Monday, February 29, 2016

Something Fishy

I finally gave Walt his birthday present today.  I took him to The Dead Fish restaurant for lunch.  

This is a place in Crockett, about an hour's drive from here.  I had been there twice before, once with Char and her daughter and Susan from Logos (who is Char's cousin), and once I met Char there for lunch.  They have wonderful crab and as a ban on Dungeness crab imposed in November of 2015 because they discovered toxic levels of domoic acid in Dungeness and rock crabs had been in place, we hadn't been able to eat crab.  The ban was lifted earlier in February and we are free to eat local crab again, so this was our chance to indulge.

I made a reservation on Open Table and was so glad I had because I requested a window table and when we got there the place was mobbed, with people waiting...but there was a wonderful window table reserved for us and we were seated immediately.

It's an amazing place because it is so very, very busy but they have a huge wait and support staff and the whole experience is very efficient.  Our waiter put our drink order into his hand-held computer, which communicates with the bar, and by the time he had taken our food order and left the table, our drinks had arrived.  It doesn't hurt that the food is delicious!

I ordered what I had last time, which was garlic noodles with crab.

You expect to get a bowl full of noodles with crab on top...and you do.  But there is also crab mixed all in the noodles so much so that when you are finishing the noodles at the bottom of the bowl, you can still find crab claw meat.  It's wonderful.  Walt had crab Alfredo, which also looked wonderful.

For dessert we shared some of their cheesecake du jour (I think it was cranberry)

Walt had wine, I had water because I had promised to be the designated driver so he could have wine (and I would not have had wine anyway).

We just had a lovely afternoon, looking out at San Francisco Bay, the Carquinez Bridge, and off to the left, the Maritime Academy and it's training ship.

The drive down had been absolutely gorgeous.  We are in the middle of that wonderful California spring, which seems to last about an hour and a half, where all the hills are a deep green and wild flowers are popping out.  I found it all so breathtaking, I took a long frontage road at one point so I could take pictures

My mother, in her more lucid days, use to marvel at how many different shades of green there are in nature, and you can sure see that in this photo.  I couldn't pull over where the purple lupin was more plentiful, but I did get a spot to take at least one photo of the wildflowers.

We got home in time to catch a brief nap before the Oscars started.  Not the best year and lots of weird it ran 30 minutes long.  I had not seen most of the nominated films (not for best picture or for actor awards), but the two I had seen both won -- Brie Larson for Room and Spotlight as best picture.  I have no desire to see Revinant but was happy to see that Leonardo DiCaprio finally got an Oscar.  He as done such good work and seems a genuine good guy without scandal behind him.  I was happy for him.  Oh.  I also saw Inside Out on the plane going to Europe and was happy that it won for feature animation.

But on the whole, the show was kind of boring and the most puzzling thing about it was the choice of music to play as people enter or exit the stage, music which seemed to come from left field and have zero connection to the person entering or leaving (Cate Blanchett and Reese Witherspoon played on to "The Way We Were," for example).

Best of all, it was over by 9 p.m., with lots of time stretching out in the evening to write this and finish my review of Twelfth Night, which we saw yesterday.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Blossoms and Books

I took my mother on a "blossom drive" on Thursday.  I was going to have lunch with her but found her in the alcove across from the dining room eating 3 cookies, which she told me was her "lunch."  This is not the first time she's done that.  I suspect this may be her new normal.  Sitting with her back to the dining room, having cookies and no real lunch.

Anyway, I told her that since she wasn't going to eat, I'd like to take her for drive around Davis to see all the spring growth, since she loves nature so much.  I promised her she wouldn't have to get out of the car and I'd bring her back home again.  I was going to have her sit on the bench right outside the building so she wouldn't have to walk to the car and I'd drive up and pick her up, but I think the idea of sitting alone for 5 minutes was too scary and overcame her back pain, so she walked with me.

We drove all over Davis and she did like the blossoms, though I think she liked the green leaves more.  And what seemed to impress her most were cars.  I can't tell you how many times she said "you never see old cars here." or "cars, cars, many cars.  You never see old cars here.  They all look new."

I tried to pass by places I knew had beautiful gardens, but flowers didn't seem to interest her at all.  I just never know what is going to interest her any more, but whether she enjoyed the copious blossoms or the cars the best, I do think she enjoyed herself.  For once, she was not nervous, worried that she couldn't find her apartment when we got returned to Atria and I let her out at the door.
But she was sad to discover I would be out of town overnight and said that she'd try to find some reason to keep me in town.  I'm going to be gone less than 12 hours. I guess I'm now expected to come EVERY day.  Ain't gonna happen!!!

Well, I turned out not to stay the night with Char after all, since the talk we were going to was over before 8:30.  I got the prize (not really) for coming the farthest to listen to and talk with author Tracy Guzeman, the author of "The Gravity of Birds."'

This was a first time book for this young author and she was one of those people who had a lucky star, when everything went well for her.  A writing teacher put her in touch with an agent, who was able to sell her book when she finished it...which she did in about four months.  

It included amazing research on her part.  The story concerns a young girl with rheumatoid arthritis, who loves birds.  It also is about her sister and the reclusive artist who changes their lives. It takes place in Upstate new York, Tennessee and New Mexico and deals with art authentication, all subjects she knew nothing about.  She painted such amazing pictures of New York, Tennessee and New Mexico and has never been to any of those places.  She did great research on birds, their lives, their nesting pattern, their migration.  She read all she could about rheumatoid arthritis on the internet and in medical journals and joined discussion groups., She said Google was her best friend.  You'd never know she was not an expert in any of these subjects.  Or that she did all this and produced a 300+ page book in 4 months.

It started as two short stories that she blended into a full length novel that she told her agent she would have finished "by April," in 4 months.  She wasn't even sure how she was going to join the two stories until she found an old portrait in her attic of a relative and her two daughters and that brought the story together for her.

While I was fascinated to hear the background of the development of the story, I loved even more her discussion of her writing process.  I always love to hear about how writers write.  Do they hand write or use computers? (she uses a computer)  How does she keep track of the character and plot lines.  I remember my friend who was writing a Japanese themed novel for years and she had 3x5 cards with important things for her to remember pinned up all over the wall above her desk.  Tracy set up 2 spread sheets.

I particularly like hearing how writers write.  Over the years, I have accepted that my method of writing is that I have to get a couple of paragraphs down and then I have to get up and eat something.  Or watch something on TV.  Or go to sleep for the night.  I do this automatically and have for years.  I have been pleased to read about other writers who follow the same sort of routine.

Tracy talked about a writer she knew who had to have absolute quiet in order to write anything and rented a cabin in the woods, where he was even bothered by bird sounds.

She says she aims to write 2 pages a day and writes early in the morning and late at night when it's most quiet.  I remember author David Gerrold telling me once that he aimed for 2-4 pages a day, though considering the cacophony in his house, I don't think peace and quiet is a part of his own routine.

The time just flew by and at the end I was so glad I had made the drive down to hear her, and talk with her...and we were out of the library in plenty of time for me to drive home so I could be here to brew a fresh pot of coffee for Walt on his 76th birthday.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Golden Dog

I didn't think it was a big problem at first.  Lizzie started limping on Monday.  It was more than limping; she wasn't using her right hind leg at all.

She had a session of limping a few months back.  I let it go a couple of days and she stopped, so I didn't worry about it this time for 2 days, but she was still not using the leg and had become lethargic (except when the dog over the back fence was out, then she ran out barking like she always does, which is why I wasn't worried about her).

I finally called to make an appointment with the vet and we hobbled in to see her yesterday morning.
She could find no problem with Lizzie's foot, which she had been licking, so took her in the back for x-rays and came back with the bad news.  She had torn her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).  She laid out two options for us  The first involved having an orthopedist come in, break her leg and reset it.  That would "only" cost $4,000, but would be the surest way to fix it for good.

The other is a simpler procedure that the vet can do in house and will "only" cost ~$1,500.  

Whenever something like this happens--and it seems that most of our dogs have had at least one "big" thing in their lives--it makes me wish for Peti-Care, but all things considered, Lizzie is about 9 years old and this is the first major problem she has had and if we had contributed monthly to a pet insurance we probably would have paid more.  I don't think Sheila ever had a big expensive thing happen to her in her 12 years.

Given her level of activity (not very active), I decided to go with the less expensive procedure. So she's scheduled for surgery.  She'll wear the "cone of shame" for awhile and won't be able to race out to chase after the dog in back.  It won't be a fun time for any of us, but hopefully the outcome will be good.

Our lives ("our" being a generic term meaning anybody who has and loves a dog) revolve around our companions.  I know that Lizzie and especially Polly are in charge of what goes on here during the day.

I wake up in the recliner and the trick is to sneak my iPad, which is on a shelf right at my elbow, into my lap so I can check e-mail before I have to "wake up" officially.  Polly never reacts when I take the iPad out and open it up, but no matter how silently I put it back, those bat-ears pick up the sound and she's wide awake.  When Polly is wide awake, there is no rest for the wicked until she has been fed.  She barks and barks and barks that shrill bark of hers that pierces you to the core and there is nothing to be done but to get up and fix breakfast for the dogs.

Lizzie is the one who legs me know if they need something.  If she needs for me to open the back door, or if she is out of water, I will be sitting here at my desk and will feel her nose poking my butt.  She's so polite about it (unlike Polly) that I get up right away to find out what it is that she needs.
On Sunday morning, Walt fixes his breakfast and it's the day of the week when he cooks sausage.  He always gives one sausage to me and gives me one sausage that I split between Polly and Lizzie.  Whenever Walt goes into the kitchen on Sunday morning, suddenly there is Lizzie under my feet and Polly standing behind me, both waiting patiently because they know they are going to get a bit of sausage.

They are insistent about dinner too.  It takes several weeks/months after Ashley has been here for them to get back to my schedule to feed them.  She feeds them earlier than I do.  They can be sound asleep and suddenly the dinner bell goes off in their heads and the are going to die of starvation of I don't feed them immediately.  Both pace and Polly barks.  When they are back on my schedule, they get fed after Jeopardy is over (7:30) and as soon as the theme music starts, Polly leaps off of the chair and starts barking to be fed.

But they are also nice to have around.  I never have to wonder if our bi-weekly water bottles have been delivered or if the Blue Apron guy has showed up with our box for the week because they bark the "you are an enemy; go away or I will kill you" bark.  By the same token, I always know when Walt has ridden up on his bike because of Polly's happy welcoming bark.

They don't like it when I sleep in the recliner and are often so restless if I stand up that I finally give up and go sleep on the couch for a few hours.  I have often put off writing this entry because the dogs want me to go to sleep.  Fortunately they don't seem to mind when I get up at 3 a.m. and move to the recliner, or decide to write a journal entry in the middle of the night.

Just a heads up -- I am going to Char's tonight to go to a lecture by an author whose book we read a couple of months ago.  I am spending the night there and won't be writing an entry until I get home Friday morning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our Other Daughters

We planned to have meals with 2 of our daughters today.

Lunch was with Sonia, our Brasilian daughter.  Sonia was one of the early foreigners we had stay with us, in about 1981.  She did not come through any program but came because a friend of ours who had lived with us for 6 weeks, gave her our phone number in case she needed help while traveling in the United States.  As it happened, she ran out of money in Oakland, and was having problems with her traveling companions, so she called me, in tears, because she had nowhere else to turn.

I brought her to Davis and she moved in with us, then happened to meet Charlie one night at a bar and soon after moved from our house to his. They lived together for several weeks until her return to Brasil. She and Charlie had great plans to remain close, but as time passed, they lost contact with each other. 

Many years later, Sonia contacted me about a trip she was making to the US on business. She hadn’t heard from Charlie in a couple of years, and had no plans to contact him, but wanted to visit us. We were going to be out of town the day she was scheduled to arrive, but I made arrangements for her to get into the house, if she could get herself to Davis. Then, on a whim, I called Charlie and said, “I don’t know if you want to know this, but Sonia is arriving on Saturday and has no way to get to Davis...” 

There was a long silence and then he said “What’s her flight information?” 

When we arrived back home again, there was no indication that Sonia had been there. We didn’t hear from her for a week, and when she called, she had been with Charlie. Six months later, I was the matron of honor at their wedding. And now they have Denise and Daniel both of whom are adults. In 2000 we attended the ceremony where Sonia became a U.S. citizen.

They now live in Napa, where Sonia is an artist and is trying to start a business selling her delicious gluten-free pizzas.  We don't see each other nearly enough, I realized, as we enjoyed getting caught up over sushi.  

Dinner was at the restaurant of our Mexican daughter, Marie.  We went with Ned and Marta to celebrate Marie's birthday, my birthday and Walt's upcoming birthday.

Unfortunately, she and Ned got their dates crossed and we were there on the only day she wasn't going to be there as she was at a wine tasting in San Francisco, but we had a delicious dinner anyway.
The circumstances surrounding Marie's coming to us were pretty weird. Walt and I had gone to a show at a theatre in Davis, and sitting in front of us were some friends who had just returned form Mexico. David is a physician who volunteered time down there each year as part of a program put together by a local minister and his wife.
They talked about how their trip had gone and said that they had met this girl whom the minister and his wife thought had great potential, but she needed to get out of Mexico to be educated. As she had dual citizenship (her father, who had died when she was young, was American), there would be no visa problem, but they needed to find a home for her to live. As they knew I placed foreign students with American families, they asked if I had any suggestions of people they might call to see if they would like to host Marie for a year.

Never one to be able to say no, I immediately said "we'll take her."

Most of our students had been male, which was fine because they could share a bedroom with the four boys. On the rare occasions when we'd had women live with us, they slept in the living room. We'd never had someone live in the living room for a whole year. And I'm sure Marie never dreamed she'd be sleeping on a hide-a-bed for a year.

The short version is that she came and we got along very well. She had some adjustment difficulties but after the first few months, she blossomed. The potential that she displayed in Mexico was very apparent. This was a girl who was intelligent, a hard worker, and she was going to make something of herself. She graduated from Davis High School and worked in a crepe restaurant most of the time she was here.

I can't remember now all the things she did, but she graduated from Sacramento State College with a major in business. She was chosen to go to Peru on a special international business program. She worked for some part of the state government for awhile on some sort of special deal. She wrote a book, I believe. It seemed that everything she touched turned to gold -- and not just out of luck; because she has a good head on her shoulders, knows what she wants, and is willing to work for it.

She married Mannie, a man from India, and shortly after their marriage they opened a restaurant in Elk Grove, south of Sacramento.. It's called Todo un Poco ("all in pieces") and was designed to be a two-part restaurant--one side was the "fine dining" Mexican restaurant and the other side was a more casual pizza parlor. It never quite divided up the way she originally anticipated, but they've had incredible success and it has been named best restaurant in Sacramento by one newspaper, one of the top 10 restaurants in the area by Sacramento Magazine. Marie, was "citizen of the year" in Elk Grove a few years back. She's done a lot of community work especially concerning diversity in the Elk Grove community.

I just love the very unusual paintings by a local artist with whom they became friends which decorate this restaurant.  Many based on a "day of the dead" theme have skeletons somehow resembling Marie and/or her husband.

We were sorry to miss seeing  Marie (but she called and I talked with her).  However, I was happy to have my favorite Todo un Poco dish, Punjabi pizza, which is made with cauliflower, potatoes and Indian spices.  When we went to the restaurant before it was opened, Mannie made 3 pizzas for us, two traditional and the Punjabi, which became my favorite.

I am so proud of both of our "daughters" and what they have made of their lives, and happy that I could spend today with both of them...well, kinda.  Next time we'll get the dates right with Marie!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ponderous Pachyderms

This is turning into an "elephant week." 
For one thing, Walt got me this great book off of my Amazon wish list and I have been glued to it.  For another, I watched a marvelous special called Elephant Queen and liked it so much I didn't delete it and want to watch it again.

I've written about elephants on this journal before, but perhaps not quite like this.

I don't know when I began my fascination with elephants, but I guess it's only been in the last 10-15 years that I've really started reading about them and watching TV specials about them.

What fascinates me is that we are so much alike.  I'd say that they are so much like humans, but maybe it's that we are so much like elephants.  Whatever, we share so many things in common.

The book follows one family of elephants for 13 years and the writer paints stories that read like novels, explaining things like the social structure, birth, death, mating, migration, etc.  

The video tells a migration story from the view of the elephant matriarch as she guides her family out of the drought zone to the lush ancient elephant grazing ground, more than 100 miles away.  The photography of this video is amazing.  You would have thought a camera crew went along with the group, but of course it's a patchwork of what must be hours and hours of film.  The most amazing shots, to me, were of lions, from the back, stalking elephants in the tall grass and how the elephants work together to find the one baby who is lost.

When the baby is found several days later, with serious injuries, but alive and able to run to his mother, the final scene of her touching him and rubbing against is body over and over again leaves little doubt about the bond between mother and child, her anxiety at his loss and her relief when he is found again.

Watching any elephant video shows how families work to support each other.  When a baby is in danger of drowning, for example, the whole herd comes to his assistance and works to help the little one out onto dry land.

When an elephant dies, the whole herd goes into mourning, touching the body, making rumbling sounds and only after a long while do they finally leave.

One particular poignant moment in the video showed the death of a baby and the herd gathering around it saying good bye, then turning and slowly walking away.  The mother is the last to leave.  She makes one more approach to the body, touching it all over with her trunk.  Then she walks away, turns, lifts her trunks and gives out a mournful trumpeting sound before turning back to rejoin the herd.  It breaks your heart.

The book tells of an elephant who starts to collapse on the march to find water and food and two other elephants get on either side of her, holding her up so she can walk.  She finally can't walk any farther and collapses and both of the helper elephants try to get her up, but she dies.  One of the other elephants keeps trying to get her up and manages, with her tusks, to get the body to a standing position, but she is, of course, a dead weight and not only falls again, but breaks the helper's tusk off in the process.

The chapter on mating was actually kind of risque as one particularly appealing young female was apparently gang banged by a bunch of horny males.

Time and time again are examples of elephant intelligence, complex emotions, and skills that far outweigh ours (the migration, for example, follows a path that elephants have been following for hundred of years and the matriarch remembers).

I don't know that I will ever tire of learning new things about elephants, and the closeness of elephant families.  Watch the heartwarming story of 2 elephants, who had not seen each other in 20 years, reunited again at an elephant sanctuary.

And there are no words for poachers.

This is from the worst recorded episode of ivory poaching in Kenya.

I am so glad that humans (some of them) are starting to realize the damage it does to an elephant to be separated from her family and placed in a circus or in a zoo.  Ringling Bros recently ended its elephant performances and I know how that disappoints people, but the more you know about the suffering these wonderful animals go through the more you realize that they belong in the wild with their family, not performing for human beings.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mine...but Not Mine

I get a pang whenever we go to a Lamplighters show (we saw Ruddygore today).  

This is the backside of the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, part of the Mosconi Center.  The company has been performing there (and several other theaters around northern California) for many years, but I was not part of the company when they made that move.  I had not been a part of the company for several years when they made that move.

The Lamplighters has been a huge part of my life for over fifty years.

In the beginning Walt and I got ushering tickets so we could see the shows for free.  They performed at the Harding Theater then, a dilapidated old movie house in a marginally bad section of town.  It's where my love of Gilbert & Sullivan and this company really began.

When the neighborhood started going downhill faster (and audience members were being accosted on the street), they moved to the Presentation High School theater.  That was my sister's alma mater and over the years I definitely spent more time there than she ever did.  That was where they were performing when Alison, Carolyn and I started researching what would eventually be "The Lamplighters: Twenty-Five Years of Gilbert & Sullivan in San Francisco."

I saw my first rehearsal there, it was Act 2 of Die Fledermaus and I still remember the great thrill of walking into the theater and sitting quietly watching them rehearse the opening chorus, which to this day I cannot hear without thinking of that moment.

We wrote our book and I stuck around as a volunteer in the office.  I became a Lamplighter and made lifelong friends there.  Gilbert & I collaborated on several original musicals there.  And I had my heart broken when he died in 1986.

Walt and I continued to be involved, though now the major involvement was his, as he joined the tech crew and the friends he made there are the ones who joined us at Arthur Sullivan's memorial a week ago.  We see them socially a couple of times a year.  It is sad that we have started seeing them at funerals in addition to dinner parties.

As time moved on and new people started performing, they weren't "my" people any more, and really, how many times can you see HMS Pinafore in a lifetime anyway?  We started skipping some shows, though we still see at least one a year (in addition to the annual fund-raising gala, which I used to help write).

So when we go to a show it's with a sense of familiarity, though when I open the program and find only 4 familiar names among a whole cast of new faces, it's not "my" Lamplighters any more.  And when of the names I recognize, one has been performing with the LLs for  50 years and the other for 40... They both used to do leads, this time they split the small character role of Old Adam, who has very little to say and/or do.  But they want to keep performing (and one of them is now also the company General Manager). Chris is still in the chorus after 49 years.

Walt pointed out to me the name of someone on the tech crew.  He remembered working on the tech crew with her mother when she was pregnant with the girl who has now joined the company.

I looked over the extensive donor list and found John and his wife [last name]  I remember when they used to include the name of their daughter Alicia and when their daughter's name disappeared off of the form when they submitted their donation some time in the mid 1980s, I called them to find out who Alicia was and what had happened to her (she had gone off to college).  We had just gotten a computer that year and I was inputting all the donors into a database, which is how I happened to notice.

Paul worked a show one time and Tom was in a production of HMS Pinafore.  Ned worked on the tech crew for a production of Patience.  He still remembered the quote "oh to be wafted away from this black Alcadama of sorrow where the dust of an earthy today is the earth of a dusty tomorrow." I played the doorbell in the overture to Something's Afoot when it was done for the first time. Jeri was on the tech crew for several years too.

I can barely remember before there was Lamplighters in my life and can't see there never being Lamplighters in my life again, but it's not "my company" any more.  It belongs to the young kids who have moved it into a whole new level of professionalism. 

Still when I see Mad Margaret and Despard doing "I once was a very abandoned person" and realize that the choreography for today's production is almost exactly the same as it has been for the past 60 years (it was declared "perfect" and nobody wanted to change perfection), I realize that it will always be "my company" on some level.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday 9

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: Sixteen Tons (1955)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) 16 tons = 32,000 pounds, because there are 2,000 lbs. to a ton. Without looking it up, do you know how many ounces are in a pound?
I may not know a lot of measurements, but as a cook, this is definitely one I know.

2) The singer describes himself as having "a mind that's weak and a back that's strong." Think about yourself. Which feels more powerful today, your body or your brain?
My back is never strong.  Whether my mind if strong or not depends on the day...and the hour!

3) The poor chap in this song has money troubles. Are you good at sticking to your budget?
If I had a budget, I probably would not stick to it, but I'm fairly good about money these days.  Gone are the days of "miscellaneous sundries at Longs" which caused so much consternation around here.

4) Tennessee Ernie Ford snapped his fingers as he recorded this song. It's been said that while it's possible to snap your fingers of both hands, the noise is louder with your "dominant hand." (So if you're a rightie, the finger snap will be louder with your right hand.) Try it yourself. Did you find this to be true?
Hard to tell.  The numbness in 2 of my fingers on the right (non-dominant) hand makes it difficult to snap at all.

5) Mr. Ford appeared as "Cousin Ernie" in three episodes of I Love Lucy. What's your all-time favorite sitcom?
Probably The Dick Van Dyke show.  I never did get into I Love Lucy...too loud and slap-sticky for my tastes (Sorry, Jimmy)

6) Tennessee Ernie took the money he made from his performing career and invested in a California cattle ranch. Think back to the last beef your ate. How was it prepared?
In the past few years, my beef consumption has decreased significantly, but they did set a burger on fire for me last night, so that was the last time I ate beef.  Sadly, I ordered it medium rare and it came well done.  But the sauce and everything else about it was delicious.

7) Mr. Ford passed away at age 72 in 1991. That year, Dr. Seuss also died. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
Probably "Horton Hatches an Egg."  For one thing it's an elephant, after all, and for another I just love how devoted he is to taking care of that egg for ungrateful Mazie bird.

8) Gene Roddenberry also died that year. Mr. Roddenberry is best known as the creator of Star Trek. Who is your favorite Star Trek character?
Mr. Spock, of course.  But if we go to non-regulars on TOS, it would have to be the tribbles.

9) Random question: We're having smoothies. What's your favorite?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Today at Logos

I stopped and had lunch at Atria this morning.  Not my mother's best day, one of her "out of it" days and she planned to take a nap after I left and hope the dizziness would subside.

When I got to the store, Mike reported he had a busy, but low paying morning, probably because of the rain.  I had a busy but very high paying afternoon!  The rain had stopped and it was maybe the busiest day I've had yet.

Started out with a bald guy buying a copy of Aesop's fables.

Next a dad and his son came in and spent some time in the children's room, and then checking out mysteries, but ultimately didn't buy anything.

A guy in a chartreuse jacket and bilious green t-shirt (today was a chartreuse day, I discovered) spent time checking out the Adventure section and chose two books  He handed me a $100 bill, thinking it was $10.  When he saw it was $100, he left the book on the desk and took the bill to the bank across the street to get change.  I screwed up his charge 3 times because I kept forgetting I had to open the drawer to clear the previous charge.

A man wanted a copy of the PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) and then brought me a book of Spanish verbs an asked if we had a book on Spanish nouns (you mean like a DICTIONARY?),  He did find a dictionary an when I went to ring him up, I discovered the cash register tape was jammed, so I had to take the machine apart to fix it

Then a woman came in with 5 bargain books and started talking about the store policy re donations to charity.  I gathered she's quite an activist and talked about ratings of various charities, her fight against GMOs and other things.  She wandered around the store and eventually bought $52 worth of books, the 5 bargain books plus "Seeds of Destiny" (about GMOs), a book on butterflies, on a history of birds, a book of bird illustrations from 1550-1900, "Health Plants of the World, and a book about fairies.  She talked about elephant destruction and how we had wiped out the carrier pigeons.  She also recommended a video about cattle (which is why she doesn't eat beef), but I couldn't find it on Netflix.  Must have gotten the name wrong.  Very interesting lady.

Peter's friend brought in his usual books to donate.

An ambiguous gendered teen wearing chartreuse pants and Nikes cut like sandals sat at the table and read for awhile, then checked the craft section and then the section on the English language.  He/She didn't buy anything but his/her mother bought the "Book of Language" and a history book.

A man who sounded and looked like Raj from Big Bang Theory was looking for books on theater.  He bought 3 bargain books and one about Martha Graham.

A guy came in and bought one bargain book, paid for it, and on his way out saw a set of Encyclopedia Britannica that we've had for sale for months and bought it.  It was a little over $50.
Shortly after he left, a girl bought a 6 volume set  of Winston Churchill's very thick books about World War II for $43.

2 young women in hijabs bought, between them, 5 children's books, including a pop-up "Wizard of Oz" book.

My friend arrived at 4:15 and bought a Dick Francis (he said he'd read a lot of Francis a long time ago and was getting back into reading him.  He also bought a book on Nigerian art.

A guy bought a book of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons.  His credit card was unusual in that it only had one name, like Cher or Oprah or Elvis.  I'd never seen that before.

A couple spent a lot of time at the cook book section and ended up buying 2 cookbooks (one a bar guide) and 2 literature books in fancy binding, "Jane Eyre" and "Pride and Prejudice."

A girl came in wearing neat stockings which were black on the bottom and ended at her knees with the head of a cat, continuing on up with regular shaded stockings.  She bought a copy of "Hunger Games" and when she walked out, I saw that the back of her legs had the tails of the cats.  I just managed to get a photo.

A German woman came in all breathless and asked if we had a book about Native Americans which she had been looking for since 2003.  I directed her to the Native American section and I heard a shriek of delight when she found it, "Torch the Earth."  She positively glowed when she brought that and one other Native American book to the desk.  She said she lives in Germany and had only come to Davis for a month to help her friend on the university.  I swear she walked out on a cloud.
My last customer was a man who spent some time going through the cookbooks and told me his mouth was watering.  He ended up buying a book about Pasta.

Walt arrived at 6 and we went off to a new restaurant, Winds of Change, to have dinner to celebrate my birthday.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Well, my first day of being 73 had highs and lows but was basically low key, with a couple of low spots.

I was awakened by my cell phone ringing.  I didn't get to it in time, but I saw it was Ned and he had left a was the recording of the birthday song we always sing.  We made a video of it one year.  It was a nice way to wake up, and also to see that it was sprinkling outside.  Rain for my birthday.  Perfect (that's sincere, not sarcastic)  I thought about how my father had bought that record of "happy birthday" by The Sportsmen (who were regulars on the Milton Berle TV show) as a joke and how amazed he would be to know that his grandchildren are still playing it for themselves and their friends (and that is now in a digital form.  I don't have a clue where that old 78 rpm record is any more!

Walt was just leaving to go to breakfast with his "old timers" group, so I fixed myself my own version of the Mexican "migas," ("my own version" based on what ingredients we had).  You cut up strips of corn tortillas and fry them until they start to turn golden, Then you pour in an egg, scrambled with a little milk in it.  You stir that together with the tortillas and as the egg is almost cooked add Parmesan cheese and let it melt.  I was out of Parmesan, so used cheddar and it was quite tasty.  A nice treat for my birthday breakfast.

There was an e-mail from my friend Kathy saying that her workman would not be able to work because of the weather so should she meet me in Davis for lunch?  I told her that I would rather keep the original plan, to eat at Olive Garden and I would explain why when I saw her.

Shortly after Walt returned from his breakfast, I got in the car to drive to Sacramento.  I always leave time in case there is traffic.  There was none today and even taking the slow way, through town instead of freeway all the way, I still got there 30 minutes early.  But that was OK because I was really into my audio book and I just sat in the car and listened.  I then went into the restaurant and they took me to a table to wait for Kathy to arrive...and I had more time to listen to the audio book with the earphones I keep in my purse for just such occasions.

She arrived at the time she was supposed to and I told her about my Kaiser-DMV dilemma and how I hoped to pick up my signed paperwork after lunch.  We then did our usual political roundup and I shared my observation that I'm convinced the current election season is being orchestrated by Monty Python.  It's the only thing that makes any sense at all.

After lunch, I drove the two blocks to Kaiser and went to the ophthalmology office to see if they had paperwork for me.  They searched through their files and did not have anything, but suggested I go across the hall to the Medical Records department, which was the logical place where it would have been sent after being filled out.  I went there and found out that there is no record of anything being delivered by courier.

In truth, I was not surprised.  I have been a Kaiser member for 63 years (my father joined when I was 10) and I think I would have been shocked if they had the form for me.  

So now I had to throw myself on the mercy of the DMV.  I had no DMV paperwork and no medical paperwork.  After waiting in line awhile, I started to explain my plight to the clerk and he gave me another DMV form to fill out after he tested my vision, which was perfect in both eyes.

I waited just about exactly an hour before my number, G041, was called.  In that time I tried to figure out the methodology of the numbers.  Every so often a voice would say that such-=and-such number was being helped at window #X.  But there was no rhyme or reason to the numbers.  F245 might follow A023 and precede H006.  I thought my turn was coming soon when G040 was called, but there were at least 20 numbers called, with other seemingly random letters at the start before I was finally called.  I'm sure there is a system, but I sure as heck can't figure it out.

I was very hopeful that without the DMV paperwork that Kaiser had, and just being considered a drop-in licensee that maybe I could slip through the cracks and actually get my license.  But no, that was too much to hope for in this day of computers.  Not only that, but the clerk my clerk checked with was the guy who insisted that I be tested every year in the first place.  I don't know if he remembered my case, but he was adamant that he was not going into a car with me until he knew from a doctor that I was safe to drive.  Of course last hear he went into a car with me with only one eye and didn't seem upset about it.

But I was back to square one.  I couldn't do anything without the damn form that was lost somewhere in the Kaiser system.  But if there is anything good to come out of it it's that I now have a temporary license which will take me through mid-April and I'm sure I can get all the paperwork in order by then.

Jeri called my cell phone as I was driving home and so I went for a lovely drive in the country, through the orchards all in blossom right now, while we chatted for about half an hour.  She sang our happy birthday song, since she didn't have access to the recording.

I got home from my very long day and checked email and Facebook and discovered more than 200 birthday wishes.  I feel very loved indeed.

Walt and I were catching up on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (I'm a sucker for that show and watch it every year.  Walt and I even remembered Banana Joe, the Affenpinscher who won Best in Show back in 2013 (his handler then was handling another dog this year).  To tell the truth, dog shows about confirmation instead of ability seem kind of silly to me, but I do love looking at all the different breeds....and all the weird grooming, especially on poodles and on any of the long-haired cute dogs who look like they'd be great for dusting my floors!

In the middle of the show, the phone rang and it was Brianna.  After some starts and stops, we managed to get FaceTime working, I paused the dog show and I talked with Bri and Lacie (sorta) for over half an hour.  The girls are kind of getting the hang of it, though there was still a lot of silliness and I must say that they must really be enamored of the new toilet installed in their bathroom because they kept showing me pictures of it, open and closed, over and over again.  Brianna wanted to see Polly and Lizzie, and it was fun to be able to show them to her, though the dogs were confused when she called to them.  But it was a fun conversation and Tom gave me a guided tour of their extensive house renovations (and he did not sing the family birthday song)

We went back to watching the recording of the dog show and I was thrilled when C.J., a German Short-Hair Pointer won his 15th Best of Show award in the last 18 months.  C.J. stands for "California Journey," so it's kind of a local dog makes good thing.  On a personal level, I was thinking back to Keno and Chippa, Peggy's two GSPs and how thrilled she would be to know about CJ's win.  But of course I can't tell her.

When the dog show was over, I realized that I had not prepared anything for dinner and that the Blue Apron stuff, delivered today, was still frozen, so I whipped up some quick spaghetti (without the Parmesan that I didn't have for breakfast either) which was no gourmet treat, but at least filled our bellies.

Tomorrow Walt is taking me out to dinner after I finish working at Logos.  He also bought me a Kindle elephant book that has been on my Amazon Wish List for some time.

So all things considered, it was a good birthday, even if I still don't have my driver's license!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Turning 73

It has just turned midnight and I am 73.  This week is so busy I don't have much time to think about being another year older (fortunately not deeper in debt).

The day is going to be very busy, with lunch with my friend Kathy, doing battle with the DMV and then at night Walt is doing his "Citizens who care" visit, spending time with a housebound friend so his wife and have the night off.  There won't be any birthday celebration, but we plan to go out to dinner after I get off work at Logos on Thursday.

Friday I'm sharing a birthday lunch with our Brasilian daughter Sonia, there are 2 shows this weekend, and at some point we are having a birthday dinner with Ned, Marta, and our Mexican daughter at her restaurant.  It's her birthday this month too.

So this is more like a birthday festival, marching into next week which ends with Walt's birthday, a weekend when we have 3 shows to review and can't really do anything official to celebrate.

But that's how it is when you pass 70, I guess!  I'm more worried about when I'm going to fit in a visit with my mother to pick up her dirty laundry!

I drove down to Char's today so we could go to another book club meeting.  We were discussing the book, "Ordinary Grace" by William Kent Krueger, which I remember enjoying but read such a long time ago (and 3 books since then) that I was having a difficult time remembering the story in order to discuss it.

Char is in the middle of cleaning out her house in preparation to downsizing and moving next month.  It is feeling somewhat cavernous and when she gave me a tour of the rooms she and her kids have emptied, it made me realize what a humongous job we have ahead of us, downsizing this place.  While we are not the hoarders you see on TV, we do have an overabundance of "stuff," some of which needs carbon dating.  It's one of those tasks so humongous you don't have a clue where to start, so its best to put it off for another day.  Or year.

When I got home, Walt said that Kaiser had called.  As I suspected, despite reassurances from both the person I spoke with on the phone and the secretary who took my DMV form, my doctor had to send it to Sacramento.  They promised to send it by courier today, which means there is no way I will l have it in time for my DMV appointment tomorrow at 3:20.

HOWEVER, there is hope.

I also had a message from Kathy, with whom I am lunching tomorrow.  She is having work done at her house and asks if it might be possible for us to return to the Olive Garden, our old stomping grounds (5 minutes from her house), instead of eating in Davis.

This pleases me on two counts -- first, it gives me longer to listen to my audio book, but second, Olive Garden is two blocks from Kaiser, where my paperwork should be sitting right now.  What are the chances that I can find the paper work and get it back to Davis in time to keep my DMV appointment?

Wouldn't THAT be a lovely birthday gift?

I still can't get my license tomorrow because there is still that mandatory behind-the-wheel test I am required to take, for which I can't make an appointment until I pass the written part of the exam.  But I can at least get a month extension for my license, 'cause you just know that if the license expires, I will be stopped by a police officer, even though it has been decades since I've been stopped the last time!

So everybody send good thoughts, light candles, burn incense and hope that I will somehow miraculously make this DMV thing work tomorrow...and that I pass the written test, which I am also stressing about.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nimoy and the Illuminati

I rarely get personal e-mail any more (which makes me sad) but boy do bells and whistles go off when there is some political issue of import.

I have two e-mail accounts and gradually I am shifting the political ones over to gmail, but I still get some on my regular account, which I prefer to use for personal email and theater email (of which there is a sizeable amount surprisingly.

Since the death of Scalia the nutcases are out in force. 

Did Leonard Nimoy Have Antonin Scalia Killed to Give Obama Enough Supreme Court Votes to Cancel the 2016 Election?

screams one headline.  Seems Nimoy faked his own death and is now the head of the Illuminati.
“Illuminati supporters such as gun control activists, marijuana propagandists and the recruiters of sodomy are likely to immediately benefit from the Justice’s death,” Billings reports. “They will now have more room to promote their disturbing agendas on a national legal front."
“With his shocking assassination, a new wave of perversion may be unleashed,” he continues, predicting the rise of “polygamy, illegal aliens, nudism and marijuana abuse” along with the conspiracy staple of a third presidential term for Obama.
I know there are folks out there who believe this rubbish and that is very scary...those are the ones who will definitely vote, making the need for all sane people to get to the polls this November even more important.

But it's not only the nutcases, the death of Scalia and the stupid decision by Mitch McConnell to refuse to even consider any Obama appointee has caused my gmail to explode.  I have had a couple dozen people who want me to sign petitions and then send them money.  There are others who just want money (the usual $1 or $3 or $5...or you can send more if you want.  My contribution, I am told, can make all the difference one way or the other),

I wonder how successful those pleas are.  MY reaction is that when inundated, I just delete them all.  I have signed a couple of petitions expressing disgust with the Republicans in Congress and telling them to stop futzing around and do their damn job, like their beloved leader, the Sainted Ronald Reagan instructed them back in 1988

I'm sure that my signature on such a petition will strike fear and terror into their hearts and they will immediately confirm whichever candidate President Obama puts forth.  It's nice to know I have such power ... and I don't even know Leonard Nimoy alive or dead

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day

As usual, it was a low key Valentine's Day.  Walt came home from Church, having stopped en route to buy me some beautiful roses.

I had bought a small box of See's candy for my mother and while at the See's store bought 1.5 lbs of peanut brittle for Walt (he graciously let me have some too).

At 11-ish we went to Atria, where we met Ned and Marta.  They had brought small boxes of See's for both my mother and me, so that was nice!  He also brought along the book they had just received, one which Alice Nan and Joe made with pictures of their time in Jamaica.

In due time we went to the dining room for lunch.

The last time the 5 of us went to the dining room, they never received our reservation so there were no table reserved for us.  The head server that time was all flustered and kept wailing "but you have to make reservations at least 48 hours in advance" but a nice waitress named Jasmine took care of us and did so without wails, without complaint, efficiently and with a smile.  I wrote a note praising her to the Executive Director.

But this time I knew better.  The minute I talked with Ned about meeting at Atria for lunch on Valentine's Day, I called for reservations, and made sure I told the girl who took the reservation that we had problems last time so to be sure to let the restaurant know.  She assured me she would.
She didn't.

They had reserved tables all over the dining room, but none for us but the head server this time (a different one) wasn't really flustered. Ned assured her we could fit five of us at a table for 4 and our server was once again Jasmine, so all went well.

The dining room was all decked out with balloons and the barbershop quartet which sings each year was back again to sing for us.  My mother didn't even look up when they came to sing for us.

I keep thinking she will respond positively to music, but I guess she had so many decades of it with my father that it's nothing special to her any more.  But Walt and I were tickled that the guy on the right end is a friend of ours from the defunct Davis Comic Opera Co
After lunch we returned to the apartment for awhile.  Ned has been recommending the movie Idiocracy to me for awhile and now that we have a working DVD player again, he loaned it to me.  He spent some time describing the plot of the movie to my mother which allowed me to get a very rare photo of him when he didn't know I was taking his photo.

Eventually we all left.  Ned and Marta went home, Walt and I came home to watch Idiocracy (it was, as promised, stupid).

Still full from the huge buffet lunch and the See's I'd eaten, I couldn't even think of dinner, so I heated up one of our reliable Bertolli frozen dinners for Walt and I skipped dinner entirely.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Amazing Man

With all these people dying, it is inevitable that the next step is we will be going to funerals and/or memorial services.

Today we said goodbye to the Lamplighters' Arthur Sullivan, who died January 17, at age 95.  Ironic that a guy named "Arthur Sullivan" would become involved in a Gilbert & Sullivan company.  We knew Arthur for about 40 years and at his memorial service today, I realized we had barely scratched the surface.  We hardly knew him at all.

I knew that Arthur had been in the seminary, but today that part of his story was filled out a bit.  He entered the Jesuit seminary right out of high school in Boston, but because of his linguistic expertise (he spoke 7 languages, including Latin and Greek) he was drafted out of the seminary and into the Army, where he was sent to Japan to be a translator.

Japanese was a language he did not know and so he learned that as his 8th language.  At some point later, he also learned Tagalog, they learned when his last caregiver, from the Philippines, met him for the first time and was surprised that he spoke to her in her own language.

He was sent to the South Pacific with General MacArthur to decipher code and help with the reconstruction of Japan from 1945-47.

When he left the Army, he moved to San Francisco, where he went to work for American Airlines and traveled extensively.  I also knew about his work with American Airlines -- sort of -- but I never knew he was also a world class ballroom dancer and world class skier.  Who knew?

As his partner of more than 25 years said today, Arthur was a man noted for Service, Humility and Love.  He didn't talk about his accomplishments, so none of us knew of his background.  Jim pointed out how the love that Arthur had for everyone, and vice versa was shown in the number of people from a host of groups, from extended family to fraternal organizations, to Lamplighters were there today.  Sadly, there were two performances of the current Lamplighters show today, so only 3 people other than the "usual suspects" were able to make it (10 people in all).

Arthur came to the Lamplighters in 1962 and participated in a number of ways for 40 years.  When we were writing the first Lamplighters history, he was described by then General Manager Spencer Beman as "the greatest single figure in the technical history of the Lamplighters."  He started out on lighting, soon took over other technical responsibilities and eventually became production manager. He even appeared on stage a few times, but as he admitted he "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket," his roles were limited to non-singing ones, primarily the Solicitor in Patience and a waiter in The Merry Widow

I loved it that the priest, who led the memorial service (including the rosary--I'd forgotten how long and boring the rosary is!) referred to Jim as Arthur's "Special Friend."  

That their relationship was accepted so casually by this older priest says a lot for at least this particular part of the Catholic church.

Jim and Arthur first got together because of opera, which they both loved.  They began going to performances together after Jim's parther died and eventually they made it permanent.  They have spent the past many years on Jim's ranch in the hills overlooking San Jose, where he owns 40 acres and where they raised grapes and other crops, and alpacas (or were they llamas?  I can't remember) and had some cattle, I think.  Jim threw wonderful parties to celebrate Arthur's birthdays over the years.  We feel blessed to have been part of that group that gathered often to visit with Arthur and his beloved dogs Lolli and Cooper.

The obituary ended perfectly.  "Arthur was a quiet man who had a gentile way, a way that caught you in his golden spell.  And when he gave us his heart so many years ago, he gave it lovingly and willingly.  We love you, Arthur.  A finer man never lived."

Well said.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Thursday at Logos

I don't know what it is about our new volunteer Mike, but there is an electricity in Logos whenever I come in to relieve him.  Oh it's not like he made lots of sales...far from it...but he's such a people person it's like he has his own little support group or conversation buddies all over the store.  In fact, it was kind of funny because when he left, they all (3 of them, I think) did too!  He's a real people person.

It was a pretty dead day today with spots of being busy and the very best end of the day...ever! But from about 2:30 until about 5:00 there wasn't a single person in the place.  Heck, even "my friend" didn't show up. But at least I finished my book.

Walt had brought home a huge bowl of Mint Milanos, leftover from his contribution to the Citizens Who Care reception last week.  He figured it would take us a month to eat them ourselves (I was not quite so pessimistic, but realized it would not be good for me!), so I decided to bring them to Logos.  I set them up on the front desk with a sign to help yourself, but I don't think anybody took any.  Fortunately, Susan was having a poetry reading that night, so maybe they got eaten after all.

My first customer was a Burl Ives type who came in with bargain books and sat himself at the front table to read.  "You made two sales at least," he told me.  He had not been in before and when I told him the story policy about donating to charity, he enlightened me on what kind of business license Susan and Peter must have...and corrected me when I said "Doctors without Borders" to "Médecins sans Frontiéres."  He got two phone calls while sitting at the front table and after a long time bought the two bargain books, 2 spiritual type books and a book on California which, to my surprise, was marked fifty cents, not the usual $1.

Another guy came up timidly with one book in his hand and asked "Can I buy this book?"  What?...I was going to say no

A tall, stately woman, about my age who was from out of town (I heard her tell someone outside who was asking for directions) had on a lovely maroon sweater which went well with her grey-white hair.  She didn't say much, but bought 2 bargain books, one fantasy book and one mystery.

A rotund guy with thick black curly hair was wearing Puma sweat pants and a black sweater.  He joined Burl Ives at the front table for awhile.  He eventually bought 4 books to the desk and bought 2 of them, returning the other two.  One of the two books was by Tony Kushner.

A chubby young woman wore what looked like some kind of team jersey, too tight jeans and Uggs.  Her black hair went below her shoulder blades and had one shock of white, about 2-3 inches wide, down one side, from forehead to hair tips.  She also bought a bargain book (it was a good day for bargain books.  The next two customers also bought bargain books).

A woman came in with a bag of donated books, asked me if I was Bev Sykes, introduced herself and reminded me that our kids were in school together.  I didn't recognize her or her name.

I apparently dozed off momentarily during the dead time because when I looked up, two men I had not seen or heard enter were leaving the store.

My next customer, though, was a lot of fun.  I could have sworn he was gay until he talked about his wife.  He was dressed in in dark grey short-shorts with tan socks to mid-calf, a read shirt and a red jacket with a wide navy stripe.  He was looking for maps and explained that he goes biking in Europe and rattled off all the places he wanted to bike (some of which I had been to...not biking, of course). He started talking about Rick Steves and then got off on something he had read about lunches for pre-schoolers in Paris and the chefs who create the menus, how the kids get lessons in how to sit and socialize and eat their food.

I contrasted that with Steve Schalchlin's niece, Elizabeth Pax, a teacher in Texas, who set up a "Go Fund Me" page to raise money to feed her at-risk middle schoolers who were coming to school without breakfast. (I encourage you to read her story on the page and how the kids reacted to the food she served to them.  She's a great inspiration.)

The customer ended up buying "Under the Tuscan Sun" stating that his wife reads a lot but "nothing worthwhile."  I was feeling guilty that I was, at that moment, reading the first junk chick lit book I'd ever read!

My last two customers were my favorite kid, Athena, and her mom. I think Athena is a year older than Brianna, but she reminds me of her a lot (if Bri had dark hair).  Athena LOVES books and spends a lot of time looking  through the kids room.  I remember last time she came in, she took a Japanese book from the foreign book shelf to take to her mother, "as a joke," she told me.  

The best part of the day came while Athena was browsing when the door opened and in came Cayce Wallace and her group.  Cayce leads dog walks through downtown Davis, teaching dogs how to behave while out in public.  She had with her about 7 people with their dogs on leashes, to have the experience of behaving in a retail store (apparently Susan had invited her).  What fun.  The dogs were all well behaved and several of them had to sniff my legs with all the Polly/Lizzie smells.  They walked around the store for about 5 minutes and then left, about 3 minutes before Walt arrived, so he missed them.

For a day that was so dull most of the day (I only used 2-1/2 sheets of note paper) it had some of the best interactions, what with Burl Ives, the Biker, Athena and the dogs.  Also, the antiquarian popped in while I was talking to the biker, but he left right away, so I didn't get a chance to talk with him.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Damn the DMV

It was going to be so easy this year.  My eye was  fixed.  I could see again.  Maybe I could talk the DMV out of my having to take a behind the wheel test again.

Last year, because I'm old, I could not renew my driver's license by mail, but had to go to the office.  I thought I was being ahead of the game by bringing a note from my doctor about my eye.  But no, they needed me to go back and have her fill out a special form, so I had to go back to Sacramento for the form, then make a second trip and then a third trip to the DMV because I had to take a behind the wheel trip since I was blind in one eye.

The tester told me at that time that from now on I would need to renew my license every year and take a behind the wheel test every year.

But I'm not blind in that eye any more.  In fact I have better vision there than I have had in decades.  The form they send you clearly states that you need to bring a note from your doctor if there is a problem with your vision, so it never occurred to me that I would need one this year.

Maybe I just got the wrong clerk.  She spent a lot of time looking at my form and her computer and left her computer twice to confer with someone in the back but ultimately, even though I could read the damn eye chart without any problem she told me that she could not process my form without a note from my doctor that yes, I could see again.  Evidence that I could was not acceptable.

And yes, I would have to repeat the behind the wheel test.

(I must say that my friend has only one eye for most of the 50 years I've known her and she doesn't have to go through this!)

So I got my form to take to the doctor, but because of working at Logos, I couldn't drive in to Sacramento that day and would have to go the next day.  I called Kaiser first, though, and found out I could take it to the Davis Kaiser and they could sign it for me.

But I couldn't go to Kaiser today, because I was waiting for a call from the DMV.  I tried to make appointments for my next try at getting my license (which expires on Wednesday) renewed and the telephone hell method worked all right for making an appointment for the written test.  Since they are closed on Monday for Presidents Day and since I will be out of town on Tuesday, the earliest I could go was on Wednesday, the day my license expires.

Trying to make an appointment for behind the wheel testing, however, was an entirely different matter.  You can do it by computer, only their program said that my driver's license number did not match their records for my birth date.  Huh?  Rechecking, it's the right number and the right birth date.  What's their problem?

So I went the telephone hell way and after being disconnect twice, I finally was able to get to an automated message saying that they could not process my request but that I would have to speak to an operator and my wait time on the phone would be only 30 minutes!!!  They did offer me the option of a call-back, which I took.

Well, what with working at Logos (report tomorrow) and waiting for the DMV telephone call, that left no time to go to Kaiser to pick up the needed form.

In almost exactly 30 minutes, a woman from the DMV called, and after my answering all the same questions I had answered three times before to the automated menus, she told me that she could not make an appointment for me until I had the signed doctor's form and had completed my written test.  She was also amazed that I needed the form and that I needed a behind the wheel test, but couldn't explain why.

So I'm back to square one and after having gone through the tortures of the damned trying to prepare for the written test, I now have time to prepare yet again and get myself all worked up all over again.
I took all of their practice tests and passed most of them, but there wasn't a single one where I didn't make some errors.  I failed 2 or 3 of the 15 tests.  Walt had a DMV rule book that I tried to read through and I must be my age, but I just could not absorb anything.  Two full pages about the kinds of turns you could make on the various kinds of roads just went completely over my head.  

So I don't know what the next chapter is going to be, but I'm very frustrated with the DMV right now, and facing not being able to renew my license after all. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Like a Pregnancy

It 9 months to November and I suspect that just like a pregnancy, this is going to be a continuing painful time for us.  It would be nice if we could have that comfortable, almost-pleasant mid-trimester, but I suspect this baby is going to be trouble the entire time.

If there is anything positive I can say about where we are in politics today it is that I went to pick up my mother's laundry (somehow dirty undies seem appropriate to this topic).  She did not have today's paper next to her and I found it on the table, unopened.  So I picked it up and pointed to the headline about Trump and Sanders winning New Hampshire.

Her ability to cover her inability to participate in a conversation or to understand what she reads worked well for me.  I started talking about the candidates and my frustration with the whole thing.  I must have talked for half an hour and every so often she'd interject something, but mostly she listened without letting me know she didn't have a clue what I was talking about.  But that was great.  I had the ear of someone willing to sit and listen to me rant and rave, and she got someone coming to visit her that she didn't have to entertain.

And she didn't once tell me how old she was.

Maybe this is the good part about this ridiculous election.

I am in such a quandary.  I hear from my buddies Bill, Hillary, Chelsea and Bernie at least a dozen times a day, often more because for some reason Hillary and Chelsea send me every notice twice on my normal account and another two times on my g-mail account.  I have stopped reading them.
This is such a frightening time in this country.  We have a real possibility of a President Donald Trump, which chills me to my core, and so the choice of the Democrat opponent is more important than it has been in the past.  Heck, even REPUBLICANS don't like Trump, to hear them talk!

But who is best to beat him?  Bernie or Hillary.  I go back and forth every day, sometimes more than once a day.  I should stop watching TV news, but it's like a train wreck.  I can't stop myself.

I really like Bernie.  I like what he stands for, I like his passion, I like his dedication to making this country great again (something Trump will not do, no matter how many hates and buttons he sells).  But he worries me for so many reasons.  It's wonderful to say that you are going to take on Wall Street and make college free, and give us single payer once and for all, but I have not heard him say HOW is going to do all that.  After watching Obama sail into the White House on promises that I believed in and then having watched him fight congress for eight years to get anything accomplished, I'm not sure how Bernie, who seems to be disliked not only in Congress but in his own home state, is going to accomplish that.  His medical plan alone, economists seem to think, will cost trillions of dollars.

(But then Trump, too, has made lots of promises that sound good on paper, but how is HE going to get tem through congress?  He's convinced Mexico will pay for that famous wall he wants to build, but he never says how, other than that he has good Mexican friends.  And as for deporting 11 million illegals...c'mon.  It's impossible.  Yet, he fires up his base every time he promises those things.)

I like Hillary too and I trust her more because of her wealth of experience.  She knows what it's like to be in the White House and she knows international relations, which are going to be so important in the next four years.  I haven't heard Bernie come out with a single plan for what he would do for various international situations.  He just slides back to the fact that if he taxes millionaires and billionaires everything would be hunky dory.

When you ask him what he would do about Syria, he reminds people that he was against the Iraq War.  Well.  Good.  But that was 2002.  What would he do in 2016?

Five years ago, he proposed Universal Health Care, but could get no sponsors.  How is he going to do any better if he becomes president?  Those things do have to go through Congress, you know!

But then there are things about Hillary that bother me too and so i sit on the horns of a dilemma and it may be months before I know who I am really supporting.  

One thing is for sure.  No matter which of them ends up winning the nomination, either of them would be head and shoulders over anybody on the Republican side.  Political analyst Ezra Klein says that "The rise of Donald Trump is a terrifying moment in American politics," adding "Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he's a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he's also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it's hard to know if he even realizes he's lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash."

And what saddens me the most is how many Americans are buying all of the negative crap that is coming out of those debates and those rallys.  It scares me that this is the kind of country we are becoming.  No longer a kinder, gentler country but a meaner country with people who have lost their ability to feel anything for those less fortunate than they are, or those who are suffering around the world. 

My mother has, for years, said repeatedly "I'm glad I'm as old as I am." I understand that now.  I feel sad for the world Brianna and Lacie will inherit if things don't change.