Thursday, June 21, 2018

Comfort Objects

Today is my sister's 71st birthday.

Or it would be if she hadn't been murdered at age 24, 47 years ago.

I have been near tears for a good part of the day.  I understand why Rachel Maddow broke down and could not read the story of the babies and toddlers being separated from their parents.

What got me today is learning that when the children are taken from their parents, they also have their comfort objects (blanket, stuffed animal, whatever) taken from them.  Not only that but if a child is crying and another child tries to comfort him/her, they are told "no touching."

I can't even write that paragraph without crying.  What monsters are these?

Our older three kids all had comfort objects.


Jeri had her blanket and a number of "stuffies" that she needed before she could go to sleep.

Ned had a thermal blanket with a satin ribbon binding that the "blanket" portion dropped out of one day, leaving only the tattered ribbon, which was knotted and raggedy, but he had to have it with him at all times.  One time he left it on a neighbor's lawn and the neighbor, thinking it was garbage, threw it out.  You should have seen the panic we went through trying to find it until we finally decided to look through the neighbors garbage...where we found it.  That helped, but it had to be washed first and Ned couldn't calm down until it was finally out of the dryer.

[aside:  Ned still has it!]

Ned and Jeri were so attached to their comfort objects that I decided not to let Paul get attached, so I rotated his blankets every night and at one point he also got attached to a dress that I had that I cut into swatches, so he could have one at all times.

My great plan didn't work, though.  He got attached to ALL of them.  To go to sleep he needed all three blankets and all of the dress swatches.

(Brianna had "piggie" who went everywhere with her for several years)

I don't know why Tom and David never had comfort objects...maybe because they each nursed for such a long time they didn't need comfort objects to go to sleep...they had me instead.

So when I think of these babies and toddlers unable to bring their comfort objects with them into baby jail, it hurts my heart.  One reporter who was able to tour one of the "tender care" facilities said it was "full of crying, traumatized babies."  It makes me think of reports of the orphanages in Romania and the effect the neglect of the babies had on them.  Lifelong effects that affected their later adoption.

Now many of the parents have been sent back to their home countries and the babies/children are left behind--and how are they going to find them again?  They are already talking about "immigration orphans," and talking about adoption.  These children, kidnapped by our government, have parents who love them and want them and yet people are talking about adopting them to Americans.

So yesterday our benevolent leader, who has been telling us for days/weeks that this is the Democrats' mess and that it can't be solved simply with an Executive Order, signed an Executive Order decreeing that parents and children are no longer to be separated...but not a word about the >2,000 children who are currently in kiddie prison and their parents who have had to go back to their home countries.  What is to become of them?


(Has the infamous tent city become another crown in the Trump Hotel complex?)

This is not the America I know us to be.

If you are feeling as helpless as I am, consider donating to one of the organizations that is raising money to help the immigrants.  The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a non-profit focused on "providing free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas," according to the organization's website.

The non-profit, which currently has about 50 lawyers on staff, got a lot of attention over the past week after Charlotte and Dave Willner set up a Facebook fundraiser that they hoped would raise $1500, but raised over $12 million in just five days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Oops...Caught

I tried sleeping on the couch last night which maybe wasn't the best idea.  I was able to get onto the couch, able to fall asleep, but getting UP again was tricky...fortunately I had prepared for it and had my cane handy to help.

So I went back to the recliner and after an hour or so of Morning Joe, which was more upsetting than usual, I went back to sleep and woke up around 9.  Getting up, gingerly, I realized that yesterday my knee pain had gone from a 9 to a 5  and today I'd rank it at about 3.  (I originally optimistically said a 2 until I moved around a bit.)

I actually was able to cook dinner last night, though had no appetite so other than a couple of bites of salmon and some tomatoes, I didn't eat anything.

Walt's plan today was to work at his office, and then drive to SF to see one of the Ringcycle operas.  He usually goes to work around  11 so he can have lunch with his buddies and then heads to the city and gets home around midnight.  I had all sorts of plans for my "free" afternoon.

I suddenly realized that was nearly 12 and I hadn't heard him leave.  But then I could easily have dozed off and missed it.

As it got past 12, I figured that yes, he left without my seeing him.  When he does this, and I know that he won't be home until late or so, I often have the ice cream bar we have together in the evening and eat it in the afternoon instead.

So I was sitting here enjoying my ice cream, feeling very naughty, when Walt came in, in his shorts, sandals and t-shirt and reported that he had been sleeping...and that he had a fever.

Caught!  Owell, he'll have his ice cream tonight and I won't.  (But my "illegal" treat was very nice.)  Whatever reason for the fever, it apparently wasn't all that bad because he was under the sink cleaning in preparation for our pest control guy coming next week.


As any reader here knows, I have been very upset about the situation at the border and feel so heartbroken at the pain the children and their parents, especially those who may never see their children again.

The two countries which have seen the most activity are Guatemala and Honduras.  Families coming from these countries are fleeing violence.  Sometimes family members have been murdered.  One mother talked about her young teen age daughter who was captured by a gang and held for four days and her young son who was being recruited by the gangs.

So I understand the pain and, like so many others, I feel so guilty for being unable to do anything about it.

Then Nely from Guatemala appeared on an ad for Compassion on Amazon.  I was immediately drawn to the Kermit she was holding.  How can I resist a kid who likes Kermit?

But did I have enough money to add one more sponsorship? Probably not and kids this cute  are usually gone in a day or two.  I've watched Nely for a whole week.  I finally decided that if she was still there yesterday, I'd sponsor her.

There she was again.  I fully expected that when I clicked on her photo it would say she had already been sponsored and that I would be offered other kids, but no there she was, still holding Kermit.
So I agreed to sponsor her.

Then I had to laugh because when I clicked on her photo to get further information, Compassion offered me the opportunity to sponsor another child from the same facility and showed about 8 other kids.

Four of those 8 kids were holding the same Kermit!

I feel kind of manipulated, but since I can't do anything to help the kids trying to get to the safety of the U.S., I can at least help one little girl in Guatemala.  As someone on Facebook said, "saving one person won't change the world, but it will change the world for that one person. We do what we can, where we can, to do the most good."

I hope she actually likes Kermit!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Think I'll live

Yes, I was able to get up from my desk and stagger to the recliner without having to wake Walt up to come and help.  Whew.

I slept as all right as I ever do and woke up around 5:30.  I noticed one thing right away--I could bend my right leg, which I was not able to do the day before.

I carefully got out of the chair and though it was painful, the pain had gone from a 9 to a 5.  I was able to hobble down the hall to  the bathroom and it only took 3 tries to get on my feet afterwards, which is a HUGE improvement.

Still, it was not a good idea to be hobbling around so once again, I settled into the recliner with ibuprofen at my elbow and ice on my knee and watched TV.

But watching TV today was more painful than the pain in my knee.

Watch/listen to this recording secretly made by ProPolitica.  It is the sound of children separated from their families, crying for mommy or daddy.  It will tear your heart out but listen to it because we need to viscerally feel what it feels like, not just gloss over it because it's not happening to us and we feel helpless so why put ourselves through it.  We put ourselves through it because it is happening to children as young as a year old and we need to have our heat torn out a bit to get us angry enough to maybe DO something.

If there is anything positive I realized today it's that people are starting to notice.

On every news show I watched, it was the lead story and often took over half of the show or more itself.  Everyone from politicians (Republican and Democrats), to newsmen, to political historians, to physicians is weighing in and the clamor is becoming louder and louder. One newsman was almost apoplectic as he shouted the question we all want answered -- how long is this going to go on?  How long is #45 going to keep those children hostage to his^%$#@ wall?

Many people, politicians and reporters pointed out that Trump could end the separation policy in an instant.  Hasn't he constantly reminded us of the power of the presidency?  Heck, he was able to change all the good things about this country with a stroke of his pen, why not end the misery of these children and their parents?

And then there is dear Ann Coulter, who said “I would also say one other thing, these child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now — do not fall for it, Mr. President," on The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton.  Two thousand child actors, age 1 to 17.  Boy--who is footing the bill for THAT casting?  Are these the same paid actors hired to pretend to be victims of the Florida shooting? or the paid actors at the huge Women's March?

Where is pro-Life in all of this?  You'd think this would be right up their alley, children traumatized and separated from their parents, crying and begging for Mommy and Daddy.  Why aren't there big ProLife rallies?  Or is the problem that these are "born children" so they don't count?

A reporter, allowed in one of the facilities, saw a crying child and asked why nobody was comforting him. He was told they are NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH THE KIDS because of fear of accusations of sexual abuse. One child, he said, they didn't realize her age because she spent her time curled into a ball. Another older girl had to change diapers because the caregivers had that "touching kids" thing to worry about. Reports are that a 4 year old, placed in a sponsor's home, was "the worse case of trauma" they had seen. 

Someone today pointed out that the facilities that reporters have been allowed to visit house boys 7 to 17.  Where are girls and babies being held and why can't we investigate those?  No cameras are allowed inside facilities reporters have toured.

Department of Homeland Security reports that from May 5 to June 18, 2,342 children have been removed from their parents.  67 kids/day (it was 47 kids/day according to DHS last month)
And now there is a tent city in the hot Texas sun for an indefinite period of time.

And the New York Times reports that there are no protocols in place for reuniting parents and children and many parents have been deported, while their children remain here.

This is all biblically inspired, Trump, Sessions, and Huckabee-Sanders say.  Even Franklin Graham is disgusted by that.  (Isn't Sarah's Dad a minister?  What does HE say about all this biblical permission to persecute children for political reasons?)  

When will this cruelty end????

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday 9

16 June, 2018
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!

Cat's in the Cradle (1974)

This song was chosen in honor of Father's Day. Hear it here.
 
1) This song began as a poem, written by Harry's wife Sandy before the couple even met. Have you ever tried your hand at writing poetry
I'm terrible at it.  I can write limericks and funny verse, but anything high-falutin' defeats me.

2) The lyrics include a reference to "The Man in the Moon." The original Mother Goose rhyme ends: "It's time for the children on earth to think about getting to bed." Do you remember what time your childhood bedtime was?
I don't remember but assume it was between 8 and 9.

3)  When did you go to bed last night?
1:30 a.m.

4) In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the proclamation that made Father's Day a holiday on the third Sunday in June. Can you name all 45 Presidents? (No, you don't have to list them here.)
Probably not.  I'm sure I'd miss a few.

5) Since Sam's father is particular about his Cole Haan loafers, her Father's Day present to him is always a DSW gift card. Who on your gift list is especially easy to buy for?
The grandkids.  Their mother keeps an Amazon wish list (which I guess is cheating!)

6) Sam's father is a voracious reader. So much so that the local librarian knows him on sight and by name. When did you last visit your neighborhood library?
Years ago, when it was our polling place.  I should be ashamed to admit that since the library is only 3 blocks from our house, but I have SO many books here in the house that I'm trying to work through.

7) Back when Sam was in high school, her father gave her driving lessons. Do you consider yourself a good driver?
I used to be an excellent driver and could even parallel park on San Francisco's steepest hills (driving a shift!)  Now that I'm 75, I find that my driving skills are not what they used to be.  I can't even park, in an automatic, on a flat surface with lots of room without jockying back and forth several times.  It is very frustrating.

8) He is a stickler about car maintenance and reminds Sam to check her car's air filter regularly, because a dirty air filter can reduce mileage. Share your own car maintenance tip.
Marry well.

9) Whenever he fills up the car, Sam's father also stocks up on his favorite candy: LifeSavers. So Sam is celebrating Father's Day by giving everyone a roll. Would you prefer Wild Cherry, Butter Rum, Winter Green or Peppermint?
If I had to choose one of those, wild cherry, but I'd prefer lemon.

Friday, June 15, 2018

For Fathers Day

This idea came from Stephen Colbert last night.

Our kids were so fortunate to have a great dad.  He has been involved in their lives from the beginning, from changing diapers to coaching Little League, to building sets for the children's theater, to being one of Lawsuit's biggest fans--and even doing a solo on stage once.  He was always there to read "Night Before Christmas" on Christmas eve and judge dives at diving meets.  I love the relationship he has with all of them.

Now think of the fathers who live in Central American countries wracked by war, torture, rape, murder.  They have this dream of taking their children to safety in the United States and hope to seek asylum, only to learn when they arrive here that their children are to be taken away from them and they themselves are put in jail, awaiting a hearing.  Some are taken from their parents arms to "be bathed" and then never returned.


I have been assured that the children are returned in a couple of days.  Tell that to the parents returned to their native country who Skype their EIGHT MONTH OLD child each week, and who still have not been able to reunited with the baby.

I've been told that it's probably a lot of hype by the media.  And yeah, maybe the story of the breastfeeding mother who had her baby taken from her breast may or may not be hype, but the other stories are being proven more and more to be true.


After being forcibly removed from a holding facility by the police Senator Jeff Merkley was finally allowed into the Brownsville detention center, but no cameras were allowed.  His report was that though the WalMart was filled with nearly twice its capacity and though there weren't enough caregivers to handle the kids, they were doing alright.  But these were boys 7-10.  How about one of the other 100 facilities with younger children?  Kids from babies to 17?  They are kept indoors all day and allowed outside for only 2 hours.


Women were interviewed and told of being separated from their children and then having to sit in a room while their children cried in a nearby room.  Another woman from Honduras reported that her husband had been beheaded, one son killed and another one paralyzed by a bullet and that she had fled to the U.S. seeking asylum for herself and her remaining son.  Sessions has now said that "fleeing violence" is no longer a valid reason for granting asylum and she says that if she is returned to her country, she will be killed.


A priest, who obviously didn't want to say anything negative, talked about a facility where the older kids were used to routine and when told to go to bed, they did, but that the little ones, age 2 and up, were more and more difficult and "harsher disciplinary measures" had to be taken.  Nobody asked him what those "harsher measures" were.


Thank goodness the clamor by voters like you and me is growing, even congressmen on both sides of the aisle are starting to voice disgust at what is happening.  Heck, even Franklin Graham, Billy's son, says it's disgusting.  But #45 is adamant that the Democrats don't want to change the policy, because they won't give him his wall (among other things).

Now, since all 100 facilities are so overcrowded with terrified children, they are talking of building a tent city somewhere in Texas.  Anybody know what the weather is like in Texas in the summer???
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if, as a mother, she had no empathy for the families and the reporter was told she was only answering serious, not frivolous questions.

Wouldn't it be nice if groups of congressmen, Republicans and Democrats, insisted on visiting a lot of those 100 facilities to inspect them, not just the ones hand-picked for them?  Wouldn't it be nice if there was such an outcry from those of us who are losing sleep over the plight of these families made enough noise that something changed?  Wouldn't it be nice if those parents could finally get their baby back?

Colbert suggests that a good thing to do in honor of Fathers Day is to contact all of your legal representatives in Washington and demand they bring a halt to this cruel practice, and reunite parents and children.  I did it.  Will you?

(This might not be effective for the woman who was given a piece of paper with the name of her children on it, so she could find them again....but it wasn't her children on the paper)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

To Sell a Product

When you watch as much TV as I do, you see a lot of commercials.  Some make me angry; some make me smile.

My perennial anger goes to Stanton Optical, which has the most stupid commercials ever.  To make matters worse, they always run in pairs.  Commercial for Stanton, commercial for something else, same commercial for Stanton again.  The worst was probably the one where a pair of glasses seemed to be going into labor and eventually popping out another pair.  Lots of grunting and groaning in that one until they finally told us that you got two pair of glasses for the price of one.  They eventually dropped that commercial and my latest anger is directed at the one where a guy dressed all in pink interrupts a women's book club to say that he can't concentrate on one woman's comments because of her pink glasses and all he can think of is "pink." (I saw someone wearing blue glasses the other day and had to laugh that this was my first thought!)

The latest one is as incomprehensible as all the others.  There is a long staircase, flanked on both sides with people, each wearing a pair of glasses.  A guy, also wearing glasses, marches down the middle of the stairs, stops to rip a pair of glasses off one person and asks what they are.  The guy answers "Stanton" and explains that he got two pair for one price, whereupon the original guy crushes the glasses in his hand and screams STANTON and everyone scatters.


What does it all mean?

But there are commercials that I like.  The Eucrisa commercials are cute.  Eucrisa is an ointment for mild eczema and is a series of people asking if it's safe for them.  One of my favorites is the little girl who asks "the face of a fairy?" (Note the red eczema on her cheek.)


But my favorite is the kid who assures the viewer that Eucrisa is "steroid free."  He has such an engaging attitude.


And then there is the teenager who has to break the news to his parents that he has had an auto accident at a local drive-in.


He's praising them for the kind of Allstate insurance coverage they have before they take away is driving rights for 4 weeks.  I love him as an actor

I wonder who writes these mini-dramas designed to sell us something.  Some are brilliant; some should be fired!  I'd also love to see some of the casting auditions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

It Rains on Stage

The Music Circus (now "Broadway at Music Circus") has been a Sacramento summer tradition since 1951.  Inspired by a similar company in New Jersey, Sacramento's Eleanor McClatchy wanted such an experience for Sacramento-area folks and, in partnership with the New Jersey folks, Sacramento Music Circus, the first professional musical theater in the round west of the Mississippi and only 4th in the entire country made its debut.

They built a >2000 seat circus tent, filled it with a theater in the round and director-type chairs and set about "bringing Broadway production values" to the productions.  The tent came down in August and didn't go up again until the following June.

Sacramento.  Summer.  What could possibly be a problem?  Well, the often 100 degree temps for one thing, no air conditioning, and some of the most uncomfortable chairs around.

But the audiences loved the shows and kept coming, fans in hand, the ice cold drinks at intermission.  Some even brought pillows to sit on.

We rarely went because the prices were just too high, but Jeri worked two summers on the tech crew and I actually got to be part of a production of Annie, when they needed a "local dog" who would have a very brief part in the show (not Annie's dog, Sandy).  They found the perfect dog in Davis, but his owner didn't want to drive the dog to Sacramento every night, so I volunteered to be the doggie chauffeur.  I got to hang backstage with "Sandy" and we became good friends.  As soon as the Davis dog did his bit, I picked him up and brought him home again.  It was great fun.

That was before I became a critic. Now I see all the shows (for free) and, thank goodness, in my second year of critic-ing, they removed the tent and built a real building.  With real seats.  And real air conditioning.  I haven't heard a single person long for the good-old days, as we relax in our comfortable chairs and sometimes shiver at the cold air blowing on us.

In the early years they often had a guest star, someone who had been a star in the movies or on TV but was out of the spotlight and reduced to doing things like...Music Circus.  The first year I reviewed, they were doing one of my favorite shows, Show Boat and the guest star that year was Alan Young who played second banana to Ed, the talking horse in Mister Ed.

It was an embarrassment to watch him.  I swear he played Captain Andy, and appeared to be drunk.  There was a chorus girl attached to him at all times, leading him around to his next scene.  The only "realistic" scene was one in which he was supposed to be drunk.

My cousin Kathy was working for the company at the time, as its bookkeeper and told me they had to send someone to his hotel, across the street from the theater, to bring him to the show each night because otherwise he could not find it.  It was the only show I think I ever gave one star to.
Now they still have imported talented, but rarely someone whose name you recognize.  They are all talented Broadway performers and the quality of the shows is excellent.

The 2018 season began last night with Singin' in the Rain, a fairly accurate recreation of the 1952 movie musical.

And yes, it rained on stage.  

The rain sequence was one of the best and, because I know the movie so well, I recognized that there were probably some tweaks, but the bulk of it was Gene Kelly's original choreography.

Noah Racey, who played Don Lockwood, had great fun kicking rain out into the audience.  The folks in the front row had been supplied with plastic covers to protect their clothes.

The whole cast was wonderful and all of the things you remember most about the movie were in there.  Matt Loehr played Don's best friend Cosmo Brown and did all of those wonderful dance numbers that Donald O'Connor made iconic.
The chorus numbers were great, especially the finale with everyone in colorful rain slickers, carrying umbrellas


I loved everything about this show and had a good time writing the review, even though I was up until after 2 doing it.  Our ride home was very long due to work on the freeway and the causeway between Davis and Sacramento, generally a 10 minute drive, took 45 minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cookies

Ned was here this morning for a long visit, so it was after noon before I had a chance to sit down and write this.
I was craving cookies yesterday.  When we had lunch at Atria with my mother, we had ice cream and Snickerdoodles for dessert and the cookies tasted so good.  I can't remember the last time I had Snickerdoodles, which may be my favorite cookie.


I decided to make cookies, but then realized that Walt, who is disciplined and doesn't really have a sweet tooth, would eat two or three over two days and I would eat the rest, which isn't good for me, so I restrained myself.

But the craving got me to thinking about cookbooks.  I once had a huge collection of cookbooks, maybe a couple hundred.  They took up two book cases.  When I realized I almost never used cookbooks any more, I gave most of them away, keeping only 4 shelves which include my indispensible but rarely used Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, most of my Sunset magazine cookbooks, a bread cookbook and a soup cookbook, both of which have a couple of my favorite recipes (which I haven't made in years), a peanut cookbook, a beer cookbook, and a book called "What Cooks in Suburbia," which my roommate and I used religiously when we lived together.  There is also a book of wartime cooking, written in WWII, which takes rationing into account in creating recipes.

There are a number of cookbooks made either by organizations to which I belonged, or put together by me, including a banana cookbook I made for my roommate when we realized how many times we used bananas (banana meatloaf really isn't bad!)

At one time I had a wonderful, big, fat illustrated cookbook of cookie recipes and am sorry that I no longer have it, though I undoubtedly wouldn't use it if I did.  When I was making cookies for Christmas time at my office in the Physics Department I used that a LOT and made a lot of different kinds of cookies.

The cookbook I don't have and wish I did is my mother's old cookbook.  Unlike me, she only had one cookbook and put those special recipes she liked to cook that weren't printed in the book loose in that book.  Also, unlike me, she has no sentimental attachment to anything and so when she decided she would probably never cook again, she just threw the book away without asking me if I wanted it. Some of my favorite recipes (like my father's potato salad) were probably in that book, now lost forever.

But then she's a Virgo and I'm an Aquarius and there could not be more opposite personalities and we both represent the stereotypical attributes of our sign.  I can't throw away anything and have sentimental attachment to just about everything.  She is neat and tidy, can't stand mess, and sees nothing of sentimental value in anything.

When I went off to college, everything in my bedroom at home was tossed -- the decorative dolls that hung on the walls throughout my childhood, my diary and a bunch of other things.  It never occurred to her to ask me if I still wanted them  If I moved to a dorm and didn't take them with me, obviously I didn't want them any more.
 
(On the other hand, I think I still have lots of stuff that belonged to Paul or David which mean nothing to me, other than that they belonged to them, and they have been gone ~20 years.)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Tonys

The Tonys was just the anti-depressant I was needing last night.  After two days of sadness and tributes for Anthony Bourdain and then a day of watching how #45 pissed off everyone at the G7 in Canada, I was depressed all day.  Then the prevaricator-in-chief had the audacity to accuse Justin Trudeau of giving out "false information."  I felt moved to actually write a note to the Prime Minister to apologize and assure him that we weren't all behind our inglorious leader.

I actually had started this entry before dinner as a diatribe on my depression about the country, the kids being taken from parents, and #45 in general.

But then there came the Tonys, my favorite of the awards shows even though I never have watched any of the shows, but it's always such a polished show, and it helped clear my depression.  It's the awards show where 90% of the recipients can actually think on their feet and give appropriately-timed, thoughtful thank you speeches.

And I learn about shows to look for.  I had never heard of The Band Visit, which won for best musical, but was pleased to see Tony Shaloub take home the award for best actor in a musical.  I have always loved Shaloub on Monk, another show I love to watch in marathon.

Shaloub's sister is an actress locally and I always feel a bond with her when I see her perform, though I've never spoken with her.  I felt like I'd like to corner her and tell her how much I enjoyed her brother's Tony speech.

I had never heard of Once on This Island, which won the award for best revival of a musical, but the other two nominees were Carousel and My Fair Lady, so I am assuming those two will be making the rounds of community theaters in the next year or two.

But for me the highlight of the night was Robert DeNiro's unscripted comment before he read the script to announce Bruce Springsteen.


DeNiro raised his fists and said "F*** Trump!" which brought a standing ovation in Radio City Music Hall.  

It made me miss Paul.  Paul was a huge DeNiro fan, his favorite movie being Taxi Driver, where DeNiro played Travis Bickle ("you talking to me?").  In fact, when Paul's best friend Kag (whose real name is also Paul--he's the host of the annual "Paul Picnic") became a father, he wanted to name his son after Paul, but didn't want people to think that the baby was named for his father, so they named him Milo Travis.  Milo is ready to go to college this fall (he's always a reminder of how long Paul has been gone, since they weren't pregnant with him when Paul died) and Kag tells me that the one thing they have to do together before Milo goes out into the world is to watch Taxi Driver, which Milo has never seen.

So watching DeNiro bring the audience to its feet with his comment about #45 I knew how tickled Paul would have been.

When the show was over, there was a Bourdain tribute and then more of the depressing news.  


He offended all of our allies (see the difference between the two photos) and then headed off before the discussion of climate change, which he doesn't believe in, for a meeting with the North Korean dictator, whom he thinks is a nice guy and for which he doesn't believe he needs to prepare because he's so smart he will just "know" in the first minute whether he should stay or leave.

It must be nice to be king.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Happy Birthday

The VW was sitting in the parking lot when I was there this afternoon and it gave me a little pang.


Today would have been Peach's birthday (80th, I think) and when she was still living here in California, what she wanted was a green VW.  When she and Bob got a reverse mortgage, he got the truck he'd always wanted and she got her green VW.

It was odd that she wanted her own car.  She was not a big driver.  In fact, I remember when she first got her driver's license.  Whenever we went out driving, when she came to an intersection, she would stop cold and if there was a car she could see in any direction--even a couple of blocks away, she would wait until the car passed before she moved.  (She lived in kind of a remote area, so there was rarely a line-up behind her.)  As an adult, I rarely saw her drive until Bob had his stroke, and then it turned out to be a good thing that she had her little VW.  It was her daily visits to Bob that got him through the stroke that few thought he would survive.

(I thought Bob would die not long after Peach did, they were so close but he, too, has Alzheimers and I guess that is keeping him going.)


(with daughter, Karen)

Peach and I were friends almost from birth.  She was 3 yrs older than I but there are photos of us together when I was, say, 2.


(with our cousin Ken)
I remember visiting her when she spent a year in a boarding school in San Francisco, when she was maybe 10.

When I was in grammar school, my mother and Peach's mother did a month-long cousin exchange once a year.  I would spend 2 weeks in the country with Peach while her sister spent 2 weeks in the city with my sister Karen, then we'd switch.

So many memories of those days!  I remember going to school with her once and so excited to think about when I would be in high school and would study mythology, because she was studying it and obviously we would have the same curriculum (we never did study mythology)

I remember sitting under the weeping willow on her front lawn harmonizing to "You Are my Sunshine."  I remember the very hot day (well over 100) when we were walking home from "the little store", standing in the middle of the street while she braided my hair (I don't know why!). 

I remember when we visited our grandmother and spent long hours up in a tree eating apples and talking about life, or swatting bees as we picked blackberries.

I remember being older and going on a date with one of Bob's best friends (Peach swore he never married because he was carrying a life-long torch for me, which I don't believe at all!)  I remember making an anniversary dinner for her parents, where we colored all the food (red potatoes?) making things so inedible, my uncle had to take my aunt out to dinner (because we had  eaten all the normal-colored leftovers in the fridge while we were cooking).  I remember onion and mustard sandwiches over endless games of canasta.

I remember being maid of honor at her wedding.  When her son Mike was born I was his godmother
We had a period of a couple of decades where we were estranged because she didn't like being a mother of small children and my growing family was too painful a reminder of those days for her.
We reconnected and then came those wonderful years of Cousins Days that we spent with our cousin Kathy and my mother, once a month for about four years.  

I remember flying to Iowa as she was about to begin chemo for her breast cancer, staying 2 weeks to be as supportive as I could.  Other than the cancer, it was a wonderful time for us to bond and when we had our last deep conversation the day before I left, I knew I would never see her again.
Now Peach is gone and Kathy is gone and my mother is as good as gone and on their birthdays, I get kind of misty eyed remembering the decades when we were close.

Happy birthday, Peach.  I hope you're getting together with all the family that has gone before me.....

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Compassion Stuff

I had a call from Compassion, Intl yesterday.  At first I feared it was about Estiben, a  4 year old from Guatemala.  When I look at children to sponsor, I don't generally look at little kids, mostly because it takes a long time to form a relationship because you can't really write the way you'd write to an older child. Also, everybody wants the little guys; the older kids are more difficult to find sponsors for.

But look at that face.

How could anybody pass it up?

So I agreed to sponsor him back in October, and maybe in a couple of years, I'll begin to feel that we are developing a relationship.
But then the volcano blew.  Those of us with kids in Guatemala got a notice that they were assessing the situation and if any of our kids were affected, they will let us know.  So naturally, I assumed the call was about that.  But it wasn't.

The call was about Edilsar, a young Mexican boy I sponsored briefly, who left the program awhile ago.  Turns out that before his parents took him out of the program, I had sent him a $10 birthday gift and they wanted to let me know that they have been unsuccessful in finding him to give him the gift and wanted to know what I wanted them to do with the money (I had it sent to another child for his birthday)

It all made me realize that I was getting behind in my letter writing.  I sponsor 14 kids and write to an additional 14 whose sponsors don't want to write to them.  About once a month I write one general letter that I send to all 28 kids.  It's either something that we've been doing here--like celebrating holidays or birthdays, or else it's something interesting I thought the kids might appreciate.  I sent a big letter about beavers, for example, with lots of photos from the Internet.  The Internet is a great source for photos to send to the kids!

But in addition to the "general" letter, I also try to answer each letter I receive, with a more personal response, and my stack of "to be answered" letters had grown rather thick.  I'm learning more about some of the kids that I hadn't known before, and some are good about telling me more about their daily life.

Brightone from Kenya, for example, is 12 and told me that he helps at home fetching water, taking care of animals and doing farm work.

Mwongela (age 8) is also from Kenya.  He obviously has a great relationship with his father.  He says that his favorite person is his father and that during school breaks he stays at his father's garage and he hopes in the future to repair a motorbike an see it operate.

Josphat (12) always writes long(er) letters, and in English, which I really appreciate.  He tells me that it is planting season in Kenya and that they planted beans and maize in their garden and are hoping for a good crop.  He always ends with a bible quote for me to read. This time it was Romans 6:23 (For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.)  Sometimes I wonder what causes the choice of Bible quotes from some of these kids!)

Emmanuella (17, Ghana) also sent a bible verse (Ephesians 5:11, Have nothing to do with the worthless things that people do...) but also says that she has been "seriously sick" for two weeks.  It's letters like this that make me wish for a closer relationship so I could find out what "sick" means.  Two of the boys I write to also mentioned that their fathers were sick and one has been asking me to pray for his mother, who seems to have been sick for a long time.

Mercy, who had one of the best smiles of "first pictures" I've seen, also writes in English (which i guess is one of the languages of Kenya) and writes long(er) letters, most of which are pretty textbook, but she told me that she was 10th out of 33 in school this year and that her parent told her to "go to school and work harder for future you will be a good person."

It sounds like I am Kenya-heavy.  This is because I had three sponsored kids from that country when some corporation decided to sponsor something like 1,000 kids but didn't want to write to them, so a bunch of us all took on corresponding with the Kenya kids.

The frustrating thing with the Kenya kids is that despite my asking, NONE of them has ever talked about whether or not they see elephants where they live, though their stationery comes with elephants in the background.

Leniel (11), from the Dominican Republic writes the shortest letters of them all, but he draws great pictures


So I managed to get caught up yesterday, but have two more letters to answer today