Tuesday, August 22, 2017

So Now What?

This may be my favorite picture from the eclipse

It's Char's daughter, Tavie who, as I mentioned in yesterday's entry, has been waiting for this day for 25 years.  I absolutely love the look of joy on her face.  My prayer for her and Char was that the experience would be all that they hoped it would be, and report from Char after the eclipse is that it was.  "Better than I dreamed," she said.

We were a bit more low tech here.

Walt was out in the back yard trying to check progress with pinhole cards.  They didn't work well, but we were able to check the progress by looking at the shadow of the leaves on our driveway.

Of course  there were people who were better than the rest of us and didn't need those cheap-looking eclipse glasses.

Oh how I wish he'd burned his retina, but I'm sure he's better than the rest of us and has the strongest retina in the world and doesn't need the help that the rest of us do.

So we can all put away our paraphernalia and relax for another 40 years.  It's come and gone and life goes on....

Monday, August 21, 2017

Today's the Day

I don't have eclipse glasses so I may not be outside at 10:16, when the eclipse is to be at its fullest here.  Char and daughter Tavie are in Oregon. I just love what Tavie wrote on her Facebook timeline before they left.
I have been teaching Astronomy for the last 25+ years. Every year when I teach about eclipses, I show the students a map of the US with the path of totality for the Aug. 21, 2017 eclipse, and I point out the where I plan on being to view the eclipse. After all this time the day has arrived. When I started teaching, Aug. 21 was during summer break, now school has started but I will not miss this opportunity. I have a great lesson plan for the kids, and I will share all my adventures with them on Tuesday.
I am excited for her, after waiting 25 years!  I sure hope that it's all she hopes it will be.

I remember the last eclipse we had here, maybe 40 years ago?  I was here alone and I probably had a pinhole camera.  Like this year, we didn't get totality, but enough that there was a decided diminishing of light for a few minutes.  But it wasn't that it was just darker ... it was different in a way I can't describe. I've never experienced anything like it before and hope to be outside again in the morning to see if I experience it again.  It will be the last chance I will have in this lifetime to experience this phenomenon.

I'm not a big astronomy buff, but I can recognize the Big Dipper (that's the only constellation I know\). I also remember one time seeing a meteor shower.  I don't know if it was Perseids or Leonids, but we were in Yosemite Park with a group of friends from the Newman club at UC Berkeley. We were high up in the mountains where you could see a gazillion stars and it was magic sitting there watching shooting stars for awhile.

As a matter of fact, I didn't know that was a meteor shower until many years later when I was telling young Jeri about the experience and she kept asking me to take her to the "shooting star place," and somehow I found out it had been a meteor shower.

So one meteor shower, one eclipse and maybe another today.  Thus ends my travel through the cosmos.

It was a quiet Sunday.  The day before I tried to pick up my hearing aids.  They were being delivered, and sure enough were delivered while we were at the funeral.  I have to sign for them, so there was a note saying where I could pick them up at a UPS office.  I set out to do that on Saturday.  The address was 1260 Lake Blvd, and I drove up and down Lake Blvd without finding that number.  I finally found a teeny number in a dark corner of this strip mall.

I drove around the mall three times and saw no sign of UPS.  I even stopped someone getting out of a car, who said that there was no UPS office there and that the UPS office was downtown.  I parked and got out to ask a clerk in a store who told me "go to the deli counter at the supermarket."  (Did I have to say "Joe sent me?")  I went to the supermarket and sure enough there was an 11x14 sign at the bottom of the front door, right where you can't see it if there is a car parked anywhere!   I went to the deli counter but there was no one there.  I finally found someone who had no key for the UPS storage area.  He went around the store looking for someone who did have a key and eventually came back, opened the door and there was no package for me.  He said I could come back on Sunday and see if it was there then, but the delivery slip said they would try to deliver  it again on Monday, so I decided I'd just stay home and wait for it. 

I was hoping to have a report on my hearing aid experiment, but...not yet.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Death, Resurrection, and Saturday 9

The day started with a call from the guru.  I was supposed to go to his shop at 9:30 to get the computer, but he found a few other things he wanted to fix.  I told him we would be at a funeral later in the morning and he said to call him when we were coming home.

Then off to the funeral.  This was for our friend who died a couple of weeks ago.  His was the third memorial service we have attended within a month (not necessarily a calendar month).  Funerals are weird things.  It's where you meet all your old friends that you haven't seen since...well, since the last one.  It gives you a chance to see how everyone is holding up, who has assisted movement devices, who's gone grey or bald, who has gained or lost weight.  Very weird thing

It was a nice service, but it made me more sympathetic to Walt's work colleague who attended our wedding 52 years ago. I was a member of the Newman Hall choir at the time and as a gift they performed a Mozart mass, complete with instruments.   It was glorious.  Only Al was totally deaf and had never been to a Catholic mass before and his only comment after was "it sure was long."

Walt and I shared a printed program but with the combination of my needing-new-glasses vision and his slight essential tremor (and the tiny print size) I could hardly read anything plus, it was one of those days when my voice was only going two or three notes and then would freeze, so I couldn't sing anyway.  And because my new hearing aids had not yet arrived (I get them tomorrow), I couldn't make out 90% of what was said, so at the end, all I felt like was "it sure was long" !!

When it was over we went to the family home for a reception and got a chance to visit with people we didn't visit with at the church.

Then I called the guru, who said that the computer was ready to go, so we went to Woodland to get it.  It had been resurrected!

I wanted Walt to come with me because I thought he should have the experience of Guru on his home turf.  Trust me, it's an experience.

(Doesn't everyone have a storm trooper standing by their desk?)

He took me back to his work area and showed me what he had done to the computer.  He also told me what to ask for on Amazon if I want to replace this keyboard with one with more defined keys!

We came home, Walt fixed the computer up again, and I am once again back in business, including moving all the Airy Persiflage entries into Funny the World.  Life feels normal again.

Then I was able to check Saturday 9 and post my answers.
This week its Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, because Joy recommended it.
 1) The Beatles recorded this after they had taken a three-month hiatus from working together as a band. Do you find you're sharp after taking time off? Or does it take you a while to get back into the swing of things in your day-to-day life?
Well, I haven't been on a vacation in awhile now, but I think I pretty much get right back into the swing of things, other than needing a nap after an international trip (but I need a nap most days anyway!)

2) During those three months off, John Lennon made a movie called How I Won the War. What's the last movie you watched? Did you view it at a theater, on TV, or from a device like a computer or tablet?
The last movie I saw was Beauty and the Beast, which we saw in a theater when Caroline, our friend from England, was spending time with us.

3) Paul McCartney and George Harrison both used their time off to make new and different music. Paul composed instrumentals for a movie soundtrack while George studied sitar with Ravi Shankar. Ringo Starr spent those three months with his wife and their two little boys. If you had three months to spend doing anything you wanted, and money was no object, would you try something new (like Paul and George) or just kick back and relax (like Ringo)?
I'm too old to try something new.  I'd kick back and relax and either eat out or order in for dinner every night.

4) Paul recalls what fun it was to dress up in Edwardian-era costumes for the album cover. When did you last attend a costume party? What did you wear?
The last costume party I remember going to was back in the late 1960s and I went dressed as a Ukrainian friend of ours.

5) Paul says he came up with the name "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" when Beatle friend Mal Evans told him about this great San Francisco band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. Paul hadn't heard their music yet, but he loved the sound of their six-word band name. Soon everyone would hear of Big Brother. Do you know who Big Brother's famous lead singer was?

6) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band appeared on the Billboard charts for 175 weeks. Is this album in your collection?
I am not sure.  We have a few Beatles records (remember records?) and may have that one, but I don't know.

7) The Beatles are among the top-selling artists of all time in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Would you like to visit Africa?
If I were younger and in better shape, in a heartbeat.  I have always wanted to go on a photo safari and I also have 14 kids I either sponsor or write to in different countries in Africa and I would love to meet some of them.

8) 50 years ago, when Sgt. Pepper was first released, the average price for gas was 33¢/gallon. When did you last fill up your gas tank? Do you remember how much it cost?

Walt filled it this afternoon.  I think $2.99.

9) Random question: Are most of your married friends happily married?
Let me say this:  a lot of my friends are married, most appear to be happily so, but you never know what is going on behind closed doors, so I don't really know.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Full Day

The computer (fixed--yay!) will be back today, but I was too busy to pick it up yesterday.

The day started at midnight with insomnia. I had gone to sleep early for me--10 p.m. And was wide awake at midnight and could not get back to sleep.  The last thing I remember was about 4:45.  The phone woke me up shortly after 5. It was Atria saying my mother was in great pain in her right arm and they could not calm her down. I was at Atria by 5:30.

She was miserable and periodically screaming out in pain. She had a blood bruise on her arm and i said i would call Kaiser, which I did. They couldn't see her until 2 but we had an appointment with the social worker for her long term care insurance at 3 and she needed to see the doctor in the morning.

There was a lot of discussion and ultimately i took her to the emergency room.  Making a very long story short, the doctor found a tiny hairline fracture which they put a splint on. This only took ~3 hrs. I was going to take her to breakfast but she wouldn't be able to use utensils so I just stopped at Starbucks for coffee and a muffin.

We got back to Atria and I left her and came home to sleep a little. I was totally exhausted. I woke up a couple of hours later when my guru called to let me know the computer was fixed, but I knew I didn't have time to get it.

Back to Atria. She was asleep and no sign of her splint which she had removed. I let her sleep until the insurance rep arrived.  I found her splint and put it back on her but she doesn't know what it's for and i'm sure she finally took it off again as soon as I left.

The exam took two hours and if there was any question of the company about her Alzheimers there is no longer any question!  The woman could not have been nicer and it was heartbreaking to watch her trying to answer questions like "what is your name?"

When it was over, I came home and collapsed. Walt, bless his heart, suggested we go out to dinner, which we did. A delicious new to us Japanese place which had the best miso soup I've ever tasted.

So i had a decent (for me) night of sleep and am ready to face another busy day which will begin with getting the computer and then going to a memorial service.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Still no news

i stayed close to my phone all day today hoping for a call from my guru, but nothing. I'm becoming "zen" about it.  Worst case scenario--the computer is dead and somehow when it died it took my external drive with it and that's why my laptop won't "see" it. I'm trying to be ok with losing everything. Look on the bright side--no files to clean up...but let's hope it's not the worst case scenario.

I used my day to do some more cleaning up my office, and that was useful. Not time wasted by any means.

I also read a lot. I'm reading a fascinating book called "Never Caught," which is the story of a young enslaved woman, who was one of the "favorite" slaves of George and Martha Washington. They spparently spent years searching for her after her escape and she was never found, but lived life as a free black, i think raising a family in the process. I don't know the details because i haven't read that far yet, but I realize as I read this that I know essentually nothing about George Washington. It's absolutely fascinating, especially reading it in conjunction with "learning" the score to Hamilton.

And of course this is all enhanced by all the chatter on TV about Charlottesville, especially comparing Washington with Lee (#45 apparently can't understand why one is bad and the other forgivable, I guess)

A bit of excitement is that I had a call from Eargo, the hearing aid people and I ordered a pair, to be delivered on Friday. A new adventure awaits. Oh, and i had a call from a nurse who is coming to do a mental health evaluation on my mother.

Heck, who needs a computer?

BUT at 7:30 Walt got the external hard drive to work (it helps when you plug it in) and i feel 50% better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Not your normal night

If this were a normal night, I would be in my office creating this on my desktop, but my desktop is in a shop somewhere and I'm not sure what the diagnosis will be...or when it will come.

It has not beem a great day. After i realized the computer was not going to fix itself, I fired up the laptop. I was happy that all my important info was stored on an external hard drive so i could finish that review I was writing and write Funny the World without too much problem.

Problem #1--the laptop won't connect to our network. I've tried everything. So no internet access on the laptop. I have to do everything on the iPad

Problem #2--the laptop won't recognize my external hard drive so all those carefully saved files are still locked away

I took the computer to my guru but haven't heard if it's fixable or not. Even Gilbert failed me as not one but TWO parking slots directly in front of the shop were taken while I waited for a light to change.

After leaving the computer, i came home, where there was nothing left to do but watch Trump's bizarre press conference. As I had forgotten to take my meds, I was without my antidepressant so it was even more depressing.

I don't know what tomorrow holds. Keeping my fingers crossed (and it's really hard to type on an iPad like that.

Hold the good thought.

Finally, i realized this is almost exactly what I wrote yesterday. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dead in the water again

my desktop computer has died again. Trying to find a work around to publish Funny the World. Hold the good thought.

Laptop won't recognize our network.

It also won't recognize the external hard drive on which ALL of my files are stored.

I forgot to take my meds this morning (including antidepressant).

And Trump gave that horrible press conference.

I may have to have a drink tonight!

I hope Funny the World readers have figured out that they should check here. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Sound of Silence

In the wake of the terrible attack at Charlottesville, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been falling all over themselves condemning the those who were responsible for the death of one woman and the wounding of some 30 or so more.

John McCain:  White supremacists aren't patriots, they're traitors- Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry

Bill Clinton:  Even as we protect free speech and assembly, we must condemn hatred, violence and white supremacy.

Paul Ryan:  The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe:  "We need to call it out for what it is. For the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who came to our beautiful state yesterday, there is no place for you here."

Hillary Clinton:  "The incitement of hatred that got us here is as real and condemnable as the white supremacists in our streets.  Every minute we allow this to persist through tacit encouragement or inaction is a disgrace, & corrosive to our values."

President Obama quoted Nelson Mandela.  It seems the only person not offering a stern rebuke and a message for the nation is the president. who offered this weak comment:   “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides."

While his minions were all over the television today explaining that of COURSE he meant to include the KKK, the neo-Nazis and other white supremacists by name, there were a few who were happy with his comments.  This from the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi web site:

People all over the country are speaking out against hate groups.  But the man who was after Obama for literally YEARS for not using the term "radical Islamic terrorism" refuses to use the name of any of the hate groups who backed him during his campaign and when asked about them, turns his back and leaves the room.  The man who doesn't hesitate to call out publicly just about everybody in his cabinet, whether they deserve it or not, but who thanks Putin for expelling >700 US employees and who still thinks that despite confession by his own son, the whole "Russian thing" is simply made up by the Democrats remains essentially silent on the domestic terrorists in Charlottesville.

During the rally itself, David Duke, former head of the KKK said this, when interviewed: "the marchers were going to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.”  I guess Trump is continuing to help.  I hope we are not seeing the new direction the country is headed in.

Other than THAT, Mrs. Lincoln...I've been drooling for weeks over Red Lobster's ads for its current Crab Fest.  I mentioned to Walt that I really wanted to go, and so we went there for dinner last night.  The menu alone was beautiful enough to eat.

I chose the "dueling crab legs," snow crab and Dungeness crab.  Big fat legs bursting with huge chunks of crab meat to dunk in melted butter.  It was great...and I didn't give Walt half of mine, as I usually do at dinner!

What a great way to end a day that started out pretty depressing.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Cheers to all of us thieves!

These questions were on a site by Debbie Hodge, which apparently once had more blog content, but now seems to be mostly devoted to scrapbooks -- content, supplies, etc.
The artwork is by Picasso.
When I chose these, they looked easy.  Answering them today, however, is more difficult than I expected!

1.  What is the favorite piece of art you own.
This papier mache figure of actor Gilbert Russak in one of his signature roles as Jack Point in Yeomen of the Guard.  After Gilbert died, his family let me take this for myself (there was a second such figure of Gilbert in The Mikado, which his niece took).

2.  The most expensive bill you paid last month.
I help support several children through Compassion, Int'l and that takes just about all of my Social Security check each month (household expenses come out of our joint account; these come out of my personal account)

3.  What’s the last thing you apologized for?
I am constantly apologizing to the dogs for making them get out of my chair when it's my turn to sit in it!

4.  If you could do today over, would you change anything?
I would use my magic powers to close Charlottesville (and anywhere else) to white supremacists.

5.  What is the largest TV screen in your house?
I'm not sure.  36"?  We can't get a HUGE screen because it won't fit, but this is pretty darn big.

6.  What did you buy today?
A Spiralizer (for turning vegetables into curliques).  The Pioneer Woman was using one.  I'd wanted one for some time and I was inspired to buy it.

7.  I wish I had ____
a green thumb.  At this time of year, those home grown tomatoes and basil in the Barefoot Contessa's garden sure look good!

8.  How many photos did you take today?
Just the one of the figurine above.

9.  Last thing you wanted and didn’t get.
A quiet afternoon with my grandkids.  Should never try that after 3 days of frantic activity, especially with Uncle Ned.  I tried, but gave up eventually.  The girls needed to be alone.

10.  What was the last new thing you tried?
A 3-generation, multi-media book club, led by my 9 year old granddaughter, with participation by Jeri on Facetime from Boston.  It was great.

11.  Who is your hero?
A lot of my heroes. like Jane Goodall, work with animals, but since this is World Elephant Day, I'm choosing Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who rescues orphan elephants in Kenya and raises at them at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust until they are able to return to the wild.

12.  Today I feel really secure knowing ____
That we have a competent person running the government (you may stop laughing now -- yes, I'm kidding).  I'm secure knowing that I'm as old as I am and hopefully I'll be dead and gone before he blows up the planet (though that might be this month, so maybe not)

13.  Whose life did you make a difference in today?
I don't know how much difference it makes, but it makes me feel good whenever I write to one of the 20 kids I sponsor.  I'd like to think it makes a difference, at least temporarily.

14.  What would have made today perfect?
There is no way to make a day when there is so much violence in this country perfect, but if the president had called out the white suprememists instead of putting the violence on everyone equally it might have been better.  Instead it was left to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to address the nation.  After thanking civilians that helped serve and protect earlier today, he then turned to address what he called out by name as “the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. ” His simple and plain message was “go home.” He then went on to savage members of this hate group in a very strong and confident manner, saying: You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who brought our country together. Think about the patriots today, the young men and women, who with wearing the cloth of our country.

Somewhere around the globe they are putting their life in danger. They are patriots. You are not. You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. My message is clear, we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.

No.  Today was not perfect.
[quote from Mediaite]
15.  Did you thank anybody today?
I thanked my mother's step-son when he told me that he was going to visit her and that I could take the day off.

Bonus: If you were a Muppet, which would you be?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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: Start Me Up (1981) ... because Kwizgiver recommended The Rolling Stones

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here
1) That's a goat wearing a high heel. What's on your feet as you answer these questions? Fuzzy socks.  I always wear fuzzy socks when at home.  The dogs know I'm going out somewhere when I put on shoes.  Because I wear them all the time, I go through the socks quickly and I'm glad that the Dollar Store always has a nice selection.

2) More fashion: In the video for this song, Mick is wearing white pants with an elastic waistband. Are you wearing a belt as you answer these questions? No.  I'm wearing shorts with an elastic waistband.  I can't think of anything I wear a belt with.  I don't even know if I own a belt.
3) In this song, Mick pleads, "Don't make a grown man cry." When is the last time you shed a tear? Oh, Lord, I cry so easily.  This afternoon I was reading a wonderful article about Frasier that made me cry several times.  I probably cry more about sentimental things than I do about sad things

4) Keith Richard has said this is a song he could play "forever and ever." 

What in your life doesn't get old, no matter how often you do it?

Writing Funny the World!

5) While The Rolling Stones enjoy performing songs, like this one, from Tattoo You, Mick Jagger has dismissed the songs from their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request as "rubbish." Do you have a favorite Rolling Stones song?

I am not now and never have been a Rolling Stones fan, so am not familiar with their songs.  I probably know some, but don't know that they are Rolling Stones.

6) This recording of "Start Me Up" features a cowbell. Do you remember which Saturday Night Live host made, "More cowbell!" a catchphrase?

No, I don't, but it became such a catch phrase around here that when I made the wedding cake for my daughter and her husband-to-be, I decorated it with cowbells. 

7) Bassist Bill Wyman once said he thought he should have been a archivist because he loved to make lists. Do you have a to-do list?
No.  I have a calendar that I keep on my desk so I can check it each day, but I don't make lists.

8) Mick finds it hard to stand still when he sings, not only on stage but also in the studio. The engineer for this song reports that Mick would have to run across the room to get back to the microphone for his vocal. Are you more fidgety, or still?
If I'm standing, fidgety.  My body doesn't like to just stand.

9) Random question: Do you believe men are inherently more sensible than women?
I don't think it's a gender thing.  Some people are more sensible than others, but I wouldn't say it had anything to do with their gender.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Last Supper

My friend Kathy and I had our very last lunch at Cafe Italia here in Davis. We've been having a monthly lunch for nearly 20 years, I think.  We don't see or talk with each other in between lunches, but have that one hour and a half each month, which we both enjoy.

Initially, because she was still working, we met at the Olive Garden in Sacramento, which was near her work.  When she retired, she decided that since I'd been driving 20 miles each month, it was her turn to drive over the infamous Yolo causeway,  a 3.2-mile long elevated highway viaduct on Interstate 80 that crosses the Yolo Bypass floodplain, connecting the cities of West Sacramento, California and Davis.

(In the wintertime it is flooded, in the summertime it is usually planted with rice and is also a wildlife preserve)

We tried a couple of restaurants in Davis, but Kathy isn't a "foodie," as she says, and prefers plain cooking, so when we found Cafe Italia it was perfect.  She usually has a plate of spaghetti ("light on the sauce").

(Those booths look quite familiar!).  I go for a French dip sandwich with horseradish.  

We sit and talk family and politics.  Walt is not big on discussing politics and it's nice to have Kathy to share frustration with.  During the campaign there was much hope that Hillary would pull it off.  Since the election, and especially the inauguration, there is growing depression at watching the gradual erosion of everything that made this country great to begin with.  I found that more and more yesterday we had little to talk about because it was all so depressing.

There was talk about where to have lunch next month.  Cafe Italia is being forced to close its doors because of expansion of the motel which owns it.  By the time of our next lunch, there will be no Cafe Italia.

I told her it might be irrelevant because the way his nibs is talking, we might be at war by then.  So frustrating watching two little boys just dying to play with their war toys, unfazed by what it would do to the world if they fire off those lovely nukes.

I listen to Trump talking about devastation that the world has never known before and wonder if he has any twinge of a feeling about the thousands of innocent civilians, Korean and Americans, adults and children, would be killed.  But no.  Sociopaths can't feel empathy and every decision he has made since he took the reins of office have shown me that there is absolutely no empathy in his soul.  Trotting out every poor sick or disabled person in the world will have not one iota of impact on this man when he talks about taking health care away from thousands of people.  He won't be happy until "Obama" is erased from history and he doesn't care who is hurt in the process.

So there wasn't much satisfaction in our discussion yesterday and once we had covered what's new with our respective children, it was time to pack it up, pay our bill, and say goodbye to Cafe Italia, which closes in 2 weeks.  

Walt and a group of retirees have breakfast there once a month too and will eat there for their last time next week.

Where will I be able to find crab cakes Benedict locally any more.....?

Goodbye, Cafe Italia.   You will be sorely missed (based on the FULL parking lot and people actually waiting for a table when we left I can tell that everyone in town is trying to get in for one last meal.)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Grub #31

Last month, on the anniversary of Gilbert's death, when nobody had mentioned our annual dinner, I figured that what had been a wonderful tradition, after 30 years, was finally coming to an end.

But I was wrong.  Everyone did want to continue and so last night we had the 31st GRUB (Gala Reinterment of Uncle Buddy -- his family always called him "Buddy") and I have renewed interest in continuing it until there are too few of us to carry on.

Until last year, we always met in a restaurant, which, as the years have passed, has been a less pleasant prospect, especially as some are feeling the pinch of dwindling finances.  So last year Shelley offered to host it at her beautiful little house in San Francisco.  It was perfect.  We all brought food and, unlike a restaurant, we had time to visit with everyone, not just the people sitting around us.  Shelley offered her home again last night.

There were 7 of us this year.  The first time we held this dinner there were four of us and the group grew up to near 20, I think.  Then we started losing people, some because they lost interest, three because they decided to share this celebration with Gilbert himself, and have passed on to whatever is beyond this life.

Jeanne Ziaja was the first to leave, all too soon and a much too young age.  Her husband John continued to join us until health problems kept him housebound.  Then we lost Adrian MacNamara, who was an actor and also the first president of the Lamplighters.  He served as president for many years.  His wife Connie came for a year or two after Adrian's death, but it was a long drive for her.  Then Will Connolly, one of Gilbert's best friends, had the audacity to die.  A big spark left with him and he is still sorely missed, especially because he was the organizer of the event year after year.  

The wonderful actress Marie Clyde, who was one of the earliest Lamplighters and who had been Gilbert's friend and shared a house with him for many years, just gradually stopped coming.

We kept the group to people who had been his friends and didn't let word get out that we even had this gathering.  We made a big mistake two year ago, inviting a friend of a friend, who worked with Gilbert but wasn't really his friend.  She ended up telling other people who were hurt because they felt they should be included.  We decided not to invite new people again.

Shelley lives in a part of town I didn't know existed and it's so difficult to find and get to (down a long dead end street) but it's a real gem of a house with a lovely deck on which we ate last year, but it was a little too cold this year (hear that?  "too cold" !  What a lovely phrase!)

Last year my contribution to the meal was tsimmes, a baked carrot recipe that Gilbert once said he loved.  I found the recipe and made it for him during the time when I cooked dinner for him once a week... and it was a great hit.

This year I brought some spinach balls that the wife of the tech director for the Lamplighters makes for all of her dinners and is always a big hit (and was again last night).  It's just spinach, bread crumbs, egg, onion and butter, rolled into tiny balls, baked, and served with sweet-hot mustard.  I've always loved them but had never made them before.  They were a great success.

I also decided to make an Oreo cookie dessert that looked simple -- layers of crushed Oreos mixed with butter, Cool Whip mixed with cream cheese, and topped with vanilla pudding and more Cool Whip.

It would be easy to whip together in a few minutes after we returned from Damn Yankees.  We got home, as we usually do and watched Jeopardy, then I watched something else and around midnight I got ready to make the Oreo pudding-cake.

The very first instruction is to crush the cookies, mix with melted butter, press into a 9x13 pan and chill for an hour!  Sigh.  I did it, set the timer on my cell phone and fell asleep for an hour.  

The next instruction was to mix cream cheese with powdered sugar and then fold into Cool Whip, spread on the cruse ...and let chill for an hour.  I set the timer for an hour and a half, but when it went off, I was just too exhausted, so saved the last layer for when I woke up, 2-3 hours later.

I actually didn't think much of it would be eaten, since there were so few of us and so much of the dessert, but I only brought home about 1/4 of it and one person even had seconds, so I guess it was worth it.  But next time I decide to make a dessert before I go to sleep, I will be sure to read the recipe first!

I so love getting together with these people.  We had nice (if depressing) talks about the current administration and I was tickled, later, to discover that EVERYONE in the group watched the same Food Network shows!  We all had our favorite chefs and favorite shows.  No wonder Food Network has become so popular.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Old Age for the Introvert

Another friend died yesterday.  He was a "friend"-friend, meaning I always thought of him as a friend, but have not seen him in more than 20 years, though he lived here in town.  There were some serious legal difficulties many years ago that forced him to become more reclusive and I don't know that anybody saw him, except his best friends.  He never attended social events that we attended with his spouse any more.

But still it is sad to hear of his death, just after I heard the news that he had been moved to a memory unit (not Atria) last week.

After I received notice of his death, Walt and I sat in the family room, in silence, both of us stunned and lost in our own thoughts.

For me, his death came on top of my doing some more in-depth investigation of those old newsletters I found yesterday, especially the Fat Fax.  I was trying to remember who was part of that group.  One woman lived in Ireland and our correspondence ended many years ago.  One was a woman I worked with, who now lives on the other side of the country and is remarried after the death of her husband.  One woman is housebound by physical problems (including obesity). Two of the members have died.  The newsletters were written in 1991.

The newsletters tied with the news of our friend's death, because I had been thinking about my "legacy" being part of those newsletters.  They were such a big part of my life at the time I was writing them -- all of them ... very much like Airy Persiflage is now.

And thinking about "legacy" made me think that I'm 74 years old, and wondering how many more years I have left.  I am almost 3 years older than my father was when he died, and my mother is never going to die, so she will obviously outlive me.

At this age you spend a lot of time sitting around waiting to die.  What was that twinge in my chest?  Is it significant?  My balance is off.  Does that mean anything?  What does it feel like to have a heart attack?  A stroke?  

What will happen to me if I have a stroke and become incapacitated?  No way Walt can haul around this massive lump of fat.

Oh, I don't dwell on these thoughts, but they are fleeting, especially when someone I have known dies.  What was it like for Gilbert those last hours when he was dying of a heart attack?  I know he was terrified.  That hurts me.  And scares me.  What is it like to know you are dying.  How did Peach feel in her last days?  I'm not a hypochondriac, but the closer you are to the end of your life, the more you wonder what it will feel like when it comes.  What are the last 5 minutes like?  And perhaps more importantly, what are the next five minutes like?

The problem is that if you are an introvert, you don't go out actively seeking new friends, so all you can do is sit and wait to hear about the loss of another one of the friends you have had for many years.  This one has died, that one has developed Alzheimers (learned of one of those too, this week)
That letter I found yesterday from the Swap Bot woman is filled with things she was busy doing in 2012, which she is still doing today.  She is older than I am.  She takes classes, she teaches classes, she goes to movies, and she is always talking about new people she meets.  I've always been bad at small talk and people probably think I'm a snob because I never mingle with the audience during intermissions when we go to shows.  It's when I get a lot of my reading done because I don't want to face the inevitable person who asks "so what do you think?"  I don't think until I am riding home.

I've taken a class or two, but can't bring myself to participate in the discussion, so I never meet new people.  I volunteered at the hospital, hoping to make friends of other women who were doing the same thing, but there wasn't the socialization I hoped there would be and when social occasions came up, I made sure to sit by myself, hoping someone would join me rather than sit with others who seemed to be friendly.

The older I get, the more my social isolation grows, and I am very well aware that it is all my fault.   I am also more picky about the people with whom I associate.  Life's too short to spend time with people who make you feel uncomfortable.

So Facebook has become my social outlet.  Those faceless people who will trade a quip or two with me, but with whom I am not likely to reveal anything deeply personal.  Facebook is, for me, another opportunity to write a newsletter that unknown people will read and either like or not like, but I will never get to know.

Out one group of good friends is the Grub group, the Lamplighters people who were friends with Gilbert and who meet for dinner once a year on/around the time of his death.  I thought we had come to the end of that this year, but people want to continue, so we will be doing that tonight.  We have lost several from the group and two of them are looking like they might be next.  But then I might be next.  I now find I look around and wonder whose funeral we will be going to next ... and how soon.
It's the pits, this getting old business.

“Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Well, THAT was disappointing

The Berklee concert was visually stunning, but the stream kept stopping and starting and you could never get a sense of the actual numbers, which was too bad because it looked great.  I'm hoping it will be possible to see it later.  I can't remember if they replay the concerts.

However, I WAS able to get a print screen of Jeri's hand...I think that's a new baton.

The performers were obviously very talented and had worked hard.  I just hope I can see it...eventually.

This is how it looked much of the time.

I heard from Walt's sister, who also watched and said they had good picture and good stream.  Walt couldn't even get a picture on his computer (and my speakers don't work, so I have to listen with earphones and could not let him listen!)  When they introduced Jeri at the conclusion of her section, my screen was black.  Alice Nan said it was clear on her screen.

The best laid plans!

While waiting for the concert to start, I was putting together a package for a SwapBot swap.  It involved checking a few boxes I had not looked in since I got the office organized.  Also finding a 5x7 envelope to send things in.

This is what it led to:

The envelopes were in the bottom drawer of my file cabinet, a drawer which is essentially inaccessible because of a small acrylic bookcase sitting in front of it.  But I also have a drawer of files that I haven't looked at in years, so I decided to switch the drawers, which was a major project. 

I should have just tossed the files, but occasionally you find gems, so it takes actually looking through the files carefully.  I found, for example, the first letter I ever received from the woman who kind of runs the discussion group I'm in.  It was written in 2012 and it's surprising how little her messages have changed over the years.  Still it gave background I'd forgotten and it was fun to read it again.

I also found files for the newsletters I have written in my life.  It seems I have written a newsletter for every organization I ever joined and many of the offices in which I worked.  Newsletters I'd forgotten, like the family newsletter I put out each week so each person in the family knew what was going on and I didn't risk forgetting to tell someone or tell one person something more than once ("don't tell Paul Sykes things he already knows").  There was even a precursor of this newsletter called the Saturday Evening Post that I don't remember at all, but from the look of it was created on my old Apple IIc computer, the first computer I ever owned (which had no internal memory).

There were all the Piñata Papers, which I sent out monthly to everyone in the Piñata group.  I'd completely forgotten I used to write a newsletter for customers of The Typing Company when I worked there and one for the employees of Women's Health Associates, that some still remember fondly.  And there was the Fat Fax, a newsletter for a group of us who all wanted to lose weight but didn't want to go to meetings (I subtitled it "the newsletter for closet thin people").  I can't even remember now who was in that group, but I think there were 5 of us, some of whom are dead now. It was supposed to rally us all around as support for each other.  As I recall, it was short-lived and ineffectual.  

I don't have copies of the Cock and Bull, the newsletter I started with Gilbert for the Lamplighters, but I am proud of that newsletter because it continues today, some 30+ years later, though I have not been involved with it in decades.

I should throw all of that away, but maybe someday after I'm dead and gone, someone will find it interesting to know how much writing I did in my life.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Proud Mama Bragging

OK, all you theater folks, be glued to your computer screen at 5 p.m. PDT tomorrow (Monday) night (8 p.m. Boston time).  Go to this web site. and watch a live broadcast of Jeri's summer high school students doing selections from Chicago.  It is part of Berklee College of Music's annual "Five Week Vocal Night," which Jeri has been helping to organize and conduct for the past 10 or so ears.  The streaming video is generally excellent.  This year Jeri's group is performing first, so there is not even any guesswork about when to tune in.

To add a bit of suspense to the evening, see if Jeri is conducting with a short baton or a long baton.  She broke her baton two days ago and is trying to find a place in Boston where she can get another (everyone tells her where to order one on line!).  Jeri says "It's supposed to be a 24 minute show, and you should get a glimpse or two of me."

My daughter is not only a musician, she is also a poet.  Two years ago, I gathered several of her famous "bikus" (haikus she writes in her head, to relieve the frustration, while biking round Boston and then posts on Facebook) and had them put into a book for her.

Today she outdid herself with a multi stanza baiku:

baiku, long form:
You gunned your motor,
Leaned on your horn, and sped past
Flipping me the bird

I yelled in panic.
I used some profanity.
I'm not proud of that.
I'm Polite Cyclist.
But the shock made me vulgar.
So what's your excuse?

The road's to be shared.
We all must work together.
Why so much anger?

We had a nice chat this afternoon.  She tries to call on Sundays, either me or Walt (she just beat Walt, who was about to call her.  Phil was barbequing heir dinner so she had some time to chat.  It sounded like except for the fresh tuna steak he was putting on a tuna shish-kebob, most of what he was cooking came from their garden.

In addition to filling me in on all the information about tomorrow's concert, she was telling me how much this concert means to the young musicians.  One went out and rented a tuba because he didn't have one and his part called for one.  Another guitarist learned how to play the banjo because he would need to do this in the show, and a brass player from Japan, who had no mutes for her instrument, contacted her mother in Japan and asked to have them sent to her.  Jeri was very proud of how seriously these kids are taking this concert and how they are going the extra mile to be sure it is perfect.

It reminds me of the awe Walt and I have always had for Acme Theater Company here in Davis.  The company is now in its 30-something year.  Jeri and Paul were founding members and performed for several years.

But the kids give up their summer every year to rehearse and perform the classics -- usually Shakespeare, but this year it was The Odyssey, a show the director assured me is very difficult, yet I felt it was one of their better productions and the youngest kid in the cast, a 14 year old who is new to the company this year, gave one of the best performances.

Theater/music kids are very special people.

The show we went to see on Saturday night was definitely not in the "classics" category.

It's called The Robber Bridegroom and is considered a "bluegrass fantasy" based on a 1942 Eudora Welty book.  It's about a guy who is a good guy by day and a bad guy at night--Robin Hood in the reverse, since his misdeeds are solely to benefit himself.  The cast includes brothers, one of whom is a disembodied head pushed around the stage by his brother. I never did figure out why, or what their importance to the so-called "story" was.

It's such a strange show I was amazed to discover that when it opened off Broadway, the leads were played by Kevin Kline and Patti Lupone.  It must have been a better show than Walt and I felt this one was!  But it was fun, nonetheless, with all that bluegrass kickin' music.  And the talent was excellent, which was its saving grace.

Quite different from My Fair Lady, which we had seen the night before!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Do You Have Freckles?
No, but my son did and his daughter now has them.  Walt had them as a kid too. 

Do You Sleep With Your Closet Doors Open Or Closed?
I sleep in a room with no closet.

Can You Whistle?
Yes, but not the kind of whistle where you put your fingers in your mouth and let blow.  Mine is a softer whistle.

Did You Wake Up Cranky today?
Nope.  I was well slept and comfy and the dogs were still asleep = good awakening!

Zodiac Sign.

What Is Your Eye Color?
According to DMV, Hazel; according to Walt, "green with yellow flecks"

Take A Vitamin Daily?
No.  Other pills, but no vitamin.

Do You Sing In The Shower?
Never have.

What Did You Have For Lunch?
Leftover baked beans.

Do You Watch The Olympics?
Yes, but not religiously.  I like some events, not others.  In summer I try to watch diving, gymnastics and equestrian events, but often other events too.  In winter I watch the ice skating and ski jump but also like a lot of the downhill events.

Do You Prefer To Swim In A Pool Or The Ocean?
Well, the last time I swam in anything was 2009 -- 15 minutes in a hotel roof top pool in Italy.  I can't remember the last time I swam in the ocean.

Bottled Water Or Tap Water?
Bottled.  I tried to get used to the taste of Davis tap water for years and finally gave up and have been buying bottled water for about 40 years.

Do You work Better With Or Without Music?
Without.  It's weird but music really bothers me, though I can have the TV on all day.  It's not that I don't like music, I do -- it just irritates me when I'm trying to work.

Can You Curl Your Tongue?

Is There Anything Pink Within 10 Feet Of You?"
Yes, some pink stationery and a roll of washi tape that is predominately pink.

Have You Ever Caught A Butterfly?
Yes, and now feel guilty about it.  In the summer we would catch butterflies and pin them to a board until they died, their wings flapping ineffectually.  Now I think about how the butterflies must have suffered and I feel very cruel.

Are You Easily Influenced By Other People?
About some things

Do You Have Strange Dreams?
I don't dream all that much, but every once in awhile I have weird dreams.

Do You Like Going On Airplanes?
I used to love flying, but these days with long lines, TSA problems and seats that I can barely fit in and no more meals--not even peanuts, flying is something I dread.  On one of the last flights I took we had to change planes in Frankfurt and we had to go through so many check points that I finally decided if we had to go through one more, I was going to give up and move to Frankfurt.

Name One Movie That Made You Cry.
An Affair to Remember.  I can cry if I just turn on the last 5 minutes of that movie.

Peanuts Or Sunflower Seeds?
Peanuts all the way.

If I Handed You A Concert Ticket Right Now, Who Would You Want The Performer To Be?
Jim Brochu and/or Steve Schalchlin.

Are You A Picky Eater
I'd like to say no, but I guess I am.  I mostly like things plain and not too hot, though I'm trying to add more heat into my cooking and the sauces from Blue Apron or Home Chef have made me a fan of sauces. But I don't like to eat weird stuff.  I would NOT go out to dinner with Andrew Zimmern!

Are You A Heavy Sleeper?
Yes and no.  Once I'm asleep, you can have a party in the room where I'm sleeping and I won't wake up, but I only sleep ~3 hours at a time and then have to go back to sleep again.

Do You Fear Thunder / Lightning?
No.  I find it exciting.  (We don't get it around here much)

Do You Like Your Music Loud?

Would You Rather Carve Pumpkins Or Wrap Presents?
I love wrapping presents.  I hate carving pumpkins.

What’s The Next Movie You Want To See In Theaters?
We see movies so seldom I don't even know what is playing now or what is coming up.

Been On The Computer For 5 Hours Straight?

Do You Like Meeting New People?
Depends.  I don't dislike it, but I always feel awkward and never know what to say

What Are Three Things You Did Today?
- Wrote a review of My Fair Lady, which we saw last night
- Got depressed watching Bill Maher.
- Wrote this blog entry

What Do You Wear To Bed?
It depends.  Often the sweats I have been wearing all day, or PJ bottoms with an Obama t-shirt (I have gotten more wear out of that T-shirt, which I got free in 2008, than any other t-shirt I own, since it became part of my pjs).

Do You Wear Jeans Or Sweats More?
I haven't worn jeans in years, and wear sweats all the time.

Name Something That Relaxes You.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday 9

.. because Nonnie recommended the Beach Boys

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

1) In the video for this song, the Beach Boys dive into the pool with all their clothes on. Have you ever ended up in the water while fully clothed? If yes, were you pushed?

Oh yes.  It was at a family reunion years and years ago.  One of my cousins got drunk and started pushing everybody in the motel pool, all of us dressed.  Even my then 80-something aunt was pushed in.

2) In this song, Mike Love sings he wishes "every kiss could be neverending." Where did you receive your first kiss? Was it wonderful, or awkward?

Well, I dated the guy for 3 years afterwards, so it must have been wonderful at the time, but I have no memory of it.

3) Brian Wilson was the creative force behind the Beach Boys. It's possible that the group's legendary and unique sound came from an incident of bad parenting. Brian's father hit him so hard with a wooden plank that he is deaf in his right ear. Which of your senses is sharpest -- sight, hearing, smell or taste?

The older I get, the less keen my senses become.  I wear trifocals, I need hearing aids, my sense of taste has diminished considerably and I have a difficult time smelling some things.  I guess the only sharp sense I have is a sense of humor.

4) Brian's brother Dennis was the cutest member of the group, and also the only one who could surf. Have you been to the beach yet this summer?

I haven't been to the beach since I was in Nice, France scattering our friend's ashes in 2009.

5) Dennis was also the Beach Boys' most colorful member. In 1968, he struck up an unfortunate and dangerous friendship with Charles Manson. Is there anyone in your life that you worry has bad taste in friends/lovers?

Not that I can think of .

6) Lead singer Mike Love is the grumpiest Beach Boy. He refuses to perform if the concert promotional materials refer to the group or their songs as "oldies." Does it bother you to hear the songs, TV shows and movies of your youth described as "classics" or "oldies?"

Good heavens no.  The oldies are more fun for me than a lot of the current songs, TV shows and movies.

7) This song has appeared on soundtracks for movies as diverse as Shampoo (1975), The Big Chill (1983), 50 First Dates (2004) and It's Complicated (2009). Do you own any movie soundtracks?

Too many to count.  In my youth, I bought just about any soundtrack to a movie I liked (not in many years, now, though)  My soundtracks are so old they are on vinyl.

8) In 1966, the year this song was popular, the Miranda Warning became law. Without looking it up, can you recite any of the Miranda Warning?

Oh.  You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.  you have the right to an attorney, if you can't afford an attorney one will be provided to you ... (thanks to all those cop shows)

9) Random question: The local college is pleading for models of all ages and sizes to pose for the life drawing class. Would you help the kids by volunteering to pose in the nude?

Bwahahaha.  They are't THAT hard up for models!!!  and NO.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Hockies 'n' Stuff

We had no ready-to-cook meals left last night and it was too hot to go to the store, but then I remembered that I had some leftover mozzarella in the fridge and decided I'd make pizza. I got dough to mixing and then realized I had no tomato sauce of any kind, so I mixed canned tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and oregano and cooked that down while the dough mixed (it turned out to be delicious.  I may do that all the time from now on!).  I had made a large batch of dough and had a chunk left over, so naturally I made hockies for breakfast.

Hockies are an old family favorite, passed down by my German great-grandmother (whom I never knew).  They are just chunks of bread dough fried and served slathered with butter.  Whenever I make pizza, I always make sure there is enough dough left over for me to make hockies in the morning because Walt and I both love them...and using excess pizza dough means there isn't a lot of dough so we can't gorge on hockies.

This being Thursday, I was going to Atria so I could be sure my mother would be in her room when Jeri called.

My friend Barbara, who is a member of Citizens Who Care, had mentioned awhile ago that she would like to meet my mother, so she came with me. 

When we got to the memory unit, my mother was sitting at the far end of the hall, the other end from the part where her apartment is.  She saw me and waved when I waved.  I tried to motion her to come to meet us, but she just kept waving.  I finally walked all the way down there, introduced her to Barbara and suggested we go to her apartment.  She was walking as if in great pain and she said her whole body ached.

I offered to get a wheel chair to take her the distance to her room, but she didn't want that.  Then I offered her the use of my cane, which she wouldn't use.  But I guess walking that distance worked the kinks out because she was pretty much OK by the time we got there.

The three of us sat down and started talking.  Jeri called shortly after we got there and I was glad I had come because otherwise my mother would not have been in her room.  They had their usual nice talk, mostly about when Jeri was going to come to see her.

Jeri is so steadfast in her attempts to keep in touch with her grandmother.  It's never much of a chat but they have touched bases and whether my mother remembers it or not, she enjoys it in the moment and that is all that's important.

After she got off the phone, Barbara said she had brought her a gift.  She had a foaming soap, a chunk of soap that looked like a crystal, and some had lotion.  I don't know that my mother will ever use any of it but she was surprised and appreciative.

This was a good day, visit wise.  She was not anxious and was talkative, even if most of what she said didn't make sense.  I tried to keep the conversation on things that I know she knows, like trying to let Barbara know how many siblings she had.  

We talked about my haircut and how having it so short brought back all the curl and I was asking her which of her sisters had curly hair, which was good because it got her brain churning and she did remember, she thought, which ones had curly hair...all she really remembered (I knew this) was that she had wanted curly hair all her life (her mother had curly hair) and thought it unfair that she never got it and I did.  (I remember the days when she used to look at me every time I arrived and tell me it made her disgusted to look at me because my hair was so curly.  I finally told her how it made me feel to know that every time she looked at me it made her disgusted and she stopped doing it, but it had gone on for years).

Anyway, all things considered it turned out to be a good visit and those always send me home in a good mood.  And can any day that starts with hockies ever be a bad one?

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Chrysanthemums always remind me of my grammar school, for two reasons.

The first reason is for a spelling bee.  I remember the bee, but I don't remember if (a) I had to spell chrysanthemum and couldn't do it, or (b) someone else had to spell it and couldn't, or (c) someone did spell it correctly and won the contest because of it.
In any event, I came home determined to learn how to spell chrysanthemum in case I was ever put on the spot.  I did and to this day, I think of that spelling bee whenever I think of that flower.  (I have also never, to my knowledge, been asked to spell chrysanthemum)

There were lots of strange things that I remember about in grammar school.  I remember one nun had a contest to see who could demonstrate the proper way to eat a piece of bread.  Several of us tried it, but nobody had the right answer (break the bread in half, then in quarters, and then butter one quarter and eat that before buttering the next).  To this day, I don't think I have ever seen a single person eat a piece of bread that way.

I remember one nun who always had health class right before lunch.  "Health" consisted of telling us some horror story about something stupid some kid had done that did terrible things to him.  I can only remember two, but one was two girls who decided they wanted to lose weight and so they sent away for some pills they saw advertised (given that we were probably not much older than Brianna is now, I wonder how she came up with THAT story).

Anyway, the pills arrived and one girl took hers right away while the other one put hers on top of her dresser, deciding to take it in the morning.  In the morning when she woke up her pill had turned into a tapeworm.  Obviously that made an impression on me and I have never ordered pills through the mail from some advertisement I saw in a magazine!

The other story was about some kids who were playing under a palm tree that had drooping palm fronds and one boy kept jumping up at the tree until one of the fronds hit him on top of the head and buried itself in his skull and they could not pull it out.  (I wonder if Sister then went on to write for Rod Serling when his Twilight Zone series started!)

There was a nun who decided to teach us to dance.  I think we mostly learned how to square dance.  My best friend Judy L. was the tallest child in the class and Jerry P. was the smallest child in the class.  Sister always made them partners.  I don't know what sort of sadistic pleasure that gave her, but I have recently reconnected with Judy in the last few years and she still feels mortified remembering having to dance with Jerry 60 years ago.

We also learned a bit of Irish dancing (the order was from Ireland, though I don't remember any of our nuns speaking with an accent).  To this day I don't have a clue what the steps were, but I can hear the tune and can count...

...and a 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5 ,6, 7 .... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  ... and a 1, 2, 3 ... 1, 2, 3

Isn't it weird the things that we remember?

But I digress.  Chrysanthemums.

Our grammar school was connected to the church, separated by a parking lot/playground (concrete area with nothing to play on).  I don't know how often the church had events that required children to participate by marching in procession, but I'm sure a lot fewer than I remember.

We would all dress in our Sunday finery (I think the girls had to wear white dresses) and meet downstairs in the church basement.  I don't know what kind of head covering we had,  but since girls always had to wear something on our heads in church in those days, I know we had something.  But we always had to carry those damn chrysanthemum bouquets.  They must have gotten a deal on them.
We would enter at the back of the church and file down both side aisles and stand in the aisles while prayers were being said.

As you can see it was not a particularly small church.
I don't really remember a lot about the services, but I remember the chrysanthemums.  They don't have a strong smell and it's not unpleasant, but it's not pleasant either.  It's just a chrysanthemum smell.  I can almost, but not quite, recreate it in my head.

But one thing I remember...it was a lot more pleasant to spell chrysanthemum than it was to carry the damn things.