Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Meme

What was the scariest movie you have ever seen?
I don't, as a general rule, watch the monster/undead/vampire types of movies, so the scariest movie would probably be something by Hitchcock -- "The Birds," "Psycho" or something like that.

What is your favorite written work of horror fiction?
I don't read a lot of horror fiction, but "Pet Sematary" was pretty creepy, as were "Cujo" and "The Exorcist."

What is your favorite work of science fiction/fantasy?
David Gerrold's Dingillian series ("Jumping off the Planet," "Bouncing off the Moon" and "Leaping to the Stars") because he has written a wonderful character in the books named "Bev Sykes." (thanks, David)

Who is your favorite monster?
Cookie Monster, of course

What was your favorite Hallowe’en costume as a child?
I don't remember most of my costumes, but in 8th grade my father built a haunted house and I hosted a party and wore a gypsy costume, with a long skirt, full make-up, and dangling black plastic hoop earrings. I felt really good in that costume until Eddie Garavanta complained I was stepping on his feet when he tried to dance with me and then I just felt like a klutz again.

What’s the best Halloween party that you’ve attended?
It would be that party. Eddie was a jerk, but it was really a fun party, even though my father told me for the rest of my life that I "never really appreciated all his work enough."

What did you do for Halloween as a kid?
We went trick or treating in the neighborhood. We also went to Swensen's Ice Cream (which was only in one location then). Earl Swensen gave free licorice or pumpkin ice cream cones to any kid who showed up on costume.

Given enough money what would be your fantasy Hallowe’en costume?
I'd love to look like some beautiful princess, but given the size problem, I would probably go with something like Shrek or Hagrid, or maybe a Snuffalupagus.

When was the last time you went trick or treating?
When the kids were little. I wasn't the one doing the trick or treating, of course... :)

What is your favorite Hallowe’en candy?
Snickers!!! (Always so sad when the kids got old enough to know when Snickers were missing from their haul!)

Tell us about a scary nightmare you once had.
I don't really remember dreams and don't think that I've had a "nightmare" that stayed with me after I woke up.

What is your supernatural fear?
That there is no life after death and I reallywon't see Paul and David again.

What is your ‘creepy-crawlie’ fear?
Being locked in a room with any sorts of creepy crawlies. Those pictures of people in boxes with snakes or spiders or whatever just give me the willies.

Tell us a time you saw a ghost or heard something go bump in the night
I hear bumps in the night all the time, with three dogs running around the house.

Would you stay overnight in a real Haunted House?
Oh sure. I've read about hotels that are supposed to be haunted. I think it would be fun.

Ghosts or goblins?
Ghosts. Particularly Casper.

Are you a traditionalist or a creative carver of your Jack-o-Lantern?
We were always very traditional and unimaginative. I was better about cooking them and making pies with them after Hallowe'en was over!

How much do you decorate the house at Hallowe’en?
Not at all any more. I don't remember doing much when the kids were young either, but we did do a semi haunted driveway one time, which was kind of fun. Scared some kids.

What do you want on your Tombstone?
It really is all juice and crackers!"It really is all 'juice and crackers.'"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Go Bears

I went to the bathroom this morning to take a shower and discovered we had NO toiletries except a bar of soap. I had no shampoo with me, so I didn't wash my hair. Later, after talking to Char and finding that THEY had shampoo, I called down to guest services (on the only one of our two phones that work) and they brought up toiletries. But of course it was too late for me. I'll wash my hair tomorrow.

Lemme tell you, I'm not staying at a Hilton again! Gimme those cheap hotels with free wifi, toiletries you don't have to ask for, working telephones, working a/c (ours didn't come on until this morning) and more than three tiny drawers for your use.

(the cupboard on the right is locked, so you can't use it).

At least I have no complaints about the view!

We had breakfast here in the hotel, where coffee is $4.50 and where we waited nearly 30 minutes before our meal was served. Ironically, at about 20 minutes, the waiter came to ask if everything was all right...we told him everything was fine--except the fact that we still hadn't received our food.

We hung around our room for an hour or so and then met Mike and Char in the lobby and drove to La Canada/Flintridge, where we were meeting Mike & Char's youngest, Cam, his wife Evelyn, and her parents at a great restaurant called "Dish." The in-laws (Steve and Chris, who is actually the step-mom) were just great and since they had taken both of the Viking cruises that we had, it was fun to compare stories.

Midway through his hamburger, Walt suddenly looked ashen and confessed that he did not have our game tickets. They were in the suitcase back at the hotel. He took Mike & Char's car and headed back to Pasadena. We sat and waited. and waited. and waited. Finally about 45 minutes later he was back, tickets in hand and all was well.

Char and Evelyn conferred on directions to find the Rose Bowl and we were off.

The "parking lot" is the Rose Bowl golf course and it is filled with cars.

Cleverly, they give you these little "car finder maps" where you can enter your area number and write down "landmarks."

We looked around for landmarks and saw "trees and poles with netting." Mike marked "Poles with net" on the card.

Then we discovered that the entire golf course was lined by "poles with netting" on them. But there didn't seem to be any other landmarks.

But then we noticed a balloon floating high in the sky, anchored to some sort of machine on the ground and we hoped that we would be able to see it after the game was over and the sun had gone down.

Our car finally parked and feeling hopeful for the game to come, which the Bears were favored to win, we headed off in the direction of the stadium. I looked at Char, Walt and Mike walking away and couldn't resist singing a verse of "Follow the yellow brick road" in my mind!

We were supposed to meet a friend of Cam and Evelyn's--all 3 had played in the Cal band together, many years ago--and he was going to take us to his tail gate party.

It was very hot, but we found a shade tree to wait under. Sort of.

Randy did, indeed, take us to his tail gate party, which seemed very nice, but I hate things like that because though there were lots of canvas chairs, I am always afraid I will break one because of my weight, and I can't sit on the ground because it's so horrible to try to get up, especially in front of a lot of strangers. Standing for long periods is difficult for me too, so I rested against a car, which probably made me seem very stand-offish, but I had no choice. I finally decided that rather than stand by myself off to the side, to go into the stadium while the others partied. At least I could sit.

It was kind of cool to go through the tunnel and to emerge in the...

The stadium would eventually be pretty full, with only the end zones having big blank areas.

I had the misfortune to be sitting in front of this guy, who apparently thought his $45 bought him not only his seat, but half of mine as well. I had his knees in my back and his feet either under my butt of on either side of it through most of the game.

He also "coached" the entire game. He did not shut up for one minute, telling the team what they should do, commenting on plays, talking about specific players. He was very loud and extremely annoying, but we were too polite to tell him to shut up and move his damn knees.

The game started great, with a Cal touchdown and we were very hopeful. However, the scoreboard was not kind to us by half time.

It was even less kind at the end of the game, when it read 31-17. My record of bringing bad luck to the Bears by actually attending a game remains intact. But despite everything, it was a fun afternoon and I'm glad we came.

We came back to the hotel and to the lobby bar, where we had some "sticky ribs" and beer for dinner and then staggered upstairs, where I plopped on the bed and was sound asleep in minutes. I figured I would get this entry written when I woke up, inevitably, at 1 a.m. And I have now done it and will see if my back will let me sleep a little longer.

It will be nice to escape the traffic of this place and hit the vast emptiness of I-5 and get home in time to feed the dogs.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back on the Freeway Again

We had such a good time this morning/early afternoon. Actually, in the morning I got a load of laundry washed so I have blue and sortagold to wear to the Cal/UCLA game tomorrow.

At 1 p.m. we met our friends D and G for lunch. We see each other rarely and it's always quickly, like this, but always fun. But we are learning that when we get together with people our age, it's always predictable as we hold the usual "organ recital" (whose organs are infected, affected, or failing), which friends are now dead or dying or have slipped into that neverland called Alzheimers. And, as our parents die off, we have a new subject: how complicated was settling the estate.

We thought Walt had encountered some glitches with their mother's simple estate, but D wins this one, with his parent's estate tied up in family landholdings in another country, going back several generations, that could potentially be very valuable, or worthless, and involving not only the children in the family, but also charitable institutions which have to be included in the distribution...and added to that a trust that eliminated the need for probate here, but a foreign country which won't try to settle the distribution until the estate has gone through probate.

D's mother has been dead about 10 years, and he figures that his infant grandson will still be working with the attorneys long after D himself is gone!

After lunch we got on the freeway headed for Pasadena. At first things were going well but eventually we hit stop and go traffic.

It was like the 405 all over again and I watched the GPS listing when we were to make our next shift go from 16 mi to 14 mi in about 20 minutes. All this time Char and I were sending about a bazillion texts back and forth. She and Mike were in the hotel in Pasadena, and we were trying to get there.

When I saw the first sign (still miles away) that Pasadena was approaching, I typed:

"Look! Pasadena is closer and prettier than ever! Oops. Some poppies here."

Char: Surrender Dorothy!

Me: The Witch's Dorothy?

Char: try clicking your heels together.

Me: There's no place like Pasadena.

There were lots and lots of other messages but those Oz-related ones were fun.

As we approached and were to get off on Los Robles, Nigel, our British speaking GPS voice, told us to get off on something that sounded like "Lowe's Rubbles." I love how this British voice mangles Spanish words.

But we are at the Pasadena Hilton on the 14th floor with a sweeping view of Pasadena. And, as this is the Hilton, where the rooms, if we were not here on a special very low Cal rate, are $400 a night, nothing is free, so I am paying $10 a day for internet access that I got free at the Holiday Inn a few miles from here on Friday night. I don't like this being part of the 1%!!

Char helped me get the luggage upstairs while Walt took the car to the parking lot (I didn't ask if parking was free or not) and we talked about settling her mother's estate.

I guess is the way it's going to be from now until death--talking with peers about illness, death, funerals and estates. There have been five deaths of people we knew well this year. I'm sure it's only going to get worse.

While waiting to die, Mike, Char, Walt and I walked to a nearby mall where we found a nice restaurant with outside dining and huge TV monitors so we could watch the end of the World Series. It also boasted "the world's largest collection of draft beers" and we had to take advantage of that. Char couldn't resist ordering "moose drool" and knowing that I preferred something light, I looked at light lagers and chose according the the name: Boddington's Palamino" (because I love horses). Fortunately, it was very good.

This was the turkey pot pie I ordered. It was HUGE. I didn't finish it!!

Now it's pushing 11 p.m. and I am stuffed full of food, and very sleepy, so I'm going to see if I can sleep a couple hours before my back wakes me up.

Tomorrow we go to the Rose Bowl...well the stadium, if not the game (though we are staying one block from where the Rose Parade will pass in January).

Friday, October 28, 2011

"I'm Bored"

This is a phrase which you will never hear from Bri. For one thing, I don't know that she has encountered the word, for another, there is nothing so large or so small that does not fascinate her, whether it is an olive fallen off a tree, how a bouncy house is built, what happens to water and hay when you jump in a bouncy house or why there is gristle in meat.

When do children lose that wonder and excitement? It's difficult to think of her as a teenager complaining that she is bored and that there is nothing to do.

Today we met Laurel and the girls at the Earl Warren Showgrounds and we visited the "bouncy houses," a group of big air-filled structures made for climbing, sliding and bouncing. Brianna arrived with her tiger costume (not her Halloween costume, she was quick to inform me) and Mom helped her put on makeup. She was very cute.

Then we spent about 2 hours following Bri around through all the bouncy houses, watching, helping, carrying her shoes, etc.

The structure below was particularly interesting.

You enter and exit the bug through that orange piece in front. Watching Bri sliding out through the slit made me think of being born again!

Tom had said that after the bouncy house fun, it would be nap time. What he didn't say was that it would be Walt and me who needed the naps. I walked in the door of Alice Nan's house, went directly to the couch and slept for an hour and a half!

Later in the evening we went to Tom and Laurel's for dinner. It was Lacie's "awake time" so we had fun watching her looking around this strange new world she is trying to figure out.

She definitely knows her parents and follows them with her eyes when they move around. She also smiles and had a good chat with Daddy.

We all enjoyed the pot roast Tom had made and then Walt and I left when it was time for Bri to go to bed.

All things considered, a fun day spent with the grandkids!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It All Depends

Walt and I are learning that with age come urges and sometimes the urges are stronger than you want. Like when you're in bumper to bumper traffic that extends as far as the eye can see. Like when you are driving around a mall looking for any shop that might have a facility. Like when you attend a TV taping at one end of a studio lot and the nearest restroom is almost back on the street again and you just aren't sure you can last that long and don't want to embarrass yourself in the hallowed land where Mickey and Judy used to play.

Welcome to our day! A day of great fun and lots of "willImakeit? whereisadamnbathroom?" "ohgawdpleasehelpmeholdit" kinds of moments for both of us. We are happy to report that we have both come home in the underwear we left the motel in and that, in retrospect, we can (I hope) laugh at what was definitely not fun at the time.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Mike and Char came to our hotel and we went to Denny's for breakfast. The slowest Denny's on the planet. First mistake: too much coffee and orange juice.

We were supposed to be at Sony Studios (the old MGM lot) at 10:45 to watch a taping of 3 episodes of Jeopardy, which we had been looking to for a long time.

We allowed what should have been plenty of time to get there, but the freeway was literally a parking lot. We only had about 15 miles to drive, and it took us nearly an hour. The top speed from our motel to the freeway on-ramp was about 3 mph...and we had to go about 10 blocks. Mike finally took a side road that got us around that back-up, but this is what we encountered as we merged onto the freeway itself

(we had been instructed not to bring cameras or cell phones onto the Sony lot, so my stuff was already in the trunk and I had to take this with Walt's cell phone). It was like this as far as the eye could see. After a very long time creeping along, watching the clock get later and later, we moved to the diamond car pool lane. A "car pool" is two people, and once we got there things zipped along pretty well, while the other 3 lanes of traffic continued to inch forward, each car with only one person in it, which perhaps explains part of the problem. How do people do this every. day? And this wasn't even rush hour!

As we moved through this mess, we kept exchanging text messages with Mike and Char, who had disappeared in the melee.

Things were getting desperate in the "Depends" department, but we couldn't stop at a gas station because Char had the tickets for the four of us and so our car had to go through the studio gate behind their car. But eventually we managed to find relief, though it took some inventive thinking.

And finally there we were under the gigantic picture of Alex Trebek on the side of a building where Jeopardy is taped, then in the theater and then announcer Johnny Gilbert was doing the warm up. First surprise was discovering the Johnny, in his white satin jacket and either poor toupee or bad hair day, reminded me so much of Liberace!

The tapings were fun -- no surprises (except now we know what happens on December 11, 12, 13). During commercial breaks either Trebek or Johnny Gilbert answered questions. All four of us asked questions (I must be still on a brave high after giving my comments at Kathy's funeral).

Since we couldn't take pictures, they gave us each postcards that had the date when our shows would air (beginning December 11).

As we left the parking lot, I took this picture of the top of the gate into the studio lot...

...and got yelled at for taking pictures on studio grounds. Well excuuuuuse me!

We went to lunch with Char and Mike and passed an "antique" (i.e., "junk") shop, where I saw this lovely statue. I decided that if I were a mermaid. And thin. And Polly were a dolphin, this could be us!

Hoping to avoid some of the traffic, we chose the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway to drive up to Santa Barbara.

Not sure we avoided the traffic, but at least the views were nicer. I repeat, how do people do. this. every. day????

(as you can see, it did clear up, from time to time)

Now we are in Santa Barbara and have a date with Brianna tomorrow. I understand a bouncy house is involved...

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Holidays

1. New Year’s Day
2. Boxing Day
3. Valentine’s Day
4. Chinese New Year
5. Mother’s Day
6. Father’s Day
7. 4th of July
8. Bastille Day
9. Thanksgiving
10. Christmas
11. Australia Day
12. Columbus Day
13.Cinco de Mayo

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miles to Go Before We Sleep

Somewhere around 9:45 this morning, I sent a text to Char saying that I thought we would be leaving the house around 10:30. She texted back and she and Mike were at Kettleman City, 225 miles from Davis. The four of us were headed for the LA area, Mike and Char to Pasadena, Walt and I to Sherman Oaks. We hoped to stay in the same hotel, as we will later this week, but we could not get a room for tonight, so we went back to the same Carriage House Best Western Hotel in Sherman Oaks.

We had no real deadline for getting here. The only thing was dinner with our friend Michael, but there was no hard and fast time for that. Mike and Char decided to opt out of dinner, saying it would take too long to get here from Pasadena.

We listened to a John Lescroart book (he's a Davis author) on the way down and stopped around 2:45 for lunch at In'n'Out...

...where there was definitely an interesting clientele!

He looked like a guy who had fallen face-first into the pink vat at the Peeps factory!

We settled into the hotel and waited for Michael to come and pick us up. I had requested that we return to Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ, where he took us last time. It was just as delicious as I remembered from before, but Michael seemed a bit overwhelmed.

(No-he didn't finish it all but has enough for another 2 meals, when combined with what I didn't finish!)

We were back at the hotel in time to see the end of Dancing with the Stars, sad at who was voted off (not saying in case someone hasn't seen it yet), but I think it was the right decision.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Walt thinks I spend a lot of time on Facebook and, granted, I do check in several times a day, but I don't think I spend even an hour on Facebook. But I "share" a lot of great stuff that people have posted and I thought I would copy some of the most recent here for people who aren't on Facebook.

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I thought this said so much, but it got a long message from a someone who wrote, "with all due respect, my friend, this isn't the most accurate statement. I don't know anyone who disagrees with homosexuality who isn't moved by the suffering of malnourished children. The struggle of keeping one's life vs. a persons choice to have sex with someone of the same sex. You can't compare it. Not even close."

My response, "I would like to see people spending as much time trying to eradicate malnutrition as they do trying to keep homosexuals from having equal rights under the law -- to marry, to serve in the military, to get a job, etc. I suspect that if you made a table of how many anti-gay bills vs. anti-poverty bills were voted on in Congress, those little kids would lose by a mile. If Fred Phelps sent the money he spends on his "God hates fags" campaign to churches in African countries, he could have saved thousands of children from death from malnutrition."

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I see 36 bills about marriage, which are trying to prevent or abolish gay you see a single one that will help starving children?

A picture that made me feel all warm and fuzzy today was this one:

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I "shared" it with all of my SPCA buddies ("sharing" means reposting it to your own Facebook age). But then this picture hurt my heart:

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This is the last picture of a dog who had just been put in a gas chamber, and was posted originally by people who are trying to eradicate gas chambers for animals. As several people asked--who would take a picture of such a thing. My heart hurts for this guy. Animal euthansia is probably necessary until people start acting responsibly about pets, but surely there is a more humane way to end an animal's life.

I liked this one, which really needs no comment:

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...nor does this.

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There are lots of cool things posted on Facebook and sometimes I'm sorry that there isn't a more efficient way to spread some of these things that strike me strongly with more people.

And now I've done just that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday Stealing

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41. What is a quote that you love?
"You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp." -- Anne Lamott

That quote seems particularly appropriate this month.

42. Do you think of pure hate as something humanity created?
Is there such a thing as "pure hate"? If so, we humans definitely created it, or inspired it.

43. When was the last time you wanted to scream?
I'm not generally a screamer, but if I think about some things over the past month, I could choose times when I really would have loved to scream if I were the screaming type!

44. Do you ever at times see the world in black and white?
I try to see shades of grey, but sometimes all you can think of is black and white.

45. Have you ever thought that cell phones are too obtrusive?
Good lord yes! Especially in restaurants. And on buses. And the second a plane touches down at an airport and at intermission during theatrical performances and...and...and...

46. In your life, where do you thank the rainbow will end?
Where all the dreams that I dare to dream really do come true. Where troubles melt like lemondrops... etc.

47. What is something that you never want to do again?
Whatever it was that got me in trouble the last time (especially when I never find out what that was!)

48.When was the first time you realized the world was small?
We were taking one of our foreign students, a physician from Chili, to tour Muir Woods, the redwood grove outside of San Francisco...and in the middle of all that loneliness he ran into a fellow med student from Santiago!

49. How you spend your time contemplating life’s mysteries?
I try not to think about it.

50. Ever discuss your political beliefs with people?
Probably more often than I should

51. Do you care about the environment?

52. What’s your motto for life?
You can only make a difference if you care.

53. Is progress destroying the beauty of the world?
It depends on which progress. Some yes, some no.

54. Do you believe there is life somewhere else in the universe?
I think it is terribly egocentric to think that in the entire vast universe, this tiny speck is the only one with life.

55. Would you like to rule a country?
Good grief, no!

56. Do you believe everything has a purpose?
I'd like to think so, but sometimes it's more difficult to believe than others

57. Is war ever for the best?
I truly don't know. I'd like to say no, but then I think of some of the terrible rulers in the world and I just don't know

58. Could you kill anyone in defense of self or loved ones?
Altruistically, I'd love to say yes, but unless put in that situation, there is no way any of us can ever know how we'd react.

59. How do you react to people (Such as Governor Rick Perry) who don't believe global warming is really our fault?
I am happy that there are comedians who deal with that, but is scares me that there are people who agree with him.

60. Does love conquer all?
Again, it would be nice to think that, but sometimes love just isn't enough.

61. Is euthanasia morally acceptable?
It pains me to think that if my dog was suffering as much as Kathy was in the months before her death, we would help her out of this life, but because Kathy was a human being, it was necessary that she suffer, even though she tried so hard to die.

62. Is world peace impossible?
I always ask for "world peace and a clean house" for gift-giving occasions. I suspect one is as impossible to achieve as the other.

63. Is pride a good or a bad thing?
I think Kwizgiver gave the best answer: "it is a good thing, hubris is not"

64.What do you think is the purpose of your life?
I'm an inspiration for living a healthy life...because I haven't and look how I'm turning out!

65. Do you believe in karma?
It's a nice theory. I'm happy when good and bad karma are accomplished, but I don't think one or the other are inevitable.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gettin' Our Group On

We took Ned and Marta out to dinner a few weeks back, to celebrate Ned's birthday and while were talking, I remembered to ask Marta what she had given him for his birthday. We had seen them the week before and we knew she was taking him off on some secret adventure, and I had been wondering about it.

She told me she had taken him to a trampoline place, where the whole room was filled with trampolines, even on the walls and Ned could jump to his heart's content (he admitted that he learned that being 44 was quite different from being 15!)

Marta explained she had heard about the place through a Groupon offer. Now, for those who don't know, Groupon is like an internet coupon. They make fantastic offers, like 50% off of something. You pay for the coupon up front and have several months to use the thing.

I never bought one because they are usually for spa treatments or trips, or restaurants in Sacramento that we would never go to, or things like trampoline experiences or manicures and things that I never use. But Marta assured me there were sometimes things that I might be interested and so I started paying more attention to the Groupon offers.

Sure enough, the very next week there was a Groupon offer essentially 50% off of a meal at Ludy's Barbeque in nearby Woodland. It wasn't exactly 50%. You paid $15 for the coupon and you got $30 worth of food (but if you went over $30, that was on you).

Ludy's is right next door to the Woodland Opera House and we sometimes eat there if I'm reviewing a show at the opera house (especially if it's a matinee, because I'm always a bit leery about committing to a dinner when I have to be at a certain place at a certain time). Ludy's is also the place where the Putah Creek Crawdads perform frequently and we don't always get a chance to go and see them, but when we are free, I like to try to get there. The food is good and the music is fun. It's also the only time I see The Psychiatrist any more (he plays the banjo), since I no longer work for him.

Aside: I recommend reading the article I linked to above. I wrote it back in 2008 and I forgot what fun it had been researching, interviewing and writing the article! This was one of a few articles by Enterprise writers that contributed to The Enterprise winning the California Newspaper Publishing Award for Arts & Entertainment coverage that year. I was very proud to have been part of that!

Well, wouldn't you know that no sooner had I purchased my Groupon, then I saw that The Crawdads were scheduled to play there in 3 weeks, so I marked the calendar and we went. I've learned my lesson. The group plays from 6-8 and you do not want to get to Ludy's at 6:30 or the tables will be gone and the line for food will be out the door. We arrived ahead of the crowd

The band was already playing when we entered. I was disappointed to discover that The Psychistrist was not there last night--he and his wife were up in Mendocino County, but they had found someone to fill in, though not on the banjo, his instrument.

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I managed to get a good table and Walt went to order dinner for us -- prime rib for him and tri-tip steak for me.

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We settled in to listen to the likes of "Darling Clementine," "Camptown Races," "Tom Dooley," and other old popular folk favorites, enjoying particularly the blending of lead singers Ray Coppock and Oliver "Chip" Northup. Ray was 86 when I wrote my article back in 2008 and is still going strong. (He also plays a mean harmonica!)

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I had to laugh when I got home and saw this photo of Kate Laddish:

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In my article, I had written, "...Laddish conducts with her bow, her foot or a certain look in her eye. These musicians have a nonverbal communication that works well for them." I took two pictures of her during the evening and both of them look like this, so I guess I now know that "certain look in her eye."

They were only scheduled to play until 8, and the restaurant was getting full when we left at 7:45. But we sure had a good time ... and the food was good, too. What a great first Groupon. Now I'm looking to see what other great deals I can find!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It Takes So Little

I takes so little to make me happy. Today our new washing machine came!!!

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The washer went out a day or so before the Pergo went in and what with all the things that were going on at the time, it was this week before we went out to actually buy the machine.

Walt was wonderful. He has been schlepping essential clothes to the laundromat since the machine broke, but there's nothing quite like being able to toss things into the washer when they really need to be cleaned.

The last appliance we bought was our stove and I remember we had a brief conversation at the shop about whether or not to spend the extra money to get the one which came with a griddle in the middle. We reasoned that, given our age and how often we replace appliances, this was probably the last stove we would ever purchase and so what the heck. That turned out to be a wonderful decision and I use the griddle several times a week and absolutely love it.

So when we were looking at the available washers we had the same conversation. Did we want the regular agitator wash, or did we want to spend the extra money for the new agitator-less, water saving, energy efficient, quieter models? Again the "this is the last one we will probably buy" argument won out and we went with the newfangled model.

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So now, at age 68, I have to learn a new way to wash clothes and I have to learn not to panic if (a) the machine doesn't make enough noise and (b) it appears to have very little water in it.

Walt went and got the new detergent we're supposed to use and did the first load of wash. They say it is quieter than the washer we're used to, but that's not quite true. What is true is that it makes a very different sound...and Polly isn't sure she likes it! (But we can wash all of our clothes again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Performance Anxiety

Gosh. Now I'm under the gun to be clever and creative. I hate it when that happens. (Not really).

Y'all remember a couple of days ago when I was whining about nobody liking me and how I was gonna go out and eat worms and stuff like that.

Well, today they liked me. They really liked me.

Back in the 1970s, we lived in Oakland. Char and Mike lived in Oakland too. We lived in the same neighborhood. Our kids went to school together. Char and Mike moved south of San Francisco, Walt and I moved here to Davis and we didn't really have much contact with the families that we knew who stayed behind in Oakland.

I suppose I never was all that close to many families other than our Pinata friends. Char had a wider circle of friends. But I do remember the people that we knew and enjoyed chatting with when our paths crossed.

So when Char said she was having lunch with two of them, Fran and Sue, and invited me to go along, I was happy to say yes. I have seen Sue, off and on, over the years at social functions, but we moved from 1973 and I don't think I've seen Fran since then.

It was fun driving into the old neighborhood again. I met Char at Fran's house and together we drove to the Montclair Golf and Country Club to meet Sue.

What a great time we had! It was like falling back into a place we had been 30+ years before. When I got home, Walt asked me questions like "what is so-and-so doing now?" and "where is so-and-so living now." Heck, we didn't talk about stuff like that. We just chatted like we had seen each other last week.

We talked about travel and shared funny stories. Char regaled everyone with her tales of Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, one of the trips we didn't make with them (and I'm not sure if I'm sad or happy about that!). We laughed about things we remembered about our children (Char's daughter Jenny once brought Fran's son home from kindergarten--kind of a "he followed me, can I keep him" moment. That's how Char met Fran, when she called to let her know that she had her son. Fran was very relieved!)

Fran asked if we like to play cards (we all did) and said that she misses having someone to play cards with, so we have naturally all decided to get together after the holidays and play cards. (I may have to teach them 65, which Char insists is too complicated a game)

Fortunately the Golf Club restaurant had very little business, because we sat and talked and talked and talked long after we had finished our lunch. Char told them they'd read about themselves in this journal, and I passed out cards with the URL. I went home on a real high.

This evening Walt and I went to Thai Nakorn restaurant, which is located next door to Walt's old office. They were donating 15% of the price of each meal tonight toward Thailand Flood Relief, so we had a fantastic dinner of curried duck and pad thai. The owners of the place always welcome Walt like a long lost friend and they give us a free dessert at the end of the meal. Usually it's sticky rice with mango, but tonight it was something different:

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This was described as Thai jelly on top of some jellied coffee mixture. Definitely different but decidedly delicious!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thirteen Things`

Thirteen things beginning with “C”

1. Corn
2. Cars
3. Cauliflower
4. Crickets
5. Collies
6. Clams
7. Commas
8. Cameras
9. Cards
10. Chips
11. Clippers
12. Caller ID
13. Clocks

Unaccustomed as I am...

I never speak at funerals.

I never speak for two reasons -- first I get terrified speaking in public and end up stumbling all over my words, no matter how eloquent they had been in my head, and second, when the deceased is someone I cared about, I am an emotional bucket of no self control. I, who cries at supermarket openings and Hallmark card commercials, am totally a soggy mess saying goodbye to the dearly beloved.

So I never speak at funerals, even when everybody around me is standing up and sharing memories of the deceased.

But this was Kathy.

And nobody asked me to speak, officially, but Peach indicated that she felt we would be expected to speak.

I knew I couldn't stand up and speak about how much she meant to me. I wouldn't get through the second sentence without blubbering, but I thought I could talk about Cousins Day.

I decided I would talk about the boob and how we have decided to retire the boob and put it in the place where Kathy usually sat, thus making her the permanent boob. I even brought the boob with me to use as a visual aid.

How scary could it be anyway? Mostly family. A small group. I could do this, I convinced myself.

KBFlowers.jpg (63009 bytes)Walt and I got the the VFW Hall (where the memorial service for Kathy's mother Barb had been held so many years ago) in time to help set up the tables.

The flowers Peach and I ordered from the Cousins Day group were there. I was very happy with the position of the 6 and 5 of hearts.

The family began to arrive. Kathy's son had flown in from Iowa with his wife and son, leaving the baby at home. He expressed sadness that his daughter would never know her grandmother and how he had talked about that with Kathy.

Kathy's brother had flown in from Arizona.

Cousin (actually first cousin once removed, if I have my relationships right--she is my late cousin Shirley's daughter) Denise and her sister, who live in the Bay Area, drove my mother to the funeral, along with Peach's daughter Karen. I sat with my mother at the table and she must have asked me ten times if I thought they were going to fill the hall.

KBBrian.jpg  (32689 bytes)By the time Kathy's son Brian, the MC, was ready to start things, by golly they had filled the hall. People from every area of her life loved our cousin and everybody had to be there to say goodbye.

Brian gave a wonderful eulogy, announcing at the start that there were to be no tears and that if there were, there would be pushups in the parking lot after the service was over. (Brian's a military man!)

Brian nicely outlined Kathy's life and her impact on her family and on her friends. His sister Karen spoke next, followed by Kathy's brother, Patrick, her sister Kelly and then ... gleep ... me.

The "small family gathering" was now a big hall filled with mostly strangers and I told Kathy she was just going to have to help me get through it.

She did. I could feel my voice quavering throughout my brief story about Cousins Day and about "65," but people laughed and that was good.

Peach followed me, with stories about their many craft projects, and also about Cousins Day (she had graciously let me go first)

Friends I didn't know talked about her. There were some brief emotional breaks in speech, but nobody really broke down, which I know would have pleased Kathy. The formal service ended with remarks from Kathy's husband.

Then there was a reception. Hey--remember those bread baskets Kathy and Peach made and were going to sell, after I got home from France? They gathered up all the unsold ones and used them for little nut cups on all the tables.

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There was also a table of photos, repesenting (unintentionally) the number of hair styles Kathy had throughout the years, as well as some of her cross stitch projects.

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And then it was over. I suppose I feel better than I have since Friday, since there is closure. It's difficult to face an ending without a real closure. Now it's time to move on to our next Cousins Day, where Kathy will now be the "permanent boob."