Thursday, March 31, 2016

Next Best Thing To...

People are always saying something or other is the "best thing since sliced bread."  But did you ever think about we came to have sliced bread?  I participate in a "Trivia a day" thing which asks various multiple choice questions.  Today's question was "who invented sliced bread."  I guessed wrong.  Here is the correct answer:
In 1927, a jeweler named Otto Frederick Rohwedder created the first automatic bread-slicing machine for commercial use. Rohwedder, the owner of three jewelry stores, used his work with watches and jewelry to invent new machines. Convinced he could develop a bread slicing machine, he sold his jewelry stores to fund the development effort and manufacture the machines. In 1927, Rohwedder successfully designed a machine that not only sliced the bread but wrapped it. The first loaf of sliced bread was sold commercially on July 7, 1928. Sales of the machine to bakeries increased and sliced bread became available across the country.
By 1930, only two years after the debut of sliced bread, Wonder Bread was building its own machines and distributing pre-sliced loaves of bread throughout the United States. This product is what put Wonder Bread’s name on the map.

I appreciate Mr. Rohwedder whenever I make my own bread and try to slice it.  Even with the help of an electric knife, I can never get the slices uniform...and thin enough.  So thank you, Otto Rohwedder.  Nothing is the best thing since sliced bread.

However, lunch with old friends may come close.  Our friend Grainne has been here from Ireland again and is about to return to the auld sod, so a group of eight of us gathered at the University Retirement Community to have lunch and tell her goodbye until she returns again (which she does about four times a year).  We spent about an hour and a half and discussed everything from death, dying and dementia to turkeys in Davis to Frederick's of Hollywood.  But what happens at these lunches stays at these lunches!  Suffice to say there were tears and lots of laughs.

I also got my first pocket letter finished and mailed off to my partner.

Reading more about this craft today (after sending this), some consider this a different type of letter, where you are sharing something of yourself as you type.  I didn't really do that, but I am happy about how this turned out.  It was a "yellow themed" pocket letter.  Six of the pockets were supposed to have gifty "stuff" in them.  So starting at top left behind that are a few tiny note papers, then behind the smiley face are a bunch of smiley face stickers.  The next pocket has tags in it and the tape across it is like packing tape which holds down two foreign coins. 

In row two, I had to use the yellow brick road, of course, and the pocket contains Wizard of Oz stickers, the middle pocket has a card of washi tape samples and I actually changed the pocket on the right I had used the book mark that you see (one of the magnetic ones) but then found one in a gold color with a nice quote on it and I substituted that because it was more in keeping with the yellow theme.  The pocket itself is empty.

Bottom left contains a personal letter from me and the next two pockets are empty, but just had a bit of a design on them.

As I said, I have never done this before and am not really very crafty but I found my craft genes were stimulated as I worked, so I've signed up to do a music-themed pocket letter and someone in Belgium is looking for someone to make a San Francisco themed pocket letter, which I thought would be a lot of fun, so I offered to make one for her. 

It's all more fun, at least, than sliced bread!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jumping In with Both Feet

It was one of those beautiful days, where the sky was a deep blue, the air was clear, and there were lots of bright white fluffy clouds floating around.

It took me awhile to come to life.  I woke up around 3, as usual, but this time could not get back to sleep.  Never did.  I tried for a long time, to no avail, so I watched shows that I'd recorded the night before but had not yet seen.

I was kind of a zombie most of the morning, but had Things To Do, so couldn't give in and just go back to sleep. I didn't feel like lunch at Atria, but knew it was time to pick up laundry, so I ran my errands first.

The first was the trip to Michael's that I'd been looking forward to.  I've decided to get into the pocket letter thing and have been watching tutorials (which are kind of silly because they show you how the person making the video makes her fancy pockets, but it really depends on your own creativity and the kinds of decorating ideas you can come up with).  I have the plastic pockets and stuff to decorate them with but what I am lacking is that creative gene that may make my first attempts at pocket letters pathetic.  We'll see.  I'm starting small and easy -- a project that is "yellow themed," which means that everything has to have yellow on it.  As an aficionado of smiley faces and The Wizard of Oz, I could easily envision at least two of the nine pockets.  Two down, 7 to go.

I left Michael's with a sack of goodies involving patterned papers, and kitschy things to go into the pockets like tiny paper clips in the shape of wire coat hangers, mini note books, glitter, and string and I don't know what else.  I don't have a clue what I'm going to do with all this.  

The big purchase was a paper cutter.  I've had one for some time, but it's kind of small for what I want to do, so I went up one size, which should do me nicely for this (these?) project.  But I'm all ready for starting this project and designing a yellow pocket letter and let's see where it takes me.  Aquarians are the kind of people who go all in to a project, bury themselves in it completely and then in a few months, they're over it and ready to move on to something else.  

With my heavy bags in the car, I went to the post office to mail off a package and then finally to Atria.  I wasn't sure if it was time to pick up dirty laundry yet or no.  I had just been there about a week ago, but I swear she must change her underwear three times a day because she has enough to get her through 2+ weeks, but I think every pair she owns was in the dirty laundry.

We had our usual visit which, this time, involved asking me who had given her which flowers.  Over and over again.  And asking me what I was doing exciting tonight.  I finally realized I was falling asleep and could not stay awake, so decided it was time to go home and take a nap, which I managed to do.

So here I sit at midnight finishing this up, stopping every few sentences to cut some more paper or put some other do-dad on a pocket.  I'll have this thing finished in no time at this rate.

I wonder how long the excitement is going to last.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Me and the DMV: Round 2

As I opened my eyes this morning, the butterflies came to life in my stomach.  Today was the day I was going back to the DMV to try to get my license.  I had an appointment to take the written test and could not make an appointment to take the behind the wheel test (which I still didn't understand why I needed to take two years in a row) until I'd finished the written test.

Last night I took a couple of the written tests on the internet and was going to take more of them this morning.  But first I needed to finish writing my review of The Fantasticks for the Enterprise.  I had written the review for the News and Review the night before.

I had a bit of breakfast, but it didn't sit right and the butterflies didn't like it.

I got the review finished.  I really liked the production.  I remember wanting to see The Fantasticks for a long time, but when we were in New York we didn't have time.  It's theater history, after all.  It is the longest running musical in the world, having run first for 42 years and then a revival, which opened in 2006, still running now.

I reviewed it twice before and remember being disappointed in it and wondering what the fuss was about to keep it running for so long.  However, I "got" the magic this time and it was all due to the young girl who played Luisa, the girl in the production.  She's only 15 but held her own with a stage full of theater professionals and I found her mesmerizing.  

So the review was easy to write, and then I turned to the driver's tests again.  I aced the first one and felt confident, got 2 wrong on the second tests, and failed the 3rd test (missed 4 questions).  It's all those damn 20 mph, 15 mph, 25 mph questions and the ones about big trucks that do me in every time.  I finally decided I needed to stop taking tests and just do the damn thing.

My stomach was in knots and my hands sweaty when I was driving toward the DMV and then, walking to the office, I realized I was more nervous than I was going to the doctor or dentist. 
I saw the first clerk who asked, my paperwork in her hands, where my paperwork was.  For the first time that day, I explained my problem.  She did a lot of searching on her computer and then suddenly her head popped up with a smile and she handed me F023, my number to get my written test.

There were so many people there I expected to wait a long time and settled down with my Kindle, but, in truth, it was only about 5-10 minutes before I was called.  I was called to the desk of the women I dealt with last time, who didn't understand why I didn't have a receipt and kept telling me that the last person who worked on my file (her) did it wrong.  I was being pleasant and wasn't going to remind her that she was the one who apparently had handled it wrong.

She explained that they should have taken my picture to complete the first part of the renewal process.  She also didn't understand why I was back for the second year to have a behind the wheel test.  She gave me the eye test and was shocked that I got all the letters so quickly. I explained again about the blindness and the cataract and she finally went off again with my paperwork, came back and said she didn't understand but to go get my photo taken.

So I went off to get my photo taken.  The guy taking my picture was the guy who gave me my behind the wheel test last time.  The guy who said I would now have to have a behind the wheel test every year.  He said it couldn't possibly be him because he wouldn't say that.  I wasn't going to argue with him (Mr. Birt .. putting in his name here in case I need to name him at some point!).  He took my picture and told me to stand aside while he checked things on the computer.  I waited a bit longer and then another guy called me over.  He and Mr. Birt conferred and Birt told him to replace such and such a number with such and such another number, which he did.  Birt went back to his station and the other guy handed me a temporary license with a now May expiration date and told me I'd have my license in two weeks.

I did a double take.  That's IT? I asked.  No behind the wheel test?  No, he said.  I didn't say anything about the written test, nor did he...and I didn't realize until I got home that at no point did anybody ask for any fee. But according to Birt and his pal, I am now a licensed driver, waiting only the final license.

I'm not going to relax until that license is in my hand, but my butterflies are gone for the moment.  I still don't quite believe it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's the Easter Bagle, Charlie Brown

Oh...BAGEL, not Beagle.

Today it was the Easter Bagel, as Ned decided he and Marta would bring bagels, coffee, orange juice and fresh strawberries to Atria. They had an Easter egg hunt to go to at 11, so would have to come to Atria at 9:30.  I was fairly certain my mother would be asleep then, but he called her at 9 to make sure she would be up and dressed in half an hour.

(We didn't get there at 9:30 when they arrived because the good one of us was off being a good Catholic and going to church while the other one of us sat home being sinful and guilty. It's too bad we will spend eternity in different places...)

When we arrived at Atria she was up, dressed, and enjoying a visit with Ned and Marta.

Things like this confuse her and she asked many times why we were there, apologized for not having anything to serve us, asked where the Easter lily that Ned and Marta brought had come from, and interrupted people to ask the same questions again, but it really didn't matter.  The whole point was that we were all together and having a good time.  I "blame" this all on Ned.  Easter is such a non-holiday for me, now that we don't have kids or lots of family around, that I was just going to forget it and cook the (expensive) leg of lamb I bought for dinner for Walt and me. I knew it wouldn't matter to my mother and knew that she would not want to come to our house for dinner.

But Ned, bless him, had other ideas and in the end, he was right.  Whether she knew it was a holiday or not, whether she remembers that we were there or not, it was a fun couple of hours and there are precious few holidays left to celebrate with her these days.

Ned got a bagel all fixed up for Grandma

Grandma said she didn't know what a bagel was and wasn't sure she wanted one.
(but she did finish the half Ned gave her)

Jeri called later in the afternoon to wish us a Happy Easter.  She said she had just spoken with her grandmother who, when asked what she was doing for Easter said "Nothing.  Just sitting here."  Sigh.  My mother is an exercise in learning to take life's moments as they come, to live in the moment, and not expect the moment to carry over into the rest of our lives.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Five Things I have A Passion For: 
  • Elephants and Dogs (animals in general)
  • NCIS
  • Swap Bot
  • See's Chocolate
  • Audio books

Five Things I'd like to Learn Before I Die: 
  • Why Peggy hates me.
  • That cardboard folding thing to fold t-shirts
  • What it's like to fly first class
  • How to housebreak Polly (hopeless after 5 years!)
  • How to make pocket letters

This is a pocket letter
Five Things I Say A lot
  • "Treat Time"
  • I always think there's a band, kid
  • Any mail for me?
  • I'm going to Atria!
  • We have a show to review tonight

Five Books and/or magazines I have Read Lately:
  • All the Light We Cannot See
  • Elephant Memories
  • Wait Till Next Year
  • Alex and Me
  • Brooklyn

Five Favorite Movies (I've answered this question so many times I'm going to choose different movies this time!)
  • The Music Man
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • The Fatal Glass of Beer

The Fatal Glass of Beer

Five Places I would like to Travel To:
  • Iguasu Falls
  • Amboseli Park in Kenya
  • Inland Passage to Alaska
  • Nashville (maybe)
  • Amtrak across the Canadian Rockies

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: I Don't Know How to Love Him (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is from Jesus Christ, Superstar. Though now a beloved classic, the play was controversial when it first premiered. Can you think of something else that originally made people uncomfortable, but went on to be accepted?
I remember when MTV started and I thought it was the dumbest idea ever.  Shows what I know.  I would also say "gay marriage" which is now accepted in some places, not in others (may it eventually be accepted everywhere)

2) Jesus Christ, Superstar was originally developed as a "concept album," a collection of songs written to sequentially tell the story of The Crucifixion and Resurrection. Do you remember the first album you bought? Did you download it, listen to it on a CD player, your cassette deck, or record player?
I think the very first record (because I am old) that I bought was the soundtrack to the movie Calamity Jane, with Doris Day.  I remember it wasn't even a 12" record, but a 10" record. In those days you could go into a record store, choose a record and take it to a listening room, where you could play it and decide if you wanted to buy it or not.  I wonder when they stopped having those rooms.....

3) When the album's songs were performed live in concert at the Pennsylvania Civic Arena, producers decided to stage it as a play and the rest, as they say, is history. Tell us about a really good idea you've had recently.
Best idea I've had in awhile is making a photo album for my mother.  I came across one of her photo albums yesterday and transferred about 50 pictures into a little 4x6 size album, one picture per page.  What a great idea.  She looked through it and then again and then again.  She must have looked through it 6 times, each time seeing it as something new.  It gave us something to talk about for a good half hour.

4) Jesus Christ, Superstar is a truly international phenomenon. During a revival tour that began in 2011, it's been a hit with audiences in the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Italy, France, Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Australia, The Philippines, South Africa, Panama, Colombia, Croatia, Bolivia, The Netherlands and Portugal. Besides the United States, which of those countries have you visited?
I am amazed at how many on this list:  Canada, Britain, Ireland, Hungary, Italy, France, Mexico, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Czech Republic, Greece, Australia, Croatia, and the Netherlands.

5) Peeps are big sellers every Easter. Would you rather have yellow chicks or pink bunnies?
I would rather have chocolate than peeps  I am not a fan of peeps

6) Jelly beans are also popular this time of year. One theory says they were introduced in Boston during the 19th century. What else comes to mind when you think of Boston?
Our daughter, for one, since she lives there, and Berklee College of Music, where she works.  The Freedom trail that we took tracing the history of the starting of this country, clam chowder, Fanueil Hall, the original tea party, Rizzoli and Isles, Fenway Park, The "T," Boston baked beans

7) We've been talking a lot about sweets this morning. The only holiday that generates more candy sales is Halloween. When do you eat more candy: Easter or Halloween?
We traditionally had candy in the house when the kids were little, more on Halloween.  Now there is no particular date around which we have candy.

8) Easter lilies will adorn many churches this Sunday. What's your favorite flower?
Roses, especially if they smell of the rose perfume, which most don't any more.  I also love sweet peas, which you almost never see any more, and poppies, the state flower of California.

9) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated?
A nice nap.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Today at Logos

I was kind of in a pissy mood when I arrived at Logos today.  I had run into someone I have known for decades, but only see in passing at intervals of several months.  Maybe once or twice a year.  I greeted her and asked how her family was.  20 minutes later, after I'd learned what her kids were doing what their spouses were doing what her grandchildren were doing, what the kids' spouses PARENTS were doing, where the grandkids went to school, what everybody's wonderful accomplishments were, where everyone had traveled in the last 10 years, and a few more things, I finally extricated myself and headed to the car.  Not once was the sentence "how are things with you?" spoken.  

When I got to Logos, Sandy was there with her granddaughter Sarah and they were ringing up their final customer.  There was nowhere to sit, so I sat at the table in front until they had finished.  Then I moved to the cash register and saw that Sandy had a very productive morning.  For myself, I sold less than $50 to the four customers who bought books during my four hour shift.  The rest of the time I read.  And took a few notes.

I chose Judy Blume's book, "In the Unlikely Event," the fictional story of the town of Elizabeth, NJ and a series of plane crashes that affect the town and its residents in the early 1950s.  It is apparently based on experiences Blume herself had as a child  I have enjoyed Blume's children's books and read her first adult novel, which had entirely too much gratuitous sex for me so I haven't really sought her out as an author since then, but this one appears pretty good.  I brought it home to finish.  Even on a slow day, 400 pages is a tad much to read in four hours.

The first guy who came into the store was a very tall man named James Williams, who is apparently the artist whose work is going to be on display at Logos next month.  He was there to take pictures and measurements.  Very nice man.

After a long while, a mousie blonde woman came in and looked around for a long time, then waved a cheery "thank you" and left without buying anything.

A woman came in looking for "Why look at animals" by John Berger.  She didn't find it and I discovered later, when I checked Amazon, that it was written in 1926 an she told me she had found a copy on sale at Amazon for >$200.  I am amazed that she thought we might have it!

Mike, who filled in for Sandy when she was on vacation came in with his wife and their dog, who may be named Derek or something else.  It ended in -erek, though.  He was sad to find that the book on Japan that we had in the window yesterday was gone.  It sounded like the sort of book my friend would have purchased, but I don't know if he comes in on days other than Thursday (and he didn't come in today either).

Someone posted this picture on Facebook a couple of days ago.  Many of us laughed at how accurate it was.  But then I really had to catch myself because the next guy who came in could have been this Davis guy.  He didn't buy anything or I might have told him how closely he resembled this meme.

A man and two women came in.  One of the women was looking for a book by someone named Marston and the book title, she thought was Kari.  She didn't find it, and when I searched on Amazon (she asked me if I was going to order it from Amazon), I didn't find it either, so she may have had either the author or the title...or both...wrong.
But the group settled themselves comfortably at the front table and the other woman took off her shoe and sock so she could show her friend something wrong with her foot. They discussed the problem for awhile, then she put her sock and shoe back on again and took out her makeup bag and started to fix her makeup.  Meanwhile, the other woman took out a bag of meds and took out some eye drops to put in her eye.  The guy just sat there reading the paper.  Finally all three left.

A guy came in with two books to donate and wanted exchange credit for them, but I told him we didn't do that, so he just left the books, after letting me know they were quite popular, so would probably sell well.

At around 3:30, I made my first sale of the day, two books of stories (one by Alice Munro and another one) to two girls.

They were followed soon by a white haired man wearing a blue shirt from Hibbert's Lumber.  He bought two art books, one on Cubism and one on African art.

Four guys came in together.  They appeared to be a group of young special needs adults.  One went directly to the Literary section and picked out a book of Robert Lewis Stevenson's stories for $7.  He carefully took a red envelope out of the big manilla envelope in his hand and handed me $10.  I gave him change and all four left. 

Another guy came up with a copy of "Hirohito" to purchase and I fear he woke me up.  I was reading my book and had dozed off!  His was the last sale of the day. 

So that was my exciting day.  It was more exciting to come home and fix a Blue Apron calzone dinner.  One of these days I'll actually make the whole recipe the way it's supposed to be made!  (But even without being brushed with olive oil before baking, they were still tasty.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wacky for Washi

Unless you're into "crafts," you might not be familiar with Washi tape.  I'm not into crafts, but I love Washi tape.

Washi tape feels like narrow masking tape but it's made of paper, decorated paper. It is typically made from natural fibers, such as bamboo or hemp, but most commonly from the bark of trees that are native to Japan. Most washi tapes are strong (as strong as duct tape in some cases!) and functional as well as pretty, making them wonderful for both everyday and decorative use.  Best thing about Washi tape is that it can be picked up and put down again several times, but when you are finally happy with the design, it holds strongly.

It has become all the rage and you can find all sorts of designs, mamy of which are available on Etsy.

There are designs in just about any pattern you want, including elephants...

..and Disney characters

I love it when I'm making journals for Swap Bot because I use lots of Washi tape.  When I'm not, I just use it to decorate envelopes for the girls when I write to them

There are two big problems with Washi tape.  First, most of the rolls are pretty cheap ($2) and second, there are lots of designs I really like.  So I find myself drowning in Washi.  I bought a neat little Washi tape holder, figuring that would hold most of my tape.  I like it, but as time passed, it was not NEARLY large enough.

Then I found these neat little boxes at Office max and found that one box would hold four rolls of Washi tape so I bought a bunch of those and they fit inside a bigger box and everything is all neat and tidy...

...except for the new tapes that I bought, so I had to go to Office Max again yesterday and buy more boxes to put in a second bigger box.  That box is now full and when writing this article, I came across some other tapes that I don't have that I'd like to have.

It's a never ending obsession.  I really need to find a project to actually USE some of this tape some day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Another One

There was another memorial service today.  I'd known Andy for probably most of our time in Davis, but I never really knew him.  I knew he was Judy's husband and that he was a doctor.  That's about it.  Our paths never crossed socially, unless it was some school event or a diving meet.  I don't think I've seen him in the last 10 years. I doubt that we ever had a conversation that went beyond "Hello." "Hello."  It was enlightening to read his obituary and listen to the memories today.  I had no idea he was an internationally renown Neurologist or that he was a master carpenter who could fix anything and helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity, among many other things.

Amazing the lives that people we know live and we have no clue unless we are close friends. I found that kind of sad.

From his obituary:  Andy expressed in his oral memoirs for his family, “I most cherish my wife and children. Family is the way to truly change the world. I hope you also believe this and act on this with your own families.”  What a lovely thing to say.

Judging from the outpouring of love today he was as nice a man as he always seemed to be on those rare occasions when I saw him.

We sat at the back of the church, the local Presbyterian church where it seems that everybody in town attends, and I thought what a shame it was that we had never been involved in that church because everybody in town attended it and I suspect I would have gotten to know people in Davis better.  It's 43 years too late, though.

There were more of the usual suspects in attendance, gathered around the ubiquitous food table.  These were some of the same usual suspects from last week's memorial, but a lot that were other usual suspects that we see from the group that I associate Andy and Judy with.  Like the psychiatrist (the one I worked for for 30 years) and his wife.  I used to see them frequently, but since I gave up transcribing for him, it takes a memorial service to bring us together.

There was also the father of a friend of our kids, looking quite unusually dapper.  He was widowed many years ago and recently remarried.  His new wife is obviously whipping him into shape.  He had lost a lot of weight and looked healthier and happier than I'd seen him look in a very long time.
The nice thing about events like this, with old time Davis people, is that when I am introduced to someone, they tell me how much they like my reviews.  So much nicer than the event I went to about 3 years into my being a critic, when someone told me how much she liked my letters to the editor and asked if I ever wrote anything else for the paper!  But I got really very nice feedback on my reviews, and I especially like the ones who tell me that they went to a show because I'd recommended and enjoyed it.

But the older I get, the less comfortable I am at big social things like this.  Walt revels in them and we are generally the last to leave because he gets around and talks to everybody, just like his sister.  He remembers everybody and even if he says "you remember so-and-so" I put on my big smile and say "Yes!  Of course!" but I don't have a clue who that person is.  

I look for the potted palm to hide behind or, lacking one, a quiet table where I can sit unobtrusively with a cup of coffee.  I usually eat too much because it's something to do, but food just didn't appeal to me today, so other than a couple of endive leaves with a bacon spread and a couple of cookies, I didn't eat anything, but drank two cups of coffee.

I did sit with a couple who were talking about my reviews and she and I discussed cruises we had taken.  I swear she and I co-led a Cub Scout troop together a zillion years ago, but she didn't mention it, nor did I because I wasn't sure I was remembering correctly.  Her husband did ask me if we still kept the Pinewood Derby track in our garage and I told him that since our youngest son was nearly 46, we hadn't had Pinewood Derby anything in decades.

So we have now bid goodbye to another Davis old-timer and you can't help but look around all the famiiar faces and wonder whose memorial service we will be attending next.
It's that time of life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Me and Meredity

Back in the 1980s, a doctor in the office for which I was transcriptionist gave birth to a daughter she named Meredith.  I'm not sure why I had to type that word so many times ... we probably had lots of patients named Meredith.  

I cannot for the LIFE of me, even today, type the name Meredith without first typing Meredity.  I heard from the publicist for a Sacramento theater today and I went to respond to her message.  "Thanks, Meredity" I typed. Thirty years I've been typing that name and still can't type it correctly the first time.

As I grow older, my typing gets worse and worse.  I still type fast, but spend almost as much time correcting typos as I do actually typing texts.  There was a time when I was tested as typing 135 words per minute with only one error.  Now if I type 135 words, chances are that there will be errors in half of them, or more.

There are three types of typos that I make consistently, two I understand, the other I don't.  There are the usual actual typos where you type the wrong letters.  For many, many years, the ring finger and pinky finger of my right hand had become numb.  Any word that I typed that had an O or a P in it had to be corrected because 9 times out of 10 the fingers didn't hit those keys.

I had a very painful nerve conduction study done in 2009 (I described it as a 30 minute electrocution!) which identified the problem as a pinched nerve and the only options offered to me were an experimental surgery which might not work (the doctor was not optimistic), putting a splint on my arm to hold it straight for several months (not acceptable for a typist!), or hope that the problem would eventually resolve itself.  I chose the latter option.

I learned how to deal with it and miraculously at some point last year, after nearly 8 years, I realized that the numbness was leaving my ring finger.  A year later, it's almost normal again and the numbness is starting to leave my pinky finger too.  It may or may not return to what was "normal" but it's 1000% better than it has been for many years. It no longer explains most of my typos.

The other typos I make concern words that run together.  I look up at what I have typed and may find that three or four words are all typed as one word.  I couldn't figure out why that could possibly be until I was using my laptop and realized that I didn't make that mistake on that machine.  I decided that the problem started when I got my new computer and figure that if I get a new keyboard with better defined keys, I might type more accurately...or at least not run my words together any more. I may eventually get around to keyboard shopping.

I think the problem with this keyboard is that the keys
are not tall enough, if that makes sense

But it's the third type of typo that worries me, for which I have no explanation, and which I think of as one of the signs of approaching dementia (but then I think that anything unusual with my brain is a sign of approaching dementia).

For example, I was recently captioning a photo and was typing the word "famous" and when I looked at it, what I had typed was "family."  That's sorta kinda logical to explain, getting the first part of the word typed and my brain filling in the rest (kind of like that annoying auto fill that your cell phone does!)

But the ones that really worry me are the times when I am thinking of a word and when I look, I have typed a completely different word that has no relation to the word I was thinking of.  Or I mean to type the name Richard and instead type the word Robert.  That's a bit of a stretch, even for auto-fill!
It is clear I will never be a professional typist again.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Roller Coasters

It was quite a week end for roller coaster emotions.

Actually it started last weekend, when I reviewed the show Shadow Box, about 3 dying patients, one of whom was an old woman with dementia and her daughter, who was her primary care giver.  I found I was most taken with the actress who played the daughter.  As I watched her caring for her mother, my overriding thought was that surely in the actress’ real life she deals with someone with dementia. It wasn’t only that her acting was so strong, but her entire body — including the expression on her face — echoed the exhaustion and reluctant acceptance of what she needed to do that I hear from many caregivers of dementia victims and often feel myself.

Then Jeri came to town and I took a couple of days off from Atria.  Jeri and Alice Nan had lunch with my mother the first day, Jeri went back for lunch the second day, and Walt, Jeri and I all went to spend some time with her on Friday.  

I asked Jeri later what her perception of her grandmother was, since it had been so many months since she had last seen her.  I have no concept of whether she is worse or not, because I see her so often.  When I see her so often, some days she seems so much worse than others.  Jeri said that she seemed about the same to her, which was some comfort.  

This week I felt she was more vague than usual.  The most frequent topic of conversation was Jeri's hair.  She recently had her long hair cut off with an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer.  She did this once before, but I guess maybe they didn't take off as much or we didn't see her for a long time afterwards.  Anyway, this was the shortest I'd seen her hair since she was a child.  For my mother it was a huge shock, so much so that whenever she was looking at something else and then looked back at Jeri, it was like she was seeing her for the first time.  When did she cut her hair? Why did she cut her hair?  and then the reaction -- either it was cute, or she looked terrible and once she didn't want to be seen in public with her (the same kind of reaction she had to my shaving my head last year).  Mostly she decided it was cute, but then minutes later, it was a whole new thing again.  Once at lunch she started looking at Jeri and said "there's something different about you.  I can't figure it out."  "Is it because I cut my hair?" Jeri asked.  "Oh yes," she said and then asked the when and why questions again.

I told Jeri I was impressed with how patient she was with her grandmother and she admitted that the repetitions would even get to her if she saw her as often as I did.

Then Saturday night Walt and I went to a show called Blackberry Winter, which is a one-woman show about a middle aged woman who is dealing with her mother, who has dementia.  Vivienne is powerful, funny, sarcastic, emotional, a bit vulgar (but not much) and so perfectly embodies the jumbled emotions of someone who is dealing with a much loved mother who just isn’t the mother she remembers that this show will resonate with anyone in a similar situation. "I don’t drink; but lately I’ve become jealous of people who do," she says, not entirely joking. It was a tour de force and there were times when I felt it could be me up on that stage saying those same things.

But we ended the week with a show called [title of show] .  It's a show about two guys writing a show about two guys writing a show  I loved it.  Lots of hummable tunes, lots of funny stuff, a very likeable cast and just a feel good evening .. and nobody mentioned the word "dementia" once

Sunday, March 20, 2016

C'mon, Get Happy!

I just learned that today is International Day of Happiness, and with all that is going on in the world, we certainly need it!

So let's make this a "happy" day.  I seem to complain so much on this journal that today should be a day to think about the happy things in my life

I was sitting with the wife of another critic at the opening night reception for a play we attended last night.  She turned to me and said "I think we both have sweet husbands."  I agreed with her.  We both tend to be rather intense "characters" and our husbands seem to put up with us and love us in spite of it.  I put Walt through a lot and he still lives with me, smiling and telling me he loves me.  I am a lucky woman.  That makes me happy.

Jeri left yesterday and spent last night in Oakland, making music with Ned, Marta, and their friends.  She flies out back to Boston today, and weather willing, will be home tonight.  She spent part of 3 days while she was here visiting with her grandma.  What a special relationship they have and how it makes me smile to see her militant positive attitude.  You can't be around Jeri and not be happy.

We had such fun at Todo un Poco the other night.  Seeing Marie and her success, watching how competently she runs her restaurant, reading the publicity on the walls and knowing what a positive force she has been in her community makes me happy, not only for her, but remembering all the good times we had with all those foreign students for all those years.  It was a golden time around here--not always wonderful, but always memorable and how happy I am that we had that experience.

Ned made the dinner at Todo un Poco such fun.  Ned can be such a joy to be around, both watching his relationship with Marta and then seeing how he goes out of his way to help someone (like finding ways to help Marie publicize her restaurant on the radio station for which he works).  He's an amazing person and I'm so glad that we are not only mother and son, but friends as well.

There are so many other things that make me happy.  Tom and his family make me happy all the time, watching the girls grow, watching what wonderful parents Tom and Laurel are (how did Tom learn to be such a great parent?).  I love my relationship with Bri and Lacie, now that I'm making an effort to write to them on a weekly basis.  And sometimes they write back.  I hope that if I keep this up, we will have the perfect way to keep a long-distance relationship active between visits.

The dogs are a constant source of happiness, watching them play together, having a routine that we have settled into each day.  I love how they run in from the living room to greet me in the morning when they hear that I am awake.

Our extended international family, both with the foreign visitors we hosted and now with the Compassion kids that we sponsor.  I have been receiving many letters lately and those I have been sponsoring the longest are now writing "real" letters, rather than essentially "I am fine, how are you, please pray for me" letters.  It is fun to watch our long-distance relationship grow.

And who could not be happy in this part of California today?  We have had lots of rain, the reservoirs, lakes and rivers are fillng up, the hills are a deep, deep emerald green and around town gardens are springing forth with a kaleidoscope of spring flowers in bright colors, especially the beautiful daffodils that are suddenly everywhere.

And finally, definitely not "least" in the happiness list, today is my Jounalversary.  I started writing Funny the World 16 years ago today and with this entry am starting my seventeenth year of daily entries.  All of the people who have read this journal for so many years make me very, very happy!

I wish everyone a very happy International Happiness Day.  What is making YOU happy today?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Two Baby Day

The population of Davis increased by 2 yesterday.  I love sitting at the Inforation Desk and hearing the music box-like sound of Brahms' Lullaby playing softly over the loudspeaker to let the hospital know that a new baby has just been born.  Though these days, I don't know whether to feel happy or sad about the new little arrival, wondeering what kind of world he/she is entering.

The day started with the four of us (Jeri and Alice were here overnight) sitting around eating cranberry muffins and chatting.  Then Alice got her stuff together and took off for a lunch with a friend in Sacramento.  She would then be starting her trip back to Santa Barbara, so this was goodbye.

Jeri borrowed Walt's bike to go to Atria for lunch with my mother and then spent the afternoon biking around Davis to see if it had changed much since her last time here (it hadn't).

Walt took me out to Sutter where I learned that I had an assistant for the day.  Her name was Beloved and I'm not really sure what she was doing there--it's not like the Information Desk is a 2-person job!  But she told me that she had injured her arm and that she was just filling in in various slots around the hospital while she was healing.

As it turned out, it was kind of a busy day and it was nice to have her to run off to deliver flowers, and guide people to where they were supposed to be for various reasons.  We didn't chat much.  She had brought a book of "find a word" puzzles and spent most of her time working those while I finished my book (Doris Kearns Goodman's "Wait Till Next Year.")

At 4:30, Walt came to pick me up and we came home to sit for a bit before time to go out for Family Movie Night.  We try to go to a movie whenever Jeri is here, even though there was slim pickings right now.  Too many CGI-laden shoot-'em-up adventure movies.  Walt suggested Zootopia, which he wanted to see, but Jeri was lukewarm on it.  She preferred Spotlight, which I had seen but the other two had not.  I said I wouldn't mind seeing it again, so Spotlight it was.  Somehow it had a greater impact on the big screen, bringing back anew the shock of size and scope of the Cathaolic church cover-up of pedophile priests.
When I tried to check out how many exactly it was, I found this:
The Vatican revealed Tuesday that over the past decade, it has defrocked 848 priests who raped or molested children and sanctioned another 2,572 with lesser penalties, providing the first ever breakdown of how it handled the more than 3,400 cases of abuse reported to the Holy See since 2004.
What still galls me the most is that Cardinal Law, who orchestrated secret settlements for abuse claims made against at least seventy of his priests, in which families were paid to stay silent about the molestation and rape of their children, was appointed by John Paul II as Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the most prestigious churches in Rome, in 2004.

I'm glad that the Boston Globe shone a light on this scandal and set the stage for world-wide investigation of cases of molestation of children. But what a grievous sin that without the work of the team in Boston, this might have gone on forever with the Church continuing to cover it up and move pedophile priests to new parishes with new children to molest.

It was after 8:30 when we got home.  Walt fixed Jeri a "Dark and Stormy" while I got together one of our Blue Apron dinners, a Cuban Pork sandwich with a salad made of kale and fried plantains.

Jeri was so thrilled to see me fixing something with kale that she felt it deserved a photo!

When we first decided to try Blue Apron, my fear had been that the meals might not be large enough to feed us, but I have found that to be far from the case.  I can rarely finish my portion and last night there was enough for the 3 of us, with leftovers.

It was after 10 by the time we finished dinner and time for everyone to go to sleep.  Jeri is leaving today after she and I have lunch with my mother, then life gets back to whatever "normal" is around here, but it sure has been nice to have her home again, however briefly.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Today at Logos

Walt, Jeri, and Alice Nan rolled into town a little before lunchtime yesterday morning.  Jeri had flown into So. California on Sunday, Walt had taken the train down to Santa Barbara on Monday and on Wednesday they drove up to Petaluma to see Uncle Norm and wife Olivia. 

Thursday morning they made their way to Davis, in time for Alice Nan to realize one of her goals:  to finally get to see Logos.  She's heard about it forever, but today she got to actually go there.

She found it smaller than she imagined.  She said the bookcases weren't as tall as she thought and the arrangement of the desk to front door was different than in her imagination, but she really liked the place.  Of course.  Who wouldn't?

She and Jeri were my first customers today.

Jeri bought a copy of "Room" to read on the plane going back to Boston and also a copy of "The Color Purple," since she had never read it.  Alice Nan picked up a copy of Ann Patchett's "Bel Canto."

It was a medium day.  The first part of my shift was very slow, but things picked up considerably around 4.  Susan said we made $279 for the day, which is a decent showing,  Probably because of the lovely weather outside.

My next customer was the train guy who once again stopped in to buy something to read on the train.  He bought a bargain book and, as he left, he said see you next quarter" so I guess he won't be around for awhile.

An older woman bought a book from the Lit section and expressed surprise that James Michener was in Lit and not Contemporary Fiction.

A shy looking Asian young man car

rying a gift-wrapped tube came in.  He looked around forever and finally bought a book by Ogden Nash ("I'm a Stranger Here Myself").  When he paid me, he carefully counted out the coins like I do when using foreign currency.

A bearded bald guy dressed all in black.  He was talking on his cell phone when he entered and waved at me.  He chose a book, paid for it, waved and left again and never got off the phone.

A woman was looking for the book "What is Visible" by Kimberly Elkins, which they were reading in her book club.  She knew nothing about the book and I checked it out on Amazon and found it was about a 19th century woman who lost four of her five senses to Scarlet Fever but by age 20 was considered the 19th century's 2nd most famous woman (the review didn't say who was the first!)

Midway through the afternoon, I noted that there  was not a preponderance of green in the store, which was surprising, given that it was St. Patrick's Day.  In fact, it was not until the last half hour that I started seeing green, both in customers wandering around Logos and in people walking outside (presumably to DeVere's Irish pub around the corner)

I had worn the only green shirt I had, which was my President's Day shirt which has the Gettysburg Address printed in the shape of a picture of Lincoln's head.

Eliza came by and just stood outside the door, facing away from me.  Her thing pastel skirt dragged on the ground and she had a blue blanket over her head  From her body language, I wondered if she was breastfeeding her baby.

The book lady of February 19 (I'm now calling her RosaBooks), who bought $52 worth of books last month, telling me she had NO room for new books, today only bought 5 books, two on non-violence, and two on biodiversity as well as a coffee table book on "Images of Nature," with gorgeous photos of scenes in nature.  We again talked about non-profits, GMOs and her other passions.

A thin guy with a belly that made him look pregnant bought a book on Photography and a contemporary fiction.

The "green people" started coming in, starting with a woman with a bright green bag from "Goats on the Roof Market.  She sat on the floor for a long time looking at the travel books and finally bought 3 books in a series by an Egyptian writer.

A woman in a forest green shirt and aqua green backpack, wearing knee high boots looked through the theater section for awhile and then asked if I had books by Michael Pollen ("He writes about food.")  RosaBooks was still there at the time and showed her were Michael Pollen books were. She knew the store books better than I did.

A large man who looked like he might be uncomfortable in book shops came in with a little girl who wanted to know if we had a book on Ann Frank.  She looked to be about Brianna's age and actually looked a little like Ann Frank. I was sorry we didn't have the book.

Walt, Jeri and Alice Nan showed up, having been at the Irish pub for Irish coffee (the girls) and Guinness (Walt).  We came home briefly and then headed off to Elk Grove to have dinner at Marie's restaurant, Todo un Poco again (I had chile rellenos, those being green, you know!).  Marie was able to spend time with us and we shut the place down and as usual came home laden with food she made for us.  Walt and I just glowed watching Marie, Jeri and Ned together.  They lived together for a year when Marie was going to high school and it was like a family reunion.  Marie and Jeri had not seen each other, they decided, in about 17 years.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Auld Sod

I was standing on the deck of a ferry out of Holyhead in Wales. It was my first trip to Ireland and I was eager for the first sight of land. I’d heard the phrase "my heart lept up," of course, but I never realized that a heart could really do that. But as the shore began to come into view, my heart really did leap up. I was about to set foot on the land of my ancestors. My mind was full of thoughts of the great-grandmother I never met, who left Ireland as a girl and traveled around the world to make a better life for herself. To my knowledge, she never returned to Ireland and I felt I was looking at the country for her.

My ancestry is Scottish on my mother’s side and Irish and German on my father’s. But the roots I have always felt the strongest were my Irish roots. My great grandparents came from Ireland and my grandfather was an Irish tenor in vaudeville and throughout my childhood, some of my fondest memories involve listening to him singing the Irish Songs I knew so well--Rose of Tralee, Tumbledown Shack in Athlone, Mother Machree, Galway Bay, and other songs.

This was our first trip out of the United States. My father died the year before and left a small savings account. We split it in half, divided half of it among the kids and took the other half to pay for a big vacation for the whole family. It was the last year that we would be able to travel together as a family--Ned would be getting married the next year and all the kids were beginning to make their own adult lives.

We had already spent a great week in England and now we were going to Ireland. A friend in San Francisco had a small cottage on the west side, which we had rented for the week, and Walt’s mother had a cousin living in Dublin whom we wanted to meet. Other than that, we had not a single clue of anything we wanted to do in the country and my search through guide books hadn’t really left me with any "must see" sights. Something about kissing the Blarney stone was about all I could think of. (Four trips later, we still have never visited Blarney Castle!)

The boat docked in Dun Loaghre and the trip was off to a bad start when the "van" I’d booked weeks before turned out to be a compact hatch back station wagon. Trying to fit seven full sized adults and all their luggage into a car built for 5 was an experience. But we were determined to enjoy ourselves and so we folded up long limbs, packed luggage in, under, and around all of us, and we headed off to the hotel where we would spend the first night.

We met cousin Nora and formed an instant friendship, which has lasted to this day. She took us out to have our very first Irish meal: McDonald’s (the only restaurant open at that hour of night). 

The next day, following a stop at the Guinness brewery for a tour and tasting, we folded all the body parts back into the tiny hatchback (to the great amusement of the guard in the parking lot) and started on our five hour drive to Mayo Abbey, in County Mayo on the west side of the country.

The "town" consisted of one long building--one end was the pub, in the middle was the grocery store, and at the other end was the undertaking parlor. Across the street was the cemetery and nearby the old abandoned abbey from which the town took its name. We were told that to find the cottage we should stop "anybody" and ask direction to "The Yanks’ house." 

Walt stopped a white-haired old couple walking by the side of the road and the brogue was so thick they were almost impossible to understand. I got a terrible case of the giggles. But they did direct us to "The Yanks’" place. 

We lived in the cottage, cooked on a stove heated by bricks of peat, which were stored in the barn. We heated the water for our shower when we needed it, and we hung our clothes on a clothesline to dry. 

We spent a week driving around western Ireland. We found the people warm and accepting everywhere. And we fell in love with the country. From the majestic Cliffs of Mohr to the rustic altars to the Virgin Mary you found in the most unlikely places, to the stone fences and the abandoned thatched cottages, a sad reminder of another family whose dreams died in the harsh terrain of Western Ireland.
Walt and the kids climbed Crogh Patrick, that holy mountain where pilgrims walk in procession on St. Patrick’s day to a small chapel at the top dedicated to St. Patrick (a clerk in a store, on hearing the plans, looked at my out of shape body and said "YOU’re not going to climb, are you??" I assured him that I’d be sitting in the car reading.)

After Climbing Crogh Patrick (in back)

We had a memorable "Irish experience" at the tiny pub in Mayo Abby. We were invited by the caretakers for the cottage to a benefit for a man with leukemia who was trying to raise money for a bone marrow transplant. People came from all over the county and the fiddlers struck up lively tunes. We sat in a booth with our host family and drank beer, watching the activity on the dance floor. An elderly man came up and told Jeri he was going to teach her to dance an Irish dance. Soon, all the kids were out on the dance floor. Tom dragged me out to dance a waltz (and I thanked his jazz choir instructor for teaching our son to waltz). The hour got late, the laughter was plentiful and by the end of the night, the kids got everyone in the place dancing a circle dance that they made up on the spot. 

We were told a year later that the folks who were there that night still remembered the night the "yanks" took over Malachai Burns’ pub. We couldn’t have planned it if we’d tried.

Paul and his bride returned to Mayo Abbey for their honeymoon and found that the magic was still there and they were the toast of the town again. People in the town sent us condolences on hearing of Paul's death.

We were invited to another pub the next night--the Squealing Pig, which wasn’t quite as memorable, but the kids did make friends with a man who was so drunk they couldn’t understand when he told them his name (for years we called him "Southern Ireland" because that how it sounded...several years later we discovered his name was really "Sonny Nyland")

Paul and David with "Southern Ireland"
all 3 of them are dead now.

We visited the 300 year old family farm, which was still occupied by Walt’s distant cousin Ned. Though we had not named our own son after this man, we still made a big deal about having two Neds in the same place. Cousin Ned was generous with the Irish whiskey too, pouring tumblers full for all of us.

A toast, with Cousin Ned
(Cousin Ned has since died, unfortunately)

By the time we left Ireland, I felt like I had become part of the land. It’s a strange experience. I love England and have been there several times, but nothing has ever hit my soul the way Ireland did. We’ve been back four more times, and each time I feel like I’m stepping back into part of my history.

And when I stood on the shores of Galway Bay and watched the sun go down, I could hear the echoes of my grandfather’s voice singing off in the distance.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Like Sleeping On A Cloud

I've been having neck problems for the past several months.  Not bad neck problems, but the kind you get when you sleep wrong and you wake up with a stiff neck.

It wasn't that I didn't know why.  I heard somewhere recently that you should get a new pillow every 3 years.  I've been sleeping on mine for over 10 years and it long ago lost its "oomph."  So I know that my neck problems have been caused by sleeping on a bad pillow.  It was just easier to deal with the neck problem than actually going out and buying a new pillow.

Oh, I thought about it a lot.  "I should go get a new pillow."  But somehow just never did.

But JERI is in California.  She arrived on Sunday and has been at Tom's house.  Alice Nan is driving her up here on Wednesday, but they will spend the night with Uncle Norm and Aunt Olivia and then come to Davis on Thursday.  Alice Nan is going to spend the night so she can go with us to have dinner at Todo un Poco and visit with our Mexican daughter, Marie, on Thursday night before going to see friends in Sacramento.

Spending the night!  Ack!  I just never think of folks spending the night here (except Ashley and Dave when they dog-sit for us).  With all the crap around here and the obnoxious dogs it just never seems to be a good idea.  Alice has been so good to host us whenever we go to Santa Barbara but I just feel embarrassed to have her here in all this chaos.

The least I could do was to get new towels.  

So I went to Target yesterday and bought 2 new towel sets, one for Alice and one for Jeri.  And while I was there, I picked out a new pillow.  It seemed so decadent and self-indulgent.  It's not an expensive pillow, but it was at least fluffier than the one I have been sleeping on and seemed to have more body to it.

Well, lemme tell you.  I went into the couch last night, with my new pillow and with an extra layer of blanket (since I seem to sleep more soundly under two blankets instead of just one) and I sank my head into that new pillow and felt like I'd died and gone to heaven.  At the very least I was nestled in my own little cloud.
I also fell asleep in less than 5 minutes, and except for my usual 3 a.m. trip to the bathroom, I slept the entire night through. I had been so comfortable that after getting up at 3, instead of moving to the recliner, as I usually do I went back to the couch and it was light before I woke up again.  I can't remember the last time I've had so much sleep--and awakened without a stiff neck.

I'm also happy to have new towels, as the ones I have been using since we remodeled the bathroom in about 2002 are no longer soft and fluffy...and when Jeri and Alice leave, I can use them!

I put the towel set on the bed where Jeri will sleep in the "big bedroom" and sat in a chair and just looked at that room.  I keep saying we aren't hoarders, but you'd sure be hard pressed to prove that by looking at this room.  Just from where I sat I could see things like a manual typewriter that probably hasn't been used in 25 years, an old VCR -- maybe more than one.  There are mementos of events from decades ago, long since buried, including quilts I'd forgotten we had.  There are boxes of stuff overflowing and baskets of stuff overflowing and don't evenget me started on the books.  I have my very own little Logos going in that bedroom.

But I understood how my mother, whose house was never untidy, would just sit, look around her house and moan "what am I going to do with all this crap?"  The problem is knowing where to even begin to reduce the piles of stuff we are never going to use ever, ever again.

And then there's the "Pepto Room," the pink room where Alice Nan will sleep.  It has become a storage room for empty boxes.  Somehow the  recycle-able Blue Apron boxes get stored here instead of being thrown away, but that's a good thing because I used lots of them to clean out closets and drawers recently.  But there are still more.  I should start putting "crap" from the big bedroom into those empty boxes stll in the Pepto Room.

Char just moved to a new place yesterday and has been going through the "what am I going to do with all this crap" angst for some time now.  But she did it and can now start collecting new crap.  As I sat in the big bedroom this morning I decided what I REALLY need to do is go away fro a few days, get Ned to supervise (not do the work) and hire a crew to remove everything from that room and throw it all away, leaving only the books and the photo albums.

But that won't get done.  Still, it's a lovely dream.  And I even have a lovely new pillow to have that dream on.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hero Stuff

I made a big mistake last night.  I knew I had to get up early this morning and set my alarm and then decided to sleep the whole night in the recliner.  Instead of turning on Frasier to put me to sleep, as I usually do, I decided to watch one of the things I had recorded on our DVR.

Yesterday, while we were at the non-memorial I set the DVR to record the movie San Andreas, which I figured would be a corny, cheesy movie that would easily put me to sleep.

Yes on the former, no on the latter.  Yes, it was cheesy, but the CGI was so good, as I watched a 2 hour earthquake and tsunami destroy California and it did NOT put me to sleep.  So I ended up getting one hour of sleep.

San Andreas is a movie maybe one or two of you missed in its theatrical release, so I thought I would tell you the story.  I don't know if you call this a spoiler alert or not since we know the state is destroyed, but here's how the plot goes, more or less.

It starts with a girl driving and texting in a car on a winding road in Southern California.  Somehow she doesn't hit any of the cars coming around blind curves while she's not looking at the road, but a slight tremor disrupts the road enough that her car goes careening over the cliff and she is left hanging precariously in her car, which is caught on a tree midway down to the bottom.

A Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter, piloted by (actor) Dwayne Johnson comes to rescue her.

He sends one of his men down on a rope to catch her before her car falls, but the guy gets trapped under the car, so it's time for Dwayne to turn the helicopter controls over to his co-pilot and t Do The Job Himself.
As soon as he removes his helmet and jacket and starts to don the paraphernalia needed to drop down to the car, all those bulging muscles makes it clear that this is our HERO.

As the car breaks free of the tree and plunges to the bottom of the cliff, our HERO is shown with both the girl and his crew member on hand and all are rescued.

In the meantime the earth begins shaking in Nevada.  Seismologist Paul Giamati nearly dies as Hoover Dam collapses, but he manages to rescue a child on the way, but loses a co-worker, who falls into the rushing water. 

LA starts shaking, buildings fall.  Dwayne's almost ex-wife is trapped on one of the top floors of a hotel, having a nice lunch.  She calls her husband, in his helicopter.  He tells her to get to the rooftop and he will rescue her.  She does, amidst buildings falling around her and her own building nearly collapsing, but it's early in the movie so of course he comes to the rescue at the last minute.

Looking at his stats, Giamati realizes that the earthquake is going to travel up all of California, eventually reaching San Francisco.  He tries to get the word out to San Franciscans that they need to evacuate NOW.

(All of these scenes are accompanied by buildings exploding or imploding or collapsing, glass falling out into the streets, people being hit by falling blocks of concrete, and general mayhem).

Their daughter is in San Francisco with the wife's new boyfriend.  When the ground starts shaking there, she also calls Dad in the helicopter because the car she was riding in is trapped in a hotel garage.  (She gets great cell phone reception in the underground garage, trapped under concrete)

Dwayne turns to his almost ex wife and says "We're going to get our daughter!"  and heads the helicopter 400 miles north to Get. His. Daughter.  Only the helicopter gets hit by flying debris and has to crash land.  They hot wire a truck and continual driving north until the truck comes to a big crevasse in the highway.

It is, however, conveniently near in a field next to a small airport, where Dwayne is able to hotwire a plane and continue his journey. because that's the stuff HEROs do..

More falling debris, though now it's the familiar streets of San Francisco I see collapsing.  Daughter gets rescued by a boy she met and his brother and they are now out of the garage.  More buildings collapse.  She calls Dad again (amazing cell phone service in a town that is being destroyed!)  He tells her to go to high ground and suggests she get to Coit Tower (not what I'd call a  "high point").  They only have to go several miles over rubble and crashing buildings to get there.

In the meantime, nearing SF, the plane is running out of gas and Dwayne decides they are going to set down at AT&T Park (home of the Giants), only the plane can't go there, so while the plane flies off to crash who knows where, he and the almost ex wife parachute down into the park.  

Dwayne rescues people in the street, because he's a HERO and gets them inside the park, but with the amount of debris and continually collapsing buildings he realizes there is no way walk to Coil Tower, so they hot wire a boat and decide to go around on the Bay.

In the meantime, after walking forever, daughter and entourage see Coit Tower off in the distance and discover that the parkland around it is on fire and they won't be able to get there.  They decide to head for the next highest peak, Nob Hill (I'm not sure who decided these "high points."  Did nobody think of Twin Peaks?  A real high point....and also solid ground.  Also away from falling buildings, so uninteresting photographically.)  For some reason they don't call Daddy this time around.

Somehow they end up inside a building when a huge tsunami hits and what buildings weren't already shaken by the quake are now being washed away by water.  They manage to keep climbing higher and higher in the building to escape the water.

Dwayne and his little rubber boat has also encountered the tsunami and are now floating around among the debris of the financial district when suddenly, incredibly they see their daughter and her friends in the window of a building.

Dwayne turns boat controls over to his not yet ex wife and dives in to save. their. daughter.  He gets to her, but he is one one side of a pane of glass and she on the other and they can't break it (their goodbye is a real Spock-Kirk moment).  As he watches, helpless, she gets swallowed up in the water and begins to sink.  Not yet ex wife sees the problem, revs up the boat motor and rams into the glass, breaking it.  Hell hath no fury like a Mom trying to save her kid.  Dwayne reaches lifeless daughter and drags her out to the boat.

CPR goes on forever.  In the meantime boy and his brother have also come to the boat.  She's dead.  Can't be revived.  But Dwayne isn't going to take no for an answer because he is a HERO and tries again.  She coughs up water and sits up with a "where am I" look.  Happy hugs all around.

Now they are all together, at last, on the boat but another enormous wave is headed into the city.

Dwayne realizes there is no "through" it, only "over" it, so revs the tiny boat's motor and attacks the wave.  After near collision with a huge freighter, whose cargo nearly hits them many times before it rips through the Golden Gate Bridge, they come out the other side and look back at the destroyed city.

"Now we rebuild," HERO Dwayne says.

Not yet ex wife does not sing "San Francisco."

Oh yeah...not yet ex wife's boyfriend was conveniently killed by a falling building, so the rekindled love between Dwayne and not yet ex wife can proceed unhampered.  All's well that ends well.

And that's why I had no sleep last night.