Showing posts with label Jeri. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeri. Show all posts

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch

What a fun lunch we had today!

I went over to Atria for my weekly lunch with my mother.  It was a deliciously rainy day and I was happy to find a parking place close to the building. On my way down to her apartment I ran into my friend Peggy and our friend Nancy.  Peggy, to my disappointment, has now moved to a different facility across town.  She has been the one who kept tabs on my mother and reported things to me when she was concerned, or told me when things were going great.  I miss her.  But she had come back for lunch with Nancy and they invited us to join them.

I went and got my mother and the four of us sat together.   Service in the restaurant was absolutely the best it has ever been.   I swear my meal (crab cakes and clam chowder) came within 5 minutes of ordering it.   I have been known to sit there for half an hour waiting for a bowl of soup.  

But today the service time was irrelevant.  We were having too much fun visiting.  Peggy, who in her time at Atria must have learned the name and back story of every person in the building, whether resident, server, or staff.   Everybody loved her and ever few minutes another person would stop by the table to say hello and ask how she liked her new place (where she is now is so close to her daughter's that her grandkids can walk over to visit)

Nancy and my mother are an interesting pair.  My mother is 94, Nancy is 90 and both have some degree of dementia.  But both enjoy each other and laugh at whatever they are saying to each other, whether it makes sense or not.  Peggy and I both treat them as if they have no problem at all and we all end up laughing a lot.

Ultimately I think our lunch lasted 2 hours and then Peggy had to leave to get her hair cut and my mother was ready for a nap.

I had some papers for her to sign.  I found out that California has a program for people with disabilities, including cognitive problems.  She can get a free telephone with big buttons that have pictures on them, so she doesn't have to remember where she put phone numbers. She signed the application, but is afraid it might be "too complicated" for her to understand.  We'll see...our state taxes have been paying for this program for years. Might as well see if we can get some benefit out of it.

In the afternoon I came home to take a nap before reviewing a show tonight.  I was not successful in getting to sleep, but the show was so good it kept me awake, so the nap was not necessary.  But in the late afternoon, I had one of my favorite kinds of internet experiences with Jeri.

She had been working on a production of Legally Blonde at Berklee College of Music.  I didn't get exactly what her role was with this show, but she had been working on the set and we discussed some of her feelings about it.  I asked if the show was going to be live streamed so I could watch it, and it was.

It was streamed last night, but I was working and couldn't see it, but it was streamed again tonight, and so at 4:30, Pacific time, I was connected to the Berklee College of Music theater in Boston watching the live production of Legally Blonde, while chatting by text with Jeri, who was in the orchestra pit of a theater across town at Boston College playing Thoroughly Modern Millie just before I had to leave the house go to review A Chorus Line here in Davis.

This is what it is to be part of a theater family!!

Today is Jeri's birthday.  I want to write something profound, but I did.  Several times:

and a group message I put together for her

Happy birthday to the woman who changed my life 48 years ago today.   Dad was right back was never the was better.  I love you, Jeri.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I can't remember (which seems oddly appropriate!) when I have ever been this mentally exhausted.  And we are at the start of this thing.   I cannot tell you how many times I answered the same questions from my mother over the last two days.  I know that you reach a point with your aging parents where you just do it, but Lord, does it wear you down.

When I called Customer Service and was trying to get a replacement credit card for my mother (who insists it disappeared from her dining room table and that she never took it out of the house) and the person on the telephone asked for the last 4 numbers of her SS number, my mother first handed me her Safeway card, then her Costco card, then her AAA card -- all had numbers, right?  Surely one of those would work.
If this had happened at the beginning of my two days with her, I probably would have laughed about it--because, really, it's pretty funny. But happening at the end of the two days, it was the straw that broke the camel's back and I just had to get out of there.
Must. practice. patience.

I had lunch with my friend Ruth yesterday, and then drove down to my mother's to "hang out" with her and Jeri for the afternoon.  We had a good time, did lots of talking and visiting.  Jeri and I went out to the store for my mother and enjoyed the alone time to talk about what was a very, very bad memory day.  

We had pizza leftover from the night before for dinner and Jeri chuckled noting that my mother heated the pizza on a tray in the oven, then transferred it to a serving plate, brought the plate to the table and put a piece on our plates, then took the serving plate back to the kitchen.  Why just mess up 2 plates when 3 would make so much more sense?
We were in the middle of eating our pizza when the lights went out.   She couldn't remember where her flashlight was, but we found a couple of candles and got those set up, expecting that the power would come back on again soon.  We took pictures by candlelight.

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We left the dining room table and settled into the living room.   Jeri had an hour and a half to kill before I had to drive her to the bus.  For a time my mother told Jeri about things she remembered from her years living on the ranch, when she was a toddler up until mid-way through grammar school.  Jeri went into the other room, and in pitch black played the piano, making up a tune as she went along that I thought surely was from the score of the musical she had written last year.  I was very impressed when she told me she had "just made it up."

The lights were still out when I left to take Jeri to downtown San Rafael.  Driving along the streets, and the freeway, I could see how extensive the outage was.  Coming back from downtown, the whole swath of neighborhoods ahead of me was totally black.  I later found out 20,000 residents were affected.

When I got back to the house, my mother's stepson's daughter was there.  She lives close by and since she was unable to reach my mother by phone (the electrical power to the phone was also out!) she came by and brought her a lantern with an LED light, which was brighter (and definitely safer!) than the candles we were using (this morning I found the flashlights--it helps if you have light to see when you are looking!).   The lights came back on about 10 minutes after Denise left, but my mother was exhausted and was in bed by 9:30.

I won't try to explain how today went.  We had two things to do:   She had a doctor's appointment at 12 and we were going to stop at the bank to get replacement debit and credit cards for the cards she has lost.  I can't begin to describe how complicated those two tasks became.

And, as I predicted, when the doctor asked her how she was feeling, she said everything wasn't very bad, but that I had panicked.  I explained to the doctor exactly how it had been presented to me ("everything hurts.  I feel terrible.  I think I need to see the doctor") and also talked about her dizzy spells, which the doctor was able to recreate rather dramatically in the office, so she knew it wasn't just my "panicking" that brought my mother to the office!

A sample of how the day went all day long is our conversation going to the lab to get blood work done.

What am I getting?
Blood tests.
Am I getting an x-ray?
No.  Blood tests.
Why am I here again?
To get blood work.
Are they going to give me a shot?
No.  Just blood work.
etc. for about 10 minutes

The bank experience was even worse.  Much, much worse.  But before that, we went to lunch at a wonderful Basque restaurant where I had one of the best French Onion Soups that I've ever had.

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I also had artichoke bottoms, in a lemon butter sauce.

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Then, loins girded, we went to the bank.  When that ordeal was over, I was ready to return to Davis ASAP and as soon as we had the new credit card ordered, I did just that.
I know she's 93.  I know she can't help having zero memory some times.  I love her and I really do try to be patient and understanding, but some days it just kind of overwhelms me and I have to put some space between us for a bit.

I am really looking forward to getting her moved to a facility where I know that there will be someone around all the time to make sure she's OK which the rest of us, no matter how diligent we are, can't possibly do.  But she told Jeri that she didn't think she would move until the end of the year.  I hope her stepson and I can convince her that sooner is better!  Her doctor was VERY supportive and even gave rave reviews to one particular Catholic assisted living facility, with which my mother was already familiar, and suggests we check out next time I'm in town.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Short but Sweet

Well, Jeri was only here with us for a very short time, but what fun we had with her.  It's so nice when you like your children.

This morning she borrowed Walt's bike and went off riding around town to "run errands."  I found out later that one of the "errands" she ran was to stop at the 7-11 across from the cemetery, buy a tiny bottle of Jim Beam, go to the cemetery, stand over Paul and David's grave, call my mother and the two of them together "drank a toast" to the boys and she poured the rest on the grave marker.  I love that she did that.

She got all her stuff packed up as soon as she got home again and we were on the road to my mother's.  I had told her that we would be there for lunch.   There have been so many schedule changes since Jeri first left Boston that it has been very confusing for someone who already has memory problems.  She called me around 4 last night to ask if she was expecting anybody for dinner that night.   We told her again that we would see her today and would be there in time for lunch and stay for dinner.  I really didn't want to do anything else to confuse her further!

We had a nice lunch.  She had fixed clam chowder, stuff for sandwiches, and fixings for a salad, which seemed pretty good for someone who says she never cooks and has forgotten how.

After lunch, I gave out the last of the Christmas presents, set up my mother's Sentsy, which she will probably never use much because I forgot that one of her "now that I'm in my 90s I have these problems" problems is that she is losing her sense of smell, so she could barely smell it when she held the scented blocks to her nose and I don't think she smelled it at all when it was up and running.  Owell.   It's a nice decoration.

Of course we had to take the traditional Grandma/Jeri picture.

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And we even took a 3-generation picture.

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While we were at it, Jeri took a picture of Walt and me too.

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In the middle of the afternoon, we went for a walk around the lagoon in the park where my mother lives.  Her doctor has suggested she do this every day, twice a day, if possible.  I can't remember how far around the lagoon it is but I think it's something like 1/2 to 3/4 mile.  With her back problems, my mother has to stop frequently to sit and rest for a bit but there are benches spaced all around the water so this is easy for her.  I loved watching her and Jeri walking along the water, deep in conversation.

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There are several kinds of water birds that frequent the lagoon.   I loved this guy, who spent quite a long time drying out his wings.

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There was also a large flock of American coots along the path, who all turned tail and waddled off when Jeri and my mother approached.

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Then we had dinner.  If lunch had been "nice," dinner was a huge surprise.  The woman who has forgotten everything she ever knew about cooking, had made spaghetti sauce with meatballs and we had spaghetti and meatballs, a great salad and French bread for dinner.  She never ceases to amaze me.

After dinner we watched Huell Howser's program, "California Gold."  Howser, a California television legend for many years, had just died two days ago and neither Jeri nor my mother had heard of this unique broadcaster (who was a favorite of Walt's mother), so we had to show them an example.  In starting to write this journal entry, I did some Googling about Howser and found this link to an article that included a lot of reactions on Twitter.  You MUST scroll down far enough to see the video of the avocado-eating dog, which is classic Howser,

(Earlier in the day, Ned had put together a special tribute to Howser on his radio station and texted us what time it would be on, so we sat here and tuned in Jack-FM and listened to Huell Howser there.)

Having done our duty by the memory of Huell Howser, we bid the two others goodbye and headed home to feed the dogs, who were very happy to see us (Sheila had not eaten Polly after all).  

It was just a great, if brief, visit with Jeri.  She doesn't fly home until Friday, but will spend the next couple of days with Grandma, having dinner with Uncle Norm and Olivia, and visiting her friends in the East Bay.  She definitely makes the most of her time when she is in California.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


8 January 2013
Les-Mis-Movie-Poster.jpg (45067 bytes)There is one thing you can say about those revolution-era French peasants...they were definitely "miserable," and more miserable in the sweeping movie saga than can be presented in the stage version of Les Miserables.   (The stage version, for one thing, can't begin to give anyone a feel for how disgusting it REALLY is to be mucking around in the sewers of Paris!)

Yes, we have seen yet another movie.  Almost every time Jeri comes, we end up having "family movie night" where we pick a movie to see together.  Since we were on our way to celebrate a belated Christmas with Ned and Marta in the evening, we had "family movie morning" today, since the first showing of Les Miserables was at 11:30.

Everything you may have read about this movie is true.  It's a spectacle, most of the performers are incredible, Ann Hathaway should win an Oscar for her performance of Fantine, and what in God's name was the director thinking casting Russell Crowe as Javert?  

If there is anything that takes this movie down, it's every scene that Crowe is in.  Instead of giving us the power of a Gladiator, he is stiff as a board.  He may have the voice of a pop singer (which means he can carry a tune, sort of), but is hopelessly out-sung by the quality of the voices of everyone else in the show, even down to little Gavroche.  Maybe he was cast to add "star power" to the marquee, but he certainly is not an asset to this otherwise wonderful film.

Now.  That said.  What happens when three theater people, all of whom have seen this musical many times (and Jeri has played it many times) begin to analyze the movie, which we all agreed we liked very much?  We nit-pick it to death.

We went to Panera restaurant for a late light lunch after the show and started to analyze both the movie and the story.  It is not a plot that stands up to close scrutiny.  Take Javert, for example.  I have never understood why he is obsessed with a guy whose crime was stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family and who has served his time (19 years of hard labor) to the point where Javert chases the guy for more than 20 years, trying to capture him and, I guess, return him to jail after he has served his time and has been released (well he had jumped parole).  Twenty years chasing this guy.  Are there no other crimes in France?  Is Jean Valjean really on France's Most Wanted list?

Secondly, I have never understood this rebellion in the first place, from the first time I saw the show on stage, and it makes less sense in the movie version where the scale is grander. This isn't "the French Revolution" but merely the "June Rebellion" (the sequel to the "July Rebellion" two years eariler).  They gather all the furniture they can find, they block off a street, and this rag-tag band of rebels with just a few guns take on the entire French army--and their canons.  After spending half the show getting ready for the fight, the battle lasts about 5 minutes, almost everyone is killed and the soldiers take their canons and presumably go back to the barracks. 

This battle didn't even last as long as the Six-days War.  

I'm sure there was more to it than that in real life, but it always struck me as an exercise in futility and a sure-fire way to end your life quickly...and if that was the purpose, it works beautifully.

Also, Javert takes time off from chasing Valjean to lead the soldiers into battle against the rebels, but he also is the spy for them.  Are there no other competent soldiers in the French army?  Does Javert have to do it all himself? And if there ARE no other competent soldiers, why were they not beaten handily by the rebels?  After Valjean spares his life (nobody questions his assertion that yes, he did shoot the guy, though nobody asks to see the body either because they heard the gun go off), Javert is instantly back in full uniform and leading the charge.

See?  The movie, at least, does not hold up to scrutiny.   There are more explanatory details in the book, and perhaps even fewer discrepancies in the stage show.  Also we all hated that the Thernardiers, the couple who have been taking care of Cosette for her mother, are supposed to bring comic relief to all the gloom and doom and misery, but they were even more gloomy and doomy and miserable and did nothing to lighten the mood.

But that said, we all did love the movie and I'm glad we had a chance to see it with Jeri.

In the evening, we drove in to Sacramento to see Ned & Marta's new place (last time I saw it, they were still unpacking boxes).  The five of us went to a neighborhood Mexican restaurant called Three Sisters (apparently no connection to the chain Tres Hermanas!) and had a lovely dinner.

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I've said it of my very favorite things is watching my adult children interacting with each other, and how happy I am that they all get along so well.

After dinner, we went back to the house so I could finally give them all their Christmas presents.  The Superhero dog toys were a big hit with The Bouncer.

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And Ned seemed pleased with his "waddle family" (family joke)

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my father with his waddle family in the late 1950s

Unfortunately, I had brought the wrong present for Marta and gave her my mother's, not hers, so I brought that back home again and will give her the "real" present when I next see her.  Everybody (my mother, Jeri, Laurel, Alice Nan, and Marta) got Sentsy warmers and 3 different scents.  All have theirs now, except my mother -- and Marta, of course!

We left around 9 so Ned and Marta could get to bed, since they have work in the morning.  The rest of us were pretty sleepy, too, from our big day.   Tomorrow we take Jeri and leave her at my mother's, where she will spend the rest of her brief vacation here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Short Post

"Airy Persiflage" is a mirror image to entries posted on my journal "Funny the World." Today's FTW entry mostly concerned testing a new guestbook, so I've eliminated that for this Blogger entry, since there is no problem with the Blogger guestbook.  Hence, what is left is a short entry!

I felt like I had kids back in school again, briefly, this morning.  Jeri spent the night here last night so Walt could take her to the train station at 6 a.m.   She's going to Santa Barbara to spend a few days there and then drive up to San Rafael with Tom et al. so we can all be here for my mother's 93rd birthday party later this week.  (My mother can finally meet Lacie, who will be a year old next month!)

She was getting up at 5, so I made sure I was up then to fix coffee (turns out she didn't have any...but she could have!).  But then I packed a lunch for her--sandwich, banana, carrots, and yogurt with a spoon.  Put it in a nice little sandwich bag and packed it with some flax seed vegetable chips that Walt had.  I haven't packed her lunch in about 20 years or more!  I thought I should have taken a picture of her with her bags in hand when she left for the train, just as I usually did on "first day of school"s.

When I looked at the Photo of the Day, I knew I had to play around with it for a bit.  I do love Photoshop!

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Tonight was the final production of the 2012 Music Circus season, Crazy for You, an extensive rewrite of the 1930 classic, Girl Crazy (a stage vehicle for Ethel Merman, movie version for Judy Garland). What a fun production. Noah Racey, the guy playing the Mickey Rooney part, was amazing.  I love stuff like that!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Big Table

Jeri came to town for the weekend. She had some frequent flyer miles available and decided that she doesn't spend enough time with her grandmother, so just flew in on Friday and will fly out Monday morning. She thought we could all get together for dinner on Sunday, including Walt's brother and his wife.

I agreed to make a lasagna, Jeri would make garlic bread, Olivia would bring a salad and my mother would provide dessert. Ned made his bread dip for hors d'oeuvre. He and Marta also brought The Bouncer.

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No way could I bring any of our dogs with us and have them be that well behaved!

In order to have dinner, my mother had to have help putting two leaves into her big, heavy, round table. How many people does it take to add leaves to a table? (apparently everybody and the dog, except the one taking pictures!)

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But eventually it did get pulled apart, leaves inserted, table set, and we had a fun dinner.

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And when dinner was over, the technogeeks sat around and compared various gadgets.

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Then it was time to say goodbye to Jeri again, as she prepares to fly back to Boston. It was a short visit, but sweet!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Being a Mother

Being a mother is a mixed bag. Sometimes you think you've screwed things up horribly and you wonder where it all went wrong...and then one of your kids writes this to you and you sit there crying thinking--maybe I didn't do so badly after all:

1. She raised 5 kids and still maintains (most of) her sanity.

2. She kept incredibly detailed baby books and a diary of our childhood - so we could look back and see how much we threatened her sanity.

3. She encouraged me to throw pies at other people at a young age.

4. She made bread with her own two hands.

5. She encouraged us to get involved in theatre - and didn't worry if we stayed out late doing it.

6. She came to almost every performance of every little thing I ever did. She even flew across the country to do that, more than once.

7. She let me wear what I wanted to wear, when I needed that independence.

8. IBM selectric: the sound of my childhood.

9. She took in a huge number of foreign exchange students, and that had a tremendous impact on my view of the world - having dear friends all over the world makes it a smaller place.

10. She and my dad took us camping in remote places many parents would be afraid to take their children. And we loved it.

11. She takes pictures of everything, so I have a fantastic archive of my whole life.

12. She always remembers to bring the clam dip.

13. She made me a chicken pox birthday cake when I was five and had chicken pox on my birthday.

14. She threw a lot of amazing Christmas dinner parties for upwards of 20 people.

15. She made me a dolphin costume and a dress I loved, even though she claims not to know how to sew.

16. She made me learn how to type, a skill that is more valuable to me than I ever imagined it would be.

17. She and my dad took me to see plays and concerts from a very young age - giving me a love of live performance that continues to this day.

18. She bought me a clarinet for my 18th birthday, and a flute for christmas.

19. She paid for twelve years of piano lessons.

20. She encouraged me to study theatre in college, and never cared if I made money doing it.

21. She went to more Lawsuit concerts than just about anybody - and never felt awkward in a bar full of drunk college kids.

22. She trusted me to make good decisions in my young adult life.

23. She can drop musical theatre quotes into any conversation.

24. She flew across the country to surprise me on my 40th birthday.

25. She volunteers for all kinds of things, and gives her time to people most people would rather ignore.

26. She has marched in the gay pride parade.

27. She donates blood on a regular basis.

28. She has bottle fed at least a hundred orphan puppies.

29. One of those puppies now weighs 60 pounds and is sleeping at my feet right now - thanks mom!

30. She sends me photo messages almost every day.

31. She mastered the internet long before most of us were even paying attention.

32. She has written a daily essay about herself and posted it online almost every day for the last eleven years.

33. She has a bazillion Facebook friends - and I bet they're all really her friends.

34. She feels very strongly about a lot of political issues - and is never afraid to say what she really thinks, out loud, in public. And she's never afraid to make people angry.

35. She's reviewed about a million plays - and still finds something intelligent and constructive to say about every one, even when she thinks she's out of her element.

36. She calls her mother way more often than I call mine. She puts me to shame.

37. She reads more books than seems humanly possible.

38. She's a really good writer.

39. She's traveled all over the world.

40. She kept up on our grueling walking tour of France and Italy, even when she wanted to give up. And then she came home and started planning her next trip.

41. She's famous in Davis.

42. She cares. And she listens.

43. She sends me little presents, just because.

44. She loves her kids and her grandkid a whole lot.

45. She thought up 45 nice things about me, and that is a really serious task!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Thank you, Jeri

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

45 Things

This is Jeri's 45th birthday and I thought it might be fun to list 45 things about Jeri that are part of who she is.

1. I love her independence. She has done more by herself than I ever have.

2. I love that we can talk in theater quotes.

3. I like it when she texts from the orchestra pit during the run of a show.

4. Jeri gets more pure joy out of life than most people I know.

5. She's married to a neat guy too.

6. ...and I love their dog

7. I love how she always spreads her time out here by giving as much time to all her friends and relatives as she can.

8. I love her close relationship with her grandmothers (obviously including Walt's mother up until the end).

9. I have enjoyed watching her progression from neophyte teacher to popular teacher.

10. I like it when I see her self standing up for herself.

11. I love her dedication to staying in touch with her friends and family.

12. She's a great dog mommy.

13. I love listening to her play music. Her "Amazing Grace" at funerals is enough to un-harden the hardest of hearts.

14. I remember how David delighted in listening to her play the flute.

15. I remember how desperately she wanted a sister and how disappointed she was whenever we brought another brother home from the hospital for her.

16. I still can't believe that we put her on a city bus, alone, to ride up the hill to her 1st grade class.

17. She was always my godsend when I had to decorate a cake because I knew how to put designs in frosting, but didn't have the imagination to come up with the picture in the first place, and Jeri would draw it for me.

18. I remember the vacation when she read "Little House on the Prairie" over and over and over again.

19. She wanted to be Pippi Longstockings.

20. I was always in awe of her cavorting on stage with Marta and the rest of the Horns of Adequacy.

21. Jeri did usually know better.

22. I love it that she can fix an electrical appliance.

23. I remember the horrible night she was trapped on the bridge in San Francisco after the Loma Prieta earthquake.

24. I remember her inadvertently busking on the steps of a building in Dublin, when she played an Irish flute and people started giving her money.

25. Watching Aunt Jeri playing with Brianna is a true joy.

26. I remember her first ballet recital in Oakland, and subsequent performances in Davis (the dwarf beard was particularly fetching)

27. I look forward to her letters and she has inspired me to get back into writing snail mail.

28. I admire her lack of materialism.

29. She's one of hardest working people I know.

30. I will never forget the feelings of pride when I sat in the audience and watched her conduct the orchestra playing her own composition.

31. Or the feelings of pride watching You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which she directed.

32. Or the feelings of pride watching The Peabody Duck, for which she was the set designer.

33. So proud when she was offered a full-time teaching position at Berklee.

34. Such fun hearing about her starting a musical theatre course at Berklee -- and how successful it has become

35. Such joy sharing with her the magic of fireflies during her time doing summer stock in Ohio.

36. Amazement that she doesn't care about television (my daughter??)

37. I love how much she loves Lester, "my baby."

38. She's so good about sharing pictures of Lester on their daily walks.

39. Her relationship with Walt has always been such a beautiful thing.

40. I loved sharing France and Italy with her.

41. So grateful for her support on that trip. I never could have made it without her constant "You can do it, Mom!"

42. "My fake Italian is better than my fake French"

43. Her lifelong friendship with the Blackford women is something very special.

44. She is better at sustaining friendships than anybody I know.

45. She's my firstborn, my only daughter, my friend and a beautiful person

Happy Birthday, Jeri!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Day (More or Less) with Jeri

It was nice having Jeri in town all day, and she was able to get some errands run while here.

We all kind of slept late (7 is late for me!) and eventually, sometime before noon, I started making pecan waffles.

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No, it wasn't "Waffle Wednesday," but Tuesday was close enough, when Jeri was in town. The waffles were delicious.

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Jeri eventually went off on Walt's bike to get some errands run and we made plans to meet for lunch "or something" around 3 p.m. (since we were all full from breakfast at noon).

At 3 we went to Ciocolat, a lovely little bistro type restaurant in downtown Davis. As we were mulling over menu options, Kate, who is a friend of ours and who owns the restaurant, recommended the chicken noodle soup, with noodles made on the premises. It was a good recommendation, with a rich flavorful broth, delicious noodles and a side caesar salad with slivers of parmesan and foccacia bread....and lots of croutons, my favorite.

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After our mid-afternoon snack, we walked over to the downtown post office so Jeri could get a box to mail some stuff home to herself. On the way we passed the "Compassion David."

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I had read about him in Davis Life Magazine (from where I stole the photo--it's actually grey and cold today and he was bundled up in a heavy coat). He began a quest earlier this year to define the word "compassion." He started this quest when he lived in Oakland after seeing a speech on compassion by Karen Armstrong, a former nun, who created a “Charter for Compassion” based on the idea that “compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethnical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be trusted.”

He stands on the corner with a notebook in hand and he stops people to ask if they would mind writing down their definition of "compassion." He has over 3,300 signatures in his books. I added mine, because I wanted to talk to him. I defined "compassion" as "caring about others more than yourself, and being kind to animals." I asked David what his definition of compassion is and I'm afraid it was too lofty for me to understand!

A few steps farther down the street (Jeri and Walt had gone on ahead to the post office while I spoke with David), I ran into a woman I used to work with and haven't seen in many years. She retired 2 years ago and was telling me about her difficulties adjusting to retirement and her realization that she needs to get a volunteer job, possibly at the hospital. It was nice to see her again.

We returned to the house and Jeri packed up her stuff while waiting for a friend who was going with her to a concert (and then driving her to Grandma's house to spend the night).

I was full from lunch, so Walt finished my leftover half turkey stuffing sandwich from Trader Joe's, supplemented with some yogurt and some party mix our next door neighbor had given us, for dinner.

We are child-less again (if you don't count the 4-footed ones), but it's always nice to spend a day with one of our kids. And the evening ended with this fabulous music video that Ned posted on YouTube. I hope you watch it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Bit of Jeri

It was nice having Jeri around, however briefly. Of course she's still here, but she has moved from my mother's house to our house and now to Ned's house, to meet Phil (who was driving down from Oregon with his Uncle Mike). The band Preoccupied Pipers, which is playing in a little pizza joint in downtown Davis tomorrow night, will be rehearsing from now until I next see them all, tomorrow night.

But she spent last night here and in the morning, despite Polly's barking, made friends with her via treats (Polly was never exactly comfortable around her, but she did let her pet her).

She took Sheila out for a long walk and then went on Walt's bike for a long bike ride and a hair trim. In between those two things, I fixed waffles for breakfast, even though it wasn't Wednesday. I made these waffles, from Davis Life Magazine and they turned out great--crispier than other waffles I've made. It also made a ton. We each had two waffles, Jeri and I each ate a third an hour or so later as a snack, and I froze four waffles for a later breakfast.

She also got acquainted with Buttercup.

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As puppies do, Buttercup is growing up quickly. Last week she slept most of the time, but now if there is any activity going on in the house (or if we are just coming in the front door), she runs and joins the others to see what's going on.

I've been trying to give her the kind of puppy mash I start all the puppies on when I am trying to wean them. She's been unenthusiastic in her response, other than licking my finger a couple of times and maybe giving a half-hearted lick at the bowl. But later toay I saw this.

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She had stuck her head in Bella's bowl and was eating (at least until Bella growled and she moved away). Later, I found her in the kitchen eating out of the dog food bowl there. Oh, she's not weaned yet, but now that I know she will eat kibble, I'll stop mixing mash for her and just give her the opportunity to learn how to eat dry dog food.

Jeri returned from her bike trip in the mid-afternoon and already, so soon, packed up her stuff and said goodbye to all the dogs, before heading out to the car.

Walt drove her to Sacramento. We'll see her tomorrow night at the concert and then on Sunday, we'll have dinner at Ned & Marta's house and then take Jeri and Phil to the Sacramento airport on our way home.

They will be back in Boston in time to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary with Lester, whom I know they miss.

They make this whirlwind trip every August and how lucky that they do, because, even though it's always a short visit, Jeri is so incredibly good about making sure that she spends quality time with everybody in the area while she can.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our Daughter, the Carpenter

Jeri has taken a little jaunt down to New Orleans.

Every year, since Katrina, a group from Berklee College of Music gets together, goes to New Orleans and works on a Habitat for Humanity project. Until this year, the schedule had not permitted Jeri to join them, because it usually came at a time when she was grading papers or coming to California. This year, however, she was free and clear to go with the group and they took off on Monday.

This is where they started, in the upper 9th ward.

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On the first day, they were putting up siding, which I told Jeri must have been like building a stage set.

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She said she had become an expert on caulking.

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The second day, they were landscaping a nearly finished house, and Jeri says they learned a lot about "sweat equity" -- or at least they learned a lot about sweat.

We began the day with a dilapidated yard full of concrete chunks, plus a large pile of sand and a pallet of sod. By the end of the day we had a beautifully manicured lawn, and a foundation of sand under the house. In between there was a lot of digging, a lot of raking, a lot of crawling around in tight places…. and a lot of sweat.

There is something marvelously zen about moving dirt around all day. Then you get to the end of the day, and your whole body aches, and the dirt pile has miraculously disappeared. And you know you have accomplished something!

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In the evening there is time to visit the French Quarter, the perfect place for a bunch of musicians to hang around!

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The group is keeping a blog about their experiences and I loved reading an entry by lmcfarlane, which read, in part, "I have to say that my favorite part of the night was when Mike and Jeri took the stage for a Berk alum/Tipitina monster jam. Jeri sassed us all with her flute stylings while Mike seriously smoked on his tenor sax solos. Fan-tastic."

I've been so impressed with the whole Habitat for Humanity project anyway, since Jimmy Carter brought attention to it by getting involved. It seems right up Jeri's alley and I'm so glad she's getting the experience of working in New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Organizer

Jeri leaped up from the table and went to the counter to get a napkin and a piece of paper on which she could write. "We need a plan," she said. "Now what still has to be done?" Quickly we listed all the things that remained undone and that needed to be done between now and Friday morning.

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We were sitting at In-n-Out Burger having lunch at 2 p.m. Jeri was feeling very guilty because she was there without Phil and texted him to apologize, saying I made her come without him.

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In truth, she lied. It was a mutual decision. We wanted to go to the Subway next door, but service was so slow and I was aware that the puppies would be waking up hungry very soon, so we chose In-n-Out instead. We had just come from a big shopping at Costco.

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Jeri has been just the tonic I needed. It's been so long since I've "entertained," that I'm at the point where I'm just frazzled and don't know which needs to be done first and feel like I'm spinning. But we had done most of the Costco shopping, for all the hors d'oeuvres and drink stuff. We had soft drinks (both Coke and Pepsi--Peach has called twice to make sure there will be diet Pepsi for her to drink), some fruit drinks, 7-up and water. Tom will have wine and Ed (my mother's stepson) has rented a keg of beer. If we run short of food, we can always drink ourselves into oblivion (which, knowing the alcoholic history of my family, is not entirely beyond the range of possibility!) There will also, of course, be vodka and tonic, because you can't have a party for my mother without vodka there.

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(I bought three bottles, only two of which show here)

We also solved the decoration problem with a trip to Woodland's new huge Target, and I also treated myself to a deep fat fryer to make cooking Mexican won ton easier.

We were quickly checking things off of Jeri's list and it felt good. As she was in Europe, Jeri is a great support system and her unflagging enthusiasm and refual to think negative becomes infectious

We've decided to buy birthday cakes because there has still been no word on the new stove and I'm afraid that I'm not going to have enough time to bake two big cakes and decorate them. While I'm disappointed that these won't be "home made," I'm also relieved because it's one job I don't have to do. I ordered an undecorated sheet cake, so at least I'll be able to decorate it, but won't have to worry about the baking part.

I still have to make Mexican won ton, and stuffed jalapenos. We'll also have tortilla chips with cheese sauce, and I am thankful that I have a crock pot to heat it up.

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Jeri was just what the doctor ordered. It's all starting to feel more "do-able."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Miss Jeri

Jeri has posted her "Self in France" photos to Facebook. If you're not on Facebook, you can't see them, but if you are, I have shared them on my page and the link on her page is here:

Presumably her "Self in Italy" set will be posted soon.

Looking through the photos makes me realize what a special time it was with her, what a tremendous help "my sherpa" was to me, and how much I miss her energy, her enthusiasm, her positive attitude, and her zest for life.

These two pictures were taken in Paris.

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The first was taken after our boat tour on the Seine, the second at the opera house (see me and Pat at the top of the stairs). I remember the long trek from the boat back to the hotel and how Jeri stayed with me every slow step, stopping when I needed to stop and was always cheering me on ("Come on, Mom--you can do it!"). I wonder what she thought at the end of the day, realizing that she was probably going to have to do this the whole trip.

The opera house was very special because only the three of us went to it. My very first trip out of the United States (other than Canada, which I didn't think really counted--I didn't need a passport for it) was because of The Phantom of the Opera, which we took Jeri (and all the other kids) to see in London after she graduated from UC Santa Barbara. Seeing the setting of that show "live" in Paris was really a very special thing for me and I was so glad to be sharing it with Jeri, who not only kept me going, but would scout on ahead for things we should see, to save me having to walk that far.

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I love this photo. Our hotel was a bit of a walk from where the X is, the direction away from the camera. The X marks the spot where we scattered Michele's ashes. Ian had pointed out a cemetery high on the hill overlooking Nice and the morning we were scheduled to leave, Jeri set out at the crack of dawn to climb to the cemetery. She was back in time for breakfast.

The thing I loved about Jeri was that she never missed an opportunity. She saw everything and did everything she could fit in. When I look back over our photos, hers are mostly of sweeping vistas taken from high places, mine are of food that we ate! Not that my experience wasn't just as meaningful for me, but watching Jeri set off on yet another adventure was just such an inspiration.

I loved it that she refused to think negatively. Whenever I started to complain, she would think of a positive about the situation and cheer me up. She would dash into a store to buy water for me, and in Nice found a place to buy one of those Provencal patterned napkins that I could use to wipe my face. It would become invaluble. When I thought I was going to collapse before getting to the bus in Versailles, she ran and brought me a sherbet that was about the best thing I ate on the trip. I truly don't know what I would have done without her.

"You've got to learn to say yes, Mom," she would say to me as I was embarrassed to let her carry my bag for me...and then she'd carry it for me so I could move easier.

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This was another photo taken in Nice, when we stopped at a Russian Orthodox church. Jeri had been taking self-portraits all over the place at all sorts of angles and to take this one she found a new angle.

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(the camera is resting against her foot)

Jeri and I probably will never have the opportunity to travel together again like we did on this trip, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I don't know where she gets her love of life or her positive attitude about everything -- certainly not from me! -- but it can be infectious and definitely was the thing that got me down those damn 250 steps in Portovenere and helped keep me from collapsing on the streets of Florence in the heat and humidity, trying to keep up with the group that was rushing to the Accademia to see "David."

Jeri, you were just great and I'm glad we had the time together. I'm also glad that you didn't have to hang around your fat old Mom the entire time and could go off on your own to all those high places I am now able to see through your photos.

Thanks, Honey, for being you!