Friday, February 28, 2014

Today at Logos

Where's the rain?  We had been promised a stormy day, but the weather could not have been more beautiful, warm and sunny.  Peter was working at the desk when I arrived at Logos.  Sandy, the new volunteer, had been unable to work that day, so he filled in for her.  It looked like it had been a slow morning.  He had only recorded 6 sales, amounting to about $50.

I didn't have a customer for about 15 minutes and then a short woman dressed in brown, with a blue sweater came in.  She had white hair and a big bag slung over her shoulder.  She browed for 8 minutes and then left without buying anything.  Just before she left, another woman came in, walked to the travel books, looked, and left after 2 minutes also without buying anything.

At 2:30, I saw a couple browsing at the bargain books outside.   They eventually came inside and the man started looking at one of the books on the display table in the window.  Shortly after, another man dressed in green and wearing a Cal Poly cap and Birkinstocks came in.  I noticed the he was standing with the woman of the original couple and wondered which man she was actually with.  It turned out to be the second guy.  The first guy bought an art book (my first sale, at 2:45) and left while the other two people stayed to browse.

The next woman who came in was dressed all in black, but her sweatshirt had what I first thought was some sort of rainbow theme on it, but it turned out to be a red/yellow/green surfboard from the Moondoggie Beach Club. She had black Nikes with a red check and blue shoelaces.  She looked around for a long time and finally came to me and said that she wasn't buying anything, but she wanted to let me know that the store was "nicely executed."

By this time the guy from the couple who started outside had started to stack books on the check-out desk. One of his books traced the "history of canines" back to when they first made their connection to humans. Looked like an interesting book and I was looking through it when I found out that the Romanovs had a little dog named Jimmy who was also killed with the family when they were executed.   Now I'm upset with the Bolsheviks.

In addition to the dog book, the guy bought a horse book, a book of paintings by Norman Rockwell and a book about bicycles.  When he saw me looking through the dog book, he offered to have a bidding war with me.  His total purchases came to $30.78 and was my second sale of the day, at 3 p.m. and brought the total sales for my first hour to $40. It was not looking to be a big day!

A dapper young guy with a sweater over his shirt came in and spent some time looking at the literature section and finally bought a book by O'Neill ("Moon for the Misbegotten") and one by Steinbeck ("Winter of our Discontent").  He left with his girlfriend, who must have come in and sat waiting for him because I never saw her the whole time he was browsing.

A young guy in a bright yellow shirt with a big bike messenger bag slung over his shoulder came in to check one of the books on display in the window, but didn't buy it.  Instead he purchased two books from our "old book" section.

At 3:15, two women in black came in, each with cell phones in their hand.  They looked around for while and finally bought two "touchy-feely" self help books.

While a middle-aged woman with grey hair was browsing the literature section, a tall, athletic woman wearing shorts came in and asked if we had "Sea Wolf" by Jack London.  The middle-aged woman called out "here it is" and showed her where to find it.  The athletic woman bought the book and left.   She had been in the store less than 2 minutes!

A woman who said she was "downsizing" came in with a box of books to donate.  We comiserated about the plight of book people and she said she just had a very hard time letting books go, a plight I understand much too well.

A mom and her son came in and the son went immediately to the children's room and came out with three books he wanted.  He asked if we had any books about Zorro, but we couldn't find any.  Instead started looking through the regular books and found a book that was almost as big as he was and stood there fanning the pages.  Then he found a book about helicopters and was fascinated.  He sat and looked through it while his mother shopped for her own books.  She ended up with a stack of math workbooks.  I noticed with some amusement, as I rang up her final sale, that her last name had 18 letters in it.

It was 4:45 when they left and "my friend" still hadn't come in (he never did), but another guy whom I have seen frequently came in, apparently just to show me a book he had purchased elsewhere.  He had bought four "old" books last week (all published in the 1800s) and we had talked about that.   Today in his pocket he had a small book, in French, that was published in 1690, which he had found at a book store just off I-80.  He asked me, in French, if I understood French and I replied, in French, "a little."  He said he understood a little too.  Since he really didn't look at any other books, I assumed his only reason for coming in was to share his find with me.  That was kind of nice.

A young guy found a thick Tom Brokaw book outside on the bargain table and couldn't believe it was only $1.00.  He asked if I would take a credit card for it, but the girl with him said she'd pay for the book for him and he could pay her back.  She ended up buying "Ender's Game," for herself and said that it "will be good for my new commitment to reading."

A guy in baggy, rumpled, stained clothes came in.  It looked like he was either a painter or a homeless guy.  He had a tractor applique on the back of his jacket and big paint splotches down the front of his pants, so I guess he was a painter.  He bought a James Patterson book off the bargain table and I hoped it was one of Patterson's "good" books as opposed to the crap he's been turning out lately (but I didn't tell the customer that).

The final customer came in at 5:30 asking if we had books on tape, which we don't, so she left.

Susan came in shortly after 5:30 and we chatted about Governer Jan Brewer's decision to veto Arizona's "no service to gays" bill until Walt arrived after his Guinness at the Irish pub around the corner.

It was a kind of a slow day and I realized that I hadn't had a single conversation with any customer all day except the guy with the 1690 book and the guy who wanted to have a bidding war for the dog book.  I read my current book, "40 Years of Chez Panisse" all day and have just about finished it--in time for Saturday's book club meeting.

For some reason I was very tired and went to sleep at 9:30, getting up at 2:30 to write this!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sex Stuff

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Did you know that the global sex slavery market generates a $39 billion profit annually?  That selling young girls is more profitable than trafficking drugs or weapons.

Except for some celebrities who have gotten on the bandwagon, this abominable practice must be OK with a lot of God-fearin' Christians.   All those Christians who are lobbying to make it legal to discriminate against gay couples by businesses.  All those Christians who traveled to Uganda to help them set up the "kill the gays" bill which was just signed into law, after softening the language from "death" to "life imprisonment."   Did you know that if you have gay friends and don't tell the government you can be put in jail for seven years?

[In fairness I know this does not represent the views of ALL Christians and that there are good Christians who are appalled as I am at the situation in Uganda and the treatment of gays in this country and around the world, but the vocal Christians unfortunately put a face on Christianity when it comes to this subject]
Did you know that in Uganda, in 2005, 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are sold into sex slavery and that about 50% of those are children.   Sex trafficking is one of the most lucrative and fastest growing crime and generates about $10 billion (in US dollars) a year.

To put it in perspective, the population of Davis is about 65,000 so this is more than 10 towns the size of Davis.  Five of those towns being entirely populated by children.

In Uganda children are commonly taken from rural areas to big cities, where they become bartenders, prostitutes, and a host of other activities, ultimately ending up on the street.  They contract HIV, become teenage mothers.   Many die.

But this is what the newspapers print.

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And here is what we see in this country

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I remember seeing those signs and hearing the angry curses hurled at school children who tried to march to the capitol in Sacramento to talk about their concerns as gay youth in California.  We were marching with them, keeping the protestors from getting too close to the kids.

I don't see massive demonstrations country-wide protesting sex trafficing, selling children into prostitution.  It's probably the media's fault.   I'm sure there are good Christians all over the country who are protesting Uganda's new anti-gay bill and the media just isnt even showing it.  Right?  

And if you believe that, let's talk about that bridge I have for sale.

I am in such a difficult place because I have a sponsored child in Uganda, a 19 year old woman who is on her road to getting her teaching credential.  I want so badly to talk with her about how I feel about the lies that are being spread across her country, especially if she is going to be teaching small children in the future, so that she understands that not everybody agrees with her President. But Compassion International is a Christian organization (which does work against trafficking, at least!) and for all I know some of its members may have been part of that conservative Christian delegation who advised President Museveni to come up with this odious bill in the first place.

I tossed out a trial balloon on the social media site for Compassion sponsors.  In very careful chosen language, using a lot of comments about the inclusion that Jesus believed in and love for all of God's children and asking if it might be appropriate for me to write to Shallon to just let her know my feelings.  I certainly wouldn't wave rainbow flags or anything.   Well...predictably I got lots of feedback about sin and loving the sinner but hating the sin and all the same old crap, some of it ugly.  (How can you say "I have a lot of gay friends, but I do tell them that they are going to hell..." and still have "a lot of gay friends"?) 

The two people who agreed with me mailed me privately so they wouldn't let their feelings be known among the group.   Ultimately, someone did convince me that should Shallon be found with such a letter from me, no matter how carefully it was worded, it could be politically dangerous for her even if Compassion would let her get the letter in the first place (which nobody thought they would do).  So I won't write to her about it but maybe use a lot of "inclusive" language in my letters (since she does read English).

But, I don't know.  Priorities in this country are so screwed.  I look at how long it has taken the gay community to recieve a modicum of legal acceptance as equal to others in this country and now three states are trying to pass that damn "it's OK to refuse service to the gays" law but no large groups are marching to say "it's not OK to buy a 10 year old girl for your sexual pleasure."

Just like at one time blacks couldn't sit at lunch counters and Jews had to be first collected in ghettos, and then sent to death camps and Japanese had to be rounded up and sent to internment camps, actions that most of us are appalled to read about today.

I keep saying that one of my favorite quotes is still, to this day, by Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Birthday Celebration

Walt turns 74 today, but he is going to be at a meeting this evening, so Ned and I decided we would celebrate his birthday last night.

saladbar.JPG (47046 bytes)Ned said that he and Marta would come over and help get the new Roku player that I'd bought for Walt set up and then they would take us out to dinner.  We let Walt decide where to go and he chose Steve's Pizza, which we like and where we had not eaten in a long time.
Marta used to work there and they have the very best salad bar in town. It's probably the only place I can think of where I will willingly stop and go to lunch just for the salad bar.

We stood around deciding what to have with our salads and finally chose two pizzas, one with garlic, basil, and bleu cheese, and one with pepperoni. I ordered my usual water to drink, but then's pizza!  I'll join the others and have a beer.  I can't remember when I last had a beer, but beer and pizza sounded like a good idea.

Then we hit the salad bar.

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Walt got to pile his salad high with beets, which he loves and I don't, so never serve at home.

Ned just piled his salad high period.

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What a nice dinner, sitting around reminiscing about all things Davis.  We had a laugh when I talked about a letter I had just received from one of my sponsored kids, a boy in Haiti.  I had written about visiting a farm that Ned's friend owned.  Jon has two sheep, named Zinnia and Periwinkle and I had written to all the kids sending them a picture of the sheep and saying how silly the names were.   Lovson had written
Zinnia and Periwinkle are two beautiful names.  I will name my children like that.  I will give them those names.
Apologies in advance to Lovson's two children, if he goes through with this promise!!!

Ned and Marta went home and we came back to the house to watch Jeopardy and I remembered why it is that I don't drink any more.  One beer and I was so sleepy I couldn't stay awake, so I went to sleep at 9:30 and got up at 4:30 to write this entry.

We will probably never leave home again.  Ever, ever.  As I said above, I bought Walt a Roku player for his birthday.   For those unfamiliar with Roku, this is a device which allows you to stream movies and original TV dramas (like Netflix's original House of Cards) to your television screen.  Its web pages promises "a movie a day. every day. for 82 years!"  With the ability to watch Netflix movies and original TV shows, Amazon Prime's new TV shows, and catch up on TV shows we may have missed on Hulu and I don't know what else because I have barely tipped my toe into the waters of Roku, we may spend the rest of our lives sitting in our chairs watching television.  Unlike now.  

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I really did buy the Roku for Walt because I've been watching streaming stuff on my iPad and he's been miffed because he hasn't seen some of the things I've been watching and I wanted to share some of this stuff with him (especially now that House of Cards is in its second season; I've been holding off watching Season 1 so we could watch it together).  But yeah, I also bought it for me too.  This way I don't have to hold the iPad in my lap to watch.  That's got to be the ultimate in laziness.  Probably comes  from drinking too much beer...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

City Girl

This is another of those "For Our Children's Children" type of entries.

Today I received an e-mail from a woman named Audrey Long who works for a company named Live Oak Legacies, a family history service that helps families capture and preserve the most important family memories, to save for future generations.
A growing number of families are turning to professionals to record their family stories, employing “personal historians” to sit and ask the open-ended questions they don’t have time to ask during the rush of holiday gatherings or the sporadic bursts of long-distance communication.
She wanted to write a brief entry for this journal, but I told her that as for me personally, I've been preserving our own family history for years, in photos, journal entries, videos, and interviews.  I wished her well in her endeavors and I've included a link to her page for those who might be interested in checking it out.

The brief exchange had me thinking of preserving more of my own history.  It's so different from our children's.

We moved here to Davis in 1973.  We are 2-1/2 blocks from the elementary school, it's another 2 blocks to the middle school and two blocks to the high school.  The library and theater (where they performed) are just on the other side of the high school across the street from the Catholic church.

So this was a biking family.  It was before people started being so protective of their kids and from the beginning, the kids rode their bikes to school.   

I lived on a steep hill and even if I wanted to ride my bike home, I would have to get off the bike to go either up or down the hill.  It was a concrete world with no trees (now there are trees planted in front of our flat and it looks very strange!)

Grammar school was 0.8 miles from our house.  I don't know how old I was when I started walking to school, but pretty young, I think.  I walked two blocks to my friend Gayle's house.  On the way I passed Macondray Lane, the little alley that Armisted Maupin's "Tales of the City" described as "Barbary Lane." 

From Gayle's house, we walked and picked up Maryanne, who lived a block away, and then Georgette, who lived 3 blocks from there. When we got Georgette we were at the halfway point and we continued on to school.  I carried a metal lunchbox.   I think it was just a plain colored lid--in the early days it may have been in the days before they started putting TV shows on lunch boxes.

My mother always made me a sandwich with balloon bread and it varied among peanutbutter and jelly, bologna with mayonnaise, salami with butter (I never did figure out why no mayo on the salami), or American cheese with mayo.  Never lettuce or tomato on the sandwiches.  Sometimes she made deviled egg or tuna salad.  She always cut the sandwiches into two triangles and wrapped them in waxed paper.  The lunch was rounded out by a piece of fruit and some sort of sweet--cookies or cake or something like that.  I also had a thermos bottle of milk.  I can't begin to count the number of thermos bottles I broke when I dropped it, breaking the glass lining!

If we brought our lunch, we ate in the multi purposes room, where we sat on benches around the side of the room.  I probably bought lunch now and then, but I don't really remember doing that much.  Except that is where I learned to hate canned green beans.  We ate bought lunches in the cafeteria.

Our school was a big concrete block.

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The school went from kindergarten to 8th grade and the 7th and 8th graders were on the top floor.  They had their own bathroom because it had Kotex for the girls and we younger kids weren't supposed to know about things like that.

It was a mile and a half to St. Vincent High School and I used public transportation.  The No. 41 Union bus stopped at the top of our hill and I would take that down to Van Ness Ave. (4 blocks) and transfer to the 45 Van Ness and take that to Geary Blvd.  But my alternate route, and my preferred one, was to walk a block to Hyde Street and catch the cable car (at that hour of the day it was tourist-free) and take it dwn to Geary Blvd, and then get on the 38 bus and ride up to the stop right by my school.  We had school bus passes and it cost 15 cents, even for the cable car.

The school didn't look particularly special from the outside.

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But inside it was gorgeous.  The students entered by that door behind the car on the left, but if you were coming for the first time, or a parent coming to see the sisters, you entered by the big door on the right, in front of the light colored car.  Inside the building was beautiful wood paneling, with a sweeping staircase on the right that went up to the school chapel (the rounded windows at the top on the right)

StMarysCathedral.jpg (6898 bytes)That school no longer exists.  It was torn down so the Bishop could build his new cathedral there, forever identified as the washing machine agitator. The old cathedral had burned down (we always suspected the Bishop set it on fire so he could get rid of it) and our school was combined with Sacred Heart School, which was the boys' high school a block away.

Sadly, the new school is "Sacred Heart-Cathedral School" so St. Vincent has disappeared completely. It killed me to think of that beautiful staircase being torn down.

Moving the schools into new buildings and building the church involved tearing down all the slum housing in the neighborhood and putting up high priced high rises.  I have often wondered what happened to all those poor people when they evicted them to erect that monstrosity.  I remember one Chinese family of 8 living in a one room apartment across the street from the school.  The nuns used to bring them food and when the kids were baptized, I was godmother to two of them.

Later, when I graduated from high school and changed my mind about entering the convent, for the six months before I was to start UC Berkeley, I attended night school at the University of San Francisco, where I took French. That commute was fun because I rode the cable car all the way down to the end of the line on Market Street.   Coming back after class, I often watched A Star Is Born, which seemed to run forever at a little theater right where the cable car turns around.   It only cost 50 cents to get in and even if I only saw the last half hour of the movie, that was fine.

My kids have traveled by bus from time to time (obviously more now that they are middle-aged), but as a City Girl I traveled all over San Francisco on public transportation.  I loved to go downtown on a Saturday.  We always dressed up to go downtown...I even wore heels and gloves.  Gloves.  My word!   That seems a very long time ago.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday Stealing

What was your first job like?
I washed test tubes and poopy specimen containers in a Medical Arts laboratory.   I also held down the arms of terrified patients when they were having blood drawn (that was my favorite part of the job)  (I was also a babysitter, of course!   But the lab job was my first "real" grown-up-ish job)

It’s a typical Sunday, how are you spending it?
Watching an NCIS marathon.

What was the happiest day of your life?
Oh there have been so many.  One I rarely mention in questions like this is a day at the Whole Earth Festival at UC Davis when Lawsuit was playing.  They had been relegated to a "minor" stage and we got there early so I could set up the camera to videotape the show.  Incredibly, people began pouring in from all over campus.  They filled the plaza, hung out on all the balconies of the building, and even climbed the trees to see the show.  That was where my favorite picture of Paul (which I have posted many times) was taken, being carried aloft on the hands of the crowd while on the balcony, by herself in the crowd, my mother (circled) watched.

What was the best decision you ever made?
Again, there have been so many, but there are two that stand out as decisions that changed my life. The first was agreeing to host a Brasilian student for 3 weeks, which turned into 5 months and 10 years of hosting foreigners.  The second was answering a call for someone to help write a 25 year history of The Lamplighters, which resulted in my meeting many of my best friends, having a great experience, writing my own follow-up ten years later, and a continuing involvement with the company since that time.

Tell your go-to “pretend” game as a child (who was your alter-ego?)
Oh this is so sad.  It was when I must have been in the lower grades of grade school and we had done some sort of a lesson on anthromorphizing inanimate objects.   I decided that the toilet paper dispenser in one of the bathroom stalls could understand me and whenever I needed to talk to "someone" I would go into the bathroom and pour out my soul to the dispenser that I called "Knowy" (short for "nobody knows").

What email service do you use?
Davis Community Network and Gmail

What fandoms would you consider yourself a part of?

Do you use anything on your lips? (eg. Chapstick, gloss, balm, lipstick)
No.  My dentist keeps reminding me to use chapstick, but I never remember.

How many devices do you own which can access the internet?
Lessee -- desktop, laptop, iPad, iPod Touch, cell phone, Kindle.  I think that's it.   (That's more than enough!)

Last strong smell you can remember smelling?
The coffee Walt made an hour ago.  If you mean unpleasantly strong smell, it would have been many, many years ago, in Austin, Texas, when I smelled durian fruit.   A not pleasantly memorable memory!

If you had to move your birthday to another date, which one would you choose and why?
Why would I?  After 71 years, it would just be confusing.

Inspiration behind your blog title?
The Lawsuit song, "Funny"
    Funny the world in a world all alone
    I feel like I've lost everything that I own
    Funny the funnies aren't funny any more.
    Funny the tears as they fall from my eyes
    There are two kinds of tears--
    one from truth, one from lies
    There's a broken soldier,
    who's going home...
It was these lyrics that I first thought of after David died, and then Paul died and I started a blog, so that's why I adopted the lyrics for my title. 

If you could spend a rainy day with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why?
I don't know anybody who enjoys rain the way I do, so I guess I would be alone with the dogs.

Is there a foreign culture that you love?
In the years when we hosted foreign students, I really loved the idea of Brasilian culture, but suspect that I would not fit in at all were I to move to Brasil.

Do you have a favorite soft drink?
My go-to non-alcoholic drink is water and on the very rare occasions when I have a soft drink, it's Diet Coke.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What I Did For Love

I wasn't prepared for the emotional effect it would have on me.

Tonight was the Citizens Who Care concert that I wrote about awhile ago.  It's the annual fund-raiser for the group on whose board Walt sits. This is the 22nd annual concert and, as I wrote in my newspaper article, this "Broadway Songbook of 1977" was chosen because it was a pivotal year on Broadway, when the music was starting to change from the era of the big musicals like South Pacific and The King and I to more modern musicals like Godspell and A Chorus Line.   I explained that it was a pivotal year for this particular concert too. Audiences are shrinking, performers are aging and the music that has been featured for the past 22 years is not as appealing for the ~50 yr old set.  So this concert would determine if there will be a 23rd concert or if Citizens who Care will have to be investigating new ways to make money.

Char and Mike said they wanted to come to the show and I thought it would be music my mother would enjoy, so we all planned to meet at a Chinese restaurant here in town for dinner.  Walt would meet us there, riding his bike, because he had to go to the theater before dinner, and leave dinner early to get to the theater before the show started.

It was a beautiful day and since my mother hasn't been out in weeks, I decided to pick her up early and drive around looking for blossoms.  There were trees here and there putting on a good display and I prayed that F Street, which has a canopy of blossoms for blocks and blocks for about 3 days out of every year, would be in blossom.

We drove around by the campus and she ooed and ahhed at the blossoms whenever we found a tree.  Then I turned onto F Street and heaved a sigh of relief...there was my canopy, just as beautiful as I had hoped it would be.  The gods were with me!  And she loved it, as I knew she would.

We went to the restaurant and had a nice meal.  She doesn't remember being there twice before, of course.  The last two times she ate a lot, rare for her these days.  Tonight she didn't seem to know what to do with the food.   She wouldn't take any until she'd put a moo shu pancake on her plate, but then never ate it, just combined several of the dishes together in a pile and ate a few bites before she stopped, leavng the pancake untouched.  But...owell.  She also couldn't get over how much Mike had aged. I'm wondering what her mental image of him is, since we couldn't remember when she last saw him, but she has seen lots of photos of him from our trips.

We went to the theater and she seemed to enjoy the show.  She seemed to warm to it and was clapping enthusiastically during the second act.

While it was a wonderful show, it was not the best I've seen this group do.  They are all 22 years older.  Now just about everybody needs a mic to be heard.  Martha, at 91, was looking frail for the first time, helped around the stage by others in the cast, but when she took the mic and sang, the years melted away and the professional singer she is came out in full force, especially when she belted out Sophie Tucker's signature "Some of These Days."  Still...could this group do it another year?  That was the question in my mind throughout the show.

The performers romped through excerpts from shows like A Party with Comden and Green, Annie, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Chicago and Godspell.   They were funny, poignant, strident, sweet.

The final show they were going to highlight was A Chorus Line, which I never gave a second thought to until they did the first number, "One."   I immediately flashed back on all those times the Jazz Choir performed it when Paul was in the Jazz Choir...and seeing his old boss, Bob Bowen, performing the song started the tears.  Bob and Paul looked enough alike to have been related.  I never expected to have that song hit me like that.  Then came "At the Ballet," and "I can Do That" (with Bob again singing and dancing).

The ensemble finished with "What I Did for Love," introduced by moderator Steve Peithman, who talked about the things that performers do for love, "...including things like this show," he said.  

It was as if someone had hit me in the solar plexus with a 10 lb ball.  I looked at those people on stage, most of whom are our friends, whom we had watched do this show for 22 years and realized that this could very well be the last time they would stand together, stretched across the stage, and sing a finale.

Still emotional from "One," I found myself with tears streaming down my face, which I tried to surreptitiously wipe away.

We left the theater, Walt on his bike and me taking Mike and Char back to their car and then my mother back to Atria.  She was feeling exhausted, even though it was only 9:30.

As I watched my mother walking slowly across the lobby on her way back to her apartment, it just all hit me.  Paul.  David.  My mother.   The Citizens Who Care cast.  I had to stop and just let the tears flow for a few minutes.

I hate goodbyes.  I hate change.  I hate death.

But it's inevitable, so I wiped away the tears and continued on home to the dogs who were waiting for their treats.  Some things, at least, don't change.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


This comes from that little corner of my brain which still expects my mother to show signs of normalcy, since she looks and sounds so normal so much of the time.

But, that said I may kill her!!!!!  There.  I've said it.

To recap, you may recall that the latest thing that has replaced "am I gonna live to hunnert" concerns the plants my cousin Niecie brought to her a couple of months ago.  Now when I arrive for a visit, she sits in her chair and the very first thing she says is "look at those pots.  Niecie brought all those plants up here -- I think she was going to throw them out and then thought maybe she could dump them on me -- but one morning I woke up and they were all dead because it froze during the night.  How did I know it was going to freeze (just because I told her it was going to freeze.)  She's going to have to come and bring a box and take all the pots away.  She should have known they would have died..."  etc.   Every. time.  It has become like nails on a blackboard she complains about the "damn plants" and how Niece is going to have to come and get the dead plants so they won't clutter up her patio.

(My offer to take them away myself meets with her desire that I not do that, because they were originally Niecie's and she should come and take them away herself, because it's her fault, after all, that the plants ultimately died because she should have known that my mother couldn't take care of them.)

Again, that corner of my brain that hopes to get a "normal" response is surprised that she didn't bring the plants in when I told her it was going to freeze in the night.  But the woman who can't reach 6" to open the door to find out if it's warm or cold outside and who can't seem to extrapolate potential action from information given couldn't be expected to think about bringing plants in to save them from dying from the freeze.

So yesterday I received word from Niecie that she was going to come and give my mother a mani/pedi (she's a cosmetologist) and I wrote and told her about the problem with the plants and suggested she bring a box so she could gather up all of her pots and take them home.

This afternoon, Niecie called from Atria to let me know my mother was out of toilet paper, so after I conducted a telephone interview with a guy who is starting a new theater group, I drove over to Atria to bring her some more toilet paper.

Niecie had just finished the mani/pedi and they were both very happy with the new look of her fingers and toes.

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We had a nice visit and when Niecie started to pack up her things I asked her if she had brought a box to take all the pots home.  She said she had not because her car was so full but that she would come back at some point in the future and get them then.

"Oh, that's OK," said my mother, with a casual wave of her hand.  "There's no rush.  They don't bother me."
When Niecie was out of the room, she told me again how the plants had died because they were "covered with snow."

The part of my brain which understands that she can't be expected to think or act rationally, even though she looks normal, understands.

The other part of me still wants to run screaming from the room.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Today at Logos

Sandy had had a busy morning, she was pleased to report when I showed up at Logos at 2.  There were lots of people there and the store looked busy, but it turned out it was all her family.  She introduced me to her wife, her daughter, and her two grandchildren, a 6 week old little boy and a girl who told me that tomorrow she will be 6½.  Sandy was teaching her granddaughter how to work the cash register, two purchase the two books the girl was going to take home with her.  I was picturing working with Bri to show her the same thing.
The baby needed to eat, so they retired to the front of the store where Sandy and her wife stood in front of the Mom, who nursed the baby to take the top off of his hunger.  Took me back to my old La Leche League days!

My first customer was a guy who came in to buy one of the dollar books from outside.  He was very friendly asked me how things were going and when I said "fine" he left the store happily.

The next customer, who bought nothing, was like your stereotypical New York author/poet. He was very tall and thin, had shoulder-length curly hair, his clothes were rumpled and he wore a scarf around his neck and sunglasses. He held himself in the way you would see an actor playing the role would hold himself.  He finally left after about 30 minutes and met a kid, about 12, in a backwards turned baseball cap waiting for him outside.  They made an incongruous twosome.

A barrel-chested man wearing a NASA t-shirt came in hoping to see Sammy, Susan's son's dog, whom he had seen  the week before.  He joked that since Sammy wasn't there he didn't need to buy anything (though he did buy a dollar book before he left).  We talked about dogs and his cat and then, when he had chosen a Jason Bourne book, we discussed Matt Damon's portrayal of Jason Bourne and Sean Connery as James Bond and how while in the books the characters could never age, in the movies the actors do.

At 2:30, a woman with a heavy backpack came in and settled herself at the table in the front of the store, where she brought a stack of about six travel books, looked through them, then put them back and took another stack to check.  She was wearing black tights and a long loose sweater which came to about her hip level and scratched her bum as she stood looking around the store.

Two people, a man and a woman, came in independent of each other, each with stacks of books for donations.  When I moved them to the back room I was surprised to see how many books were there already.  They could open a second store just from what is in the back room, as yet unpriced.

A professor type came in, looking like Michael Gross on Family Ties.  After a very long time he bought a book about Newspapers of the period 1700-1750.

At 3:00 a wonderful thing happened.  The door opened and a woman walked in and introduced herself to me.  It was Sherry Klimek Hunt, who has been reading this journal from the first couple of years. We also know each other from Facebook, but we had never met before.  She was in town to see her grandchildren.   What a deightful woman and what a good visit we had (I was glad that it was a time when there were no customers in the store).  We decided that when she is next in Davis we will have to plan to get together for a longer visit.

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Those who have not developed internet friendships can't understand the special (and unique) relationship that develops between people who "see" each other frequently on line.  It's not the same as a real time friendship, but it's very real in its own way.

After Sherry left, the store was completely empty for over half an hour.  My total sales to that point was $10.56.  Not very good.  But the 4-ish o'clock rush started, right on schedule.  A woman who looked like Gilbert's great-niece, Rachel if she were stretched to twice her diminutive height came in and bought two fantasy books.

A gender neutral person came in, very tall, with black curls standing very tall on the head.  It wasn't until he spoke that I realized he was a young man. Very striking looking.  It was his first visit to the store and told me he was "falling in love with it" and wanted to know about volunteering.

An Asian man came in asking for books by Nevil Shute, a name which sounded familiar but I didn't know why until he bought "A Town Like Alice," which I had read last year.  On that Nevil Shute!
A man who looks like Ned's friend KC will look in 20 years came in.   He was balding and his hair was white (and he needed a haircut) but he had KC's face, with more wrinkles.  He bought three textbooks, and got a good deal at $31.

He was followed by a man who bought 4 books from the "old books" shelf.  They were all published in the early 1800s and he got all four for $17, which he said was the most he'd ever spent at Logos.

"My Friend" arrived right on the dot of 4.  This week he bought a book by Al Franken and a big coffee table book of photos from Carmel. And yes, I screwed up his change again!

A girl spent a long time in the literature section and bought 10 boooks, mostly Graham Greene.  She paid $55.

It's spring.  Blossoms are popping out on the trees and when Walt walked through the door at 6 it was still light...and warm outside!   I'm not ready to say goodbye to the winter we haven't had yet!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Watch Out for the Snakes

This morning I went off to the dementia support group. This is turning out to be one of my favorite things to do each month. Even if nothing is bothering me at a meeting, I get so much out of listening to the other folks tell their experiences, their fears, their concerns. Definitely meets the definition of "support" !   One of the things we talked about was the importance of trying to get down family histories while the one with dementia or Alzheimers can still remember the old stories.

This afternoon I came across a book I bought a long time ago, probably when Brianna was expected, but not born yet.  The book, "To Our Children's Children" helps guide you into putting down your life history for your descendants to read if they want.  ("Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come," the book promises.)  I tried to get the two grandmothers to do that for OUR kids, but neither of them was interested.  I would dearly love to come across something like this from MY grandparents, but I do not have those insights.  

There are lots and lots of questions to guide your memories and help you write them down, but the problem I find with the book right off is that it kinds of expects that you grew up in a house, in a friendly neighborhood, with all those things that spill off the screen when you watch shows like Leave It to Beaver.  Growing up as a city kid things are very different.  I never mowed the lawn because we had no lawn.  I didn't find a back way through the fields to get to my friend's house because we lived in a concrete neighborhood, with multi-renter dwellings on top of each other.  I didn't have an attic to play in because we lived in a flat and our "attic" would have been the flat above us.  So in looking back, I have to skip a lot of the questions because they just don't apply.

My parents moved into a 5 room flat on a steep hill in San Francisco when my mother was pregnant with me in 1942.  They were going to stay there for just a short time, until they could afford a house.  They moved out after David was born in 1972.  

In those days they were building homes out "in the avenues" that my mother wanted to buy.  But my grandmother convinced my father that putting $2,000 down on a house was a terrible investment.  Now those houses sell for close to $1 million.  But we stayed in the rental flat rather than risk investing in a real home.

The flat had two bedrooms and a large room that was separated by a couch into a living room and a dining room.  The rooms were carpeted and when my parents had parties (which they did frequently), they would roll up the rugs so people could dance.

I had two favorite things about that flat.  The first was the window seat in the bay window in the living room.  If you drive around San Francisco you will find that almost every house has one or two bay windows that jut out over the street.   When we got a TV in 1953, it went on the window seat and I liked to curl up with my back against the TV and look out the window at the cars struggling to make it up the hill.   We were one of those hills that Bill Cosby used to joke about trying to drive up and then discover that at the top was a stop sign.  More than a few tourists trying to make it up the hill ended up backing down and going another way. (This was especially fun on rainy days!)

My second favorite thing was the heater vent in the floor of the living room.  On cold days, I would stand over the vent and let the rising heat blow up my skirt and make me warm.  To this day I miss that heater vent!  Walt and I had a vent in our house in Albany, but it was too big and the heat was too hot.  The one in my parents' flat was just right.

Unless there were guests, we ate in the kitchen, my father sitting at the head of the table, me on his right, Karen on his left and my mother at the other end.   We always had family dinners, but dinner time was not a happy time because anything my father was angry about, dinner time was when he exploded.  I learned to eat very quickly and get away from the table.  Karen couldn't eat so she had to stay at the table, often for an hour after the rest of us had finished.  A telephone call when we were at the table was the worst of all.  We cringed when the phone rang because my father would get very angry at being disturbed at his dinner.  

When Karen got older, she had very definite ideas about the news of the day and was often in opposition to my father's views and the two of them had heated discussions every night.  I was the meek one.  If I had strong feelings about something and my father didn't agree with them, I just changed my opinion.  It was easier than fighting.

Years later when we had a big family table here in Davis I always wanted to make it a pleasant thing for the kids, but I realized that it made me nervous to sit at the table with everyone for very long, and I often found things to do in the kitchen when everyone else was eating.  I traced it back to our dinners with my father in the flat in San Francisco.

When I was very young, we had a telephone with a party line and it was always fun to listen in on someone else's conversation, but eventually we had our own line and it took away all the phone.  My grandmother had a candlestick telephone, but we just had a black phone with a rotary dial.  I think when I was in high school we got a pastel colored phone and thought we were hot stuff.

Karen and I shared a bedroom and the window was right on the street and people coming down the hill could look in on us.  I had terrible fears of the dark and so I always pushed my curtain open so that street light shined on my face.   My mother, afraid some bad guys would see her little girls sleeping just out of reach behind a window kept coming in and closing the curtain.  Now when I drive up the hill, I note that the windows have bars on them.

I don't remember that we decorated the room at all.  My father built show boxes to put story book dolls in and I loved the dolls, but I was not allowed to play with them. At some point  my mother gave them away.  I never got to decide if I wanted to keep them or not.

My father built bookcase headboards for our beds and I had a radio on my side and I remember my mother coming in at night so we could listen to "One Man's Family" together.  We listened to it all the time and even sent away for the book about it.  How disappointed I was to discover that nobody looked the way I pictured them in my mind!  On Saturday morning we listened to "Big John and Sparky."

Oh...and there were snakes under my bed.  I never saw them, but I knew they were there and I would always get out of bed leaping as far away from the bed as I could so the snakes couldn't get me.  Oddly, when I went home once after I'd grown up and moved away I still fell uncomfortable getting out of bed without leaping away from the edge.  I knew, by then, that there were no snakes, but you just never know about those things....

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What's a Wonderbag?

I'm a sucker for "gadgets" (witness my birthday present of a potato ricer.  Mary Z says she thinks the two of us are the only people who know what a potato ricer is much less use one).

I remember shortly after Walt and I were married when I was in some sort of kitchen supply department where a young woman near me was raving about this "thing" (I don't remember what it is now) which was the most valuable item in her kitchen.  She used it every day.  It had something to do with grating cheese, but it wasn't your standard grater.  She went on at such length extolling the virtues of this thing that I bought one.  I think I still have it.  I have never used it.  In 49 years.

Have ya heard of the Wonderbag?  Based on searches I have done on line, I think it's a relatively new thing that the American cooking public is just hearing about.  Another year and there will be Wonderbag cook books, Wonderbag Pinterest sites, Wonderbag entries on Wikipedia.

This is a Wonderbag.

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It comes all squished down into a fairly small Amazon box and you open it, shake it out and then after an hour or so, all the compressed stuff in it reactivates and it looks like this when you tie it up.

It's essentially a slow cooker.  A cooker which will save on gas and electricity, because it needs none of that.
What you do is you heat your food up, let it simmer for five minutes, then take the pot with its lid, put it inside the Wonderbag, cover with the little top knot that you see on top there, gather up the sides of the bag and just let it sit.   In a certain amount of time (if it's something like a casserole, probably 4-6 hours; if it's a pot of rice, an hour) your food will be cooked and it will keep it hot, safely, for up to 12 hours.

It works on the same principle as the slow cooker, but it cooks in the heat that it retains because of the filling in the bag, and you don't run the risk of it overcooking.  It can keep your food hot for hours after it is ready to eat without concern about it overcooking.

Now there are two reasons I was intrigued by this principle.   First is that I do a lot of slow cooking and while everything always tastes good, I find that some of the texture of the meat is a bit "mealy" instead of the way I think it should be.  I hoped that with the Wonderbag that might not be the situation (I haven't cooked a meat dish in it yet, so I don't know the answer to that.

The other reason was that if you order through Amazon, they will send a bag to someone in a developing country.  This is a wonderful thing for people cooking food in countries where there is no electricity.  The goal is get 100 million bags in homes around the world, saving more than 100 million tons of carbon over the life of those bags.

(Huffington post reports, "Originally invented by founder Sarah Collins in South Africa with the intention of conserving cooking energy in developing nations, this cordless, power-free, gas-free slow cooker might just change the way we slow-cook forever. Although our slow cookers are tried and true instruments in our kitchen, the notion of leaving an electrical appliance running hot while we sleep or leave our homes has always made us a little nervous, to be honest. The Wonderbag removes that worry, saves electricity and -- the best part -- actually works. You start anything you cook in the Wonderbag on the stove (recipes range from beef stew to oatmeal to greens and beyond), bringing your pot to a boil for around five minutes. Turn off the heat, seal the pot and pop it in the Wonderbag for your desired amount of time. A tender beef stew will take about four hours, but you can leave your food in the Wonderbag for up to 12 hours without it falling below a safe temperature.")

Good for the environment.  Using less electricity, less fossil fuel.  Granted, my slow cooker doesn't take all that much energy, but it takes some and if I can use less, that's a good thing, right?

I was also intrigued about cooking rice.  We have had a rice cooker for years and it is probably one of my most used appliances, but sometimes it overcooks the rice, if I don't turn it off in time.  Reports were that rice comes out perfect every time and can sit for hours without concern of overcooking.  I tried that tonight and the rice was absolutely perfect from the top of the pot to the bottom, with nothing gummy, nothing sticky, nothing burned onto the bottom.  That made me a convert from the  get-go! It was also still hot when Walt got home later than I expected when I started to make the rice.

I figure that any dish I can make in the crock pot I can probably make in the Wonderbag.  I expect to try that over the coming weeks.

I am starting to investigate web sites which mention the Wonderbag and am learning other uses for it.  This site, for example, talks about how the woman who wrote it uses it on her boat.   She also talks about what a good thing it is when you are defrosting your fridge because not only will it retain the heat, it will also retain the cold, so put your perishables in the bag with an ice block and it will keep all of your foods cold while you wash the fridge.  It will also keep ice cream cold for a few hours, so take it to your picnic.

Someone also recommended taking it with you when you go to pick up Chinese food, for example.  It will keep it hot while you are driving home and if you aren't ready to eat yet, will also keep it hot until you are.  (Not sure it's large enough if you pick up a pizza, but surely a bucket of KFC would stay hot in the Wonderbag.)

The only real problem with it is that, in its unused state it takes up a lot of space.  Someone wrote that she puts it on her couch and her dog sleeps on it.  Not sure I want to do that.  At the moment, when I'm not using it, it is sitting in the laundry basket that I keep to carry my mother's laundry back to her after I've washed it.

So the coming weeks will be a chance to bond with my new Wonderbag and continue to find other people who are enjoying its benefits too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Sedate Birthday

My 70th birthday was a big bash at a local brewpub.  My 71st birthday has been considerably more "sedate," shall we say.  It befits my advancing age.

The dogs were considerate.  They let me sleep until I woke up, which was after 8:30.  There had been the usual couple of hours of insomnia through the middle of the night, but when I finally went to sleep, I slept deeply and was appreciative that the dogs were so considerate.  They didn't even bark at Walt when he came downstairs and insist that he feed them.

Walt plopped a package into my lap and it may sound like a weird gift -- a potato ricer -- but he had checked my Amazon wish list and saw it there.   When we moved my mother out of her house, I was thrilled to take her potato ricer, but somehow it got left behind and I have bemoaned it ever since.  Now I have my very own brand new ricer.

It was a quiet morning, doing the usual stuff, which included birthday greetings on Facebook -- by the end of the day, more than 200 of them (incuding some nice e-mails I received as well).  I was overwhelmed!  If you ever feel unloved, just join Facebook and have a birthday!

At 11:30 when we left for Atria, to meet Ned and Marta at my mother's.  My mother hadn't realized it was my birthday, of course (and at some point during lunch asked me whose birthday it was), but Ned made it a good day.  Originally Tom and family were going to come too.   The girls planned to come and meet their newborn cousin, born to Laurel's cousin, but the baby was born later than expected, so they decided to postpone their trip until probably next month, during spring break.

We had a nice visit and a nice, if lengthy, lunch. (Atria seems to have cut waaay back on the serving staff in the dining room.  Today wasn't as bad as last time, but it now takes forever to get your food and there is no attempt to bring everyone's food even close to at the same time.) But the thing about a retirement home is that nobody is in any hurry, so the chance to just sit and chat is always nice.

My mother started to order her ice cream cone for dessert (since she finished her lunch before Walt had been served his second of three courses!), but Ned stopped her and told her there was cake back at the apartment.

We finally got back to the apartment and Ned lit candles and brought me a lovely cake.

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In the afternoon, I tried to take a nap, but it appeared the fates were not going to let me.  I would settle down and the phone would ring -- always a robo call, which I detest! -- there were SEVEN of them today.  I finally got smart and brought the phone to my chair (when, of course, it stopped ringing).  But then the dogs decided to start barking outside.  I let them go for awhile, hoping they would stop, but they did not, so I had to get up again to bring them inside.  Then I was attacked by mosquitos.  My ankles, just above my sock line, kept me scratching.  By then it was too late to take a nap.  I would never get to sleep at night if I did.
I was in my office when the phone rang and it was Tom and the girls calling to wish me a happy birthday.  I didn't get it right away, so they left a voice mail, which I turned into this little video


But then I did answer the phone and we had a fun Facetime Chat.  Bri was very happy to see our dogs.
After I talked with the girls and Tom, I got a great video from Jeri and Phil, of Jeri playing "Happy Birthday" on her cello for me.  I had never heard her play the cello before, so this was very special--and I can show it to my mother next time I see her.
For dinner, Walt and I went to Sushi Unlimited, where we had gone on Paul's birthday.  I had a Groupon to use then, but forgot I had it, so we used it tonight.  Fortunately, I really like the restaurant.
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This was some of the best tempura I've ever had.  But the high point of the evening was my trip to the ladies' room.
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I felt like I was in Sochi.
We ended the night back at home with more birthday cake. It's been a lovely day and I have a great family!

Monday, February 17, 2014

For Want of a Heel

I  was on skis once in my life.  It was when I was at UC Berkeley and there was a Newman Club ski trip.  I took pre-ski lessons from a guy named Mike McHale, where he taught us basic moves on our skis on the floor in the basement of Newman Hall.  We learned the position for the snow plow and I was excited to be trying it out.

We all packed up our stuff and headed to the moutains, snow, and the bunny slope.  

Learning the tow-rope was the first obstacle, and after some embarrassing failures, I finally made it to the top of the bunny slope.  In those days, I was the unofficial house mother for the house where Walt and other guys were living, so I had acquired the nickname "Mom."  I still remember my descent down the bunny slope, feeling out of control, Mike at the bottom yelling "Plow, Mom, PLOW!"

I might have become the Lindsey Vonn of my day if I had stuck with it, but something happened when I got to the bottom of the bunny slope on that fateful day.  Somehow I managed to twist my foot so that the heel of my boot broke off.

There I was with a Berkeley-rented boot with no heel and, apparently, no way to have it fixed.  Thinking back on it, I'm sure if I was diligent I could have found a work-around, but I didn't.  Instead, I spent the weekend in the lodge watching others plow and whatever the more experienced skiers did. I never tried hitting the slopes again.

I was never blessed with the athleticism gene, though my father had been quite athletic in his youth (he was into body-building) and my mother was apparently the star softball player on her high school team and one of the stars of the basketball team.  But my clumsiness today is only an exacerbation of how clumsy I was as a kid. I was one of those "last picked" for any team I had the misfortune to be on. I know I had to take gym class in high school, but I have absolutely no memory of ever playing on any team in any sport. (This is ironic, since my best lifelong friend, Sister Anne, was the gym teacher and quite athletic!)

When I was in Girl Scouts in grammar school, our group took skating lessons from Harris Legg (whom, I read on the Internet, has been described as "one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Galt."  I wonder if my mother knows that--she was raised in Galt.)  Legg qualified for the 1936 Winter Olympics but couldn't afford to go, so joined the Ice Follies instead. After he retired from the Ice Follies, he opened a skating school in San Francisco.

I was terrible.  I barely learned how to do the skate cross-over that allowed me to make a turn at the end of the rink.  I never did learn how to skate backwards, but I did enjoy skating and my friends and I often went to the old Sutro Baths to skate.  In my father's day, the Sutro Baths, out by the ocean beach, was a large, privately owned swimming pool which, according to its publicity, was the largest indoor swimming pool in the world, containing seven different pools, six salt water in varying temperatures and one fresh water.

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In my day, however, half of the pools had been walled off to the pubic and the other half had been turned into a giant ice skating rink.  

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I really did have a good time at that skating rink, though I never learned to skate backwards and though could skate several feet without falling down, I never got actually proficient at skating. At least my ankles eventually learned how to hold my weight on two thin blades.

So with that as a background, it amazes me that every four years I spend hours watching winter sports.  I guess it's the vicarious thrill of watching all that aerial artistry and speed of the downhill skiers, the fearlessness on the luge and skeleton, and those speedy races, but I don't know any of the rules of anything and the rapid fire commentary by the pros watching each competitor on his or her downhill run doesn't help at all. I can't see the difference between any two competitors.  Unless someone falls, they all look the same to me.

I watch hockey games and when someone makes a goal I'm shocked because I thought the puck was at some other part of the rink.

The only sport I'm sort of learning about is curling which seems to be played at my speed, and slow enough that I can begin to understand the lingo and the rules.  I'm sure it's quite athletic, but if I had to choose a winter sport, I vote for curling.  At least if you break you heel in curling, you can probably continue to play.  Of course it does involve sweeping, which sounds too suspiciously like housecleaning to me...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Stealing

Book Meme
(This one is right up my alley!)
1: Favorite children's book
Hmmm.  For ME as a child, or to read to a child? My first favorite book as a child was "The Black Stallion," which sparked my love of books about animals. Favorite book that I read when our kids were growing up was "I'm Suzy," which was Jeri's favorite book.

2: The last book you've read
I just finished a sweet little book called "Cat Chat," which I picked up at Logos this week...nothing special, just a nice book.

3: Books on your "to read" list
How much time do you have? Dozens.  I have to finish "Upstairs at the White House" and "40 Years of Chez Panisse" (my next book club book), for starters.

4: Top 5 authors
John Steinbeck, Bill Bryson, Pat Conroy, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritson

5: Favorite genres
Mystery/Crime; Biography, Travel, History, and whatever "The Outlander" series is classed as!

6: A book that has made you extremely mad
"Left Behind."  I was so furious at the blatant proselitizing that I threw the book across the room when I was about halfway through it and never finished it.

7: A book that you've cried over
Oh Lord.  I can cry at anything.  Any story about a dog usually has me in tears.  Any book where the central character dies usually has me crying.  Any story about a sick child gets me. 

8: A book that made you laugh out loud
"Fried Eggs with Chopsticks," a book about traveling in China by Polly Evans.  I identified with many of her situations.  Runner up:  "Weird Things Customers say in Book Stores" by Jen Campbell.  Hilarious, especially if you work in a book store!  (This week I was asked if I had any books by Ovid, "I don't know his first name.")

9: Fiction or nonfiction?
Yes.  I'll read anything if it's well written.

10: First book you've read by your favorite author
First book by Steinbeck was "East of Eden," first book by Conroy was "Prince of Tides," first book by Bryson was "The Mother Tongue," first book by Gabaldon was "Outlander," and I don't remember the first Gerritsen book I read.

11: Best book-to-movie adaption
Book-to-movie adaptations are generally disappointing, but I think they did a good job with "Gone with the Wind."

12: Do you read comics/manga?

13: Hardcovers or Paperbacks?
Hard cover or Kindle, both of which are easier on my eyes than paperbacks.

14: Do you buy books as soon as they come out or wait a while?
A very few I buy right away (I have already pre-ordered Gabaldon's latest, which comes out in June), but usually I wait.

15: Do you buy books spontaneously without any prior knowledge of what happens in it?
I work in a book store.  Of course I do!

16: Have you ever bought a book based on the cover alone?
I work in a book store.  Of course I do!

17: Where do you usually buy your books? or Logos Books

18: Book that had a strong impact on you
I am still thinking about "Babi Yar," which I read after visiting Kiev.

19: Historical or science fiction?
Sorry, David (Gerrold), but historical (though I have read all of David's early books, up until about 2000)

20: Dystopian or Utopian?
I have no strong feelings about either. If I have to choose, probably dystopian.

21: Worst book-to-movie adaption?
PRINCE OF TIDES!!!!!  Barbra Streisand should be horsewhipped for what she did to that book!

22: Book that should have a movie adaption?
"Outlander" ... and it will, on Starz later this year.

23: The first book you've fallen in love with
"Marjorie Morningstar."  I read that book until the pages fell out of it when I was in high school. (Come to think of it, that was a pretty horrible book-to-movie too!)

24: Humor or angst?
Oh angst is much more interesting.

25: How many books do you own?
Enough to start a small library.  There is no room in this house which is not filled with books, except the bathrooms upstairs (there is a book in the bathroom downstairs)

26: Do you go the library?
I am embarrassed to admit that I never go to the library.  The problem is that sometimes it takes me a long time to read a book, and I would not be able to finish within the time allotted.  That said, I can also read a 300-400 book in a couple of days if I put my mind to it.  But I have so many books at home waiting to be read that there is little reason to go to the library.

27: How many books do you read a year?
Last year I read 34; the year before I read 78 (I must have been busier last year...or read longer books...also I didn't finish nearly as many audio books because my mother moved to Davis!)  So far this year I have read 6.

28: Favorite "required reading" book?
Not sure what "required reading" means, but I always recommend "The Mother Tongue" to someone looking for something unusual to read.

29: Favorite quote?
The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.
C.S. Lewis

30: A book you absolutely hate
"The Stupidest Angel" by Christopher Moore.  I read it for book club, hating every page.  I decided it should be called "The Stupidest Book."   There were others in the book club who agreed with me. Runner up would be "Zoo" or "Cross Country," by James Patterson, who should be shot for publishing some of the crap he's published since he became a book-writing factory.,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

VD Atria

FlowersSm.jpg (40167 bytes)No...there are no rampant sexually transmitted diseases rolling through "the home."  Today was Valentine's Day at Atria. 
I decided to go over and have lunch with my mother, so as soon as Walt got back from running an errand, I took off, stopping first at a store where I could get a ridiculously priced vase with 3 roses in it.  The roses look beautiful today, but from the look of them (cracked petals), I suspect that they won't last long, but it's the immediate gratification that works, and she was thrilled to have such a beautiful bouquet.

(I was thrilled to see that she had remembered to get to her hair appointment and looks SO MUCH BETTER than she has looked for weeks!)

I also brought her a box of those terrific Trader Joe truffles.   In truth, I wanted a couple, but didn't want to buy myself a box because I'd eat them all, but if I gave them to my mother, I could still have a few.

She had forgotten it was Valentine's Day, of course, and I'm not sure that she remembered what that was, but we sat and had a nice chat (and she didn't once mention the dead plants on her patio, which was a lovely Valentine's Day gift for me!)

We went off to lunch and sat at her "usual" table.  She is usually the fourth person to a trio that sits together every day, but my friend Peggy and one of the other women were not there, so we sat with the two who were. It was nice to see that she and this woman were very comfortable with each other and obviously ate together often.

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Interestingly, before we left, my mother commented on how she really didn't know any people at Atria and then added that she supposed if she went to some of the events she would know them, but she didn't want to.  So her only social circle appears to be these three women with whom she eats regularly.  She used to talk about always sitting with someone new each time; now she says that if there is no space at that table, she sits by herself.  She also is adamant that this is her choice and that she is not interested in mixing socially with all these old people (she doesn't say it quite that way, but the disdainful look at the walkers and the comments about how old everyone is leads me to believe this is the reason she prefers solitude to attempting to meet anybody new)

Peggy has been a godsend.  She knows everybody by name and mostly can tell yoiu their life story.  That includes the staff and the waiters and waitresses too.  But she is moving next month to a newly opened facility that is closer to her daughter.  She has taken my mother under her wing, they seem to have a very good relationship and a bit of the spark is going to go out of my mother's life when Peggy is no longer there.
The dining room was all tarted up in lots and lots of balloons, hanging things, and hearts on the walls.  It really looked very nice.  There was even a barbershop quartet singing.

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My mother liked that they were singing so softly that they didn't interfere with conversation.  I was glad of that too because they weren't very good and if they had been singing louder it would have been painful!  
But they sang a long time.  The guy on the left end is in a walker and it has to be a bit of an effort for him.  They made the rounds of the dining room and sang to as many people as they could.

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They called themselves something like the Harmony Blenders and I have to say that was a bit of a misnomer, but everyone loved them, and it was a fun addition to a Valentine's Day celebration.

I came home from Atria and took a nap and when I woke up, and when I woke up, there was a beautiful bouquet of roses on the kitchen table.

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I hope everyone had a Valentine's Day filled with truffles and barbershop quartets and roses.