Thursday, July 31, 2014

Little Happy Moments

This is day #31 in my 100 Happy Days project and as I think back over the day, it was filled with little inconsequential happy moments.

I lounged around the house until about 11, when I gathered up my SwapBot packages and went to the post office.  It's a hot day, expected to be 102 in Sacramento, but it didn't seem all that bad.  Of course it always seems bad when the temps get into the 90s, but I've learned to live with it--and the times between air conditioners are always short.

Amazingly, there were no customers waiting in line, so I did not have to wait, plus the clerk was actually cheerful.  I'm so used to surly postal clerks that her chattiness was a delight.

Next it was off to the mall in Woodland, with a first stop at Michael's.  First happy moment was realizing that I had gotten out of there spending under $50, which may be a first.  I had gone to get a picture frame for some pictures of Brianna's T-ball team.  I was pleased to find a reasonably priced frame and was delighted with how it looked when I added the photos.

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(Bri with the ghost of Stephen Colbert)

Then I drove to the other side of the mall for my monthly orgy at Costco.  I don't like to shop.  I've said that time and time again.   But it's different at Costco.  It's just so decadent....all that wonderful stuff!

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I pretty much get the same stuff every time--dog treats, butter ($1 or more cheaper per pound than anywhere else!), tomato stuff (sauce, diced tomatoes, and fresh cherry tomatoes), peanut butter (also significantly cheaper than anywhere else), cottage cheese (for the dogs), and other staples like that.  My impulse buy today was some sort of energy mix of cranberries, edemami, pistachios and something else.  But it still added up to well over $200 by the time I finished.   Then I get to come home and put it all away.  It's like the morning after Christmas, and you can eat it all!

When I first parked by Costco, the woman getting out of the car next to me was an older Indian woman in a beautiful pink sari with sparkly stuff decorating it.   We smiled at each other and we each said hello to each other, and then as I walked away, I heard her clearing her throat loudly and lobbing a blob of spittle out into the parking lot (I don't think that was a comment on having greeted me).   It reminded me of one of my aunt Barb's famous writings where she talked about sitting poolside, having a cocktail, and watching a lovely Indian woman enjoying her own cocktail.   And then watching the woman dig a long booger out of her nose, and dangle it in the air admiring it while it sparkled in the sun, before flicking it off her finger and onto the ground.

I was thrilled while shopping to find a hat that fit me.  I have probably mentioned several times that hats do not fit me.  I can go to a whole rack of "one size fits all" hats (I have done this) and try every single one of them on and all of them just perch on top of my head and look ridiculous.  I felt better when I learned that Oprah has this problem...but then she has more money than God so can have hats specially made for her.  I just don't wear hats. This hat fits like a proper hat and will be a good sun shade (since I watched a segment on skin cancer this morning).  Naturally I bought it.

When I got home from Costco, it was time for a nap and then I made this really delicious spaghetti dinner (Walt may disagree with me because it had far too many onion for him (one slice of onion is  far too many for him and this had about 3/4 of an onion in it), but I liked it a put everything (dry linguine, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onion and garlic, 2 sprigs of basil, some red chili flakes, and water) into a frying pan and let it all cook for about 10 minutes.  Because you aren't making the sauce separately, or cooking the pasta first, all the flavors in the pan infuse the pasta with flavor and it was just really yummy.

And then we settled in to watch a little TV (still have to check out Sharknado 2, which I recorded since we succumbed to hype yesterday and watched the original).  One of the programs was a PBS special on Sex in the Wild.  The last one I saw described (and showed) in great deal how elephants continue the species.  This week it was marsupials, and the investigative team was in Australia searching out koalas and kangaroos.  Naturally I was interested, and I really became interested when most of the segment on kangaroos was done at Uralla Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a small place owned by a husband and wife with volunteer help, where Peggy worked for a few years, bottlefeeding orphan joeys, until she had a "straw that broke the camel's back" run-in with the husband of the woman who runs the place and she walked away never to return.  (Have you noticed she seems to do that a lot?)  Anyway, it was fun to see where she had worked, some of the grown up babies she probably fed when they were little, and to see Mandy, who runs the place and who was, for a time, Peggy's good friend.

All things considered a happy day all around.

Day 31:  Happiness is finding a shade hat that FITS

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I wonder what our kids remember of the family dinner table.  I remember the dinner table of my childhood.  The kitchen was right opposite the front door.  You walked in the door, turned right into the bedroom I shared with my sister, left to go down the hall to the living room/dining room (also my parents' bedroom and the bathroom), and straight ahead into the kitchen.  There was a chrome table with a yellow formica top.  My father sat at the left end of the table, and while dinner was being prepared that's where he sat for his nightly cocktail.  My mother sat at the right end of the table, opposite the stove.  I sat on the side, with my back facing the front door.  Karen sat across from me.

We ate dinner together as a family every night.  On nights when my father was gone (he worked the mail on the train to Los Angeles, so was gone two or three nights a week), my mother would prepare something odd for dinner -- scrambled eggs, pancakes, "milk toast" (buttered toast with warm milk poured over it) and things like that. Something easy. When Daddy was home it was meat and potatoes and vegetables...and dessert.  

Dessert was always a part of dinner.  It wasn't always something easy like ice cream, but she would make pies or cakes or cookies for dinner.  I remember my father getting angry with me one time because I decided I didn't feel like dessert.  Strange reaction to a fat kid who definitely didn't need dessert. But then "getting angry" was what my father did best.

I wish I could remember that we had long, interesting talks over dinner, but dinner was usually a time of tension.  My father chose dinnertime to air his grievances, either against us or against the world.  And lord help us if the phone rang.  Whether we were eating at 5 or at 8, anybody who made the mistake of calling ruined the rest of dinner for all of us.  My sister and I reacted differently -- I learned to eat as fast as I could so I could get away from the table, she ate so slowly she was often still at the table two hours later (because you had to finish dinner before you could get down).

As Karen got older and began to form her own opinions on the topics of the day, dinnertime was the time for loud and angry arguments because she almost always disagreed with my father.  My mother and I fled and let my father and Karen fight it out.  Whatever the issue was, it was never something that was forgotten when dinner was over, but would fester until the next day.

I loved the nights when I got invited to my friend Gayle's house for dinner and tried to hang out there every night so they would invite me.  They had nice dinners and I don't remember anybody getting angry with anybody, but my mother eventually told me that I was being a nuisance (which I'm sure I was) and I didn't eat there as often any more.

For holidays, we ate in the dining room.  Dinner always included my father's parents and one or two others, usually including my godfather (my grandfather's brother who had lived alone most of his life, after his wife left him -- a good Catholic, he would not remarry, or even date).  We had a table cloth, cloth napkins, the good silverware and good china, and on top of the dish cabinet behind where my father always sat was the 2 pound box of See's candy which my godfather always brought to dinner, which we would pass around after dessert had been finished.  Things weren't quite so tense at holidays, but tension was never far from the surface, especially with my grandmother, whom my father did not like, and my grandfather, whom my grandmother didn't like much.

When I moved away from home (and I couldn't get away soon enough!) I don't really remember anything about the dining room of the dorm where I lived because I eventually started cooking for the house where Walt and six other guys lived, so ate there every night. This is where I learned how to cook, because my mother never taught me anything about cooking.  I became a fairly decent cook, and especially good at making something tasty with a very very small budget.  But the quality of my cooking aside, dinners were fun.  There were always guests, so maybe 10 or 12 people at the table.  I loved those dinners.  There was laughter and fun and conversation, the kind I thought famlies had at the dinner table.

We married and started having children.  Like my family, we always had dinner together at the table...almost never fast food picked up, but food I cooked.  In our Oakland house, the stove even had a soup burner, where I could keep stock simmering on the stove all day.  I tried to have "meaningful dinners," but over the years I found that there was some residual PTDSD (Post Traumatic Dinner Stress Disorder) in me that made me very nervous when we sat down to the table to eat.  I usually served everyone and then found things to do in the kitchen to avoid sitting down many nights.

It was better in the years when we had foreign students, when I worked to involve them in the conversation at dinner each night, despite their English limitations.  We had Nelson and Sonia here once, both from Brasil, and we made some nights Portuguese night, where you could only speak in Portuguese.  The best sentence we all had was "how do you say this in Portuguese," as we lifted something up to show the Brasilians in order to get the word.

We had a lot of fun when Chieko (Japan), Juan (Venezuela) and Ndangi (Congo) were here together, all learning English and laughing together over dinner.

I think I finally got over PTDSD during those 10 years of feeling I had to take care of the foreigners living with us.  And we had the holidays dinners that were times of great crisis, but also great fun, with as many as 24 people sitting at one long table that entirely filled our family room. How I loved that!

Dinners at my mother's house after she finally left my father and married Fred were usually OK, devoid of stress unless Fred's mother, who thought we were vermin not worth her time, was at the table, when she steadfastly refused to look up from her plate, answer anything directed to her, and left as soon as she had eaten.  Ned, bless him, decided one night that he was going to get through to her, but she was, as my mother was fond of describing any of Fred's relatives "a stubborn Dutchman" and she never did come to accept us. But we had a good time without her.

When our nest was empty, we had a few years of "entertaining."  There were a few people with whom we exchanged dinner dates and I loved those times, especially when our guests were interesting conversationalists.  But the 3 dogs and my perennial inability to keep a clean house eventually put an end to our entertaining, and with that our invitations to others' homes ended as well.

Now dinners are quiet.  Walt and I don't have much to say to each other at dinner, so the TV is on while we eat (thought we still eat at the table...we don't own TV trays).  When I go to Atria, if my mother and I are sitting by ourselves, lunch is a continuation of visiting at the apartment, answering the same questions over and over again.  

The fun of the dinner is when we go to our children's homes where we usually have peaceful meals with interesting conversation, even with the grandkids, and I hope that somehow my kids avoided PTDSD and actually have the kind of idealistic dinners I thought families usually had together.

Day 30:  Happiness is my afternoon nap

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Several people recommended the book, "Enrique's Journey" to me as a way to put a human face on the immigration crisis.  I finished it this weekend.  This is the review I posted to my "Books Read in 2014" page

Enrique.jpg (12236 bytes)This is a book based on a Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles, first appearing in the Los Angeles Times.  It was recommended to me by many people as a story that would put a human face on the immigration crisis that has taken center stage in our newspapers and television news these days.  The author experienced many things that her hero, Enrique (no last names are given to any living person to protect them from possible capture by immigration authorities) experienced so that she could truly relate his story. He made nine attempts to travel from Honduras to the United Statets to find the mother who left him and his sister when he was five years old. She was unable to feed her children and she left to seek a better life in the U.S. so she could send money home so they could have food, clothes and a chance for an education.   This is a heartbreaking story of a young boy's search for love and acceptance.

During the first part of the book, I wanted to give it to every person standing with a sign shouting hateful things at buses full of frightened children.  To have them read the conditions in their home entails and realize how desperate you have to be to even attempt it.  Physical violence and rape are just one aspect of it.  Children lose body parts in accidents with moving trains, there is travel across the desert with no food or water, hunted like dogs,...etc., etc. 

Enrique was caught and sent back to Honduras eight times.   On his ninth try, he finally made it and actually found his mother in South Carolina, but this is not a "happily ever after" story.  The difficulties children and parents face after a separation of years is incredible.  The second half of the book talks about that, about statistics, about the new life in a new country and I have to admit that my head was spinning before I finished it.  I no longer knew whether this migration was a good thing or a bad thing.  

You look at the face of Enrique at his kindergarten graduation, wanting only for his mother to be there.  And then you watch what he goes through in the intervening years.  The end of the book is ambiguous.  We know where Enrique is, but we don't know where he will be after that.

The one thing this book did for me was to make me want to sponsor a child in Honduras through Compassion.  

I found Brayan, 12 years old (the age Enrique was when he decided he would save money so he could find his mother), living with his grandmother (like Enrique's sister did after their mother left) and I figured I can't make conditions better on any grand scale, but maybe I can help one child have a better, safer life. 

I highly recommend reading this book.  It's not a feel good book and I doubt that anybody will find any black and white solution in it, but it definitely puts a new level of understanding on what is happening on our borders right now, and should make anyone hurling epithets at immigrant children feel ashamed of themselves (but I doubt if it will).

In a bit of serandipity, Jon Stewart's guest on tonight's The Daily Show is the woman who wrote "Enrique's Journey."

Day 29:  Happiness is a new boy (Brayden from Honduras) in our family.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday Stealing

ABCs of Me
These types of memes generally have me answering the same thing I have answered over and over again.  I'm going to try to shake it up this time!

A If you were an ANIMAL, what would you be?
If I weren't going to be an elephant, I would want to be my mother's dog, when she had one.  Now there was a pampered pooch.

B BOOKS: What's on your reading list?

At the moment "Enrique's Journey," which I am finishing and in the car, "Drop Shot" (Harlen Coban).  As for what's coming up next, there are way too many to list.

C COMPULSIVE about anything?

Writing this journal every day.

D DREAMS - Do you ... dream in color? remember your dreams? keep a dream journal?

I don't dream very often, but when I do I dream in color and sometimes remember them clearly, but usually not.  No, I don't keep a dream journal.

E EATING - what's your usual snack?

Lately it's ingenious ways to use flour tortillas.  Or those little "cuties" (mandarin oranges)

F A Few of your FAVORITE Things:

Sleep (something I am rediscovering lately!), peanut butter, cool breezes, puppy breath, back scratchers, "just the right pen" (I am always looking for that elusive thing), my Kindle

G GIGGLES! What (or who) makes you laugh? Do you have a good sense of humor?

The dog, the granddaughters (not always necessarily in that order), and The Big Bang Theory. I have a great sense of humor.

H major HOT Button:

Injustice.  Right now the children fleeing Central America, the gays in Uganda who are being hunted down and killed, either the Jews or the Palestinians, depending on the day and who is getting the worst that day, inhumane treatment of animals, etc., etc.

I I am    Compassionate, I hope.  
J J is just a letter you left off of this list!

K Also KNOWN As... Aliases? Screen names? A nom de plume perhaps?

No nom de plumes.  Just Bev, Mom, and Grandma and, lacking originality, basykes for a screen name.  But those are enough.   Many decades ago, a priest used to call me BeaverLake because that was the translation of my name.

L I LOVE ...

My family, my friends, dogs, elephants, books, TV

M How do you feel about MEETING people? Do it all the time? Rarely? Parties or 1-on-1?

I am not good with meeting new people and getting worse about it the older I get.  But definitely 1-on-1, not parties!  I do enjoy meeting on-line friends.

N What's the story of your NAME? were you named after anyone? Do you go by a nickname? Any aliases?

They were going to name me "Barbara" after my aunt, but then decided it would be confusing to have two Barbaras in the family, so they gave me her middle name, "Beverly."  Oddly enough, whenever someone can't remember my name, they call me "Barbara."

O OBSERVANT - What's around you right now? What do you see?

Chaos.  A desk piled high with unanswered mail, gifts for Compassion kids, my calendar, books, stationery supplies, TV remote, camera, a glass of water,a cookbook, a set of drawers filled with stamps, glue sticks, junk, and I don't even know what's in the bottom drawer because I can't get to it.  There are also boxes that hold research books, ruler, journals for SwapBot, and several boxes with Washi tape. 
And that's just the left side of my desk.  I haven't even begun to cover the right side, the walls, the rest of the room.

P Who are the special PEOPLE in your life?

The family -- all the blood relatives and in-laws, the Pinata family, The Last Session family, Compuserve's Section 16 women, close friends like Ron and the Section 17 people (you all know who you are), our wonderful Lamplighters friends, people from the DCOC family (probably our closest friends in Davis, even though we rarely see them), people we have known longest in Davis like Bob Bowen, Derrick Bang, Steve & Jan Isaacson, the BBB women, and any of the Lawsuit parents, the wonderful poet Claire Amy Atkins, and yes, even the two friends who have removed me from their lives, Peggy and Melody.  (this list is longer than I realized it would be; how fortunate I am!)

Q Any Little QUIRKs About Yourself:

The pinky finger on my right hand has been numb for many years, I can wiggle my ears, I am all but blind in one eye

R What do you like to do for RECREATION?

Very boring.  Read, watch TV, write letters.  That's about it.

S Do You SING in the Shower? In the car? For your friends?

Nope.  There was a time when I sang choruses in public, but as I have gotten older, my vocal range has become quite limited and my voice more raspy and I am aware that I can no longer sing.

T What's at the Top of your TO DO list?:

Bring some order to the chaos of my office. But don't hold your breath.  There is a book to be read first...

U Any UNUSUAL Experiences:

Baking pumpkin pies to toss either at Charlotte, by Charlotte, or for our kids to throw at each other. Actually pretty much most of my unusual experiences have been with Charlotte.

V VEGAS, Vienna, Venice, Vladivostok... How far have you traveled? What's your favorite City?

Been to Vienna (loved it), been to Vegas (hated it).  The farthest I've traveled in one trip was probably to Perth, Australia, 9,202 miles.  Favorite city...San Francisco, and then London.

W WINTER, Spring, Summer, Fall... What's your favorite season? What makes it special?

Fall because the trees are beautiful and the next season is Winter.  I love Spring for the blossoms, but it's followed by Summer, my least favorite season.

X EXes - Things You Don't Do Anymore (but did, once (would you, again?))

I don't transcribe tapes any more (and no, I would not do it again).  I don't decorate cakes any more (and again no...I don't have the strength in my hands any more). I don't foster dogs any more and I won't say yes or no on the future, but for right now it's very nice having 3 dogs with a set routine.

Y Any secret/deep YEARNINGS?

Well, it's no secret that I always wanted to travel to somewhere in Africa, but that isn't going to happen.  I'm too old and it's too expensive.

Z ZERO to ZENITH - Where are you in your life? Still growing? On an upward (or downward) curve? Just skating along?

At 71, I'm on the back side of the curve, but with a mother who is about to turn 95, I suspect it may be a very long downward curve (though also if my mother is to be an example, I won't remember a lot of the steeper parts of the slope).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Magical Memory Box

Tonight we invited my mother to come to dinner so she could have corn on the cob, which is one of her favorite things (they don't serve corn on the cob in an old folks home. That would just be cruel...but she has all her own teeth, so she can eat corn perfectly.  In fact, her father had no teeth and he could clean corn off a cob better than those of us with teeth could!  But I digress.)

It was like planning a play date.  I had the food planned, the table set, the flowers in place, and even the activities arranged.

When we moved her out of her house, one of the things that ended up here was a big wooden box which I had never seen before.  It contained memorabilia of her graduation from Galt High in 1937.  The last time she was here, on Mother's Day, she and Ned looked through the box, but I knew she would not have remembered it, so I planned to show it to her again tonight.

I was right.  She didn't remember ever seeing it before, and she was delighted to see it now.

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There were her varsity letters (she was apparently a good athlete), her diploma, a bunch of photos of friends (including one guy who looked like Jack Lescoulie.  His name was Foster and apparently he had been one of her boyfriends...this was news to me).

There was also a filled autograph book.  I swear every student in the school signed a page, with such timeless prose as Roses are red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you and When you get married and your old man gets cross, come over here and eat applesauce and Some love the tulips that grow in the park but I like the two lips that meet in the dark.  

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She read every single one, rolling her eyes at how corny they were and would say, scornfully, "Wasn't that clever?"

BetsPrintSm.jpg (46276 bytes)But on one page was a real find.  This drawing was done by my aunt Betsy, who was, in her adult life, a professional artist...but this was 1937 and she was just two years older than my mother, so was probably 20.  But already I can see the style that she would adopt later.
Betsy is the reason my parents married.  She was working as a caricaturist at the Golden Gate International Exhibit on Treasure Island in 1939.  It was a World's Fair, a celebration of the two newly completed bridges in San Francisco.   Somehow at the fair she met my father and later insisted my mother needed to meet him.  The rest, as they say, is history.

But she signed the autograph book, as did my aunt Barb, 4 years younger than my mother.

She read every single entry, alternately laughing about them, or being exasperated because they all seemed so childish.

And when she finished reading them, she read them all over again, as if she was seeing them for the first time.
But it was perfect.  Gave me time to cook the lamb chops and the corn and she was amazed when I gave her a demonstration of the new-to-me method of shucking the corn cleanly and easily.

After dinner I gave her an ice cream cone and when she finished that she was pleased that I asked if she wanted to go home--because she did.  Walt had taken her clean laundry over when he picked her up earlier, but though we mentioned it several times, she never did seem to remember that there is clean laundry in her apartment.  I hope the clothes don't end up back at the front desk again.  I also gave her her pill container for next week.  She put it in her purse and I know she isn't going to remember it's there, but I decided to wait until tomorrow and then call her and remind her where the pills are, so she can take them.

It was really a delightful evening and I'm thinking maybe we should plan dinners like this maybe once a month -- more often would be too often for her, I think.

I wonder how many more times I can show her the Magical Memory Box and have it be a new and wondrous thing!

Day 27:  Happiness is watching my mother devour an ear of corn

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Emily Post's Worst Nightmare

My new transcriptionist t-shirt no longer smells of tortilla.  I took it out of the dryer and it just smelled a t-shirt.

Now it smells like banana.

We have some bananas getting ripe, so I made a desserty thing which included mashed banana rolled into a flour tortilla (because I love four tortillas).  When I got to the couch to go to sleep, still wearing the t-shirt (because I sleep in t-shirt and shorts), my hand brushed up against the shirt, and encountered something gooey.  Banana.  I spilled banana down the front of me and didn't even notice.

When I got up to change my shirt I noticed I had also spilled something on my shorts while cooking dinner, so I had to change them too.

For the moment, my clothes are clean.  But it is only a few hours until breakfast.

I cannot believe how sloppy I am with food.  None of those shaky old people at Atria can hold a candle to me when it comes to spillage.   If I'm not spilling things down my front, I'm knocking things over (as I did my mother's water glass today)

The dogs love me as much as dogs do whenever there is a toddler in the house who eats from a high chair.  Sheila and Lizzie stand next to me, with that pathetic "please share your food with me" look in their eyes, but Polly is the smart one.  She sits under the table, by my knees, certain that sooner or later something is going to drop off my fork onto my shirt, and roll its way down to the floor.

It's why I have dogs.  To keep the floor clean of all the stuff I spill on it.

Whenever we go somewhere that serves food on real plates and puts your silverware on cloth napkins, I really try to keep my napkin in my lap to catch the food I will inevitably drop, but my lap is so small, with that big protuberance of a belly resting on it, that 9 times out of 10 by the time I actually have dropped food onto my lap, my napkin is already on the floor, having lost the battle for possession of what lap there is to the belly.

Lunches at Atria almost aways include soup (because their soups are so good) and I almost always wear samples of the soup home with me.  I sometimes crumble crackers into the soup and bits escape, bouncing off the gable to leave samples dotting the black sweat pants I usually wear.

Meals like the Gilbert dinner we had the other night are wonderful because we were at a crab place and so they make a big display of giving you those godawful bibs to wear...but everyone is wearing them, so there is nothing to be embarrassed about and I generally come away from a dinner like that pretty much unscathed...unless, of course, I have made the mistake of having a dessert.  Creme brulee is my favorite dessert because it is pretty much solid with little to fall off onto my chest or into my lap.  Or both.

I don't know how long I've been such a disgraceful eater, but I do remember when I was in Australila, in 2003, Peggy telling me she could teach me not to spill food so much.  Her idea was that I sit closer to the table, with my mouth closer to the bowl or plate.  That would have worked well, but with my luck I'd end up dunking my chin into my meal and have to worry about food spillage on my face instead of my clothes.

I always wanted to envision myself as a sort of elegant lady who could eat at any table and be gracious and ... tidy.  But really, it's best to just send me out into the barn and slop me like the pigs because we'll probaby all look the same when the meal is finished.

I went to Atria for lunch today...a fairly solid meal with nothing much to spill, so I didn't embarrass myself ... and during the course of the meal I was telling my mother about finally learning how to shuck corn cleanly off the cob (a technique she had not heard of either).  She kind of moaned and said she hadn't had corn on the cob in forever.  So she's going to come to dinner tomorrow night and we'll have corn on the cob and lamb chops, which she also loves and which she doesn't get at Atria.

I thought about watching a movie too, but I don't want to push it.  I think a meal will be all that she can handle, but I'm thrilled that she wants to actually leave the building and come here for dinner.  This is the lady who was known to have eaten 8 cobs of corn at one sitting when she was a teenager.  That was when she acquired her nickname of "Chubby," which has followed her her entire life.

Day 26:  Happiness is my weekly lunch with my mother

Friday, July 25, 2014

Today at Logos

Walt says he loves Thursdays because he knows that on Friday he can read "Today at Logos," which are his favorite entries, so here is another one, trying to make a more or less boring day interesting for Walt!

There was a guy sitting at the front table when I came in.   His eyes brightened and he greeted me like he'd been waiting for me.  I didn't recognize him.  Susan was toward the back of the store and a guy, who I thought was the same guy from the front table was talking with her in French.  I was embarrassed ...again... about the language.  I understood most of what they were saying, but didn't have the nerve to actually open my mouth and say anything in French to him.  

The Frenchman left and Susan told me it was author Max Byrd, who is on the faculty at UC Davis.  Then Susan left and I was settling into the desk when the other guy, who wasn't the French guy at all, came over, sat in the chair by the desk, and settled in for a nice chat.  That's when I remembered he was the long-winded  guy from a couple of weeks ago, who sat here and talked for about half an hour, and when I had to ring up books, he talked to other customers, and then came back to talking to me.

Today he was telling me that he's a re-enactor, someone who recreates the experiences that others have written about. I know Civil War re-enactors are all the rage, but he says he doesn't do battles, rather he does travels over rough territory, following journals written by the original explorers.  To tell the truth, I didn't follow most of what he said and zoned out completely when he started telling me all about guns and rifles.  My notes on his half hour monologue this week are: "re-enactors, guns, book review, cartographer, mom 92."  I was aching for him to leave.  And he didn't even buy anything this time!

While he was talking, a guy who reminded me of Johnny Weir, who provided such color to the figure skating events at the Moscow Olympics was wandering around with a female friend. He was prettier than she was (and wore more jewelry).   They left without making a purchase and my monologist was still prattling on about guns.

He finally did leave and I went searching for a book to read.  I had decided that several people have raved about author Terry Pratchett and I was fairly certain we usually had several of his books, but when I went looking we didn't have any, so I went back to mysteries and chose another Ruth Rendell again.

A woman came in with a list of books for her 4th grade son.   She was dressed in jeans and a blue top with an elegant lace-like pattern in the back.  Her hair was in a ballerina-type bun and she had a beautiful silver necklace.   She said she had come here rather than to the Avid Reader, which sells the new books, because the titles were all old...apparently she thought we had a better chance of finding a book by Dickens in a used book store than in a new book store.  

A woman bought two contemporary fiction books and said she had to force herself to leave before she bought any more.  We agreed that the book store is a bad source of temptation!

All the while I was dealing with these customers, I kept smelling tortillas and couldn't figure out why.  Nobody had brought Mexican food into the store.  Finally I smelled my brand new t-shirt (see Photo of the Day) and discovered that everywhere it smelled of tortillas.  Guess it was made in a sweat shop in Mexico. (I threw it in the wash when I got home.)

A guy wearing a shirt from the Church of Scientology in Sacramento bought a coloring book of the human brain.  It was a rather thick book.   I wonder how much of the brain one can color!

A woman came in clutching a book on the history of theater in French.  It's been on display and I've been staring at it for weeks, but Peter recently moved it outside and she was thrilled that she could buy it for $1.

A young man in khaki shorts with a grey t-shirt and a navy blue ball cap came in.  He was wearing sandals and I noticed that the little toe on his left foot seemed to live in a world of its own, separate from the rest of the toes, not moving in synchronicity with them.  When they went down, it raised up like a pinkie finger holding a dainty cup at a fancy tea.  He never turned around so I could see if his right foot had a similar little toe.

He spent some time looking through the foreign books and finally bought a book in Spanish about Jews in Spain.
A woman who must be prematurely grey since she looked (and dressed) quite young, but had  all grey hair in a messy pony tail.  She was wearing a skimpy sundress and one arm was tattooed from the shoulder to the elbow.   She didn't buy anything either.

Outside, two women walked buy walking four dogs, one had three and the other had one.

A guy with a messenger bag came in and started checking out sci fi and fantasy books, but the thing you couldn't avoid noticing about him was his nose.  It was very large.  Not quite Cyrano length, but definitely large enough that if he had been a drinker, I would have compared it to W.C. Fields, but it was just...large. He looked around for a long tie and ultimately bought three literature books, including "The Birds" by Aristophanes, which I thought was odd because I had just been thinking of that story last week--I don't remember why.

The women with dogs walked by outside in the opposite direction.

A young woman wearing a brown UPS-colored ball cap, a blue t-shirt with a white chemise over it which had what looked like an x-ray of human ribs painted on it. She was very friendly and said a cheery hello.

My friend came at 4:30 and we discussed the weather today (hot) and predicted for the weekend (hotter) and the new bag policy for the store.   He bought a book on globes and maps.

A woman who reminded me of Jeri's godmother, also Jeri, came in with two bargain books.  She asked if we had a section on American authors.   I told her we did not.  She then wanted to know where our poetry books were and I showed her.  She kept talking to me, but I couldn't hear her.  She didn't seem very friendly, but she sat down where the long-winded buy had sat and asked for a restaurant recommendation.  I gave her the name of three nearby and then we started talking recipes.  She was intrigued by my recent success with the roasted chicken.

Two girls bought two Nancy Drew mysteries and asked if we had more.  I was shocked to discover there were only two on the shelves.  We've had about 30 in the children's room for almost as long as I've worked at Logos, but Peter told me that someone came in and bought them all, and the two that the girls bought were new donations.

I didn't get much reading done today, but the book is a good one and I brought it home, though it has to take a back seat to "Enrique's Journey," about a young boy whose mother left him in Honduras to come to the U.S. to find a better life for her and her family.  Twelve years later she still has not returned and he is hopping the immigrant train to find her.  It has been recommended to me by several people and though I am not that far into it yet, it is a real eye opener, both for the situations that the immigrants are fleeing and for the horrific conditions they suffer trying to get to this country.  It's a book I suspect should be read by many angry people in this country.

Day 25:  Happiness is a new t-shirt
(even if it does smell of tortillas!)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Old Friends

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my old "friends," the kitchen equipment I've been using for nearly 50 years.   Today I write about old friends (without quotes).

The people in the Pinata Group are our oldest friends, the ones who have been in our lives for more than 50 years.  Several months ago, I pointed out to Char that we weren't getting any younger and that we should make a greater effort to get together more often.  We have our cruises, but other than that we don't see each other month.  Of course, the miles between us (it takes an hour to get from one house to the other) kind of works against that, but we decided we would make the effort, because we enjoy each other's company.

So a few months back, Char drove up in this direction and we met at the Nut Tree strip mall and had a lovely lunch at Fenton's Ice Creamery, an import from Oakland, and a place where we had eaten together in the old days.
It was fun and we resolved to do it once a month.

But resolutions like that are easy to forget when you get on with "life" in your respective corners of the state.
We tried awhile ago to make a luncheon engagement for the two of us with three other women of the Pinata Group, but that went nowhere.

We decided to get together this week, and Char chose Wednesday as the day.  Again, we tried to involve the three other women in the Pinata group, but one was traveling around the country, which she seems to do constantly, and wouldn't be in our area.  Another's husband was recovering from surgery and she didn't feel she could leave him.  That left Pat, who lives in Sacramento and was going to be free to have lunch with us.

I was charged with picking a restaurant that was (a) near Pat's house, (b) had soft food for Char who had just had dental surgery, and (c) had vegetarian selections for Pat, who is vegetarian.

I decided we would eat at a Mexican restasurant in Sacramento, near Pat's house.  I had been there once with Peach and our cousin Shirley and I remembered that it was a good place, should have lots of soft stuff, and lots of greens.

Char drove to Davis and picked me up, and we met Pat at the restaurant.

The waitress came to take our drink orders and I ordered my usual water but then changed my mind when Pat and Char both ordered margaritas.  I decided to have one too.  They were huge, but not very strong, so it was a good choice.

The really nice thing about eating with your oldest friends is that, as Char pointed out, you really know a lot about each other.  We knew each other's parents and siblings and attended a lot of funerals for those people (my mother is the only Pinata grandma still living). I talk easily to Susan at Logos, because she is the daughter of Char's cousin, and Char babysat with her when she was a baby.  I know all about the aunts, Leona and Mabel and their quirks and a lot of Susan's family are names I recognize. We are interested in Pat's sister-in-law, who is blind and lives by herself on several acres of land in the hills.  We picked olives in her garden one year, and planted trees in memory of Pat's son, who had died, on that property.

We realized that there were things that we didn't know, and had never thought to share, but with a shared background of 50 years, there were more than enough memories to go around, after updating information on what our kids had been doing lately (Char and I pretty much know what our own kids are doing, but we were interested in hearing about Pat's kids).

It was a leisurely lunch with lots of laughs and a reminder of why we have remained in each other's lives all these years.  It also underscored the importance of not letting our friendships just kind of drift off and get lost, as so many friendships do.

I feel like we're in a kind of weird money-less tontine. We're now in the last quarter (or less) of our lives.  We have already buried one woman, and another one has had a heart attack and is not doing well.  It's depressing to realize that we are at an age where any day now we could get "the" telephone call announcing which one of us has passed on.  Char and I have promised to give the eulogy at the funeral of whichever one of us dies first.  I'm a terrible speaker and get very,very nervous if I have to speak in public, so if she decides to die before I do, the thought of giving a eulogy might just kill me right then.

But it would seem appropriate if we had a double-funeral and let someone else do the eulogy.  I have the mental image of the two of us trying to stuff full sized Christmas trees into their little Saab, all those pumpkin pies we baked, and all the other silly stuff we have done togehter over the years.  I can't imagine life without her, so she'd jolly better well stick around until I die...

In the meantime, I'll settle for another lunch, maybe when Jeri's godmother, Jeri, is in town and can join us.

Day 24:  Happiness is Ladies Who Lunch

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some (other) Enchanted Evening

August is a more or less quiet month for me, with regard to reviewing shows.  There is a new musical at Sacramento's Music Circus every other week and one Acme (the teen age company here in town) show, but all of the other theaters I review are winding down their summer shows.  In September things will perk up a lot.

I started as a critic about the same time I started writing Funny the World, so this is my 15th year trying to figure out what to say about the show I am seeing on any particular evening.  One of the joys of doing this job for so long is bonding with the little group of critics who go to the shows.  There are six of us, representing a daily newspaper, a weekly newspaper a couple of radio show, and streaming review site.  And then there is Walter.  I've never figured out exactly what Walter does, or if he even reviews any longer, but he and Ned used to work for the same radio station (Ned now works for a different radio station).  Walter, the oldest of us alll, God bless him, is still there for every show, with his wife.   He has lots of infirmities and we've see him from limping to a cane to now a walker, though he tells me he is having surgery next week so maybe he will be able to give up the walker eventually.

There is also another guy, alternate for one of the newspapers, who comes to most things.  He never joins our little critics circle, but his wife does.  She and I bonded over rescued dogs.  I thought I was bad...she's much worse!  And then there is the tall guy who started reviewing about a year before I did.  He and I have never spoken. He works for the "big" newspaper and people greet him like a rock star. He is head and shoulders (literally and figuratively) above us all, in the way he is viewed by the theater companies.  It always bugs me that one particular company always sets aside certain seats for him, but even though I good-naturedly (kind of) complained about his special treatment, still there are his seats, marked "reserved" and none reserved for any of the rest of us.

But I love that our core group often gets together for chit chat either before the show or at intermission (usually not after the show because we are all ready to go home to either write the review of sleep so we can get up and write the review).  

Tonight, the Music Circus was presenting South Pacific.   It seemed to me that I just saw that show by another theater, and research shows that I was right -- it was a couple of months ago.  We took my mother to a Davis production in March of this year.

Walt always drops me off before he goes into the garage to park the car, so I can pick up our tickets.  While I was waiting for him, I was chatting with one of our critics circle.  She said she had fear and trepidation about seeing this show, which she had not seen in awhile and how the sexism, chid prostitution, prejudice and xenophobia made her very uncomfortable, but that it was a popular show for the grey-hair, walker set.  

I didn't talk with her after the show, though I wish I had.   This was an outstanding production and if you couldn't see the stage, you would still think so because the voices were so amazing.  Perhaps across the board the best voices I have heard on that stage, and I have heard some pretty good voices in that theater. As for the negative aspects of it, as I said following the production of Grease, you kind of forgive them because (a) it was typical of both the era in which it was set and the era in which it was written, but more importantly (b) good wins out in the end, unlike Grease.

We had the good fortune to ride to and from the theater with a young man who attends UCD, the very demographic my fellow critic felt would have difficulty with the negativity in the show, so I told him I was very interested in his opinion, and was happy to hear that he felt about it the way I did...that the fact that Lt. Cable regrets his rejection of the native girl Liat before he dies, and that Nelly is able to overcome her distaste at the thought of Emile's marriage to a polynesian woman and giving her two children before her death, means that all live happily ever after (well, except for the guy who is killed in battle).

It will be fun to write the review (ain't gonna do it now, at 2 a.m.) because I loved everything about this production.  I am looking forward to hear what my friend has to say about it...she won't be writing the review, as she shares the reviews with another person and so this was her week to just enjoy and not have to go home and figure out what to say about it.

Day 23 -- Happiness is knowing how to manipulate photos in PhotoShop

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Old "Friends"

F_Pot.jpg (41057 bytes)When I was cooking the pasta for our pasta with pesto the other night, I was filling this pot with water and, though I don't often think about things like this, I realized that we received this pot as a wedding gift and I have probably used it at least once a week for the past 49 years.

If I could remember who gave us this pot, I would write them a letter and let them know how much I have enjoyed this addition to our kitchen for all these years.  It has seen soups and stews, has steamed vegetables, baked casseroles.   I can't think of a piece of kitchenware that I have used more.

But then I started looking around the kitchen at the kinds of things I use all the time and thinking about how much they have been used over many years.

F_casserole.jpg (36262 bytes)This was also a wedding present.  It's a Le Creuset casserole.  It hasn't seen as much use as the pot above, but it has definitely seen it's share of casseroles especially stuffing on Thanksgiving and Christmas and home made macaroni and cheese.
I know who gave us this wedding gift..  It was a gift of Arnold and Eve Nordsieck, parents of our friends who just celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Arn was a physicist -- there is an award named for him at the University of Illinois.  But he was most famous among our friends for inventing a "death ray" that he said was really only good for opening potato chip bags. 

Sadly, neither Arn or Eve are still around, or I would send them a thank you note too.  Have you priced LeCreuset-ware these days? They sell it in our local supermarket. I think this casserole today would be over $200. I can't even afford a LeCreuset butter dish!

F_cutting.jpg (58678 bytes)This was not a wedding gift, but it is the cutting board I have used for more than 40 years. And I smile whenever I think about how I came to acquire it.
Walt was out of town--I don't know where. I was at home in Oakland with our 4 kids, and was pregnant with David.  We were having problems with our shower and I had called a plumber, who was going to come by and check it out.

Two couples called to ask if I could watch their toddlers (two of them) while they went out to dinner.  I said yes.  When they arrived, I was telling them about the leak in the shower.  The shower backed up on a big linen closet and the guys decided that when the plumber came, he would have to go into the pipes through the linen closet, so to thank me for watching their kids, they emptied the closet for me so I wouldn't have to do so.

The plumber came, looked at the shower, tightened a couple of things and was out of the house without even opening the door to the linen closet, so I was left with the task of putting all the linens back into the closet myself.  When the couples returned, they gave me this cutting board as a thank you. I cannot tell you how many chickens, turkeys, and roasts have been carved on its surface. I never take it out of the cupboard without thinking about our friends, whom we have not seen in decades (one of them has since died).

F_Mixer.jpg (40924 bytes)The workhorse of the kitchen is this Kitchenaid mixer.  We got it when we were living in Oakland, so more than 40 years ago.  In those days I made all of our bread and I can't begin to calculate how many loaves of bread it has mixed.  Now I have a bread maker and I'm not sure I even know where the dough hook is any more, but it certainly was a godsend for bread for many years.

Then it did yeomen's work in my cake decorating years. It seemed that it was in use many times almost every day.

I can't possibly count the number of the batches of cookies it has helped me make, the number of batches of mashed potatoes it has mashed.  It's a great testament to Kitchenaid that in all those years, with all that use, I think we once, many years ago, had to get a replacement part for it.  And we've gone through several replacement paddles, but it's still running like a champ.

(The toaster in the background, was a gift from my cousin Kathy maybe 15 years ago.  It doesn't work very well and I'd like to get a new one.  We have gone through lots of toasters in 49 years and none of them has done the work that the Kitchenaid has, but they just have a short lifespan.)

F_Tupperware.jpg (48675 bytes)I don't buy Tupperware any more.  And I have enough Tupperware and other brands of oastic storage containers that I don't need to buy anything else, but when I look at this cupboard, I remember that probably most of the actual Tupperware that I own I purchased from our friend Concetta, when she was a Tupperware representative, more than 40 years ago (it's easy to determine times when all is either BD or AD, meaning Before Davis or After Davis.  The Tupperware was BD).

She later developed MS and eventually was in a wheelchair for many, many years, before she died a couple of years ago.  But I never open this cupboard without thinking of Concetta and the Tupperware parties I attended so many years ago.   I miss that camraderie these days.
As an aside, we were at the Museum of American History building of the Smithsonian many years ago and I saw some of the Tupperware that is in this cupboard, and that I still use, on display there!

There are other work horses in my kitchen, but I think these are the ones that have been with me the longest, and the ones that I still use today.

Day 22:  Happiness is a visit with a friend we haven't seen in 30 years

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Love This Stuff

I don't really have the expertise to write this page, but I'm going to write it anyway.

Yesterday I took my mother's meds for next week over to her.   She was the last in a list of errands I was running around town, the last stop of which was at CVS to get her some lipstick, since she's used the lipstick I bought about 3 months ago (I can't even imagine using up a lipstick.  I can't remember the last time I wore any!)

ANYWAY, I was listening to NPR as I drove around and as I was approaching Atria, there was a podcast about words.  I was drawn into it by a woman named Susan Schaller who has written a book called "A Man Without Words."   It's the story of a 27 year old man she met in a sign language class.  He had no words.  He didn't know what language was.  He had no concept of "sound." He saw people interacting with each other and he mimicked them, but he didn't know why. He just thought he was stupid because he couldn't figure out what they were doing.

Hearing her tell about her methods of trying to get him to understand that everything has a name, and the big a-HA moment when he "got it" sounded almost like a quote out of The Miracle Worker, and Annie Sullivan's work trying to get the concept of words through to Helen Keller, and the flood of communication that resulted from that breakthrough.

The interview morphed into one with a guy named Charles Fernyhough, a Brit (of course--who else but someone British would have a name like Fernyhough?) who studied Natural Sciences and Developmental Psychology, with emphasis on child development.

He talked about the relationship between words and concepts.  He gave as an example a rectangular room, painted all white.  You put a mouse in the room and put a treat in one corner and once he learns how to go to that corner he's fine.   But if you pick him up and spin him around and putting him back, he doesn't have a clue in which direction to go.

If you paint one wall blue he still can only find the treat 50% of the time.  Though the mouse can see color, he doesn't know the concept of using that as a clue to find his treat.

Then he talked about children and how they don't make this connection either until they are about 6.  Though children younger than 6 are very verbal, they haven't yet developed the concept of a relationship between things. But around 6, all the synapses are firing and they know objects, they know colors and they know directions and can put all of those concepts together.  

"The toy is to the left of the blue wall" would mean nothing to Lacie, for example, even though she may know colors and directions, but doesn't understand how you can use one in relation to the other. but Bri should be able to figure it out.

I sat there fascinated because I was wondering if Fernyhough had ever applied his theory to people at the end of life.  I have been noticing this vocabulary/concept disconnect with my mother for months.

The plant is looking sick.  Water will help the plant look better again.  But that does not translate into "I will go put some water on the plant."

Likewise, "that silver pitcher is tarnished.  I need silver polish."  But having a jar of silver polish sitting next to the pitcher does not translate into "I can use this polish to polish that pitcher."  The silver polish has been sitting there for about 10 months now and the pitcher is still tarnished.   (I could polish it, of course, but this is an experiment for me!)

I see this over and over with her and had not thought to relate it to toddler behavior until I heard the podcast yesterday. As she loses more and more words, she loses more and more connections.  She can't figure out how to make a hair appointment any more,  I discovered yesterday.

In fact, I was so fascinated by what he was saying that I looked up Fernyhough's web page and actually wrote to him to ask what he thought of my theory.   He'll probably think I don't know what I'm talking about but...hey...maybe I'll open up a whole new area of investigation for him.  But more likely I'll never hear from him at all.

Day 21 -- Happiness is realizing your granddaughter looks like a Frozen princess

(I actually watched all of Frozen today...the plot makes more sense without small children in the room singing and dancing and talking!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Stealing

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing which originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. You may have heard of the expression, “honor amongst thieves”. In that age-old tradition, we try to credit the blog that we stole it from and we will “fess up” to the blog owner where we stole the meme. We also provide a link to the victim's meme. (It's our way of saying "Thanks!") Sometimes we edit the original meme, to make it more relevant to our global players, to challenge our players, to select the best questions, or simply to make it less repetitive from this new meme or recently asked questions from a previously featured meme.
Let's go!!!

From: Quizopolis
Favorite summer flower:

sunflower.jpg (67543 bytes)

Flavor of ice cream:

Hard to nail down just one, but the one I probably order Butter Pecan more often than anything else.

Mode of transportation:
Car.  I enjoy the scenery, can listen to music or a book in the car, rest stops en route, etc..  Of course, driving a long distance can get to ya after awhile.   Going long distances, I prefer an airplane (though I would love to take the train across the Canadian Rockies)
These days, probably show music is what I listen to when I listen to music (which isn't often).


Dungeness crab, of course ... or anything I don't have to cook myself.  For dining out, my first choice is usually Chinese or Mexican.

Favorite game to play:

I loved Cousins Days and our marathon games of the card game "65," which aren't possible any more, since Kathy is dead, Peach has moved halfway across the country, and my mother has dementia, so right now my favorite (and only) game is Word with Friends.

Earliest childhood summer memory:

Going to Sunnyside Cottages at Boyes Hot Springs.  It's where I learned to swim.   I remember that "Mona Lisa" played it seemed all the time at the swimming pool complex and I ate Neopolitan taffy. I occasionally got to ride horses when I was older, and on one of those vacations, when I was 7,  I got my very first hair cut, leaving my long curls on the floor of the beauty shop.

Favorite Drink:

Water.  Cold water (either from a cooler, or over ice)

Favorite Snack:

Hmmm...maybe peanuts? Usually something salty and crunchy.

Place to read:

In my recliner.

Most annoying:

Chris Matthews (I used to like him), Carl Rove & Dick Cheney (never liked them)

How I handle the heat:

Air conditioning, fans, and ice water.

Pet Peeve:

I just came from the post office, where I mail things at least once a week.   They now have a sign asking you about what's in your package, if you need special services, if you want to buy a mail box, etc.  Even though I point to the sign and say "no - no - no- no" to each of the four columns, they have to ASK me the questions for each column every. frigging. time.  Drives me nuts.

All-time favorite bathing suit:

It has been so long since I wore a bathing suit, I can't even remember what suits I used to have.

Best Time of Day:

After dinner when I have no guilt about watching TV or working on the computer (which I do all day anyway, but it's only guilt-less after dinner!)  I used to love morning and I still do, but getting up in the morning signals the dogs that it's time to go berserk so I'm more likely to lounge about for awhile before letting them know I'm functional.

Summer movie:

I'm not a big movie watcher, not because I don't love movies, but because we just never seem to get to the theater, so I'm not up on current movies, no matter what the season.  But for a movie about summer, In the Good Old Summertime. Summerstock, or Summertime are favorites.

Happy Day 20:  

Day 20 -- Happiness is finding yourself stopped at a stoplight
and  realizing that the car in front of you has an interesting backside.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Never Too Late

It appears that being 71 and female is no deterrent to having the sexual adventure of my dreams.  This came for me today:
Hi my sexual friend!
How are you? How do you feel?
It is sure that you are surprised to this letter, I am the beautiful, kind and sexy girl, my name Irina
I work in insurance company. To me 26 years. I in search of the man.
I am the lonely girl who loves sex and trips on the world. You very much were pleasant to me and I want to spend with you unforgettable nights. I want to come to you to the country specially to have with you sex. Darling I want to discuss my trip to you. I want to invite you to a site where we will be able to talk and exchange phone numbers. On this site there are my photos and video. It is a free site and on it it is very easy to be registered. I will wait for you on a site for further correspondence. And what to discuss our meeting.
I forgot to tell you the site address. Site THECASUALMEETING.BIZ my nick Kissangel
I ask you be registered as soon as possible. I want to meet you as soon as possible. On it I will finish the letter to you. Bye.

p/s You very strongly are pleasant to me and I am ready on any acts for the sake of you.
What is interesting is that until I copied the e-mail and posted it here, I did not see (it was invisible on the e-mail) a string of tiny letters imbedded between the body of the letter and the P.S.
fahl fcmroc bdvk jsoeb jkhwtm fuueggbpds fzwtzyhnk bsmfyzfpp ghwxld poynhw rysurn luqmfx
(I am putting spaces between groups of letters so as not to pass along the string as I post this.  I'm sure someone can explain what the string may mean and how it has now infected my computer because I made the mistake of reading the e-mail, the kind that usually my spam filter picks up).

I admit I am flattered to find myself so desirable that age, gender, and appearance apparently is no deterrent to Irina and that she finds me "very strongly pleasant."  I was tempted to immediately to go to TheCasualMeeting.Biz site and check her out and send a torrid love note from her Kissangel, but it is warm today and I was sleepy and needed my afternoon nap, so instead I picked up my cane, limped down the hall, put my thick granny glasses on the table, and my strongly pleasant body fell into a nice old folks' nap.

But speaking of sex, my review of Grease came out today.   Grease has been around for many years and nowadays it is popular with summer music festivals and high school productions.  I want to hate the show, but it's too infectious, with sprightly music, familiar tunes, great choreography and a likeable cast.

Musicals are fraught with negative overtones.  In South Pacific, for example, we have xenophobia and sex trafficing.  Bloody Mary is willing to sell her young daughter to an American serviceman, who in turn rejects her (after having sex with her) because his family would never accept a Polynesian daugher-in-law.  At the same time, nurse Nellie is in love with plantation owner, Emile Debeq, but can't marry him because she finds out he was married to a polynesian and has mixed race children.  

In Oklahoma, Curly kills bad guy Judd Fry, but nobody liked him anyway, so they hold a sham trial on the spot and let let Curly off so he can go on his honeymoon.

Harold Hill in The Music Man is a traveling salesman with plans to swindle everyone in town and who, if other salesmen are to be believed, has a girl in every town and has "taken it away from every one of them." Yet Marian falls for him even though she knows he's a bad guy.

The list goes on and on, but in these other musicals, in the end virtue is triumphant.  Nellie comes to love Emile's kids, Lt. Cable suffers from remorse and gives us the haunting "You have to be taught" about inbred prejudice.  Harold changes his stripes, and while Curly never really gets any punishment in his part of Judd's death, we know he's really a good guy and we have a new state to celebrate, so let's get to the finale.

In Grease, however, the message is that a good girl, with nice moral values can only be one of the group and win the guy if she become a slut.   And everyone, including the audience, is happy about it.

In thinking of the things on which Sandy compromises her principles, she starts to smoke, drink, wear skin tight clothes, have big hair and pierce her ears.   I wonder how many people realize what a big deal the ear piercing thing was.

I went to a Catholic school and we knew that only "bad" girls had pierced ears.  In fact that messsage was so strongly etched in my mind that even now, I can still remember the day I looked across the classroom at Patty, the redhead who probably came from a poor family (if I look at her with 2014 eyes) and saw that she had had her ears pierced.  She wasn't a popular girl, but she had pierced ears.  We were probably in the 7th or 8th grade.  I didn't know really what a "bad girl" was, but Patty now was one of them and I don't remember ever playing with her after that, because she was a bad girl.

I had my ears pierced in 1967, long after Patty did, and at a time when pierced ears were more accepted.  I loved wearing earrings and thought this would be an easier way of not losing them.  And there were so many cute earrings out there for people with holes in their heads.  But that whole "bad girl" image was still imbedded in my mind and so I remember taking Ned and Jeri to my parents' house and asking them to babysit while I went downtown to "shop."  I was going to have my ears pierced and I still felt naughty doing it and embarrassed to let my parents know ahead of time.

The experience went along with the feeling.  I was taken to the back of the jewelry store and up some dark stairs to a room above the store.  There was a man over in a corner sitting there and he pierced my ears for me, but it felt, on some level, liking going in for an abortion.  And then I had to face going back to my parents and confessing what I had done.  I can't remember their reaction, but I remember being nervous about it.
I have never regretted the decision to have my ears pierced, but when I see Grease, I remember what a huge thing it was and how kids in that era were viewed if they did have pierced ears, something that today's kids, most of whom have their ears pierced routinely, don't even know about.

I wonder how Irina feels about women with pierced ears....

Day 19:  Happiness is the first basil harvest, making pesto, and putting it on spaghetti

Friday, July 18, 2014

Today at Logos

Susan was working when I got to Logos today.  It had been several weeks since I have seen her, now that Sandy works the morning shift.   But Sandy has gone on vacation for a couple of weeks and Susan was working her shift.  Susan and I talked a bit about family stuff before she left. 

There was a guy in there who looked like our friend in Santa Barbara (whose 50th anniversary we just attended), only kind of a Mini-me version. He disappeared before I really noticed him much.

I was going to read another Ruth Rendell book today but looked around first to see if some other book spoke to me, and there it was "Where a Dobdob meets a Dikdik," by Bill Casselman.  I really should have been an etymologist.  I love stuff like this, finding out where language originated and how it came to be as it is today.  It's why Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" is one of my favorite books. This is in a similar vein, and very entertaining, but not as good.  However I got hooked on it and it gave me an idea for how to structure letters to Brianna for awhile.

A couple stood outside looking at bargain books, then came in and he checked out Sci Fi while she wandered the whole store.  He was wearing a UCD Fire Department backpack.  After awhile, he joined her in the back of the store and when I glanced back, she was bent over at the waist and he was bent over behind her, hugging her.  Having just seen a special on the mating habits of elephants, my mind did go there for a moment.

Two women arrived, one quite peppy and one lethartic.   They went their separate ways and buried themselves in their respective shelves, the lethargic woman in the literature section and the other one somewhere in the history shelves.  I noticed that the lethargic woman had what looked almost like a set of jailer's keys (in amount...must have weighed her down!) attached to the strap of her backpack. She also had an "I Love UCD" button, which I thought a nice touch.   They both ended up in the Literature aisle and the pepppy one bought a copy of "Anna Karenina."

An old guy in a safari hat came in and spent about half an hour reading "coffee table books" at the front table, but ultimately didn't buy anything.

A flaxen haired girl with a cup of yogurt came in.   She reminded me of when my friend Jane bleached her hair for a show and said she imagined she would just have lovely blonde hair until the show was over, "But have blonde straw!"  Jane did a lot of work on her hair to keep it looking nice.  This girl did not.  She also didn't buy anything.

Right behind her a guy with kinky curly reddish blonde hair came in, looked around and left immediately.
A woman who looked like Meredith Vierra without makeup came in looking for G.W. Bush's "Decision Points."  She told me that the book store in the next block (the new book store) was having a big sale.  She didn't find GW's book, and left without making a purchase.

An older gentlemen in a red plaid shirt spent a long time in the "personal growth" section, but left without buying anything.

A trio of 2 girls and a boy came in looking for books in Russian.  At least one girl spoke with a Russian accent and I don't think the other two did.  But the three of them had he best time in the Contemporary Fiction section, pulling out books and chatting about them.  I love it when people have a good time in the store (well, maybe not the spooning couple, but most people!)

The bundled girl came in again.  I've mentioned her before.  I decided she needs a name so I'll call her Eliza because she reminds me of Eliza Doolittle before she meets Professor Higgins.  This girl is always bundled in heavy blankets and a quilted hoodie, even on 100 degree days, and when I get near her I think of the old madrigal by P.D.Q. Bach, "My bonnie lass she smelleth..." I would dearly love to take her home, give her a bath and a good meal and wash her clothes.

So now my cast of characters is growing.  There is my friend, who comes in at the end of the day, Bruce the guy in white who makes his own hats, The Troubadour because he looks like one, and now Eliza.

I haven't seen Bruce or the Troubadour in a couple of weeks, but my friend showed up at 4:05.  I told him about the sale at the other book store and I'm sure he went there after he left.  But today he bought the "Astro Boy Chronicles" and a "Great Books Reader." Even he laughed about the contrast.  He is a customer who always wants his cash register receipt (most others don't and many give them back to me to throw away).  Today we were talking about something and he forgot to take the receipt.  I noticed it right as he went out the door, grabbed it and ran after him, since he was still outside...he was checking the papers in his hand and had just about remembered that he didn't have his receipt.

The next man bought 10 books from the bargain rack and actually bought a bag to carry them.  We have to charge for bags ever since the new city law went into effect about what can and can't be given away any more.

A lovely man came in with three big boxes of donated books, and asked for his receipt to be sent to him in Ohio, since they were about to leave to drive back there.  We were talking about how Davis has grown over the years and I could barely hear what he said.  I've noticed my hearing is bad lately and I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to find out if it's fluid in the ear, an infection, or old age. 

While he was coming in, a woman raced in the front door with 2 bargain books, threw $2 at me and said she had to leave because her bus was coming.   Fastest transaction ever.

A guy who resembled Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory as regards build, the messenger bag slung over one shoulder, and the slight slouch. He bought 2 Steinbeck books and said that he passes by the store every day and that this was his first time coming in.

Out at the bargain books was a man wearing eye-blinding red white and blue pants that came to just below his knees.  He had a bike helmet with an American flag sticker on it and black horn-rimmed blasses.  He had a bright red bike, which he moved from one side of the door to the other, but he never actually came in.

My last customers of the day (though they didn't actually buy anything) was another trio, two young men and a girl much younger.  One of the men was Latino looking with bushy sideburns that went down almost to his chin.  He was carrying a box of Chinese food.  The other guy was as light as the first guy was dark.  Pasty white skin, a round head like Charlie Brown's, red cheeks, strawberry blond crew cut very closely cropped to his head and he had a toothpick in his mouth.

I thought at first that the girl was holding a puppy.   She was standing at the opposite of the store from me, but in the same book aisle and I could see one paw hanging over her arm and bright eyes staring at me.  I don't see too well these days and desperately need an optometrist appointment to get new glasses.  I watched the "puppy" for so long that I finally decided it was a stuffed animal, since it didn't move.  But later, after the three of them left, without buying anything, she unfurled the bundle in her arm and it was just a purse.   I must get those new glasses!

I am very sad that another plane has crashed and that hundreds of lives have been lost, but all we know is that (a) a plane crashed (b) lives were lost.  We don't know if it was shot down, was a terrorist on board, or an engine failure, or extraterrestial interference. And yet once again the 24 hour news cycle must find SOMETHING to talk about so all over the media there are interviews with people who are making guesses, there are speculations about the conditions of the bodies and morbid descriptions about how they may have to be identified, etc., etc.  I turned over to Law & Order SVU because fake violence and death seemed more palatable than the rehashing of tales that may or may not be true, and reports that can only bring additional pain to the loved ones of those lost.

Update:  My friend Michael posted a link to an article which says that about 100 of the 298 victims were AIDS researchers headed to a conference in Melbourne, Australia.