Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Quandary

My quandary is one that will make most of you roll your eyes, especially Jeri, who is all about the beauty of silence and a gadget-less life, and Walt, who has to live with me.

When I moved into my first apartment in 1962, it was the first time I'd ever lived alone. I turned to the television to keep me company. It didn't matter what the show was; I chose the one that most appealed to me, however little (like Popeye cartoons, for example) and kept it on in the background. It may have been that I didn't ever watch it, but I liked the background noise.

Some people turn to radio or their personal collection of music, but somehow if I have music on, it's because there is music I want to listen to, so I listen to it. I don't just have it on in the background. Background music makes me nervous for some reason.

But I can have TV on in the background and it is company.

It's also my clock. Weekends are difficult because there is no set routine, but Monday to Friday it has been: The Today Show, Regis and Kelly (before Regis reteired), The Today Show again, marathons of Criminal Minds, NCIS, SVU, or something else like that to 4 p.m. when I may or may not turn on Chris Matthews, then Keith Olbermann, then Rachel Maddow (for 30 minutes), then Jeopardy, and then the evening shows, which end at 11 p.m. with The Daily Show. I go to sleep to The Golden Girls, and wake up to the local news before The Today Show starts it all over again.

If I want to know what time it is, I don't need a watch. I just need to see which show is playing to get a general idea.

I've watched The Today Show since Dave Garroway wrestled with J. Fred Muggs. I have been through Barbara Walters, Jane Pauley, Deborah Norville (never liked her as co-anchor), Katie Couric, Meredith Vierra and now Ann Curry. I missed some of the earlier "Today Show girls." I remember watching Hugh Downs, Frank McGee, Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumble, and Matt Lauer.

Regis Philbin was my guilty secret. I actually enjoyed Regis and Kelly, more since Kelly Rippa joined him (I never did like Kathie Lee. Still don't and am glad that hour of The Today Show is not shown here.). Philbin is a marvel. He is famous for being famous. The things he does not know astound me, though he's pretty up on most things show biz.

While I like Ann Curry, I don't like her as forever co-anchor. I don't like the 3rd hour of The Today Show, and since Regis left, I find Kelly Rippa's fawning over men annoying and I'm not enjoying that show any more.

The cable networks have changed their programming too and it's harder to find marathons of Criminal Minds or NCIS. I can't take House marathons. I start not liking him, and I don't want to do that because I love Greg House.

So here I am with my nice predictable schedule all discombobulated.

This week I have taken to watching OnDemand marathons. They don't work as a "clock" for me, but it makes white noise, or, if I want to zero in on the plot, something to watch. I'm starting with a Dexter marathon. For those who have never watched Dexter, he's a sociopathic serial killer. But a nice sociopathic serial killer. He's good to his sister and his kids and probably little puppies. He works as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department and only kills bad people, but enjoys chopping them into pieces. If they are really bad people he lets them experience the pain of being cut into pieces. The lucky ones get killed first, chopped later. (This is the show Ned recommended his mother watch, by the way.) I guess I can't really call that "white noise," more "red noise"!!

When I finally get caught up on Dexter (which leaves OnDemand on 1/31, so I have to work fast), there are tons of other shows to catch up on. Maybe by the time I've worked through all of those, I will have figured out a regular schedule again.

I'm really pathetic, ya know?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday Stealing

I've answered several of these before, but we just came from a belated sushi dinner (we always have sushi on Paul's and David's birthdays and should have gone out last night, but we were at Roger's party). I am so stuffed full of food and watching the SAG awards, that I decided to do this collection of questions anyway.

1) Put your iTunes on shuffle. Give me the first 6 songs that pop up.
* Do you Hear What I Hear? (Perry Como Christmas album)

* Belle of the Ball, (Leroy Anderson Favorites
* The Marvelous Toy, (John Denver)

* Orange Blossom Special, (Johnny Cash)

* I Wanna Be Like You, (Heigh-Ho Mozart)

* Don Oiche Ud I Mbeithil (Glenstel Abbey Monks)

2) If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?

Betty White. I would love to talk with her about animals and her career in television. Another choice would be Daphne Sheldrick, on her haven for orphan elehants and rhinos in Kenya

3) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, give me line 17.

"It must be sewn on," she said, in a rather motherish tone. (It's a book of Peter Pan which I'm getting ready to send to one of the Compassion children.

4) What do you think about most?


5) What does your latest text message from someone else say?

"Enjoy! I've heard it's good." (Jeri replying to my message about seeing "In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play.")

6) Do you sleep with or without clothes on?

Since I sleep in chair, under a dog, with.

7) What's your strangest talent?

I think I can still wiggle my ears; I haven't done it in years.

8) Women....(finish the sentence) ; Men....(finish the sentence)

Women can be very open with their feelings; men mostly keep feelings bottled up inside (of course there are lots of exceptions to those rules)

9) Ever had a poem or song written about you?

Actually yes. My friend Melody wrote a poem about me for my birthday once, I think.

10) When is the last time you played the air guitar?


11) Do you have any strange phobias?

I am convinced I am going to die by a big semi truck to the right of us on the freeway toppling over on top of our car.

12) Ever stuck a foreign object up your nose?


13) What's your religion?

Recovering Catholic

14) If you are outside, what are you most likely doing?

Picking up mail or getting into the car.

15) Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it?

Definitely behind the camera!

16) Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band?

Simple. Lawsuit. Of course, they haven't played as a group since 1997.

17) Do you prefer talking on the phone or video chatting online?

Actually, I don't do either. Most of my interactions are by snail mail or e-mail.

18) Do you believe in karma?

Not really. If there is such a thing as Karma, it's made some big mistakes in my life!

19) What does your URL mean?

"Airy Persiflage" means light banter. It comes from The Mikado, where KoKo asks, "Is this a time for airy persiflage?"

20) What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength?

My greatest weakness is my lack of self control. My greatest strength is that I can be a pretty good friend, given the opportunity.

21) Who is your celebrity crush?

I don't think I have one at present.

22) Have you ever gone skinny dipping?
A couple of times right after my parents got a swimming pool and my father INSISTED that I try it....then made me feel dirty for doing it.

23) How do you vent your anger?

Eat. Cry. Write journal entries that probably don't sound angry, but which I know really are.

24) Do you have a collection of anything?

Dogs. Dust bunnies.

25) What was the last lie you told?

I moved this from #17 to here because the last lie I told (actually small fib) was in one of the previous 24 answers.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Milestone Birthday

"You certainly have been going to a lot of birthday parties," my mother said to me when I called her to chat at a rest stop, while we were en route to San Francisco. I hadn't thought about that, but I guess with today and the recent 102nd birthday of Herbert Bauer, we have been to a couple of birthday parties.

We went to San Francisco this afternoon to help our friend Roger Pierson, from The Lamplighters, celebrate his 70th birthday.

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Roger hasn't performed with the Lamplighters in many years, but he began his career with the company in 1968, so he is definitely one of the "old timers," and is part of the Gilbert dinner that we hold each year in memory of Gilbert Russak. The members of the company who came to Roger's party were some of our best Lamplighters friends. There were also people from his work, and neighbors and probably other people there. Since the party went from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., people came and went and while the apartment was always full, it was never crowded.

At some point there was the usual "Happy Birthday" song. It always gives me chills...you have never had that song sung to you until you get a room full of professional singers doing it in multi-part harmony!

The birthday boy wanted his picture taken with everyone who was there, and the apartment size being a limiting factor to taking a group photo, it was done in groups of two or three, and we all lined up for a quick shot with the guest of honor.

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I handed my camera to a woman for her to take a picture for me, and then, as she had to leave herself, I became the official photographer, following Roger around and taking pictures for him on his camera.

I'm looking at that picture now and noticing something strange. One of the guys there, Bill Neil, who has performed with the Lamplighters off and on since 1965 (he still shows up on occasion for a small role) was commenting about how he's not as tall as he used to be and how when he went to a family gathering he hung out more with the women because he was now shorter than all the other men.

I have always been taller than Walt but with age (and the stooped posture I seem to have permanently acquired), I am now shorter than he is!). And yes, I really do have two boobs, but one seems to be squished in Roger's armpit.

Anyway, it was really a nice, low key party, with Roger supplying all the food as his gift to us, and I got a chance to visit with some of my favorite people.

We left around 8 to get home to feed the dogs and when we got here there was some 'splaining to do to Lizzie because the last thing I did before we left the house was to have a nice conversation with this lovely cat, recently clipped for health reasons.

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She rubbed her head all over me and I know Lizzie was confused!

As I head off to sleep, there is a tickle in my throat and that pre-cold feeling in my nose. I hope I have not caught the cold my mother had on cousin's day. When I talked to her today, she was still feeling miserable.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday 9

1. How did you cope with your biggest heartache?
I'll let you know if I ever do. Still working on that one.

2. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
My cousin Kathy, who died a week later.

3. How many jobs have you held in your life? How many of those were part of your chosen career field?
About 8, I think. Since I guess my "chosen career field" was clerical, I guess most of them.

4. How did you discover Saturday 9?
From Kwizgiver who has the most interesting memes.

5. If you could take the train from anywhere to anywhere, where would 'anywhere' be?
I have always wanted to take a train across the Canadian Rockies, or else through the Alps.

6. When was the first time you cooked for someone else?
My cousin and I cooked an anniversary dinner for her parents. We chose to make liberal use of food coloring (red mashed potatoes, blue "green" beans, etc.) My uncle took my aunt out for dinner.

7. What is the worst beverage you've ever tasted?

8. Is there anything in life you are "certain" about? Firm in your beliefs? Strong in your convictions?
Nothing in life is certain. Of that I am sure.

9. Do you know anyone who has as very unusual pet?
My friend's daughter is a teacher and their classroom had a gila monster that got to walk the halls free, until it got so big it was attacking people's feet and they had to give it away.

Lunch with Peter Pan

I had lunch with Peter Pan today.

Well, she used to be Peter Pan.

My former roommate, Jeannie, was going to be passing through Sacramento today and suggested that we meet for lunch. The last time we saw each other, I was pregnant with either Tom or Paul...or maybe David. Suffice to say it was a long time ago.

Judi.jpg (14305 bytes)I found a picture of my first roommate, Judi, the one I didn't get along with. Perhaps the fact that she appears only by accident in the background of a group photo give some sort of indication of how I felt about her.

This was our little home on the hill on the campus of UC Berkeley. When looking for lodging before I moved to Berkeley, I secifically chose Mitchell Hall because it was the smallest dorm on campus and I was terrified at the idea of going into a big dorm my first time away from home. I think Mitchell had 50 girls compared to >100 in the other dorms in this 4-building complex and many more in the "new" dorms down on the flat. Also, living in Mitchell meant I got lots of exercise since I had to climb the long hill up Dwight Way every day.

MitchellHall.jpg (49098 bytes)

At the end of my first disastrous semester as Judi's roommate, Jeannie took pity on me and invited me to be her roommate. I was delighted.

JPeterPan2.jpg (64346 bytes)As I said, Jeannie had been Peter Pan. There was a park called Children's Fairyland in Oakland (it still exists) which was a favorite of little tots and hired older kids (maybe high school age?) to dress as various storybook characters.

I don't know how long Jeannie was Peter Pan, but what a perfect person to play the part. With the air of magic about her and how much she even looked like Mary Martin at the time, they must have hired her without much of an audition.

Her love of Mary Martin was one of the things that helped us be good roommates...she had a passion for Mary Martin that matched mine for Judy Garland, only I had met Judy Garland and she has received a personal letter from Mary Martin.

I have had great guilt for many years about our two semesters together as roommates. During the Judi semester, I had run away to Newman Hall and established a social life there so I didn't have to interact with Judi. Consequently I wasn't the close roommate that I'm sure Jeannie expected because of my social life at Newman, which kept me away from the dorm much of the time (though she did tell me today that I hadn't been such a bad roommate, so I finally feel better about that!)

We met for lunch at a Thai restaurant Marta had recommended and we sat and talked for 2½ hrs over some of the best pad thai I've ever had. We discovered that there was no awkwardness, despite the passage of >40 years. We slipped into chatter as if we had just seen each other yesterday.

We talked about our time at the dorm, and I was pleased when she rolled her eyes when I mentioned Judi. She also remember Char and I gave her the history of the Pinata Group. We discussed our grandchildren and books we had read.

We talked computers and cell phones. We talked music, and her feeling that her husband, who was a music teacher, would love to talk with Jeri, should the occasion arise. We also talked theater, since her husband has done lighting design and they have been active in theater (mostly in the musical part) for many years.

Jeannie has a masters degree in religious studies and she now teaches English to a group of Afghani women, which led to a discussion about the middle east. . She positively glows when she talks about her students and proudly showed off pictures of them. I swear, if more people would get to know people of other nationalities, colors, sexual orientation, religion, there would be less hate and more friendship in the world.

We compared notes on places where we had both been (especially the South of France, which we both loved).

The time just flew by and I was sad that we both had to leave. We parted in the parking lot with the hope that we will find an excuse to get together sooner than 40 years from now.

I was so pleased to discover the same person I remember from so long ago, just a little bit older, but still with that sparkle of pixie dust in her eyes and an enthusiasm for life that I remembered so fondly. She is Peter Pan, all grown up, but retaining the magic that made her special in the first place..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sunday Stealing

For once Jim of Jim's Journal beat me to this meme.

36. Have you watched American Horror Story?
Nope. I don't know what that is.

37. Baseball hat or toque?
I am not a hat person, not by choice, by size of head. I have almost never found a "one size fits all" hat that is large enough for my head. I can't even wear baseball caps because at the largest setting, they aren't big enough. I did buy a hat on the ship in China, it fit, it did the job (kept the sun off my face), looked incredibly stupid!@

38. Do you shampoo or soap up first in the shower?

39. Wet the toothbrush or brush dry with the toothpaste?
Eww...definitely wet!

40. Pen or pencil?
Pen, I think. I've been trying to find my "pen personality" and at the moment I am using a Sharpie ultra fine point. It's tricky finding the right pen when you are left handed.

41. Have you ever gambled at a casino?
Oh sure. When you live this close to Nevada, you end up taking a lot of people there to try it out. But I don't like it. I'm not lucky and whatever money I gamble, I lose. Walt and I once lost all the money we had playing the slot machines at StateLine, Nevada. Fortunately we were playing penny slots and only had 13 cents between us, but that was enough to get me to swear off gambling forever.

42. Have you thrown up on a plane?
No. I've been queasy a couple of times in rough patches, but fortunately I've never had to use that flight bag.

43. Have you thrown up in a car?
Oh lord, yes. When I was a kid my father hated to drive anywhere with me, especially on a winding road (which we had to take to get to my grandmother's house) because I always threw up. Fortunately that doesn't happen now--I can even read in the car.

44. Have you thrown up at work?

45. Do you scream on roller coasters?
I don't do roller coasters.

46. How many shoes do you have?
There are 4 pairs of shoes that I wear--Birkinstocks, loafers, trainers, and some shoes that I bought as "good shoes." They are old lady clunky, but they are comfortable.

47. Who was your first roommate?
Like everyone with a same-gender sibling, my sister was my first roommate. When I moved to college, I roomed for a semester with a girl named Judi who was the only one who still needed a roommate. It didn't take me long to realize why she was the only girl in the dorm without a roommate...I changed roommates the next semester.

48. What alcoholic beverage did you drink when you got drunk for the first time?
I don't remember, but it was probably some sort of frou-frou rum drink. We drank a lot of those when I was in college

49. What was your first job?
I washed bloody test tubes and poopy slides for a medical laboratory. I also held the arm of terrified people getting blood tests.

50. What was your first car?
I have never owned my own car.

51. When did you go to your first funeral?
I have never figured out why my grandparents took me to the viewing of a friend of theirs when I was five years old. All I remember about it (and I remember it vividly!) was that the room was small and filled with people, so very hot. The casket had a blanket of gardenias and to this day they make me sick to my stomach. And I could only see the woman's nose sticking up out of the coffin.

52. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown?
I was 18 and left home to go to UC Berkeley (and move into the dorm with Judi!). I never went back. I was never so glad to be out of a house as I was that house.

53. Who was your first grade teacher?
Sister Mary St. Patrice, a nun of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the BVMs, as we called them.

54. Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
We flew home from So. California. I had won a cruise ship ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in an essasy contest. But it was one way and the ship was headed off to Hawaii, so we spent the weekend, went to see Disneyland, and then flew home. This would have been about 1957. My father was 72 when he died and he had never been on an airplane.

55. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with?
I don't remember ever sneaking out. You really didn't do that in San Francisco, I don't think.

56. Who was your first best friend and are you still friends with them?
Gayle Tarzia and I walked to school together for all of grammar school, and I spent a lot of time at her house because she had TV and I didn't. I found her a few years back on Facebook and friended her. She accepted my friend request and to date has not so much as said "hello" to me. Could be because our views on things seem to be diametrically opposed!!!

57. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parents’ house?
Mitchell Dormitory, on the UC Berkeley campus

58. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
I can't think of a person. I would probably sit down here and write a journal entry.

59. Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid?
My cousin Peach's wedding.

60. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Feed the dogs

61. What was the first concert you attended?
Judy Garland played a week at the San Francisco Opera House. I had saved up enough money that I was able to make it to 3 of the concerts. (When she brought her Carnegie Hall concert through several years later, I was able to see that too)

62. First tattoo or piercing?
My only piercings are one in each ear. Ned was a baby when I got my ears pierced (that would have been 1967). I left him with my father and went to a jewelry store downtown to have it done. I felt like I was having an abortion, because in my Catholic school only the "bad" girls had pierced ears. But I've never regretted it!

63. First celebrity crush?
Judy Garland, after seeing A Star Is Born in 1955.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Grace of a Gazelle

I was really looking forward to writing this entry today. It was going to be filled with cute little puppy pictures and telling you all about the little 2 week old doxie puppy that I was now bottle-feeding.

Sharon (SPCA) sent me a text to ask if I wanted to take him and I enthusiastically said yes, but asked if I could wait a day to get him because we would be in out of town.

I hadn't heard from her by the time we got home, and then there was still nothing from her in the morning, so I sent a note asking if I was going to be picking him up today. She eventually answered that yes, and that she was just waiting to find out what time he would be dropped off and ready for pickup and would get back to me when she knew the time and place.

Later in the afternoon an e-mail arrived saying that "The vet tech that was taking the dog over the weekend decided to foster until placement through animal services, so the puppy will not be coming to us after all."

I guess he was just too cute. So no cute puppy stories. No cute puppy pictures. And especially no cute puppy at all.

This is probably best because I'm working at Logos tomorrow, going to Cousins Day the next 2 days (my mother would have LOVED to have a bottle feeding doxie--she loves them) and then reviewing two shows on the weekend, as well as having lunch with my college roommate (the good one), whom I have probably not seen in 50 years. Fitting bottle feeding in around all those activities was not impossible, but it would just be easier if I didn't have to.

But that left me with the question of what I was going to write about tonight, since all I did today was fold laundry, write letters, clean my desk, and watch 9 episodes of Dexter, as I try to get through all five seasons before 1/31 when they will be taken off OnDemand.

As I sat at the dinner table watching a glob of meatloaf roll gently down the front of my favorite sweatshirt and into Polly's mouth, leaving behind a little trail of grease, I decided I needed to address one of my biggest problems: I am a real klutz.

This shirt, for example, is a great sweatshirt which my friend Olivia gave me when I visited her in Salt Lake City. It sports the logo of the business she owned then, and I wear it pretty much all winter long, unless it's in the washer. Which it is almost every day because of spillage of juice or something off of my dinner plate, or a glop of yogurt, or melted butter from a warmed tortilla. The shirt is falling apart, probably mostly because of how often it has been washed. (I ordered a new one, without logo, from Amazon yesterday--and hope it is going to fit as well and be as comfortable. I have no doubt that it will be bounding meatloaf off of itself as well.)

Polly lives under my chair at meal time. Sometimes I share bits of my dinner with the dogs, but, like a dog under a toddler's high chair, Polly and Lizzie won't leave my side because they are pretty sure that sooner or later something will fall on the floor.

When Peggy and I were together, whether here or in Australia, she so often rolled her eyes at my klutziness. At least twice she ordered me out of small shops after I tripped and nearly knocked something over. "Wait outside," she would say sternly, pointing at the door.

One night at dinner in Australia she told me that she could tell me why I always spilled food down my front. It was, she said, because I needed to get closer to the plate. I've tried that here at home, but it seems that even having my chin ON the plate itself is no guarantee of no spillage. My chest just seems to be a food magnet. Perhaps the bountiful endowment that seems the blessing of the Scott women may have something to do with that.

I can't leave my office without knocking something over. Truly. It is about 8 steps from my desk to the door and even knowing that I am prone to knocking things over and taking precautions not to touch anything, I still do. Papers go flying, notebooks topple, the TV remote crashes to the ground and the batteries roll out. This has been going on for years -- and since I go in and out of my office dozens of times each day, you'd think I'd have devised a solution by now.

Walking from the family room to the bathroom, I trip over things on the floor, or the door of the dog crate, or one of the dogs or one of their toys. I knock things off of the dresser in the family room.

Now of course some of this could be solved by having pristeen surfaces, but I think we can all agree that's unlikely to happen.

So I will just, I guess, keep knocking and spilling my way through life and hoping that my final act won't be to knock myself out hitting the corner of a dresser while tripping over a dog when I was trying to get to a wipe to remove some food from my shirt.

Though, if you think about it, what a perfect way for my life to end!

I have let it be known that after my death, I want to be cremated. I'm betting that somewhere, someone is going to spill the ashes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Losing Another One

camping.jpg (51018 bytes)It was March of 2011 before we had our first (of 11) death (Walt's mother) last year.

January isn't over yet and we have already learned of the death of a second friend.

I met Mike Kelley first on line in one of the CompuServe forums back in the late 1980s. He and his husband Bill (who, we learned later, through comparing genealogy records, was a very distant cousin of mine) were both active in the Gay/Lesbian Issues forum (Section 17), one of two forums I was most active in (the other being Women's Issues, Section 16).

I never had much to do with him on line, but of course read all the stuff he posted.

It was probably 1994 or 95 when Section 17 had its first social gathering. Walt and I joined the group in Reno for a weekend and that was when I met Mike and Bill for the first time. It was no surprise that he was ascerbic and funny and...yes...campy. I enjoyed being part of the group.

tanqueray.jpg (42336 bytes)Mike loved to party and Tanqueray was his beverage of choice--he was kind enough to share some with me in Reno.

Someone on line had once called Mike a "hateful old cow" and he adopted the moniker and made it fabulous. He was "the Hoc" and he had the largest collection of cow crap. Everybody gave him things in a cow theme. Naturally, I carried it to extremes. I sent him a cow mailbox once and Walt and I bought a lawn ornament in Maryland that had to be disassembled to fit in my suitcase.

Everyone in that group was so supportive when David died. They were very solicitous when Walt and I joined them in Las Vegas in 1996 to celebrate the 50th birthday of Merrell Frankel (who left us in 2010). The highlight of that trip was a tour of the Liberace museum. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've gone through the Liberace Museum with a group of gay guys!

In October of 1996, we went to Washington DC for the last display of the entire AIDS quilt and for the candlelight march from the capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.

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Somewhere there was also a trip to San Diego with the group (where the "camping" picture above was taken).

Then there was the month I spent with Mike and Bill in Houston, after Bill had been released from the hospital and Mike was afraid to leave him home alone, because he didn't want Bill to die while Mike was out. So I moved into their house and cooked and cleaned for them. (Houston. July. Was I insane?) A big part of what I did was to carry Mike's laundry to the laundromat...he had a huge collection of white t-shirts with various logos on them and sent a bunch out to be cleaned each week.

I returned to Houston a couple of times after that but Mike and I had a disagreement on my last trip and though I continued to communicate with Bill until his death (I spoke with him on the phone the morning of the day he died), I didn't really hear much from Mike.

He went through an "event" that nearly killed him -- I'm still not sure what exactly happened and what the aftermath was, but he was forced to leave his job because he couldn't handle it any more.

We became Facebook friends, when all the Section 17 people were gradually finding Facebook. I was, quite frankly, surprised to see photos of him because he had aged so much and didn't look like the Mike I knew. (But then I'm sure I had too!)

I think of Mike and Merrell and Bill all fit and healthy and together again, maybe laughing the way they always did, and it makes me smile, but with a little tear in my eye too.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

102 for 102

What do you get a man for his 102nd birthday?

If the man is Herbert Bauer, "the conscience of Davis," the answer was simple: books. The man (who does not wear any corrective lenses) is a voracious reader, reading often a book or two a day. His friend Nancy Keltner has been keeping him in books for a long time, visiting used book stores and garage sales and asking friends to loan books, which will either be returned to the owner, or donated to the pubic library after Herbert has finished reading them.

Two years ago, on Herbert's 100th birthday, Nancy headed a committee which threw one of the biggest parties the town had ever seen. The Davis Art Center was packed with people and I was pleased to be a part of the planning and execution of the gala celebration.

On the event of his 95th birthday, I quoted from an article I had found on line: "In addition to working at his medical practice, Herb has dedicated his life to children, to those less fortunate, to those in need and to those who cannot advocate for themselves. He served on the city's Social Services Commission, was the first chairman of the Davis Peace and Justice Commission, the precursor to the current Human Relations Commission, and was a founder of Yolo Family Service Agency."

Recently, Nancy, my friend and Scrabble buddy Joan, and I were sitting around discussing Herbert's upcoming 102nd birthday. We realized we could never top the 100th celebration, but Nancy thought we could get Davis columnist (and long-time friend of Herbert) to write a column inviting anyone in town who wanted to participate to bring a book to a collection site in several locations, wrapped or unwrapped. Nancy would gather up all the books and wrap those that were not already wrapped, and then give Herbert 102 books for his 102nd birthday.

Happy to oblige (and who can ever say no to Nancy?) Bob ran the article and Nancy set up collection stations.

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Nancy's great fear was that we wouldn't get enough books. She needn't have worried. She got three times the amount asked for, enough that she could weed out books that weren't approriate, or that Herbert had read and still have enough to make that pile of 102 books.

She invited Walt and me to a small party at her home and I was amused to see that she had decorated the front of the house with three perfectly appropriate books for the occasion!

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A photographer was there to take Herbert's photo with his books for the newspaper, and then we sang Happy Birthday to him as he blew out the candles on his enormous German Chocolate cake.

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It was over quickly and we made our way home again, but very pleased that we had been included in yet another celebration for Davis' most famous Centenarian!

Oh...and it appears that we aren't going to be puppy-less for long. There is a 2 week doxie that came into the shelter, so we'll be back in the bottle-feeding biz very soon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oranges and Puppies

I hold in my hand...the last orange

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Every year for more years than I can count, about a month before Christmas, a guy named Don Kessler calls to ask if we want to order oranges or grapefruit. It's a fund raiser for a local musical group. When we had kids and foreign students here I always got a box of grapefruit and 2 boxes of oranges.

As our population has diminished around here, it got down to a half a box of oranges, but we went through that so quickly last year, I ordered a full box again.

The citrus comes from Florida and I can say that I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the pieces of bad fruit we have had in all these years. They are ripe, sweet, juicy, and delicious.

When everyone was home, on Christmas morning we would squeeze a full pitcher of fresh orange juice. Now I just cut the oranges in half, cut each half in thirds, and eat them right off the rind standing over the sink. No worries about my vitamin C intake in December and January.

The fruit arrives about 2 weeks before Christmas and today, I sadly ate my very last orange. It's a long time to December 2012. It's too bad that these oranges are so good that they spoil me for oranges that you get at the supermarket, which are sometimes good, sometimes not.

Today was also Buddy's last day here. We had our last cuddle times.

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Even Polly, for the very first time didn't chase him away when he climbed up into the recliner and went to sleep.

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And finally it was time to take him to Petco. I packed up all his stuff in the carrier he came in and we put it in the car, Buddy in my lap. As we approached Petco with all the dogs barking and all the confusion, he began growling and barking and trying very hard to get out of my arms. I've never seen him so confrontational. I put him in the cage but he barked bloody Hell, so Walt went and found a tiny collar and we put that on him and attached a leash made for a huge dog to it. He immediately marched up to the nearest cage and began growling and barking. Then he started rushing off through all the legs, barking, and beginning to sound panicked. I think he thought he was lost. He had never been on a leash before and I'm sure he didn't know I was at the other end of it.

I finally picked him up and he calmed down, but we had to leave for another engagement (about which I will write tomorrow), so we took the crate to the back of Petco, put him in it, and left him with the SPCA volunteers there. I raced out of the store before he could start whining and crying, because I didn't want to remember that being my last sound of him.

Mazel tov, little puppy. Today you are a man. Sort of.

We came home this evening and picked all of the towels off the floor, didn't have any puddles to step in, and only 3 meals to fix for dinner. I wonder what Buddy is doing with his new "brother."

Goodbye, Buddy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday 9

1. Do you live close to where you grew up? Why?
How close is "close"? I was born and raised in San Francisco and now live 80 miles east of there. Nobody in my family lives in San Francisco any more.

2. Have you ever been so angry that you almost lost control?

3. Are you a fan of a musical act that slightly embarrasses you?
I don't think so.

4. Is there a movie that always makes you cry?
Oh lord yes. All I need to see is the last 5 minutes of Affair to Remember and I'm a basket case no matter how many times I've seen it.

5. Who is the most famous person that you've met?
Judy Garland (met her in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco) and Carol Channing (had cocktails with her before an awards show in LA)

6. Before you leave your home, what must you have?
My keys, my camera, my cell phone.

7. What do you miss the most about being a kid?
Someone to cook for me, and someone to bring me soup in bed when I'm sick.

8. Tell us about a passion of yours that your readers would not expect.
I think that over the past 12 years, I have written about just about every passion that I have.

9. At what age do you think you'd be able to think, “I've had a great run”?
Any time now.

A Buddy for Buddy

I am writing this on Buddy's last day here.

I received a note that the SPCA has another 6 week old (which is probably Buddy's approximate age) pit bull mix puppy who was turned in, another singleton, and they have decided to put the two of them together for companionship and to test for "alpha personalities."

I had earlier written to Sharon that I felt strongly that Buddy should not be put in a family that has small children. He is sweet, but he can also be aggressive, and as he gets older this is going to have to be watched and trained out of him. I am not the person to do that. Too much of a wimp!

But having a sibling for a couple of weeks before they both go up for adoption will be great and will give time for observation of both of them to help find the right kind of home for each.

So tomorrow we will pack him up in the crate he came in and take him back to Petco. I know people think I'm going to cry when he goes because all the pictures have shown how much I've enjoyed loving him, but there comes a time when they all go. I could never work in a kill shelter because as each animal reached the end of his or her time, I would want to adopt them. It would be so easy to be a hoarder!

But long ago I had to come to peace with the fact that they all leave. If I were to keep all the ones I fell in love with, I would have less and less attention to give to them all. I might love them, but you have responsibility for the animals you choose to live with. As it is adopting Polly has meant less time for Sheila and Lizzie, especially as she is so incredibly demanding of my time. But I still think it was the best decision all around. As I watch her now running to greet Walt, her tail wagging a mile a minute, jumping up on him and demanding to be petted I am in amazement of the change that has taken place in that scared little girl who first showed up here. It has taken two years, though and she still doesn't like other people ... and there are still times I wish we hadn't adopted her, but who else would have taken her? When she cuddles up with me in the recliner, I'm glad she's ours.

The past few days have really been very nice, since I made the decision to give Buddy lots of body contact. For one thing, I have watched all but 3 of the Showtime Homeland which won the Golden Globe as Best TV Drama and won an award for Best Actress in a Drama for Claire Danes and nomination for BestActor for Damian Lewis.

I was so glad to find Homeland as an OnDemand option, especially since we subscribe to Showtime. With all this time spent cuddling Buddy, I used it to start watching the show. I found this "post 9/11" drama very entertaining, following CIA agent (Danes) as she spies on Marine (Lewis) who had been held captive by al-Quaeda and whom she thinks has been "turned" by his captors. It's a great story and I am happy to learn that it has been picked up for a second season, to begin sometime in 2012. I will have finished the 12 episodes of Season 1 by then!

So thanks to Buddy, I have had guilt-free daytime television watching and worked my way through a great new TV series. If you have Showtime, and if you have OnDemand, I highly recommend it.

The storm in the Pacific Northwest has turned into a big disappointent for us. Steve is giving a benefit concert in Olympia along with one of my favorite groups, the Righteous Mothers, writers of "Old Fat Naked Women for Peace", "Big Legged Women," "Missing Molly Ivens," and "She Shanty," the hilarious song about childbirth. I have a couple of their CDs and just love them. This was going to be my chance to visit Steve, see another of his concerts, and to finally get to see the Righteous Mothers live.

But the weather is just too iffy. Right now Olympia has 4' of snow, though people think it's going to melt by Friday. But we are not too keen on the iffi-ness of it all, so I canceled the motel reservation, Walt canceled the flight and we will let the money we paid for tickets be our donation to PFLAG.

But I won't get to see Steve (assuming he can get to Seattle from New York!) and I won't get to see the Righteous Mothers and for that I am very sad. I won't even have Buddy to cuddle to make me feel better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Double Click

Many years ago, when I had only been on the internet for 2 or 3 years, when things were all brand new and when a lot of people my age were afraid of using computers at all, I decided I was going to start a computer training business geared for people my age and older. People whose eyesight wasn't as good as it had been, whose hands weren't as nimble as they used to be, people who were a bit leery of "breaking" the computer, and people who didn't remember things as well as they used to.

I got the idea when I helped someone -- I don't remember who now -- start to feel comfortable with their computer (yes, I hate using "their," but I don't remember if this was a man or a woman). It was when I saw that my student didn't understand what it meant to "double click the mouse" that I realized that you couldn't just give general instructions; you had to slow waaaay down and plan to spend a lot more time than you planned.

I think it was childbirth lessons which helped me achieve some modicum of success.

When we are trying to teach something we know very well, our instinct is to whiz through it and get to the impressive ending as quickly as possible. "Do this...and then this...and then this" and the student's problem was solved.

But with someone older, you have to go in very slow stages. You give instruction, once...twice...three times. Each time you give less and less help and you take long, slow breaths and you wait until the student figures it out. But when they figure it out...they. have. figured. it. out themselves. And maybe they remember. Or maybe you go back for a refresher course in a week.

Anyway, it was a good idea. I was going to call my business "Double Click," but then Davis Community Network came along with free lessons. They would have people like me who knew a thing or two about a thing or two and have us share our information to small classes, all for free, and that pretty much ended my computer assistance business before it ever really got started

The thing is that anybody who was born after computers started becoming household necessities (and for whom "double click" is a concept they learn as toddlers, or so I assume, having seen Brianna at the computer!) has no concept with how to train older people so they can actually understand.

I learned this some time ago with my computer guru, who would come in here, sit at my computer push this, that and the other things and fix my problem and rattle off all sorts of things that he did and things would flash on the screen and things would be different after he left and I'd have to figure out how to get it back to the way that I liked it. But in the end, I hadn't learned a thing about my computer. It just had it fixed.

Today I went back to Verizon.

After my time on the phone with two different Verizon reps early in the week, trying to figure out why my phone was eating all the internet data, they had me turn off a couple of settings and suggested that they send me a "like new" phone to replace mine, because perhaps mine was having a glitch they couldn't figure out.

In the time between that conversation and yesterday, when the "like new" reconditioned phone arrived, my regular phone seemed to be working just fine. But I had this "like new" replacement and decided I should go ahead with plans to replace the original phone anyway. Making a very wise decision, I decided to NOT try to follow the installation instructions and instead take it to the Verizon office where I got the phone originally and have them do it for me.

So the guy took my phone, removed the innards, put it in the new phone, punched lots of buttons and options and grumbled a bit and hemmed and hawed and finally decided that my "like new" reconditioned phone was broken.

There we were -- the original phone which had finally been working fine, and the "like new" replacement which was obviously broken. We decided to just put everything back in the original phone and send the "like new" replacement back. To get it set up, the clerk's fingers moved so fast as he held the phone just out of my sight (I could see it, but my eyes weren't good enough to read what he was doing, and his hands were moving too fast anyway).

He added apps that are going to help a lot--except he didn't tell me what they do or show me how to check the options. He rearranged things that I had already set up. In the end, I have my same phone back, it seems to be working and is no longer eating up data. I'm not sure why it was originally and why it isn't now, but I'm not going to question it. I'm just going to send the "like new" phone back and let them pawn it off on some other dumb smuck like me!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Buddy's Mom

It's a lot more work mothering a singleton puppy. Buddy is getting older and more able to do things and he doesn't need a bottle any more, but I'm realizing that with no mom and no siblings, and still too young to be put up for adoption, he really needs hands on mothering. He follows me everywhere, usually firmly attached to the cuff of my pants, me either dragging him along behind me or trying to avoid stepping on him if he decides to tug in front of me.

He has obviously identified me as "mom" because when Walt picks him up and tries to cuddle him, he only wants to wrestle, to growl, to bite...not angrily, but all as rough puppy play.

I won't let him do that to me. The first growl and he goes back on the floor. Sometimes I have to put him on the floor twice, but by the third time he may mouth my arm, but doesn't bite, never growls, and settles into my armpit to go to sleep.

I started thinking about how all those litters of pups cuddled up to each other. They play-fought with each other and they learned acceptable limits from each other. Buddy doesn't have siblings. He needs to cuddle up to the nearest thing he has to a mother. He's so cute because before he sleeps, he sits there just staring at me, like he's trying to memorize my face (or figure out why his mom looks so weird, so unlike other dogs).

Then he sniffs and licks my face. Polly, who hates having him around, but knows that she has to leave him alone, sulks on the other side of me, every so often giving disapproving grumbles, but as long as he stays on one side and she on the other of the great divide that is my abdomen, things go all right.

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Then Buddy finally settles down and will sleep with his head either on my chest or buried in my armpit, making little sucking noises, until I finally have to get up.

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It's the little nursing movements he makes at times like these that made me realize that he is really too young to be left to his own devices, no matter how good he is about it. So I am now factoring in a couple of hours a day to sit and watch TV and let Buddy pretend he has a Mom. It's actually very nice.

Last night when I thought he was out for the night (he does sleep in a bed alone all night long) I was in my office working. Earlier in the day, Buddy had managed to climb up the footrest and get himself into my recliner and seemed quite proud of himself, as he knocked things off of the table next to the chair and then settled in for a nap.

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Apparently he tried getting into the chair again last night. Polly was sleeping there and next thing I knew there was a great commotion, with lots of yelping and whining from Buddy. I went in and picked him up and he put his front paws around my neck, his head down into my chest and literally whined and sighed as if he was so glad Mom had come to make him feel better.

I let him sleep in my lap for an hour and then when I put him in his bed, I put a bathrobe that I wear, which must smell of me, over him. He stayed asleep all night. This period of time in his life is very short, I realize, and I think that what I'm doing will help him be a better adjusted puppy when time comes for him to look for a forever home.

If I'm Buddy's mom, does that make me a bitch?

Sweet Baby from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day Two

Today was my second day at the book store. Walt had a meeting at 1 p.m., and I work at 2, so he dropped me off at Mishka's Cafe (where I go when I have no internet access here at home) and I sat with coffee and a lemon bar...and my cell phone (presumably unable to access the internet any way but with Mishka's wifi) and waited for about half an hour.

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I finally walked over to Logos and relieved Peter, who seemed happy to be out of the shop for a few hours. He told me it had been a slow morning. He left and I went looking for something to read. I decided that each time I'm there, I would try to find something reasonably short (so I can read it in 6 hrs), and perhaps a greater variety of things I'm not likely to read normally.

The book I picked for today was written by Katharine Hepburn.

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This actually is something I would read otherwise, but it's probably out of print. What a fun book. Hepburn obviously wrote it with minimal editorial input. It reads like the transcription of an afternoon chat over tea at her apartment. It is her distinctive voice, her memories of a film she had made 30 years before, the principal characters of which were then all dead (the book was published in 1987). And what fun hearing about the trials and tribulations of making this classic film (which certain was never expected to attain "classic" status!). If nothing else, it makes me feel better about probably never going to Africa!

If the morning at Logos had been "kind of slow," the afternoon was anything but. I was alone and seemed to have a constant stream of browsers, many of whom bought book. A woman came in with ten large boxes of books she was donating. The cash register jammed and I had to call Susan to find out how to un-jam it. But there was also enough down time that I made great progress with Katharine.

I finished the book around 4 and was faced with the choice of getting out my Kindle or finding a new book. Sorry, but I just don't want to be in a book store surrounded by real books with paper pages 'n' all and reading a storm on a Kindle.

Well, here is where being in a used book store is a great thing. You have access to all sorts of books, the kinds of things you would never go looking for. This was my second selection:

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I actually never heard anybody talk about an Akubra (an Australian hat) when I was in Australia, but I remember Olivia being very proud of having bought one when she was there herself. This book is actually kind of cheating to say I "read" it (though I did). While it covers the history of the Akubra it is mostly very nice photos of the people who wear them -- station hands, property owners, roustabouts, trappers, shooters, and soldiers, to mention a few. Each photo is identified by the name of the wearer and what he has to say about his akubra.

hatpic.jpg (34856 bytes)This guy is has been a policeman for 2½ years and has made five arrests. His territory covers 5,000 square km.

My favorite quote about a hat was the guy who said. "Without a hat on you'd die in this country! You're blind without it. Lose your hat and you can lose a hand...A hat is never any good until it's been through the dip twice. You throw your hat thru the door and if it's not shot full of holes you can walk in after that. It's handy to pick up hot things with."

Now see? If I had never gone to work for Logos, I would never have known any of this! I also would not have heard of "wooly butts" (which I think are sheep) or "pandanus" (a type of palm-like deciduous tree) or "larrikin" (a mischievous person) or salmon gums (a type of eucalyptus found in Western Australia).

I actually finished reading this book before Walt arrived. Even before Susan arrived, in time to chat with her about how the day had gone. Walt had parked 3 blocks away and it was so cold (the cold has finally arrived here!) that, since I had no coat, I made him go get the car and drive to the door to pick me up.

Another fun day of "work" (if you can call sitting and reading for 6 hours "work"). I'm really enjoying this job!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flunking "Smart Phone"

In times past, when the internet was new and there was no such thing as a cell phone, I was the guru for all of my friends, for the offices I worked for, for the family. I was the go-to person. I read computer and software manuals like novels.,

I never got into the "guts" of the machinery, but boy I became a whiz at any program that I used. I knew how to do magical things with WordPerfect and amazed everyone at how effortlessly I was able to set up complicated pages with that program.

I knew several photo manipulation software programs and when I finally got into PhotoShop, quickly learned how to use that program, watched endless tutorials, have attended day-long seminars.

I learned web design before anybody I knew was doing web design -- not even David Gerrold (he actually had me help him set up his first web page).

On the internet, I could find just about anything I wanted to find, became queen of Google (never could understand why people called ME to ask what I knew about something and then were so amazed at how quickly I came up with an answer, when all I did was to put the "something" into Google).

When we got our Star Trek Communicator flip phones several years ago, I mastered mine pretty quickly. I could whip out a text message, add a photo, keep a calendar, set an alarm, create and assign ring tones and do a whole host of things that the little phone could do. There were lots of things that the phone had on its list of choices, but I didn't see any use for those, so I never used them.

But this new smart phone is making me feel like a first class idiot.

I learned how to change the wallpaper so instead of the harsh metalic droid screen, I could add my own photo

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(Though this is a picture of both girls with Santa, and I couldn't figure out how to resize it to include the both of them)

I found all sorts of fun apps to add to the phone and proudly showed them off to Walt. They were all free apps. I was happy.

But then the problems started. My phone is allotted 300 MB of Internet data a month. I wasn't watching it too carefully since I almost never used the phone out of the house, so I was going through our wifi connection, not the internet, and supposedly that didn't count against our internet data.

But suddenly the records showed that I had used almost half of the usage allotment. I panicked. I couldn't figure out what was going on. The next day, I used the phone hardly at all. No calls, no texts, nothing that accesses the internet at all. Records showed that I had now used 75% of the allotment. The data use table on the Verizon web site showed that two of the big uses were made when I was asleep (and the phone was sitting on my desk), the other uses were made when I was at Concetta's funeral (and not using my phone), and when I was home (supposedly going through wifi).

I called Verizon yesterday and actually got a person who, naturally, couldn't tell me what the problem was. She passed me along to Amanda, her supervisor. Amanda had me change some of the settings that came with the phone (which the salesman who sold us the phone set up for me) and said she would call me this morning.

She called at the appointed time and I told her that yesterday the only times I had touched the phone were to send two test text messages (which supposedly have nothing to do with any internet activity, since they are the phone) and answered one phone call. The data usage had gone up by another chunk.

I figured that if I turned off the phone and did not use it for anything for the rest of the month, I would still exceed my monthly allotment by whatever the phone was doing that counted against my internet usage.

She explained a lot of things to me, none of which I understood and the bottom line is that she is sending me a new phone, since she can't figure out why when the phone is sitting 3 feet from our wifi source it would be accessing the internet and maybe it's a phone glitch (but she can't reduce the usage already accumulated). She also talked me into upping my internet usage to 2 gig from 3 MB. We figured that would cover this month and I'd be OK after that. Maybe. It's only $10 more a month and if it brings peace of mind, that would be worth it.

But I feel like a total idiot that I don't understand most of what exactly data delivery is, what data saver is (though both are now turned off and that apparently is going to help my data usage). I don't understand why if it shows me I'm using wifi, I'm still also using internet as well, but apparently I am. I don't understand why when programs automatically update they do it through the internet and not the wifi when the phone is sitting less than 3' from the wifi hot spot.

I'm wondering if after all these years, the smart phone has finally turned me into a blithering idiot. But we'll revisit this subject in the next couple of weeks after the new phone comes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday Stealing

The Never-Ending Meme, Part 2

21. Did you go to your high school prom?
I went to the prom in my junior year and the "Senior Ball" the following year. My prom date was Bill Farrington, whom I dated all through high school until he entered the Jesuits. My Senior Ball date was a guy named Marty, who lived in the flat above ours. I didn't really like him and I'm afraid that I didn't do much to make the ball enjoyable for him.

22. Perfect time to wake up?

I don't know if there is a "perfect" time for me to wake up, but I really like it when I'm able to sleep until and even a little past 7 a.m.

23. Perfect time to go to bed?

After The Daily Show.

24. Do you use your queen right away in chess?
I'm not a chess player, really, but the few times that I do play, I save that queen until later. The last time I played chess, I was soundly whupped by a kid who was maybe 10.

25. Ever been in a car accident?

Minor only, thankfully

26. Closer to mom or dad…or neither?

In our family it was my father against the world. You could not "get close" to my father because if you thought you could, it always played against you. My father died in 1987 and I did not mourn his passing. My mother is still my best friend.

27. What age is this exciting life over for you?

There is always something exciting out there, something you least expect around the next corner. I don't even want to think that "this exciting life" is over, until I've breathed my last.

28. What decade during the 20th century would you have chosen to be a teenager?

I was a teenager in the 1950s and I love looking back at that era. I think I'm glad that I didn't come of age in the 60s. With my addictive personality, I probably would have become a flower child and fried my brain.

29. Favorite shoes you have EVER owned?

I am not and never have been a shoe person. Shoes always hurt my feet until I've had a chance to break them in. But I remember a pair of shoes--I don't even remember what they looked like--that I tried on in a shoe shop in Berkeley. They felt good right away and I remember expressing surprise. The salesman drew himself up proudly and said "Madam, Old Main Trotters always fit." (I wonder if they still make Old Main Trotters...)

30. Do you have an article of clothing you have had since you were in high school?


31. Were you in track and field?

My high school was one square 2-story building on a busy street corner in San Francisco. Our "yard" was about the size of the average grammar school playground. So, no track and field.

32. Were you ever in a school talent show?

We didn't have talent shows per se. I sang in the school choir and was in the senior play (underclasswomen did not perform in school plays)

33. Have you ever written in a library book?

Heavens no! Isn't that a capital offense?

34. Allergic to?

Probably something but I've never been tested for allergies. In the last year I sure have been sneezing a lot, though. I'm probaby allergic to dog fur!

35. Favorite fruit?

I like lots of fruit. Fresh strawberries are probably my favorite, followed by bananas and oranges.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Pinata

Of course there was a pinata. This was a gathering of pinata people (and others). Of course we had a pinata.

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Actually, when I first mentioned it to Char, I thought I was joking, but she took the idea and ran with it.

It was at my mother's when I was talking about Concetta's death and realized that there was going to be a funeral and nobody had mentioned a pinata. I sent a message to Char and she said she would talk with Concetta's daughter about it. Next thing I knew, her daughter thought it was perfect, Char had found a pinata and stuff to put in it and we were on...a funeral mass, followed by a lunch and a pinata. Concetta would have loved it.

It was surreal. I walked into the Newman chapel and saw Concetta's open coffin at the front door. I don't think I've ever seen an open coffin at a funeral before, especially when there had been a "viewing" a couple of nights before. In fact, it seems odd to be burying people in coffins at all these days...so many people are cremated.

But she looked peaceful and I hugged one of her daughters and made my way to the pinata area. I noted that people in the 2nd generation were seated toward the back and those of us in the 1st generation were in the front pews on the side. It's so hard to express how much I love this group and how I love how we just always gravitate to each other. In fact, Liam had flown in to Sacramento last night, staying with his brother Kevin and Ned had dinner with the two of them.

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It warms the cockles of my heart when stuff like that happens.

Church has changed since I last attended. People all around me had bottles of water (I, who always has water with me, had left mine in the car). Children were eating snacks.

I'd forgotten how much I hate that building, Newman Hall in Berkeley. I worked for the building committee for awhile, and lived across the street. But I never liked the cold concrete structure. It seemed, somehow, even colder with the body of Concetta lying in that covered casket.

It was a funeral Mass and many people participated in readings. The only people in the Pinata group 1st generation who went to communion were Mike (who helped distribute communion) and Walt, who couldn't pass up the chance to get communion from Mike. We have obviously instilled more of religion in our children, some of us, as more of the 2nd and 3rd generation attendees were in the communion line.

Char and Jeri (Liam and Kevin's mother) gave a eulogy from the Pinata group. I have posted the video here, but the sound quality is not great (better for Jeri than for Char, so stick with it if you can't understand Char) and those who don't know the Pinata group or Concetta probably won't be interested, but I posted it for all of the Pinata group who were not able to make it. It was emotional but both of them did a wonderful job.

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Our friend Phoebe read a beautiful poem Concetta had written in 2000, which ends

The months fly by in an endless rush
Memories and possessions are moved away
Quickly shattering hopes and dreams of a different world
Happinesses take such different forms

There was a lunch -- no ham -- and people started leaving. I thought they had decided not to do the pinata, but then there were Liam and Kevin out on the patio putting up the pinata, as their father had done so many times in years past.

LKPinata.jpg (51327 bytes)In fact, the first funeral pinata had been at their father's memorial service several years ago. It was when the torch (or in this case the stick to hit the pinata) had been passed to the younger generation.

After our very first pinata, which was the hardness of concrete and had to be broken with a hammer, we joke about not being able to break the pinata. Liam and Kevin had assured us that the two of them could break anything if need be, and Kevin promised to bring a hammer just in case.

But there was no need for a hammer. The kids lined up, as they always did, smallest to biggest -- only these were the third generation kids, and I didn't recognize most of them.

The little guys made tentative whaps at the pinata and the older the group got, the more "hearty" the hits became. Char's granddaughter, Haley, is a force to be reckoned with.

I can't remember which child finally broke it, but somehow there was some poetic justice in the fact that the son of Eric, Concetta's oldest son, never got a chance to hit it. Eric always broke the pinatas when our kids were younger.

So we have said goodbye to another friend and we have had a pinata and life goes on, a little less rich for the person who has left it. As we were leaving, Concetta's daughter said we need to have a happy occasion to get together, since we seem to be showing up at more funerals than parties these days (funerals for both Char's and Concetta's mothers in the past couple of years, and now for Concetta herself).

I just kind of feel numb tonight.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time for More Tsatskes

When I was visiting my mother the other day and she was talking about the difficulty of getting rid of all of the "junk" on her shelves (very, very, very few), I was telling her of my own difficulty getting rid of mine (lots and lots and lots) and how few things I was able to actually throw away and I told her about my project of photographing things, posting them here, and telling the stories about each thing.

It reminded me that I haven't done that in awhile, so here are the next two shelves.

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The figure on the far left is stamped "Jamaica," so it must have come from Walt's mother's house. It's one of the few things I have kept. It reminded me of someone dressed for Carnaval in Brasil and I just liked it.

The bell next to her was given to us by a friend named Susan Ware, whom we knew from Tiny Tots nursery school in Oakland. We had given a dinner party at our house in Oakland, some time before 1973, and she brought this bell as a hostess gift.

Next to that is a little Liberty Bell, which I bought when I spent a day touring Philadelphia. The silver cup has a crab engraved on it and I think Walt brought it back from one of his trips to the DC area. The bell next to that is from Boston and again, I'm not sure but I think I bought it in the shop which supposedly stands where Paul Revere's shop did back in the day.

The two black figures are models of terracotta warriors that I bought in China, and next to them is a Pilgrim couple that I bought in Salem just before Thanksgiving one year.

OK...going to the back row now, the blue vase is a lovely vase that was given to us by the proprietors of the wonderful Maxfield Inn in Naples, NY when they learned that it was our anniversary.

I can't remember where the rose vase came from, but I kept it because I liked it. Next to it is a square vase which can't be used as a vase because it's cracked, but it was made in a special class by Celso Gutman, a friend of our Brasilian son Eduardo, when the two of them were living in Davis in 1981 (Celso lived with a different family).

Next to Celso's vase is a statue of St. Anne and Mary, who would grow up to become the mother of Jesus. My godmother gave this vase to me, because my middle name is Anne, when I made my first communion.

There is a black statue of St. Brigid next to St. Anne. I bought it at a convent we visited in Ireland, because I went to St. Brigid grammar school.

In the middle are two little Wedgewood dishes that I bought in England. I decided on our first trip that I wanted to "collect something" and I decided to get an affordable little plate, but somehow that resolve disappeared by the time we were making our third trip to England.

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I'm not as good at identifying these as I am the other stuff. The top shelf is the "box shelf." I don't collect boxes, but people give them to me. The one in the middle is a box Gilbert decorated with green mosaic tiles. It holds the stereopticon slides of the Palace of Fine arts for the viewer on another shelf. To the right of that is a box I bought at the Library of Congress and to the left of it is a box I bought at the Philips Gallery in Washington, when I was working there. Left of the Gallery box is a small container made out of an animal bone with a wooden top and bottom and a shell on top. The other box is made of marble, I think. It came from someone from Chile. I can't remember where the boxes in the back on the left and right came from, but I kept them because they were so pretty.

On the bottom shelf, the first two clay things on the left were made by Walt when he was in school, the yellow bowl was made by Tom and I don't remember who made the round head (I hope one of the kids will tell me!). The wooden shoes were brought back from Holland by Walt's mother.

(We're almost finished with all this stuff, you'll be happy to hear!)