 2 contemporary fictions and a health book.  My first and biggest sale of the day (nearly $50).

They were there with friends and the friends bought a kids' book and 4 sociology/political books which, at $30 was my second biggest sale of the day.  The woman handed me a stack of 7 boks from all over the store that she was not buying.  Usually people put them back rather than hand them to me!

A friend of Susan's came in with four milk cartons full of books he said were all literary criticism.  Never knew there was that much literary criticism in print!

When I got the books settled in the back room and came out to the store, I found an older man sitting on a ladder in the back corner of the room, reading.  The store was looking like a library today.

A British guy with a big backpack rushed in, looked at a shelf of books, told me he was just curious because he had just arrived in town, and rushed out a few seconds later.  About 10 minutes later I saw him back again, this time looking through the bargain books outside.  He never did buy anything.

A grandma arrived pushing a baby stroller and with a lovely big dog on a leash.  "Can I just hang out here for about 45 minutes so he can sleep?" she asked, as she pushed the stroller to the back aisle of the store and settled herself in at the desk with me.  She said the baby was having sleep problems and she didn't want to chance his waking up because of the noise of the street.  The dog, Buck, was very nice, very well behaved.  We made friends instantly and he kept coming to me and putting his head in my lap.  The woman and I talked, awkwardly off and on.  I kind of resented her intrusion and wished she had settled at the front table with a book.  The baby finally woke up and was not. happy.  He cried all the way out to the street again, despite grandma's giving him something to drink and trying to hold him, Buck's leash, and push the stroller all at once.  (She didn't buy anything, by the way)

 As they were leaving a guy came in, who tried to be friendly to Buck but buck did NOT like him and shied away from the man's outstretched hand.

About this time,  broke the cash register.  I went to ring up a sale and brushed some key.  I heard it "ding" and afterwards I couldn't get the cash register to record anything or to open.  I tried everything I knew from turning it off and unplugging it, but nothing worked.  I finally had to call Susan, who told me how to turn it off properly (not the "off" option) and after that it worked fine.

A woman popped her head out of the kids' room to ask how much the books were.  She didn't buy anything, but her friend handed me an unopened bag of Sun Chips someone had left in the room.  They were delicious.

A gay couple who come in regularly looked around for awhile and finally bought a book called "Soutine," about a painter in Paris.

My friend arrived at 5.  After two weeks of finding nothing to interest him, he left with a sci fi book.  I didn't notice the name, but it had a forward by Ray Bradbury.

Two women came in together.  I decided they were probably sisters.  The younger one wore a shirt with a full picture of the cast of Boy Meets World (I had to ask her what it was).  Her older sister had long hair, almost to her waist and lovely purple trainers.  The younger one chose "Miss Pickthorn and Mr. Hare, a fable" but neither had enough to pay for it, so they were going to go away and get money from their father, which they did and the young one returned to pay for the book.  She told me that she doesn't read much and she'd like to get into reading, so she likes short books (this one is 96 pages long).

This was one of Amazon's Best Books of the month.  Author May Sartorn, who described in 1995, is described as "an acclaimed poet, novelist, and memoirist."  I'd like to be an "acclaimed memoirist"!

The next customer was a woman in a hurry, who rushed in and went right to the show biz section to pick out "The Colaboration:  Hollywood's Pact with Hitler," which tells a story I certainly had not heard before.  "To continue doing business in Germany after Hitler's ascent to power, Hollywood studios agreed not to make films that attacked the Nazis or condemned Germany's persecution of Jews."  

I commented on how quickly she had found a book she wanted and she told me she had seen it in the store the day before and was coming back today to buy it.

She appeared, from her accent, to be German and when she handed me money, she had no problems with the paper money, but struggled with the coins.  I identified with her difficulty  When we are in a foreign country, I often either pay with too much money and get change or I just hand over a pile of change and have the clerk take out what is needed.

There was a mini rush just before Peter relieved me.  One woman was looking for a bathroom, One woman was looking for a specific book, which she didn't find, but bought a contemporary fiction.  A woman looking for information on the California gold rush found one and bought it.  An Indian woman with the flashiest purple trimmed shoes I'd seen browed for awhile, but left. A guy was looking for a specific book by Augusten Burroughs and when he didn't find it left to check the SPCA book store.

The last woman bought a book on folk art.  And that was the end of my day!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Making Memories"

It was Christmas 1953 when I got a Brownie box camera.
I was incredibly excited and set out to "make memories."  I used that phrase in my mind many times, that the camera would help me "make memories," which was very important to me.

Over the years since then, I am always the one with a camera, sometimes to people's frustration, sometimes to their relief.  Sometimes the Piñata people don't think about bringing a camera to a social occasion because they know I will be there with my camera.

I can't possibly list the number of cameras I have had over the years, from this simple box camera to more complicated cameras.  I got my first digital camera as a gift in 2000.  It had no internal memory, but all photos went on 3½" disks that went into the camera itself.  When we traveled, I would bring a lot of floppy disks with me.

 I never made it to DSL cameras -- too expensive, but did buy cameras for their zoom ability.  
Now I have a Canon point and shoot.  It doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does have a 16x zoom, which I love.  It goes most places with me.  I'm not so sure I'm "making memories" any more as I am being a news photographer for Funny the World.

The nice thing about having a digital camera is that you can take hundreds of pictures and only save the good ones.  You never knew what you had until you developed a roll of film in the old days.

So the end result of all of this photography is that I have photos.  Hundreds of photos.  Thousands of photos.

I knew a lot but didn't really have a feel for how many until I started going through stuff in the "staging area."  I was pretty good in the early years about keeping them in photo albums.  As I mentioned here recently, I stopped making scrapbooks after David and Paul died.  Trying to go back and design happy pages for people that I missed to sorely was just too difficult, so the pictures began building up.

I'm very good about moving digital photos off of disks and onto organized albums on my computer. 
But the years between David's death and the digital camera are years filled with envelopes of photos and loose photos.  Everywhere.

I sent Ned a text message yesterday morning which said "I THREW AWAY something!"  The "something" was the brace I wore during a carpal tunnel period.  Lord knows why I kept it, but there it was in among a bunch of other things and out it went.  It was the first item into the big garbage can that I have been tasked with filling twice by the time Ned returns in a week or so.

In the afternoon I went through a few boxes and most of them were photos.  And negatives.  Lots and lots of negatives.  At one time I was very organized about negatives, keeping them all in a box and labeling each envelope.  I opened that box and saw what was there and chucked the whole thing in the big garbage can.  Does anyone even develop negatives any more?  And even if they do, I can't think of any photo from 30-40 years ago that I would want to make copies of...and if I do, there is the scanner.

I threw away a good number of photos too, but it's time consuming because you can't just throw away a box of photos, but need to check for the good ones.  It was a pleasant afternoon reliving all the old memories but I fear I didn't make a big dent in the photos.  I just have to figure out a better way of storing them in my soon-to-be organized office.

The other things I threw away were 5¼" floppy disks.  As organized as I was with photo albums, I was organized with my correspondence.  I started keeping carbon copies of all my typed letters back in the 1960s (I haven't unearthed those yet and don't know what I will do when I find them), but when I got a computer, I kept all the letters on floppy disk.  Two big boxes of them, all labeled with the person to whom the letters were written and the date range.  I think this was also part of "making memories" and trying to whole life.  Maybe I thought that at some point my kids might be interested in what I was like when I was whatever age they are at whatever point it is that they might be interested in reading them.  

I don't think that any more.

As I don't have a 5¼" floppy disk drive now and have no interest in reading what I wrote to someone I can't really remember 20 years ago, I tossed both of the big boxes of disks and we'll never know.  (I haven't come across the 3½" disks yet).

At the end of the day yesterday, I had probably filled 1/8 - 1/4 of the garbage can.  A long way to go and I have barely made a dent in the "staging area."  But it's a start.  I hope Ned would be pleased.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Clutter is FEELINGS

Ned came to do a massive clean out of my office today.  He told me to just sit somewhere and do something and he would do it all.  And he did.  The only direction I gave him was that he could only clear out one half and had to leave my desk half alone, since he would not be back for 2 weeks and I couldn't go two weeks with a makeshift office

All the while he was hauling boxes and furniture out, Walt kept asking me if I'd read my friend Debra's column in the paper this week.  I finally had him hunt for it and as Ned was still hauling boxes and furniture out, I read it.  It's called "It really is going to take a year to clear my clutter" and talks about a new program she has found to help her clear out her clutter.  She was starting with her clothes closet, and I was dealing with paper stuff ("all this crap") but it amounted to the same thing.
I immediately sent her a note saying how much I identified with just about everything she wrote.  She replied almost immediately and I loved this:
Those who say "Oh, I can help you clear it all out" just don't GET it.Clutter is FEELINGS.
That's IT.  That's why it's easier to clean up someone else's junk than your own, because you have no emotional attachment to it.  But when you have a room like this that contains everything high school memorabilia, to college stuff, to wedding stuff, to having babies stuff, to kids growing up stuff, to dead friends' stuff, down to today's stuff, you just keep finding stuff that you know is crap, but how can you throw it away?

How do you throw this away?

It's Jeri's drawing of all the foreign students who stayed with us in 1981.

I thought I could at least get rid of ONE thing when I saw Ned brushing cobwebs off a small pillow.  "I don't need that," I thought, seeing that the two corners of it were torn, I think by a dog.  But then he brought it in and it was this:

I think it was David's teacher who embroidered this drawing of David's onto a pillow.  Now how do I throw that away.  Or this photo of Tom with one of our favorite Brasilians, Marcio de Vassimon, standing in the snow.

How do I throw away the dozens of things I have already looked at today, and have not yet made a dent in what is to be looked at.

Progress has been made, and Ned let me keep half my office as is for now.  But the the other half of the office went from this:

To this:

Of course the living room (i.e., the "staging area") now looks like this:

Ned says that my task between now and when he returns in about 2 weeks is to fill up that brown garbage can at the right twice.  Then we do it all over again with the other side of the room.

I can't tell you how grateful I am to Ned for forcing me to do this much needed and long-overdue task.  But, as Debra says, clutter is feelings and I know that there is going to be much grief as I throw away some of this lovingly saved "crap."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

50 Years Ago

This was originally printed on this date in 2000, but I want to repeat it today, Jeri's 50th birthday, updated a bit.

It was 11 p.m., April 25, 1966. I’d been having contractions since about 8 and it was time to go to the hospital. We got the suitcase and started toward the door. Suddenly I stopped and looked around at our apartment, where we had spent the first 10 months of our married life. I realized that it would never again look like this. The next time I saw it, it would be the home of our new child. I turned to Walt. "It’s never going to be like this again," I said, somewhat wistfully. "No," he whispered. "It will be better..."

Two days old

We returned home with our little bundle. Walt had filled the house with pink flowers. The sound of music box music was playing in the background. We introduced our new daughter to her room. We were a family.

It’s been a wonderful adventure watching Jeri progress from that little blue thing they plopped on my belly after she took her first breath. I first learned of Dr. Seuss with Jeri. We watched the very first Sesame Street together. I remember her first ballet recital (when I spent so much time taking pictures I forgot to enjoy the show--I still feel bad about that). She created "stuffies" (stuffed animals) and loved to perform for anybody who'd watch. 

Tragedy came the day she learned to roller skate, and then broke her leg the same afternoon. The hardest thing ever is holding your terrified child still while strangers inflict horrible pain on her (older and wiser now, I’m still angry that they gave her no pain killers whatsoever before they pressed her greenstick fracture back into place. I still hear her screams...). 

Off to school and a series of parent-teacher conferences all saying how wonderful Jeri was. She got into the fledgling Gifted & Talented program. That year she had a fantastic teacher in her regular classes and it never made sense to me that she would be taken out of her German class to be put into a room to learn how to type, just because she was gifted and talented (I think the program has matured a bit since then.)

Music has always been a big part of her life--piano for 12 years, clarinet she more or less taught herself, with minimal assistance, because it was the only instrument in the school closet that she could play. Years of following the high school marching band around to competitions (they never won, but the trips were fun). 

Children’s theatre. Jeri took to it like a duck to water. Oh, not performing. She’s capable, but not outstanding. But she loved all the backstage work. And at age 18 she directed her first production, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

On to college to study theatre design, ending up with a master’s degree from UC Davis. Along the way, always music, music, music. She joined the band Lawsuit, where she played clarinet, saxophone and flute and arranged music for the horns. Some of our happiest days were spent watching Jeri, Paul, Ned, Ned’s wife Marta, and the other members of Lawsuit cavorting on stages all over Northern California.

Tragedy. Jeri and Tom met us at the airport when we rushed back from vacation in New York following David’s death. Standing at the San Francisco airport hugging and crying. 

Recovery. All working together to learn to live in a David-less world. 

Jeri was hired three years in a row as lighting designer for Weathervane Theatre, a summer theatre in Newark Ohio. We were able to travel to Ohio to see some of her productions
She drove across the country in her Toyota truck, visiting all the off-road sites along the way (e.g. the Elvis-is-Alive museum and the "Corn Palace"). She has now driven coast to coast, visiting most parts of the country more than once.

Lawsuit came to an end and Jeri, who had been working freelance in theater in San Francisco for five years, enrolled in a program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and was offered a job on her graduation. She has now been on the faculty for about 10 years.

She performs with pit bands for musicals around the Boston area. She works with high school kids teaching them technical aspects of theatre.  She's the person who can design your lights, play in the band, and then fix the lights at intermission if something goes wrong during the first act.

More tragedy. Meeting her at the airport after Paul’s death. More hugs. More tears. More pulling together to learn to live in a world that is just a bit smaller with yet another hole in it. "I hate it that we know what we're doing," Tom said.

So much happiness on the beach in Santa Barbara when Jeri and Phil finally married, running off into the waves after the ceremony and playing softball in their wedding finery.

Jeri is a kind, caring, compassionate, intelligent, talented, fun-loving person. She lives simply and devotes herself to her passions--music and theatre. She loves her husband, their dog, her friends and her family intensely and the bond between her and her father is beautiful to see.  She loved both her grandmothers and has always been very attentive to them the older and more feeble they got.  She is my mother's "precious child," even if my mother doesn't remember that any more.

She's the best aunt ever and absolutely loves spending time with Brianna and Lacie, and they with her.

I am so proud of our daughter. Walt was right, all those years ago. Life was never the same again--it was better than we ever imagined it could be.

Happy Birthday, Honey!  (Have you joined AARP yet?)

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Well, certainly had no clue that the Atria visit today was going to turn out the way it did, based on how it started.

I went over for lunch and of course the first red flag was that at 11 a.m., her newspaper was still outside her door.  

The second red flag was that she didn't answer the door for so long, I was digging in my purse for my key to go in and see if she was alive when she opened the door, obviously having awakened out of a deep sleep, wearing only her pajama top and underwear.

She said she felt awful, was disoriented.  The house was dark and she stood in front of the window and asked if I wanted her to open it.  I suggested that she might want to put on clothes--or at least pants before opening the window to the world. She lifted up her top, exposing her whole body to show me that she was wearing pants--underpants.

She sat in her chair and moaned about how terrible she felt, that she had no pain, and couldn't describe how she felt, but that she felt awful.  She was also upset that there were "new brown spots" on her arms, and, as she always does when she sees those old lady brown spots she kept hitting them and saying "stupid, stupid, stupid."  She was also very angry that she couldn't figure out what was causing her to feel so bad and she was obviously stupid because she should know what was causing it.

The last time this happened was when I took her to the doctor and the doctor asked me about her blood sugar levels, which I never take, since her A1C is usually OK.  But I decided to check her today, so came home to get the glucose monitor and went back.  She was now lying on the couch under a blanket and looked awful.  I tested her blood sugar and it was a little elevated, but nothing worrisome, at least not to cause this kind of a reaction.

She eventually got up and sat in her chair and we started talking.  The more we talked, the more "normal" she began to sound.  She was talking nonsense, but making fun of the deficiencies of her brain.

When I first arrived, it was obvious she was in no emotional condition to go to lunch, but she was sounding so much better that I asked if she thought she might like to go and get some food in her stomach.  She said she might like to try, so we walked down to the dining room, with her making jokes at her own expense all the way. Her usual table was full, so we took a table for two.  She ordered fruit salad and dessert and I suggested she have some vegetable soup too, which she decided to "try" (she doesn't remember that she has this every. single. day.)

She asked me what was for dessert and I told her it was carrot cake, at which she turned up her nose in disgust because she never heard of carrot cake and you don't make cake with carrots (though she did eat all of her cake and the ice cream on it too)

I had my back to the door to the dining room, so could not see people entering or leaving.  She found everything funny and we laughed a lot.  As people finished their lunch and began to go back to their apartments, she started flashing the finger at those who didn't turn around and tell her hello.  She stuck her tongue out at one man.

I assume nobody saw her do any of this, but she was having a wonderful time making fun of people.
When we had finished, we walked back to her apartment which, as usual, she wasn't sure how to find, but somehow she always does.  I think she was going to take a nap after I left.  She was unhappy that I won't be there tomorrow, but will wait until the next day to come (it's beginning to be that she expects me to come every day, it seems, but since she doesn't know one day from another or when I said I would come, I don't feel bad for skipping a day.)

I came home and took a nap myself, since I'd had so little sleep, and felt better about how she was feeling, given how she was when I first got there.  I really think that more stimulation of people around her would help stave off a lot of this, but since she refuses to go out and "mingle" maybe that's why she is starting to want me there every day.

It's something new every day...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Does Not Bear Scrutiny

We went to opening night of Brigadoon tonight and I was struck, as I often am, by the importance of not looking too closely at the plot.

There were people I overheard in the lobby after the show who were seeing Brigadoon (which started on Broadway in 1947 and was made into a movie with Gene Kelley, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse in 1954) for the first time, so in case there are readers unfamiliar with the show, Brigadoon is a village in the highlands of Scotland which, because of a "miracle," explained in the story, disappears every night and reappears for one day every 100 years. The townsfolk go to sleep and when they wake up, 100 years have passed.  The story starts on day 3 of the miracle, when two lost American hikers stumble upon the village on its one day of existence.  Tommy falls in love with Fiona and has to decide if he's going to live in Brigadoon, knowing that tomorrow will be 100 years in the future, or return to his unsatisfying life in New York and his fiancée whom he does not really love.

Having seen this show -- and most musicals -- many times, my brain does tend to wonder throughout the performance and think a bit too critically about what is going on on stage.  I don't mean "critically" in a critic way, but just in how the writers crafted the plot. 

The heroine of this story is Fiona, who is about to help her sister celebrate her wedding.  Fiona is lonely, but when her friends as if there isn't someone special in her life, she says no and talks about she is "waiting for her dearie."  This is all well and good and sets up the love at first sight with Tommy, but in reality it makes no sense.  Brigadoon is a small village and chances are she knows everybody in town and if she hasn't met her "dearie" by now, the chance of her running into someone who will set her heart aflutter, is slim to none.

For that matter, given community theater productions of this musical, where chorus women far outnumber the chorus men, it would seem that there is one man for every half dozen girls in town, and no chance of introducing new testosterone ever.

Also, perhaps in the 18th century, when the "miracle" occurred, the possibility of urban sprawl was not considered, but suppose on day 4 or 5, which would be 400 or 500 years in the future, Brigadoon pops up but there is now a big city where it wants to appear again. 

These are the odd thoughts that go through my mind while otherwise enjoying the show.
But most musicals should not be too closely scrutinized.  I had lunch with my friend Kathy today.  She and a friend are about to take a trip to New York and are going to see a revival of The King and I, another show I like.  She talks about how she cries at the end, when the king is dying.

This is another one of those "not bloody likely" scenarios.  There is sexual tension between the King and Anna all throughout the show, but think about it.  The guy has a harem, for Pete's sake.  He probably has a hundred women at his beck and call.  If that tension had been acknowledged, what good would it do?  

I think we are seeing two productions of The Music Man, maybe my favorite of the classic musicals, this year. Now there's a show you definitely should not think about too carefully.  Harold Hill is this slick, smooth talking salesman who comes to town to swindle the people out of money buying band instruments and uniforms for their kids (I always wondered how much money he makes on the deal, because the kids do get instruments and uniforms, so Hill has to send some of his money to someone).  

He falls in love with Marian, the spinster librarian, who knows he's a phony, but ultimately doesn't care. In the show, the town forgives him, he decides to give up his criminal ways and the show ends with the orchestra playing "76 Trombones" while the cast marches up and down the square.

But think of it.  Hill has a reputation for sweet talking women in every town he visits.  "He's taken it away from all of them," the anvil salesman tells Marian.  "It" seems pretty clear what he has taken from these women.

So is this professional roué going to be happy settling down in a little cottage in River City Iowa with only one woman for the rest of his life ... and how is he going to make a living when his only talent is for swindling?  Divorce seems to be the ultimate ending for this relationship.

But these shows are fairy tales and in fairy tales, everybody always lives "happily ever after," unless the play you are in is Into the Woods, where Act 2 tells what really happens after "happily ever after."
These are the odd thoughts of someone who had a weird night, sleep-wise, and just never "came to" today until the show started.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Today at Logos

Wow.  Writing this late today.  I fell asleep during The Blacklist, didn't feel like writing this at 3 a.m. when I woke up, so it is now after 9 a.m. that I am starting this.  I'm getting lazy in my old age.

Sandy was not there when I arrived -- I think she may be traveling again.  Anyway, there was a guy I'd never met who was working.  He had decided he didn't like the way the desk was arranged and had rarranged the whole thing, moving the cash register all the way to the left and moving the credit card machine to the front on the right.  I put everything back after he left.  I's worked fine for 5 years....

It was quite busy the first few minutes, with cutomers one right after the other. The first was a woman in a sari who didn't speak English, but bought a book called "Mindfulness is better than chocolate."  Her ?daughter translated for her.

The next woman bought a literature book I cant remember.  She commented on my being left handed, which she is also, and we compared our respective schooling as left handers.

The next woman bought a French dictionary and a guide to Paris.  We talked about France and I mentioned that I'd been to Paris 3 times and have yet to find the "mystique," but that I loved the south of France.

A guy bought a copy of "Ulysses," which was about 4" thick.  He said he felt it was a challenge he wanted to try (reading it).  I told him about when I read "Tom Jones" (about 1,000 pages) because I had read "Marjorie Morningstar" where someone scoffed at her reading "Tom Jones" and said that nobody read that book for pleasure.  I took that as a challenge and did enjoy all ~1000 pages of it!

The train guy came in today, this time with time to spend.  He comes in every week, rushes in, grabs something, throws money at me and rushes off to catch the train.  Today, with time to spend, he couldn't find anything he wanted to read and left without buying anything.

A guy came in looking for books on zen and left with "The Te of Piglet."

Another volunteer brought in a bag of books and raved over and over again about how clean the back room was.  She had never seen it like that.  She must not have looked often.  I often see it that organized.

A guy rode by on a bike, blocking the door for a minute, then took a bike from the bargain shelves, parked his bike, rushed in to hand me a dollar, and rode off on his bike again

A balding guy with a small murse over his shoulder bought two contemporary fictions and "Tale of Two Cities."

A guy in a green shirt with "Dan's taxi" on it bought two contemporary fictions, one by Jhumpa Lahiri, whose "The Lowland" I read recently for book club.

Two women came in with 3 ids, all younger than Brianna, one a toddler.  They looked around the kids' room for awhile, but ultimately didn't buy anything, but the kids ran all around the store a couple of times yelling "good bye!" before they left.  They were very cute.

It had been a quiet afternoon and I was surprised it was as late as it was (4:15) when my friend arrived.  Even he couldn't find anything to buy today.

A lesbian couple came in and were still there when I left at 6.  They must have looked at every book, then settled in at the front table to read the NY Times Book review and just chat.  It was kind of homey.

An Indian-looking woman had a large bag I liked, with book titles printed all over it.  She wore a voluminous scarf around her neck and had ear buds, and a green drink in her hand. . She bought two books by Aeschylus.

I was relieved by Cassandra, who takes care of things when Susan and Peter are out of town.  They return today, I guess.

I was so tired I didn't even come into my office (since I could check my e-mail on my iPad) and, as i said, fell asleep during what was probably the weirdest Blacklist ever.

I did watch Stephen Colbert at 3 a.m., in time to see him and Tom Hanks eating Fruit Loops with Bailey's Irish Cream, a nod to a comment made by Reince Preibus, then back to sleep until nearly 8.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

It's What We DO

Today was an example of what people do when they get to a certain age.

It was the night that Walt spends with our housebound friend, to relieve his wife so she can go out to a meeting.  The friend had a stroke several years ago and is in a wheelchair, so every 2 weeks or so Walt and a couple of other friends go out and spend a couple of hours with him to give his wife a break.

But we late this afternoon we had a call from his wife, saying she had just brought him home from the hospital, where he has been the past few days, and she didn't think she would be going out.

So instead of visiting the house-bound friend, we went to the home of our friend who has brain cancer and probably not too much longer to live.  He and his husband had been going over his will, which he made 20 or more years ago.  He discovered that many of the beneficiaries named in the will are no longer with us, so he had to draw up a new will.  He needed someone not a beneficiary to witness his signature.

So we went and visited with him for awhile, then witnessed his signature (expressing indignation that we aren't one of the beneficiaries!).  We visited a bit more, but he tires easily and so we didn't stay too long.  His husband said that the nurse, who comes every day, isn't sure if his current exhaustion is due to new medication, or just another step down the path that leads inevitably to the funeral service we talked about tonight.

I gave him a big hug when we left.  I don't know if we will ever see him again.  I noted that he seemed very warm and he has that round fat-face that I remember seeing on Peach when she was in her last weeks with her own brain cancer.

So now that we had taken care of (or not) the housebound friend and visited the dying fried, we went off for sushi to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Paul's death.  Such an upbeat day!

It's the only time we go out to dinner when I have a beer.

We were at Sushi, Unlimited, which is a chain restaurant and they give their sushi rolls cutesy local names like River Cat, King Kong, Mama Mia, Go Aggie, and I-80.  We discovered the "Lincoln Hills" a few times ago and usually order it to share.  It has spicy tuna, crab mix, deep fried shrimp, avocado, tempura crumbs, Fair Oaks sauce and sweet sauce.  Other than tuna, crab and shrimp, I'm pretty sure you won't find the other ingredients in sushi in Japan.

We also decided to try the "Dynamite," which is very similar to the Lincoln hills, but it has cucumber and a creamy chili sauce.

Each roll was cut in 4-6 slices and though it doesn't seem like enough, we both were full by the end so we came home to watch Jeopardy and have our nightly ice cream.  

And so we have put another anniversary behind us.  Dammit.  On Dave's next month, I'll be giving up Blue Apron for a meal and whipping up a batch of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Take a Deep Breath

Ned came to visit today.  He finds himself with free time and wants to help us clean up.  I had him do a couple of things in my office that I am no longer able to do (too heavy, too high) and we talked about to make the office "workable."

He's done many of these massive clean-ups (one here, before our 50th anniversary party) and is an expert at it.  He says that the only way it can be done is to remove EVERYTHING, use the living room as a "staging area," go through each piece of furniture and start to throw away.

The reason this room is so furniture heavy is that I brought home all of Gilbert's furniture after he died and couldn't bear to part with it, so fit it in this teeny office....somehow.  But we're coming up on the 30th annversary of his death and I've resigned myself to the fact that he ain't coming back and I'm ready to get rid of this furniture and other things I've held on for 30 years.

This comes at a good time because I just saw a photo of someone who had done a craft room remodel and I loved it.  It was very simple and clean, but a bunch of shelves, each of which could hold plastic containers with craft supplies.  That would be absolutely wonderful.  I've been looking for that photo again, but can't find it, but its something like this:

Not exactly this, but something on this order, perhaps a bit wider.  Maybe my set builder husband could build something that would fit, once we remove all the junk from here.

If we're going to do this thing, I want to do it right so we don't have to think about doing it ever, ever again.  We are at an age where whenever we replace an appliance or something else "big" we say that this is the last one we will ever have to buy.

The advantage of doing this while Ned is available to help is that when/if we ever decide to move out of this house and into something smaller, this room is, for me, the biggest stumbling block.  If I can get this stumbling block out of the way, the rest won't exactly be a piece o'cake, but will be much easier for me.  The things of sentimental value for me are all in this office.  The rest I could, with perhaps a bit of sadness, but with no real painful twinge, let go of.

So someone asked for before and after photos a couple of weeks ago when I was going to straighten up (and then got sidetracked, so I will post them now and then when/if we actually finish this project, take pictures during and after.  So here it is, in all its glory.  The top row is the left side of my office from where I sit at my desk, the bottom is the right side.

As you can see...this may take some time!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hitting the Wall

With 7 months to go before the election, I have hit the political wall.

My nightly routine is to watch Christ Hayes and Rachel Maddow before Jeopardy comes on.  Last night, 10 minutes into Chris Hayes, I decided that if I had to watch one more interview about the upcoming election, my head was going to explode.

I've reached the point where I hate them all.  I'm so sick of the mud slinging, even the Democrats who started out running a polite campaign, strictly on the issues.  It kills me that this week the only candidate who is saying something with which I agree is Donald Trump, when he talks about the need for election reform.  When I find myself agreeing with Donald Trump I know my head has exploded.

The whole 2 year campaign cycle is too, too, too long.  We need to do it the it England?...does it, where campaigning goes on for a month and then you vote. 

At this point i don't care who stole little Johnny's lunch money in grammar school and who was a bully in high school, or who joined which radical group in college.  I don't care who supported which bill in congress 12 years ago.  I care about how feelings have evolved and what candidates feel now.  I hate the name calling and the finger pointing and there isn't one single candidate who is not doing it.
I have gone back and forth and back and forth on which candidate I will ultimately support and think I have finally made my decision. but then tomorrow something else will come out and I'll be confused again.  I want my mind to be made up and not confused by the facts.

I hate the endless talking heads, no matter how intelligent and informed they are.  It's all guess work about what might happen and charts about what will happen if this happens or what will happen if it goes the other way.  I like Hayes and Maddow because their team seems to do the old fashioned investigative reporting and they invite people with whom they disagree to come on and set the record straight.  I like that they start every interview with "do I have all the facts straight?"  You don't see that happening with other news or talking heads programs.

It's also fascinating to be on some mailing lists, though I generally delete most of them.  To read things coming out of the Democratic camp, Obama will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents, to read things coming out of the Republican camp, Obama has destroyed the country and should be brought to trial for treason.

I'd hate to be a little kid trying to study current history right now.  I would like to be around 20-30 years from now and see how the history books treat this period of time.

It was 10 minutes into Chris Hayes' first interview last night when my head exploded and I decided that the Criminal Minds episode about child trafficking was infinitely more appealing.  At least you knew who the bad guys were and that they would get their comeuppance in the end.  Later, I checked in with Rachel Maddow and saw another chart and went back to Criminal Minds.  Maybe I'm adopting a head in the sand attitude right now, but I'm just fed up to here with it all and I just want it to be over.

And we have seven. whole. months. still to go.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Picnic Day at Logos

Since its inception in 1909, Picnic Day has become the crown-jewel event of the UC system and the signature event of UC Davis. Believed to be the largest student-run event in the nation, Picnic Day showcases the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis and the surrounding community in the areas of research, teaching, service, and campus life.
Picnic Day, the annual Open House for the University of California, Davis, is one of the largest student-run events in the nation. This hallmark event has been designed to showcase and celebrate the richness of campus life, the diverse achievements of UCD students, staff and faculty to provide a day of education, information and entertainment to all who attend. There will be more than 200 events throughout the campus and an estimated 50,000-60,000 visitors attending this special event. This long-standing campus tradition began in 1909 when the University Farm invited the surrounding community to view their new dairy barn.
The above was from a press release before the 100th anniversary of Picnic Day.  This year was the 107th anniversary, celebrated on Saturday.  We attended some Picnic Day activities when the kids were younger.  They were in the parade for the diving team, and maybe the children's theatre, for a few years. I think Walt drove a truck for one of the floats one year.  But as the kids got older, interest in Picnic Day waned, in favor of Whole Earth Day, which was more to everyone's taste (to say nothing of the fact that Lawsuit performed on Whole Earth Day).  But the rest of the town still comes out in force to celebrate Picnic Day, and while I usually stay in the house and out of the crowds, this year I worked at Logos.  I had changed my work day so I could attend the Sutter lunch earlier this week.

The first hint that this might be a "different sort of day" was the overflowing trash can and then the two port-o-potties next door to the store.

I expected it to be a slow day, but it was surprisingly lively.  Sales were about normal, or maybe less, but there was never a "down time" when nobody was in the store, some folks just popping in to have a glass of the free lemonade we had made available for people who wanted to get out of the heat.

Since the day was so long, I'm just going to hit the more interesting customers, like the first guy who bought a copy of "Atlantis" and said he was going to go home and take a nap.  He had marched in the parade and was tired.  When I asked him which group he marched with he said "the classical studies group."  Yes, Davis has a parade with groups like "classical studies" !!

Another guy came in playing with a yoyo.  Made me realize it has been many years since I'd seen anyone with a yoyo.  He was quite good, too. 

A guy came in with a big box of candy and asked if I wanted to buy some.  I declined.

A lot of the interesting stuff was happening outside.  A guy walked by with a tuba, groups of police in 3s or 4 and once a group of 8 walked past.  There was a continuous flow of traffic, mostly groups of laughing students, who seemed to get louder as the day wore on...I wonder why...?  I'm sure it had nothing to do with the pub around the corner. Two customers came in and asked if it was always like this on Saturday.  Neither was from Davis and didn't know about Picnic day.  I told each of them they had arrived on the busiest day of the year.
Two folks walked by, smiled and waved at me and shouted "Hi, Maria."

A girl came in wearing a flowered dress with a very short skirt and boots above the calf.  She had a demure black hat on and when she passed by me I realized that the black hat had ears on it.  Cat ears.  Her backpack was a black cat's head.

A girl with a balloon attached to her backpack ought a copy of Teen Feng Shui.

A guy who looked like our foreign student from Croatia came in.  He wore two pairs of glasses, one on top of his head.  Both pairs were attached by cords.

Two guys came in together and I swear they are twins.  Both were very tall and had the same features, but one was neatly groomed and the other had long hair and a beard.

A Hispanic man had a baby in a stroller and as he walked out, he was trying to push the stroller while he was holding a bottle for the baby to drink.  I should have run after him and offered him the front table to sit until he finished giving the child his bottle!

Two couples came in, one man with a very protuberant belly.  Both men looked to have much younger wives.  The bigger man bought a cookbook of recipes from Florence (lavishly photographed) and I asked him if he had ever been there.  He said that no, he had not, but their daughter was there right now and he figured he could enjoy her trip through Florentine recipes.

More noise outside as three guys were passing by dancing to Reggae music.  Another guy had a balloon and a potted plant.  Two guys had four guitars.  Many girls walked by with flowered headband on their heads. One girl was wearing a very flimsy dress with a light and airy chiffon skirt...and heavy men's work boots.  (It was like going back to Berkeley in the 60s!)

Eliza came in with her baby sleeping on her chest again, but the baby woke up this time. She's 11 mos old now and just adorable, flirting with me over the to of the baby carrier.

So it was a very unusual day, but fun.  And, it being Saturday instead of Thursday--and he having more sense than to come to Davis on Picnic Day, my friend did not show up.

Today is the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.  I was curious to see what they estimated it to be on the Richter scale (which wasn't developed in the 1930s, so there is no accurate record), but they estimated it to be about 7.8 which is about what the Ecuador earthquake was last week...and just slightly larger than the Japan earthquake, also last week.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Travel anywhere, where would it be?
The two places I've said for decades I want to travel are the inland passage to Alaska and a photo safari in Africa, but I fear I'm too old and out of shape for both now. 

Meet anyone, who would it be?
Rachel Maddow (but I'd probably be too shy to talk with her)

Bring anyone dead back to life, who would it be?
Only one?  I want to bring back my two kids and my cousin!

Be anyone for a day, who would it be?
Bill Gates, with access to his checkbook

Get anything for free for the rest of your life what would it be?

Change one thing about your life what would it be?
Obviously, to have both of our kids alive again.

Have any superpower what would it be?
The power to turn back time and reverse the symptoms of dementia.

Be any animal for a day which would you be?
Oh an elephant!  I want to be one of the girls. 

Date anyone who would it be?
I'm a bit too old and too married for this question!

Change one thing about the world what would it be?
Where  do I start?  How about access to clean water and bathroom facilities for everyone in the world.

Live in any fictional universe which would you choose?
Outlander's world, of course.  But not for long.  I don't think I have the stamina for it.

Eliminate one of your human needs which would you get rid of?
I can't think of any need I'd give up, and except maybe the need for sleep...but then I do enjoy sleeping....But if I didn't have to sleep, I could read more and keep up with things I wanted to watch on TV.

Change one thing about your physical appearance what would it be? weight, of course.  But without having to work at it.

Change one of your personality traits which would you choose?
My damn shyness, which gets worse the older I get.

Be talented at anything instantly what would you choose?
I would like to be multi-lingual.  Spanish would be the most help for me in California. though I have a head start with French and Portuguese.

If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
Didn't I answer this above and say Rachel Maddow?

Erase an event from history (make it so it never happened) which would you choose?
One of the genocides...but there are too many from which to choose just one.

Have any hair/eye/skin color, which would you choose?
I'm content with what I have.

Be any weight/body type, which would you choose?
Anybody physically fit.

Live in any country/city, where would you choose?
If we could afford it (we can't), Santa Barbara, so we could have a larger part in our granddaughters' lives.

Change one law in your country, which would you change?
Right now I would make one man, one vote mandatory, cut out all this delegate crap, and eliminate all of the voter ID regulations that keep people from the voting booth.  But there are other laws that are probably more important to change.

Be any height, which would you choose?
My original height, which was 5-7-1/2".  I have shrunk to 5'6" and now I can't reach anything! 

Have any job in the world, which would you choose? would be fun to be an assistant to the team that takes care of Koko the gorilla.

Have anything appear in your pocket right now, what would it be?
Something chocolate.

Have anyone beside you right now, who would it be?
Gilbert.  I want to find out what it's like on the other side--and show him the internet, which if he had lived one more year he would have been absolutely gaga about.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pat the Bunny

Walt and I went to see the bunnies on display in the Civic Center park, right across from San Francisco City Hall.

Now these aren't those cute little bunnies you may see out in the fields somewhere.  These are Godzilla bunnies.  Five inflatable white nylon bunnies blown up, a couple of them, to 23' high.  That's some bunny!

It is an installation by Australian artist Amanda Parer who calls her work "intrude" and it is intended not only to delight the viewers, but also to call attention to Australia's rabbit overpopulation.  Rabbits are not native to Australia, but were introduced in 1788.  They have no natural predators, so being safe and well fed they have...well...bred like rabbits.  It's been an ecological disaster for the country. That is why the famous Akubra hat was created, to make use of rabbit pelts, but apparently they can't keep up with the exploding population.

However, they are fun to look at!  And there's not much we can do from a distance of over 900 miles to ease the pain of overpopulation.  The display will run through the end of the month, if nobody vandalizes them first.

We were in the city to go to a taping of two episodes of Says You.  Haven't seen the show taped in about 3 years, I think, and it was nice to be back again.  The taping was held in the  War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, where the UN Charter was signed in 1945.  It's a big theater, some 900 seats, and it was pretty darn full today.  Nice to see so many other Says You fans.

The taping was very good for me, to get accustomed to seeing Barry Nolan in the role of host and to realize that he is much better than he seems to be when you listen to the show on the radio because it has to be edited for time, so he always sounds rushed...and he's not. I think I put aside my grief over the death of former host, Richard Sher and will now accept Barry as the new host and go back to enjoying the show every week.

We got the "A" team this time, the long-time regulars (Carolyn Faye Fox. Arnie Reisman, Paula Lyons, Tony Kahn, and Francine Achbar), with new-time regular Murray Horwitz, replacing Barry Nolan on the panel.

They always tape two shows at a time and with all the extra stuff that gets cut out to fit the one hour time slot, the taping runs very long.  Tony Kahn (on the left in the photo below) invited me to come back stage after the show, when I heard from him a couple of days ago, but there was lots of activity around the stage after the taping and it was so late, we really felt we should not wait, but start home.

It was 10:30 before we were back in our car and midnight before we got home.  Since the dogs had not yet had dinner they were delirious to see us come in the door!

But what a delightful day we had (including lamb sliders at Max's Opera Cafe before the show!)

Friday, April 15, 2016

No Rubber Chicken

Today was the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon for volunteers at Sutter Davis Hospital.  As usual, being me, I was torn with indecision about whether to go or not.  I knew I would be walking into a room full of mostly strangers and that scares me more the older I get.

But I finally bit the bullet and decided to go.  I very nearly couldn't go because of a misunderstanding (I thought I was RSVPd and it was past the deadline for replying that I found out I was not, but Dodie, from HR found a way to get me in).

The event was held at the Yolo Fliers Club, what turned out to be a gorgeous country club on a golf course with a lovely view of a plane (circled)

The rose garden was lovely and I was sorry I only had my cell phone and not my camera with me.
I girded my loins, took a deep breath and walked into the room of mostly strangers.  I recognized a couple of people, but they were at tables that were already full.  I found a table with empty places and sat down.  Everyone was talking to each other.  The lady next to me introduced herself.  I introduced myself and she said she read my reviews and asked if I had seen Newsies, which we saw on Tuesday.  We compared notes on the show.

A woman from one of the other tables came over to say hello.  I recognized her because I have relieved her at the Information Desk a couple of times but didn't have a clue what her name was.  Fortunately she was honored with a pin for long service and I was able to put her face with her name.

Our choices for a meal were "beef, fish or vegetarian," with no explanation of how anything was being cooked. I knew we were having fish for dinner so I opted for the beef.  I was the only one at the table eating beef.  Everyone else had salmon and I remarked to the woman next to me that I was doing Blue Apron and had had my fill of salmon for now.

Turns out she is also a Blue Apron customer and we compared notes on meals and how tired we are becoming of kale and wondering if they will ever send spring vegetables.  Someone else mentioned they were going to leave on a river cruise on the Rhine, and I talked about our cruises, while others chimed in with their cruise experience.  Before you knew it, I felt right at home an having a marvelous time.

The salmon looked and smelled very good and I was almost sorry I had not ordered that until my beef arrived.

It was not dry and there was even some pink to the meat.  It was delicious.

The guy on the other side of me mentioned that he lived in Elk Grove, so I gave him my recommendation that he try Marie's restaurant, Todo un Poco and he said that he would.  I hope he does.

Before I knew it, the cheesecake had been served and we were all starting to go home.  I had survived the luncheon I almost didn't attend because of shyness and I had a wonderful time.

I stopped at Atria on the way home and that is always a downer.  In case you hadn't heard this, she's old.  That's why she doesn't do anything.  At one point she sighed and said "you don't know how lonely it is to have to eat by yourself."  I mentioned the hundred other people in the dining room and the three other women she eats with, but that doesn't count, I guess.  She laid a guilt trip on me for her loneliness and I'm afraid I just couldn't handle it.  I wasn't very nice, then she gets sad.  My only consolation is that she will have forgotten that by now.

I picked up her laundry.  I washed all of her underwear less than a week ago and there must be at least 15 or more pairs ready to be washed 5-6 days later.  She swears she only wears one pair a day, but I think that statement, like the one about her never going to meals (which Atria records show is not true) is a product of her imagination, not a fact.  I bought her 3 new pairs of underpants, which I brought to her today and she managed to lose them before I left.  Then she swore I never gave her any underpants.  I wanted to cry in frustration, but I just took the dirty undies home with me.

I stopped at the post office to mail another pocket letter.  There were FIFTEEN people in line and ONE clerk. I was not up for that, so I came home.

I'm trying to concentrate on the fun I had at the lunch and not how the afternoon turned sour. And I did have fun.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

12 Movies

The challenge came from our friend Jim Lane on Facebook this morning.  Actually I think he posted it several days ago, but I only saw it today.  "List 12 movies that have stayed with you, but only one per director. Don't take too long and don't think too hard."

This is the list I came up with.  The first title on the list...maybe the first two...should not be a surprise:

1. A STAR IS BORN, of course, the 1954 version. (George Cukor)
3. THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER (Clyde Bruckman)
4. DAVE (Ivan Reitman)
6. CHUSHINGURA (Hiroshi Inagaki)
7. ALL THAT JAZZ (Bob Fosse)
8. THE SEVENTH VEIL (Compton Bennett)
9. THE BLUE VEIL (Curtis Bernhardt, Busby Berkley)
10. VERTIG0 (Hitchcock)
11. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Vincent Minnelli)
12.THE RED SHOES (Powell & Pressburger)

Some of the others I have never mentioned in "favorite movies" lists.  I don't know if they are actually favorites, but they are all definitely movies that have stayed with me.  #10 was a toss-up between Vertigo and North by Northwest, both of which are my favorite Hitchcocks, but given that I think of Vertigo every single time we drive down Highway 101 to Santa Barbara (where James Stewart takes Kim Novak), I think that maybe has stayed with me more strongly than the other.  It also has the edge because it was filmed in San Francisco.

The Fatal Glass of Beer is a W.C. Fields short which has been a family favorite for years. It's maybe most famous for the line, "'Tain't a fit night out for man nor beast."  I remember the first time David saw it and said "this is the stupidest movie I've ever seen" and then invited all of his friends over to see it.

Gaijin was one of the movies that got to me very strongly.  It tells the tale of the Japanese coffee plantation workers who immigrate to Brasil to work there.  It follows the life of one couple and the child they eventually have.  The thing about it, though, is that it involves the Japanese workers, their Brasilian bosses, Italians and Americans and all speak their own language.  And you must watch it with subtitles, not dubbed, because if you watch it dubbed, you miss the whole point of the movie.  In the end, when the mother is telling the daughter, in Japanese, that they are going "home" to Japan and the daughter is answering her in Portuguese about her friends, you realize that the daughter is Brasilian.  It's more poignant that this brief description, but I just loved that film.

I honestly don't remember a lot about Chushingura,  also known as The 7 Samurai.  That movie ran at a little art house in Berkeley for at least 6 months.  We thought it would never leave.  But I also still remember that it was one of the most beautifully filmed movies I'd ever seen.  I still remember the breathtaking opening sequence of cherry blossoms.
Of course I also had to add Meet Me in St. Louis, which may have been the movie in which Judy Garland was most beautifully filmed.  Someone says that when she sings "The Boy Next Door," looking out the widow of her family's house that it is like Vincente Minnelli's making love to her with the cameraAlmost as breathtaking as the cherry blossoms of Chushingura.

I haven't seen All that Jazz in years, but it had a profound effect on me at the time and I watched it several times.  The same goes for The Red Shoes, which I might not even like now (I started watching it recently and turned it off), but at the time it was a movie that stuck with me like glue--still does.  The ballerina and the mad choreographer.

The Blue Veil is a movie that never made it to videotape.  It was pure 1950s sentimental schlock, but I still keep trying to find a copy of it.  Jane Wyman plays a woman whose husband is killed in the war. She is pregnant and loses the baby, and unable to have more children, hires herself out as a nanny.  Over the years, she cares for many children and finally is too old do it any more.  The family she is working for at the time gathers together all of the children she cared for over the years and surprises her with them, all grown up now, many married with children of their own.  The end is so touching.

I always thought it would be wonderful to have that happen with the foreign students we hosted here.  There were some 70 of them and how wonderful it would be to be surprised by the return of a lot of them with their spouses or significant others and their children.  That would be a real United Nations assembly here for sure.  It's been so long since I've seen most of them, I probably wouldn't recognize them...or remember who they are!

The Seventh Veil was maybe the movie I remember being the most moved by in my impressionable years.  I also developed a huge crush on James Mason, which was a step up from my previous crush on Claude Rains.  Early on I was finding myself attracted to older, cold, distant types.

In this movie, Ann Todd becomes the ward of her 2nd cousin, a confirmed, grumpy bachelor, James Mason.  They have little to do with each other until he learns that she is a talented pianist.  He then takes over her education and, when he has taught her all he knows, sends her to the Royal Academy for more instruction.

Along the way she falls in love and Mason takes her to France for several years to get her away from the guy.  It gets very convoluted, with her rising fame and insecurity, his beating of her when she tries to defy him, and the auto accident that she thought ruined her playing career.

The title refers to the seven veils of the mind which psychiatrist Herbert Lom says he must remove to get to the core of her problems and of course he does and she can then choose among the 3 men in her life -- Mason, or the other two men she almost married.  Naturally she chooses Mason.

This is another schlocky romance but with beautiful piano music.  After I made out my list, I checked Amazon Prime and lo and behold they had The Seventh Veil, so I sat up until 1 a.m. watching it again...and I loved it as much tonight as when I first saw it in the 1950s.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

This and That

I am so glad that Pat suggested in the comments section yesterday that I contact the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, here in Davis, about my godfather's scrapbook of his biking career.  Some of the articles date back to the first decade of the 20th century.

I sent a note off to the email address on their web page and was amused, but not surprised to discover that the person who answered me was our good friend Bob Bowen, the good will ambassador of Davis.  We've known Bob since our kids were little, the kids grew up with him.  They marched in holiday parades that Bob led. They were all in the first Davis Children's Nutcracker, which was Bob's brainchild back in 1977 and is now a beloved city tradition...they all performed and some went on to be directors or tech people. Paul did man on the street interviews for local TV with Bob. Jeri, Ned and Paul at one time or another worked for Bob at one or the other of the two theaters in town. (Paul was managing one of the theaters at the time of his death). He's been part of several theatrical events we've been part of.  

At the time of Paul's death, Bob's son (who is now in college) was 5 years old and had been a particularly good friend of Paul's and was very upset by his death, I remember his mother telling me.

So now I have this piece of biking history and who is there to talk to about it? Bob.  He's very interested and says they even have an ongoing display on bicycle racing.  Right now, though, he is helping to run Picnic Day, the biggest event in Davis (it's really a university event, but it involves the whole town).  He says for him. Picnic Day, April 15 this year, ends in May (since he'll be working on clean up for a couple of weeks), but when that's behind him he'd like to meet with me and go over my Uncle Fred's scrapbooks and see if they can use them.

I thought all of the scrapbooks contained a mixture of biking and boxing and vaudeville, pictures of all 3 brothers, but one of them is just biking, so I will give that one to the museum, if they feel they can use it.  It would be wonderful for my godfather to be part of a museum display, even if it is only in Davis.

At some point I hope to offer my grandfather's memories of his days in vaudeville to the Performing Arts Archive in San Francisco.  They already have all the Lamplighters memorabilia that we collected when we were writing the two histories.

I had lunch with my mother this morning and then went to the post office and mailed off three pocket letters, two for here in the US and one to Malta. (The clerk at the desk in the P.O. said he couldn't remember what he knew of Malta and would be thinking about it all afternoon and look it up when he got home--he thanked me for giving him something to think about while he worked!).  None of the envelopes cost nearly what I feared they would.  Even the one to Malta was only about $3.50.  

I'm almost finished with a new one, which is going to a 79 year old woman in Indiana and I guess the idea with this swap is that it becomes like a pen pal thing, where I write to her, she answers me, and I answer her, and all of our letters are in the form of pockets.  With that in mind, I designed an introductory "about me" page and each pocket represents something important in my life.

(incidentally, the graphic for that "Avid TV watcher" pocket is a graphic I did with PhotoShop.  I found a picture of a stack of TVs and put pictures of some of my favorite TV shows on them.  I'm actually kind of proud of it.)

Tonight we went to see Newsies, the touring Broadway show.  Lively and fun to watch, though with the horrendous acoustics in the theater I missed about 90% of anything they sang.  Fortunately, it's a fairly simple story and the lyrics aren't necessary to understand anything.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Treasure Trove

First the big long nightmare is finally over!!!  My driver's license arrived today...and it is good for three years, not one and there is nothing on it which indicates I have to have a behind the wheel test again.

So glad that is finally behind me and I can get on with my life.

Yesterday I went half-heartedly looking for my mother's old scrapbook, which she started in 1940, the year she and my father married.  It wasn't where all the scrapbooks are and I didn't want it badly enough to start a massive search, but I mentioned something about scrapbooks to Walt today and he mentioned that there was a box of scrapbooks out in the garage.  I asked him to bring it in.

What a find!  Yes, my mother's scrapbook was there, at the bottom of the box. But to get to it, I dug down through four scrapbooks which I think belonged to my godfather.  Fred was a champion 6 day bicycle racer and there are tons of photos of him racing, as well as newspaper articles about his races and when "Freddy" West became a champion.

But there were lots of other fun things in these scrapbooks.  There was a newspaper article about Fred's brother, Tommy, who was a champion bantam-weight prize fighter.

I looked him up on the internet once.  He didn't make a big dent in boxing history, but I did find a couple of mentions of him, when he lost to another, more famous boxer.

I never met Tommy and maybe none of my grandfather's siblings.  I would love to know about the rift in the family, but they are total strangers to me, other than Fred.  Fred came to all of our family events.  His wife had divorced him a long time ago, so he was a lonely old bachelor, selling vacuum cleaners for a living and so he was part of our family.  But they never even discussed the other brothers, to my memory.  At least not in my presence.

There were lots of newspaper articles in these scrapbooks, one with a small article from 1906 which said that Tommy had received a phone call from his mother assuring him that all of the family had survived the San Francisco earthquake and though they were scattered around the city, all were OK.

So these first generation Americans of Irish descent seem to have made names for themselves.  Fred as a champion bicycle rider, Tommy as a champion boxer, and my grandfather, who was in an Irish trio known as the Carson Trio.  They performed in the waning days of vaudeville and were even invited to New York to possibly sign a contract, but my father was about to be born and that never happened.

That's my grandfather in the middle.  Given their local fame and the disappointing failed recording contract, he had the same kind of show biz career that Lawsuit did!  History repeats itself.
The biggest surprise from these albums was a portrait of my grandmother.  It is the only professional portrait I have ever seen of her, and if I didn't recognize her handwriting, I might not have recognized her at all.

The other interesting thing I came across were a couple of newspaper articles talking about my grandmother's brother, who was divorcing his wife because of her infidelity with three other men.  It was a little tiny article, and I guess that was the kind of stuff that made the San Francisco papers at that time!  This was another relative I never knew, and don't know why.  It's like my grandparents holed up in this tiny apartment from when my father was a small child until my grandfather died in his 80s, and never interacted with family again, except for us, and they were with us for every. single. thing. we did.

I wish I knew what to do with these scrapbooks.  There are wonderful photos of the other performers in the vaudeville troupe that they performed with, but I don't have a clue who they are, and tons of newspaper reports about fights and bike races and performances.  I hate to throw them away.  I guess I'll have to keep them and let the kids toss them after I'm gone.  I still feel a connection, however thin, with those people from the turn of the 19th century.