Sunday, June 30, 2013

What an Awesome Day!

Yesterday was awesome from start to finish and my heart was so full as I tumbled onto couch at 1 a.m.

First, I bought my new camera.  It does neat stuff like this:

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It also has a 16x zoom which, when used in a moving car still gives clear pictures (no way would I have gotten this picture with my Panasonic)

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On the freeway there was a kerfuffle going east (we were going west).   A helicopter landed on the freeway and traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see.  That was kind of exciting (until later that night we learned there had been a shooting, a bad guy was killed and people were stuck for as long as 2 hours in the sweltering heat.  One woman wrote that her car got up to 121 degrees!)

Walt turned on the radio to get traffic reports and instead heard that a California appeals court had lifted the ban on gay marriages (instead of waiting the expected 25 days) and that marriages were starting to be performed at San Francisco City Hall now.  We listened to the first marriage ceremony, when Sandy Stier and Kristin Perry (one of the two couples which brought the action challenging Prop 8) were married by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.  I listened to the ceremony with tears running down my cheeks.  I don't know either woman, but I remember the emotion surrounding Ellen and Shelly's wedding 5 years ago and was just so happy that after fighting so hard all these years these two women were finally legally married.

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When we got to San Francisco's City Hall, there was a rainbow flag flying from one of the balconies.

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We parked the car and took our Groupon to Canto do Brasil, a restaurant where I have wanted to eat for many, many years. 

feijoada.jpg (49370 bytes) At first they weren't going to seat us because it's a small place and we had no reservation, but the guy finally took pity on me and told us that if we promised to leave by 7 p.m., he would serve us.  Since we had tickets for a concert at 8, I told him that would be no problem.  In fact, I had been concerned because we had been told service there was very slow.  This would ensure that we would be out on time.

We both ordered caiparinia, that Brasilian drink with tons of limes and cachaca, a kind of Brasilian rum.  I hadn't had one of those in decades and it was as delicious as I remember it being.

Walt had feijoada, the national dish of Brasil, but I decided to order a shrimp dish because I can make feijoada myself and I remember some really good shrimp dishes.  We were disappointed that there was no pao de queijo, a really good little cheese bread that I have made and love, as an appetizer, but we had a cheese croquette, which was delicious and a new taste sensation.

As promised, we left the restaurant promptly at 7 and walked to the Nourse Theatre for a concert by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, called Harvey Milk 2013.  The reason we had tickets was that our friend Steve Schalchlin had written a number that was being performed.  They offered him comp tickets, but since he's in New York and couldn't fly out, he offered them to us.

When we got to the theater, they had no tickets for us at will-call, so they called their Management Director to see what he could do about it.  To our delight, the Management Director was John Alecca, former General Manger of the Lamplighters and a long-time friend, someone Alison and I had interviewed for the book a few months ago.  John got tickets for us.  Great seats...reviewer quality seats. 

I wish I could express adequately the emotion I felt sitting there in San Francisco on Gay Pride Eve, just after the first same sex marriages had been conducted and celebrating the very first gay man in the country to ever be elected to public office.

At the start of the program, two of the organizers said that they knew that they would be celebrating Harvey Milk on the 35th anniversary of his assassination, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Men's Chorus, but there was no way when they planned this that they could have anticipated they would also be celebrating the wins in the Supreme Court and the weddings that were about to take place.  There was a long sustained applause and cheers that rolled through the auditorium and I suspect there were a lot of tears.

The show started with a recording Milk had made to be played only in the event of his assassination.  He had a premonition of what was inevitably to happen, but probaby would not have guessed that Mayor George Moscone would be killed by Supervisor Dan White as well.  At intermission, Cleve Jones, who started the AIDS quilt so many years ago, said that as he stared down to the floor at the newly murdered Milk on that fateful night, all he could think of was "It's over. It's all over."  He went on to say that later that night as hundreds of people, and then thousands of people and then tens of thousands of people marched from the Castro District to City Hall carrying candles and as a small group of men got up and sang on the steps of City Hall (the first performance of the newly formed Gay Men's Chorus), he thought "'s not all's just beginning."

And was it ever.  Certainly nobody 35 years ago could have predicted how far the gay community has come in its fight for equal rights, and definitely not the actions of the Supreme Court this week.  Harvey Milk started it all.  I wonder if the United States will ever put his face on a postage stamp (probably not!)

The concert was in two parts.  Part 1, "I am the Legacy," four musical numbers which were chosen from hundreds that had been submitted from all over the world from the "Post-Harvey generation" who are today benefiting from and living his legacy.  Steve's "I met a boy" was second and struck a nice tone between pathos and humor as three groups of men sang about meeting their partners in different decades and what a difference it was (I asked him for lyrics, but he hasn't sent them yet.  In some places, audience reaction covered up what the chorus was singing).  It got loud, sustained applause and appropriate laughter throughout the performance.

There was also an amazing dance number and a poignant song written by a young man about growing up gay in Altoona, PA. ("I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that's what this is all about. It's not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it's about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope." -- Harvey Milk).  

Part 1 ended with a song called "Give Them Hope" with visuals by the chorus that are indescribable, but amazing.  From the program:  "The selected dance, video, art, original music, and new choral pieces weave together a testimony of how Harvey Milk has changed the world for the better."  (The technicians must have been working overtime because one of the video clips included video from the wedding that had taken place that afternoon!)

Part Two was the meat of the concert, a monumental song cycle by Andrew Lippa (who also played Harvey Milk in the piece) called "I am Harvey Milk."  It combined video, choral work, solos by Lippa, by Noah Marlow, a kid with a great set of pipes and an impressive resume for one so young, as the young Harvey Milk, and Laura Benanti as "Soprano."

As an evening's entertainment, it was emotionally exhausting and I cried more than once throughout.  But then it was back out into the world again.   We took a detour and went to look at city hall, lit up in rainbow colors.   There were lots of people taking pictures.

 My heart was full and so happy for all of the gay people in California and across the nation whose equality with heterosexual people has just been acknowledged by the Supreme Court and the Obama Administration.  I thought of the 1950s, which I remember, growing up in San Francisco, where I would see photos in the paper of gay men being loaded into paddy wagons and taken off to the police station, just because they were in a bar together.  I remember the 60s, when people began coming out of the closet, when the Castro became the "gay neighborhood."  I remember the 70s and 80s when AIDS began to decimate the gay community and nobody knew what it was, and President Reagan refused to even acknowledge that there was a problem.   And I remember standing with Ellen and Shelly at Equality rallies, writing endless letters, signing endless petitions, culminating in the jubilation of their legal wedding, only to watch that dreaded Proposition 8 deny that legal right to other gay couples in love.  And I thought of last week when the Supreme Court finally admitted that DOMA was unconstitutional and struck down Proposition 8.  I thought how far this determined population has come and what an amazing feeling it must be today.  And how much more work there is to do.

The drive home was OK to a point and then we ended up stopped dead.   It was exactly in the spot where the morning's back-up had been, though I have not been able to find any reason for it, and the reports of the accident say that it was cleaned up within 4 hours.  But since we couldn't see an end to the stop and go traffic, Walt turned around and took a back way into Davis.  Still it was after midnight before we got home and the dogs were very hungry.

But what a day!  Absolutely amazing and I'm so grateful (and yeah, even proud) to be Steve Schalchlin's friend and have him think to offer these tickets to us!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Life of a Camera

It's time to tell the story of my camera.

Many years ago.  I don't remember how many now, but long before Walt's mother got so sick she had to move out of Assisted Living, Peggy (yes that Peggy) gave me a new camera for Christmas.  It was a Panasonic Lumix TZ5, I think.   Great little point-and-shoot camera.  I think it had an 10x zoom, which was quite a bit more than I had on my then-current camera.

The first thing I took the camera to was Cousins Day, where I was showing it off to Peach, Kathy and my mother while we were starting to drink our martinis.   Until now, only Peach and my mother remember the story (and my mother probably doesn't remember it either!), but I somehow bobbled the camera as I was going to show it to someone of them, the camera flew up in the air and -- I couldn't do this again if I tried -- it fell right into Peach's martini.

Needless to say, vodka does not make a good camera bath and the thing was fried.

I was sick.

I didn't dare tell Peggy...or even Walt, for that matter.   Instead I went out the next day and bought an identical camera and nobody was the wiser.

I used that camera happily for a long time until the day I took it to Santa Barbara when we were visiting Alice at Maravilla.  I took the camera with me when we went to dinner because I didn't want to leave it unguarded in her apartment. 
Well, when dinner was over, I forgot and left the camera in its little bag next to the dining room table.  I realized it when we got back to Alice Nan's house and I immediately called the dining room and spoke with the person in charge who assured me that, yes, they had found the camera and had taken it to the office and I could pick it up at the office the next day.


Only when I went to the office, nobody could find the camera and the person who purportedly took it there was not expected to be back at work for a week and was unreachable.

It toook several weeks of back and forth and wonderful follow up by Alice Nan (since we had to go home), but eventually Maravilla gave me a check for the amount of the camera and I went and bought another Panasonic.  The nice thing was that between the time I lost it and the time I bought a new one, a new model had come out, now with a 12x zoom.  Even better.

I have used that camera happily for at least five years or more.   It has taken me to France, Italy, Russia, China, and all those countries we visited last year.  It has been a great, loyal camera and though (truth to tell), I had some complaints about photo quality, in the size I post the pictures on this journal, you could never tell and the very good outweighed the less-than-good, so I've been happy.

Only now the camera is being temperamental.  The zoom sticks.   When I push the shutter, nothing happens.  Or I think I've taken a photo and discover later it did not actually take it.  It's still a fine camera, but facing a trip to the Ukraine in the immediate future, I didn't want to go with a camera that was going to fail on me sometimes, so I decided to get a new camera.

Despite my complaints about the Panasonic, I thought I'd just get another one, since I am so familiar with that one, but it turns out that Office Max doesn't carry that brand, but they do have Canon cameras, and if I were not going to get a Panasonic, Canon would be my next choice.  Jeri swears by hers.  Char swears by hers.  Peggy has an SLR, but it, too, is a Canon

I found the Canon model I thought I would like and, in a decision that rivals the decision we made to buy a new car (i.e., very little mental debate), I bought it.  It seems to bridge the gap between an automatic point-and-shoot camera and a fancy "do all the settings yourself" camera in a way that the Panasonic did not.  And it has a 16x zoom.   I'm going to be curious to see how it actually does at 16x, because it was the quality of the zoomed photos that I most was upset about.

The only thing it does NOT have, which I'm sorry I didn't notice, is a self-timer.  I used the self timer a lot on the Panasonic, but mostly for Cousins Day events, and we don't have those any more, so maybe the lack won't be so bad.  And the Panasonic still works for those pictures I take of myself around the house, so it's not like I don't have a self timer at all.

The next several days are going to be very hot (109 predicted for Wednesday), so it's a great time to sit at home and play with the new camera and learn to love it like I have loved the Panasonic for so long.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

UCB and B of A

Ned sent us a link to this video today:

If you were never at UC Berkeley in the 60s, this is probably not anything that would interest you.  If the player does not come up in this video, the URL is   It plays on my computer just fine, but on Walt's it is about half speed so v-e-r-y s-l-o-w.

I haven't watched the whole thing yet.  In fact, I was planning on writing this journal entry in the morning because I'm very sleepy and ready to go to my couch and see if I can sleep tonight, but when I saw bits of the video, I decided to use it for a journal entry.

The thing that is interesting about this video is that attached to the original page is a long list of identifiers to what you are seeing.  Things like:

Suits in offices talking -- professors
Male professor stands and reads book in front of fireplace
Male professor stands in front of map of North America
Male professor stands in front of atomic chart and explains
Man tends plants in nursery

Man sits behind desk...
and Fancy house (athletic?) on hill above campus -- gabled roof
The list is very long and very generic, and it shows that whoever put this together really didn't know much about campus.  The "man sitting behind desk" is university president Clark Kerr, for example, and the "fancy house (athletic?) on hill above campus..." 

Bowles.jpg (67796 bytes) Bowles Hall, a men's dormitory, which sits slightly to the north of the football stadium.  Of course it could be I who doesn't know anything, because for all I know it has a completely different use today, 50 years after I was on the campus.

The whole 27 minutes of film looks like it could have been taken from my collection of 8 mm movies from the same time period.  Soundless, much of it under or over exposed, jerky motion, but bringing back so many memories of movies of football games, Mike Blackford playing in the Cal band, and fun around Newman Hall, the construction of the new Newman Hall... One day we'll have to look at those movies again!

$ $ $

Remember a couple of weeks ago when my mother and I went to the notary to get a form notarized and all the complications that followed?  I don't know if I mentioned that the form was rejected because it wasn't a Medallion signature.   It also turned out that Ed needed to sign the form too.

So Ed got a new form, took it to the Bank of America in San Rafael, had his signature witnessed with a Medallion signature and sent it to me to take my mother to the Bank of America in Davis and get her signature witnessed.  Simple enough, right?

Oh, how innocent we are...

We were at the bank one hour and thirty minutes and left without the Medallion signature.  It's too complicated to go in to all the reasons, but the woman we were working with ended up calling the B of A in San Rafael (which said it never should have authorized Ed's signature and that there had been an error); my mother's financial consultant, who said he would send us papers that would explain everything, and only faxed the same papers we already had--and then hung up on the BofA rep and left his office; his assistant who said that really a simple notarized signature should work and that we should go back to the original notary and have him do again the exact same thing he already did which had been rejected; and the company that holds her trust to find out if they would accept the simple notary (they would not). None of us understands why this is so damn complicated when all we are trying to do is increase her monthly draw from $700 to enough to cover her monthly rent at Atria.

I called Ed and he's livid.  The B of A rep told me the only thing she could do was meet with BOTH Ed and my mother, with a copy of my mother's trust in hand, and open a new account for her so that the funds could be transferred to that account.  When I last heard from Ed, he was going to go and see the financial advisor and find out how this could all be simplified.  In the meantime she has no money coming into her account and will have to pay her rent by Visa (which is OK because it turns out that the double rent she was charged is actually correct and that Atria "forgot" to charge her for the first month.  They apologized profusely and say they will "try" to get the late fee subtracted.  They jolly well better subtract it!!!!

OK.  Now that my adrenalin is flowing again and I'm all worked up, I guess I'll try to go to sleep.  Maybe I should have a martini first...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sometimes it's Heartbreaking

My mother was a stay at home Mom until I went to high school.   Karen was 4 years younger, so she was in her last years in our 8-grade grammar school.  Up until that time she was the Mom who sat at the kitchen table with a bowl in her lap, peeling apples for her famous apple pie.  She was the Mom who helped us with homework, who helped the Girl Scout leaders when they asked for volunteers, and who kept the house spotless.

But as she was starting to be faced with a mostly empty nest and a difficult husband, she saw an ad in the paper from Bank of America, which was looking for typists.  She went in for an interview and set her own conditions (because of my father's work schedule, she could only work 3 days a week, they would be a different three days every week and she couldn't tell which days they would be until the end of one week).   Amazingly they hired her.

She started working 3 days a week, gradually worked up to a full time job, as she felt more comfortable being away from home, and eventually was promoted to a Trust Officer, an office she held for several years, during which time she was also vice president of the Business & Professional Women's club and gave speeches regularly. 

She was also the treasurer in any organization she joined.  She kept the books for our household.

And so it is heartbreaking to watch her struggle to do simple math problems in the Brain Gymnasium, which we attended today for the first time.  It requires thinking to figure out the problem.  The first was to tell what was the date the day before two days from tomorrow.  Her main problem was that she had no idea what today's date was, but she was so embarrassed.  She didn't notice that two other people in the group had problems with the question too.

We have been attending "Keep Your Brain Sharp," which, to tell you the truth, is just plain boring.  The leader, who is not particularly vivacious, gives assignments like "list the presidents starting with the current one and so backwards and see how many you can name" or "make a list of all the animals that you might see around here."  Then she leaves the room, comes back in, has us read our lists and gives another list. I have been taking her to the class because it helps her brain work, but today we tried the other memory program and it is head and shoulders (and perhaps torso also) above Brain Sharp.

Michael, the leader of this group, is extremely outgoing, charismatic, and very, very encouraging, telling my mother over and over again that there are no wrong answers and that the whole point of the exercises is to get your brain to actually think.

There was another exercise where you named a geographical location that did NOT end in the letter "A" and the next person named a place that begins with the last letter of the previous location.  Everybody had difficulty with that at one time or another, and though my mother had more problem than the others, I would see her working and enjoying it.

There were 3 other people in this class (plus Michael), 2 of whom do not live at Atria, but live in the community and come for the exercises.  They were so incredibly encouraging to my mother and told her over and over and over again how much it helps and how the important thing was to keep coming back because it works (sounds like an AA meeting!)

I had planned to stay for lunch and wait until Alice Nan came to visit.  She was in Sacramento and had not yet seen my mother's apartment, but during the class Walt called to let me know I had to make a change in a review I had written, so I didn't stay for lunch, but came home and went back later.  

It was very interesting to talk with my mother during the hour before Alice Nan arrived.  It was like she had slipped mentally back about 3 weeks.   It's hard to explain, but the things she didn't know about Atria are things she has known well for the last week or so.  I wondered if all that brain work had shaken things up in there and it all needed to settle down again.

She asked me four times where Alice Nan lived now and one of the first things she asked Alice Nan was where she was living now, but basically I think she enjoyed the visit.

While we were waiting for Alice Nan to arrive, she was looking at our "homeplay" (since Brain Gymnasium isn't school, Michael doesn't assign "homework" but "homeplay."  I loved the first one.

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It's like a verbal sudoko, where you have to figure out how to get all the words into the blocks.  I saw immediately how to do it, [spoiler case you want to do this on your own] -- Once I noticed that "slow" and "went" were the only two words with the letter w in them, the whole thing fell into place instantly.  I wasn't going to show my mother how to do it, but I did explain that she should look for the letter that was in only two words.  It took her awhile to find it, but she did.  I told her she was right and explained about placing those two words and that would make it easy to put the other words in.

It wasn't three minutes before she picked it up again, as if she had never seen it before.  I tried explaining the whole "w" thing to her and she couldn't understand "letter" vs. "word."  When I told her to find the letter that was in only two words, she was pleased to find the rhyming pair "pent" and "went."  The whole exercise she had struggled to understand from 3 minutes before was just gone.

(I should add that the second exercise for us to do is something that totally defeats me.  It's along the lines of trains leaving stations at different times, or something like that.  No way can I figure it out, so my mother shouldn't feel bad that she's "so dumb" because on this exercise I'm just as dumb as she is!  I have been invited to be a regular member of the group, not just to accompany my mother!)

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YOU work it out.  I'm stumped.

 I'm hoping she will make friends with the people in Brain Gymnasium so that when we are on our vacation, someone will remember to remind her about coming to class.  I have already made arrangements with Atria's General Director so that I can send e-mail for her to him each day and he will print it off and deliver it to her, which means that not only will she get a letter from me almost every day, but someone will actually check and make sure she's doing well while I'm away.  This is a huge worry off my mind.

I was at Atria almost the whole day today.  I picked up some KFC to bring home for dinner, while Walt was in San Francisco.  Tomorrow Walt and I are  going out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary a day late.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One Little Word: Married

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When Walt and I married, 48 years ago today (happy anniversary, dear!), Ellen and Shelly had not yet met each other.  Nobody ever even thought in terms of the concept of "same sex marriage" and certainly nobody could have predicted that some day it would be legal anywhere in this country.

Today, as I sat with tears rolling down my eyes, the Supreme Court said that the federal government must extend equal rights to everyone married in states which allow same sex marriage and, though they did not make same sex marriage the law of the land, they upheld the decision of Justice Walker in California and marriage is now once again legal in the state of California.

The news cameras which were covering the reading of the decisions flittedback and forth between gatherings outside the Supreme Court and the gathering inside the California State Capitol, so I was able to instantly watch Shelly and Ellen rejoycing in the decision for which they have worked so hard for so many years.  For Shelly and Ellen, the Prop 8 decision was irrelevant because no matter how it was decided, their marriage (and the other 1800 marriages which took place during that window when it was legal) were not being challenged (though if Prop 8 stood, it is possible their marriage could have been nullified by another court decision), but now every gay couple in love in California has the possibility to marry again.

Though some of the decisions coming out of the Supreme Court this week were a bit depressing and I was very dubious about what would happen in the decisions today, the Supreme Court did the right thing. They understood the humanity of all people, they said that gay people have equality with straight people and this is a huge decision.   I have been crying happy tears since the decisions were read.

Walt and I celebrate 48 years today and we are celebrating in a way normal for us.  Walt is going to San Francisco to go to the opera; I am going to a memory class with my mother and spending time with her until Walt's sister drops by for a visit.

This doesn't mean we won't be celebrating our anniversary.  We exchanged cards, Walt gave me some beautiful flowers, and we will go out to dinner tomorrow night.  

Forty-eight years.  My lord...where did the time go? 

Ellen and Shelly have been together 40 years, married since 2008.   Today is a huge day for them.

Congratulations to all of my gayfriends on an historic ruling today.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Belated Sunday Stealing

This week's questions come from BackTalkk Quotes. They didn't say where they got it, but it was probably stolen as well.

What kind of car would you buy?
We just bought a new car that I love.  I am not interested in a new car (car models never really interested me anyway)

Where in the country would you move to?

I would stay here, at least while my mother is still here.

What kind of house would you buy?

Our mortgage is paid and we come under Prop 13 protections.  I like our house. We'd be silly to move, but I would make a lot of changes around here. actually hire workers!

Would you give your family any money?

Definitely.  We'd work out how to share the money with the kids, set up trust funds for Brianna and Lacie, and ensure that my mother could live without financial worries as long as she wants to.

What charity would you donate to?

-Compassion, International
-The Lamplighters
-Doctors Without Borders
-The Sheldrick Foundation (which rescues orphaned elephants in Kenya)
and probably more that I will undoubtedly hear from after my big announcement.

Would you give your friends any money?

Depends on why they needed it, but I'd definitely be happy to share.

Where would you go on vacation?

Africa, and then the inland passage to Alaska.

What luxury item would you buy first?

A super computer with a technician to set it up to my own specifications (and to be at  my beck and call whenever I need assistance)

Would it change your life?

Of course.  For one thing, I'd have to actually pay attention to money issues for a change.

Would you save any of it?

We would decide that with a financial planner.  At 73, we can be a little more cavalier about spending, but I want to be sure that we can live somewhere debt free until we die.

Would it change your current relationship?

I hope not

Would you quit your job?

Can you quit "retired"? 

Would you ever work again?

I would continue to be a theater critic, because I like being a theater critic (though having that much money would mean I could see things I want to see from the good seats and not have to see things I am not interested in, so maybe I would NOT work again.)

What one task would you never do again?

I wouldn't say "never" but having someone to plan meals, shop and clean up afterwards would be great...unless I felt like cooking myself

What dream of yours would you be able to do?

Give a major financial family gift to each of my 14 Compassion children!

Would you change the way you dress?

Definitely.  I would hire Omar the Tentmaker to make a wardrobe that actually fits and, as much as possible, flatters.

Would you change anything about your body?

I might actually go to a hairdresser and have my hair "done" each week, like my mother does.  Otherwise, no.

Would you miss anything about not being rich?

It would depend on how much my anonymity is disturbed.

Who would be the first person you tell?

Walt...and then a financial planner.

Would it bring you happiness?

Perhaps in the moment, but money does not buy true happiness.  I don't look for a financial windfall to make me happy.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kate Smith Lives

It was the 7th inning stretch and we stood to sing "God Bless America" when I realized that we were singing along with Kate Smith, of all people.

KateSmith.jpg (3236 bytes)Kate Smith was a part of my childhood and she died in 1986.  But she was best known for her rendition of "God Bless America."  A quick Google search will yield several videos of her singing that song.  And apparently she will live in perpetuity for her connection with that song, at least in the 7th inning of Giants games in San Francisco!

We left Davis around 10 a.m. this morning to drive to Walnut Creek, where we would drop the car off at the BART lot and take Bay Area Rapid Transit to the stadium.  So much easier than trying to deal with the car in the city on game day!

We got to the stadium and entered by the Willie Mays gate, always my favorite.

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This was "Giants bath towel give-away" day and we were disappointed that they didn't have any left by the time we entered.  Later, our friend John, who, with his wife, had gotten two bath towels, gave us one of theirs. At the end of the game, the guy behind us asked if we would sell him our towel, because it was his birthday, he was there for just one day and he had missed getting a towel.  I'm sure he was handing us a line, but I gave him our towel anyway and wished him a happy birthday.

pants.jpg (40668 bytes)I suppose all ball parks bring out the devoted in amazing costumes to support their team.   I remember seeing lots of odd things the last time we were in Fenway Park for a Red Sox game.

I was particularly taken with this pair of harlequin pants in Giants colors, though.  Now there is a dedicated fan!
stairs.jpg (52630 bytes)We got to our section of the park. I love where we sit, which is near the top of the stadium, under an overhang (in case of rain), with a great view not only of the game, but also of the activity going on outside the park on the bay, with ships coming in and out, the ferry which drops game-goers off at the stadium, and the small boat which come into McCovy cove to listen to the game on the radio and hope for fly balls which might come out of the park and into the bay (rarely, but it happens!)

Of course to have those great seats, you have to climb to them. 15 steps, which isn't much to people in great shape, but which is a big challenge to me and was reminiscent of the stairs that I had to deal with in Italy back in 2009.   (Of course that was 300 steps, not a mere 15).  I was huffing and puffing when we got to our seats, meeting with a group of Lamplighter techies, who attend these games together.

Sabella was eating a big bowl of strawberries with whipped cream and Walt asked me if I'd like a bowl.  Naturally I said yes, surprised that he would make the offer.  The sweet man went off in search of berries and missed all the pre-game stuff, including the first fly ball that the first batter for the Marlins hit out into the bleachers.  

But the strawberries were delicious.

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...and, being the klutz that I am, I was soon wearing them.

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I figured that we would get some of those delicious (and ridiculously expensive) ball park franks and the garlic fries, which are the thing that I go to AT&T Park for, later. 

Waltsm.jpg (34753 bytes)In the meantime, Walt settled in to watch the game.  As games go, it wasn't bad, until the 8th inning when the Marlins got the last two runs that would give them the win (they lead throughout, but the Giants did have their moments).

Walt had bought a bag of peanuts in Davis in order to break a $20 bill so he would have change when it came time to get lunch, so we started munching on peanuts and eating the pretzels that our friend John was passing around.

I marveled at how food at ball parks has changed since I first started attending games.  Today (a chilly day) there was a guy selling tall cups of hot chocolate and waving around a big can of whipping cream to squirt on top of your chocolate.

I also noted that vendors don't have to yell anymore.  No longer do voices compete for your attention by shouting "Lemonade here!" or "Get yer Ice Cream."  Now they just show you a sign.

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I do love how they get kids involved, though.  They find all sorts of ways to make them a part of the game, like this little girl who was the announcer for one inning, letting us know which batters were coming to the plate.

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As we were settling in after that 7th inning stretch, I was starting to feel that there were no garlic fries in my future.  By this time I was full of peanuts and strawberries anyway,but still disappointed to miss out on that classic ball park experience.

In the end I think it was Marlins 5 and Giants 2.  I was too depressed and didn't take stock of the final score.
As we left the park, the little kids under 12 were taking the opportunity to run around the bases and the harlequin pants had disappeared into the crowd.  We got on the streetcar, waved goodbye to our friend Gil Engleman..

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...and headed to Walnut Creek to get the car, and head back to reheated potatoes instead of garlic fries and hungry dogs instead of hot dogs.   Owell.  There's always next time!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


It's a calm, quiet, cool-to-warm late Saturday evening and we have just come home from the theater. Walt is sitting out on the patio listening to something he describes as sounding like crickets or bull frogs or something.  He asked me out to see what I thought and I can't hear it at all.  I decided it must be one of those sounds that is pitched in a range where my hearing can't get it.  It opens new possibilities for how to explain things I can't hear these days!

It's been  a low key day.  I went to Atria in the morning and suggested my mother and I walk the three gardens of the place, which we did.  Her patio opens onto the first garden and we stopped and sat under a huge shade tree in the second garden to talk for awhile and let her hips rest before moving on.  The third "garden" wasn't really a garden at all, just a walkway alongside a fence.  My mother had the opportunity to have an apartment in this part of the building and I'm so glad we didn't take it!

By the time we got to the third garden, she was starting to hurt and wanted to go back.  It was a struggle to get her back to her apartment because there were no more places to sit.  I tried to point out to her that a cane which would help relieve the pressure that was causing the pain, might make walking more possible, but she is adamant that she is not going to be "one of those people" who use a cane or a walker.  She'd rather just sit in her apartment and not go out.

Her decision, I guess!

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Garden 1                                                Garden 2

I ordered two books about dementia the other day and am reading the first one.  This adamant attitude of my mother seems like textbook and the recommendation is to let her make her own decision, no matter how illogical it seems.   So for now, it's a non-issue.  If her pain gets worse, we will undoubtedly revisit that suggestion.

We saw two shows this week end.  Friday night we went to opening night of The Wizard of Oz at the Music Circus.  What a fabulous production.   This is a show for which, no surprise, I know the whole script by heart, so it was always jarring to hear a change from the original, but the spectacle of of the stage show was fabulous, The characters are all reminiscent of the movie,but not badly so.   Dorothy isn't Judy Garland, but she's definitely fine in the part.  The Scarecrow wasn't as limber as Ray Bolger but was a fine actor, as was the tin man.   The lion was the one who most emulated the movie character and did a fine Bert Lahr and yet still made the role his own.  Auntie Em later appeared as Glinda, and if you had your eyes closed you'd think it was Billie Burke.  But the whole production was just spectacular and with a show like that, the review practically writes itself.

This evening we went to see Cats at the local musical theater in Davis.  Truth to tell, Cats is not my favorite show.  I am a dog person after all!  But this production was considerably better than I feared and it will be fun to write the review because I really have only good things to talk about.

Tomorrow we are off to San Francisco to see a Giants game.  May the team live up to the quality of the performances we have seen the last two days!   Walt says he needs to stop by the bank first to take out enough money to have those ballpark hot dogs for lunch.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Very Short Walk

I went to Atria this morning at 10 a.m., thinking that the "Keep Your Brain Sharp" class was at 10:30, but it was at 11, so we had time to kill.   My mother told me about her visit with Ed on Wednesday.  

We went down to the Arts and Crafts room early so we could stop by the hairdresser's (across the hall from A&C) to make a hair appointment for next Friday.  I also asked Lucy, the hairdresser, to make a standing appointment for my mother for every Friday at 1:30.  There's another thing taken care of!

Just three of us, again, in Keep Your Brain Sharp.  My mother and Claire from last week, and me.  First we were supposed to make as many words as we can out of 'ATRIA SENIOR LIVING.'  Piece o'cake for me since this is the kind of word game that I play all the time on my cell phone.  The task for me was to slow down and not create a huge list of words and make the people with memory problems feel bad!

Then we were asked to write a paragraph about some Saturday night that we remembered from our past.  I can't remember what Claire's paragraph was about, but it was very short.  Mine was about going to a show on a Saturday night.   My mother's paragraph surprised me.

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This surprised me on several levels.  My mother is not noted for her written work.  I think I may have received two letters from her during my lifetime.  I have not attempted to take her, for example, to the journal writing class that is supposed to improve your memory.  Writing just is not in her DNA...well, it is in her DNA but it skipped her and jumped to me!

So I didn't expect a paragraph like this, but the other thing that surprised me is that I have thought of my mother as fully in charge in any social situation.  Hearing about her embarrassment at not being perfect when she was a teenager.  I have always thought of her as the social butterfly all of her life.

In her new situation and new location, that social awkwardness is showing again, as she has admitted that she is afraid to go into any new situation without me, which is fine with me.  I am enjoying our adventures together, but I never thought of her as being uncomfortable in any social situation.

After the memory class, we met my friend Peggy (not THAT Peggy, but the other Peggy, from my old writing group) in the restaurant.  What a delightful lunch we had together.  Turns out Peggy had met my mother last week, but my mother didn't remember.  She did seem to remember as they began talking, though.   Peggy has only been at Atria since November, and has spent a good deal of that time in a nearby convalescent hospital.  She is almost, but not quite, back to normal again.  She's in her late 70s ("just a kid," according to my mother), but she would make an ideal ambassador for Atria.  She easily and effortlessly includes any new people in the conversation, introduces everyone to everyone else, knows about a lot of the programs and how the whole facility works.  I was very impressed.

We have invited her to come and visit my mother in her apartment and maybe I'll get my mother to Peggy's apartment as well.

After lunch, we decided to go for a walk.  My mother has been missing her daily walks around the lagoon in Terra Linda and I thought I'd take her to the arboretum at the university, where I knew there were benches where she could sit.  

But I decided first to try her out on the Greenbelt, the biking/walking area which flows in and out and around West Davis.  Atria actually backs up onto the Greenbelt area, but in order to get to it, you have to walk about the equivalent of 3/4 block to get to the gate that opens up onto the Greenbelt.  I knew there were no benches on the Greenbelt, but since my mother has not complained once about her back since she moved, I thought we could give it a try.  But I decided that rather than walk to the gate at Aria, I would drive her to one of the blocks which was kind of a feeder onto the Greenbelt.  I.e., you get out of the car and are immediately on that section of the walk. 

We started our walk at 12:45.  She was loving the green grass and the trees, especially the flowering ones, and the houses.  It was 12:50 when she said she needed to get back to the car because her hip was killing her.  In addition to the disintegrating coccyx, she also has sciatica.  Though we had only gone a short way, she needed to stop four times on the way back to the car (and I was so glad I had started somewhere nearby!) and by the time we got to the car, both hips were hurting.
I drove her around out in the country so we could look at fields of sunflowers and more houses (she has always loved looking at houses) so that her hips would relax by the time we returned to Atria and she could painlessly walk into the building.

She has not really walked in nearly a month, since she moved to Davis, so I suppose her body is out of shape, as she used to walk around the lagoon at the mobile home park every day.  I suggested that we walk every day for 5 minutes and see how long it took to get to 6 minutes and beyond.  Tomorrow we are going to walk from her patio to each of the other 2 gardens at Atria.  This should be easy because there are places to sit in each garden.

Taking baby steps, but each day gives us a better feel for what she can do, what she can't do, and helping her enlarge her social network at Atria.  I figure that within 6 months or a year, I can cut way back on my involvement with her, but I don't imagine ever NOT being involved on a nearly every day basis with her.

Friday, June 21, 2013


It is very difficult to realize that today my sister Karen would have been 67 years old.  But, like David, she is permanently preserved at age 24.

My relationship  with Karen was convoluted, so much so that I remember feeling guilty when she died because I didn't really feel anything, at least nothing like everyone was assuming I was feeling.

I remember the morning when it happened.  Well, I sort of remember it.  I think I called her at work to ask her something, but she hadn't arrived yet, then my mother told me there had been an accident and she was being taken to the hospital, then I called her office back to let them know she would not becoming to work.

I was pregnant with David at the time.  Walt and I went to San Francisco and met my parents at the hospital.  Karen was in surgery.  We still didn't know what exactly had happened.  The story was that her partner, Bernie Maes, was with the police.  Bernie said that she (Bernie) had decided to commit suicide and Karen tried to stop her by grabbing the gun she held. The gun went off and Karen got shot.

The doctor described the injuries to her brain and all we were concerned about was would it affect her fine motor skills, since she loved photography so much.  It never occurred to us that she would actually die.

Later, of course, it was clear that was not the story, as Karen had been shot three times, once across their bed, and twice with Bernie standing over her and shooting down at her.  

The argument was over Karen's decision to leave the relationship.   She had found a place somewhere else, where her dog wouldn't have to be locked up all the time (Schroeder was a miniature Schnauzer and Bernie hated dogs, so she made Karen keep him locked up at all times).  I don't know what else went into her decision to kill my sister.  I also don't know what her ultimate punishment was.   She was under mental observation for a year and then I think I heard that she served five years in prison.  We really didn't try to keep track of her.

Karen was in a coma for several weeks and ultimately died of a kidney infection.  I never saw her after she was shot because my mother was afraid that it would be upsetting for my pregnancy.

We lived together for many years, as kids, of course, but I don't remember ever feeling like we had a close sister relationship.  We really were oil and water.  I was girly and bookish and Karen was a tomboy.  We shared a bedroom and I don't really remember us ever whispering secrets to each other or doing sisterly things.  I'm sure we did.  I just have never been able to remember them.   It seems impossible to believe now, but I used to get so angry with her for being messy, when I was trying to keep our room neat.  (You may all laugh at that)

Maybe it was the spectre of my father that kept us all on our toes and prevented intimacies among us.  I always seem to paint my father as a monster and he really wasn't.  He never beat my mother, I never saw him fall-down drunk (until his last year), and we had a lot of laughs with him. He rarely spanked Karen or me (but did beat her pretty badly once) But he created such an atmosphere of tension in the house at all times, that it was impossible to get away from it.  We never knew when something good would turn instantly into something bad. It is the bond that I feel with my mother today, but it's a bond I can't mentally recreate with Karen.

Karen and my father both had volatile tempers and I remember so many evenings when they would start arguing at the dinner table.  I learned to eat very quickly and leave the table as soon as possible to avoid having to sit there and watch them yell at each other.  Karen had a very strong sense of social justice and she and my father disagreed on most things.

I remember once when she came home to say she was going to the movies with a man who worked on the cable car she rode every day.  He happened to be black and my father found him at the cable car after he got off work and told him that he did not believe the races should mix and he could not date his daughter.  Karen was furious.  

I often wondered how he felt when Karen went off to live with a woman she had fallen in love with. The woman's name was Vicki and I was kind of on the fringes of all that happened because I had moved out of the house by then, but Vicki managed to separate Karen from the family.  (This was before the formation of PFLAG and my parents wondered where they had gone wrong)  The story Karen told all of us was that she had a roommate named Paula, but nobody ever met Paula, nobody was every permitted to visit her or even see her apartment.  

It wasn't until Vicki dumped her for another girl that the story came out who she really was.

Bernie was good for Karen.  She actually did a lot to heal the rift between Karen and the family.  I liked Bernie.  We all did.  Even my father did....well, up until she shot Karen in the head.

Even with the tragedy of her death, I have never forgiven her for one thing.  When my parents moved out of San Francisco, my father was going to get a dog.   He had wanted an Irish Setter all of his life and Karen and I were going to go in together and get him one.  This would finally be the thing that I could do for him that would make him like me, I felt.  But then I got a call from Karen.  She and Bernie had found a fuzzy little puppy and had rescued her and were calling from my parents' house, where my father was just ecstatic about his puppy.  It was the ultimate one-upmanship that I was never able to recover from.  Forever more. my father talked in glowing terms about how Karen had given him his beloved dog and nobody ever remembered that getting him a dog had been MY idea in the first place and how angry I was that Karen hadn't called so that we could have given him the dog together.

I have twice become very angry with Karen for dying, over the last 40-some odd years.  I remember standing at her grave and mentally yelling at her during the last days of our parents' marriage, when I was pitted one against the other and I felt so alone.  Why wasn't Karen there to share all the bad stuff that was happening?

The other time has been this past year, trying to get our mother settled somewhere.  Now that she is settling into Atria, it's not so important, but trying to make decisions I so often wished that I had her to confer with.  Ed was there, of course, and so was Walt, but really I felt the decisions to be made were up to me and I desperately wanted Karen around to talk to.

So, Karen...wherever you are...I hope you've hooked up with Paul and David and that you have a good birthday, with lots of angel food cake.  :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hanging with the Old Guys

I seem to be hanging around with real old guys this year.

At the start of the year, it was the 103rd birthday of Davis' beloved Herbert Bauer (who died several months later, despite the fact that none of him thought he would ever die).

Then there has been the whole Covell Gardens (which is officially "Atria Covell Gardens," so I may call it "Atria" instead of "Covell," since others seem to do so).

Today I was paying belated birthday greetings to Bill Baker, who turned 99 last week.

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This is the third year I have driven to the Bay Area to celebrate Bill's birthday, belatedly.  I missed the big party, but was there to visit with him and his friend, and fellow blogger (Yes, Bill is a blogger, perhaps the Internet's oldest), Wilma Scott (also a blogger, which is how we know each other), who flies to California from Canada each year for the event.

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Bill reports that he had a great time at his birthday party, which was, he says, mostly family (and Wilma...who I think is adopted family by now). The Pirate Festival in Vallejo the next day was also fun
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(This photo is from 2012).  Bill, you see, is known by his pirate name, Billy Bones, when he attends the annual Pirate festival.  And apparently pirat-ing is a family affair.

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But I didn't see Billy Bones today, I saw Bill Baker and had a lovely lunch with him and Wilma (who flies home tomorrow).  Wilma made a delicious Chinese-ish lunch and fantastic chocolate brownies (who ever thought of using candy bars instead of frosting on a hot cookie?)

Bill told me about his latest invention. a solar stove which can be folded up into a package about 7" in size and which will cook anything a stove top will cook.  In addition to being a pirate and a nonagenarian, he is also a retired physicist who is always thinking of new inventions to make life better.  Last year he showed me the container he had spent the year inventing which lets cake batter cook the same way it would in an oven...and tasted more moist than an oven-baked cake.

Being 99, Bill doesn't have the staying power that he once did (though his mind is crystal clear!), and so after telling me about the pirate festival and his invention, he excused himself and went in to lie down on the couch and take a nap, while Wilma and I had a lovely conversation, and I learned more about her fascinating background.  For one thing, I knew she was the publisher of Coffee News, but I didn't know that this newsletter is a weekly advertising publication that features good news and other fun, positive items. Created by Jean Daum, it began in 1988 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and is available across the United States and worldwide (when Wilma bought the franchise there were only a handful of other franchises in Canada and none worldwide). Its slogan is "News To Enjoy Over Coffee" and, as such, is delivered to restaurants, coffee shops, bars, pubs, and other small businesses.

Coffee News, Wikipedia tells me, is the world's largest restaurant publication, and also the world's largest franchise publication.

I also learned how she happened to become a lay minister for her Presbyterian church.

It was a lovely low-key afternoon and after spending every day at Atria for most of the last month, it was nice to have a chat with someone who can remember what I say five minutes after I've said it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Kind of Folks I Work For

This article appeared in The Davis Enterprise this evening, written by Emily Mibach

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(Note the "customer" at the back of the store...)

Downtown Davis’ beloved used bookstore, Logos Books, is not your typical book seller. Unless a typical store donates $35,000 to Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.

Susan and Peter Linz opened Logos Books, 513 Second St., in February 2010, specializing in used and out-of-print books. But they’re not in business to make money; instead, they donate proceeds from the business to the two international charities.

Peter is a UC Davis emeritus professor of math and computer science who ran an online used book business for about 10 years before opening the storefront.

“People don’t realize it’s not for profit, that’s why I put the sign in the window,” Susan said.

Logos was featured in the current issue of Doctors Without Borders’ magazine, Alert, because of its generous gifts to the two organizations.

The Linzes have been donating to Doctors and Save the Children since the store opened. In 2010, they gave $10,000, and in 2011 they donated $22,000.

“Peter chose these two charities very carefully: First, because they have an excellent reputation for using the money donated on the people and projects it is earmarked for, rather than on administrative costs,” Susan said. “Second, because we feel that there are people in so many places in the world who are desperately in need of help and that these agencies minister to them most effectively.”

“It’s going up every year,” Peter added.

The $35,000 is what the couple collected after paying rent, utilities and their one employee — an assistant manager who oversees the store and assists the volunteers when the Linzes are gone.

Volunteers staff the store on weekends, when the couple are at book sales getting new inventory and restocking their shelves.

“I really want to underline the volunteers, they’re so great,” Susan said.

Logos hosts Second Friday ArtAbout receptions, poetry readings and monthly meetings of its Spanish and French conversation groups, El Círculo Español and La Table Française.

El Círculo Español meets from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the third Monday and La Table Française meets from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday. Check for topic information.

The couple said their lease on the current Second Street location is up on Feb. 1 and they are searching for a new home for the store.

“We don’t know yet how long we are going to stay in our current location,” Susan said. “But if we are to re-establish at another location, we have to start looking now. If we find a suitable location, we may indeed move before February.

“We feel like we contribute to the downtown Davis life,” she added.

Said Peter, “We’re the only used bookstore in downtown Davis.”

Local residents who know of a space that might be able to accommodate Logos are asked to contact the Linzes at

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Identify Your Knickers

I love having my mother in Davis.  She gets to see Ned more often!  We included her in a Father's Day celebration by going to the Father's Day BBQ at Covell.  Not much of a bbq, but they were grilling strip steaks out in the parking lot and bringing them into the restaurant.  They were downright tasty, and Walt had two.

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(someday we're going to teach Ned not to be so
nervous around cameras!  LOL)

Someone from the staff came around distributing bow ties to each of the fathers in the room.  I loved the sight of Ned helping his father put his tie on.

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Somehow a bow tie with a plaid shirt does not exactly make a trending fashion statement!

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When we had finished brunch, we went back to my mother's apartment where a very weird thing happened.  My mother told me that someone had come into her apartment yesterday and had left their underwear in her bathroom.  I reminded her that I had taken her clothes home yesterday afternoon and washed them and had brought them back that night.  She had a stack of clothes all folded up on a chair, the clothes I had washed, and she swears she had never seen them before and that they belonged to someone else.  I tried to convince her and I will be curious to find out if I actually did because when we left she was still considering taking them to the front desk and telling them that they did not belong to her.

I also started telling Ned and Marta about the goats and the poison ivy at my friend Dair's house and he said that he had seen Dair last week, when she came to visit my mother.  My mother has no memory of their visit.  This morning I found out that Dair and her husband and their granddaughter had come and spent an hour with her. She has absolutely no memory of that at all, and when Dair called to find out if she was going to be home, Ed was there and she told Ed it was "someone trying to sell me something."

The thing that I am wondering now is how long things have been this bad.  I thought I saw her often and Ed saw her often, but seeing her every day is completely different.  I see a lot more and see a lot more of the loss of memory than I ever noticed before and I'm wondering how much of this is due to the whole moving and being in a new place thing and how much was there all along and we never realized it.

Whatever it is, I am so glad that she is somewhere where people are at least aware of her.

Ned & Marta, Walt & I left and went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I had been uninterested in seeing the first Star Trek movie, made in 2009.  Without William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, I didn't see how I could possibly enjoy it, but it was really nice to see, as Ned put it, what an homage to the original series this movie is.  A lot more high tech, of course, but you never lose sight of the original series at all, and the actors playing Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, and Uhura are just great, and quite believable as their younger selves (the least believable was Uhura, but she was still good).  I came home to find the 2009 Star Trek on OnDemand and will watch that later this week.

Today I took my mother to see The Great Gatsby, which she enjoyed.  She is even starting to recognize things in Davis.  But while she was going to her room to get her key, I asked the front desk if she had turned in some clothes that she said didn't belong to her.  The woman pulled out a box of clothes, which at least did NOT contain the clothes I washed, but contained other clothes that I recognized, because I gave them to her.  This came from a box that she "found" outside her apartment and snickered when she told me she had pushed it to someone else's apartment so nobody thought she was throwing away garbage.  The the box contains her clothes and now I have to go through it and see how much belongs to her and figure out how to take it back into her apartment without having to convince her that they really are her clothes!

Each day is a new adventure.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday Stealing

This week's questions come from Do These Shoes Match This Purse? Maggie doesn't say where she got it, but it was probably stolen there as well.

The Weird Question Meme, Part Two
What is your ring size?
It used to be 7.  Now I don't have a clue.  I haven't worn a ring in years.

How often do you wear jewelry?

I wear a pair of jade earrings I bought in China and a necklace from the granddaughters which says "A grandma's love is forever."  I don't take them off.

When was the last time you consumed alcohol?

We had vodka and tonics 3 weeks ago when my mother moved into her new apartment

Any big plans for the summer?

You betcha!  Going to Ukraine and Istanbul (assuming it's not on fire by then) in August-September.

What is your favorite comfort food?

bread and butter

Do you prefer broccoli or asparagus?

It's a tossup, with the edge going to asparagus (which, like artichokes, is God's message that it's OK to eat mayonnaise)

What color are your bedroom walls?

I don't sleep in a bedroom, but my living room walls are a very light yellow. Kind of buttermilk.

With whom do you live?

A husband and 3 dogs

Which Star Wars movie is your favorite?

Can't remember one from another.  (My favorite StarTREK movie was the one with the whales)

How about Harry Potter?

It's been so long since I've seen a Harry Potter, I can't remember.

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?

Star Trek: Into Darkness.  Saw it today, thanks to Ned & Marta.   Loved it!

Did you get the popcorn or candy?

Difficult as it may be to believe, I am capable of going 2 hours without something to eat...especially at theater prices.

What is the most romantic text in your inbox?

There is no romantic text in my inbox

Have you ever played miniature golf on a date?


What’s a phrase you overuse?

"No problem."  I'm trying to break myself of the habit.

Do you always use good grammar?

I try.

Do you have an accent or a speech impediment?

Everybody has some kind of accent.  I have no speech impediment, other than foot in mouth syndrome

What did you eat today?

Went to a big buffet at Covell today:  eggs benedict, steak (special for Father's Day), sausage, fruit cup and coffee.

What do you do at work?

I don't go to work; when I work at home, mostly I sit and stare off into space.

Do you know the rules to any sports?

I now the basic rules of several sports, but don't ask me to explain the infield fly rule

Do you prefer to watch or play sports?

That should be a no brainer.  Watch, of course.  Playing, right?

What is your favorite kind of hat to wear?

I HATE hats.  I look terrible in hats.  And my head is too big to wear almost all hats.  "One size fits all" does not fit me.  (Apparently Oprah has the same problem. I'm not sure if that is a comfort or not.)

Do you pray?

Not in the traditional sense.

To whom do you pray?

Usually Paul, David, Gilbert and, if S/he's not too busy, God (but I don't want to bother him/her; S/he's got enough on his/her plate these days!)

What is the closest mountain to your house?

Mount Diablo in the San Francisco Bay Area

What size engine is in your vehicle?

V6 (I think)

What do you need to do tomorrow?

Go to something called "brain gymnasium" with my mother.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

And Samuel Makes 9

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Now that my mother is living at Covell Gardens, I was able to cancel her LifeLine, which was costing me $50 a month, as Covell has its own system which is included in her monthly fees.  The idea of having an additional $50 made me think that maybe I'd see about sponsoring a 9th child.

I've done this before but nobody ever leaped out at me as needing me

It took about 2 seconds for me to choose Samuel from Kenya.   With his oversized head and his bloated stomach, he looked like a little Yoda...

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...and also looked like he probably has a lot of health problems that being a sponsored child could begin to address.

Besides, I want to see how his appearance changes as he grows up.

Samuel lives with his father and mother.  He is responsible for gardening.  His father is sometimes employed as a laborer and his mother is sometimes employed as a farmer.  There are 5 children in the family.

Soccer is Samuel's favorite activity.  In kindergarten his performance is average and he also regularly attends church activities.

He lives on the plains of Kasyalani, home to approximately 3,000 residents.  Typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, mud walls and thatched rofs.  The regional diet consists of maize, millet and cow peas.

Common health problems in this area include malaria and typhoid.  Most adults in Kasayalani are unemployed but some work as subsistence farmers and earn the equivalent of $25 per month. 
Headshot.jpg (25404 bytes)So Samuel joins the rest of the family.  

I also let Compassion know that now that they are needing correspondence sponsors (people who write to sponsored kids whose sponsors don't want to write to them).  They previously had a limit of 3 children to whom you could write and I don't know how I actually got four, but I did say I was willing to write to more than four and so they sent me Lovson, from Haiti.  I don't have any information about him yet, but was able to get a copy of his photo.  When I have it, information will be avalable on my Compassion Kids blog site.

* * *

I meant to mention in yesterday's entry the two girls who came in in the middle of the afternoon, asking if I had a book called "something like 'a dream in the middle of the night in summer.'"  They told me it was written by "a guy named William Shakespeare."  When I asked if they meant "Midsummer Night's Dream," they brightened and said "That's it!"  I directed them to the Shakespeare section and they were disappointed at not finding what they wanted (after about 15 minutes of looking and whispering).
They showed me a book of the complete works of Shakespeare and asked if there wasn't a book like it with just "Midsummer" in it.  I directed them to the new books store (meaning it sells new, not used books) in the next block.  While they were gone, I checked the shelves again and sure enough, there was a paperback copy of "Midsummer" and when they came back, I showed it to them, but apparently they wanted a hardback copy.  I told them I thought they would not find it.

Then they picked up the complete works again and asked me if this was the text as it was originally written.  I said I was sure that it was.  They finally decided to buy that instead.

These girls looked like they were from a different country but they spoke impeccable college-ese Engliah and I was surprised that they seemed to have zero knowledge about Shakespeare!  But I did make the sale, so it wasn't a total loss (and I had something to share here!)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Day at "The Home"

I spent most of the day at Covell Gardens and it was...quite interesting.  Amazing what sorts of things you learn when you are there all day, and "do stuff."  You learn, for one thing, that the reason you "do stuff" is because when you "do stuff," you also "learn stuff."

There was an activity called "keep your brain sharp" that I thought started at 10:30, so I got to my mother's around 10:15, only it turned out that the activity actually started at 11.  I figured we could take advantage of the extra 30 minutes and get her change of address cards written.

I discovered that doing anything that involves thinking overwhelms her.  She couldn't find her address book and when I reminded her where I had put it, it wasn't there and she wandered around all but wringing her hands for not being able to find the address book.  I finally found her rolodex which had many of her addresses on it.  I asked her to look for the names she wanted to send change of address cards to.  She said she'd been thinking about it and she knew she had to do it but whenever she picked up the rolodex, she would get rattled and so overwhelmed that she finally put them in a drawer.  So much for THAT!  

I finally decided that I would have to address the cards and mail them myself.  As for the addresses she could not find, I called her best friend in Marin County and she gave me all of the addresses I needed (and couple I didn't know I needed).  It's a good place to start.

Next we went to "Keep Your Brain Sharp."  We arrived a little late and two other women (a resident and a woman who looked like a college student who was there to help) were fillling out a form.  It was a true and false test about how you think about brain function (adults laugh just as much as children on a daily basis, all fruits and vegetables are good sources of anti-oxidents, etc.)  My mother was flustered from the get go.  She was so tense because she didn't want to make a mistake  Everyone kept telling her that there were no right or wrong answers that it was just a starting for discussion, except the other resident who grumbled at her to hurry up because everyone else had already finished their forms!

The second activity was to write down the names of all the animals you could see around you.  When that paper was passed out, my mother rolled her eyes at me and said "I don't belong here" (I think it was because she could only think of 3 different animals).  The grumpy lady had a huge list of animals, but they were mostly zoo animals, which wasn't the assignment.  The new lady who had joined us didn't even try, but got up and left.

The interesting thing about this activity, though, was a discussion about rodents.  Apparently the C wing (my mother is in A wing) has had an infestation of mice and the lady who left the class told us that the other day she found a cute little mouse in her apartment and she went to pick it up and put it outside, but it panicked and ran under...something.  Later, when we went ot the hair dresser, I heard more about the mice in C wing.
The activity was over at 11:30, and her hairdresser appointment was not until 1, so we went to lunch while waiting.  Fish and chips today and once again my mother complained that they serve too much and she hates to think it was going to be thrown away, so, good Samaritan that I am, I finished what fish and chips she felt too full to finish.  

We sat with Jean, a new arrival from Redding, who has been her just about as long as my mother has.  I'm keeping a record of all the people we meet so I can greet them by name.  It's nice to start to know people, even if my mother can't remember most of them from one meeting to the next!

At 1, we went down to Lucy's beauty shop.  She's been here many years and my mother had been very leery about making an appointment with her, but put on her best martyr attitude and said that she guessed that she was going to have to find a new hairdresser because she couldn't keep going to Hannah, who has done her hair for 35 years.

When she last went to Hannah, I took pictures of how her hair was set so we could show it to Lucy.  I also took an "after" shot.  Lucy studied them very carefully.

HairHannah.jpg (51315 bytes)

She assured my mother that she does hair like this all the time.   My mother submitted to her ministrations.
Lucy could see that she was going to be a little late for her next appointment(s), so she made some phone calls.  She told me that she wasn't sure if one of the ladies scheduled could come because the memory wing was under quarantine because there was a virus sweeping through the residents there (hadn't heard that either!)

While I was sitting in the beauty parlor reading, I heard a familiar voice and looked out to see Ned's friend's wife helping herself to some of the tea party cookies before going to see her grandmother.  (There is a tea party every afternoon at 2 p.m.)

When the hair dresser was finished, it was pronounced a great success and my mother said she'd see her in 2 weeks for the next "do."  

She had wanted to get a new battery for her watch.  She can't remember for more than 2 minutes that her watch is not showing the correct time.  I told her we could go after she had her hair done, but that activity pretty much wore her out and she decided we should do it tomorrow.  There is a banjo concert tomorrow night that Walt and I will go to, but I will probably come over earlier and take her out for a battery.

I have to admit it was good to get back home again after 4 hours at "the home," but I'm starting to settle into Covell along with my mother and it's kind of fun.