Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kid with a Clipboard

A commercial played this afternoon where someone rang a doorbell.  The dogs started barking.  Silly dogs, I thought...I thought they had learned to distinguish between TV and reality.  But maybe FedEx had delivered a package.  I'm expecting several of them, but not until Monday.  But just to be sure, I went to the front door to check, not looking out the peep hole first.  [The peep hole is one I had Walt install several years ago to protect me from the sweet little Mormon ladies who loved to talk with Walt.  The older I get the more I get like my father in the last years of his life (he died at 72).]

When I opened the door, imagine my shock when I saw a sweet faced kid with a clipboard in his hand standing there.  So the dogs had heard the real doorbell.  I don't really know what he was there for, other than it had something to do with ecology.  The dogs kept up barking so loud that I couldn't hear him and, bad me, I shut the door in his face.

Afterwards, I thought about how many people have shut the door in his face and how he was just an idealistic guy willing to pound the pavement on a hot afternoon to convince people to join his cause. And I felt guilty for not letting this unwanted intruder disrupt my afternoon trying to talk to me about an issue I should care about, but knew I wasn't going to be giving him money for.  But I didn't feel that guilty, so I'm sure I'm going to hell.

I understand that there is a syndrome known as "Political Fatigue" or "Charitable Fatigue."  Or something like that.  When whoever was describing it talked about it, I immediately knew I suffered from it.  After my brief, intense involvement in various political issues and candidates around 2008 and several years after that, I find that I am deluged by so many emails and junk mail that I just want to scream JUST GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

The country is going to hell in a handbasket because every time (this includes several times a day) I get an e-mail from the Democratic party or various political candidates, in California or other states across the country, telling me that if I just give $3 (though I think it has gone up to $5 lately) we can save the country.  If I just give $3 before 5 p.m., I can defeat Boehner's attempt to do...just about anything.  I could very easily go broke trying to stay ahead of what appear to be Boehner's nefarious plans for destroying the country.

(I have a feeling that I have a doppelganger somewhere who is getting the same e-mails from the Republican party concerning Nancy Pelosi)

When I fail to send $3 every other hour, I get messages with titles like DEVASTATION! (always caps, usually with an exclamation point).   These remind me that I have NOT sent them $3 and as a result of my inattention, the country is about to implode.

Most of these go to junk mail without my seeing them, but occasionally some slip through the walls.  This one, for example, which made me feel quite special, since apparently out of the entire population of Davis, I and 34 others are the special ones:
I'm tapping you to be one of 35 Democrats in Davis to chip in before tomorrow's deadline, Bev.

Democrats are in one hell of a fight this year, and we need everyone to pitch in and do their part -- because this is our last chance to give Barack a Congress that will work with him.

Chip in $3 or more before midnight tomorrow

When they fail to hear from me, the guilt trips start.  'Perhaps you didn't see our first message," will come the first reminder, then "We are still waiting for you," and ultimately hints of what terrible things will happen to the country if I don't join the cause.

Then there are the charitable organizations that start by thanking me for my generous support over the years.  These are organizations I have never supported, but they want to remind me that it's time to give them money again.  They are all good organizations that I would happily support if I weren't already tapped out with the money going to Compassion every month.  UNICEF and Save the Children are thrilled with all of my donations and could I give just a little more...even though I have not contributed to either of those organizations because all the spare money goes to a different children's organization.

Perhaps the funniest pleas for money or signing petitions aren't addressed to me.   They come to my gmail account and they start out "Dear xxxxx"  For xxxx substitute the name that I mistyped on some long ago petition when my fingers were on the wrong keys of my keyboard and I was signing so fast that I didn't notice.  That non-name name gets almost as much mail as "Bev" does!

There a lot of issues, politicians, charitable organizations out there that are worthy of my money or my support, but if they would just STOP WRITING TO ME EVERY DAY and give me space now and then, I might actually send $3 occasionally, but I know if I do, I will never, ever, EVER be free.

(We actually did support Special Olympics for several years until their requests for money got so overwhelming that I called them and told them that if they couldn't send fewer than daily requests for money, we would never contribute to them again.  They could not and we have not...and I feel bad about that, because I think Special Olympics is worthy of my support, but if I send them so much as a dollar I'll be back in that oppressive loop again.)

So if you have a clipboard, please do not stop by my house.  If you're lucky, I'll check the peephole and not open the door.  If I slip and forget to check first, I will probably shut the door in your face.

I am a bad person.  But I finally understand that antisocial sign on my father's door when he was my age:  "If you have not been invited here, you are trespassing.  Please leave or I will call the police." 

I thought that was a terrible thing then, but now...maybe not so much!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Today at Logos

My time at Logos started earlier than usual because Walt had to go to a meeting, so he needed to get me downtown by about  1:15.  Now that I know about yogurt shops from Brianna, I stopped at a yogurt place to have a treat, then I meandered over to Logos, getting there at about 1:30.  I had offered to take over for Sandy, but we ended up sitting and chatting for half an hour, which was a nice treat.  When she packed up at 2, I leaped onto the fan sitting on the floor and plugged it in so I could sit in blissful cool and leave the store door open for those who like to feel the warmth outside!

There were 3 customers in the shop when Sandy left, including Bruce, who waved at me when he first came in, so I guess I've arrived.  He had me save a book for him and instead of stapling the reminder to pick it up onto his shirt, today he stapled it to the newspaper he was carrying.

The first customer, a college student looking young woman bought a copy of "Pilgrim's Progress."  She was followed almost immediately by a young woman wearing a Davis High School Basketball Alum shirt.  She bought 2 books from the "literature" bookcase and a cookbook...starting the day off with a nice solid  $23 sale.

A tall, dignified woman wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat. a diaphanous dress and straw wedge sandles and lookng like someone you might meet on Long Island picked up a bargain book and bought it "to read with my lunch."

A woman whose serious expression contradicted her name ("Joy") bought seven of what I labeled "women's studies" boooks, but some might be better classified as feminist poetry.  One of the books was "When I am Old, I shall Wear Purple," and I wondered what constituted "old" for that anthology and if it was time for me to wear purple.  I had come up with another "age realization" thing today, in talking with Sandy, who, I have assumed was older than I, but discovered she's only 68.  A mere kid.  Not only that, but her eyes didn't widen in surprise when I told her I was 71...

A woman bought five children's books, including one titled "There's a girl in the boys' bathroom," which was, as I suspected, not about transgender issues for children!

There was a "Laurel and Hardy" couple who wandered around -- he was tall, she was short, he was fat, she was thin, he was Hispanic, she was Asian, he was bald, she was hairy.  They browsed for a long time, but left without buying anything.

A willowy woman carrying a cup of coffee and wearing leggings and a long, loose over-blouse, who had a backpack on and earbuds in her ears checked out the fantasy section first.  She eventually bought Jon Krakauer's book, "Where Men Win Glory: the Odyssy of Pat Tillman."  We talked about Krakauer and I mentioned having read his "Into Thin Air" about the deadliest season on Mt. Everest.  She said she had read Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven," about Mormon extremism and said it was excellent, so I have put it on my "want to read" list.

She also bought a book called "The Book of Nothing for the Person who has Everything," which she said she was buying for her mother "who has a hard time slowing down" and that she hoped she would read it and get the message contained therein.

An Hispanic or Indian-looking man in a kelly green t-shirt bought two philosophy books.

An older guy with a white goateee, wearing an Irish cap (seems to me we get a lot of guys wearing Irish caps!) and a "murse" (man purse) across his chest did a circle of the store, but didn't find anything he wanted to buy.
A skinny giant came in.  "Long, tall drop of water" described him perfectly and I'll bet he has taken a lot of kidding about it, but he was half a head taller than our bookcases.  He bought a travel book about Israel.

An Asian girl with the last name of one of our kids' good friends came in and bought a Japanese-English dictionary.  I thought about asking her if she was related to the family, or if maybe she had married David's good friend.   But I didn't.

"Slouching Girl" entered, wearing a silver cross around her neck, and also a rosary as a necklace.  She wanted to know if we had any books about how to pray the rosary.  I suggested she check the Avid Reader, the new book store, in the next block. Unfortunately the religious book store here in Davis has gone out of business.

Throughout the day, three people brought in boxes of donations, one of which consisted of several books of erotica.  One of the donation boxes was from a woman who said her husband was incapacitated and could only read, so he bought a lot from Barnes and Noble.  I told her I hoped he got better.  She smiled, sighed, and said "well, he won't" and then left.  Brave and sad.

It was after 5 before my friend arrived.  I had asked Susan if I could be relieved early because we were going to review Wicked in Sacramento, so I was thrilled when he was still there when Peter, sporting a wicked looking scar from his recent knee surgery, arrived.  The two men greeted each other familiarly and I thought I would finally learn my friend's name.  

He bought a book called "Weird and Wonderful: Discoveries from the Mysterious World of Forgotten Children's Books" (I recommend checking it out on Amazon and using the "look inside" feature.  Looks like a fun book).  He left before Walt came so I asked Peter who he was.  He said he's been coming in to his shop since he had his old shop.  He thought he used to do something at the library at Sac State and he knows that he comes into town on Thursday to play the Japanese game, "Go" with a group of others.  But he doesn't know his name either.  Owell.
Walt arrived at 5:30 and we had time to go home, eat dinner, nap for 20 minutes or so, and pick my colleague up on time to get to the Community Center for the show which was, of course, wonderful. Someone mentioned how expensive the tickets were and, of course, I never know how much tickets costs since mine always say "Comp" on them, but I looked them up when I got home and discovered we were in the $200 seats!  The "cheap" seats were $105.  This is why I keep my critic job!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Another Anniveresary

There is another anniversary this week, only this one isn't a wedding anniversary.  As of today, my mother has been at Atria for a whole year.   I told her that today and she looked kind of blank and asked where she had lived before Atria.  On the one hand that is sad, but on the other hand, since she has no memory of Terra Linda, it's a good thing that she is so content at Atria.

I brought the video of T-ball that Laurel made to show her.   It's about 10 minutes and I knew it was probably a bit long for her, but thought she would like to see the cute kids.  She seemed to like it, but asked me several times if that was "Tom's kid," if it was an all-girls team (Bri is the only girl), and when the kid who wears black horn-rimmed glasses came on (the cutest kid to photograph, I might add), she asked if Bri has to wear glasses all the time, or just when she plays ball.

Sigh.  But I think she enjoyed it, even if she didn't follow it at all and wasn't quite sure what she was watching.
And at the end, she asked me -- I kid you not -- if I thought she was going to live to hunnert.  At least she's consistent!

We went to lunch and sat with a woman who just moved in a few days ago.  She said she had met my mother the other night and knew her name.   To my surprise, she also knew where she had moved here from, so she must have hit my mother on a good memory day.

As she does whenever we have lunch, my mother scans the menu intently, then orders the same thing she orders every day (vegetable soup and fruit salad...and she never eats the copious vegetables, only the broth), then 2 minutes later she asked if we had ordered lunch and picked up the menu to try to remember what she ordered...and couldn't so she decided she'd just be surprised.

But as I said, she is content there and that's the main thing.  It's a good thing if you have no memory, because it's like Groundhog Day, one day is identical to the next.

We visited Tom and the girls the on Monday, and helped keep the girls occupied while Tom and Laurel were loading the car for their surprise trip to Disneyland (they didn't tell the girls where they were going until they were halfway there).

Bri had a toy makeup kit and the two girls were experimenting with how to put on makeup.  Boy, did they pick the wrong grandma for makeup tips! 

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Here she is putting on some gross-smelling perfume, as I showed her how to do it...not realizing that it was really glitter.  Heck, I haven't worn makeup in about 30 years and they didn't have glitter in my make-up wearing days!

But she did get some lip gloss put on and I managed to help her put green eye shadow on her eyelids.

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In the meantime, Lacie, who gets one jellybean when she pees in her little potty chair, toook matters into her own hands when it came to rewards.

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As we left Santa Barbara, after our visits, State Street was ablaze with jacaranda trees, and I tried to enjoy them as much as I can, because the blossoms will be gone by the next time we are in town.

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It really was a wonderful weekend, and I had a better time than I expected to.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chalk Talk

I'm always ready to leave bright and early when I know we have 400 miles to drive to get home.  Things may change now that Alice Nan is retired and isn't rushing off to the office at 6 a.m. any more.

Also, last night, Dick and Gerry suggested we get together this morning to have an actual visit (which we couldn't really do at the party last night).

So this morning we sat around and visited with Alice Nan, showed her the t-ball video, and just relaxed until she had to get ready for a meeting for a volunteer group.  We were tentatively meeting Dick and Gerry around noon and had an hour or two to kill first.  

We decided to to "iMadonnari," described in the local paper thusly:
The 20,000 square feet of dark asphalt surrounding the Santa Barbara Mission will bloom into a rainbow of colors as hundreds of chalk artists join in the 28th annual I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival. Artists from Santa Barbara and beyond will turn the usually utilitarian surface into a patchwork of art works, created lovingly in chalk.
We went to this amazing exhibit in 2008, when Bri was just 3 months old and bundled up in a stroller.  I was amazed, then at the quality and diversity of the paintings and was anxious to see them again.

Street painting has a long tradition in Western Europe and the artists who draw with chalk on the sidewalk are called "madonnari," or "Madonna painters," because traditionally they reproduced icons of the Madonna.  There are some fifty such festivals worldwide now, but Santa Barbara was the first such street painting faire to come to the United States.  Artists apply to participate and are chosen by the committee.  Some 400 professional artists, and young people search for sponsors, get assigned a spot in front of historic Mission Santa Barbara and over the three days of Memorial Day weekend, they produce their artwork, many of them working from drawings divided into squares to be easily recreated on the ground in chalk.

Yesterday had been the day when all the awards were given out, speeches made, and the height of the festival, which ended yesterday, so today there were relatively few peopole looking, no food trucks or activities for the kiddies, and excellent opportunity for people who were just there to look at the pictures without fighting for elbow room with two dozen other people.

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There were some excellent art works.

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There were lots of animal pictures, which, of course, I loved.

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I particularly liked this Etch-a-sketch

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I liked that it was positioned so that it was possible to take a picture of the etch-a-sketch drawing of the mission with the mission itself in the background.

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This was the product of one of the UC Santa Barbara dorms where Jeri lived for a year and it commemorates the tragic mass shooting last week.

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We just had a wonderful time roaming around and when we'd seen our fill, we went to a coffee shop while we waited to hear from Gerry about where and when to get together.  We ended up going to their house and sitting there for a couple of hours, nibbling on leftovers party food, re-hashing the party and reminiscing.  We left around 1:30-2 in high spirits and had a good ride home, listening to a David Baldacci book (which we almost finished, but there is still one hour to go)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

30, 40, 50

It's a day for anniversaries!  First, our friends Steve Schalchlin and Jim Brochu are celebrating their 30th anniversary (actually it's only the 29th, but that doesn't scan as well for a title...and it will be 30 in just a year).

 (but you know how those gay relationships are...I'm sure this is just a passing whim for both of them.  But in case it lasts a bit longer, Happy Anniversary!))

Second, our friends Steve and Jan Isaacson are celebrating their 40th anniversary

They're theater types...founders of the 30 year old Davis Musical Theater Company...and you know how flighty those theater guys are.  I'm sure this is just a passing fad for them too.  But happy anniversary anyway, guys.

The final anniversary was the one that brought us to Santa Barbara this week end.  Our friends Dick and Gerry were celebrating their 50th anniversary.

We were in Dick and Gerry's wedding 50 years ago and were the only members of the original wedding party who were able to come to the party this week end.

It was just a wonderful party, with about 40 people there to help celebrate.  There was a a beautiful BBQ dinner catered by their friends, there were books of memories to share, and instead of a cake, a lovely arrangement of cupcakes topped by -- I think -- the original top to their wedding cake.

It was a loving event full of family and friends and memories and good food and drink.  I was honored to be there and happy that our friendship has survived these 50 years.

I dunno...these kids seem to have survived too.  I think they'll go the distance.

So-- happy anniversary, Steve & Jimmy, Steve & Jan and Dick and Gerry.  A good, good weekend.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Grandparents at Last!

It's what grandparents do, right?  Spoil the grandkids and then let their parents deal with the consequences. 
Because of the distance between us, we've never really had that fun, but today we did.  After a morning with the girls at Tom's house, Lacie went down for a nap and Walt, Tom and I were going to go to get yogurt with Brianna, to give Laurel quiet to work in.

But Tom needed to go to the store, so he sent the two of us on with Bri (she is now big enough to fit in a booster car seat, instead of the baby kind of car seat) and we went off to Yogurtland. (Six year old Bri was invaluable, since she knew exactly how to get to Yogurtland, knew "left" from "right" and spotted the pet shop next door to the yogurt place before we did!)

Not used to the size of the cups and how much they hold, I probably bought more yogurt than Bri usually has.  She was good about choosing only fruit toppings and told me that "usually I can only have one sweet thing," meaning only one of the candy-like toppings.  She chose 2 gummy bears for her "sweet" and then sat with us to eat her bowl of yogurt.

But the sugar in the yogurt and in the fruit, and the excitement of being out on an adventure began to hit her and by the time Daddy finally got there, she was bouncing off the walls.  Literally.

When we were ready to leave, Walt was prepared to return to Tom's house but I, knowing Lacie would probably still be asleep and Bri was needing some calm time, suggested we go home instead and send Bri back with Tom, which we did, leaving Tom to convince Bri that she should not remove her shoes and suck on them in the parking lot.

Tee hee...It is fun to be a grandparent!

But the morning had been great fun.  We got there before the girls woke up, so we were there to wake them up -- and to see the new bunk beds recently installed, so they now sleep in the same room.

Laurel had work to do, so we kept the girls busy out on the patio, Tom pitching to Bri (for what seemed like an hour!...the girl had stamina!) while Walt acted as catcher.

At the same time I read book after book to Lacie, who absolutely thrilled me when one of the books she chose to read was "Joe the Bear and Sam the Mouse," which was one of the books I bought a few months back because it had been one of our kids' favorites.  It was fun to do the low "Joe the bear" and high pitched "Sam the Mouse" voices again.  Like riding a bicycle...even the inflections I used to use were right there again. 

Laurel had done an iMovie of Bri's t-ball team that was amazing.  She tried to copy it to a disk for me, but the file was too big, so she shared it in Google Docs and I was able to call it up on my cell phone.  Bri and I watched it together (for the third time) on my phone.

Santa Barbara at this time of year is just beautiful.  The city is ablaze with jacaranda trees, their purple flowers shimmering in the sunlight.

(This particular tree is in Tom's neighbor's back yard behind a lemon tree, adding yellow and green to the purple pallet.)

Tom and family had a dinner date tonight, so Walt and I took Joe out to Outback Steakhouse for a delicious dinner, but we have all had an elegant sufficiency and I just may be asleep before 10 p.m. again tonight!

Bed Head

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Stealing

1. How old is the oldest pair of shoes in your closet?
I rarely buy shoes...only when I have to.  I think the oldest is the pair I'm wearng now, my Birkinstocks, which a friend bought for me in 1999.

2. Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year? If so, what variety?
We usually get the mints and the peanutbutter ones, and maybe the regular shortbread, but none of them taste as good as they used to and they are SO expensive!

3. Do you know how to ballroom dance?
I took ballroom dancing as a P.E. class in college, but we never go dancing and I think the last time I danced was at Tom's wedding in 2003.  I have forgotten everything I ever learned in my class.

4. Were you a responsible child/teenager?
Pathetically responsible.  Very boring child.

5. How many of this year's Oscar-nominated movies did you see?
Before the awards, none.  Since, two (Dallas Buyers Club and Philomena)

6. If you're going to have a medical procedure done, such as having blood drawn, is it easier for you to watch someone else having the procedure done or have it done yourself?
Makes no difference.  Medical procedures don't bother me (I worked in medical offices for too long!)

7. What is your favorite day of the week and why?
Thursday, the day I volunteer at the used book store.

8. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received??
Whenever someone compliments me on something I've written, I love it.

9. Do hospitals make you queasy?
Heck no.

10. At which store would you like to max-out your credit card?
Office Max

11. Are you true to the brand names of products/items?
Some, like Best Foods mayonnaise and Skippy peanutbutter

12. Which is more difficult: looking into someone’s eyes when you are telling someone how you feel, or looking into someone’s eyes when he/she is telling you how he/she feels?
I've never thought about it.  Probably looking into someone's eyes while telling them how I feel

13. What’s one thing you’re deeply proud of — but would never put on your résumé?
I made some pretty darn good looking cakes in my cake decorating years.  And I raised some really wonderful orphan puppies to toddlerhood, when they could be adopted.

14. What’s the most out-of-character choice you’ve ever made?
Probably going to Australia without Walt.

15. What’s your personal anthem or theme song?
Probably "For Good" from Wicked.  I have been influenced by a few special friends in my life.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

(More) Ladies Who Lunch

I had the great pleasure of having high tea at Ciocolat in Davis today.  My friend Pat sent this invitation:  Nancianne, Lu and I are having "high tea" in lieu of lunch at Ciocolat on Friday, arrival 11:30-11:45.  Would LOVE for you to be the fourth, on me.  Can you make that?

I certainly was not going to turn down an invitation for high tea with three delightful, intelligent women in a place I know has delicious food, beautifully presented. All 3 women have been friends of ours for years.  All have been members of the Davis Comic Opera Company.  Pat is Lu's mother and also taught Jeri piano for 12 years.  And Nancianne, in addition to a bunch of other things, is the lady whose picture I take each March when she has her head shaved to raise money for childhood cancer.

But it was another "Atria Syndrome Day" for me.   First, despite "11:30" being written on my calendar, I got it into my head that I was supposed to be there at 10:30 and was racing around here trying to get my review of last night's show written so I could leave here with a clear conscience.  Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to double check the invitation before leaving the house.

After the last time that I left the camera at home, I wanted to be sure to bring it.  But I forgot.  I was a couple of blocks away when I remembered.  That's OK, I thought to myself...I have my cell phone.  I can use that.  But then I remembered the cell phone was plugged in to the charger on the kitchen counter, so I turned around and returned home to get both the camera and the cell phone.

I got there first and found our table on the deck.  It was the only one with a table cloth and there was a beautiful arrangement of roses on the table, with a card that read "Pat,"  so I figured it was a good guess that it was ours and I sat down to read my book before the others arrived.

There were nice looking plastic chairs, but not as sturdy as the chairs you see everywhere.  As I sat in the chair, I felt uneasy, worrying that I would break the chair, but it seemed to hold my weight, so I  continued to sit.

While I waited, I took a picture of the beautiful bouquet for Pat.   Lovely dark red roses with a white rose in the center.

[ photo ]
he others arrived and our high tea started.  Started with scones and lemon curd, then a lovely salad, then the sandwich service followed by the desserts.  The desserts were a "death by chocolate" little cake, which was like fudge with frosting, then a molded chocolate tulip cup filled with raspberry mousse, and finally a macaroon filled with what may have been a pistachio cream.  They were so beautiful I took another photo.

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While we were eating our desserts, our mutual friend Lee hopped up on the fence outside the restaurant and asked Lu if she was going to finish her death by chocolate.  She handed it to him and he went on his merry way.

I really wanted a photo of the group, but felt uncomfortable asking the waitress to take our picture, wondering if the others would mind, but finally realized that these were all theater people who had their photo taken all the time, so I handed the camera to the waitress and she took a group picture.

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She handed the camera back to me and I went to check to see if it turned out all right.  That's when I saw that ominous message "no memory card inserted," which meant that there was no way to record the photo and I had lost all three of my pictures.  Grrr.  I just told the waitress that it was fine and put the camera away.  I didn't want to admit my stupidity.

We continued eating our desserts and suddenly I felt the chair begin to buckle under me.  I was falling over backwards and no way to right myself.   Fortunately Nancianne steadied the chair until I could get out of it and I found a metal folding chair and sat in that.  These are the times when it is so embarrassing to be my size!

Our high tea ended with a big dish of mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries) surrounding a big bowl of whipped cream, and then it was all over.  We had had a lovely visit, enjoyed delicious food, escaped major injuries from fragile chairs, and we were all ready for a nap.  I was going to visit my mother, but it was all I could do to drag myself home and into the recliner, where I was nicely on my way to sleep when one of those damn robo calls roused me and I was not able to get back to sleep.

But what a wonderful surprise the invitation was, and what a good time I had with all four women.  Thanks for including me, Pat!

In the evening, un-napped, we went to the Davis Art Center Amphitheater to see a production of The Tempest, which I had never seen before.   It was a bit difficult to follow in spots, but I was able to bat out a review before I went to sleep for the night.

Busy day!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Today at Logos

Sandy and I had an opportunity to chat today at the Changing of the Guard, and we celebrated the fact that Pennsylvania has become the 19th state to permit gay marriage.  I told Sandy that I had made, over the years, three wedding cakes for Ellen and Shelly, until the final marriage actually is irrevocable (we hope!).  She said she wished she had known me when she and her wife were married in San Francisco.

After Sandy left, I went looking for a Harlan Coben book to read, a follow-up to the audio book we read coming home from Santa Barbara, but couldn't find one, so I settled on "Sphinx" by Robin Cook.  It's been a long time since I've read a Robin Cook book.

My first noteworthy customer was an attractive girl who looked like she could have just stepped off the Riverdance stage.  She was wearing a forest green vest, a black velvet flared mini skirt with tights and "sturdy" shoes and she had auburn colored hair.  She spent her time looking through music and Literature books (as opposed to "Contemporary Fiction") and ultimately bought a James Joyce book.  How perfectly stereotypical is that?  She was with an older woman, who may have been her mother, who carried the younger girl's lunch box from some take-away place, and paid for her purchase.

A group of high school boys were laughing out of my sight and one of them popped in to check the fantasy section (which is near the front door), popping back out again when his friends caught up with him.

Tom, who had a round pinkish face and white hair in a "monk's cut" with a beard that ringed his face, wearing an orange plaid-looking shirt came in to see if he had left his monogrammed metal Starbucks coffee mug here (he hadn't), but he bought a book that was titled "The Maids" and the book jacket said "Faber" as the author, but I haven't been able to find either the book or the author on Amazon.

An SPCA lady said she had just seen something nice I'd posted on Facebook, and then commented that I usually post nice things.  We talked about her cats and Polly.

An elegantly dressed man with a handlebar moustache stopped at the bargain carts, then moved on. I noticed him mostly because he had his head bent at a 90 degree angle trying to read the book titles and it looked odd.

A Latino family (mom, dad and boy about 11) stopped outside talking to someone unseen.  The boy, like the high school boy earlier, also popped in, started reading a book from the humor bookcase then reluctantly put the book back down again when his parents were ready to move on.

There was a bit of David Copperfield going on with the next two customers.  A girl in white with a backpack was standing at the sci/fantasy bookcase.  I looked down briefly at my book and when I looked up again she had morphed into a large young man with a backpack, earbuds, a baseball cap and an iced drink.   When I looked up again, there was nobody there.

A French woman bought a copy of the "Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam" and was disappointed that she didn't get a discount on her $4 purchase because she is a friend of one of the other volunteers. 

Two girls came in with posters for "Cupcakes for Equality."  I thought it was a gay thing, but apparently this is immigration equality (and possibly for gay equality too).  Looks like an interesting event, but we won't be here so won't be able to attend.

CupcakesEquality.jpg (215939 bytes)

Mr. Antiquity hit the jackpot today and was thrilled with a book of poems written by John Dryden, published in the 1800s and with print so teeny that I wonder what the visual acuity of people in previous generations was. I literally could read NOTHING without a magnifying glass. He bought it mostly for the etchings, which were very intricate and beautiful. He also had a pendant to show me, a portrait painted in the 1700s on milk glass that a friend of his had found in London. It's actually a lady's necklace, but he's wearing it like a watch fob, with the portraits going into his pocket and the gold chain hanging out.

The action this afternoon was slow, but steady.  I don't think there was any time when there wasn't at least one customer in the store, whether they all bought something or not.

A bra-less thin redhead in a mid-calf length spaghetti strap summer dress came in.  She had tattoos of daggers on each upper inner arm, identical size, about 1/3 the length of her bicep.  She sat down cross-legged in front of the literature section.  What looked like her girlfriend came in and talked with her for a bit and then went looking in other sections of the store.  She was wearing a shirt that had a logo of the Davis water tower on the front and said "Thoreau's quiet hours" across the back.

I thought my friend was not going to be in again this week, but he showed up around 5, saying he had been in Arizona visiting his brother and father. Apparently he had driven there because he drove through Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo on the way back home.  He bought three books today, two children's books and a book on the slide rule.  When I told him I never learned to use a slide rule, so he gave me a verbal lesson on the slide rule. 

While we were talking, an short old Italian guy, who is a regular, came in to buy a bargain book, so my friend left.  The Italian is someone I am always delighted to see.  He always has a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye and he looks like every day is an adventure for him. He had overheard us talking about driving along the coast and he talked about taking the train to LA and watching the coast all the way down.  An Indian girl joined our conversation saying that she was raised in LA and loves to take the train home to visit her parents.  She also added that she is graduating, after 4 years, this weekend and moving back to L.A.  She says she is going to miss Logos.

A Peace Lady came in.  She was wearing an amazing outfit.  A black overshirt with pink ribbons and smocking around the bottom and a big pink oval across her stomach which has "No War" appliqued on it.  She was wearing shocking pink dangling peace sign earrings and she had a big hat that I didn't get a good look at, but it was decorated with pink stuff and peace signs.  Somehow it made me think of a line from The Last Session where they talk about a "cute little pink little gun."

Susan's son came to relieve me and Walt arrived right on time at 6.  We went out to dinner at "Redrum Burgers" because it's next to the theater where we were seeing Hedda Gabler at 7, so had no time to go home to eat dinner. 

redrum.jpg (136358 bytes)

Redrum was formerly known as "Murder Burger" but when they started a second store in Rocklin, on the other side of Sacramento, people objected to the name Murder Burger.  They held a contest to see who could come up with the best name.  The nominations that had the biggest number of votes -- 1,500 out of 7,200 was "Murder Burger" (diehards didn't want to give up the name!), but the owners went with the second most popular choice, which was Redrum.  Four people submitted the name Redrum Burger on the first day of the contest.  A drawing was held among those entries to determine the winner.  The entry was received via e-mail and the winner had never been to the restaurant.  Nevertheless, he received $1,000 and one meal a day for the rest of his life.  Luckily for the owners, he ordered a peach shake when he collected his money and has not been seen again since.
Its menu features ostrich burger and bison burger, but we just had plain beef burgers.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Better Late than Never

Because of how busy last week end was, I never got around to doing the Sunday Stealing, so I'm making it the Wednesday Stealing

1. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Hmmm...I don't remember.  Maybe when I had to take the driving part of my license renewal and was worried about my eyesight

2. What was your last alcoholic beverage?

I rarely drink, but I had a Margarita over the weekend (I didn't finish it)

3. Who can you trust?

My family and my friends (I hope)

4. Where was your first kiss with your current significant other?

That was over 50 years ago.  I don't really remember.

5. Favorite Band?

Lawsuit, of course.

6. What is something you've learned about yourself recently?

I am SO over Chris Christie and wish MSNBC would just drop it already.

7. Do you like anyone?

I like most people.

8. Do you know anyone who is engaged?

I don't think so.  I heard about someone who just got engaged, but I think that was somebody's blog.  Nobody that I know in real life.
Correction:  How could I forget that my cyber brother Ron has been engaged to his George since Valentine's day?

9. What's your favorite number?

Seven.  I don't know why.  It has been my favorite number all of my life.

10. Who was the last person to make you cry?

It's  been awhile, so I don't remember

11. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?

No.  I longed to go to camp, but we couldn't afford it.

12. When was the last time you cried?

This afternoon, watching the 2-hour long interview with Barbara Walters (but remember I cry easily!).  It wasn't heavy boo-hoo crying, but I did tear up several times.

13. What is one thing you miss about your past?

The people in it.

14. What is one thing you've learned about life?

Nothing is permanent.  Forever isn't.

15. Are you jealous of anyone?

Nobody that I can think of.  Jealousy is a useless emotion.

16. Is anyone jealous of you?

I doubt it.

17. Has a friend ever used you?

A high school friend once borrowed a large sum of money from me because she was homeless. She promised she would return it.  That was years ago.  My friend Gilbert always said that he never loaned money that he expected to get back, and that was kind of the the idea I had when I loaned her the money.  I really never expected to see it (or her) again...and I didn't.

18. Has anyone recently told you that they like you more than as a friend?


19. Who was the last person you drove with?

Walt and I drove at least 800 miles last weekend

20. What are you looking forward to?

Going to France this fall.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Roads Not Taken

In this long road that we know as "life" we find many opportunities to choose one road over another.  (If you're riding with Mike Blackford, you'll always choose the unpaved road, but that's another story.)   Sometimes it's good to look back and see those roads not taken and wonder what might have happened if you had made different choices.

The first road choice that I remember making was back in grammar school.  I had to decide which school I would choose for high school.   If I were in the public school system, I would go to whichever school was designated for my address, but as a Catholic school kid, I had choices of various Catholic high schools across the city.

For me, it was a choice of St. Vincent's or Presentation.   Presentation was the bigger school, more prestigious school.  The decision to choose the smaller St. Vincent's school was purely based on my pride. Presentation was the college prep school and most of my female classmates would be going to there.   Throughout grammar school, I was consistently ranked third in my class.  I just never could do better than my friend Gayle or my friend Janet.  Janet was going to school in Marin county and Gayle was going to Presentation.  I deliberately chose St. Vincent, hoping I would have the opportunity to move up higher in the rankings (and, ironically, I graduated 3rd in my class of 60!)

St. Vincent had only recently been granted college prep status, so I was on a college prep course, but it had been famous in San Francisco as the best business preparatory school, so I probably did a lot more business stuff than I would have done at Presentation. 

Going to St. Vincent set me on a course for entering the convent, It made me an outstanding typist, it gave me my start in ministering to the less fortunate in the neighborhood around the school (which I credit for my interest in sponsoring kids throughout my life), it started my career as a journalist (or whatever I have been throughout my life!) and it was also responsible for the name of my daughter (whose middle name is Anne because my favorite teacher and lifelong friend was Sister Anne).

I'm glad I chose the smaller school  (and, ironically, since in later years it was the home of the Lamplighters, I have spent an inordinate amount of time in that school for someone who did not actually attend it!), but I wonder if my college preperation might have been stronger, if I might have learned to study more, and if I would have ended up finishing college instead of dropping out because I never learned how to study.

Then there was that whole convent thing, making the decision not to enter the convent after all.  That meant my father could insist that I attend UC Berkeley (which was much easier to get into then), a school which I realize today was completely wrong for me at that time.

But going to Berkeley meant I had to decide where I wanted to live.  Again, I went for the smallest house on campus, Mitchell Hall.  The brand new dormitories, closer to the school, scared me because so many girls lived there.   Mitchell Hall was a long way from campus, up a big hill, and I don't remember the population, but it was half the size of the next largest hall, Peixoto, which was attached to Mitchell, though each hall had its own staff and issues.

Making that decision perhaps resulted in one of the longest friendships in my life, because Char was the grad resident in Peixoto.  It wasn't that we became great friends.  In fact, I hated that grad resident because I knew she didn't like me.  I was actually afraid of her.  However, when we got away from the dorms, Char and I came to know each other through Newman Hall, the Catholic center on campus.  And look where we are fifty-three years later!

I had to decide whether to take the opportunity to work as an au pair in France at one point, a job a French priest said he could arrange for me, and I ended up deciding not to do that.  I also toyed with joining the Peace Corps when it was first started and was too afraid to do that too.

It was a scary road decision to leave UC Berkeley and go to work instead.  My father was dead set against it. He wanted me to be a teacher ('cause it was such a cushy job, he told me repeatedly).  It was a job I knew I was not suited for and what I loved to do was secretarial stuff.  I also was doing terribly in class...and for someone used to being ranked 3rd, to receive my first D was devastating.  Defying my father was a very scary decision. It is a decision I'm still not sure was right or not.  Very good things came out of the job I had, but I've always felt I should have continued on and finished school.  My one biggest regret in life (though not big enough to send me back to school to get a degree I don't need and won't use).

Once you marry and start raising a family, there aren't a lot of roads that make you choose one way or the other, at least roads that are going to affect your future life.  We made one decision together when Walt was transferred up here to Davis, forcing us to either leave our beloved Bay Area or for Walt to look for a new job.  Ultimately it was a good decision, I think, but I do think about it from time to time...what would our kids be like if we had not moved here?  Would Paul and David be dead?  Would the kids have the careers that they do?  Would music have been such a big part of our lives? I am glad, now, that we moved here--but it took me a good 15 years to reach that point!

There have been little road decisions over the up a job I hated with an attorney I hated, which freed me to take a job with a typing service that I grew to love.  Less money, but much better emotionally.   Yes or no to the offer of the theater critic job.  Haven't regretted that one at all.  Some other smaller decisions along the way, some of which were mistakes.

But looking back over my life, I think that mostly I made the right decisions.  That's a comforting thing to realize.  Nowadays, the big decisions I make generally concern what I'm going to cook for dinner.  Nothing life-altering. May those be the most serious decisions I have to make from here on out....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Always Something There to Remind Me

This is one of those prompts at The Daily Post at Word Press, which reads, "A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes."

There are a handful of pieces of music which instantly catapult me back to a certain time and a certain place.  They aren't necessarily my favorites, but the memories embedded with them are very strong.

1.  I'll start with the opening chorus to the second act of Die Fledermaus.  Alison and I were doing research for Book I of the Lamplighters history and decided we needed to see a real rehearsal.  Later, rehearsals would become ho-hum, but this was the very first time that we would be kind of backstage, watching how a show is put together and we were feeling very privileged indeed.

We arrived at the Presentation Theater when rehearsal was in progress.  They were rehearsing that opening chorus (What a JOY to be here at this wonderful occasion... went the lyrics in the Ruth and Thomas Martin translation).  We quietly slid into seats in the middle of the theater and watched the chorus being rehearsed over and over again until the blocking was perfect.  To this day, I can't hear that chorus without remembering how special we felt on that night.

2.  A song that transports me back to a place and time is "You Are My Sunshine."  Every summer I spent two weeks visiting with Peach at her house in Citrus Heights and then she came and spent two weeks visiting me in San Francisco.  This particular year, I guess she had been singing in a school chorus or something, but she taught me the alto part to "You Are My Sunshine."  I discovered that I loved singing harmony to her soprano and we would sit out in front her house, under the beautiful weeping willow tree growing there, and we would sing.   I actually drive her nuts with it to the point where she finally refused to sing it with me any more.

3.  People would think that a Judy Garland song that would bring back vivid memories of a place and time would be something like "Over the Rainbow," but people would be wrong.  The Judy Garland song that always transports me to a place is "Stormy Weather."  It's on her Carnegie Hall album.  I was living by myself in the apartment I lived in before Walt and I got married.  I loved to put the album on, lie on the floor as close to the speaker as I could, and play "Stormy Weather" over and over again.  (Thinking about it now, I'll bet I drove some neighbors crazy doing that!)

4.  "Scarlet Ribbons" always reminds me of when Jeri was a little girl.  I would put her to bed, sit by her side and sing that song to her.  It was her "good night" song and if I could not for whatever reason sing the song, Walt would sing it to her.  She probably doesn't remember it, but there were lots and lots and lots of parental performances of "Scarlet Ribbons" sung to her, starting when she was a toddler, before Ned was born.

5.  There is a part at the beginning of the first movement of Beethoven's 8th symphony where I am transported instantly to the classroom where I was taking a class in the 9 symphonies.  Maestro Josef Kripps was the guest lecturer who gave the talk on the 8th symphony, where he demonstrated to us that this symphony was "Beethoven's Joke."   I have not heard that symphony since when I have not thought of Krips and that class.

6.  The old song "There's a Long, Long Trail a-Winding" takes me back to 1953, when my mother was taking instructions to become a Catholic.  She was meeting with Father Joe O'Looney (henceforth always called nothing but "Father Joe"), at Old St. Mary's Church in San Francisco. Fr, Joe had a group that got together for parties frequently (often at our house) and, as he had a wonderful singing voice. he would always choose the songs and invariably they sang "Long, Long Trail" before the night was over.  Whether Karen and I were allowed to stay up for the singing or lay in our beds listening to it, I loved hearing that song.

7.  Johnny Mathis' "Chances Are" reminds me of a party I attended in high school.  All I remember is that the lights were dim and some of us were dancing (I don't think I was one of them).  I don't really remember anything else about it, but all I know is that when that song comes on, I'm back at that party again.

8.  Finally I'll mention one by John Denver.  It's a song called "The Flower that Shattered the Stone."  I had never heard it before, but Peggy and I were driving around Lake Tahoe and it came on the radio and she mentioned how much she liked it.  I can still picture exactly where we were, turning onto Hwy 89 on our way to Emerald Lake.  To this day, whenever I play a Denver CD that has that song on it, I am instantly again in the car driving past the place where they carve tree trunks into bear statues and sell them to tourists.
Music, of all kinds, has been a part of my life since birth, since I grew up in a home where there was always music playing.  I love that I have so many happy memories connected with so many pieces of music, whether popular or classical.  

(Of course, I still get teary eyed when I hear Melissa Manchester's version of "In the Arms of the Angel," which Marta and Audra sang at Paul's memorial service.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hour Baur-ing

When I saw Brianna up in a tree at the park this afternoon, and looked around at all the people in the picnic area, I started thinking about our family tree and how it has changed over the years.
Alice Nan and Joe have been together for many years and when they married, Joe brought with him his version of a family tree every bit as rich (and complicated) as ours.

Joe was married before to a woman who had two children, whom he adopted.  They had one child together.  Joe himself is from a large family with lots of siblings, all of whom have children and those children now have children.  Sometimes it's difficult to remember who is who, since we don't see Joe's family all that often, though they are all lovely people with whom we have a good time whenever we see them.

Tom rented a room from Joe for over a year when he first moved to Santa Barbara and became like an older brother to Joe's daughter Jocelyn, who is now married to David, living in Boston, with two small children, Charlee (same age as Lacie) and James (6 mos). Alice Nan had scheduled her retirement to coincide with Jocelyn's annual trip home to visit family, so the weekend has included a lot of Joe's family as well.

Before we met up with some of Joe's family today, though, we first went out for breakfast at iHOP, across the street from the motel, with Walt's brother Norm and wife Olivia; Cousin Ernie Baur (he's famous, you know), and wife Lucille; Ernie's brother Gerald and wife Melissa.  And we were joined by Alice Nan's good friend Gingie, with whom she worked for many years.  She may not be a blood (or married) relation, but she has been around so long and participated in so many family activities that she certainly qualifies as "extended family."

Breakfast was great and I was glad they had seated us in the farthest corner of the restaurant, because this family has never been noted for its quiet voices.

After breakfast, we were saying goodbye to Gerald and Melissa, who were driving back home.  We stood by the hotel pool saying goodbye, and I finally left to go to our room.  I turned and looked back and decided that "Hour Baur" has become a verb. The group was "Hour Baur-ing," taking their sweet time saying goodbye.  Again.

The rest of us went to our respective rooms, waiting for word for Tom as to what we were going to do.  When the word came, we were to meet at a local park, where we would have a picnic.  We each picked up food for ourselves and headed to the park.

When Tom came he said the girls were really tired because they had already been running at the dog beach with Ned and Marta and then had gone swimming.  Lacie was exhausted and uncharacteristically quiet.

We sat around chatting and eating and were eventually joined by Alice Nan, Joe, two of Joe's daughters, his ex-wife, and assorted grandchildren.  Young Michelle became the self-appointed babysitter, carrying 6 month old James around, and helping to keep 2 yr old Charlee entertained, showing her how to take photos using Charlee's mom's (Jocelyn) camera.

Charlee even took some selfies.

In the meantime Charlee's grandma was teaching Charlee's brother James to say "la-la-la."

Tom and Bri went off for a hike in the hills

Bri also did some bonding with Ernie, whom she has decided is silly (she doesn't realize he is famous)

And while it was all going on, Walt did what he does best.

We decided that the girls were too tired (as were Tom and Laurel) for us to get together for dinner, so we decided to have dinner at Alice Nan and Joe's house.  In the meantime there was another Hour Baur to happen, saying goodbye to Ernie and Lucille, who were driving back Long Beach, so they could catch their flight back to Maryland in the morning.

Ned and Marta came to Alice Nan & Joe's with The Bouncer

Eventually we were all stretched out across the living room chatting and munching on See's candy, which Alice had received as a gift.

It's been a very big "family" weekend but such fun.  I love all these guys.  I love the Baurs, I love the Sykeses, I love Joe's family, especially Jocelyn and her kids (since I know them best of all the family).  I loved having the chance to wallow in "family" all weekend.  (Except for the Hour Baurs, of course.)


Left to right: Lucille, Norm, me, Walt, Melissa, Olivia, Gerald and Ernie
taken at the lagoon at the Ramada in (of course there are so many of us
that you can't see the lagoon at all!)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Alice Won't Be Working Any More

The day started with T-ball at 8:30.  I'll tell ya, these guys have improved since we first saw them the first week of games.  This is Bri hitting a solid ball that got her to first base.

And here she is coming home three plays later.

She threw several surprisingly good balls, especially one from 1st to home plate that was better than I can throw!  Both teams were much better and it actually looked like a baseball game.

Of course Brianna had a big cheering section for her.

(Not bad when you get a scout from Fox Sports [Cousin Ernie Baur, left] to come to your T-ball game! -- I had to print his name because he will be looking for it!)

But the most enthusiastic fan was 2 yr old Charlie who sat in Auntie O's lap and kept yelling "go, Brianna, GO!" no matter who was batting or running. At the end of the game she yelled "Yay, Brianna, YAY!"  Very cute.

For Lacie, it was just another boring day at the Little League field. Fortunately she's a whiz at Mommy's iPad.

(Mommy was quick to point out that Lacie now chooses her own outfits, including the inside-out tutu because it had a deeper pink than right side out!)

Such a fun day watching the kids play.  After, we went to lunch with Norm and Olivia. And then it was time for the Big Event: Alice Nan's retirement party

There were 80-something people there and Alice Nan didn't stop beaming for 4 hours.

Ned and Bri offered a toast, with a Shirley Temple Bri had picked up while sitting around with some guys at the bar.

Charlie and Lacie, in the meantime, were bonding over photos of Charlie's favorite t-ball player.

There was a sort of "formal" program.  Tom and Joe sang a song Joe had written for Alice Nan several years ago (there's a movie of that I will eventually post) and several people from various parts of Alice Nan's working life got up and spoke.

(there were others too)

It was wonderful hearing so many people talking about their feelings for Alice Nan and what an asset she has been in their personal and working relationships. (I particularly liked the story about how she saved a client $5 million!) I'm sure the guest of honor wiped away many tears...both from emotion and from laughter.
Then Ned and Tom sang their rendition of a song ("Grandma Won't be Working Any More") which my father had written back in the 1980s when my mother retired.  It was reprised for Walt's mother's 80th birthday and now recycled once again and made unique for Alice Nan. (The YouTube link is here)

The end of the program brought Alice Nan to the microphone, assisted by Brianna, who had to be a part of everything.

An hour after our scheduled end time, the only people left were family, still talking. Of course.

The restaurant staff was eager for us to be gone, so we moved the party over to Alice Nan and Joe's house, where we spent another hour or so rehashing the great send-off Alice Nan had just received.
Perfect day, from start to finish.  (We missed ya, Dave...)