Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Lamp

Several years ago, when my mother started looking around at "all this stuff" in her house and began thinking of downsizing, someday, she let everyone in the family know that if there was anything in the house we wanted, we should put a note on it so that there would be no question about it.

Everything in the house will eventually be mine to do something with and I will, of course, tend to it, but there were only a few things that I really wanted.  I wanted my godmother's good china, which is beautiful, and has a very interesting story behind it.  I wanted my godmother's blue glass dishes, which I have always loved. I wanted a painting done by a neighbor of ours when I was growing up in San Francisco (It's not a particularly good painting, but it has sentimental value for me.)  And I wanted my grandmother's lamp.
This is a heavy metal ornate lamp that has an interesting history.  The story I've always heard is that my great grandfather found it in the rubble of a Nob Hill mansion after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire in San  Franisco.  It was a vase and he brought it home.  I don't know when my grandmother acquired it, but she eventually had it converted into a lamp and after she died, my mother got it.  It has been in her house ever since.

So I wanted the lamp, not necessarily because I had the perfect place for it, but because it was part of my family history and I absolutely loved the connection to the 1906 earthquake and fire.

We have talked about the lamp and the painting from time to time.  I don't even bother about the dishes because my mother doesn't remember I want them and has mentioned giving them to other people.  Whatever.   It's her decision, but I hope she has forgotten that by now.

But I do talk about the painting and the lamp whenever she brings up taking things from her house eventually.

Last week sometime, she called me around 9 p.m., which was very unusual for her.  She said she had found a note saying that I wanted "this lamp" and she wondered which lamp it was.  I reminded her that it was my grandmother's ornate metal lamp.  She said that she was just wondering because she had found this note and wasn't sure which lamp it was.
When Peach and I got to her house and were having our coffee, she said "don't forget to take your lamp.  I have it all ready for you."  She had unplugged it, she said, and she set it aside so I could take it. I told her I didn't want it now; I just wanted to have it after she died.  We actually had an argument about it.  She wants to be rid of "all this stuff" and wanted me to take the lamp NOW.  Ultimately she grudgingly agreed to keep the lamp, but the whole thing just seemed very strange and I wondered what was up.

Well, the whole story didn't come out until after breakfast this morning when she started telling me that my cousin Denise had come to visit and when my mother talked with her about getting rid of "all this stuff," and telling her that if there was something she wanted to take it, Denise mentioned that someone in the family had always admired that lamp and that she would love to send it to her and my mother GAVE it to her!!!!!!!  The lamp that I have been talking about as the only thing I really wanted in her house.

As it turns out, if I hadn't put that note on the lamp years ago, it would probably be winging its way to Alaska or wherever this other person lives.  But after she and I spoke, my mother called Denise and told her that she needed to have the lamp back.  And now, once again, she wants me to take it NOW because she wants to be rid of "all this stuff."
Once again, I assured her that I had no place for it now but if she were to die, I would find a place for it but for now she has a place for it, where it has been for 25 years, and she should keep it.

I should add that my mother attaches zero sentimental value to things.  I can't think of anything in her house that she would look at fondly as a strong enough memory of a pleasant time in her life that she wouldn't unhesitatingly give it to someone who admired it.  Throughout my life she has gone through purges of her stuff and stuff from my childhood because they were so much clutter, without ever asking me if it was OK to throw it away (my high school diary, for collection of dolls I would love to have passed along to my granddaughters for another, her cookbook with all the personal recipes for the things that I fondly remember her making for another), and now that she is obsessed with getting rid of "all this stuff" I think nothing would make her happier than to have people in the family remove just about everything in her home so she didn't have to look at it and see clutter.

But goddammit, if someone takes my lamp again, I am going to be royaly pissed!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Economic Crisis

Times Business reports "We’re in the middle of yet another global financial rout, with stocks plunging around the globe, the sort of panic we’ve witnessed with sickening regularity in recent months. And as usual, Europe sits at ground zero. Italian government bonds got hammered on Wednesday, smashing through the important 7% level to a new euro-era high."

The Economic Times reports that "The developments in Greece, epicentre of European debt turmoil, is being closely watched internationally since an ultimate default could drastically impact the fragile global economic recovery."

The financial crisis world-wide has been kind of something in the background that I have been aware of, but haven't really paid any attention to.

But the economic crisis hit close to home yesterday.

In 2007, at the end of Cousins Day, I took a picture of Peach's "65" stash in comparison to mine.

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(That's hers on the left, compared to my paltry sum on the right).
Yesterday was not her day.  At the end of our eight games of "65," this is what Peach had left:

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The fifteen cents in her bag was not even enough to play another game, and we called a halt to games last night.  This morning I offered her a bail-out and we played one more game, which she also lost.  I'm not exactly sure, but I think she is going to rob her husband's stash before our March Cousins Day.

Despite Peach's economic downturn, we had a lovely time.  My mother was doing well, which is always nice.  She also won five out of the 9 games we played over two days and, given how competitive she is, that was wonderful.

It was Peach's turn for drinks and hors d'oeuvres and she brought some "empanitas," which are, not surprisingly, little empanadas, fille with chicken and cheese and served with a dipping sauce.  

For drinks there were something called "mango daquiris," which she bought at WalMart.  They were delicious and we toasted Kathy.

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Seeing as how these were sold at Wal-Mart, I decided to check the ingredients and this is what I found:

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Though this tastes like a weak rum daquiri, it is actually just flavored beer!  But definitely tasty.

I brought my $35 worth of crab and for once we had our fill and we even had leftovers.  

Then, as the table was cleared and we were starting to get ready to play another game, Peach hauled out the cutest little birthday cake for me.

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It was delicious too.  Then we played our last game of cards, watched Two and a Half Men and Peach decided she was ready for bed.   My mother lasted through half opf another show and then she went to bed too.   I stayed up to watch Smash but fell asleep before it ended, so we all were feeling the effects of our "flavored beer" last night I think!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blogging the Oscars

I was going to blog the oscars with my friend Jennifer, in Colorado.  I had grand plans of lounging in my recliner with my lap top--until I remembered that my guru still has my laptop.  So instead, I'll be watching the show from my desk.
shapewear.jpg (33894 bytes)Red Carpet - I'm learning about the importance of "shape wear" for men (Tim Gunn confesses) and for women.  I think I'm too far gone for any "shape wear."  It looks like so much complicated engineering goes into it, the designers could work for NASA!

The white girl from The Help is on camera in a dress she describes as "fuschia" but which looks like a bright cardinal red on my screen.

Melissa it when big girls get recognition.  Her dress even looks gorgeous.

Tina Fey loooks gorgeous. ** Awkward interviewing Colin Firth with his companion, whom he never introduced.  Interviewer wanted to talk to her, but didn't know what to call her. She did look lovely, though. ** I think Nina Garcia is having an orgasm over Michelle Williams. *** Jennifer Lopez looks gorgeous, as always. *** Penelope Cruz is wearing the kind of dress I would have worn. If I were young, thin, and famous. 

You can tell it's getting close to the start of the show because commercials are coming every 3 minutes...kind of like contractions, only more painful.

The Show
I have seen every host of the Oscars from Bob Hope to Johnny Carson to everybody else and NOBODY holds a candle to Billy Crystal.   That opening montage was fabulous.  Walt missed the whole thing since he was talking to Tom on the phone at the time.  Fortunately, I was recording it.

Cameron Diaz and Jennifer that the most gorgeous looking pair walking out that you've ever seen? Of course you look at Jennifer Lopez and the only thing I can ask is "how do they keep those boobs from falling out?"  Duct tape?

Very nice acceptance speech by the guy for costumes (is this for costumes) on "Iron Lady."  Meryl Streep is obviously much beloved as an actress.

First biggie -- Octavia Spencer.  I know everyone said it was a lock, but there are always surprises.  She looks beautiful and I'm so glad she won. The Help is actually the only film that I;ve seen this year (of the nominated films!)

Oh my...this "focus group" for Wizard of Oz is wonderful.  I absolutely love anything Christopher Guest and his group do and this was fabulous.  So glad I am recording it!

The Cirque de Soleil bit was fabulous.   This truly is the best Oscars show I've seen in years.  Jennifer's wife said her back hurt just watching it.

...oh so happy that Christopher Plummer won for supporting actor.  I haven't seen the film but everyone says that it's wonderful.   Another to put on my list.

The guy from The Artist who won for best original score said he never learned how to compose or arrange music.  I could give him the name of teacher of composing and arranging, if he wants.

Angelina Jolie looks quite amazing and imposing on that stage.

Oh so glad Descendants won an award.   I haven't seen it, but I have been very happy that George Clooney has received such good reviews for his performance.  The Oscar is probably going to the latecomer from The Artist, but I've been hoping it's Clooney.

The guy giving the acceptance speech for Descendants has thanked his mother and dedicated the Oscar to her.  That always makes me cry because it was my joke with Paul that he one day stand on the stage accepting an Oscar and thanking me for all my support over the years.

(Actually a couple of months after Paul died, Stephen Peithman and I received an Elly award, which is the local community theatre award, for the script that we co-wrote (Steve wrote 99% of it, but I got an award too).  I had to go up on stage to get my award and all I said was "this one is for Paul.")

These snippets of actors talking about actors and film and all sorts of feelings about things are really good.  Gives you an insight into both the industry and the individual actors.

I also like the unusual way they are handling music for this show.  Not just the generic background music, but some really interesting stuff...and playing from the box seat area as well.

I'm noticing that the commercials, too, are almost Super Bowl quality...actually, I'm enjoying them more than the Super Bowl commercials.  I'm also loving the girls who are distributing snacks.

Well, The Artist gets best director.   Guess that says which film is going to be best picture.  I must see that film!

I am disappointed that George Clooney didn't get an Oscar but he can commiserate with his friend Brad Pitt.  And much as I love Meryl Streep, I so wanted Viola Davis to get it.

As I predicted, The Artist got the big one.  The producer looks like a teenager.

Well, it's over for another year.  Now I have a zillion movies I want to see.  I loved the production of the show this year.   There was nothing I didn't like, except some of the awards.  And it was fun sharing it all with Jennifer...the beauty of computers.  Even if you live hundreds of miles away it doesn't mean you can't party together!

Cousins Day tomorrow.  You know what that means....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Stealing

The Scottish Meme (though I don't know why it's called "Scottish"!)  This meme sounds vaguely familiar in parts, so excuse me if I'm repeating myself.

1. Where are you from and where do you live now?

Born and raised in San Francisco, now living in Davis, California, which is 80 miles east of San Francisco and 20 miles west of the capitol, Sacramento.

2. Favorite childhood story/book/film?

Hmmm...story?  There was a short story about a Chinese family whose barn burned down and in poking around in the ashes where their pigs had been, they tasted roast pork for the first time (because it was forbidden to eat pork).  I can't remember how it ended.  Favorite book, The Island Stallion, by Walter Farley (who also wrote all the Black Stallion books).  Favorite film?  There were too many I loved as a kid, but just to name one, let's say Bambi.

3. If you could change gender for a day what would you do?

Pee standing up.

4. Do you feel your family is complete or would you like more/some children?

Well, since I just had my 69th birthday, I would say that having more children is a physical impossibility.  I wouldn't mind having back the two that died, though.  

5. What do you do/Where do you work and do you enjoy it?

I am a retired medical office manager, working part time as a theater critic and volunteering in a used book store.  I love seeing all that theatre, and I love being around all those books.

6. Which three words do you think sum you up?

Compassionate, funny, fat

7. If you were a fairy what magical powers would you possess?

Nestle in a nutshell, dive into a dew drop, gambol upon gossamer

8. If you were invisible, where would you go and what would you do? Why?

Sit in the Oval office for a couple of days and find out the way government is REALLY run.

9. What song can’t you listen to without crying?

"In the Arms of the Angel," which was the song Marta and Paul's widow sang at his funeral.

10. Which book changed your life – or at least made you think a lot?

"East of Eden," especially when read in conjunction with "Journal of a Novel," which is a collection of the letters John Steinbeck wrote to his publisher while he was writing the book.

11. Why do you blog?

Because I can't NOT blog.

12. What is your top ‘me-time’ tip?

Always have a book with you.

13. What can’t you live without?


14. Which of all your blog posts are you most proud of and why?

This is my 4,353rd blog post.  It's impossible to pick just one, but I am proud of the entries where I took a stand on something -- gay rights, the latest Catholic church scandal, child slavery in Ghana, animal abuse, etc.

15. Have you ever met a famous person? Who and where?

Judy Garland at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco in 1961; Carol Channing at the Ovation Awards in Los Angeles in 2000; Theodore Bikel at Sardi's, opening night of our friend Jim Brochu's play, Zero Hour.

16. When did you last have a full night's sleep?

April 23, 1966 (the day before our first child was born!)

17. What would you think is harder: Going to work or staying at home with children?

I've done both, and both are hard.  Being at work when your children are at home is very difficult. Being home with the children is the most rewarding.

18. What are you doing for Easter?

Probably roasting a leg of lamb for my mother.

19. What is your favorite drink?

water (truly)

20. Do you play any sports?

Is Scrabble a sport?

21. What is your most embarrassing moment?

In grammar school when I tore the back seam of my pants and had to walk home about 5 city blocks with my backside hanging out--especially when I ran into a classmate en route.

22. How clever are you?

Depends on about what.  I'm not crafty, but I can be clever about some things.

23. Name a new favorite TV show?

Once Upon a Time and Grimm.  Love 'em both.

24. Any guilty pleasures?

Yes.  Next question...?

25. If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?

Barbara, because when people can't remember my name 90% of the time they call me Barbara, so it would just be easier if that had been my name to begin with (and, in fact, it is what my parents almost called me)

26. Who do you most admire in life, and why?

My mother because she has lived to 92-1/2 with grace and dignity, has endured plenty of hardships, and still maintains her good humor and everybody loves her.

27. What is your most treasured possession?

Delicate Pooh.

28. Tell your favorite funny joke

It's much too long to write here, but the punch line is "why don't you write your mother?"

29. What is your biggest fear in life?

Losing more people that I love.  Being helpless and dependent on others for everything.

30. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? What does it remind you of?

It depends on the day, but generally a vanilla base with something chocolatey and crunchy mixed in with it.  I make a fabulous malted milk ice cream that you can't buy anywhere.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"My Journal"

My godmother's name was Mary Fourtner, but we always called her Babe.
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Babe and my godfather, Fred (my great uncle) at my First Communion

I don't remember her much.  She died of cancer when I was 10 years old, but I remember her snow white hair--she had gone white in her 20s, apparently.   She was married to Gus Fourtner, my grandmother's cousin, who was a district attorney in San Francisco, but who died before my parents met, so my mother never knew him either.

My mother and Babe were wonderful friends and when my  mother decided to become a Catholic, Babe was her godmother.  Babe was a very proper lady who worked as a legal secretary and had a very proper home.  She was also a devout Catholic and I know it shocked the heck out of her when she invited Father Joe (who baptised my mother) to her home for a very formal dinner with the family after the baptism and not only did he shed his clerical collar, but he and my sister, who was about 5 at the time, spent their time laughing and putting pitted olives on their fingers and waving them at everyone.  Father Joe was never a "proper priest."

When Babe died, she gave the bulk of her estate to my mother (which infuriated my grandmother who had been waiting for a big windfall).  My mother didn't get any money, except a small amount, but most of the things in Babe's house went to her.

My mother asked me at the time if there was anything from the house that I wanted as a keepsake of my godmother.  I didn't want to ask for anything big, so I asked for one of those acrylic blocks that have a rose etched into them.  The thing always fascinated me and I loved holding it when we went to visit her.

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It still sits on a shelf on a bookcase in the living room (one I have not catalogued here yet!)
Some time ago, in one of her "junk purges" that my mother goes through trying to get rid of "all this junk" in her pristeen home, she gave me a leather bound journal which had been Babe's.

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The journal recounts the honeymoon she and Gus went on in 1913, taking the train across the country to Boston, where they boarded the steamer SS Cymric, which sailed the route from Boston to Liverpool until 1916, when it was torpedoed by the Germans on the 8th of May 140 miles NE of Fastnet. (ain't Google great?).

Once they arrived in Liverpool, they went immediately to Ireland and then continued a European tour

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The journal has been sitting on my desk for a couple of years now and other than giving it a cursory glance now and then, I had never actually started reading it
But I started reading it today.  What a fascinating story.   It mostly reports what time they got up, where they ate, what they saw during the day, where they stayed, etc.  It's cute that this young bride always writes "my husband" in quotations, as if she is trying to get used to the idea of having a husband.
Within the accounts are little glimpses of life in 1913, like splurging on a dinner that cost 76 cents for the two of them.  Complaints of heat are consistent throughout the train trip across the country (in August!), reminding me that this was the time before air conditioning....and before transoceanic flights!!

There is shock at the poverty they found in the area around Cork.   "I did not believe such dirt,filth, or poverty existed in the world as we saw there and by the time you come to the end you are distracted with the children running at your heel calling 'Copper, Sir...?' 'penny, Miss...?'  It left a sad feeling with us."

As I reluctantly put the book aside this afternoon they had just had a rough crossing across the Irish Sea to Holyhead (in Wales--we set out on a ferry crossing in the other direction, from Holyhead to Dublin on our first trip to Ireland) and had arrived in London. I can't wait to read her comments from that city, which I know fairly well.  It has been nice spending the afternoon with my godmother, after nearly 60 years!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Recipe for Decluttering

I received a notice from the SPCA that its thrift shop is in need of donations.  I also know that Logos (the book store) can always use book donations, so I decided to start filling boxes to donate.  I figure if I do even a shelf a day, that's a shelf a day I didn't do before.

I started with cleaning out cookbooks.   There was a time when I collected cookbooks.  Lots of cookbooks. But I find that I rarely use any of them now because it's so easy to just google ingredients or recipe when I'm looking for inspiration.

So I got rid of an entire shelf of Weight Watcher books (some dating back to when WW was first started).  I can't remember when I last opened one and even should I be so inspired to need them again, I could get whatever I wanted on the internet.  That filled almost a whole banker's box right there.  I also included some books that I know I will never look at again.

I was in the midst of sorting through cookbooks when Walt panicked and asked what had become of his beer cookbook. "Beer Cookery" is one of those books which I will always keep, even if only for one recipe.  
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I don't think we have used the "Beer Cookery" (published in London in 1957) for anything but the recipe for "chops" (we use lamb chops) which Walt makes every few years. This year he made it for my birthday.  

Here's the recipe:
1/2 pint ale
2 eggs
vinegar (tarragon is excellent here)
nutmeg, lemon, parsley, seasoning
Fry the chops--well seasoned--in the ordinary way, and drain off the fat into a basin.  Pour the ale into the frying pan, season again, and simmer gently until the chops are tender.  When this has happened, take the chops out of the pan and put aside to keep hot.
     Pour the liquor from the pan into a basin, add a little vinegar, some capers, the yolks of the eggs, a grate of nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
     Beat this up well and add it to the fat that you drained off from the chops.  Pour all back into the frying pan and stir until the sauce thickens, when you should pour it over the chops.
     Serve the chops garnished with a slice of lemon and a spring of parsley.
Other books that I keep, even if for only one recipe, include a soup book where I get my wonderful lamb soup of the Middle East, the pie book I always use for lemon meringue pie, and a bread cookbook that I bought long before I ever had a bread machine.  I would also never give away my Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking (12 volumes) or my Good Housekeeping cookbook that I received for a bridal shower gift.  It was my bible--I liked it much better than "Joy of Cooking"--for many years.

I haven't made a huge dent in the collection, by a long shot, but I have rearranged things, dusted things, and freed up at least half a shelf.  It's a good start. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

One from My Bucket List

A couple of years ago, after I saw the movie The Bucket List, when a lot of people seemed to be making up long bucket lists of their own, I sat down to see what I would put on a bucket list.

It was difficult at first, but I finally managed to pull together ten things I would put on a bucket list, most of which will remain in my bucket after I've kicked it, but it included things like that inland passage cruise to Alaska that I've been talking about for years, seeing Iguacu falls in Brasil which my Brasilian brother Nelson has been telling me he wants to take me to, and seeing firsthand the Sheldrick elephant sanctuary in Kenya.  Big stuff.  Not likely to happen.

I didn't think about little things which were more do-able.  I should have added spending a couple of days in the Monterey area, seeing the aquarium, visiting the Steinbeck museum and eating at Steinbeck house.  That trip has been on my bucket list for about 20 years.

Today I actually did something on my bucket list that I didn't even realize was there until last week, though when I thought about it, of course it has been there.

Last week, at the end of my day at the book store, I was being relieved by owner Susan, who usually shows up about 30 minutes before I'm scheduled to leave and we chit chat until Walt finishes the beer he's having at the Irish pub around the corner.

Susan was talking about a trip she and husband Peter had taken to check out some book sales and how excited she was that she had found several copies of "Catcher in the Rye," because often it's a difficult book to find, since it was written in 1945 and not reprinted since 1951.  

I was telling her how I had never read the book and we joked about how while the book was often assigned for reading in high schools, it was not in Catholic schools because of the language, the s-word (sex) and the general negative attitude of hero Holden Caulfield.

At one point after I got my Kindle, I thought about seeing if it was available for the electronic readers, but mostly what I found were study guides, cliff notes, and one treatise which cost $36.  Needless to say, I didn't follow up.

"Catcher in the Rye" is not exactly something that is on my mind very often, but whenever I hear about it, like in a Jeopardy question or somebody mentioning it in passing, assuming the of course everybody has read "Catcher in the Rye."

Well, here was my chance.  A copy of the book right under my nose, and only $3 too.

It's been sitting here for a week.  I was going to take it to work on Tuesday, but I really want to leave Tuesdays for books that I pick up and read at the book store.  

But today Walt was working and I decided to take the day off and read "Catcher in the Rye."  It's about the length of each of the books I read each week at Logos and, in fact, I finished it in three hours, give or take a few minutes.
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I'm going to be writing a review of it now to post on my book review page, but I'm tickled that I can cross that item off of my bucket list, even if it was only really on it for about a week!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shrove Tuesday

About the only homage to Lent that I pay these days is serving pancakes for breakfast.  And I did.  Homemade from scratch were some of the best pancakes I've made in a long time.  I also realized that I would be working this afternoon and decided to make a crock pot recipe.  I looked up Shrove Tuesday recipes for the crock pot and found one for gumbo that sounded pretty tasty so I rushed out and got about $100 worth of ingredients and got all started cooking before I went off to Logos.

I decided to read a mystery today, and when I saw there were several Brother Cadfael books, I chose one of them.
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I had read one of these Ellis Peters books before...and I loved the TV series, starring Derek Jacobi.  This turned out to be just the right size book and I finished it in 3 hours, leaving me a whole hour to read a second book.
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It was like reading News of the Weird, containing snippet after snippet of weird things that people have done.  Like the guy known as the "Gloucester Jew," who lived in Scotland in the 18th century and fell in an open toilet, but wouldn't let anybody rescue him because it was Saturday, which was his Sabbath and nobody was supposed to work on the Sabbath.  The next day was Sunday, but that was the Sabbath for the Christians, and they couldn't work on that day.  By Monday, the man had died.

There was also a story Jeri and Phil would appreciate of a man who spent 3 hours digging out a parking space for his car, only to discover that when he went to get his car someone else had taken the space.  He shot her.

Stuff like that.

It was also a fun day at the book store.  One woman bought thirteen of the $1 bargain books that are outside the shop and 7 of the bargain books inside the shop, then came back and bought another big book about sunflowers and Van Gogh's paintings.  While I was trying to ring up her charge, a guy wandered around the shop talking to me nonstop.  We had started comparing notes on various crime dramas we had read and how people warned Ken Follett he would end his career if he took a break from crimes to write "Pillars of the Earth," which, this guy informs me, is consistently a best seller in Germany and is Follett's best known book.  

It was awkward doing a sale and keeping a conversation going at the same time.

Another guy came in to order a book and was disappointed that we don't order new books because he hates the independent book store in town ("They're Republicans," he sneered!) and didn't want to patronize it, but didn't see any other alternative, since Borders closed.

While I worked my last hour, Walt was in the new Irish pub which has just opened up in town.  He has one beer and then comes to pick me up.  It was perfect timing, since I had just about finished my second book and was sitting there chatting with Adrian, who had come to relieve me.

poledance.jpg (46762 bytes)On the walk back to the car, we passed this sign for another new business in town.   Whoda thunk.  I don't think I'll be volunteering at this business!

It was also a fun mail day, fortunately, with two great birthday cards from the granddaughters, and some fun post cards, including a list of 10 things I should do if I am ever in Belarus (like "try Narochansky bread," "Polish off all the draniki you can," "Taste krambabulia," and "try on a true flax outfit."

The house was filled with the aroma of gumbo when we came home.   Dinner was almost finished the first cooking part, so I added Orzo pasta, turned up the heat for another 15 minutes, and sat down to watch Jeopardy.  

Just about the time final Jeopardy came on, it was time to add the fresh shrimp I'd purchased that morning (1 lb of it!) and let it heat up.  Then just as the last question was answered, dinner was ready.
The gumbo was delicious and there was enough of it that it will also make our dinner for tomorrow.  I had also gone out and bought larger bowls to serve it in and I was very happy with the presentation.

 The evening ended with relaxing in front of the television set and, quite frankly, I had to drag myself to the office to write this entry!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Party Gal

You know, you'd think that having been raised by a mother who is always the belle of the ball, who is a terrific hostess, and sparkles in social situations (even with her early dementia!), being the granddaughter of a grandmother who was on the stage and also loved to throw parties and was quite comfortable in social situations, and having birthed children like Ned and Tom who seem to exude sociability and comfort in social situations, that I would not be such a stick in the mud.

Now, I realize, of course, that there is "sociability" and the "air of sociability," and perhaps all these people in my family who seem to be so good at it are just actors, but I am neither a social butterfly, nor a good actor.
The holidays are always filled with social gatherings to which we are invited (many fewer this year than usual). I have also been to a few parties since the first of the year and I always come away kicking myself for sitting off in a corner (yes, Ron, behind the potted palm!) not knowing what to say and so saying nothing, and just stuff my face with goodies because it give me something to do.

Here are some situations which have come up since, oh, let's say Thanksgiving.

I arrive at a party and someone I have not seen in a long time comes rushing up to me, as I stand by the plate that used to hold shrimp and sauce.  She gives me a hug and says "Oh, I haven't seen you in so long.  I want to talk with you, but I want to get some shrimp first.  Don't move.  I'll be right back" and off she floats through the crowd.

I stand there trying to see where she is and soon I see her on the other side of the room, in deep conversation with someone else.   I weave my way through the crowd and get to her side of the room, making it easier for her to catch up with me when she has finished her conversation, but she moves to another person and then another person.  I am surrounded by people I don't know, so I finally find a chair that has an empty seat next to it and sit down.  She never gets back to me at all.  She leaves the party without even saying goodbye.

In another case, someone comes up to me and we begin talking.  She asks me something about a show I have just reviewed.  I begin answering her question and someone walks up and interrupts, the person who was talking to me turns to the interrupter and starts a conversation with her and I am left wondering if I should stay and wait for her to finish or move on.  I stay and wait and when the second conversation is finished, the first woman walks off to talk with someone else.

We are invited to a party where I am under the impression that I will have an opportunity to talk with like-minded individuals, and when we get there, it is never pointed out who are the people I should meet, but I try anyway to get into the spirit of the conversation.  Two people are discussing bread machines and how much they hate them because they make the wrong sized loaf.  I happen to like my bread machine, but these people used theirs once and put them in the garage and obviously think anybody who would use a machine to bake bread (says the third person who joins the group), is cheating.  Well, so much for contributing to that discussion.

Another group is discussing movies, which I find fascinating, but can only listen because they have studied these movies and have deep insight about their real message, and I have only gone to see the movies and enjoyed them (or not).  I feel dumb and uninformed and just listen, but don't talk.

I am standing with a woman and another woman comes up.  The first woman says "...of course you know Gay Flebbich.  She's lived here 40 years, you've lived here almost that long..." and then she leaves me standing there with this total stranger whom, as it turns out, I have never met before. Gay Flebbich looks uncomfortable, turns and walks away, leaving me standing there.

I've tried stepping out from behind that potted palm and asking someone questions about their lives but, though interviewing people is supposed to be what I do in part of my job, I get monosyllabic answers and I can never come up with a follow-up question and the other person finds someone more interesting to talk to.
This is why I used to love my editor's Christmas party each year.  The guests were, for the most part, a bunch of social uncomfortables, some of whom were good minglers, others of whom (like me) were not.   For us there were party games we could play alone, answering trivia questions or counting objects or checking which of 7 drawings was different from the other 6.

If there was someone you wanted to talk with and if that conversation seemed to go well, that was great, but if there was not, you never felt that you stuck out like a sore thumb.

I like to think I'm sociable, but time and again, when we go to parties where we stand around a table full of food and drink and make small talk, I feel like a total idiot, like I don't have a brain in my head and even if I do, I can't formulate a statement or a question coherently, so I just stand there looking ridiculous.
Maybe I should switch my party beverage of choice from water to wine.  D'ya think that would help?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday Stealing

 99er Meme:  Final Part

76) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?
The ability to be friends, to laugh together, to face problems together, and (to quote Kwizgiver) accepting people for who they are.

77) How could someone win your heart?

Bring me world peace and a clean house.

78) In your world, what brings on more creativity?

For me, it's the example of others.  I have learned a lot, for example, from all the mail art bloggers.

79) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?

Giving up wearing uncomfortable shoes.

80) Why did you break up with your last ex?

I had to choose between a date with Keith and a date with Walt and I chose Walt.   Keith never asked me out again.

81) What would you want to be written on your tombstone?

It's all juice and crackers.

82) What is your favorite word?


83) Give me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word: delusional.


84) What is a saying you use a lot?

It's all juice and crackers.

85) Are you watching Idol this season? If yes, how do you like it?

I gave up on Idol a few seasons ago.

86) Were you surprised that House got canceled?

This is the first I heard that it had been canceled.  But I'm not surprised.  I used to love it and just got tired of House's personality.  Things went rapidly downhill when he got together with Cuddy.  I haven't watched it in at least a year.

87) What is your current desktop picture?

This is on my desktop....
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And this is on my laptop...
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88) If you could press a button and make anyone in the world instantaneously explode, who would it be?
Fred Phelps

89) What would be a question where you'd not tell the truth?

"Do you floss daily?"

90) One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by WEEPING ANGELS. The Weeping Angles aren't really doing anything, they're just standing around your bed. What would you do?

Pass around a big box of Kleenex

91) You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what's even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What is that power?

The power to soften humans' hearts and eradicate hate in the world.  Easy peasy, right?

92) You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?

Any part of the Lawsuit concert behind Wellman Hall, at UCD's Whole Earth Festival.

93) You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

The death of David and that horrible, horrible night when we got "the call" in New York.  If David hadn't died, I don't think that Paul would have died either.

94) You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. (let's say that you are both single and available) Who might it be?

I can't give you the name of any music celebrity right now, let alone one I'd like to sleep with.

95) You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?

Africa. (Yes, I know Africa is a big continent, comprised of many countries, but I can't choose a specific place in Africa.  It would have to be southern Africa, where the big game photo safaris are and perhaps Kenya or Uganda, where I have sponsored children.  But you can surprise me and drop me off anywhere in Africa where there is a tour guide waiting.)

96) Do you have any relatives or friends in jail?

Not that I know of, but given the eccentricities of this very large, very diverse family, it wouldn't surprise me.

97) Who's winning the U.S. Republican presidential nomination? Why?

Good Lord, I don't know.  The idea of any of them winning the presidency strikes fear and terror in my heart.

98) Who's winning the next U.S. Presidential election?

I hope Obama, but at this stage of the game, I don't have a clue.

99) If the whole world were listening to you right now, what would you say?

Wake up, people!  We're all in this together--now is not the time to be hating one another!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Short Stories

I feel like this is a day of short stories.   Actually, I didn't get that idea until mid-afternoon, sitting in front of Peet's Coffee having a raspberry mocha with Walt.

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Shortly after Walt sat down, a guy came walking up the street to my left.  It took me a minute to realize that he was dressed in a t-shirt and royal blue pajama bottoms, with some kind of pattern all over them, maybe space ships or rubber duckies or something.  Definitely pajamas.  He continued walking and quickly disappeared around the side of the building and I didn't think much about it until we were heading back to the car, when I saw him again.  He was coming from the direction of the supermarket and he had a case of beer under one arm.  He headed out to the street and disappeared before I could get my camera out.  But I figured there was a short story in the making if ever there was one.

mosaic.jpg (135682 bytes)I'm not sure the other stories were actually stories or interesting, but we have done a few things today.  

We drove downtown this morning because Walt had promised to take me to brunch at Cafe Italia, which was offering crabcake Benedict as one of its specials.

On the way we passed this huge guy standing outside the Natsoulas Gallery.  I had seen this statue before, but wanting to add the picture here made me look up exactly what it is.  This is what I learned:
Symbolically towering in front of the gallery itself, at nearly eighteen feet in height and approximately 2,300 lbs in weight, is the daunting Stan the Submerging Man, an internationally acclaimed sculpture of  [Finley] Fryer’s constructed and installed at the 1999 Burning man Festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. A collaborative piece constructed with the help of Fryer’s wife, artist Jayne Bruck Fryer, and Kirk LeClaire—whose wildly eclectic musical show called Stan’s Room provided the inspiration for the statue of the titular character—Stan aka the Diver serves as a brilliant introduction to the exhibition as well as an emblematic induction into the creative mind of the artist himself. Stan’s internal structure is fabricated of various dimensions of steel and can be disassembled into fourteen individual pieces. Using 600 tubes of clear latex acrylic adhesive caulk, Fryer attached an exterior ‘skin’ of donated plastic and colored vinyl’s collected by LeClaire that are illuminated at night by 1000 LED lights, illuminating the reclaimed consumer detritus in the spirit of a new realism.

So now we know!  I obviously need to go downtown at night and see if this guy lights up!
Dyson.jpg (72938 bytes)We continued on to Cafe Italia where we had probably the very best crabcakes Benedict I can remember having.  Both at Cafe Italia and at Peets later, Walt and I again turned into those people that I make fun of.  We are still trying to figure out our new cell phones and it's fun comparing what sorts of things we've discovered, so we each sit there looking at our phones and trying out stuff. (I'm currently trying to get the hang of "Four Square.")

After brunch was over, we both had to make a trip to the restroom before leaving.  It wasn't so much that nature was calling it often do you get to use the fabulous Dyson air blade hand dryer?  So much better and more efficient than the kind we all know that blows air on your hands and never dries them.   The Dyson sucks the water off your hands (without touching your skin) and your hands come out dry.  I wish there was a big move to change all public bathroom dryers to the Dyson! 

To get to the restroom, you travel past all these absolutely marvelous old movie posters.  I particularly liked this hall:

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You discover when you get to the end of the hallway that Marilyn is the signal for "women's" and it sits next to the "men's."

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I swear, going to the bathroom at Cafe Italia is almost as much fun as going to the bathroom at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo.

Our final story for the day was the annual Citizens Who Care concert, performed by a bunch of friends of ours.

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(left to right:  Lenore Gordon, Lenore Heinson, Gwyneth Bruch, Peter Shack, Bob Bowen,
Martha Dickman, Stephen Peithman, LuAnn Higgs and Joe Alkire)

These guys have been doing this concert for 20 years, to benefit Citizens Who Care, a nonprofit organization in Yolo County, dedicated to improving the quality of life for the frail elderly and their family caregivers through social support programs..  Walt is on their Board and has been in charge of publicity for this show, which, this year, features the music of (the lyrics of) Ira Gershwin.  This is one of my favorite concerts of the year.

As the evening comes to an end, I close the book of these short stories, smiling because it was a lovely book.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Where I've Been...Where I'm Going...

(Happy Birthday, Peggy, wherever you are)
Today I turned 69 and started my 70th year.   Throughout my life there has never been a traumatic birthday for me.  I didn't feel my life was over when I turned 30.  I didn't bemoan middle age when I hit 40.   50 and 60 didn't bother me at all.  I kinda liked entering my 50s and even my 60s.  But 70...approaching 70 somehow suddenly seems old, though  my mother scoffs that I don't know from "old," and most of my closest friends have paved the way into the 70s for me, so I'm still "the kid."
I do not, like Fagin in Oliver! take such a negative view...

What happens when I'm seventy?
Must come a time...seventy.
When you're old, and it's cold
And who cares if you live or you die.

But still I am passing through another decade and looking ahead to being 70 in a year. (I'm like my mother who started telling everyone she was going to be 93 on her next birthday the day after she turned 92!).  Naturally, I can't do something like starting a new decade without starting a new blog, so I've started a photo blog of "My 70th Year."  I hope to keep up with it for 365 days.  Just what the world needs, another 365 days seen through the lens of my camera!

I was thinking back over the decades of my life this morning.   Obviously until my 20th year, it was all concerned with growing up, going to school, and moving out on my own.

My early 20s were my party years, with all those activities with the Newman Club in Berkeley, which introduced me to the friends who have remained my friends to today.

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~ 1996

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My late 20s were for birthin' babies and working with La Leche League

My 30s were spent parenting, the kids' school and extra-curricular activities -- PTA, diving team, children's theater, Little League, scouting, 4H and so many other things.

By my 40s, the kids were older and I started going back to work, part time here in Davis and volunteering at the Lamplighters.  The 40s brought some of my greatest joys and my most painful (to that time) experiences.  With my friends Alison and Carolyn, I published a book that can be searched for on Amazon and in the Library of Congress.  That was unbelievably cool.  I also got into computers, and in 1986 met a group of people from around the world on CompuServe, many of whom have remained friends to today.

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My 50s brought me back closer to Davis, full time jobs, the Lawsuit years, the start of international travel, and the unspeakably painful deaths of David and of Paul.  I began my job as a theater critic in my late 50s and started writing Funny the World.  The decade also brought new friends like Steve and Peggy into my life.   I've always thought of them as the window God opened when he shut the door with Dave & Paul's deaths.
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My 60s brought more travel, a fling with better health with weight loss and exercise, taking up bike riding, and the bike accident that ended my ability to ride a bike.  It also brought the biggest hurt since 1986, with the end of my friendship with Peggy.  Today is the first time in 12-13 years when I have not had a birthday greeting from her, nor an explanation of why.  

But my 60s also brought Cousins Days, two beautiful grandchildren, eleven wonderful Compassion children, more than 100 foster dogs, having Cinderella weekends tagging on Steve's coat tails and meeting people like Carol Channing and Theodore Bikel, and a whole new volunteer job in the book store.  In my 60s, I've seen the death of too many close friends (including my mother-in-law), the start of my mother's journey into some of the difficulties of old age, and my own realization that I don't do things as quickly as I used to, it takes longer to learn somethings, and it's more difficult to remember things.

My mother took me to lunch today, at one of our favorite restaurants.   We had hoped for crab and creme brulee.  Instead I had ahi tuna and something called a 1892 s'more, described as "a Guinness Peanut Butter brownie, peanut and raspberry chili sauce, homemade marshmallow and graham crackers."  I ordered it because it sounded interesting.  The brownie was too dry, and there was a cookie instead of graham crackers, but oddly enough the homemade marshmallow, toasted, was the best part of the dessert.
I came home and Walt cooked dinner for me, and promises to take me to brunch tomorrow, where I can get crabcakes Benedict.  It's been a good day, despite the horrendous traffic driving home from my mother's.
So now on into my 70th year and the adventures awaiting me over the next decade.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The War on Women

Why do Republicans hate women?

I have been beyond furious since yesterday, and my mood did not improve as I read news reports today.

If you don't watch Rachel Maddow, please look at this 10 minute video clip. It starts with a report about the Westminster Dog Show, but then moves into what is happening in Virginia right now. If you are impatient, move the slider forward to about 3:30 minutes into the piece.

This is a report about the abortion bill (SB 484) in Virginia which will require women seeking abortions in Virginia (abortion, a legal medical procedure) a medically unnecessary vaginal probe (a transvaginal ultrasound) to determine gestational age of the embryo.

A Chicago Tribune article makes excellent points about this barbaric governmental intervention which the party of "smaller government" is trying to inflict on the women of Virginia.

To quote Tobias Barrington Wolff, Professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure at the University of Pennsylvania Law School,

Try to envision the mindset of a legislator who would enact a bill the sole purpose of which is to mandate the forcible, medically unnecessary invasion of a woman's vagina as the price -- the attempt at forced shame -- for terminating a pregnancy. Whatever a person's views on abortion might be, this is an assault of a different order. It is one thing to believe that abortion should be restricted; it is quite another to use the law to impose humiliation and invasion upon women who seek out the procedure. A person cannot enact such a law without embracing a willful disregard for the personhood and dignity of all women.

An article in the Virginian Pilot says,

The bill, among the most invasive ever passed in Virginia, is the result of frustration by lawmakers opposed to abortion. Unsuccessful in making abortion illegal and unwilling to be frank about their goals, they have tried by technicality and obfuscation to make it harder for a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

And now this. In addition to the ultrasound, the bill mandates a waiting period of at least 2 hours and as long as a day before a woman can have an abortion. That waiting period has no medical necessity at all.....

Seeing the bill as a fait accompli, Virginia Representative David Englin sought to add an amendment that which would at least require that a woman give her permission to that medically unnecessary, state-ordered vaginal probe. The amendment failed by a vote of 64-34.

There is a similar bill being discussed in Texas and an article in the Houston Chronicle observes, a close reading of the Texas Penal Code, Section 22.011, suggests that the new law may also constitute a sexual assault upon women, which is a second-degree felony. The code defines a sexual assault as an offense in which a person intentionally or knowingly causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person's consent. Furthermore, the law stipulates that one condition of nonconsent is met when the actor is a public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate.

A transvaginal ultrasound may give a more clear picture of the embryo, but if there is no doubt that the woman is pregnant, what is the purpose of just seeing it more clearly, if not to make the whole procedure even more upsetting for the woman?

And then this morning there is a report on a contraceptive hearing where Republicans refuse to let women testify. Witnesses consisted of only male religious leaders, and a female college student was denied the right to voice her opinion because she was deemed not to have the appropriate credentials to testify.

These are the people who swept into office on the promise of creating jobs, reducing the deficit and bringing us smaller government. Yet there have been no jobs bills, and they are spending their time creating laws that will affect the very private lives of thousands of women across this country, without allowing the women to voice their opinion.

I feel paralyzed with anger and frustration....and this doesn't even affect me at all. I can only imagine how women of child-bearing years are feeling, if they are even aware of what is going on.

The all-male GOP leadership is calling on all-male religious leaders
to decide whether birth control should be fully covered by insurance plans.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What I Wore

As I mentioned a few weeks back, my goal each time I'm at the book store is to choose a book that is short enough I can probably finish it in 4 hours. The idea was that I could read something I probably would never read otherwise. I've successfully done that during each of my afternoons there and am getting into the hang of it, and even starting to plan.

Since I was going to work on Valentine's day, I thought about what would be good and appropriate to read on that day. I decided I should pick out a Harlequin romance novel because a good bodice-ripper seemed to be appropriate for this holiday of romance, and I had never actually read a Harlequin romance because it just isn't my cuppa tea and this would be my chance to get a feel for them.

Well, I couldn't find a Harlequin romance (perhaps because owners, Susan and Peter, have better taste?) so that left me looking for something appropriate to read on Valentine's day.

Elizabeth Berg's "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" concerns a 30-something woman whose biological clock is ticking and who is madly in love with her gay ex-fiance and can't see herself with anyone else. My review is on my Books Read in 2012 page, so I won't repeat it here, but it did kinda fit into the whole Valentine's Day theme, being concerned with love and marriage and that sort of thing.

The problem with the book was that even though it was nearly 300 pages, it was a very fast read and I ended up with an hour and a half left of my time before I was going to be leaving, so I went to look for another very short book.

I ended up choosing a book I'd heard of for some time, Ilene Beckerman's "Love and Loss and What I Wore." It's a very short book and half of it is cartoonish drawings so I knew I could finish it in plenty of time. If you aren't familiar with the book, it is Beckerman's life as told through the clothes she wore at significant times in her life -- school dances, her wedding, the period of time after her divorce, job interviews, etc. One page explains the situation and the facing page is one of her cartoons, showing herself in that outfit.

Someone reviewing this book on Amazon wrote, "So much of our memories have an affiliation with an outfit...this is a celebration of being a woman."

This was a book I could not relate to at all. I started thinking about it today and tried to remember any clothes that I wore throughout that made such an impact on me that years later I could remember them.

BrownieUniform.jpg (57520 bytes)Beckerman starts with her Brownie uniform and so far we were doing well together, she and I. I do remember my Brownie uniform, with its little beanie with the tag on the top of it. I even remember my green Girl Scout uniform and the sash that went across my chest, where my mother sewed on my merit badges.

I also remember my school uniforms, the white middyblouse with blue collar and cuffs and the navy blue pleated skirt that went with it for grammar school, and then the green plaid skirt and white blouse, with green sweater for high school.

It would be surprising if I didn't remember these uniforms, since I wore the grammar school uniform for eight years and the high school uniform for four years. I maybe losing my memory occasionally, but if I forget what those uniforms looked like, we can all start to worry.

But I sat here today and tried to remember "significant" clothes throughout my life. I remember the matching Easter outfits that Karen and I wore one year. They were grey tailored outfits made by a Russian seamstress named Olga Gayno (that last name may be spelled wrong...probably is!). I don't know why I remember that except maybe because having clothes specially tailored for me was a big deal. I don't know who Olga was or how my mother found her. Presumably through my grandmother.

The only other piece of clothing that I can remember during grammar school is a circle skirt that was black and quilted with a gold thread. I loved wearing skirts that "swirled" and this was a good swirling skirt. I usually wore it with a short-sleeved blouse or sweater and a neck scarf because I loved how Audrey Hepburn looked wearing a neck scarf. Somewhere there is a picture of me in that skirt in 8th grade (which is maybe why I remember it).

I've tried and tried and can't think of a thing I wore during my high school years except the yellow dress I wore to my junior prom and the green emerald satin dress I wore to my senior prom. There is a lovely picture of me in that emerald dress.

Of course I remember my wedding dress and the pink suit that was my going-away outfit, but when I think of all the significant events in my life I can't connect any of them to dresses. I don't remember what I wore to any of my job interviews, or what I wore to any of the kids' baptisms. I don't remember the clothes I wore to my children's funerals.

Oh, I can remember some clothes I owned, I remember photos of me in certain dresses or other outfits, but I could not, for the life of me, tell my story by the clothes that I wore.

Heck, I can hardly remember which t-shirt is under the sweatshirt I am wearing as I sit here.

I have to face it -- clothing has never been a big deal in my life, at least not to remember how I felt at certain times by remembering clothes that I wore. Ilene Beckerman, you're a better (wo)man than I am!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ten Facts about Chocolate

This being the season of chocolate, I thought I would do some research and see what interesting facts I can learn about chocolate.

1. People spend more than $7 billion a year on chocolate. The fact does not state if this is each or grouped together, but I figure that I have significantly helped to reach this total.

2. According to the fact sheet, the per capita consumption of chocolate indicates that each person consumes 12 lbs of chocolate a year. I want to know if this is my limit, like the monthly data usage for Verizon. If this is my limit, I am in big trouble--and it's only February.

3. David Gerrold consumes well over 12 lbs of chocolate a year.

4. In the movie Psycho, Hitchcock used chocolate syrup to simulate blood in the shower scene, which may be why Janet Leigh spent so much time in the shower--she wasn't screaming; she was opening her mouth to catch the chocolate!

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It is a little known fact that she gained 5 lbs during the filming of that scene. (OK, I made that last part up.)

5. The first known use of chocolate was by the Mayans from about 250 to 900 A.D. They used cacao for many things, including money. 10 beans would buy you a rabbit, or a prostitute. Of course if you spent all your beans buying a prostitute, you would have no way to keep her happy because you couldn't offer her chocolate truffles.

6. The first recorded case of "Death by Chocolate" occurred in the 17th century when the Catholic church in Chiapas, Mexico issued a ban on chocolate. The townspeople refused to uphold it and the bishop was found dead from poison mixed in his own chocolate. (Even then the clergy were issuing "do as I say, not as I do orders".)

7. More than 60 million Hershey's kisses are made each day. My mother buys most of them.

8. More than twice as many women as men eat and crave chocolate (and this is a surprise to anybody?)

9. The biggest chocolate structure ever made was made in Belgium, using at least 50,000 chocolate bars.

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10. People rarely buy chocolate for fat people.

So. Given #10, I have watched each year as Walt buys chocolates for the kids. We've never done gifts for Valentine's Day (such a silly custom), but sometimes a girl just wants to have an excuse for chocolate, you know.

So this year I set about deciding how I was going to treat myself. My first thoughts always turn to See's, the candy I grew up on, but I'm not sure you can actually buy See's in Davis and I certainly wasn't going to drive 20 miles to get myself a few pieces of chocolate. And besides, someone had brought a box to See's to my mother recently and I had had some there.

I thought about getting myself a candy bar, but that seemed too mundane.

I thought of going to the candy store in town but I get all flummoxed when presented with a number of choices behind a glass when someone is waiting for me to decide. And what if they weren't really good, or at least not the taste I was looking forward to.

I bought chocolate croissants for us for breakfast this morning, and served them with strawberry smoothies (Walt found two awesome cards, one from him and one from "the girls.").

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I also went to the supermarket and bought a bag of Lindor truffles (which I love) to take with me to the book store.

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(I wanted to read a Harlequin romance novel because I've never read one and I figured a good bodice-ripper might be just the thing to read on Valentine's day, but I couldn't find one, so I read this instead...I couldn't pass up the baby feet in the picture!)

hotchoc.jpg (85838 bytes)There is one of the pen palling bloggers who has been touting her chocolate product. I keep seeing ads for it everywhere, and even sent some to Jeri and Phil for Valentine's Day.

I was recently in the supermarket and noted that it is not available on the store shelves, so I treated myself to a block of chocolate on a stick, which you immerse in a cup of hot milk and let melt for a hot chocolate treat to end the night.

I think I'm all chocolated, now, and able to go for another year before such a splurge! (But I'm dangerously close to my 12 lb limit for 2012.)