Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Redux

It was Thanksgiving all over again.  In the morning, I used the leftover pie crust dough and the leftover filling mix and made another pumpkin pie.   When it cooled, we had pumpkin pie for breakfast.  Then we had more pie for lunch and after lunch Walt went to Black Friday.

Now, we have a whole history of not participating in the madness of Black Friday, but our coffee maker died 3 days ago (2 days after the warranty expired!!!) and Walt decided to run out to Target to get a new one.  He said the crowds were larger than usual, but not the craziness we had been seeing on television and he did come home with a new coffee maker.  Let's see if this one can make it past one year!

For dinner I fixed some frozen chicken (Yes, I cooked it) and made Stove Top stuffing, the best I could do to duplicate left over turkey and stuffing.   We finished the pumpkin pie for dessert.  Then we vegged out in front of the TV, watching Jeopardy, the Barbra Streisand special from last year, and a recording of The Blacklist that we had not yet seen.

Now Walt has gone off to bed and I'm trying to find something interesting to say about the rest of our day.  And there is nothing.  LOL.

We did get this picture of Miss Bri in a text message this afternoon.

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It made me realize how quickly time passes.  I saw this and was instantly transported back to the flat I grew up in, trimming the tree with my parents and sister.  We had those terrible lights where if one bulb in the string was burned out, the string would not light and you had to keep trying and trying to find the one that didn't work.  I was sure glad when they figured out a better way to do lights!

We didn't do the lights, though.  That was strictly my mother's baliwick.  She liked the lights in just a certain way, so we all sat back and waited while she got the lights perfect and then we started hanging the decorations.  When I grew up, I was still intimidated at putting lights on the tree, so Walt always did the lights and then I and the kids started hanging ornaments.  I don't remember whether we had anything to eat or drink during tree trimming when I was growing up, but I always served egg nog ("nog-less" for the kids) and we played Christmas music, because we always played Bing Crosby when I was a kid, so we always started with Bing Crosby here.

Whether any of the trees we decorated when I was growing up, or the trees that we decorated when our own kids were little, it was always pronounced "the prettiest tree ever" when it was decorated and the lights were turned on.

We haven't even set up a tree in several years.  Now that we have 3 dogs who are likely to knock it over and we spend Christmas itself in Santa Barbara, there doesn't seem to be any point.

I do miss the magic that Brianna is feeling in this picture, though...

Friday, November 29, 2013


I have emerged from a tryptophan-induced coma to write this entry.   We got home around 8 tonight, fed the dogs, watched Jeopardy, and I promptly fell asleep, waking at 1 a.m. and staggering off to the living room to continue my sleep, but once I got settled on the couch, the thought that I had not yet written a journal entry started to nag at me (yes, I'm that compulsive about this journal), so I finally got up to write it so I could finally get back to sleep.

We had not one, but two Thanksgivings today, and neither of them was spent with any of our children, the first time since 1966 that we have not been with any of our kids.  We did talk with both Ned and Jeri, and Tom sent a text message, though.

We started our turkey-o-rama at Atria, where we went to their Thanksgiving brunch, a gala affair with ham and turkey with all the trimmings except stuffing.  No stuffing!!!  But the food was, as always, very good and we enjoyed ourselves with my mother and, for a time, with Peggy, who was waiting for her daughters to arrive so they could enjoy their own feast.

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We finished our visit and said goodbye to my mother and started out of Atria, when Sandra, the receptionist, told me we should take a pie from the stack of pies all over the lobby.  Since we already had 2 pumpkin pies at home, we chose a fruit pie with red showing.  I didn't know what kind of "red" it was, but we took that one (it turned out to be rhubarb).

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At around 4, after watching the National Dog Show on TV, we drove over to the home of Ned's in-laws.  Ned wasn't there, being at home in his neck brace and unable to ride in a car (but his friend Jessica came to cook turkey dinner for the two of them).  But we found things in the Wilson kitchen under fabulous control of Marta's step-sister, Lindsay.

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It wasn't long before the turkey was ready to be carved.   Lindsay's father-in-law Dan did the honors.  Walt said the best thing about having dinner at the Wilsons was that he didn't have to carve the turkey!

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Lindsay's daughter had made place markers for everybody that were very cute.

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(I posted the above photo to Instagram, which posts to Facebook, and as we were sitting down to dinner, Lindsay thanked me for posting the photo, which means she had things so well in hand, she had time to check Facebook before serving the meal!!)

There were three tables set up.  I didn't get a picture of the kids' table, but these were the other tables:

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We actually didn't know several people at the dinner, though enjoyed getting to know them a little.  Lindsay's in-laws, though, we had connected with on our Russia trip.  They were taking the same cruise, but on a different ship and we ran into each other in the Amber Room of the Hermitage and arranged to have lunch together that afternoon ("your ship or ours?")  We have since enjoyed comparing notes on our respective cruises.

When dinner was over, there was the choice of which dessert to have.

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And then, after sitting around chatting some more, we finally decided we had to get home to feed the dogs.  I really wasn't sure how today was going to go, not being with the kids, but it turned out to be a very lovely Thanksgiving, even if I don't want to have turkey OR pumpkin pie tomorrow.

And now Im going to see if I can return to that tryptophan coma I was in and finish the night under a fluffy blanket and a Chihuahua.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Lifetime of Memories

I remember Christmas of my 10th year when I got a Brownie box camera from Santa.  I was so incredibly excited and I began recording anything and everything--and haven't changed since.  It was very important to me to "save memories."  I don't know why it was so important to me to save memories, but I remember saying that to myself whenever I took a roll of film into the corner drug store to be printed.  My camera was before cartridges and rolls of film were about three inches wide and had to be threaded onto the empty spool on the other side of the box.   I was always uncomfortable, fearing that I would expose the film during the threading...and I think once or twice I did expose the edges of the first photo on the roll.

Over my lifetime I have saved memories up the wazoo.  At 70, I now wonder who is going to care about the room full of scrapbooks of now-fading photos.   I keep saying I am some day going to scan them and put them on line, but that really is a project of a lifetime.
Today at Atria there was a "Residents' Showcase" in the lobby.  They have these things every now and then, giving residents a chance to show off their quilts or crochet items, or collections of this and that. The theme this time was "Albums, Scrapbooks, Writings and Poems."  I had an e-mail from my friend Peggy saying that she and five others, including our mutual friend Nancy, would have displays, and inviting me to come.

Walt needed the car to go to San Francisco and had to leave town between 2:30 and 3, but I could get up to the showcase for half an hour, at least.  

What I had time to skim through was impressive.  Peggy had the largest collection.

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I was so impressed with how organized it was...this one of two or three tables of books.  She has books going back to her grandparents, and the book of family stories she has been writing all the while I knew her from the writing group (and before that, long before I joined).  She ended with "the future of scrapbooking," two books printed with Shutterfly.

Seeing a display like this always makes me want to go back to all of those memories I made over the last 60 years and do something with them, but the prospect of tackling all of those scrapbooks and photo albums is so overwhelming I feel as incapacitated as my mother did when thinking about packing up "all this crap" and moving out of her house.

When I got to Atria today, there was a friend of my mother's from Marin county there, visiting with her.  Apparently her kids live in Davis and she had come up for Thanksgiving.  I was very happy to see my mother interacting with someone other than myself.

So...tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the first since 1966 that we will see NONE of our children.  Jeri is in Boston, Tom in Santa Barbara, and Ned recuperating from his surgery and unable to leave the house.  

We are going to the Atria thanksgiving buffet at noontime.  My mother seems unconnected to the holiday and has asked me several times what we are doing tomorrow.  But we'll eat with her.

In the late afternoon we will go to Ned's in-laws' house.  Marta will be there without Ned.  I am making pumpkin pies.  I've already done one.   They asked for a gluten free pie.  I'm not sure if what I made qualifies, but I hope it will be OK.

I still have the regular pumpkin pie to make in the morning.   There is not enough refrigerator space to put it and I didn't want to leave it out overnight, so I'll make it when I get up in the morning.

It's going to be a strange Thanksgiving.

My mother and Nancy, whom she says is her
"best friend at Atria."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Team Amber

It was an emotional evening, climaxed finally when Amber Riley and Derek Hough took home the treasured, glitzy, pretty tacky mirror ball on Dancing with the Stars.

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Watching Dancing with the Stars is kind of like watching Survivor for me.  I begin each new season kicking myself and thinking it's really a dumb show to watch.  With Survivor there are all those pretty unlikable people doing things that are now predictable.  They back stab, they go through amazing obstacle races, they eat disgusting things and by the end of the season, I may have a favorite (this year I don't), but I often feel I've wasted the time I spent watching the show...and yet it's like a train wreck...I can't stop watching.

Dancing with the Stars is often a misnomer as the "stars" are often people I've never heard of.  And you know from the beginning which are going to be the ones put in there for the sympathy vote, the novelty vote, the ones that don't stand a chance of winning and are kept on week after week because the audience votes for them.

But with Dancing with the Stars, I get sucked in.  I never particularly liked dancing and as a kid was always impatient for all those dance numbers to be over in musical movies so we could get back to the plot, the part that I was most interested in.  Yet, by the middle of the competition, I am looking forward to it, have picked my favorites, and wouldn't miss it.

This year it was obvious that Bill Nye the Science Guy and comedian Bill Engvall were the ones that would be voted out early in the competition. Valerie Harper, one of the few names I knew, certainly wouldn't last long.  Her age and her terminal cancer diagnosis were working against her.  It was pretty certain that Amber Riley, the fat girl from Glee, and Jack Osborne, Ozzie's son, would make it a little farther, but the mirror ball would surely go to Corbin Bleu Rivers, whom I'd never heard of before, but who was a pretty good dancer to begin with and turned into an amazing dancer.  (There were other "star"names I'd never heard before: Elizabeth Berkley, Brant Daugherty, Keyshawn Johnson, Christina Milan.  I knew of Snooki Polizzi from talk shows and Leah Remini mostly for her connections to the church of Scientology.)

Only, you can never predict where that show is going to go.   Yes, Bill Nye was eliminated early in the competition, but by golly Bill Engvall made it into the final four contestants, beating out some pretty amazing talent, like Elizabeth Berkley.  He undoubtedly had the votes of thousands of fans because he was a likeable guy whose dancing slowly went from nonexistent to not awful to kinda good over the weeks.

But the big surprises were Jack Osborne and Amber Riley.  Jack overcame his nervousness and his feeling that he couldn't really compete well to being a dancer who earned the highest scores from the judges last night.  He positively blossomed under the tutorship of partner Cheryl Burke.  And in the end he was one of the final three.

As for the fat girl I was sure would poop out early in the competition, she won the big prize.  Her freestyle dance last night was one of the most amazing dances I've seen a contestant do...she had a big hand in choreographing it and even veteran partner Derek Hough at one point in rehearsal admitted he couldn't do what she was asking him to do.  It was spectacular and was the dance that was voted the one to be repeated on tonight's show.

When asked how she was feeling, after winning, she said that she had proved to herself that anybody, no matter what their color or size, could accomplish anything they put their mind to.

I just Googled "Dancing with the Stars," looking for a picture of Amber and Derek to use as the Photo of the Day and as I scrolled down screen after screen after screen, there wasn't one picture of Amber.  It was all the tall, skinny blondes that were shown.  Nobody posted a picture of the fat black girl...who just proved that she could beat all of them.

Congratulations, Amber.  Well played, and a prize well earned.

Now there is nothing to look forward to but the new Bachelor and I am proud to say that in all the seasons of that show and its female counterpart, I have not seen one. single. episode of either.  I do have some standards, after all!

Looking over my entry from a year ago, I am remembering that at this time last year I was going through a terrible period of insomnia...for weeks...maybe months.   These days I am sleeping soundly all night long, not even waking up to pee most nights, and I often take a nap during the day too.  I think having my mother settled and nearby is a big part of my improved sleep habits.  I cannot tell you how many nights I lay awake worrying about what was the right thing to do.  I think we made the right choice, even with all the continuing deterioration of her memory that is going on.  And it's so nice to sleep again!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Face to Face

Being someone who has learned to communicate via e-mail and text messaging (and actually have come to prefer it much of the time), I realize that there is still an advantage to actually meeting face to face.

There have been a couple of misunderstandings between myself and the entertainment editor to whom I submit my reviews lately.  Nothing serious, but it just didn't seem that she was understanding what I was asking and she appeared frustrated that I wasn't understanding her either.

So I invited her to have lunch with me. 

She's been in this position for a couple of years now, so we have worked together for what is now a long time, but we had never met face to face.  I knew Derrick, the first entertainment editor I worked with, ever since he was a young man, performing on stages in Davis and running a game store (selling games in an era before video games) and have always considered him a friend. I would occasionally go to the newspaper office to do a couple of things, but mostly my job doesn't require me to ever go to the office and so once my friend was downsized, I just never had an excuse to go to the office. We had our disagreements from time to time but because we were friends, I never got angry with him and things smoothed over quickly.

The paper's chief editor was the first person to take over for Derrick and I had known her for a long time.  Then the sports editor took over the job when she felt herself overwhelmed.  He immediately invited me to lunch and we talked for a long time.  He admitted he knew lots of sports but nothing about theater and wanted to pick my brain about how things worked.  He didn't last long in the job and this new person, who had worked on the paper for a couple of years, took on the entertainment section too.  She also came out of the sports section and theater is not her bailiwick either, but we seemed to get along all right until the last few months...and even then, it was only a couple of things that I got upset about.

What a difference it makes to actually know the person you are working with!  I hope she feels the same way that I do this evening.

We didn't meet for lunch, but she suggested we meet at Starbucks, and the chief editor came along too.  I don't know if they thought they needed the editor to be a referee, but I was not there to confront; I was there to get to know her.

I got there first and decided that since the last time I was in Starbucks was about five years ago, when we met our Mexican daughter downtown and she offered to buy us coffee, I would treat myself to one of their specialty coffees.  I ordered a creme brulee latte, because I can never pass up any creme brulee.  

My first impression was to realize how people who regularly have these specialty coffees must either have very big salaries, or go into  debt on a regular basis.  My God.  $3.75 for a "tall" (Starbucks' way of referring to a small!)  And it came warm, not hot.  I like my coffee very hot.  I had to drink it quickly before it cooled off to cold, so I couldn't even enjoy the creamy goodness.

 The women arrived and we sat down to chat.  We both talked about our backgrounds.  What a fascinating woman she is!  I learned she had lived in China for a year, teaching English and doing something else.  I wish we had explored that experience more in depth.  I told her how I began doing newspaper with the long defunct free political rag, The Argus, which even the editor had never heard of.   I was the entertainment editor back then, pasting up the entertainment calendar and giving spotlight attention to friends of mine who were performing.  The editor didn't give a fig about entertainment and I don't think he ever even looked at that page.   The more comfortable I felt, the more fun I had with the page until he went bankrupt and closed the office.

The three of us had a great time laughing about an issue that we all agreed on.   I loved that!

We finally got around to the recent issues with my reviews, and it was not a heated discussion.  I learned the difficulties the paper has, with a smaller staff and fewer pages into which to put more articles.  I confessed that I have a review blog where I usually post reviews after they have been published, but when they are not published in a timely fashion, I may post to Bitter Hack before they have been published in the paper so the theaters can read them and use them for quotes, if they want to.  I hadn't told anybody that before, fearing that it might violate some copyright or something, but both women were fine with my doing that.  It's nice that that blog is finally out in the open and everyone is OK with it.

In the end it was a very positive experience, a lovely coffee, and I suspect that I will be less irritated by things because we have actually met face to face.

I hope she feels the same way.

I guess there are occasions where e-mail is NOT necessarily the best way to communicate with people!

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Sweet It Is

I must apologize in advance for the first part of this entry, which is deliberately obtuse, but every once in awhile this becomes my personal blog for me to remember certain things in my life that I don't feel comfortable being completely open about.  There may be those who can read through this delicious moment and understand what I'm talking about, but I hope not.

The situation is this.  I've been having difficulty with a person who is driving me absolutely bonkers (this person is not related to me).  Some times are more irritating than others and there are days when I reach my wits end and just want to strangle this person.  That has been my situation recently (no, it's not my mother!)

I had been ranting and raving to Walt about how I was coming to the end of my rope and just could not stand being with this person one more moment.

Then we went to see a play tonight.  It was an original play, a comedy, which was very good.  The first act was so funny, and I was in a better mood.   Then the second act started.  I swear, the playwright must have known my irritating acquaintance.  The second act was also funny, but even funnier than the rest of the audience must have found it.  Walt and I were both in hysterics because it hit every single irritation that I've been having and made it hilarious.

By the time we came out of the  theater, I was still giggling softly to myself and actually felt better able to deal with the irritations, at least for now, because now I can think about the funny script when things irritate me instead of letting it get to me.

The theater we went to tonight was a new theater to me.  My colleague, Jeff, has been encouraging me to review shows at the B Street Theater for years, but it was not on my list of acceptable theaters to review.  In the past, the criterion set by the former entertainment editor was that, for space reasons, we would only review out of town shows that had some sort of connection to Davis (somebody in the cast lived in Davis, the director was from Davis, or somebody involved in one way or another got a degree from UCD).

However, Buck Busfield (brother of Tim Busfield, whom you may remember from 30 Something), the Pooh Bah of the company, finally called the current entertainment editor and pointed out that there is a huge percentage of the B Street audience that comes in from Davis and convinced her to let me review the shows.
(aside:  I seem to be having difficulty, lately, getting reviews printed in timely fashion because of lack of newspaper space, so I'm not sure how adding another theater to the mix is going to work, but we'll see.)
The whole experience was a delight and makes me sad that it has taken me 13 years to get to the B Street Theater.  First of all, we brought Mitch Agruss, about whom I have spoken before as the "grand old man of Sacramento theater."   Mitch, now 90, has performed with B Street for many years and as he got older, often Busfield would write special character parts for Mitch to play.  However, in his last production he had a fall in rehearsal and broke his wrist, which has never completely healed, and he's now a spectator, no longer an actor.  But going to any Sacramento Theater with Mitch is like accompanying visiting royalty.  Everybody loves Mitch and, sitting with him after a show, you end up not only chit chatting with the actors in the play, but every other Sacramento show biz personality who came for opening night.

(B Street also has the best opening night post-show hors d'oeuvres, I might add...always a plus in my book!)

As for the show, Busfield apparently usually writes an original play around Chrstmas time and if this one is any indication, I have been deprived all these years of the fun of one of his original compositions.  

It was a cast of 3. act one featuring a couple on their first blind date, and act two an old married couple...and to say much more would bring me back to revealing too much, so I won't.  But Act 2 ends up with one of the actors getting all the ingredients of a German chocolate cake poured over his head, the four eggs being the funniest of all.  Fortunately in the brief final scene, he has to wear a hat, so doesn't have to worry about residual gunk in his hair.

We came home to watch shows on our DVR (including Amazing Race, which had recorded while we were out).  While we watched TV...for three hours, I was going through my new iPhone contact list, transferred over from my Android which had copied EVERY entry in my gmail contact list, 90% of whom are people I don't even know.

In 3 hours I only got through most of the Bs.  I have since discovered there is an app called "spring cleaning" which might help me delete entries in one fell swoop.  I'm hopeful for that, but it's nearly 2 a.m. and I'm not going to try that now!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's a Small World After All

Over the years we have had real unusual "small world" happenings in our lives, like taking our visiting foreign student to see the redwood trees in Muir Woods and having him run into a friend of his from medical school in Chile.

We used to tease Jeri's godmother, also "Jeri," that no matter where she went she ran into someone she knew.  The best example of that was when she was being wheeled into the delivery room and discovered that one of the labor nurses was a friend from high shcool.

Walt and I had another one of those experiences last night.  We had gone to see a production of A Christmas Story at Winters Community Theater.   They present their shows in the community center and seating is at round tables, seating 6, where you are served dessert and champagne on opening night before the show starts.

Walt and I got to our table first and seated ourselves, then another couple arrived.  They were from Dixon, about 10 miles from Davis.  She was a striking woman with long grey-white hair with black streaks yet she had a familiar look about her, but as we started chatting, there didn't seem to be any place where we might have crossed paths, unless it was at a different Winters show.  The next couple arrived.  They were from Woodland, 10 miles from Davis in the other direction.   She was very good at getting conversation going and soon we were all chattering about our lives, our work, our kids.  

The striking woman from Dixon mentioned that she worked at the University and had worked for years in the Development Department, raising funds for the university.  I asked her if she knew our friend Shirley Sparks, who had retired from the Development Department.  Shirley and I worked for years as typists for The Secretariat, and our daughters went to school together.  She and I were part of the loosest bridge group you'd ever meet, which would shock bridge afficionados.  

Anyway, the woman brightened and said that yes, she knew Shirley very well.  I mentioned that I hadn't seen her since we attended the 50th anniversary party that Shirley's daughter had thrown for her parents in Naples, New York several years ago.  The woman said she was at that party too!  It was a small party--fewer than 30 people, so that's obviously why she looked so famliar to me.   Odd, sometimes, how "connected" we all seem to be.

TWelcome.jpg (48378 bytes)It was a different kind of "small world" we experienced this afternoon.  The local Philippine club  hosted a fund raiser for Typhoon Relief.  I didn't realize what a large Philippine community there is in the area.
I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever been to a more welcoming, friendly, and helpful fund raiser.  A gentleman greeted us at the door as if we were long lost friends, explaining about the food and then turning us over to two other people who found us a table. I actually thought he must know Walt from church or something, since the event was being held at the Catholic church, which Walt still attends regularly.  But Walt said he'd never seen him before.

I swear each table must have had three servers, all smiling and eager to do whatever they could to please you.  The food had all been cooked by the community and it was an assortment of Filipino cuisine from Lumpia (the Philippine equivalent of Chinese spring rolls), some chicken curry dish, chicken adobo, plain rice, and rice noodles, along with two delicious deserts, one like a flan and the other a cassava cake, with coconut that I would love to get the recipe for.

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The community came out in large numbers.

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I saw at least one former mayor, who is Filippina, and our current Assembly woman.  We didn't see Ned's sister-in-law, who had invited me to attend the event.  She later admitted she had forgotten.

There was a photograph album of relatives living in the Philippines now, and a slide show about the aftermath of the typhoon and the work that is being done to rebuild the hard-hit areas.

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Some kids did a bamboo pole dance and invited members of the audience to come and try it with them (I didn't see anybody volunteering)

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There was a big table where people had made handcraft items to sell.   A family agreed to match all the funds raised through the sale.

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I ended up buying a pair of earrings and a bag of chocolate covered almonds.

We didn't linger, but when we left about half a dozen people told us goodbye and thanked us for coming and the friendly greeter at the door practically hugged us in his exuberance.  It was a real feel good event and I hope they raised a lot for typhoon relief.  I felt a little closer to Fred, making this big world of ours just a little smaller.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No Wings for Angel

This being the season for "It's a Wonderful Life,", I was thinking about Angel getting his wings as I left the Verizon store.  I've been having a terrible time with my cell phone.  It is getting slower and slower and slower, and had reached a point where it was pretty much useless.

NedNeck.jpg (11459 bytes)Ned had his surgery yesterday and I was waiting for a text from Marta, which did come, but my cell phone first would not unlock at all and when it did, it wouldn't connect to the text messages.  Fortunately, she sent the same message to Walt, too, so I was able to find out that he's OK, though he looks like he's been attacked by a vampire.

Anyway, that was the straw that broke the camel's back and I decided to go to Verizon.  I thought that we were not due for new phones until January and had been limping along with this one, but it was getting ridiculous.

That's where I met Angel.  He says his mother saddled him with that unlucky name and he has been hearing about it his whole life.

Fortunately, the phone misbehaved for him just like it did for me, so he could see that I was having serious problems.  He checked our account and told me that actually we had been qualified for an upgrade since August (apparently the contract updates every 2 years, but you can upgrade your phone every 20 months...nice thing to remember for next time).

I told him I wanted an iPhone 4 because I was tired of not having all the goodies all the other kids did because they didn't make them for my Android and I wanted the 4 instead of the celebrated iPhone 5 because I'd heard of so many problems with the 5.

Turns out that because they are concentrating on selling the 5, Apple doesn't really sell the 4, unless it's a reconditioned one (guaranted, of course).  I didn't care new or reconditioned.  My history with reconditioned stuff has been good so far. So we went through all the paperwork and the thing cost only the transfer fee and the cost of a new cover, which brought it to $60.  Such a deal.

I did some shopping while he was transferring contact information over to the new phone and it was finished by the time I came back.  He told me that the phone would suggest that I upgrade to the new operating system but I should NOT do it because the 4 couldn't handle the power of the upgraded system.  I remembered when Char had upgraded and it screwed her up for a long time, so I have been avoiding updates like the plague.

I happily came home with my new phone and started transferring information over.   I have several lengthy notes that I needed to have on the phone (like the notes I take when my mother sees the doctor and that kind of stuff).  I got several of them transferred (read -- retyped into the new phone) and then I decided to download one of the many apps I needed to download, now for the iPhone and not the Android, only when I tried, I kept getting a message that it could not connect to the iTunes Store.

I tried everything and eventually I called Verizon, only instead of getting Angel, I got the downtown store and the guy there had a completely different story.  He groaned and said that Angel's store had "issues."  He tried to walk me through how to connect to the iTunes store, but he finally gave up and gave me a number to call (800-myiphone)

I called that and first had a lengthy exchange with a robot who eventually connected me with a customer service representative, who said he could help me, only did exactly the same thing the Verizon guy here did, which had exactly the same result.   He finally passed me along to a tech guy.

The tech guy, after telling me my phone was not registered (and did something, I don't know what, when I told him I had just bought it two hours ago) told me that the problem was I had the wrong operating system and I would have to update.  I protested and talked about my fears for both the desktop and the phone and even played the age card and told him that I was 70 yrs old and hated new things (!) but he finally told me that my only option was up upgrade both my deskto and the phone, or resign myself to not using apps.  

Cruel guy.

So, with fear and trembling, I started the upgrade to my desktop.  It was taking so long, we made an appointment for him to call back in half an hour, when the upgrade was finished.

He didn't call back, but another guy did and he finally fixed the problem.  I told him about upgrading and he said "Well, that might not be your problem.  The iTunes Store has been down all afternoon--we've been getting lots of calls about it."  After all this it wasn't my phone's problem at alll, but iTunes. We went off to a show, came home and...voila!  I can now download apps from the iTunes store.

No wings for Angel.  No wings for any of the other guys.  Wings for the guy who finally "solved" the problem!

(But now I have an updated iTunes..., but alas no Siri on my phone, since Siri came along with the 4s.  But I probably wouldn't talk to her much anyway, so that's OK)

Thursday, November 21, 2013


This morning I went to a support group for people dealing with dementia and Alzheimers.  It was a group of about 10 people, the leader of which was actually an old friend.  Surprise, surprise.  He had come to the group because his mother died of Alzheimers, and I guess he just stayed on to be part of the support system.  His co-leader was extremely knowledgeable about everything.  She has a mother with Alzheimers and a sister with a different psychiatric problem, so she is dealing with it on two levels.

There was a woman in the early stages of Alzheimers, and a man with Louie body dementia (which is Alzheimers paired with Parkinsons).  Both of those people are still high functioning and able to live independently and are still driving, though the man was encouraged to give up his car.  The rest of us were dealing with loved ones in various stages of dementia or diagnosed Alzheimers.

There was the older man who moved with his wife to the University Retirement Community, the Cadillac of assisted living facilities.  He said that he was attracted to URC because of the many, varied activities that they offer.  But his wife has not left their apartment in the 6 months they have lived there. That made me feel better because that pretty much describes my mother, though she does go to the dining room and sometimes goes to the table where they work puzzles, but nothing else.

There was a woman whose mother was just moved into assisted living back east.  She is here and her brother lives 2 hours away from Mom.  She's feeling great guilt for being so far away, and also still suffering grief over having to pack up the family home.  She seems not to be getting much support from the rest of her family and I suspect she will, like me, return to this meeting next month.

There was a man whose wife is in end stage Alzheimers.  He has obviously been coming for a long time and was mostly there just to be a part of the group.

The last woman is taking care of her husband, also with Alzheimers.   I had to leave before she had a chance to speak much, but assume I will get to know her in the future, since she seems to be a long-term member as well.

The dynamic of the group was wonderful.  Each of us with immediate concerns got a long time to tell our story and get feedback.  I know there is nothing anybody can do, but being with people who all understood and who cared was such a wonderful feeling.

From there, I went to Atria for my weekly lunch with my mother.   I've said it before and I'm sure I will say it again many times, but there are perks to dementia.  She barely remembers our fight last night, does not remember yelling at me and hanging up on me.  I laid out for her the new rules, which are that she is going to do her own laundry, but with my help, so she won't feel that anybody is taking her clothes and leaving her with clothes she does not recognize.

I told her I would take her shopping to get new clothes and when faced with the choice of going to a regular store nearby and paying full price, or going back to San Rafael to the thrift shop where she worked for so many years to shop there, she decided she really didn't need any new clothes after all.  She did try to bring up all of those unfamiliar clothes and I just told her that I wasn't even going to discuss them with her any more and that she could do what she wanted with them.

Then we went to the dining room and had a very nice lunch with my friend Peggy and another woman.  I was pleased to see how many people my mother greeted coming into the dining room.  That was a very good sign. At one point she had to sign a ticket for me to eat there and she couldn't remember her name.  I thought she was kidding, but she wasn't.  When I told her it was Mildred she wrote that and didn't add her last name because she couldn't remember it.  That hasn't happened before, that I am aware.

So it was a good day, following a very bad afternoon and I left feeling good.  I then did what I love to do and almost never do -- I went and spent money.  Lots of money, actually.

We have adopted a family for Christmas, through the Davis Crisis Nursery.  There is a mother and 3 children, a boy 2 and girls 14 and 18.  I have a list of things they would like and it far exceeds what we can buy, but I made a good dent in the list.  This was, for example, the very first time I have ever gone shopping in the section of the store where they sell pants in size 7.  Size 7?   Who wears size 7  I don't think I wore a size 7 diaper!  But the 18 year old wears a size 7 and I actually bought jeans in size 7.

It was fun getting stuff for the 2 yr old, including a Superman shirt.  How could I not get a Superman shirt? And the Mom had requested a crock pot, toaster, and blender.  Obviously I was not going to get all three, but I did find the crock pot at the surprisingly low price of $19, so I got that.  I figured that of the 3 that would be the most versatile and help the family the most.

I also got a few things for my newest sponsored child, a 10 year old girl named Navya.  I can send this one anything that will fit in a 6x9 envelope, so I bought some flat things she can use in school, like crayons, pencils and stickers and will add those things to some coloring book pages and a booklet I made for her on Snapfish to introduce her to the family and to Davis.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spitzmuller me

I have often joked here that I cry easily and that I can cry at supermarket openings.  Now I don't mean boo-hoo sobbing, but tears welling up in my eyes, threatening to spill over, enough so that I turn away so nobody can see that I am having an emotional moment, as I surreptitiously wipe away the tears before they can betray me.

My grandmother always told me, when I cried like that, that I was a "Spitzmuller."  I've tried to find a definition on the internet, but can only find people whose last name was Spitzmuller.  Her mother had come to this country from Germany, so I'm sure that she learned the term from her mother, who brought it from the "old country."

This morning as I was moved to tears by a Today Show story of twins both diagnosed with breast cancer, I decided to make a record of all the things today that move me to tears.  The first time I got tears in my eyes was because of a sign someone on the Today Show plaza was holding (unfortunately I don't remember what it was now--if I had thought about this entry at the time, I would have written it down).

The story of the twins was followed by a report on Jacquie Kennedy's famous pink suit, blood stained following the assassination of the president.  Tears filled my eyes.  It wasn't even 8:30 yet and I had already cried three times.

I actually made it all the way through Jenna Bush Hager's interview of a blogger, who writes cartoons and talks about her depression, without tearing up, until the end, when Hager gave her a big hug.  Then the tears came.

Two teenage girls were freaking out at the notion of seeing actor Josh Hutchinson (don't know who he is, but apparently the star of the upcoming Hunger Games movie).  He came out onto the set of Kelly and Michael to great applause and these two girls in tears.  Me too.  Tears welling--and I don't know him or them, but was moved by the emotion of the moment.
[Aside:  It will become apparent throughout this record that I would cry significantly less if I ever turned off the television.  But it's on all day long as white noise in the background, as well as a kind of clock, because I know what time each show comes on.  This has been my habit ever since I got my own apartment back in the 1960s, before Walt and I were married]
I received an email from a Compassion blogger who took on a young woman in Uganda to sponsor a couple of years ago.  Several of us went in together to pay for her sponsorship.  This girl left the program when she became pregnant and today Michelle, the blogger who was writing to her, learned that she had her baby, whom she named after "the heroes in her life," Michelle and her husband (Michelle Jason Grace).  Tears.
A few tears came at the end of a Kelly and Michael interview with race car driver Jimmy Johnson.  It was just as he read the card going to commercial, but it was a warm, funny moment, and I got choked up for a minute.

NPR was playing a recording of Gregory Peck reading the Gettysburg Address, on the 150th anniversary of that speech.  It was so moving that I was moved to tears.

The next incident was a "normal" tearing up.  A telephone fight with my mother over clothes that I washed for her that she swears are not hers and she complains that her closet is emptying out and she doesn't know what has happened to her clothes.  She ended up screaming at me and hanging up on me.  I just don't know what to do about her.  They are her clothes and she doesn't believe that it is her memory problem that she doesn't recognize them.  I am so frustrated with all this!!!!  No wonder it brought tears.

The last time I teared up was at the end of NCIS, when Gibbs hired a new girl to replace Ziva.  A tender moments.  Tender moments always get me.

I might have had more Spitzmuller moments but I was so upset after the incident with my mother that I was fuming.  I sent off several messages to different people for different reasons, one of them to a medical professional I know to ask for suggestions of a therapist I might see that could help me deal with my mother.  She gave me a couple of names, but also suggested I check the Senior Center to see what they might offer.  Turns out they have a support group for people dealing with people with dementia and Alzheimers, which meets once a month...and the next meeting just happens to be tomorrow, so I'm off to a support group tomorrow and if that doesn't seem promising, I'll check out the recommended therapists.

Also, I came up with a plan of action.  I am going to take her shopping for new clothes.  I'll even take her back to the thrift shop where she used to work, if she wants.  We will then bring those clothes home and LABEL them all together.   And then I will let her know that I am not going to do her laundry any more. She is going to do her laundry there at Atria, only we will do it together (since she is afraid of getting lost going to the laundry room, just a few steps from her apartment).  She will take the clothes from her hamper and put them in the washing machine and transfer them from the washer to the dryer and then bring them back to her apartment.  It will be much less convenient for me, but if it will avoid another incident like today, then that will be good.

I don't know if she will remember our fight, or if she will remember and not be speaking to me tomorrow.  We are scheduled to have lunch at 11:30 and the support group meeting is at 10:00.  I don't know what I'm going to find at Atria tomorrow.  But I have to do something to make this right.

Of course all this drama robbed me of my chance to record a full Spitzmuller day...when you are angry and frustrated you are less likely to find anything on television or in the newspaper as something that makes you teary.

The newspaper DID make me angry, too, though.  I've been waiting for a review I wrote last week to be printed and the editor got huffy and told me I'd have to wait for all the other writers' pieces to be printed (unclear on the concept of helping to sell tickets, not for the first time).  I expected the review to run today, but she ran one from OCTOBER, which I believe she ran weeks ago.  Beverly is not a happy camper.  But I don't suppose I can find a support group for that.

Maybe I'll just go to the couch and cry myself to sleep.  Sigh.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Sometimes I'm surprised at what makes me think about sitting down and writing a journal entry at the end of the day.

Tonight it was the Final Jeopardy question category, which was "Buildings."

Oddly enough, Walt and I both thought of the same thing at the same minute.

It wasn't any Frank Lloyd Wright ediface, or any of the Bernard Maybeck homes so popular in Berkeley.  It wasn't any skyscraper like the World Trade Center or the Sears Tower.

No, when Alex Trebec said that the topic was going to be "buildings," Walt and I both thought of Bill Ding.
Bill Dings were these weird wooden guys...

BillDing.jpg (60438 bytes)

...that we both had as kids.  Wikipedia says they were supposed to be clowns.  I guess I never noticed that part.  But they were cut in such a way that you could stack them in all sorts of weird configurations.

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I was always jealous of my friend Stephen who had an erector set and Lincoln Logs.  I always wanted to try making stuff with those toys, but instead I had Bill Dings, 'cause I was a girl and Lincoln Logs were for boys.  I remember playing with Bill Dings a lot, actually, though you couldn't really make anything with them like with Lincoln Logs or an erector set, but it was a fun, if weird toy.

Strange memory to be evoked by a Jeopardy question about the Supreme Court building!

My mother had a couple of checks to deposit, so we went to the bank today.   Walt asked why we didn't just use an ATM machine and I told him that she was set in her ways and liked doing her banking in the bank, but when we got there, she realized it wasn't the bank she was used to in her old house and said she guessed she could use the ATM machine.  Only she couldn't because, of course, she didn't have a clue what her PIN number was. For that we have to make an appointment and re-do her whole card. I may do that at some point in the future.  It's unlikely she will have any more checks (or many more checks) that need to be deposited anyway, so it may be an unnecessary step.

When I got to Atria and was signing in, my friend at the desk handed me a big pile of clothes my mother had brought to the  desk again, saying they weren't hers.   It was the ENTIRE load of laundry I had done for her last week, including her underwear.   I brought them to her apartment and she argued with me that she had NEVER had clothes that color before.  I don't know if I convinced her to keep them, whether they were hers or not.  I pointed out that she hasn't purchased anything new in decades, since she got all of her clothes at the thrift shop where she worked so even if they weren't hers, what difference did it make?

She said she didn't want to be walking around Atria and have someone accuse her of stealing their clothes.  I didn't point out that it was unlikely anybody would know if she was wearing someone else's underwear.

But I came home and decided that when I do her laundry next time, I will have to hang it all up myself and not leave it for her to do.  If I leave it on the bed, as I usually do, she can't recognize it and I'm tired of having this battle with her every time I do her laundry.  (She won't do her own laundry because she's afraid she will get lost going to the laundry room--which is at the end of the hall from her apartment--and won't remember how to work the machine.  She wouldn't even look at the laundry room when I tried to show it to her after she moved in, though she insisted we buy detergent and bleach.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Day with "The Girls"

What a fun day it was today.  Tom and Laurel were driving through Davis on their way back to Santa Barbara and stopped for a visit and brunch with my mother.  Walt and I went (of course), and Ned took advantage of the fact that he can still drive (he has neck surgery next week and will be house-bound for about six weeks) to join us too.

AtriaApron.jpg (134436 bytes)I had brought gifts for everyone (except my ,mother, because I had given her her gifts from our vacation when we returned from the vacation).  For Ned there was the finale season of Dexter on DVD for him to watch during his recovery.   For Tom there was a collection of spices I bought at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul.   For Laurel there was a box of apple tea, also purchased in Istanbul.  For the girls there was an apron and a flower wreath for Bri and a doll for Lacie and whistles for both of them, all bought in Ukraine and then there were books for Lacie's birthday (which was a month ago) and books for Bri about dinosaurs, which she studied this summer (all books purchased at Logos).

(Obviously I should have purchased an apron for Lacie too, but I didn't think she'd be old enough to appreciate it.  Obviously I was wrong!)

We sat in my mother's apartment and visited for awhile and then, when the kids began to get a little restless, they went out into the garden.  The lady next door to my mother has a dog.  We knew that she had a dog because I'd seen the fence for it for weeks, but I had never actually seen the dog.  But today, with all the commotion of the girls playing outside, the dog came out to investigate, and they made friends with it.

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They also enjoyed running up and down the path in the garden, while Walt, Ned and Tom watched.

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Eventually, we headed off for brunch.  The girls both had to walk with Uncle Ned.

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I was able to reserve the little private dining room, off the regular dining room, which was just perfect since we didn't have to worry about the noise or the girls running around.

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Ned and Lacie looked cute for the camera.

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and he and Bri mugged for the camera.

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Lacie had worn shiny black boots and my mother loves shoes.   As a kid the thing she wanted most was a pair of black patent leather shoes, so she loved Lacie's boots and the two of them made a game out of taking them off, stealing them, getting them back, and putting them back on again.  It doesn't take much to entertain a toddler...or a great grandmother!

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Ned was talking to Bri about his upcoming surgery (he is having a bulging disc in his neck fixed, with cadaver bone and fusing of the two segments of the cervical spine).  Bri was very interested in hearing about it and trying to imagine what he was feeling (numbness and tingling in his hand and pain in his neck).  She listened intently and was very cute and asked good questions and Ned was just great about explaining it in terms that a 5 year old could understand.

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When we returned to Grandma's apartment, Ned got out his x-rays and showed her the bones in his neck and explained how the doctors were going to fix him.

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But eventually it was time for Tom and family to get on the road.   They had to make it back to Santa Barbara tonight and it's a long drive. But it was such a good visit and I think I'm going to put together a Snapfish book about it for my mother, who by next week will have forgotten they were ever there!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Stealing

1. What’s your favorite candle scent?
I have no one particular scent, though I lean toward the flowery scents.

2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister?
Ellen Degeneres. 

3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother?
Mark Harmon.  (What a trio we'd be...Ellen, Mark and me!)

4. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married?
I don't think, I know.  I was 22 when we married, 48 years ago.

5. Do you know a hoarder?
Yes.  ME!  (Though I'm not the kind of hoarder that you see on TV...I just have lots of "stuff.")

6. Can you do a split?
I can split an English muffin or a bagel, I can make a banana split, but I cannot split anything that involves moving body parts far apart from one another.

7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike?
I don't remember, but it was some time in grammar school.  Probably 10 or so.

8. How many oceans have you swum in?
I think only the Pacific, though I have dipped a digit in other oceans, like the Indian ocean, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Black Seas

9. How many countries have you been to?
Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, China, Finland, Estonia.   That's 19.  I think that's it.  [UPDATE:  Walt reminds me I left out Australia (something Freudian in that, I suspect), and Char reminds me we were in Monaco, so that brings the total to 21, unless Hong Kong is considered a country. I also was in South Korea and Singapore, but I don't count those countries because I never got out of the airport.]

10. Is anyone in your family in the military?
Not my immediate family.  I had uncles who fought in WW II, and my cousin has grandsons in the Navy.

11. Have you named any of your body parts?
Good God, no.

12. If you had a child today, what would you name him/her?
Miracle.  I'm 70-1/2 years old.  I done had my last kid in  1972.

13. What’s the worst grade you got on a test?
I can't remember back that far, but probably a D (I don't have a clue what subject it would have been in, though.  Probably math.)

14. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
Winky Dink and You.

15. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight?
Eight?  Be serious.  That was 62 years ago.  I do have one picture of me in costume from around that time, and I was a gypsy.  I think.

16. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series?
Harry Potter, yes.  Twilight series, yes (and am embarrassed to admit it.   What a waste of my time.)  I have not yet read the Hunger Games.

17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent?
Having a British accent would be cool, if it was the proper kind of British accent.

18. Did your mother go to college?

19. Are your grandparents still married?
It depends on whether the marriage vows continue into the next life.  They've all been dead a very, very long time.

20. Have you ever taken karate lessons?
No...but my son David did.

21. Do you know who Kermit the frog is?
Kermie?  If COURSE I know Kermit the frog.  He has been sitting in my living room wearing a black arm band ever since Jim Henson died.

22. What was the first amusement park you’ve been to?
Playland at the Beach in San Francisco.  What a fun place.  I'm sorry my kids never got the chance to experience it, since it was torn down in 1972.

23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in?
French and/or Portuguese (I know a smattering of each)

24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray?
Usually grey, but it depends on my mood.

25. Is your father bald?
Most assuredly by now, since he was buried in 1987.  But he had a full head of grey hair (see?  grey) at the time of his death.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

10 Things

There is a challenge going on around Facebook these days.   People challenge other people to write x number of things that nobody knows about them.  The number varies with the challenge.  Some are asked to write 3 things, some 10, some other numbers.  If you "like" a person's list then supposedly they will, in return, give you a number and you write that number of things about yourself.

I've "liked" a couple of lists, but nobody has responded (yet) by giving me a number.  But I've thought about it, in the event that someone actually does.  I wondered if I could find ten things about myself that I have not talked about over the last almost 14 years of writing this journal.  So I decided to do that exercise here.  I suspect that before I get to 10 I'm going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to come up with something that might surprise people to know.

Here goes...

1.  I talked about the last almost 14 years I've been writing this journal.  You also probably know that there is a mirror journal on Blogger, "Airy Persiflage," with the exact same content, mostly for my friend Kari, who wanted to read it on her reader.  BUT, did you know that in addition to "Airy Persiflage," I also have 16 other blogs?  Some were for short-term things (like "My 70th Year"), some were private just for me, but somewhere out there there are 16 blogs by me.

2. My right foot turns in and I have always twisted it when I walk so I wear down the heel on my right shoe quicker than that on my left.

3. My favorite thing is to be kind of a fly on the wall listening to smart people discussing theater and movies.  I love the TV program, Theater Talk, and watch it religiously and I love Charlie Rose's chats with show biz folks.   But closer to home, I look forward each year to our New Year's Eve party and listening to actor and radio personality Stephen Peithman discussing theater and movies with actor and critic Jim Lane.

4. I was a breech baby.

5. I have been watching Jeopardy ever since Art Flemming (who retired in 1975) was the host.  I read in Wikipedia that Alec Trebec, who retires in 2016, will have been the host for 32 years, so I have been watching Jeopardy for about half of my life! I remember when Trebec's hair was black and he had a moustache.

6. I am essentially blind in my right eye, even more so now that a cataract completely covers my eye.  But there is a congenital defect to the eye and I can't have a simple cataract surgery. The doctor guesstimates that it will take 3 different operations to correct the defect and remove the cataract.  We decided to let it go for awhile, but the cataract has become so much bigger that for the first time it affects my vision and I'm thinking of having the surgeries after all.

7. Until now, the only surgery I've had was a tonsillectomy when I was 5 years old.  I look at Brianna today, the age I was when I had surgery, and I can't even imagine watching her go into an operating room to have part of her throat cut out.  I remember my mother bringing me comic books when I was in the hospital overnight.  I still remember that one of them included a scene with Donald Duck being sucked into a whirlpool.

8. I was the romantic lead in my high school play and I fell in love with my leading man, who, as it turned out, was probably gay.  We dated for awhile and I dumped him when I went to University.

9. Though I have been a Judy Garland fan all of my life, I really don't like The Wizard of Oz all that much.  I still watch it, but it's one of my least favorite of her films.

10. I took 5th prize in a writing competition where we had to write something about the Merchant Marine.  My prize was a cruise from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the ship the President Cleveland.  I have never felt any pride whatsoever in that win because the nun who "helped" me write it, really wrote the thing herself.  I don't remember a single fact about the Merchant Marine and couldn't tell you what my composition was about.

Well, hey.  Whaddya know.  I could come up with 10 things about myself that I probably have not discussed here

Friday, November 15, 2013

To Be Born Again

I don't mean "born again" in the Religious Right sense of the term, but in its original definition, born again after death,  Reincarnation.

My aunt Betsy was into all that sort of stuff.  She had every book on reincarnation and near death experience and "beyond the beyond" kinds of books.  At her funeral I remember that we joked that if ever there was anybody who was ready for a reincarnation it was Bets.  If such a thing exists, she must be in 7th heaven.  ...uh... literally!

There was a time when I read all that sort of stuff--not nearly to the extent that she did, but heck, I even read Shirley MacLain's early books.  And I thought about it a lot.  It flies in the face of Catholic teaching, but I decided that reincarnation was the only thing that made any sense to me.  You can't kill energy and what is life but when all of your vital organs cease to keep you alive in the sense that we know it...where does that energy go?

I never did figure out if we reincarnated into human beings, or maybe into some other life form, like animals or insects.  In fact, the night Gilbert died, I went to his house in San Francisco to "straighten up" in preparation for his family's arrival from Oklahoma the next day.  "Straighten up" in this case meant ridding the place of any gay stuff that might be embarrassing for his family to find.

I slept in his bed that night and there was a spider crawling on the pillow and I couldn't bring myself to kill it, just in case this was Gilbert instantly reincarnated (yes, I was that silly).

But I have thought about this whole reincarnation thing over the years and, as I said, did some reading about it at one time.  Some have theorized that it would explain why you meet a total stranger and you may be either drawn to that person or have a strong aversion to that person, before you've even gotten to know them.   Perhaps your paths crossed in a former life.

There are reports of young children who talk about their former lives, not realizing that they are no longer in that life any more.  As the child grows older, he gradually forgets the former life.  I have no clue whether this is real or hokum,but it's an interesting thing to think about.

I've never talked to anybody about my thoughts about my own possible former life but I was discussing it with my friend Kathy today, when we met for our monthly lunch, and as I talked with her I had an a-ha moment about the whole thing and so I decided I'd come clean about my possible former life.

I got to talking with her about it because we were discussing various historical spots around the world.  She wants, for example, to go to the sites made famous during the civil rights movement.  She has felt drawn to that area for many years and has talked many times about wanting to visit.

We talked about how "different" it felt to be standing in an historic place and thinking about what went on there.  I have never been to Dallas, but I imagine I would feel that special feeling in Dealey Plaza, like I felt standing in the courtyard in Yalta, where the famous picture of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill was taken.
I told her how moved I was at Babi Yar and how compelled I was to read a book and find out exactly what happened there.  She talked about how she could not bring herself to visit any site like that because it was too painful to think about. That's when I told her my deep, dark secret.

I don't know when I became interested in learning about the Holocaust.  It was probably reading "The Diary of Anne Frank," but I went through a time when I read anything I could read about it, from historians and survivors.   I watched countless movies and documentaries about the atrocities committed during that time.  I often asked myself why I was so intrigued by something so terrible.   I remember that a book club was discussing Eli Wiesel's famous book "Night," based on his experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz, and some of the people who read it were terribly upset and nauseated by some of the experiences he related.  I had read the book too, but it contained nothing that I had not read from countless authors before, so it didn't hit me with the same "pow" that it did others.

I gradually began to think that perhaps in a former life I had been a part of the Holocaust.  But here's my deep dark secret.  If indeed that was part of my past life experience, I think I was not a prisoner, but a soldier or a politician charged with implementing the "final solution."  I can't really explain why I feel that, but I have felt it for a long time, and been appalled by it. 

But as I related my thoughts to Kathy, my a-ha moment came.   If you read enough literature about reincarnation, you find that our job in the next life is to right the wrongs that we did in this one.  And doesn't it say somewhere (it's been decades since I read any of this stuff) that you keep living your life over and over again until you finally get it right and then you get to achieve Nirvana or whatever it is when there is no more work to be done.

And it hit me that all of my adult life...literally all of my adult life...I have been working to make the world a little better for someone else.   I sponsored my first child when I was just out of college and working so that I had money to spend and I found little Hyun Joo in Korea and sponsored her.  There followed a succession of other kids, their names now forgotten, through other organizations and now Compassion and the kids I sponsor there.

Maybe this is what I was sent into this life to make up for my bad deeds during the Holocaust by doing something for others in this life.

This could, of course, all be the ravings of an overactive imagination, but if I was a bad guy and had any part in the atrocities of World War II, I'd like to think that I've done all I can to make up for it, just a little bit at least, in this life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Leaky Pipes

A good portion of my life these days seems to involve leaky pipes.   My mother's pipes, my pipes, the dogs' pipes, Walt's pipes
If you're a woman, the nice thing about getting older is ... yay! ... no more of that annoying monthly menstrual period.  No more tampons or thick pads that feel like walking around with a small paperback book between your legs.  The euphoria of having your last menstrual period seems to last about an hour and a half and then the leaking begins.  It's sneaky.  You sneeze and...oops.  A little spritz.  You start scoping out the bathroom as soon as you arrive at a new place. 
I worked for a doctor whose practice involved a lot of surgeries to fix leaky pipes (I don't think a wrench was involved), but I always thought that was more the serious leakage problem.  I don't know that I would want to go under the knife (or wrench) for a minor, irritating leak. 

Women began bringing leakage out of the closet... admitting that yeah, they have a slight problem.  Then you begin to realize that there are as many commercials out there for incontinence as there are for "E.D."

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I'm not sure how one "pees your pants like a lady," but there are an awful lot of products out there that want to help.  Pee pads are a fairly new item, I think.  Big, fat, absorbent menstrual pads have been around forever and one day there started to be a discreet little package next to them on the supermarket shelves which was supposed to absorb "leaks."

Whoopi Goldberg added humor to the situation when she became the spokesperson for Poise pads.

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I was at Costco the other day and discovered you could buy a humongous box of pee pads.  I was there for doggie pee pads (you can buy a humongous box of those too...and I do!). 

I discovered recently that pee pads are no longer unique to women.   Now they are making them for men, too and while men are probably not admitting to a leakage problem as openly as women are ('cause we can't resist talking about stuff like this and it makes men cringe to admit to having a problem), it's nice to see that they, too, now have a product that they are embarrassed to have their friends see them buying.

When I took my mother shopping the other day, I asked if she needed leakage pads and she sheepishly admitted that "well, maybe a small package..."  We found the smallest package they had on the shelf and she kept asking if they had a smaller package.  She was embarrassed to buy such a big package (30 pads) and said it would probably last her till the end of her life.  She then said that she only used them when she felt she needed them, which kinda tells me that by the time she feels she needs them, it's pretty much too late.

But we humans are embarrassed when we have conditions which show that we aren't perfect...or that we (and our body parts) are getting older.

Of course all of this is purely hypothetical, you understand.   It's certainly not my problem.

(Now about that bridge I have for sale....)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


One of my big problems is pockets.

Most of my pants don't have them.  This is having a negative impact on my life.

This afternoon, I was meeting my friend Ruth for lunch at a new restaurant downtown.  Well, actually, I don't know how new it is.  In fact I thought the old restaurant was still in the spot where I was meeting her today. I have no idea how long ago that restaurant closed.

Ruth is never late.  In fact, she's usually early.   And when I said I would "try to find the restaurant" (not difficult, since it's off in a small mall and there are only two restaurants there!) she told me that she would be waiting out in front.

We were to meet at 11:30 and I got there at 11:29, and she wasn't there.  How strange.

But I sat down to wait for her and while waiting, I decided to check e-mail on my cell phone. which I almost didn't bring.  When I opened the phone I discovered I had two missed calls, both from Ruth.  I called her back and she told me she had a conflict and would not be able to meet me for lunch.  We rescheduled for next week.

If I had pockets, I wouldn't have had to drive all the way downtown for nothing.  (Though I did see this new sculpture, which was kinda cool)

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(notice that it's made entirely of shovels!)

I've had a cell phone for a very long time now and I still haven't figured out how to work it.  Not "work it" in the sense of how to make the buttons do what I want them to do, but how to carry it.  When Ruth (who is fairly new to technology and doesn't realize that if I don't answer my cell phone she should try my land line, which used to be the only way she contacted me in the past) called me, my cell phone was in my purse. It's usually in my purse and my purse is usually at the other end of the house from where I am.  Even if my purse were right next to me, when we go to the theater, I turn off the ringer so at least half, if not more, of the time, the ringer is off because I forgot to turn it back on and I can't hear it anyway.

Occasionally, after I have finished recharging the phone, I try to be conscientious and take it with me wherever I go, but that's a pain because I have to hold it in my hand, or find a place to lay it down and if I put it down, chances are very good I will forget to pick it up again, so that means that not only can I not hear it ring (because I probably forgot to turn the ringer on again), but now it's lost in the piles of detritis around here.

A part of the problem is that I get maybe 3 calls a week, if that, so it's kind of a pain to try to remember to always have the phone with me.  If I got a lot of calls, I would be better about it, I suppose.

I admire people with pockets.  But even when I am wearing a pair of slacks with pockets in them, I am not comfortable because I'm convinced that the phone is going to fall out.

I tried one of those around the neck pouches, but that just looked stupid.  And I also tried a belt clip, but first of all, I don't own a belt and secondly, I'm so clumsy that I either couldn't get to the phone in time or I dropped it or accidentally turned it off trying to answer the damn call.

I can make calls.  I can put callers on speaker phone.  I can play Words with Friends and a couple of other games and look things up on Google, but I can't seem to find a consistent way to make my phone available to answer calls in a timely manner and so I miss most of the very few calls that I actually do get.

I just need to buy a whole new wardrobe and only buy things that have pockets in them, I guess.  Deep pockets.

Well, this was a first for me.....

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I'd never had a potato explode on me before...that's my dinner you're looking at (I let Walt have the intact potato).  Yes, yes, I know that I should have pierced the potatoes first, or wrapped them in foil or oiled them or something else, but I just lost my head for a minute there and put them in the oven as is.  But in 50 years of baking potatoes, this is the first time that this has happened.  I am no longer a potato virgin.