Friday, October 20, 2017


I did not sleep at all last night.  In fact, it was about 9:30 a.m. before I finally dozed off for an hour and a half.  I don't know why. I just could not get to sleep.  I've taken to writing my journal entries in the morning instead of at night, but I've never started one so late!  Thank goodness I don't have a show to review tonight!

I met Alice this week.

Alice is the UCD student who is partnered with my mother, to be her "buddy" and establish a relationship with her.  She will visit her every Wednesday, she tells me (a day of the week I don't have to feel guilty about staying home!)

She's a lovely girl, in her second year at the University.  I can't remember what she said is her major, but picked up on her brother, who is looking at UC Santa Barbara (where Jeri graduated) and Cal Poly (where Tom graduated).  I recommended both schools highly, Santa Barbara over Cal Poly because he thinks he might like to major in theater.

We tried to talk to include my mother who was lost, of course.  Turns out Alice is a theater fan and we both like the same shows, which really left my mother in the dust while we talked about shows and songs and her other brother who is doing theater in San Diego.

I guess Alice sat with us for about 45 minutes until time for her to leave.  I was so pleased to have her there because she got my mother talking animatedly, and when she left, the two of us had little to say to each other again.  

We were sitting at the end of the hall, the opposite end from where she lives and I made some comment about her apartment being at the other end of the hall.  I had to tell that to her about three times and she finally shook her head and said "Well, I'm going to have to think about that because I can't understand a word you're saying."

I think Alice will be good for her.

I came home to turn on the news and what a depressing day it was.  It started at 3 a.m. with Morning Joe talking about General Kelly and his comments in support of #45 and how shocked he was that an Amercan Congresswoman would dare to listen in on the private conversation between the president and a grieving widow.  He didn't seem to know that they were in a car and that the grieving widow was listening on speaker phone and that her mother was as incensed as Congresswoman Wilson was, so it was hardy anything circumspect.

But then he said a few things that confused me.  The prez has said that he has called, he thinks, all the grieving families of soldiers killed since he took office.  That's 27 of our military who have lost their lives in defense of this country since January.  If you discount the three who died with LaDavid Johnson, that's 24 phone calls he has supposedly made.

So Kelly says that before he makes the call, he says to Kelly "How do I make this call?  What do I say?"  What did he say the previous 24 times he made that difficult call?  Or maybe 23 times, since at least one family says they were never contacted.

And isn't it convenient that Kelly says he told him, word for word, what he actually said in the "disrespectful" phone call.  Except when Kelly said it he added something to the effect that he was "doing what he wanted to be doing," which softens it a bit, I guess.

Johnson's mother was upset that he didn't seem to know her son's name.  Nor did Kelly.  They also referred to her as "the wife."  

I listened to a recording made by another family that 45 did call.  He said something like "this is a terrible thing."  He never mentioned "death" and he never mentioned that young man's name either, but just that he knew he was a wonderful man and a hero.

I'll give the prez marks for trying, but given the call I heard and the report by Congresswoman Wilson, I think I'd rather not receive a call at all.  

The problem with it -- and with everything with this president -- is that he won't let it go until he gets an apology.  He was still attacking Congresswoman Wilson in tweets this morning.  The whole thing would have blown away quickly had he not made a cause celebre out of it.  But at least more people know of LaDavid Johnson now than would have known of him before.

Today Kelly seems to be trying to trash Wilson and every news report is now centered on that.  "White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly on Thursday erroneously claimed that Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, claimed credit for securing "$20 million" in federal funding to build a new FBI field office in Miami in 2015, according to a video.  Accusing her of being an "empty barrel," Kelly said Wilson focused more on her own actions than the heroism of the two FBI agents for whom the new building had been named.

"While Wilson took credit in her speech at the dedication ceremony for shepherding legislation naming the FBI building after two FBI agents who were killed in a 1986 gunfight, she did not claim credit for helping to fund the building, according to the video.

"Wilson also spent a considerable portion of her remarks praising the valor of law enforcement, retelling the story of the two slain FBI agents and calling on those who work in the field to stand and be recognized."

Why does this administration have to attack everyone who has anything negative to say.

Other than fuming at the news and finally turning it off after about the 10th replay of Kelly's statement.  I spent most of the day working on the new "Randomness" journal and am happy with how it's coming along.  The notebook is 80 sheets of paper and I have to decorate front and back, or 160 pages!

One of the things I included was an article, I think from the BBC, which says that scientists have proven that our brains still work after the body shows no signs of life, so it may be that we "hear" our own death.  "There is evidence to suggest that there's a burst of brain energy as someone dies." Creepy. 

So if a loved one...or maybe more appropriately someone you didn't like all that much...has just died, be careful what you say about them.  They may be taking that memory into the afterlife.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unusual Things

This is the reason I was wide awake at 3 a.m., and up and working before 5.

I'm doing another Swap Bot journal, this one a book of "unusual things."  The instructions were that the journal was to include:

1 page introducing yourself and explaining why you wanted to join this swap.
10 lists/pages of top 10 (topics are your choice)
10 pages of some type of art form - drawing, photos, painting, collage-ish etc.
5-10 pages of some type of paper fun stuff - think receipts, used movie/concert/transportation tickets
10 pages of diary type entries detailing your day, your thoughts, your feelings...
5-10 pages of Wreck this Journal type entries

I had no idea what "Wreck this Journal" meant, but googled it and discovered the w-i-d-e variety of ways to wreck a page, from pouring substances on it, to punching holes in it, to burning part of the page, tearing the page....the possibilities are endless.  I got this idea of pouring wine on a page and found a chianti bottle to use as a graphic and then dripped wax down the side of wasn't quite what I wanted, but it was OK.  Then last night I poured wine on the page and liked the effect, but it needed something more.  I thought about it while I was going to sleep and decided to google "glass spilling wine" and found the perfect graphic, which I downloaded at 4 a.m., doing some PhotoShop editing of the color of the wine and then pasting it on the page,  If I were more clever, the page would look better, but I'm happy with how it came out.

I'm always interested in journal prompts that suggest using "used movie tickets," since I have an endless supply of tickets from shows that we have attended, plus a lot of old programs (though most of the programs I throw away after writing the review).  But I had fun putting together this journal.  This page has become a favorite of mine to add to these journals.

Depending on which state the recipient is in, I wonder what the response will be.  Marijuana is legal in California, so ads like this are common, as are billboards.  But I don't know how it will be received in Ohio, where I think medicinal marijuana is legal, but recreational is not.  The News and Review (for which I write reviews) has a wide section each week dedicated to ads for pot merchants and it makes a great collage.

Another page I always include is one about Compassion.

I've done the pages several ways but I think this is my favorite so far.

The contents of my purse is always good for a miscellaneous collage

I wanted to do something interesting for a cover page and googled "unusual things."  Amazing what you find when you do that.  There were lots of choices, but this one made me giggle and so I decided to go with this.

You gotta admit this is pretty unusual!  

So the book is finished and off to the post office and now I have another one to make in the next month.  It's called a "Randomness Journal."  The instructions for this one say "For this journal swap, you will fill your journal with whatever strikes your fancy which means this is all YOU. Take a composition notebook (9.75in x 7.5in journal size) or as close as you can get and fill it up completely from front to back. Every page (front & back) should have something on it. You DO NOT have to completely cover each page. Decorate the cover in some way so it is not plain."

I'm glad I have a month to do this because it's going to take some time to get junk to collect in my purse again!

My life used to be so interesting.  Read "The Mama Caper, Part II"  Priscilla was a woman with AIDS that I used to drive to get her methadone injections once or twice a week, when I was doing transport for "Breaking Barriers."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If It's Tuesday

If it's the third week of the month, it must be time for lunch with my friend Kathy again.

We're kind of homeless and wandering at the moment.  For the first 12 or so years that we met monthly for lunch, we ate at the Olive Garden in Sacramento, which was near where she worked.  I didn't work and I enjoyed the drive to Sacramento (got to listen to my audio book), so I didn't mind the 30 minute drive to meet her.

When she retired, she decided it was her turn to do the driving and, despite my protests that I really enjoyed the drive, she started coming to Davis.  For a couple of years, we ate monthly at Cafe Italia.

We at in one of these uncomfortable booths and had our "regular," usually a roast beef sandwich for me and spaghetti for Kathy (usually with the sauce on the side).  It was a nice tradition.

But Cafe Italia has had to close its doors due to expansion of the motel which owns it, and while we cringed each month wondering if "this" would be our last lunch, it lasted longer than we expected, but that day did finally come and so we had to find a new place.

We both like Mexican food, so we tried Tres Hermanas last month.  I had only eaten there twice before, and what I like most about it is the decor.

It wasn't as good as I thought it would be.  i wasn't feeling all that well, so just had a plain tamale.  Kathy didn't like the menu, so just had rice and beans.

When we were choosing where to eat this month, I suggested Ding How, the Chinese restaurant where we ate with (the other) Jeri and Phil last month.

We both had a lemon chicken lunch and it was delicious, but waaay too much.  I intended to finish mine for dinner, as did Kathy.

I've mentioned before that we usually talk politics.  For years it was moaning about G.W. Bush, then we had 7 happy years until Trump started looking like a viable candidate and our lunches were rife with "how can we stop this man?" and comparing what horrible things he had done/said now.

But now it's over and what do we talk about?  It's a done deal, he is more horrible each day (telling a pregnant widow "he knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it still hurts" ???) and there is no point in wallowing in the depression that will be with us until the next campaign.

So we talked about our kids, books, TV shows and, you know, regular stuff.  It was nice!

Have we found another "regular" restaurant?  But there is a Dickey's BBQ nearby, which I have never been to and Kathy likes, so that is our spot for next month.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


In an afternoon press conference, Trump said that over the weekend, he wrote letters to the families of the four service members, who died in the deadliest U.S. combat operation of Trump’s term thus far. The letters, Trump said, either have been sent already or will be sent Monday night. He also said he intends to call the families.

Trump then took a moment to compare himself favorably to former presidents, saying he likes to call families “when I’m able to do it.”

“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents ― most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” Trump said. “They have made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass.”

According to someone from Obama's staff, either Obama himself or Joe Biden greeted every plane arriving in D.C. carrying fallen heroes. 

"The commander in chief told a totally irresponsible and disgusting lie in the Rose Garden today, claiming past presidents did not call the families of fallen service members," said a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, Brian Gabriel. "Trump's jaw-dropping, disrespectful lie is not based anywhere in reality and is another symptom of a deep-seated obsession with tearing down President Obama."

Former White House communications director and Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer slammed Trump as “a deeply disturbed ignoramus who is a pathological liar,” while former Obama deputy chief of staff for operations Alyssa Mastromonaco called Trump a “deranged animal.” 

“I know he wrote to the families and I often was with him when he met with families at military bases to commiserate in person,” Fleischer said.
Pete Souza, White House photographer under Mr. Obama, posted a photograph on Instagram of the former president and first lady Michelle Obama consoling the parents of a slain Medal of Honor winner.

“I also photographed him meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action,” he wrote. 

Ari Fleischer, who served as spokesman for President George W. Bush ― who launched the United States into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars ― said Bush frequently went out of his way to interact with the military community.

Toward the end of Bush’s presidency, The Washington Times reported that Bush “met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans,” often during private sessions. 

Even the sainted Ronald Reagan was there to honor the heroes when they returned home

What was Trump doing when the four soldiers killed in Niger returned home?

Since the ambush that claimed those four servicemen’s lives, Trump has golfed five times. He doesn't even know if the letters that were supposedly written have been sent yet.

Why does this man lie about everything, even something as easily misproven as this.  Has he never heard of photos?  News coverage?

I find that I am physically ill at the thought of the press conferences this man gave this week, including laughing about how Pence wants to hang all gays.  Big funny joke.  He wants to take away health care from children, birth control from women, health care from a huge percentage of the population.

I won't even talk about all the saber rattling...
When is someone in the GOP going to notice?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Magic Flute

I do love Amazon.

We went to the Lamplighters Gala yesterday.  The gala is always preceded by a silent auction of things members of the company have donated, and other larger items they've been able to coerce people to give.  

One the table of thing that had been given by Lamplighters I saw this book.  Patricia Minger is a woman who performed with the Lamplighters for 3 years in the mid-80s.  I knew her name, I kinda sorta remembered what she looked like.  I didn't bid on the book, but looked at it and saw that it was praised by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  The plot sounded interesting (flautist on her way up is involved in a terrible acccident that ruins her hand and she must find another way to add meaning to her life). 

It was about 45 minutes before the show was going to start and I was not interested in checking the other auction items because we are looking to divest ourselves of things rather than to add things.  I had my Kindle with me, so I went to shop on amazon and in a matter of minutes, I had purchased Magic Flute and was happily sitting in the lobby reading my new book.  And so far, it's good!  

I saw Pat at the party after the show and told her what I'd done and how much I was enjoying it so far.
As for the Gala, this was the 51st anniversary of this fund-raising show, and we have been  to most of them, including the very first one at the Harding Theater.  In those days there was unlimited champagne after the show and for several years, I went home definitely in my cups.  Now the champagne is still there but there is less of it and we do manage to go home sober (in fact, I drink water, not champagne).

Every year there have been Lamplighters manning the bar at the party and this year it looked like they had hired a professional company to do it.  There were snacks.  Last year there were bowls of snacks at several spots throughout the big room, but last night they were all concentrated in one tiny spot right next to the bar.

Most ridiculous set-up ever.  Several hundred people all wanting drinks and food and all trying to get into this teeny, tiny area.  There was a big box of snack bags in the back so bowls were filled as soon as they were emptied (almost immediately), but if they had been spread out throughout the room, things would have worked MUCH better (especially for people like me who don't drink alcohol, who were feeling overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and who just wanted to sit somewhere and observe, while eating).  I also caused a problem asking for water instead of champagne.  First they couldn't find any and then they found one big bottle and couldn't get it opened.  In previous years I was able to pick up a bottle of water and take it with me. We needed Paul and Henry!!!

As for the show, it was, of course, very funny.  This year it was based on Saturday Night Live, so the format was more a throwback to the earliest days, when there was no plot line, but individual funny numbers, some funnier than others.  I think people who are fans of Saturday Night Live and Game of Thrones got more out of it than others.

At intermission was my least favorite part of recent shows;  the auction.  After the silent auction has closed in in the lobby, a live auction starts in the theater....the big ticket items.  There is a professional auctioneer who drives in from Davis to run the auction.  He's good, but very irritating.  And he raised over $50,000 for the company in half an hour, so an asset, but I truly hate it.  One of the big ticket items was this fancy framed tribute to the Golden State Warriors (here held by Jonathan Spencer, one of the writers for the Gala):

I'll give the auctioneer credit.  He did his darndest, but finally had to admit that this was a theater audience, not a sports audience and the thing went unsold.  The week trip in a villa in Italy, however, was so popular, he managed to get three different people to spend $5600 (each) for it.

I had to smile at the original lyrics for this show.  Back in 1983 when office manager David Witmer and I convinced Gilbert to do the first of the plot galas, his argument against it was the the chorus would never be able to learn new lyrics to songs that were not from shows they had done during the previous season.  We wrote a plot for Major General Hospital and a few of the songs had new lyrics and the chorus did a beautiful job.

That ushered in the era of plot galas and each year they have become more and more elaborate.  The first was written by Gilbert, David and myself, but then we started adding new people to the committee and by the time Gilbert died, in 1986, there was a viable committee to take over for Gilbert.  That committee has exceeded any expectations Gilbert ever had and the resulting show is worth the $100 ticket price.

When it ended, our friends Diana and Jill agreed with us that it had been too long...but then it always is, but somehow it doesn't matter.

The best part of the evening was the surprise for outgoing managing director, Sarah Vardigans, who is leaving to join the Peace Corps in Senegal.  The tribute to her was a complete surprise.

There was also another complete surprise of a Legacy Award for Chris Focht, who has been with the company for 50 year (we predate him by about 3 years, but we never performed).  I looked at all those people on stage and remembered all of the back stories -- who used to be married to whom, who had had live-in relations with whom, whose children have problems, whose children now perform with the company, who is no longer with us, etc., etc., etc.

It's an expensive evening, but it is always a full mix of emotions thinking back over all the galas I remember from previous years, and makes me so proud of having been a part of this San Francisco tradition for nearly 60 years.

Even if all my cheese doodles fell on the floor.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Stealing

This set of questions is called "Questions to ask Your Crush" but it seems like a regular old set of questions to me!
This set ended up being harder than it looked when I chose it!  sorry 'bout that!

1. What do you find hilarious, but most people don’t find funny?
Well, I can't say MOST PEOPLE don't find it funny, since it's so popular, but it is amazing to me how many people don't like Big Bang Theory, which I think is the funniest show on TV now.

2. What was the best year of your life so far?
Wow.  That's a hard question.  Best year.  Maybe 1985-86, the year I was so intimately involved with the Lamplighters, before Gilbert died.  I was very happy that year.  This is not to say I haven't had lots of happy years, but that one stands out.

3. What’s your favorite thing to do on the Internet?
Spend time on Facebook, though lately it's more depressing than not.

4. What fad have you held on to even tho it isn’t popular any more?
I don't even think of "fads."  If I liked it in the 60s chances are I'm still liking it/wearing it/doing it in the 21st century.

5. What do you spend most of your time doing?
This.  Working on the computer, reading, or watching TV.

6. What do you spend way too much money on?

7. What event, large or small, has changed the course of your life most?
The death of my friend Gilbert in 1986.  I have had a lot of traumatic deaths in my life, but Gilbert's was the first and taught me so much about death, dying, and grief.  It changed my outlook on life.

8. Who do you have a hard time taking seriously?
I'd like to say #45, but he's entirely too scary not to take him seriously.

9. What do you judge people for most often?
The scarier #45 becomes, the more he destroys, the more I am inclined to judge people who still think he is going to make America great again.

10. What was the most beautiful view you have ever experienced?
Wow.  So many choices.  My most favorite view in the world, though, is the Golden Gate bridge on a clear sunny day.  And how lucky I am to be able to see it so often.  Runners up:  The Pinnacles in Australia, the interior of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Mt. Zion State Park, Sunset over the minarets in Istanbul, Yosemite.

11. What is something you read or heard that has stuck with you for a long time?
"Never go to the foot when the head can be had."  My godfather's advice which has served me well throughout my life.

12. What’s your favorite thing to shop for.  Why?
Books.  Because...well...books!  Least favorite thing to shop for:  shoes.

13. What’s the best compliment someone can receive?
Any compliment about my writing warms the cockles of my heart.

14. What’s something people go on and on about and you just can’t stand sitting through?
I once went to lunch with someone I hadn't seen in a few years.  She started talking about her family when she sat down (I don't know anybody in her family) and she talked nonstop for two hours about what everyone was doing and then looked at her watch and said she had to leave.  (She had made the lunch date because she was selling a product she wanted to tell me about) She never even asked what I was I doing in my life now but said next time we'd talk about me  She has never contacted me again.  That was about 8 years ago.  That's the most extreme example, but anyone who forgets that you are part of the conversation too drives me nuts.

15. What’s something you can do that most people can’t?
Decorate a cake like a professional (my daughter-in-law is better than I am, but I was no slouch in my day)

(This cake took about 8 hours to make)

16. When was the last time you tried to look cool and ended in embarrassment?
I never try to look cool!  It's pointless.

17. What is the most ridiculous rule you have to follow?
A lot of rules in a corporate setting, which is why I only work for myself now.

18. What country do you not know the location of, even though you should?
After all these years, you'd think I could tell where each of the countries in the Middle East is, but I can't.  Bad me.

19. What do you have a hard time with but most people find quite easy?

20. What’s the most impressive skill you have?
I'm by no means an expert, but I have some pretty impressive PhotoShop skills.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Chattanooga Choo-Choo (1941)
  Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1)  Chattanooga is Tennessee's fourth largest city. Have you ever visited Tennessee? If so, where did you go and what did you see? I have visited 30 states in this country, but Tennessee is not one of them.

Since Glenn Miller's recording of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" was awarded the first-ever gold record, we're going to devote the next questions to your firsts.

2) What was the first award or accolade you ever won? The very first I ever won was to be May Queen in my second grade class.  The second was winning 5th place in an essay contest sponsored by the Merchant Marine, when I was a sophomore in high school.  My prize was a one-way trip to Los Angeles on the ship, the President Cleveland.

3) We know about your blog. But which was the first social media site that you posted to? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace ...) Funny the World started on GeoCities, which no longer exists.
4) Where did you go on your first plane ride? We flew home from the aforementioned cruise to Los Angeles.  This was about 1958, shortly after Disneyland opened and that is what we did on our one day in LA.
5) Tell us about your first cell phone. Neither Walt nor I can remember but it was a big clunky thing that we kept in the car.  Maybe something like the phone at the left

6) Tell us about your first tattoo: Where is it on your body? Where did you have it done? What does it depict? I love that this question assumes we all have tattoos.  I do not have a tattoo.  I do not plan to have a tattoo in the future.  I do not like tattoos.  My son, a drummer, has a tattoo of "Animal" (from the Muppets) on his forearm.

7) How old were you when you had your first piercing
My first and only piercing was my ears, in about 1968.  I left my two (then) kids with my father and went down to a jewelry store on Market Street in San Francisco.  They took me to the back to the store and up to a dark room upstairs.  I was already feeling guilty because my Catholic school teaching told me that only "bad" girls got their ears pierced.  But I did it, and have not regretted it since.

8) What had you been drinking the first time you suffered a hangover? I can't remember, but probably champagne.

9) Was your first ticket for parking or was it a moving violation? I've had several parking tickets, but at age 74, I've never had a moving violation.  I talked my way out of a couple of them, though (tears work pretty well)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Project Runway

Thursday is Project Runway night, when the show dominates the USA channel, with repeats and snippets and previews of coming shows, in addition to the current new show.  It was on from  7 p.m. until after 11 last night...might have been longer, but I finally turned it off, not wanting to see previews of what is going to come next week.

I have been watching this show since nearly the very beginning.  Why in the world do I like it?
- I don't know the first thing about fashion and even after all these years could not tell you what  "fashion forward" means.

- I can't even sew a button on something and the hemming I did on my mother's slacks a year or so ago was downright embarrassing.

- I used to own a sewing machine and don't have a clue if I still do or not.

- I don't really like Heidi Klum and hate her schtick.

- I hate to watch the contestants wave at each judge each time, as if they had never seen them before.

- I dislike many of the contestants

- When they have the fashion show at the end, my favorite piece almost always is the one which is voted off because it looks so "old fashioned."

- I don't usually follow what they are doing when they buy fabric (but I do love the Mood dog, Swatch--a great name for a dog in a fabric store) or when they are draping mannequins to create something.

Maybe the only thing I like about the show is Tim Gunn.  But I don't like Tim Gunn that much to explain why I sit and watch this damn show for four hours once a week.  

Of course, once in awhile, like this week, there is a controversy that adds a bit of novelty to it (one contestant walked off the stage in disgust.  Good for him!) and one contestant was essentially "fired" and her winnings revoked.

I also like that this season they are using "real" models, not just skinny twigs.  There are plus size models in addition to "normal" models, and last season a plus size designer actually won.

But next week I'll be back in my recliner watching the show again, wondering what kind of crisis is going to happen this week.

And I'm embarrassed at how many designers I see today whom I remember from when they were on Project Runway originally (same as I can identify a lot of chefs from their time on "Next Food Network Star")

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Always on the Edge of a Scream

The title describes how I've felt pretty much every day since #45 was inaugurated in January.  There are bright spots (mostly when visiting Tom and the kids) when I can forget for a few hours...or even a day.  But then turn on the TV and it all comes flooding back in.  The Talking heads used to talk about a variety of things and now 99% of all discussion--even on the 3 hour daily Morning Joe centers around #45 and the horrible thing he has done today, the horrible things he did in the past (how many times have you seen the Access Hollywood tape?) or the horrible things he might do in the future.
Check Twitter and it's all either #45's tweets or people's response to them (Carl Reiner is great!)

I don't remember ever thinking this much about a president in my life...and heck, I lived through two Bushes!  I heard that #45 is only happy when the spotlight is on him and he has certainly learned how to do that.

But in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the situation on Puerto Rico is more upsetting than most. People especially in the remote areas have not had water or food in 3 weeks, except dirty water which is causing the beginning of a plague of leptospirosis, which is easily cured...if you get medicine, which it doesn't look like they will.  They are already seeing the first deaths from the disease.

#45 minimizes the results because it wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Katrina.  At the time there were only 16 official deaths.  He may get his wish, though, as NPR reported yesterday that there are 317 bodies in a morgue somewhere, and both PBS and CNN reported 39 and 45 bodies elsewhere.  If we wait long enough, we may actually have a "real catastrophe" here.

While #45 laughs and brags about how happy the people were when he tossed paper towels at them, Pence was feeing their pain and hugging victims (yes, it could have been a photo op, I realize, but at least it shows some degree of empathy).  Pence promised the people that the government would be with them as long as it took to get them back on their feet.

Trump’s response to Harvey in Texas: "TEXAS: We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!"

Trump's response to Irma in Florida: "With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!"

Trump’s response to Maria in Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico survived the hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making...Electric and all infrastructure was a disaster before hurricanes,  Congress to decide how much to spend.  We cannot keep FEMA, the military & the first responders, who have been amazing, in P.R. forever."  

I have never seen a hint of a note of concern for the suffering people who have now been without electricity, water, or food for 3 weeks.

Comments on this tweet include "Puerto Rico is without food, water and electricity and somehow the president thinks a shame-tweet is appropriate.  It's almost as if he thinks Puerto Rico deserves this.
Newsweek ran this headline:  TRUMP DONATED HIS OWN MONEY TO TEXAS, BUT HE’S THREATENING TO CUT OFF AID TO PUERTO RICO.  The article reads "Trump’s statement that he is losing patience with the relief effort in Puerto Rico came as millions of island residents, who are U.S. citizens, remain without power, clean drinking water or other critical resources, while the death toll rose to 45....Meanwhile, Trump seemed to be working hard for the title of "comforter in chief" following Harvey, the first major natural disaster to affect his presidency. He pledged to donate $1 million of his own money, which went to the American Red Cross, nonprofit Christian organizations and eight other humanitarian groups."  

(Given his history of making such sweeping promises which he forgets to follow up on, one wonders if the Red Cross actually got this money.)

The Navy has this wonderful ship called the USN Comfort.  With more than 700 medical personnel, 5,000 units of blood and 12 operating rooms, it is one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States. What sets it apart from most others is that it just happens to float.

It was not deployed to Puerto Rico until Hillary Clinton tweeted that it should be sent to help.  Four days later it was sent and arrived five days after that.  Somewhere in the middle of the second week of the tragedy.

Rachel Maddow did a report on the ship, which has been docked in the port of San Juan.  Want to know how many patients it is now treating, this ship which is equipped to handle as many as 500 patients? Seven.  SEVEN.  Why?

She says it's not the response, it's not the availability, it's the organization.  A dock loaded with water and supplies, a hospital ship standing in wait, some roads finally clear and NOBODY to help the people.  I saw a video on Twitter made by five ex-soldiers who came to P.R. to help and are pleading for more assistance because it's more than five people can handle.

FEMA managed to make it to a remote village three have them fill out paper work asking for assistance.  You'd think they could have loaded up their car with water and food as long as they were going that way anyway,  It's not their job.  They are there to get the paper work done.  They say that they delivered supplies to a central location and it's up to the mayor to get it to the town.  Without a car, and without fuel if he had one.  But that's not FEMA's problem.  They are doing "their job" and the hell with the suffering people.

It's time for people to stop worrying about their job description and look around at the suffering and go the extra mile to help.

I won't even talk about #45's response to the California fires.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Bunch of Nothing

Today was one of those days where I feel like I did nothing, but actually did a fair amount.  I got a sort of full night of sleep, falling asleep at 10:30 and gettng up at 6.  I did have about an hour and a half in the middle of the night, but essentially had a good night of sleep.  (I have to laugh.  Gilbert suffered from insomnia and it seemed that every time I saw him, he gave me a report on his sleeping of the night before.  I've turned into Gilbert.)

I was thinking that we had some overly ripe bananas and that I should make banana bread, so at 6 a.m., I got up to make some.  As I was mixing it, I kept hearing this tinkling sound and wondered if something was leaking, then realized Walt had set the coffee pot to start at 6 a.m., so as soon as I got the bread finished, I was able to get a fresh cup of coffee.

I got back into the recliner, thinking about the about-to-be-finished banana bread and then realized, with horror, that I had forgotten to add the 3 eggs.  Gleep!  The end result wasn't as it should be -- a lot more crumbling, for example.  You couldn't cut a slice that held together, but it was tasty.  I have two more ripe bananas so maybe I'll make another bread tomorrow.  With eggs this time.

Ironically, on Kelly and Ryan this morning they were doing part 1 of a banana bread bake-off, where Ryan's girlfriend was making her gluten free, sugar free banana bread.  The recipe which included almond butter, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and unsweetened chocolate chips (no flour) did not appeal to me at all.  I'll stick with my Bisquick bad-for-you ingredients bread (only WITH eggs!)

I decided to read for awhile.  I'm reading Dan Brown's new book, "Origin" which is driving me nuts...or did for the first 10 or so chapters.  He spends so much time setting things up before they start to get gripping.  I read about 30% of the book before I realized I was finally hooked.

I would have continued to read but I realized I had not yet written my "Diary of Anne Frank" review so switched to the computer and worked on that.  I found a fascinating article about how the diary came to be published and the editing done by her father.  Turns out there are at least three different versions of the diary.  I never knew that.

When the review was written, I decided to write to my Compassion kids -- 28 of them.  Some of them had written to me and so their letters started with answers to their letters, some had not written so I just wrote generic letters to them (all of the letters having a bunch of photos from Santa Barbara) and two kids are too little for a generic letters, so I mainly wrote a couple of sentences and then sent the photos.  That all takes time, but I'm glad that it's done.  Of course when the mail arrived there were four new letters from kids I had just written to, but I can't answer them until it's been 24 hours since the last letter.

I remembered I had not yet filled out a Swap Bot questionnaire on musical theater.  It involved checking a lot of YouTube videos.  I found a video, for example, of Zero Mostel singing "If I Were a Rich Man" and I had to include this video of "The Kite" from You're Good Man, Charlie Brown.  It's not the greatest version, but I love it because it's Paul doing Charlie Brown.  This was a 3-night run and the first two nights he screwed up this song and left the theater furious with himself.  But he nailed it this night and at the point where he screwed up before and he realized he got it this time, you can see a slight smile coming across his face.

I was going to go back to reading again, but Walt decided we should go to Kaiser and get our flu shots, which we did.  I expected to find a long line, but there were very few people.  The lab was also empty and I was supposed to get a follow up blood test this week, so I decided to do it today, and now that's done.

I came home and worked for an hour or so on the "Unusual Journal" that I'm putting together.  When I got my flu shot, I asked if I could have a sticker that they give to kids after their shots.  I lied and said it was for my granddaughter, but I had this page design in mind.  Artistic I'm not, but this one turned out OK. 

I knew I wanted to use "the Scream" and a hypodermic needle but I didn't realize how many variations of the Munch painting there were.  I nearly used one using Beaker from the Muppets, or Garfield or one of a host of other variations, but I was kind of drawn to Lisa Simpson's scream. (There is also a Homer Simpson scream).

By the time I had finished that page and another page with an "October" theme, Polly was telling me it was time for me to get her dinner ready.  And then there was Chris Hayes on MSNBC, then Rachel Maddow, then Jeopardy and the evening TV line-up.  At some point I made Chicken Schnitzel with Buttermilk Ricotta (a Home Chef menu).  I will be going to sleep again after my Haagen Daz mini ice cream bar.

So I guess I have a few things to show for my "nothing" day, but it still feels like I didn't really do anything.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Me and W.S. Gilbert

I suppose I have a couple of  things in common with W.S. Gilbert -- writing and humor for one, love of the G&S operettas (did he love them?) for another. But last night I was thinking that maybe we had something else in common.

I was sitting here at my desk peacefully doing whatever it is that I do here, and when I got up, I had this terrible pain in my big toe.  I frequently get cramps in my feet, which are easily walked out, but this was a stubborn pain that would not be walked out.
I couldn't walk without holding on to something.  It was excruciating.

It was better when I sat down and I was able to get into a comfortable position and sleep for an hour or two.  All I could think of was reading about what problems W.S. Gilbert had with gout.  At least, I thought, I was in good company.

I discovered it was more bearable if I wore my Birkenstocks with the firm sole that gave more support to my toe.

I finally took an Advil and fell asleep in the recliner, sometime around 4.  I hoped that I would feel better in the morning, and I did...sort of.  I could at least walk, though held on to anything available to hold on to.

I did what everybody does--I went to Google to find out more about gout and found out more than I wanted to know. 

While some of my life style factors are risks for gout (especially inactivity and unhealthy eating!) most of the pages I checked talked about drinking too much and i don't drink at all.  I don't smoke.  I don't have heart disease or previous stroke.  I don't take hormones or contraceptives. I am unaware of any gout history in the family.  

So I convinced myself that this is not gout, especially when I looked at all of the photos of people who had all sorts of degrees of gout.  And as the day progressed, the toe got better and better to where it is about back to normal again. In fact, I am thrilled to realize how bad gout really is and how this probably is not it, but just one of my normal foot cramps, just a little worse than usual.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Alzheimers Buddies

Several weeks ago, we received an invitation from Atria to come to an "Alzheimers Buddies" brunch on October 8.  I called to RSVP but nobody that I could find had heard of it.  I asked my old friend Brianna, who is in charge of the facility, and she didn't know anything.  She apparently knows nothing of what goes on in memory care.

I sent an e-mail to Jen, who is in charge of memory care, asking about the brunch and saying we had RSVPd.  Jen never answers e-mail, so I did not hear back from her, but when I called this morning to find out if there really WAS an Alzheimers Buddies brunch and was assured that yes, there was.  I still wasn't sure what it was all about.

Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten about it and had already eaten a full breakfast, but Walt had not so he was ready for a brunch.  They said to come at 11.

At 11, we arrived and I asked about the brunch and was told there are "a lot of people in the dining room."  The dining room was closed but when I went in the back way I could see a long table and no other people.  There were a lot of people (including my mother) in the common room.  My mother seemed to be chatting with a young woman an smiling at a child who was also in the room.  I didn't want to interrupt that rare social interaction, so I sat in the empty dining room with Walt.

Finally Ali, one of the aides, whom I really like, told us what was going on.  There is a club at UCD that has made it its project to interact with people in Alzheimers units.  Once a week, they will come and visit their assigned person and try to make a connection.  Nice idea.

The brunch apparently was just to get us all together, buddies with family with Alzheimers clients to have kind of a "family" feel to it all.  I actually only saw two other families, in addition to ours, and they said that not all the buddies could come, so there weren't enough to go around.

They finally invited us all in to the dining room.  My mother was very confused.

.....but in truth, so was I!  They said that the buddies would go and get lunch for their partners and I guessed that "family" was to get their own lunch.

Someone came around and poured drinks for the Alzheimers patients and ignored the family.  They got everyone at the far end of the table fed and we were still waiting ... and as I have said before, my mother does not wait well.  She kept asking what we were doing and saying she didn't understand any of it.

I took some pictures and finally got a picture of her roommate, Marge.  I have never understood a single thing Marge has said and if you ask her something, or tell her something, she answers in a complete non-sequitur.  I don't know if she understands at all.

However, when I took this picture, I was interested to see the two watches on her wrist.  You may remember that some time ago, I ran into Marge's daughter who said that her mother had been "shopping" again.  She was holding a fancy necklace and her daughter was going to see if she could find out who it belongs to.  Marge is comfortable just walking into any room and helping herself to what she finds.  I actually don't mind because my mother has nothing of value and if Marge wants it, I'm not going to make a fuss.

But her watch has been missing for a long time.  I was kind of glad it got "lost" because it doesn't work and she checked it often and drove me nuts trying to figure out what the time is  Today, i discovered that it got "lost' on Marge's wrist.  I kind of suspected as much and she can have it as far as I'm concerned, but I found it humorous to see the long-lost wrist-watch on Marge's wrist.

Food finally came and my god you'd think they thought they were feeding stevedores!

My mother's plate (left) came heaped high with food.  I knew it was overwhelming for her and I got another plate and removed at least half of it (right) before she could start eating.  It reminded me of those Air Force Thanksgiving meals Walt used to talk about, with several courses all piled on top of each other, with a slice of pumpkin pie on top.  The slab of roast beef, which she didn't want, was the size of a man's shoe!  

But once I got the plate down to what looked like a big meal, but a manageable one, she actually finished almost everything but her vegetables (which surprised me because that's usually the thing she most eats.  Or used to be.

I didn't eat nearly as much and they had to throw away most of my meal, but I was still full from breakfast.  Walt managed to finish his.

When came time for dessert, they again skipped Walt and me and I had to ask for dessert.

I still don't know what this all accomplished, but it was a nice brunch, the "buddies" seem nice and dedicated and maybe it will give my mother a bit more socialization in the future.  They seem intent on getting people more active.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Here We Go Again

It hadn't happened in nearly a year and I thought we were past it.

But at 10 this morning, I had a call from Atria letting me know my mother had been unresponsive when they tried to wake her up and they were sending her to the emergency room.  While the initial reaction is to wonder "is this the time?" in my heart of hearts I knew how it was going to happen, and I was not wrong

When I got to the ER, she was still unconscious and they were trying to wake her, to no avail.  Her eye lids were blinking very quickly, but her eyes never opened.  Everybody tried to wake her up, but unsuccessfully.

They cut her out of her shirt because she wasn't able to help them get her undressed.  They put on diapers, but first took a urine sample so they could test for a UTI.  She slept through it all.
The nurses left and I saw her eyes flicker, like they had been, but also to open a tiny bit, so I got up and talked to her and she started to come alive.  I asked if she knew who I was and she slowly nodded.

About then Ebonee came in to take blood.  She had about the very best dreadlocks that I've seen.  I'm sorry I didn't take a picture from the front because it was truly beautiful.

She had lots of blood to collect and fortunately she had a great sense of humor, so she got my mother chatting and laughing.  She was now coming back to whatever her normal is, which was a relief.
Then we played the hurry up and wait game, waiting for time for her to be taken for EKG, CT-scan, and chest x-ray.  
I think it is not an exaggeration to say I had to explain to her 100 times where we were and why we were there, after which she always said she didn't want to be in the hospital and why hadn't I told them to just leave her alone.  And then she would ask again where we were and why we were there.

They finally took her off for her various scans and after she returned we waited again ("where are we and why are we here?  I can't understand a thing you say...")

Finally the x-ray guy came back with the report that all was fine, so we waited for the doctor to give her the all-clear.  And waited and waited and waited.  He finally came and told me what I knew he would--they can find no sign of anything.  She has no UTI, her blood sugar was fine, there was no sign of stroke, lungs are clear, etc., etc., etc.  He mentioned her going home by ambulance, but I told him I would drive her.

So we waited and waited and waited for the nurse to disconnect her from all the machines.  She does not wait patiently and asked me many times what we were waiting for. I finally had to go and get someone, because they were waiting for the ambulance.  They got her dressed, and gave me a gown to replace the shirt they had to cut off, and while I went to get the car, they got her into a wheelchair and outside.

Naturally there was no parking to be had at Atria, so I parked illegally and told the girl at the desk that I was taking her to memory care and asked if I could borrow a wheelchair, since I didn't want to walk her through the building in a hospital gown.  
A woman we know in town whose mother just moved into Atria was happy to see me and started chatting, but I had my mother who kept trying to get out of the car, and the wheelchair that was not arriving and I was probably kind of rude to her and her mother.

Finally a new desk person called again for a wheelchair and then two of them came.  We got her into one and someone pushed her while I followed along behind as the beast of burden, carrying a bag with her stuff (mostly her sheets), pillow, doctor's orders, my cane and my purse.  
We got her to her apartment, which she has never seen before and didn't know where she is.  Most of the aides came to see her and I realized that though this was her fourth trip to the hospital, she had never had one of her spells in the memory unit so they were much more worried about her than I was (though one of these days she's going to surprise me and die during one of these "normal tests" trips to the ER)

I was going to leave her when they took her to the dining room to get some food, since she had not eaten anything yet, but she was terrified, said she had never been there before and didn't know anybody.  I tried to explain to her that someone would help her get back to her apartment, but she didn't know she had an apartment.

About then there was a blackout.  All electricity went out and an alarm started to ring and the aides were looking worried.  Automatic doors slammed shut.  Just what my mother needed!  It didn't last more than 5 minutes, but when it was over, all the aides were off somewhere discussing it, and nobody was around for me to ask to take my mother back to her apartment. She started crying and asked what she should do if the two of us got separated.

I finally found someone to take her back to her apartment and I got the heck out of there ASAP.  My patience had about reached its breaking point.  I told Walt she was worse than a toddler and I just had to get out of there.

And I do feel guilty about that.  But at least I left her in good hands.  I feel guilty that I forgot to kiss her goodbye and that guilt will probably bite me in the butt and she'll die tonight and I'll have to live with my last act being to ignore her when she felt alone, lost and frightened.

I am a bad person.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Weird Stuff

I've had the weirdest experience this week.

When we returned from Santa Barbara, there was a caller id on the phone from a Robert Yates.  Now when I was first babysitting, I babysat for a Robert Yates and his sister and so I was curious about this phone call and tried calling him back, but got no answer (and no machine) so just forgot about it.
A couple of days ago, Robert Yates called again, trying to figure out why I had called him, forgetting that he had called me.  I asked him if his middle name was Elton, which it was not.  (the kid I babysat for went by "R.E." and I have since found him through Google, and apparently he is some big name poker player...I didn't try to contact him).  Since this Robert Yates couldn't remember why he had contacted me in the first place our conversation was short.

Then this afternoon, while I was on my cell phone with Ned, he called again and I let it go to voice mail.  He left this very long, very complicated message.  He "remembered" that he had contacted me before and that I had sent him a photo of myself and my husband and he rambled on and on and on and mentioned other relatives of his and thought I might be related to them.

I called him back and told him that no, I didn't know any of those people.

But then he mentioned a woman named Monica and I asked about her.  He said "Yeah...Monica Richmond" which didn't really mean anything to me until something flashed and I said "do you mean Monica SCOTT Richmond?" and he said yes.

She is his cousin, and the daughter of my mother's cousin, Chester, who has lived in Argentina most of her life.  So this Bob Yates is my cousin of sorts--I haven't figured out which level of cousin he is and he told me about the people in Argentina (gave me information I didn't give him).
I couldn't keep track of exactly where in the family he is, but I know that Chester was his grandfather and Chester was the brother of MY grandfather.

Chester and Monica

My mother never wanted to know about Chester because he was two years older than she was and she was very proud of being the oldest in the family.  So whenever I mentioned Chester, she acted as if she knew nothing about him.  Monica thought he'd make it to 100 but he died a couple of months before his 100th birthday, so if my mother keeps on going the way she is, she may outlive him and be the only person in her family to make it to least as far as we know.

Damn, I wish Peach were here!  Peach was the first person to "find" Monica and she would find all of this fascinating.

So I had this long conversation with my new cousin Bob and found out that there is Alzheimers in his family, but I don't know if it's in my blood line or not.  And I have his e-mail address.  And I have written to Monica to ask her to send me her email so I can tell her about my experience today.

I still don't know where R.E. Yates is, but how odd that he was the person who led me to finding this long lost relative!

Today Walt and I met Jeri and Phil for lunch.  This would be the other Jeri and Phil, our daughter Jeri's godmother and her husband Phil.  They spend their year driving around the country in their RV and visiting friends and relatives and this is their time to be here in this area.  Jeri and I realized we have been friends for 57 years and it seems like each time we meet, we are a little bit more feeble than we were the last time!  Last time she had a cane and I did not.  Now I have a cane and she has a walker.

But we had a wonderful lunch and a nice visit and they will be down in the Bay Area next week and will catch up with Char at that time.  Nothing better than getting together with "old" friends!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Long, Long Road Home Again

And so we are home.  Just in time to hear the Morning Joe wrap-up of the Trump visit to Puerto Rico, which, apparently should be grateful they didn't have a "real" catastrophe, like Katrina ... and then tossed paper towels out into the crowd.  The visual I can't get out of my mind is the woman who explained to him about the tablets you drop into dirty water, wait 10-12 hours and have clean water.  With a look of sheer disgust on his face he said "and you actually drink that?" and then with a shudder handed it gingerly to someone behind him, as if he could not believe this woman would drink dirty water.

I am running out of synonyms for "disgusting" to describe this embarrassment to our country.
But I digress.

We had a leisurely last morning in Santa Barbara, having our last visits.  Kind of a 4-hour "Hour Baur" inside the house, over scrambled eggs, leftover sushi, and English muffins.  I pretty much gave up stressing about anything this weekend and wasn't worried about how late we left.  But it was only noon when we drove away, and we were home before 8, which was pretty good time.

I realized when I was talking with Alice Nan that I had not thought of my mother at all over the weekend, and that was nice.  There was no point in calling her because even if she answered the phone, she would forget I'd called before she got the phone back in its cradle.  And I knew that the staff in the memory unit were aware I was gone and would be looking in on her frequently.  So having that emotional "vacation" was nice, though I did occasionally have twinges of guilt about it.  But very brief twinges.

The drive was uneventful and, bless him, Walt did all the driving while I napped off and on.  For the first 2 hours we were finishing the Michael Connelly book we had been listening to on the drive down and then started a Harlan Coben.  I missed some stuff in the first three chapters because of dozing off, so downloaded a free "sample" of the book on my Kindle so I could go back and see if the sample was long enough to fill in the gaps!

We stopped at our favorite comfort food diner in King City for a lunch/dinner around 3.

I wasn't really hungry, so a nice bowl of chili sounded good to me.  But the bowl was humongous and way over-salted, so I only ate half of it.

The "garlic bread" that accompanied it had no taste of garlic whatever.  A disappointing lunch for me.  Walt fared better with his salad bar and "Dagwood-sized" BLT.

We ran into some pockets of heavy traffic, but overall they didn't last long.

The dogs were very happy to see us and both of them wanted to be in both of our laps right away.  It was nice to have been missed.

So today it's back to normal and I will be visiting Atria sometime after lunch.  But it sure was sweet while it lasted.