Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Topic #2
What is your favorite holiday tradition, new or old?

Again, you look back over 68 years of holidays and it's difficult to pick out just one. But I would say that over the years, my favorite memories always concern the Egg Nog Gala.

In 1967, the Lamplighters needed money and decided to throw a fund raiser. They called it a champagne gala and it was a potpourri of musical numbers, preceded by a fire backstage (accidental!), and followed by an all-the-champagne-you-can-drink reception (planned), with champagne donated by Weibel Vineyards. The thing was wildly successful and has become one of the most anticipated fund raisers of The Lamplighters year today, with originally written, very funny scripts and always the champagne reception (though now The Lamplighters buys the bubbly and charges high prices for tickets to the show).

Originally, the Champagne Gala closed out the Lamplighter year, and kind of started our holiday season, as it was usually scheduled for the first week in December.

We have gone to the Lamplighters gala ever since the very first one and at some point during our children's early years, when they had begun to get the theater bug, they decided to put on their own gala only since they were too young to drink champagne, they served egg nog instead and called it "The Egg Nog Gala."

The first one consisted of two piano solos by Paul, a drum solo by Ned, 3 piano solos by Jeri, "The Little Drummer Boy" with Jeri on piano, Ned on drums and the other three singing, there was a "Night before Christmas" skit (with David as the "stirring mouse"), a puppet show with Jeri as the puppeteer and Ned working the curtain.

Egg Nog Galas continued for about 10 years and my happiest Christmas memories revolve around these shows.

There were frequently funny skits. There was "bubble gum," where the idea was that a line of people each encountered a piece of discarded gum, each in successively more disgusting ways, until the last person actually put the gum in his/her mouth. This skit was repeated on camping trips with other kids from our Newman group and was a staple of skits for many years.

One of my favorite skits was a re-enactment of the Nativity, with Mary going into a very graphic labor and delivery of a stuffed animal at the end. God did not smite us for that skit, but it certainly was one of the more hilarious nativities anyone has ever seen.

As the kids grew older and their musical abilities improved, music played a major part in the Egg Nog Gala (in the waning days, music was the entire Egg Nog Gala). With Jeri being able to play piano, clarinet, flute or saxophone, there were lots of possibilities, with Ned and Paul both playing the guitar and Ned the drum--plus anybody could play some rhythm instrument or a kazoo.

1986 Egg Nog Gala

When we had foreign students staying with us (as we did for about 10 years worth of Christmases), they were roped into performing as well, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes eagerly--usually with some embarrassment, because they had never "performed" before.

One of the highlights of any show was David's famous rendition of "Deck the Halls." David never took formal music lessons for any length of time but he managed to pick out a one-fingered version of "Deck the Halls" on the piano and, especially as he got older, it became funnier and funnier. The last time he performed for the family (he was in high school at the time, and still doing the one-finger rendition), his uncle Norm sat down and played his version of "Deck the Halls," with the same one finger, and same intense concentration.

I do miss those Egg Nog Galas. They were definitely some of the best times of the kids' "growing-up Christmases."

Egg Nog Gala
(This was the Christmas when Ned was living in Brasil)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Amber & Neely

Since Holidailies was so unsatisfying last year, I decided to join Amber & Neely's blog challenge this year. They will post a topic a day to talk about for the next two weeks. Since I've seen all the topics to be covered and realize that many won't require a response that will fill a normal-length (for me) blog entry, the challenge may only take up the first half of the entry. But here goes for topic #1

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What was your favorite gift EVER?

Looking back over 68 Christmases, it's difficult to pick just one. Whenever I think about gifts that made the biggest impact when I was growing up, I always come back to was a faux fur jacket that my parents gave me. Kind of a bolero style. I was probably 13 or 14. My mother had been positively giddy about her purchase and dropping hints all over the place. Then, just before Christmas, I was babysitting and watching some program on TV and the young girl in the show received the exact same jacket as a gift and I knew instantly that was what my mother had bought for me, though I didn't tell her that.

The other most memorable gift was my first camera, a Brownie Hawkeye that I got when I was 10. I remember wen it was delivered to the house from the department store where my mother bought it. When the package arrived she said she knew what it was and was not going to open it. I bugged her and bugged her about it and got her to admit that there were "10 gifts inside." She was counting all the different parts of the camera to try to confuse me. That was the start of it all, though. I have been an inveterate photographer ever since that first camera.

I've had wonderful gifts as an adult too. Jeri was always good at making special gifts. I remember the year that she decorated 12 eggshells as Gilbert & Sullivan characters. We were so touched and amazed that she had done that. I think over the years they may have all broken, or there maybe a couple which survive (that box hasn't been unpacked to put back in the living room yet, so I can't go check).

The gift she gave me that touched me the most, though, was the year after our dog Seymour ate the face off of "Delicate Pooh," that Pooh bear which had become our Velveteen Rabbit, loved by all of our kids (especially Tom). For Christmas that year, Jeri rebuilt Pooh's face. Mostly what it did was to keep the stuffing from falling out of the stuffed animal, but I was so touched that she had done that, that it moved me to tears.

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(These days Pooh lives in a mayonnaise jar...I'm sure Stephen King could make a good story out of that!)

I mostly love gifts that people have put some thought into and have done something or purchased something that they knew I wanted, but which surprised me. Ned and Marta one year made a donation to a charity--bought musical instruments for a school somewhere. I was so incredibly proud of them that year. And when Tom knew I would be flying to France, he bought a battery charger for my iTouch so I could use it all the way without worrying about the battery dying. And then there was the year Walt surprised me with the iPod...I wasn't sure he even knew what an iPod was...and I have had so much use out of that little gadget.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Blog Stealing

There was no Sunday Stealing last week because the guy who posts the questions was having surgery. But he's back, so here is this week's Sunday Stealing

1. Why did you sign up for writing your blog?
My friend Steve Schalchlin had been keeping a blog since 1996. It started as a way to keep his friends and family up to date on his health. I figured if Steve could write a blog, so could I. I also wanted to see if I was capable of writing an Erma Bombeck-length column every day, in case everybody ever asked me to do it. Twelve years and 4,263 entries later, I think I answered that last question, but I'm still waiting to be asked!

2. Why did you choose your blog's name? What does it mean?
Well there are two blogs with 2 different names, both with the same content. Funny the World is the title of a Lawsuit song (the lyrics of which are on the index page for this journal). The mirror blog on Blogger is called Airy Persiflage and the title is from a quote from The Mikado, where KoKo asks, "Is this a time for airy persiflage?" (meaning frivolous banter).

3. Have you ever had another blog?
Lots. Right now there is The Pen Pal Project, My Compassion Kids, and Bitter Hack. In the past there was one for all of my post-crossing postcards (got to be a pain to keep up), one for weight loss attempts (obviously I'm not keeping that any more) and one for videos, which I ended when I started embedding them here instead. There were others too, now all dead.

4. What do you do online when you're not on your blog?
Check other blogs, write and read e-mail, spend time on Facebook, play Lexulous, research things I'm writing about or just interested in, write theater reviews, check sales on Amazon and, check Pinterest follow current events, read some columnists I like (like the San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Carroll).

5. How about when you're not on the computer?
Read, watch TV, mess in the kitchen (operative word being "mess," though the end result would be called a "meal"), cuddle with the dog while napping, and when I get really wild and crazy, clean house. Fortunately that doesn't happen very often, or I would have no blog material!

6. What do you wish people who read your blog knew about you?
That I'm not as open and gregarious in person as I appear in print

7. What is your favorite community in the blogosphere?
Don't have one. I've tried BlogHer many, many times and just can't find my niche there.

8. What is your philosophy on your blog layout?
No philosophy whatsoever. It just works for me.

9. Tell me about your picture you use to represent you on your blog.
The camera is because I like taking photos and videos, and the smiley in the screen changes each month, trying to represent something about that month, whether everyone "gets it" or not. This month's is pretty unambiguous!

10. Pick 3 random blogs from your blogroll and tell us about them.
Jim's Journal. Jim has been at this longer than I have. He's from Rhode Island and writes interesting stuff about his travels around the state, and his physical activities (he and his daughter are big runners, for example) and posts cute pictures of his grandchildren.

Life on a Small Island. My friend Sian lives on Graemsay, a small island in Orkney (Scotland). She writes about island life, her cat Button, and a side of life that many are unlikely to experience. Oh. And she lives next door to a lighthouse. Her photos of the island, her chickens and flowers, seals lounging on the beach, sunsets, and island activities are great.

Life of Wry. I include my friend Kari's blog because she is looking for new readers. She lives in Davis, writes beautifully and takes great photos. She posts a photo a day.

There are LOTS of other bloggers from which to choose and it was difficult to only choose 3. I completely left out the 40 blogs written by letter-writers (fortunately most of those don't update very often), the 19 blogs written by Compassion sponsors, and lots of blogs I have been reading for 10 years or more.

11. What features do you think your blog should have that it doesn't currently?
I would like to be more entertaining so I would have a larger following. Those Mommy Bloggers have hundreds of comments in their guest books and sometimes that makes me jealous, especially when I have written something relevant that I would love to have comments about and am lucky to get only one or two. Maybe I should get pregnant again...

12. What do you consider the 10 most "telling" interests that we would infer from what you blog persona?
1. I love my family

2. I like dogs

3. I go to a lot of theater

4. I like reading

5. My mother is my best friend

6. I am no fashion plate

7. I have a crazy friend named Char

8. I eat too much

9. I am a TV addict

10. Martha Stewart I ain't.

13. Do you have any unique interests that you have never shared before? What are they?
I don't think so. I think that over the past 12 years I have pretty much covered just about everything.

14. The best thing about blogging is all of the friends that you make, Aside from those folks, do you think your blog has fans?
I know it does because occasionally I get notes from someone who will say they have been reading my blog for a long time but have never written before.

15. What's your current obsession? What about it captures your imagination?
Bonding with the Compassion-sponsored kids and writing snail mail. It should be pretty clear why I am obsessed with bonding with the kids, since I really want to get to know them, as much as possible. As for snail mail, I'm sure it's a passing fancy which will pass again in a few years, but I used to love writing snail mail and I was tired of getting only junk mail in the mailbox. Now that I have a lot of pen pals, it's more interesting getting the mail each day! (Walt will also tell you that I'm obsessed with reruns of NCIS and Criminal Minds!)

16. What are you glad you did but haven't really had a chance to post about?
Nothing comes to mind at the moment.

17. How many people that first became a blog friend, have you met face to face?
Steve Schalchlin and Mary Wise (my ex-clown friend!). However, there are several people whom I first met on line, then met face to face, and then later they started blogs. Lots of those.

18. What don't you talk about here, either because it's too personal or because you don't have the energy?
There are (believe it or not) family issues that I don't bring up as much as I used to. I learned my lesson on that. I'm always trying to edit myself so as not to hurt or anger someone in the family. (The exception being my mother, since I know she will never read it and whenever I'm concerned about her, it definitely helps to get feedback from the community of people who read this journal.) I'm not always successful, but this is my goal.

19. What's a question that you'd love to answer?
Is there life after death? Because the older I get the more important that question becomes and the more I hope for a reunion with the growing number of loved ones I've lost.

20. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and regretted it?
There are some bloggers I used to follow when I first started reading this one -- Al Schroeder, who wrote about his autistic child and drew cartoons, for example. I know there were lots more, but I can't remember them now. I often wonder whatever happened to them. I also regret losing Laura Morefield, who wrote wonderful blog entries, but, sadly, died this year.

21. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and thought, "Was that overdue!"
Overdue? No, I don't think so. I have lost blogging friendships when we both seemed to decide it was time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Transformations there anything more fun than spending the day snacking on leftover Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie. I am a happy camper.

I went over all the pix I took yesterday and was going to send the family picture that i posed yesterday to the Compassion kids, but remembering cautions about displaying too much opulence (all that food, for example), I posted it to the Compassion social media web site to ask for guidance on whether I should send it or not. Most said yes, but one cautioned that since there was wine visible on the table, Compassion might not send it on. Oh good grief. I rolled my eyes. Did Jesus not turn water into wine? Did they not serve wine at the Last Supper? Do they not serve wine at many religious celebrations? But since I am a PhotoShop wiz, I decided to turn wine into fruit juice and transformed this...

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Into this...

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...and there you go--those offensive glasses of wine have disappeared and my mother is now drinking limeaid and Ned is drinking orange juice (though I still think the original wine glasses weren't all that offensive!!! I mean...really!!!) I hope they don't think Ned is drinking beer.

Ned came over today to help Walt move the furniture back into the living room and to start working on Brianna's puppet stage. First, though, they moved furniture back into the living room so I can start putting all the crap back on the shelves. It was so nice with an empty room...but it will be nice to have all those rooms upstairs available again!

When they finished moving furniture, they got down to the serious business of planning Brianna's puppet theater.

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When they figured out what they wanted to do, they went off to the lumber store to buy plywood, then came home and started working.

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By the time Ned left, they had the front of it all finished and Ned was going home to work on various other surprises to include. They were so cute working together. This is going to be a real labor of love.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Belated Thanksgiving

This is what we saw above the highway as we were driving to my mother's house this morning.

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I hadn't seen balloons in the area in a long time--but then I hadn't been looking for them either. These guys seemed to be on their way to their final destination, but we wondered for a bit if they were going to land on the freeway or not.

I had been up since 5:30 and did my "Black Friday" shopping at the local supermarket, since I realized I had no chicken broth for the turkey stuffing. I bought some meat on sale and was the only customer in the store. My kinda Black Friday! Everything else was ready, so I just got the stuffing fixed and ready to go. We were on the road shortly after 9 a.m. and got to my mother's around 11, just enough time to get the turkey stuffed an in the oven, for an early dinner.

Ned, Marta and Bouncer arrived and immediately Ned and Walt started making plans for the puppet theater that Laurel has asked them to build for Brianna for Christmas. It was the prime topic of conversation for much of the evening and involved an emergency call to Tom in Santa Barbara to find out how tall Brianna is.

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I wonder if Laurel knows what she unleashed, asking two theater guys to design a puppet stage for Brianna. These guys don't do things by halves.

Ned eventually got the potatoes peeled and boiling while I worked on getting the green beans cooking. Ned settled in for a chat with Grandma.

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When the turkey came out of the oven, everybody got working--my mother on the gravy, Walt carving the turkey, Ned keeping the cord away from the electric carving knife, and Bouncer wondering if she would get any taste of the yummy goodies she was smelling.

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Marta, being the smart one, decided that too many cookes might spoil the turkey, so she settled in to read the book on her Barnes & Noble Nook.

When all was ready, we set the food on the table and got ready to eat.

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I was so pleased that everything turned out so well. The turkey, especially was nicely moist, the dressing was great (if I do say so myself) and the fresh green beans with bacon were really good. All in all, a nice dinner, a fun evening, and another holiday clicked off the 2011 calendar!

Not only that, but we were home by 8 p.m. in time to feed the dogs.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tempus Fugit

GreenBeans.jpg (29336 bytes)I've had the most relaxing Thanksgiving ever. I sat home and watched a series of family movies (including Music Man and Anything Goes), at some point I trimmed and cut the green beans for tomorrow's dinner (to be cooked with bacon, not the mushroom soup and canned onions that is so popular), and I made a couple of pumpkin pies.

I felt like my mother. How often have I watched my mother sit with two bowls, peeling and slicing apples for apple pie or stringing string beans for dinner. Frozen foods have about eliminated the need for that, but I just felt I wanted to do it this time.

I checked on the frozen turkey out in the fridge in the garage and it has thawed may be a bit frozen in the center, but by the time we take it to my mother's tomorrow morning, it will be perfect.

All day long I've felt very relaxed and not at all worried about deadlines or anything. Funny how tomorrow will be exactly as if it were Thanksgiving Day, but I don't have that pre-holiday knot in my stomach that I always get on "the" day of an event, even when the "guests" only include the people that I see all the time and when I know that I don't have to "perform."

I've always been a person for whom "being on time" looms very large. I attribute it to being the daughter of a man who worked on a train. You don't fudge with arrival and departure times when you know that the train is going to take off whether you are on it or not.

In truth, I don't know for certain that this is why I've always been such a stickler for being on time always, but it seems like a logical excuse.

I always plan for lots of waiting times in airports. I set my mind not to be bothered by having to sit in an airport for long times. I bring books with me and look at it as an opportunity to read and to watch the passing crowd. I am, of course, never in danger of missing my flight. I have a meal in the airport, and bury myself in a book. If I am really early (or if the flight is postponed or canceled), I find a nice wifi hot spot and use my computer. Lots of options!

Over the years, my obsession for being on time has caused me more problems than it has won me kudos for being on time!

The first time was when I was still working for the Physics Department. My boss, a professor, invited me to a Christmas party he was throwing. It was my first "grown up" party and I was determined to be on time. We had been invited for 8 p.m. and by god we were going to be there at 8 p.m. In fact, we were five minutes early. That was when I learned about being "fashionably late" for parties. We were the first to arrive, the wife was still getting dressed, and they were clearly uncomfortable with our being so "early." (I don't know if it's significant that I never received another invitation to a party at this guy's home!)

I recently arranged for an interview with one of the Lamplighters. We had agreed on 6 p.m. as a meet time and Alison and I showed up on the dot of 6 p.m., to find that they expected us at 8. Fortunately later I was able to double check our e-mails and find that it was their mistake, not mine, but I did the entire interview feeling so terribly guilty for having disrupted their schedule and arriving two hours early!

The passion for being on time makes me factor in at least half an hour, if not more, of "getting lost" time, since, pre-GPS, I was so good at doing it! I remember one time when I went miles and miles in the wrong direction until I realized that I was going in the wrong direction. I had to backtrack and drive miles and miles back to where I'd made the wrong turn and then drives miles and miles in the right direction. To my credit, I had factored so much time into the drive time that I arrived exactly on time.

I have done that so often that it no longer surprises me when I tell someone 400 miles away that I will be at their house at a certain time and I show up within 5 minutes of the time I said I would be there...even when there are freeway problems and other unexpected things that come up along the way.

Over the years, Walt and I have had some difficulties with my obsession with being on time since it is an obsession he does not share. He is more normal than I am! But he has gotten better about being on time (We haven't missed the opening of a single show in 12 years of reviewing), and I hope I have gotten a little bit more relaxed about being exactly on time everywhere we go.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Fall Afternoon in Davis

While so many other people were rushing around today making last minute preparations for Thanksgiving dinner, I was enjoying myself in downtown Davis. I finished my shopping yesterday and we are not celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, when Ned and Marta will be with her family, but on Friday, when we can all go to my mother's.

I have a turkey defrosting in the refrigerator, my menu planned out, and all day tomorrow to do the stuff that can be done here and Friday to cart it all to my mother's house to cook there.

So I went and had lunch with my friend Ruth today. We usually have lunch every 2 weeks, on Wednesday, at a Chinese buffet where it's all you can eat for $10. The food has always been good. It changed hands sometime during this year. Some of the food is better, some not so good, the service not as good as it was. But we're there to chat, not to critique the food or the service.

We haven't been able to get together for several weeks now because Ruth had dental surgery and hasn't been up to chewing anything, but now that she has graduated from bland food to soft food, she decided to chance it.

Walt went off to his old office for a few hours and I got in the car to drive downtown. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, with clear skies and a cool breeze. I made the u-turn by our house--you can't park on our side of the street because of an island in the middle of the street.

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This picture was taken from Google Earth, so doesn't show that the trees right now are just going off-peak, with the leaves beginning to fall and the color beginning to deaden, but it's still a lovely ride through all those tree-lined streets of red and orange.

I turned on Russell Blvd and saw that the fire engines were out in front of the firehouse. I wondered why until I looked in and saw that the firehouse was filled with food boxes, filled with turkey and other food. Dumb me, I thought there was a food drive for Christmas until I turned the corner and saw people lined up for a whole block, waiting to get their Thanksgiving dinner and take it home. Sadly, I rarely come in contact with the people who have to stand in line for food. My failing that I don't get out and work more with those who are less fortunate than we are.

It was another couple of blocks to the restaurant. Usually parking is not a problem, but everything was socked in with cars and for the first time in a very long time I had to drive around looking for a place to park.

Wheelworks.jpg (43490 bytes)I finally found a place to park by the bike store which keeps an old-fashioned pennyfarthing bike in front of it. The pennyfarthing bike is the symbol of Davis and you find it on stationery, trash cans, and any sign that points you to any place of interest in town. There is even someone who rides this bike in town parades.

From here it's half a block and then into the middle of the parking lot to get to the restaurant. Ruth was already there waiting for me, having a small bowl of soup, since it was easiest on her tooth.

We had a nice chat about the subjects we usually chat about--theater, movies, movie stars, and books. I asked her if she had been following the activities on campus, which she had not because she doesn't take a newspaper. She was sort of aware of what had happened, but clearly not interested in discussing it.

We finished lunch and had jello for dessert. It's the only place I ever have jello and their jello is so solid you could use it for a tennis ball, if it were round. But she informs me that it's good for strengthening my fingernails!

I drove past Central Park, where there is a tent city for Occupy Davis, but with the parking situation, I couldn't find anywhere to park to go and look more closely, so I contented myself with taking this picture from across the street.

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(It's a lot larger than it looks in this photo) This is not the campus gathering that you've seen on the news, but a second one in the city itself.

On the way back home, I drove through the parking lot at the Vets (Veterans Memorial Center) to see about the color on the David memorial tree, but I missed its peak of color. The tree is 15 years old, but not mature and so its leaves come and go more quickly than the other, older trees in town. But the other trees in the adjoining park were very nice, though not as spectacular as a week ago.

I stopped at the other end of the parking lot and looked at Brunelle Hall and thought about how different it is living in a town like Davis than a big city like San Francisco. I was in a parking lot that had trees with plaques for David and for Paul at one end and a building named for their teacher at the other end. I was a couple of blocks from the school which had been re-named for Jeri's 6th grade teacher.

It still feels odd living in a town surrounded by memorials to people that I knew when they were alive.

I returned home to the barking of Polly ("feed me!" "feed me!") and picked up two very welcome letters from the mailbox. Walt came and got the car to drive to San Francisco to go to the symphony, and as I write this I can smell the blackberry cobbler that is about to come out of the oven.

Tomorrow when everyone is eating turkey, we will probably have leftover meatloaf and I'll make a couple of pies for the next day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday Thirteen

Things I am tired of

1. Barking dogs (especially my own)
2. Politics in general
3. Republicans specifically
4. Violent women on TV (good or bad)
5. Annie
6. War
7. Cooking
8. Being Depressed
9. Commercials
10. 2 year election campaigns
11. My numb finger
12. Junk mail
13. Oprah

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Slow Cooking

A couple of people have asked about recipes for the crock pot, so all of you non-cooks can go find something else to read.

For anyone wanting to get better use out of their crock pots, I recommend checking the blog, "A Year of Slow Cooking." I bought both of her cookbooks and have made several things from them. I also have other slow cooking cookbooks. But I do love the ability to toss everything into the pot in the morning and not worry about dinner.

I also like just experimenting. Yesterday I had to do something with cubed butternut squash so I decided I could make my own recipe. It actually was quite good, though there was one piece I didn't think about. I know that many squash soups use coconut milk, which I love, but I didn't have any. However, many months ago I bought flaked coconut for a recipe and I thought I'd just add that to the mix. I didn't realize it would not soften up, so it added a good flavor, but was also crunchy in the soup.

The recipe was: put a container of cubed squash (or cube your own--I hate doing that, so I bought pre-peeled and pre-cubed) into the crock pot. I added a couple of hands full of the flaked coconut and about 2-3 cups of chicken broth, but if I had had it, would have used a can of coconut milk and 2-3 cups of chicken broth. I added about a tbsp of Garam Marsala instead of curry because I wanted a different flavor. Added a small onion, chopped. Before I started it cooking, I zested the rind of a small orange and squeezed the juice into the mix. I think I also added about 1 tsp of sea salt. Cooked the whole thing about 6-7 hours and then pureed it before serving. It made enough for 2 large bowls for dinner and I had the leftovers for lunch today.

The chicken dish I made the other night, which I wrongfully identified as "Mediterranean Chicken" was actually "Moroccan Chicken" and this is the recipe:

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used skin-on, bone in and did not defrost)
1 cup salsa (I used a combination of red and green)
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 tsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin (my favorite spice)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (I happened to have it, but regular chili would be OK)
1/2 tsp saffron threads (I happened to have this too, but it would be just fine with the saffron left out--I don't really like the taste of saffron)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup toasted almonds (I didn't have any and just left it out)

The directions say to use a 4 quart slow cooker, but mine is a 6 quart and it worked just fine. Put the chicken into the container. In a small bowl combine the salsa, broth, Tabasco, honey, spices and garlic. Pour on top of the chicken. Add the raisin and almonds. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs or on high for about 4 hrs. Serve with quinoa or couscous (I served couscous)

I should mention that my chicken was frozen when I put it into the crock pot and the meal was probably cooked at 6 hrs, but I let it go for the whole 8 hrs. Also, it may seem like a lot of spices but trust me--it's a very mild dish and you need that much to give the correct flavor blend.

The crock pot is also great for pulled pork...just put all this in the pot and cook for 8-10 hrs and then shred the meat with a fork when it's done: 4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, 1 onion, sliced in rings, 2 cups ketchup, 1/2 cu warm water, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp Tabasco sauce, 1/2 tsp kosher salt.

I'll try to remember to put in recipes of other things that I make that turn out really well. The pot is great in winter because you can make so many really tummy-warming soups and it's great in summer because you can cook in the cool morning hours and the go off and do your own thing during the day and come home to a home-cooked meal.

(The foregoing is not a paid advertisement for crock-pots!!!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is Coming

Every year as Thanksgiving rolls around, I consider writing a "thankful" entry. The problem is that it would get repetitious, year after year. I'm thankful for my husband, my children, my family, my blah-blah-blah. I am thankful -- profoundly thankful -- for all of those things, but I'd like to write something different.

So I decided to sit down and think about what little things made 2011 a good one for me, and what things I am thinking about today for which I am thankful.

* I'm thankful for peanuts. I love peanuts. I'm munching some peanuts as I write this. I love peanut butter. I would probably weigh 50 lbs less if there were no peanuts or peanut products, but I'm still grateful that they exist, and that I am not allergic to them. I'm also very thankful that I read today that peanuts have more protein than any other nut. It's a health food, right?

* I'm thankful for the warm socks that were on sale when Borders Books was going out of business. As I sit here at my desk, I can tell that the air is cool, but my toes are toasty warm because of my thick, soft green striped Borders socks.

* I am thankful for all the people I have met through pen pal groups and blogs this year. I am starting to make some nice friends and read some interesting blogs. Blogs like The Art of a Letter by the remarkable Elle Mental; Oh Write Me (a great name!) by Limner Cade; Just Letter Rip by Patty Davidson, Adventures of a Mail Junkie by LolaStar, and so many more. It's been great fun!

* I'm thankful for the 13-14 years when Peggy was my pen pal, sad that she is no longer, but grateful for so many years of happy memories.

* I'm thankful for our DVR. I'm a slave to it, but I'm so happy to have the ability to see 90% of the shows that I want to see, thanks to the ability to record two programs at the same time.

* I'm thankful for my crock pot. I have been using it a lot this year and making some terrific meals. It's amazing how such a little kitchen appliance can make me feel so happy sometimes!

* I'm thankful for room fresheners, which I am using now that the dog pee smell is gone. The house actually smells nice for the first time in years.

* I'm thankful for Ashleigh Brillliant, the rather offbeat old hippie philosopher from Santa Barbara who creates Pot Shots postcards. I've been buying his cards for years and now am on his mailing list. It's always a treat to get one of his rambling newsletters!

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* Though this has been a very painful year, with the number of losses we have suffered, I am grateful for the relationships that made their loss so painful. For the years I had the greatest mother-in-law ever, for the years Kathy was part of Cousins Day, for the times we had to spend with Nora, whether in this country or giving us an excuse to visit Ireland, for the wnderful friendship of Laura Morefield. The list goes on and on ... cherish and nurture the friendships you have now because you never know when they will be gone. I think back to one of my favorite quotes from Shadowlands: "We can't have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That's the deal."

* I am especially grateful that I still have a functioning brain that allows me to create these journal entries (who knows for how long!), fingers which, though giving me difficulty now, allow me to type them, and for all of the people who stop by every day to read them. You guys are the best.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone (we're probably going to a restaurant to have Thai food, using one of our Groupons on Thursday -- grateful to Marta for making me take a second look at Groupons -- because we won't be able to officially celebrate Thanksgiving until Friday).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Davis Famous Again

Until this week, the thing that Davis was best known for was the snoring girl and the multi-thousand dollar toad tunnel. We made one of those weird news newspapers. Haha. Quaint little Davis.

Well, we're back in the news again, but now we are making front page news all across the country, and on television too. Probably internationally as well (though I personally have not seen any international coverage). This is an image we don't want any more than we wanted the world to know that you could get a ticket for snoring in your own bed in this town..

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Angus Johnson, an historian of American student organizing has written a wonderful account of what really happened on campus:

1. The protest at which UC Davis police officers used pepper spray and batons against unresisting demonstrators was an entirely nonviolent one.

None of the arrests at UC Davis in the current wave of activism have been for violent offenses. Indeed, as the New York Times reported this morning, the university’s administration has “reported no instances of violence by any protesters.” Not one.

2. The unauthorized tent encampment was dismantled before the pepper spraying began.

Students had set up tents on campus on Thursday, and the administration had allowed them to stay up overnight. When campus police ordered students to take the tents down on Friday afternoon, however, most complied. The remainder of the tents were quickly removed by police without incident before the pepper spray incident.

3. Students did not restrict the movement of police at any time during the demonstration.

After police made a handful of arrests in the course of taking down the students’ tents, some of the remaining demonstrators formed a wide seated circle around the officers and arrestees.

UC Davis police chief Annette Spicuzza has claimed that officers were unable to leave that circle: “There was no way out,” she told the Sacramento Bee. “They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.” But multiple videos clearly show that the seated students made no effort to impede the officers’ movement. Indeed, Lt. Pike, who initiated the pepper spraying of the group, was inside the circle moments earlier. To position himself to spray, he simply stepped over the line.

4. Lt. Pike was not in fear for his safety when he sprayed the students.

Chief Spicuzza told reporters on Thursday that her officers had been concerned for their safety when they began spraying. But again, multiple videos show this claim to be groundless.

The most widely distributed video of the incident (viewed, as I write this, by nearly 700,000 people on YouTube) begins just moments before Lt. Pike began spraying, but another video, which starts a few minutes earlier, shows Pike chatting amiably with one activist, even patting him casually on the back.

The pat on the back occurs just two minutes and nineteen seconds before Pike pepper sprayed the student he had just been chatting with and all of his friends.

5. University of California Police are not authorized to use pepper spray except in circumstances in which it is necessary to prevent physical injury to themselves or others.

From the University of California’s Universitywide Police Policies and Administrative Procedures: “Chemical agents are weapons used to minimize the potential for injury to officers, offenders, or other persons. They should only be used in situations where such force reasonably appears justified and necessary.”

6. UC police are not authorized to use physical force except to control violent offenders or keep suspects from escaping.

Another quote from the UC’s policing policy: “Arrestees and suspects shall be treated in a humane manner … they shall not be subject to physical force except as required to subdue violence or ensure detention. No officer shall strike an arrestee or suspect except in self-defense, to prevent an escape, or to prevent injury to another person.”

7. The UC Davis Police made no effort to remove the student demonstrators from the walkway peacefully before using pepper spray against them.

One video of the pepper-spray incident shows a group of officers moving in to remove the students from the walkway. Just as one of them reaches down to pick up a female student who was leaning against a friend, however, Lt. Pike waves the group back, clearing a space for him to use pepper spray without risk of accidentally spraying his colleagues.

8. Use of pepper spray and other physical force continued after the students’ minimal obstruction of the area around the police ended.

The line of seated students had begun to break up no more than eight seconds after Lt. Pike began spraying. The spraying continued, however, and officers soon began using batons and other physical force against the now-incapacitated group.

9. Even after police began using unprovoked and unlawful violence against the students, they remained peaceful.

Multiple videos show the aftermath of the initial pepper spraying and the physical violence that followed. In none of them do any of the assaulted students or any of the onlookers strike any of the officers who are attacking them and their friends.

10. The students’ commitment to nonviolence extended to their use of language.

At one point on Thursday afternoon, before the police attack on the demonstration, a few activists started a chant of “From Davis to Greece, fuck the police.” They were quickly hushed by fellow demonstrators who urged them to “keep it nonviolent! Keep it peaceful!”

Their chant was replaced by one of “you use weapons, we use our voice.”

Six and a half minutes later, the entire group was pepper sprayed.

I am shocked, sick and disgusted that this should happen on the UC Davis campus, in our own back yard. Even more sick and disgusted the Newt Gingrich this morning says that all of the Occupy demonstrators should "take a bath and get a job." He's missed the point that a huge part of the problem is that many of them can't find a job, and that more and more businesses are laying off thousands of workers as they are forced to downsize.

How about get out among the demonstrators, Newt, and hear their stories? Then see if you're still so glib about showers and jobs.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So, About Fruitcake

A P.S. to yesterday's entry. Walt, who is much more persistent in his Googling than I am, found that awful play. This is the write-up it received, the final sentence being the most telling:

Turn to the Right! (1916), a play by Winchell Smith and John E. Hazzard. [Gaiety Theatre, 435 perf.] When Joe Bascom is released from prison after serving time for a crime he did not commit, he returns to the peach farm owned by his widowed mother. He does not tell his family where he has passed the last year, nor does he tell them the truth about the two friends he brings with him, his prison mates Muggs and Gilly. Although one was an expert at opening safes and the other was a pickpocket, both are determined to go straight. However, when they learn that the devious Deacon Tillinger is using legal technicalities to take the farm from Mrs. Bascom, they resort to their old ways for one final time. They open the deacon's safe, take precisely the money he is demanding, pay it to him, pick his pocket, then return the money to the safe. Mrs. Bascom is shown how to make enough income from her fruit jams to remain solvent, and Joe and his buddies all win the hands of local girls. This clean, homey comedy was one of the biggest hits of its era. It was co-producer John Golden's first success, and he noted in his 1930 autobiography that it “has been playing continuously for 15 years.” A 1981 musical version failed on the West Coast despite President Ronald Reagan's attempt to have a Los Angeles critic promote it. it's not about apple pies or even apple butter, it's still the most terrible show I've ever seen, even if it was "one of the biggest hits of its era." Harumph.

But, yesterday I talked about the play "Fruitcakes." Today I thought I'd talk about the real thing.

The director of the play started the show last night by giving a bit of history about fruitcake.

Apparently the first recipe for fruitcake was from ancient Rome and it lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices and preserved fruits were added.

Fruitcakes soon proliferated all over Europe. Recipes varied greatly in different countries throughout the ages, depending on the available ingredients as well as (in some instances) church regulations forbidding the use of butter, regarding the observance of fast. Pope Innocent VIII (1432–1492) finally granted the use of butter, in a written permission known as the 'Butter Letter' or Butterbrief in 1490, giving permission to Saxony to use milk and butter in the North German Stollen fruitcakes.

Starting in the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies (and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits) created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruitcakes more affordable and popular.

The legend, of course, is that there is really only one fruitcake in existence and that it just keeps getting passed from person to person, because nobody likes it. I did find a note, however, that fruitcake made with real macerated and candied fruit, nuts and made densely and soaked in high alcohol percentage brandy or rum lasts reportedly at least 130 years. I don't know if anybody ever tasted 130 year old fruitcake, however!

I happen to be one of those weird people who likes fruitcake. There was a time when I actually made it during the holidays. But I really don't like the crap that gets sold by catalog houses these days (I didn't, for example, much like the cake they served at the show last night). My fruitcakes, as I remember them, were heavy on candied fruit, but NOT citron (which I hate, in all its colors!), nuts, and when formed into a cake and baked, then wrapped in gauze and soaked with liquor--brandy, bourbon or rum, I believe. Then it should be packed away for at least a month, adding more liquor from time to time to keep the cake moist (it's not true that it should be the consistency of a door stop!). When Christmas rolls around, cut a slice and serve it with hard sauce.

Hard sauce is just a mixture of butter, powdered sugar, and whiskey, beaten to a perfect consistency and allowed to mellow. Add it to your home-made fruitcake and you will change your opinion about fruitcake.

Of course I won't be making fruitcake this year. Walt doesn't like it and with only two of us in the house, we know who would be eating it all...and I don't need another excuse to eat something that I shouldn't.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apple Pie and Fruitcake

Thirty-something years ago, when I was working at the Lamplighters office in San Francisco, we would occasionally get free tickets to go and see a show when the producers of that show needed to fill the seats in the house and make it look like more tickets have been sold than really have (in show biz lingo that would be "papering the house.")

The first time I saw La Cage aux Folles was on one of those house-papering tickets. We also saw a rehearsal for San Francisco's famous Beach Blanket Bingo, which is most noted for its outlandish costumes. When we got to the theatre, we were told that we would see it without costumes and when we protested they did add some of the costumes back in again.

But the show that I remember the most vividly is a show that you have never heard of. The producer was Buddy Ebsen, from the Beverly Hillbillies. This was around the time he was appearing on TV as Barnaby Jones (though seeing him in the lobby of the theatre, as I inadvertently backed into him and stepped on his foot, I decided they must go through buckets of makeup before each episode, as, in person, he appeared at least 20 years older than Jones himself).

Anyway, the show was designed to spotlight good ol' Amurrican values and what is more Amurrican than good ol' apple pie? So this told the story of someone who had developed the best apple pie in the world and all the intrigue that goes on around mass marketing it. Now, I was sharing this experience with someone else who had been there and she remembers it as apple butter, not apple pie. But whatever.

The reason that I both remember this show so well and can't remember the important details is that I can probably say without argument from anybody else who saw it, that it was the very worst play ever written. I don't know how long it ran in San Francisco, but if it opened the next night after we saw it, I would be very much surprise.

Oh my word, what a bad, bad, bad play! It might have been a musical. I don't remember.

That awful show has been on my mind all week as I girded my loins and prepared to go and see the holiday show at Winters Community Theater, a show called "Fruitcakes" by Julian Wiles.

I love the Winters Community Theater. They are everything that is good about community theater. Their shows don't aspire to be anything more than a bunch of community people of varying talents coming together to have fun putting on a show. The cast for their holiday shows usually include lots and lots of little kids who look like they are having the time of their lives on stage.

I didn't expect much, though, about this show. I figured it might be as bad as the Buddy Ebsen-apple pie play, but we always go on opening night when they serve cheesecake and champagne to the audience and that helps sweeten any bad play. I wondered if they would serve fruitcake instead of cheesecake for this show, but figured that since the joke is that nobody likes fruitcake, they would have cheesecake backup.

We got to the community center, where the plays are presented, and yes, indeed, there was a plate of fruitcake on each table, but soon women came walking around offering pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin pie along with champagne. I am a sucker for cheesecake.

The play started and, amazingly, it was really a fun play. Silly, funny, with good and not so good performances, but definitely a fun show. The kids were great, especially 5 year old Mikenzie, in her first time on stage, playing a "flying angel," giggling and waving to her family and friends in the audience. Adorable.

The story takes place in the town of McCord's Ferry, Georgia, and includes a cast that features the owner of a whirligig barn, a pair of spinsters who bake fruitcakes for everyone in town every year and are kind of a cross between The Baldwin sisters of Walton's Mountain and the sisters in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. There is a 13 year old runaway, a six-times married neighbor who takes care of everybody in town, a fisherman who has PhD in Engineering from Harvard, but spends his days fishing, using poetry for a lure and a bunch of hunters in camouflage gear back from their first hunt of the season.

The scene of "the grand illumination," the lighting of the town policeman Beebo Dantzler's house, with the new addition of the well lit pig with the revolving tail, while all the townspeople stomp and chant was just what this story was all about--small town activities that go wild at Christmas time.

We had the very best time and I look forward to writing the review, because it's going to be fun.

I also smiled as we left the community center to note that almost all of the plates of fruitcake were left, full, on the tables!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Judy Watt Has Died

Judy Watt is the first member of our Compuserve women's group to die. She died of cancer on November 13. We heard the news from her husband yesterday.

Judy was the very first internet friend that I met, back in...oh lord...maybe the early 1990s? The women's group was just kind of forming at that time. I had been asked to be the sysop for the group (remember sysops?) and spent a lot of time scouring the newspapers trying to find deep, relevant topics for us to discuss, with varying degrees of success.

One day, I was totally out of ideas and I wrote an entry about housekeeping and how much I hated it. It was the most lively discussion we'd had to date and it sparked a different, more personal, kind of discussion.

Out of what I consider the first real intimate discussion grew this wonderful group of women who remain friends today, though our numbers are smaller now and are not growing because many years ago I had to move the group to Yahoo, where we no longer pick up new members. I think Judy is on the membership of the Yahoo group, but I don't remember her participating in any discussions after the move to Yahoo.

Most of us have met each other many times over the years, we have traveled together throughout the United States, England and Scotland. We were together in London on 9/11, in fact. We have seen each other through illness, divorce, births, deaths and lots of other things that mark the ups and downs of life. Even though I see them rarely, I consider this group of women among my best friends.

At some point during those very early years, Judy and I decided to meet, since she lived in San Francisco. This was a big thing in those days and we joked on line about the potential of one or the other of us being an axe murderer. We had a lovely coffee together at a nearby cafe (a safe, neutral meeting place) and I had only slight misgivings when she invited me back to her apartment to continue the visit. When I saw there were no axes in sight, I began to relax.

But Judy had a prickly personality. She was highly opinionated, highly intelligent and not hesitant to express her opinion. We clashed frequently and there was one huge misunderstanding in Ashland, Oregon, which really marked the end of our relationship. Neither of us cared enough to work through our disagreement at that time.

Our group met in San Francisco a few years ago, had dinner and then returned to Judy & Joe's apartment for dessert, but the two of us kept our distance from each other. I don't think we actively disliked each other, but our personalities were just different and there was no point in courting further explosive interactions.

Still, I continued to follow her, occasionally, through her blog, her post-crossing account (where I loved seeing which postcards she had chosen to send to other people), and especially through her Flickr account (not her Facebook page because we did not ask to be each other's friend on Facebook).

Judy was an excellent and passionate photographer and her favorite thing to photograph was San Francisco. As a native San Franciscan, I loved seeing the city through her eyes. Like me, she never tired of taking the same view over and over again (there are 327 pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, for example), but on different days, in different weather, and from different angles. I encourage you to pop over to Flickr and see her work. Some of it is breathtaking.

It is a shock to see one of our group die -- and prematurely, at that. This year in particular, with the number of deaths among peers that we have seen, it is depressing to watch yet another internet colleague die. I am a member of two long-term group of friends and when something like this happens, the natural reaction is to look around and wonder who will be next.... will it be me?

My sympathies go out to Judy's husband Joe and her daughter, Rachel, of whom she was so incredibly proud, and to all of those internet groups of which she was such an integral and beloved part.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Call of the Congo

I was an impressionable child. Maybe children in Catholic (or other religious) schools are more prone to impressionism. I remember that at the start of each school year, once we got to be old enough to understand, Sister Mary So-and-So would stand in front of the class, dramatically, and announce that sheknew that there were at least two people in the classroom whom God had called to the religious life and that those people had very special vocations.

We always assumed that S. was one of the special ones and would become a priest some day, because he just had that air about him and I'm sure God and the nuns were very surprised when he married, had children, and then left his wife for his boyfriend.

I didn't feel the calling, but knew that I should. I felt the responsibility to become a nun because...well, Sister said!

StTherese.jpg (15871 bytes)My conviction that I had a vocation and should join a religious order was strengthened when I read the biography of St. Therese of Lisieux, known as "The Little Flower." I read a lot of lives of the saints in those days and they were great propaganda pieces.

Therese entered the Carmelite monestary at age 15 and while if you do a Google search on her name, you will find that she was not the meek "little flower" that the biography written for impressionable young girls made her out to be, her story had a great imression on me and I decided I wanted to become a Carmelite, an idea that seems so silly now, as it is a cloistered order and there would have been no contact with the outside world and a contemplative life spent in prayer to save your immortal soul. Fortunately, the idea of being locked away forever became less appealling as I moved into my teens. I assume someone else is praying for your immortal soul...and mine too.

And then I saw The Nun's Story, with dear, luminous Audrey Hepburn joining a missionary order and going to work in a hospital in the Congo.

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Of course she fell under the influence of the worldly Dr. Fortunati, who felt she was wasting her talents by living within a convent. After an attack by an inmate in the mental health ward, Audrey realizes that she simply cannot live by the rule of obedience. She eventually returns home and leaves the convent (the movie made it seem like she had committed the worst sin by leaving). But her time in the Congo made its impression on me and I was next going to become a missionary nun.

I would become a teacher and teach little African children about God and I would Make a Difference.

I'm not sure when I gave up that idea and became enamored with the Daughters of Charity (think Sally Field flying over the rooftops...only her headpiece wasn't right--it was just more aerodynamically proper for her flying, I guess!). I set my sight on becoming a Daughter of Charity, the order that taught at my school. I almost made it. Had my trunk packed and my airplane ticket in hand and as I think I said recently, probably the idea that I was more concerned about how to do my own hair for 6 months and how to survive the heat of St. Louis in wool clothes than I was about anything else showed the depth of my vocation.

Obviously I never flew to St. Louis and I never became a nun or a sister or anything else. Instead, I became a mother to children, foreign students and dogs. So it seems rather ironic that in my later years, when I have no religious affiliation whatsoever, I have become so involved in Compassion, International, and religiously follow the stories of its sponsor tours to the regions that it serves.

slave.jpg  (37126 bytes)Right now there is a group of women in Ghana visiting the Compassion sites there and taking construction material for building a school in the jungle. They raised something like $30,000 through their church and internet appeal, and are there to get the school started. Their stories are inspiring and painful -- the other day they visited the site where children are taken into slavery and saw many of the young slaves. Their guides told them that they were not able to attempt to interfere on behalf of the children or the work that the guides are doing to free some of the young children from their masters would be destroyed. All they could do was to give them a kind word, hold their hand, maybe give them a candy and take pictures of their sad faces.

They earlier told the story of a 15 year old boy whose mother abandoned him at birth and whose father preferred the older brother, so moved out with the other child and the boy was left alone in his house, where he takes care of himself. His father brings him food, sometime (sometimes not). The women in this group gave him food, they hugged him, giving him the loving touch he has been denied most of his life. The stories and photos will rip your heart out.

I will never get to Africa. I will never teach children of the poorest areas in the world about a God whom I think exists, but am no longer sure. But those seeds that were sewn by the story of St. Therese and watching Audrey Hepburn at work in the Congo have lain dormant all these years and still continue to struggle to stay alive.

I am so glad to be "meeting" (at least through their blogs) about people who are actually doing the work I thought I was meant to do 60 years ago.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Diets

1. I went on my first diet at age 10. I’ve been dieting, off and on, ever since. Here are some diets I’ve tried (and a couple I haven’t)

2. Starvation
3. Atkins
4. Weight Watchers (several times)
5. Slim Fast
6. Grapefruit diet
7. Pritikin Diet
8. South Beach Diet
9. T.O.P.S.
10. Jenny Craig
11. NutriSystem
12. Special K Challenge
13. Grapefruit Diet

(So why am I still fat?)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A TV Addict's Meme Dream

I know I've done a lot of memes lately, and really--I wasn't going to do another one right away, but I stumbled across this one and it had my name all over it! The person who posted it answered it for the old days of TV. I'm doing it for both then and now.

1. Name a TV show series in which you've seen every episode at least twice:
How much time do you have? Just to name a few: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Northern Exposure, Golden Girls, Monk, The West Wing, Little House on the Prairie, The Brady Bunch (what can I say? I had kids!), Star Trek, the Original Series, and more recently, thanks to marathons: Criminal Minds, NCIS, and probably Law and Order and Law and Order SVU. Yes, I really have seen all of these series at least twice, some of them too many times to count.

2. Name a show you couldn't miss:

In the earlier years of TV, Laugh-In. Today, The Daily Show, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and White Collar.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show:
Most of the people who would be "definitely inclined to watch" are now either dead or too old and not performing any more! But some names of those still performing would be Betty White, Mark Harmon, Michael J. Fox.

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show:

Tom Arnold, Charlie Sheen

5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from:

Laugh In, Star Trek,

6. Name a show you like that no one else that you know enjoys:

I keep trying to get people to watch White Collar, which may be my current favorite show, though I think it would be difficult to come in now because it's a continuing story and I don't know how important it is to know the back story. I have not found ANYBODY who likes the show--so if you do, let me know!!!

7. Name a TV show which you’ve been known to sing the theme song:

Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, All in the Family and probably others, though most of the shows that I know have instrumental music, not songs.

8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch:

See #6. Also, of the new shows, Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Both are unique and done very well. There was also a GREAT Canadian TV show that I got thru Netflix called Slings and Arrows about a community Shakespearean company that was fabulous.

9. Name a TV series you own:

West Wing, Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Slings and Arrows. I also bought Sex and the City, but discovered I didn't really like it and sent it to Amanda, in Afghanistan. She was thrilled.

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting choices in television:

Hugh Laurie, Kristin Chenoweth, Fred Thomson

11. What is your favorite episode of one your favorite series?

Char will not be surprised to hear that it is the boat episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, "The Curious Thing about Women." Still the funniest sit-com episode ever.

12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven’t gotten around to yet
Breaking Bad. I have had people tell me it's excellent, but I've never seen it.

13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad?

Brothers and Sisters. I used to like it but it became absolutely horrible. I watched the first season of Hawthorne because I like medical shows,but the medicine practiced on that show was so ABOMINABLE that I stopped watching it. I still watch Desperate Housewives and ask myself every week why. I guess because this is the last season and I have several years invested in it!

14. Name a show that’s made you cry multiple times:

Touched by an Angel every time. And Lassie...oh god definitely Lassie! But I cry at Hallmark commercials, so I think it's fair to say that almost ANY show I watch, comedy, drama, crime drama, etc. has made me cry at one time or another. Even The Daily Show once or twice.

15. What do you eat when you watch TV?

I have never been a TV eater. It's the only time I actually don't eat!

16. How often do you watch TV?
The TV is always on here. I actively watch it some of the time, and also it becomes white noise to work to, and something to put me to sleep at night.

17. What’s the last TV show you watched?

As I write this, Countdown is on and Rachel Maddow is about to begin.

18. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of TV?

Medical dramas (but only if they are realistic) and crime dramas. I've been watching Medical dramas since Ben Casey in the early 1960s, when I was still living with my parents.

19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with?

The Loretta Young Show. I had a huge crush on her and we waited eagerly to see what outfit she would be wearing when she swept through that door at the start of each show.

20. What TV show do you wish you never watched?

The L Word. After 4 seasons, the ending was so abominable that I was angry I had wasted so much time watching it.

21. What’s the weirdest show you enjoyed?

Dirty Jobs.

22. What was the single most memorable progam you ever saw on TV?

Toss-up between the JFK Funeral andThe Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)

23. What TV show scared you the most?
Any of the documentaries about how we are destroying our world--like a recent documentary I saw about the world toilet crisis. Sounds funny, but man, that's enough to give you nightmares!

24. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched?

Consistently, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Runner up: Laugh In.

25. What show was canceled too early into its run?
I don't remember the name of the show, but it was about a couple of kids who were being targeted for murder for reasons they didn't know--and it turned out that the guy who wanted them dead was the kid's father. But we never got a chance to find out why. A writer's strike stopped it mid-season, and it never started again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sacred Cows

There are lots of horrible, disgusting things about the evolving Penn State scandal, but one of the saddest (aside from the victims themselves) to me is the rage that erupted on the campus when Head Coach Joe Paterno was fired for knowledge of the abuse that was happening in his own back yard, and his failure to do anything about it other than report it to university officials.

This brings back memories of all of the circling of the wagons to protect beloved bishops and cardinals in the wake of the pedophile scandal within the Catholic church. (It still infuriates me that Boston's Cardinal Law was called back to Rome, where he holds a position of prominence in the church there.)

We live in such a two-faced society, where we shake our heads and cluck our tongues about child pedophelia and rush to accuse a neighbor who may look a little odd to us or refuse to allow good gay men to be Boy Scout leaders, but when it comes to eyewitness accounts and reporting to "beloved" public figures, we kind of look the other way.

The timeline of events leading up to Jerry Sandusky's arrest on forty counts of child molestation is disgusting and includes eyewitness account of the anal rape of a 10 year old boy, reporting to Paterno, who met with "the vice president for business and finance" (which I consider telling right there), and the decision not to report the incident to authorities.

"How does McQueary, a 28-year-old grad student, look in the showers of a facility and see a grown man raping a 10-year-old child and not instinctively grab a baseball bat and protect this child? How does he live with himself?" asked Richard Hermann, legal analyst and criminal defense attorney.

There is also a mother's reporting of her son's molestation to campus police, after which Sandusky apologizes and police decide not to charge him with a crime.

The pedophilia was obviously known since Sandusky was forbidden to bring children to campus though he did bring a young boy with whom he reportedly had oral sex many times.

Sandusky was hired by Penn State in 1969, the first report of a crime was 1998, the eyewitness account was 2000 and it is only 2011 when charges are filed. Forty accounts and undoubtedly the number will rise.

The Judge (who is reportedly connected to the center that Sandusky established for at-risk youth) released Sandusky on $100,000 bail and he is not even on house arrest while awaiting trial.

sandusky.jpg (35561 bytes)

Imagine that it were a black man who were accused of one incidence of child molestation. Can you imagine any outcry of anger if he were fired from his job? Can you imagine his being released back into the community on his own recognizance while awaiting trial?

This whole thing makes me so angry I can't even watch it. And that anyone would be angry for the firing of someone who had knowledge that it was going on and failed to do anything about it infuriates me. To think that the university would put the football program ahead of the 40+ children whose lives have been ruined forever by this monster.

And Paterno talking about his "beloved boys" makes me sick to my stomach.

I wonder if these folks have sons...or grandsons.
I wonder how many people bought these sweat shirts