Tuesday, May 31, 2016


It was 78 degrees when we left the lovely picnic in Berkeley and was 93 degrees when we returned to Davis, which is one of the reasons we went to the picnic in the first place.  I actually almost-sorta-kinda wished for a jacket on our walk back to the car, but I didn't really need one.

Today was the annual Paul Picnic, which Paul's friend Kag started the year after Paul died and, with only a few exceptions, continues to date, though today may have been one of the smaller groups.  It's been fun to watch the offspring of the Lawsuit group grow up.  The oldest of the group (who was not born when Paul died) is 6'3" now.

The picnic is held in a park in Berkeley and Kag and his family always get there early to grab the favorite picnic spot.  It's a slight schlep from the street where you park, but the park has a guy with a golf cart who sits at the gate and drives people to their location all day long.

(The most popular guy in the park!)

He took me up to the picnic spot while Walt went and parked the car.  While I waited for Walt to come I realized that I did not have my fanny pack...which held my phone, my camera, and my iPod.  My life!  I couldn't believe that I'd left it in the car and when the cart guy arrived with Walt I asked if he could go back to the car and get it.  When he returned, he said it was not there.  I couldn't believe I had lost it between the car and the picnic spot and the guy was going to drive us both back to the street so we could check together, when I found it--it had fallen on the ground under a wagon.  Whew.

So we were free to get to cooking our chicken, which I had been marinating for more than 24 hours.  I had seen a tea-based recipe that sounded interesting and decided to make that, but I had none of the key ingredients.  It was black tea and star anise primarily, and then you add cinnamon and sesame oil and soy sauce.  I used orange tea and 5 spice powder (which has cinnamon in it) and it turned out delicious.  And juicy!

One of the younger kids had brought a unicycle and Ned decided to see if he could still ride one, which he had learned to do many years ago.

Not so much!  His 49 year old muscle memory had atrophied. He did finally get it going and was able to ride a few feet.

Then Henry took his unicycle back and rode up the hill without any problem at all.

One thing I love about these picnics is that there is always music.

Pretty much all of them are now or have been professional or semi-professional musicians and song writers and it's always so much fun listening to them jam together.

I guess it was about 3:30 when we left, catching our friend the golf cart driver for a ride to the entrance to the park.  The only bad part about returning home was that it was like stepping into a sauna when we got out of the car. We were both so full when we got home, that we just picked at leftovers for dinner.  A really lovely day.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Squirrel !!!

Remember the dog in the animated movie Up?  That's how I'm feeling these days.

Every time he started to do something, he got distracted by a passing squirrel.

My squirrels are books.  Today I was sorting through a box of the 'better' books, those that I really want to read but, for some reason or other, know I will never get around to (length, size of print, etc).  I have most of Michael Crichton's, one of which is a hardback still wrapped in cellophane.  But I doubt I will ever read it.  I have most of Robin Cook's too.  There was a time when I devoured his books, and I suspect this was purchased during that time. (I'm also discovering that as I come across clumps of books, I can remember where I was in my mind/interests at the time I bought them.)  Robin Cook is a good writer and writes riveting stories, but when you have read enough you realize the plot is pretty much the same -- different locale, different biological threat to the world, different heroine in trouble, but who will save the day -- and you just get to the point where you don't care any more.

I also have several Frederick Forsyth, which I'm pretty sure I won't read because of length, though I have loved his books.  So into the Logos box they went.  (I should say that length is really not a deterrent.  I have read many >500 page books on my Kindle, but a >500 page book is just too big to lug around everywhere.)  But one of the Forsyth books was a little ( less than 200 pages) book called "Phantom of Manhattan," inspired by Gaston Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera."

Andrew Lloyd Webber had reviewed it: Frederick Forsyth not only captures the spirit and style of Gaston Leroux's original novel, but also the romance and thrills that have made the Phantom such an alluring character.

I sat down "just for a minute" to look through it and immediately got hooked, just on the preface, where he tells how "Phantom" came to be such a phenomenon.  It was written around the same time as "Dracula" and "Frankenstein," and achieved some small attention, but then lapsed into obscurity.  Had it not been for a meeting by Leroux with Carl Laemmle, President of Universal Studios we might never have sung those wonderful Lloyd-Webber songs.

Leroux gave Laemmle a copy of his book, when he learned that the American was enthralled with the Paris Opera House.  Laemmle, the story goes, read the book in one night.  He was, at that time, preparing for the silent movie about Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" for Universal's then-new star Lon Chaney.  Laemmle wanted another vehicle for Chaney, before he could be gobbled up by a rival studio and figured that Leroux's story would be just the thing.  The fear part of it was a great selling point, especially for women, who liked to be scared, and they gave away free smelling salts in the lobby before the film!

It made "Phantom of the Opera" a classic, and Chaney a star.  It was re-made several times for movies and television, but it didn't achieve the status it has now achieved until a young camp director produced it for London's West end and it was seen by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  He was in the middle of writing Aspects of Love at the time, but the story stayed with him and when he had the time...well...you know the rest.

The Forsyth book takes the idea of Leroux's story and sets it in 1906, 20 years after the events in Paris, in an era where few would have known about the disaster there...and takes it from there (I haven't actually started the story yet)

I read all of this when I should have been sorting through more books, but this was my squirrel, and as I type this, the book is sitting on my desk and I know I will do more reading than sorting today.  Since it is so short, I will almost certainly finish it (then I can put it in the "Logos" box!) before returning to book-sorting.

I went to Atria today to deliver meds and pick up laundry.  Fortunately she was in her apartment so the visit was easier because we could talk many times about how much she loved the flowers around here.  I started telling her that Ned was painting my office lavender.

You'd think that would be easy.  You'd be wrong.  

- Ned is home painting my office.  We're painting it lavender.
- What about lavender?
- That's the color of the paint.
- Paint for what?
- My office.  Ned is painting it.
- Ned?  Where in your house are you painting?
- My office.
- I've never seen your office.  What are you doing to it?
- We're painting it.

And that's just the FIRST time we talked about it.  Know how many times you can repeat this conversation in an hour?

We also had an argument, of sorts about her mail.  She has a stack of opened envelopes that she says she needs to throw away.  It's been there for awhile.  I told her I'd go through it to see if anything needed to be attended to.  In the tall stack there were ads for X-Finity, ads from AAA asking her to return (for the car she no longer has), empty envelopes, etc.  I got them all sorted and the 3 envelopes she needed to keep set aside and she was adamant that I throw NOTHING away because she had to go through it all herself and decide what she needed to keep.  Then she set it all back where it is, waved her hand over it and said "I have to get rid of all this crap."


I'd write more but... squirrel !!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Kingdom for a Country

 I always enjoy my lunches with my friend Kathy.  We see each other once a month and are not in communication between times, but we stay caught up on each other's lives, and have been doing it that way for nearly 20 years. Sometimes our lunches are short, with nothing much to talk about.  Today we sat and talked for two hours.

First she told me about her recent trip to New York and the nightmare it was to get there.  She flew United and the plane was delayed 8½ hours, first by frost on the wing, then by whatever they used to defrost the plane getting into the system somehow and they needed to fly a technician into Denver from Seattle.  They let the passengers off the plane and told them to go and have dinner.  When they returned they were offered food vouchers, which nobody could use because they had already eaten.  There were a couple of other delays but when the were finally airborn, the airline had the audacity to SELL them those crappy little boxes of crackers they call a meal on United flights.  They did offer the passengers $75 coupons for future flights, but I'm wondering how many, after such an experience, will actually consider flying United again.  I know my experience with United in the last few years has been so abominable (you just plan on flight delays these days) that if our frequent flyer miles were not with United, I would find another airline.

She had also taken a cruise from San Diego to Portland.  Four days on the ship and no stops for touring historic spots en route, just four days of relaxing and having fun on the water.  Sounded wonderful.

But of course we eventually (several times) got around to the candidacy of Donald trump and his apparent unstoppable juggernaut to the White House.  She found a magnet that she picked up for me in Portland.

We're both wondering which country we want to move to when Trump becomes the leader of the free world and has access to all the bomb codes.

After a two hour lunch, I needed a two hour nap, and happily took it.

Then in the evening, we went down to the Davis Art Center for an outdoor production of Moliere's Scapino, performed by Acme Theatre Co, the young adult company founded 35 years ago, which puts on a free production every Memorial Day as its thank you to the city of Davis for its support throughout the year.  Jeri and Paul both performed with Acme from the beginning, Ned worked tech eventually, so it's always been a family project.  They now offer a yearly "Paul Sykes award" at the end of each year.

The event starts with an optional barbeque, where you can pick up a nice burger plate with a cheeseburger, corn on the cob, and fresh strawberries.  I can say with certainty that they served the absolute worst hamburger I have ever had.

The meat was so overcooked that it was crispy.  I have had biscotti softer than that meat and because it was so overcooked, the cheese melted into the meat and if you closed your eyes, you would have no idea there was any cheese on the meat whatsoever.  I ate some of it, but ten decided it was inedible
But the corn and strawberries were good.

In the "small world" department, we chatted with some people we have known ever since the kids founded the Sunshine Children's Theater.  We only see these folks at Acme productions, but we get caught up on whose kid is doing what now.  One of their sons had gone through a messy divorce, but was now remarried to a wonderful girl who as it turns out, is Char's cousin's son's daughter.  The mother-in-law wants to meet Susan, since it is her brother who is the new wife's father.  I am often amazed at how small this world is!

This version of Scapino was adapted by actor/comedian/clown Bill Irwin and comedian Mark O'Donnell.  The plot is very shallow and the whole point of the show is the slapstick comedy.  The "story" is supposedly set in turn of the century San Francisco, but locale has no place in the story--it could just has easily have been set in Japan, Italy, or Bangladesh, for all the reference to location.  It was also strange that for turn of the century San Francisco, they used a modern image of the city.

But let it pass.  The kids did a good job and it was a fun show.  It only runs through Monday, so I had to write the review as soon as we got home in order for the newspaper to get it printed for Sunday's edition. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Today at Logos

Sandy wasn't there today and another woman was working for her.  What an officious person she was.  I had brought in two bags of books and had intended to unload them and choose one to read, but she very nearly didn't want to let me in the back room, even though I told her I was there to work for the afternoon.  She absolutely REFUSED to let me unload the books.  She had to do it herself.  She may be a very nice person, but she definitely did not make a good impression on me.

This was like the inverse of last week.  Last week Sandy had a very boring morning and I had such a busy afternoon I didn't even have time to read.  The morning yesterday was very busy and I had a calm afternoon, with little bursts of busy.  But overall, we made over $300, so it was a good day.

My first customer today was the guy I have called the commuter, since for several weeks he would race in, grab a book and race out again to catch a train.  Today he had no train to catch, so he was free to browse.  He bought a thick book and complained that the other book he was interested in, at $5, was too much.

An interesting looking asexual person walked in.  Long straight black hair, perhaps a hint of facial hair and a bit of acne. Dressed all in black, with jewelry.  I kept glancing trying to figure out if this person was male or female.  I finally decided probably female until check out, when the voice seemed to be very deep.  I'm still not sure!  He/she bought a book called "Etymologicon"

An American guy wearing a Colombia t-shirt looked at the foreign language books then left without buying anything.

A guy bought what looked like a great coffee table book of black and white dog photos.

A tall African American guy in a basketball shirt with "Curry" on the back bought two books by Toni Morrison.

We were very low on $1 bills.  I texted an SOS to Susan because we were also low on quarters and I was afraid I was not going to be able to make change.  Susan texted me back, but my damn phone never lets me know when I have a text message, so I didn't realize she had answered until she called a while later.  By that time, I had mined my own wallet for dollars and the morning woman returned with two bags of donated books and ten $1 bills.  We were fine until the end of the day.

The tall guy I call "Pete Seeger" came in.  He's such a pleasant person.  He gave a cheery wave when he entered, spent a long time hunkered down at the music section and ultimately didn't buy anything this time, but left with a cheery wave again.

A couple came in and the woman picked up a card for the Beer Fest Walt is coordinating.  I texted him (he responded; my phone didn't let me know).  She left the card behind when they walked out, but several other people also picked up Beer Fest cards and I talked with one guy about it  He had been there a couple of years ago and may go again this year.  It's a fund raiser for Citizens Who Care, which provides social support services to Yolo County adults and their family caregivers.

My friend came in at 4:30 and bought "The Shape of Content" by Ben Shahin, which discusses meaning and form in contemporary painting and offers advice to aspiring artists..  He got a good deal.  I found it on Amazon, used, for $50. He paid about $4.50.  He also picked up a big book called "Stage by Stage," which he wanted me to put on hold for him.  He says it's part of a trilogy and if he can find the other two books, he will buy it next week.  Later, when Susan came in and I told her about the book and gave it to her to save for him, she said that it had been donated by our friend Stephen, who had invited Logos to his house to pick up all of Larry's books, after his death, though I think this particular book had to have been Steve's.

A mom with a sleeping baby in a stroller wandered around the store, ending up in the kids' room, while pushing the stroller back and forth in the aisle.  Ultimately she did not buy anything.

Another guy I described as "young middle age" looked at the music section for a long time.  He eventually brought me a book to ring up for him, for which he paid with a credit card.  When I looked at the card, I saw it was the son of our kids' late high school music teacher, the beloved Dick Brunelle, for whom there is now a theater named in his memory.  I think the last time I saw his son he was probably 2/3 the height he is today.  He told me he hears Ned on the radio from time to time.  I had to let him know that Ned no longer works for the radio station.

A guy looked for a book on origami for his younger brother who loves it.  He didn't find one, but did find two book of cartoons, one a Dilbert and one another one.

A zaftig mother and daughter bought a bargain book, a couple of mysteries and two books of Japanese instruction.

Finally a guy who is a good friend of Susan's came in.  He bought a bargain book and a book about Art.  Susan came in before he left and there was a lively political discussion, anti-Trump, which another customer who happened to be browsing joined in enthusiastically.  I shared that I've decided Trump has become the "teflon Don" and that he really is right that he could stand in Times Square with a gun and start shooting people and it wouldn't matter.  No matter how heinous his former activities have been, whom he has offended, what scary promises he has made, what lies he has told (Politifax has checked his speeches and give him a 91% rating for false statements!) his popularity only increases.  He dismisses his former sexual proclivities as unimportant since it was so long ago, yet continues to make Bill Clinton's of major importance.  He continues not to answer questions, but to bulldoze over any interviewer and turn the conversation in the way he wants to to go.

He is a scary, scary man.  I am feeling more sympathetic towards the German people who brought Hitler to power because I see now how it was done.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Xulhan Mannan

I spent a good portion of the morning reading about Xulhaz Mannan, a 39 year old man in Bangladesh, who was hacked to death with machetes wielded by a gang of six Islamic fundamentalists, in his apartment in Dhaka, in front of his 80 year old mother.

I first heard of Xulhaz Mannan a couple of days ago when Steve posted the link to a song for which he had written the music. In Bangladesh several academics and bloggers have been brutally murdered and now, according to reports, they are trying to "erase his name."  By telling his story, perhaps I can do my bit to keep his name alive.

Mannan, a graduate of the University of Dhaka, worked at the US Embassy in Bangladesh and regularly posted photos of diplomatic events on his Facebook page. (Ironically, in December his cover page contained a tribute to "the martyrs.")
In recent months, activists and thought leaders have been increasingly targeted in Bangladesh. On Saturday, according to the Independent, a professor was hacked to death by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and on April 6, suspected extremists killed an atheist, secular activist in similar fashion.
Mannan worked for both Roopbaan and the Bangladesh outpost of USAid, the United States' government's humanitarian and development agency.  Roopbaan was the country's only LGBT magazine, launched in 2014 to promote greater acceptance of LGBT communities in Bangladesh.  Homosexual relations are criminalized in Bangladesh and many LGBT activists have been forced into exile.  Mannan had worked in the human rights sector specially for the LGBT community in Bangladesh. He successfully arranged a "rainbow rally" in Dhaka on 14 April 2015, however the rally was canceled in 2016 on police instruction, following death threats.

The current US Ambassador to the country issued a statement saying “We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders.”

Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s south Asia director, said: “There have been four deplorable killings so far this month alone. It is shocking that no one has been held to account for these horrific attacks and that almost no protection has been given to threatened members of civil society.

USAID published a statement calling Mannan "a courageous advocate for human rights."  John Kerry has urged the prime minister to arrest the killers.

Mannan's mother is a retired education ministry officer and elder brother was the vice president of Dhaka stock exchange. His elder sister is a pharmacist, living in the US. His father, who died several years ago was actively involved with the Bangladeshi independence movement in 1971.  His cousin was former Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipul Moni.

Perhaps the worst thing about this horrific crime is that protesters are cheering for the murderers. 
This is the song that Steve wrote.  Let's keep his name alive.

We in this country are so incredibly far removed from what it is like for some people in the world.  Maybe we don't want to know.  Maybe it's ugly and unpleasant and we'd rather find out who won Dancing with the Stars.  But that ugliness exists.

Today I read the story of a little girl in...I can't remember what country now, unfortunately.  Philippines?  Maybe.  Anyway, someone from Compassion went to visit her home and discovered that she lived with her grandmother under a house.  The visitor asked what they did when the rainy season came and the grandmother said that during the rainy season, they lived with water up to their waste all the time.

I is so important that we share things like this, to humanize them, to bring stories of extreme poverty and extreme violence out into the open.  
Writing about the massacre of Xulhaz Mannan in a little blog in a little town in California is not going to have any effect on violence in Bangladesh, but maybe if enough people like me keep his name alive, it will be more difficult to wipe the whole thing off the books an his memory will live on.

with the wife of the US Ambassador to Bangladesh with a certificate Mannan
was awarded at the American embassy in 2014

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Old Man Walk

I watched Walt walk across the family room the other night, headed upstairs to go to bed, and I saw my grandfather.  He was walking that "old man walk" that is so familiar around Atria and which I remember made my father so angry, the older my grandfather got.  I remember when my father, too, did the old man walk (and he died a year younger than I am now.)

Now, truth be told, there is a lot of exaggeration involved when Walt does the "old man walk," but it's not all exaggeration.  There's the slumped shoulders, the protruding hips, the foot shuffle, the bowed head.  It's hard to figure out what is real and what is for effect.  (He does, though still have his own teeth and all his own still-mostly-brown hair, unlike this illustration.)

I understand that.  I do my own version of the old man walk when I'm here alone.  When I'm out in public, I stand more erect (or as erect as I can get with this sloping back) and try to step out as briskly as I can (realizing that my idea of a "brisk walk," which often leaves me winded, is someone else's idea of a shuffle!)

But when I'm home alone, I find that it's easy and more comfortable to settle into the old man shuffle as I walk from one end of the house to the other.

The "old man walk" is not necessarily a function of age. Heck, I walk that way far more than my mother, except on days when her back is really bothering her.

The days...the years...pass by so quickly the older you get and it's hard to realize that you have passed into "old age."  Even Jeri, at 50, is past "middle age" unless she plans to live to hunnert, as others I know do.

We don't realize that we can't do everything we did even 20 years ago.  At the memorial service on Sunday, after the formal service, they cleared away the chairs to make room for dancing.  Here is Walt, 76 years old, in a group of people he does not know, most of them significantly younger than he is, starting to pick up and carry chairs.  Force of habit from all those years helping out after Lawsuit concerts and theatrical events!  I told him he was old and could let the younger people handle the heavy lifting!

It always makes me nervous when he's out climbing a ladder somewhere, remembering that he has fallen once, and he was more "bounce-able" then!

Sometimes you are brought up short by comments that make you realize...hey....the 70s are starting to get old.  I listened to some guy on the radio the other day talking about a video called "Elders react to BeoncĂ© - Lemonade."  You may find it amusing.

The thing that got me, though, was the conversation between these two commentators, laughing hysterically at the reactions of the people in the film and talking about how hilarious it was.  One of them thought calling the people "elders" was insulting and asked "can't we find something more polite to call people over 65?  OVER 65???????  I remember many years ago when I was 65.  I was "elderly" then, apparently.  Now I would think I have one foot in the grave, if I didn't have a nearly 97 year old mother more sprightly than I am.

It's all so relative.  Yesterday there was a woman who probably had been sitting with my mother until I took her seat (I didn't realize she had been sitting there).  She had collected leaves and wanted to be sure that we knew she had picked them up off the ground and didn't steal them.  She was hard of hearing and kept saying that she couldn't be expected to hear right because she was 93.  I didn't bother to try to tell her my mother, whose hearing is just fine, is 97.  Her dementia was quite a bit worse than my mother's.

Then this morning there was a guy outside The Today Show with his family, having the time of his life in New York City...at 102!  How I long to see the sparkle in his eyes back in my mother's again.  She was always so lively, so involved, so interested and excited about everything.

I don't think of myself as an old lady yet -- unless it's convenient to be one (to get a seat on the bus, for example!) but I realize that by the standards of most people around me, at 73, I am probably on my last legs.  I just pray that when I reach my 90s,  I am with it enough to still enjoy life, to find excitement in things around me, and to enjoy Bri and Lacie's children.  I hope I still remember everyone's name, even f I do walk the old lady walk.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Ides of May

This has been a weird day, with little glitches throughout.

The only thing on the schedule was going to the dentist at 1 p.m., but when they called to ask if I could come at 2 instead of 1, suddenly I had time to Do Things.

Yesterday was the day when I found my mother sleeping at 1 p.m. and just left her laundry for her.  I really should go and make sure she actually is alive.  By the time I got to Atria (slipping in the back door), she was not in her room, but it was lunch time, so I just slipped out again.

There was lots of time before the dentist, so I stopped at Supercuts and got my hair cut, something it has been sorely needed for weeks now.  As she was shampooing my hair, my cell phone rang and started a long back-and-forth between me and my friend Ellen.  I didn't get her call, but checked later.  She wanted to know when a particular photo I had taken of her and her wife Shelly was taken.  I told her I didn't recognize it and didn't think I took it  I wont bore you with all the details, but the discussion is still going on and she still insists I must have taken it.

I was happy with the cut...I probably lost a pound, she cut so much off.  The last time I had it cut was right before we left for our Mediterranean cruise, so it was way overdue for a cut.

When I finished there I still had an hour and 15 minutes before my dental appointment so I drove out to Michael's craft store to pick up a few things I wanted.  Miraculously, I got out of there in 20 minutes and under $50.  I didn't have any lunch because I didn't want to "dirty" my teeth before my appointment.

I drove back to Cindy's and still had 20 minutes to wait, but I had brought a book, so I was fine with that--I'm always happy when I can sit somewhere where I don't have to do anything and can do some guilt-free reading.  I'm reading a free sample of Bob Hope's biography.  I saw the author on Theater Talk this week and it sounded fascinating, but the kindle version was not cheap, so I wanted to see if I really thought I'd read the whole thing (it's also quite thick).  While I am enjoying it, I probably won't buy it.  I think I will lose interest eventually.

Funny thing about Bob Hope (who, the author says sadly, stayed in the limelight too long).  Recently there was all this brouhaha about the Oscars -- I can't remember what anniversary it was, but one of the big ones. 50?  Lots and lots of talk about MCs over the years and was Carson better than Billy Crystal, and remember that really awful year, etc., etc.  In all the talk I don't remember hearing ONE person mention Bob Hope, who hosted the damn thing for nineteen years!  In fact, I remember wondering if Carson could live up to Hope's reputation.  It was kind of like ... can you have New Year's Eve without Guy Lombardo?  Can you have an Oscar telecast without Bob Hope?  And now nobody remembers him at all.

But I digress

The teeth cleaning appeared to go well.  I really like Kristina, my dental hygienist.  We always get caught up on each other's lives when she's cleaning my teeth.  Cindy has posters on the ceiling, which rotate throughout the year.  This time it was this elephant poster, which I really liked (can't believe I found it on Google images!)

The more I stared at it, the more I realized that the contour of the elephant's back matched the contour of the tree and pointed that out to Kristina, though I said I knew she probably didn't look at the picture much.

After Kristina had finished her cleaning, Cindy came in to break the news that I have a couple of small cavities and must come back in July to have them filled.  (She said that as a dental hygienist, Kristina is not permitted to tell me that, though she was the one who told Cindy that I had cavities).

From there I went back to Atria, where I found my mother sitting by the dining room and sat with her.  I wanted to get coffee, but you can't GET coffee in the damn place any more.  Forget about a cookie or something like that. I discovered that you also can't visit with my mother in the alcove there, especially on bad memory days, which today was.  When we are in her apartment, she spends an inordinate amount of time talking about the beautiful flowers in her apartment and the leaves on the trees outside the window.  With those two topics not possible, we had nothing to talk about at all.  I only stayed 15 minutes and then left.  The good thing is that she has no concept of time, so she had no idea that I stayed such a short time.

If she would ever...just once...not ask me who the cute little girls are on the back of my phone, I would be so happy, but it's like another knife in my heart every time to know that she has no awareness that she has great grandchildren, or that she has ever seen them.

At home, we had a refrigerator that was filling up with leftovers, so I just heated a shrimp, rice and kale dish for Walt and leftover mac and cheese for me.  We don't have a usable table for two right now, so he ate at the table and had brought down a TV table for me.  My bowl of mac and cheese was so hot, I bobbled it and turned the whole thing upside down on the floor.  To show how bad Kraft dinner is, not even the dogs wanted to eat it.  And I had a right regular good ol' tantrum, briefly.  I heated more mac and cheese and ate that.

Shortly after that, Walt was setting the coffee pot up to start at 6:30 in the morning and bobbled the cup that the coffee grounds go into and dumped them all into Polly's bowl.  He had his own mini tantrum.

Then I watched some TV and at some point went to check something OnDemand and the screen froze.  I could not get it to do anything, not even to turn off.  Normally, I would go into my office and watch the little TV, but the little TV is in the living room, and not plugged in.  

So I came into the computer and worked on a project I've been working on since last night.  I finally got it to where I wanted to print it in Word Perfect, which tells me that the .jpg I was trying to use was not the right format.  I decided to print it from PhotoShop and it printed fine, but I forgot to indicate that I needed it in portrait orientation, not landscape.  When I went to run it a second time, the printer was out of paper and I realized I don't have a clue where my printer paper is.

That's when I decided this was not my day and the best thing I could do was finish this entry, post it (I hope) and hope that by the morning the TV would have fixed itself.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Small World

23 May 2016
When we walked into the big hall, Walt and I commented that we had never been to a memorial service where they gave you ear plugs.

We were there for the memorial service for my sister-in-law Olivia's brother, Bob Castell-Blanch, who lost his long battle with cancer shortly after his 62nd birthday.

I didn't really know Bob.  Olivia is from a large family and though she used to have big dinners at Easter with both families attending, I never really talked with Bob because there were always others around and I mostly talked with my mother, who didn't know anybody and who felt uncomfortable around so many strangers.

In later years, when my mother started hermiting herself, I stopped going to those dinners entirely.  I would send Walt and I would spend the holiday with my mother, either cooking dinner for her, or taking her out to dinner.

What I remember about Bob, other than that he seemed like a really nice guy, was that he was an excellent musician.  He and Ned and/or Paul may have talked about music many years ago.  I remember when he brought his guitar along and got the family singing familiar tunes.

As I sat there at the memorial, I thought about how odd it was that we were there at all, and what a small world it is.

Some sixty or so years ago is when I first encountered The Lamplighters.  Walt and I ushered for just about every show in the 60s and we got to know "the regular" performers, from their performances on stage.  Two of the comprimario players, the second tier guys who may have a line or two, but who weren't talented enough to take the major leads, were Paul Hughes and Ray Castell-Blanch.

Many years later, when we were doing interviews for the Lamplighters history, I really wanted to interview those two guys who had, by that time, retired from performing.  I can't remember if I interviewed Paul or not, but I distinctly remember interviewing Ray, his wife, and their five white poodles.

Some time after that, Walt's brother Norm began dating Olivia and at some point I found out that her last name was Castell-Blanch.  I asked her if she knew Ray, and she told me he was her uncle.  Later, after Ray's death, at those Easter dinners, I got to know his widow a bit more.

So as I sat there at the memorial, I thought about how weird it was that sixty years after first becoming aware of Ray Castell-Blanch, whoda thunk I would be sitting with his family attending the memorial service for one of his nephews.

As memorial services go, it was lovely.  It began with a collage video and ended with a rousing, tear-jerking rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," which was led by his daughter and others in such a professional chorus, joined by everyone in attendance.  Even though I didn't really know Bob, I was moved to tears by how beautiful it was.

Then came a video of Bob's last performance with his band, the PhDs.  His wife explained that he knew it would be his last performance and that he was feeling so ill he wasn't sure he would make it at all, but he did and the excerpt from the performance was riveting.  What a talented guy he was!  He had performed with many bands in the Bay Area and some names, some big, some not so big.  We found a framed copy of his ASCAP card with a record for which he had written the lyrics.

I am constantly amazed by how strange life can be.

Bob's band, joined by others, I think, performed on stage for people to dance.  It was very loud, and many people took advantage of the ear plugs. In fact, there were lots of packages of earplugs left as people were leaving and Walt and I picked some up.  We are often at musicals where the sound is just so loud that we have to put our fingers in our ears.  I think we both saw a lot of Motown the Musical last week with our ears plugged, wishing we still carried earplugs from our Lawsuit days.  Now we have some for the next big musical that wants to blast us out of our seats.

Before we went to the memorial, which was about an hour's drive from us, I stopped at Atria to deliver my mother's pills and her laundry.  I really should have done that yesterday, but put it off another day.

When I got there, her newspaper was still outside and when I knocked there was no answer.  I always fear the worst, and let myself in quietly.

I could see that she was still in bed, at 1 p.m., and tiptoed into her bedroom to see if she was alive.  I was happy to hear that she was snoring loudly, so I tiptoed out again, wrote her a note and left, hoping she'd figure out that the bag I left in her bedroom was filled with clean underwear.

Saturday, May 21, 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: What Hurts the Most (2006)

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

1) What hurts Sam the most is her sole, since she just found that earring she thought was lost by stepping on it with her bare foot. How about you? Any aches and pains to report?
Oh lots, but all not worth complaining about.  Mostly back ache and knees shot.

2) What's the last thing you misplaced? Did you find it?
Lemme tell you, this is the week of the Big Cleanup, where my son has removed everything from my office (including all furniture) so he can paint it for me and build new shelves.  I've pretty much lost everything and spend most of my day looking for this and that.  Most things I eventually find.

3) Lead singer Gary LeVox sings that he's not afraid to cry. When is the last time you shed a tear?
I cry at everything -- Hallmark cards, cute animal videos, sad--or happy TV endings, birth stories, when a contestant wins the Big Prize on a quiz show. I can't remember when the very last thing was that made me cry.

4) Gary auditioned for another country group, Little Big Town, but didn't get in. Considering how successful Rascal Flatts has been, he's probably not sorry. Tell us about something you thought you wanted, but later weren't so sure.
I can't think of anything specific, but I am sure there have been a few instances in my life.

5) The country group has their roots in Columbus, Ohio. What else is Ohio known for?
For ME, Ohio is best known for Georgia Griffith, the "Helen Keller of Ohio."  She's long gone now, but was a friend who was blind from birth, deaf from her 40s and who ran some of the most popular discussion forums on Compuserve, including one that helped people with handicaps learn to use a computer (when computers were still new for the general public).  Georgia communicated by way of a "versibraille," where you would type your comment or question on one machine and it would be transcribed for her on the connected machine, she'd read it in Braille on her own machine, and then respond by speech because she could still talk, since she didn't lose her hearing until she was middle aged.  She spoke many languages, was a Braille music proofreader for the Library of Congress, and was honored by The Smithsonian for her contributions to computer technology for the handicapped.

6) Lead guitarist Joe Don Rooney married model and former Miss Georgia, Tiffany Fallon. Many major pageants give prizes in the talent, congeniality and swimsuit competitions. Would you prefer to have exceptional skills, a great personality, or a terrific body?
Exceptional skills.  Heck, I'd settle for improving the talents I have already.

7) 2006, the year this song was popular, was a very good one for tennis pro Roger Federer. He reached the finals in all four Grand Slam tournaments, and won three. What's the last game you won? (Yes, Words with Friends counts.)
Well, if Word with Friends counts, then it would be a Words with Friends game, since that's about all I play these days.  In all honesty, I don't really keep track of who wins and who loses; I just enjoy playing.

8) Actor Tony Shalhoub won an Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of detective Adrian Monk on Monk. Who's your favorite TV detective?
I loved Monk.  TV detectives have not been the same since that show ended.  But I do watch several detective shows now, but I guess NCIS and Criminal Minds don't count as detectives.

9) Random question ... You've just won an all-expenses-paid trip but now you have to choose: Carnival in Brazil, the Bordeaux Wine Festival in France, or the Running of the Bulls in Spain?
I'd go with Brasil, though probably would skip Carnival because I'd be too busy visiting all the friends I have in Rio and Sao Paulo.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Today at Logos

Sandy had a very light morning this day.  Only six sales.  I anticipated a light afternoon.  I was so wrong! 

We had brought in 2 bags and one box of books and my plan was to choose one that I wanted to read and then if I got involved in it to bring it back home again.  I chose one by Ann Tyler and read at that off and on throughout my busiest afternoon ever an ultimately remembered that I really don't like Ann Tyler.  I know she's considered a great, beloved writer, but I've just never gotten into her stories.  Of course it could have been that I had no time to actually read during the four hours.  

The beginning of the afternoon didn't hint at the business that would follow, with a woman coming in looking for "The Book Thief" and leaving when she didn't find it.

An odd looking young couple arrived.  He was a very tall very skinny Asian and she was a short kind of chunky Latina.  They spent a long tie looking at cookbooks and bought about six of them.

A woman bought "Organic Chemistry for Dummies" which was from the bargain books.

A man looking for old books by Lewis Carroll but left when he didn't find one.

An old woman, using a cane like mine, was sitting at the front desk.  A woman who seemed to be her carer arrived carrying a Target bag, which contained a pile of books to donate.  The woman chose new books -- 4 bargain books, 1 biography, and 1 Literature and we put them in her Target bag.  She waited inside the store while her carer went off to get the car to pick her up.

It was briefly quiet, so I went to the back room to unload the books I'd brought, so I could take the bags and box back home again and was surprised to find a girl sitting on a ladder in the back corner, just reading.  She was there a long time.  I didn't see her when she left, but every time I went to the back room she was there.

Later, I discovered another woman sitting on the floor reading, obviously making herself right at home!

A friend of our and his new wife came in.  She bought a 4 bargain books and was carrying her own copy of one of the "Cat Who.." books.  She told me she had just learned that the author Lillian Jackson Braun had died.  She paid and started to leave, but a few minutes later she was back with a Peter Mayle book and we talked abut how much we both liked his books, especially his "Year in Provence."  And then, while I talked with her husband, she was off to look at dictionaries and bought 3 of them.

A guy with a cap bought the incongruous collection of 3 literature books and 2 novellas.  He commented on the odd mixture.

A hefty guy bought 2 Spanish novellas, 1 contemporary fiction (in English) book and one self improvement book then asked if I knew where he could buy some towelettes, since his hands were sweaty.  I couldn't think of a place nearby but sent him to Newsbeat, which sells newspapers and magazines, but which was the only place I could think of that might have those.

A couple came in.  I assumed they were visiting parents of a UC student.  He wore a Cal Aggie hat and she had a shirt that said "Davis Mom" on it.  He bought two books, including a Hemmingway that was published in 1941.  She complained at the $5 price when the original marked price was only $1.25.  In 1941.  He paid the $5.

There was a rather odd looking woman who wore what looked like a scarf around her hair that wove her own hair into the knotting of it to resemble a turban.  She had earbuds in her ears and though she was rather zaftig, she wore black leggings with a blouse hanging over them. She was very nice and bought $50 worth of books n art, fantasy and fashion.

There were a couple of love birds kissing in the stacks.  They bought two bargain books and left the store, entwined.

A guy was sitting at the front table reading, his foot bouncing to the music playing over the radio.  A friend joins him and they shared something funny.  Their friendship hit me as endearing.

A woman bought a copy of "A Beautiful Mind."

A couple bought a children's book called "The Matchlock Gun," which seemed a strange title for a child's book.  But it is apparently a Newbery winner.  I was going to check it on Amazon, which has the name listed, but no information on it, so I went to Wikipedia and found out more about it.

The Matchlock Gun is a children's book by Walter D. Edmonds. It won the Newbery Medal for excellence as the most distinguished contribution to American children's literature in 1942.

The book is set in the year 1756 during the French and Indian War in Guilderland, New York. Ten-year-old Edward Van Alstyne (throughout the book, he is called "Ateoord", which is his name in Dutch) and his mother Gertrude (Trudy) are determined to protect their home and family with an ancient (and much too heavy) Spanish matchlock gun that Edward's great-grandfather had brought from Bergen Op Zoom in the Netherlands while his father Teunis is away from home with the local militia fighting the enemy (using, to Edward's disappointment, a musket instead of the matchlock).

The book's foreword states that this is a true story handed down from Trudy's descendants (Trudy became widely known as an expert spinner, having been taught by her mother who, because of her crippled shoulder, could no longer perform the task).

Anyway, reading the Wikipedia description made me sorry I hadn't looked more closely at it.

An older distinguished man with a wonderful grey mustache walked with difficulty and wandered around the store forever but finally bought a bargain book, a book on Korean history and a couple of others.  Ironically at the same time another guy was looking for a book on the history of Korea.

There were three more customers, each with an armload of books, who were lined up to pay and I never had time to record who bought what.

My last customer was a man who bought 3 self improvement books and a teeny book of "cat sayings," which, if I had seen it first, I would have grabbed because the pages were the perfect size to cut up an use on pocket letters.

When I heard from Susan this morning we had taken in $438 for the day, which was certainly a surprise, given how slow a morning Sandy had.

Davis lost one of the "good guys" yesterday.  Our friend Larry Fanning lost his battle with cancer.  We have known Larry and his partner of 40 years, Stephen Peithman, for as long as we have been in Davis.  We met them through the Davis Comic Opera Company and have worked and partied together for many years.  Larry was a loving, helpful, very religious guy who had his demons to battle over the years, but he died at peace.  We are so glad that we had the chance to see him and say good bye a couple of weeks ago when Steve called to ask if we could come and witness Larry's signature on the update to his will (when he realized that the original had been written so long ago, man of the beneficiaries were now dead).

Good bye, Larry. You were so loved.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Where IS That?

I spent the greater part of yesterday looking for things.

I have lived/worked in my office for more than 40 years and though it looked like a hoarder's domain, I knew where everything was.  Even now, with the office completely empty I find myself starting to go in there to get something or to put something things away because I know exactly where it is supposed to go.

But nothing is there.  It is everywhere else. Ned did a great job of making sure that everything I needed was accessible, but I'm old...they are not in the right place.  Envelopes, for example, go in a box on the floor to the left of my desk, where I can reach them easily.  I spent about 15 minutes yesterday looking for the envelopes when, in fact, he had put them on the cabinet right behind my computer monitor, which is in plain sight and easily accessible...only since the monitor was hiding them, it took me that long to see them.  (They are now back on the floor to the left of my desk where I can reach them easily.)

You don't think of which things you're going to need close at hand until you go looking for some oddball thing that you often look for and it's not there.  I spent a long time looking for the binder which holds the pocket letters I've received and the one(s) I'm currently working on.  I searched everywhere.  I even wrote to Ned to see if he remembered where he put it.  About a half an hour, and much frustrated tearing of my hair, I finally found it.  He had put it in the place I was least likely to look for it...right where I'd left it.  It had been on the kitchen table and to make space on the table for Walt and me to eat, he had moved it from one side of the table to the other and it was slightly covered by something else.  I felt pretty stupid.

He is coming by today to start getting the walls ready to be painted, but then he'll be gone for a week, so it will be awhile before it's time to think about moving all of this back.  By that time I will have this temporary office all set up efficiently and it will be "mine" again.  But in the meantime I continue to hunt for stuff.

My desk has now also become a food preparing station.  I found myself shelling peas on the desktop with the keyboard moved out of the way, and when time came for dinner. I ate at the desk because there really is only place for one of us to eat at the table.  It's going to be great when it's all done and it was so long in the coming.

We had a gourmet dinner last night.
May 18 is the day I always cook Kraft dinner, which was one of David's favorite foods.  In fact, at his memorial service, which was a pot luck, we made a huge bowl of Kraft dinner.   think only family ate any of it.
(I chose not to make another of his favorites:  peanut butter and tuna sandwiches!)
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of David's death.  It just doesn't seem possible that he has been gone almost as long as he lived.  It was 20 years ago...and it was only yesterday.

Last night we went to see Motown, the Musical, which is the story of Berry Gordy and the creation and rise of Motown records and a whole genre of music.

When talking to me about the upcoming show, my editor wrote, "I can't wait to read it [my review]. I've been wanting to see this one. I love Motown music -- always have. A lot of it was largely before my time, but for some reason it's always got my toes tapping. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that The Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go" was the number one song in the nation the day I was born."

I was less enthusiastic.  I checked the show, which contains parts of 68 Motown recordings, to see how many would be familiar to me:  5.  5 out of 68.  I was not a fan of Motown (or most rock genres of the time).

So this was a difficult show for me and it will be a hard review to write because I don't really know what I'm talking about, though I will definitely not paint myself as any sort of an expert in Motown music.

For me, the overwhelming things about the show were that (a) it was extraordinarily long ... two hours and 45 minutes, which is longer than just about every other musical I've seen and (b) it was so loud I actually had to plug my ears with my fingers.  I haven't decided how I want to handle that because this is the era of loud rock concerts and admitting that I longed for ear plugs brands me instantly as an old fuddy duddy...which I am.

But the audience was enthusiastic, the costumes were gorgeous, the dancing energetic and very good so it will be a good review.  As each of the various groups came on stage, the Temptations, the Vandellas, the Commodores, etc, the crowd would break into delighted applause.  In fact, I couldn't identify any group except the Jackson 5, which was easy because Michael was a small child.  I'm going to have to pull out all of my critic tricks to get this review written because I want to give the show the good review it deserves.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

You May Have Noticed...

...that I am writing a journal entry.  Group cheer, please.

It was not a good night for me.  Facing the prospect of disconnecting from life support I didn't sleep well.  By the time morning arrived (after thinking about it for several hours), I decided that we could not do what Ned planned to do (move my desk over near the TV on the side of the room opposite the dining room table) because the computer must be connected to the phone line and that would require running a line all over the family room.

I decided that what we should do instead is to move everything remaining in the office except my desk, let Ned clean around me, wash 3 walls, paint 3 walls, and then when that is all done, I'd shut down the computer and move it to the opposite of the office and he could finish the remaining wall.  I was rather proud of myself for coming up with that scenario.

I forgot one thing...trying to argue with Ned is like trying to argue with Donald Trump.  Once he has his mind made up, he doesn't hear anything you have to say.  He and Walt put their heads together and decided that they could put the desk where the dining room table is and move the table to the other side of the room.  That way the cords would just have to go around the corner of the wall.
I could see there was no winning this argument, so, nervously I agreed.  I don't know why I was concerned.  I mean Ned is the tech guy.  He has been doing stuff like this for most of his adult life.
So they moved the table and that area was now a part of the expanded staging area.

Next, gulp, the move

While they were doing that, I took the opportunity to go through four boxes that were stored here during the Big Clean a year ago for our 50th anniversary.  With the help of Logos, the SPCA, paper recycling and general garbage, I managed to get four big boxes down to ONE not quite full of stuff that I wanted to keep.  Which freed up more boxes for sorting books.

When the two desks were in place, all they had to do was hook everything up an make sure it worked.  I'd say success was instant, but it took a bit, but they fiddled and fiddled until it was right and now I'm set up again.

My desk now faces the big TV in the family room but nothing is perfect.  My computer monitor completely blocks it, but if I sit to the side of my desk and tilt to the right, I can watch it.  Fortunately, most of the time I use the computer as white noise and don't really watch, but just listen
So at the end of the day, Ned was right.

Tomorrow or Thursday he's going to start getting the walls ready for paint, then he's off to Santa Barbara helping Tom with his remodel...and at the same time checking the paint I think I want to paint the office (which Tom is painting one wall in his house).  

I can't believe Ned is doing all this for me.  It's painful, but it's necessary and he's a great pusher.  If my office gets neatly put back together, it will be 90% Ned's doing.  How special I feel.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wine and Roses

There was no wine today.  Maybe a bit of whine, but definitely no wine.
Around 11, I called my mother to let her know Niecie would be coming for lunch and to give her a pedicure, and NOT to go to the dining room until she got there (knowing full well she would forget most of what I said, but she might remember that there was some reason why she shouldn't go to the dining room).  There was no answer.

I figured she had either gone to lunch early, or she had gone to sit in what she now calls "her seat," which is a chair outside the dining room where she can watch the trees in the garden.

I tried calling Niecie to tell her where to look for her, if she was not in her apartment, but didn't reach her.

About 10 minutes later I had a call from Niece, who was in my mother's apartment, with my mother and she said, very tactfully "she's not remembering things too clearly today and she seems a little anxious.  She doesn't want me to give her a pedicure."  I asked her if she wanted me to talk with her and she said no.  She said she would call me later and we could get together.

I sat here for about 10 minutes, worrying about what was happening at Atria, knowing how she can get when her anxiety kicks in.  I decided I couldn't stay home and so left for Atria.

After the visit(s) were over and we went out to our cars together, Niecie told me that when she arrived, she woke her up, that she didn't know who Niecie was, she didn't remember having a daughter ("I have a daughter?").  She didn't remember being married ("did I have a husband?"), didn't remember any of her parents or siblings.  By the time I got there, Niecie had talked her into the pedicure and had some music (from Pandora) going on her iPhone and though my mother seemed angry at someone working on her feet, she at least was letting her (thank God because she definitely needed her toenails cut!)

The visit was more of the same...much more of the same.  She thought Niecie's sparkly fingernails were rings and no, she didn't want her nails painted like that because she already was wearing a ring.  I lost count of how many times she suddenly noticed her newly painted toe nails and asked who had done it.  Many, many times.

She asked who brought her the flowers that I had Jeri take to her back in March.  She asks me that many times every time I visit.  I think she has finally realized that they came from me...but she always asks.

We went to lunch and, as usual, she decided to have fruit salad and dessert.  As usual, I suggested she try the vegetable soup so she would have something more than a teeny tiny bowl of fruit.  This time she got petulant and said she didn't WANT vegetable soup but when the server came and she had already forgotten what she wanted to order, she told him she wanted fruit salad and vegetable soup...and then told me, which she never does, how good the soup was.

Back at the house, there was great surprise at her newly painted nails and she wondered who had done it.

Since Niecie and I had already visited and since we caught each other up on my other at our respective cars when we left Atria (and since it was getting late), we didn't go for wine, but each went home.

I left Atria relieved that someone in the Scott family finally has seen her at her worst, or near her worst, and understands that I am not exaggerating things when I write status updates about her on Facebook (which are rarely acknowledged).  I didn't feel quite so alone, but I missed Peach terribly.  And I also realized that anybody who might want to come and visit her (though in 3 years only Niecie has come) would decide not to make the hour+ long drive to come to Davis.

The thing that bothers me is that she seems to have forgotten her husband, Fred.  It never seems to faze her when I mention him and she used to tell me all the time that he's waiting for her and if she doesn't die soon he might get tired of waiting.  But she never says that any more.  But she has started talking about "her boyfriend," the 98 year old veterinarian who is deaf and getting to my mother's state of dementia as well.  I don't think she would think of having a "boyfriend" if she was still thinking about joining Fred in the foreseeable future.

I come home from these visits completely drained and just sit staring off into space.  I am realizing that her dementia is worsening quite a bit lately.  I don't know how much longer she can stay on independent living, though while I am monitoring her carefully, it's possible she can still make it a long time before I have to have people checking on her all the time, and taking her to meals, etc.

I miss my mother, dammit!!!!  And there is nothing I can do to get her back but I have to keep watching this person who looks and sounds like my mother turning into a person who is so different from the mother I have known.  But then she had to go through this with her mother so I guess this is just my time of life.

Pay attention, Kids....

If all goes well tomorrow, there will be no problem writing and posting an entry, but given that the computer will be moved, the modem and router disconnected and re-connected, I'm suffering great angst about the whole project, though I did choose a nice paint color, if we can find it;  abalone (one of the 3 colors Tom tells me he is painting his newly redecorated house) when Ned gets to the painting phase of this project.

However, on the off chance there is no entry...now you know why.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Believe it or Not

I sit here this morning and realize I have nothing to say.

The bulk of yesterday was spent writing two reviews for the show we saw on Saturday.  It was a good  show, a world premiere of a show called Not Medea about a frazzled mother with a big secret that is eating her alive.  She takes the day off, though it is her day with her daughter, who lives with the father, and attends a performance of Medea.  As her story unfolds, she morphs into the character of Medea and goes in and out of modern day and ancient Greece as she lives the Medea story and explains why she has sympathy for the ancient enchantress.

As you can see from this rather awkward explanation, it's a complicated show -- but an excellent one -- and my job was to review it.  Twice.

When I took the job with the Sacramento newspaper, I was tickled to learn that the reviews would be half (or less) the length of the ones I write for the Davis paper.  Not only that, but the pay for each review would be slightly higher than what I get from the Davis paper.

I love writing for both papers, but it's not as easy as it sounds writing for the Sacramento paper.  I've learned that it's much easier to write long than to write short.  I have lots of room to talk about the show for Davis, but have to condense that into a much smaller space for Sacramento and still get the same points across.  It's easier for some shows than for others.  

There is also a strict format for the Sacramento reviews, with regard to how they are submitted and somehow it just doesn't embed in my head and it takes me nearly as long to format the review as it does to write the damn thing, getting the dates and times into the right format.  It would be easy if it just rolled effortlessly off my head, but it doesn't.  I suppose this is part of my "early dementia."  Things like this don't stick, and I check and re-check and try to get it right...for some reviews I use abbreviations for the days of the week, for others I write the day out.  The press releases list the dates of performance starting with the earliest day of the week, the Sacramento paper starts the dates with the day of publication and puts the earlier dates at the end of the review.  It is ridiculous how much time it takes me to get it right.  The Davis paper does the dates itself from the press releases sent out by the theater itself.

But then when I finally get the Sacramento review written, I go and write a whole new review for the Davis paper.  I am careful not to repeat myself and to make the two reviews different enough that there is little to compare the two.  If I have some brilliant turn of phrase that I use in one, sometimes I will use it in the other, just so everyone can marvel at my cleverness (yes, that's sarcastic), but as a general rule, I want both reviews to be completely different from each other.

Fortunately this doesn't happen often, but often enough.  For a run of the mill show it's a lot easier than for a complicated show like Not Medea.  I realized this was a very. good. show that I wanted to encourage people to see, but it's an odd show and how do I explain that?  I took me literally hours yesterday to get it right for Sacramento...and to do it within 275 words.  I take lots of breaks.  Spend lots of time sitting in a chair and just thinking.  

And then when the review is finally written and submitted to the paper and the other 3 reviewers (and I had a nice compliment from one of the other reviewers, which means so much to me because I really respect his opinion and think he's an excellent writer.  He was at the show too so this compliment was really special), then I have to start all over again and write it for Davis.

I still haven't quite finished the Davis review, though it is about 3/4 finished and the only reason it's not already submitted is that the editor won't see it until tomorrow anyway, so I have time to make sure it really says what I want it to say.  But I actually had a good night of sleep and so my brain should be sharp this morning and finishing it will go easily.

In the middle of all of this is the pressure of The Cleanup.  Ned is coming tomorrow to move my computer into the family room and I must clean everything off of it.  This strikes fear and terror into my heart for several reasons, not the least of which is that some of the crap piled high on the desk are things that I use every day and I have to be sure to move everything in a way that I can find it all when I get moved.  Also, I will only have one desk in the temporarily location and I really need both desks.  AND there is the not small fear that somehow in moving the computer, which means disconnecting it, something will go wrong and it won't be able to be hooked back up again, leaving me without a computer.  I realize that the last fear is silly.  Of course it's going to work, but I want to be out of the house so I don't have to be here while the glitches are being worked out.

Of less importance, but still weighing heavily on my mind is a pocket letter project I'm in the middle of finishing -- which needs stuff I have to move out of my office -- and the letters to Bri and Lacie that I try to write each week, that I haven't written yet.  Those are of such low importance that they really should not be part of my concerns, but just because trying to figure out what I am going to do about them is foremost in my mind, it becomes part of it all, and a distraction from doing everything else.

I am also going to design a Facebook page for a fund raiser Walt is in charge of and that is floating around in the back of my head as well.

So I have nothing to say today (and have said it in a full page) because I didn't do anything yesterday.
Today my cousin is coming to give my mother a pedicure and I am staying away from Atria because I always think it's better to force my mother to interact with a visitor rather than to just sit and listen to the visitor and me talking.  But I am going to meet her at Atria toward the end of her visit (she is going to call me) so I can bring her a painting by my aunt that I found recently during The Cleanup.  This cousin owns a beauty salon and wants to frame it and put it in her salon, since it was done by her grandmother.  We are going to go out for a glass of wine.  Even that has caused some slight tension since I don't do stuff like that and could not think of any place in town where you could go to get a glass of wine (I also don't drink).  Thank goodness for Kari Peterson, who regularly wines and dines in Davis and was able to give me some suggestions of places to go.

Whaddya know.  I wrote a whole entry about nothing.  I'm the blog equivalent of Seinfeld.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Well this one could be pretty depressing!

Do you keep notes, drawings or letters that people give you?
Often, often, often.  If I didn't, I wouldn't have this huge pile of "stuff" to sort through in my living room right now!

How many true best friends are present in your life?
Not counting my family, only two...Char and Jeri from the Pinata Group, though I almost never see Jeri, except rarely here on FB.  When I was getting ready to go to college, a friend of my parents told me that I would make friends there who would be lifelong friends--and obviously she was right.  There have been good friends, even BFFs, who have come into my life and then abruptly left, but only these two have stayed.  I should also add Steve and Ron here too, though since they have both moved on in their lives, we don't really cross paths as much as we used to. 

Do you currently have a significant other?
We are about to celebrate our 51st anniversary.

Would you be able to stand being in the same room as someone you hate?
I have only been faced with that decision once, because I don't really hate anybody.  But I hated this guy.  Truly hated him and there was to be a reception after a show. I just couldn't bring myself to go.  I went to the car and cried, while Walt visited with him.

Do you depend on people at all, in any way?
Sure.  People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

Have you ever lost a close friend?
Too many.  Some to death (those are the easy ones).

Has anybody ever held a grudge against you for a dumb reason?
I don't know why Peggy holds a grudge against me, but she obviously hates me and I assume it's for a dumb reason, but I will never know.  This came about more than 5 years ago and it still hurts, though I still don't now why she decided to remove me so painfully from her life.

Have you ever stayed up late talking to someone you like on the phone or online?
On the phone, not for years, if ever.  But in the days when I did chatting on line, not now, I did many times.

Have you ever felt backstabbed by a close friend?
See the above answer about Peggy.

Have you ever regretted ignoring anybody?
I'm sure I have, though nobody comes to mind at present.

Have you written or drawn anything for somebody else?
Drawn, no.  Written, sure.  I write stuff all the time,  Poems, letters, "things" about someone.  My life is an overabundance of crap I have written.

Do you tend to hide your emotions from certain people? How do you hide them?
I feel I am very private in my emotions from just about everybody.  They are just all deeply buried.

Do your friends know how to make you smile in tough times?

Could you picture yourself on a reality TV show?
Good lord, not in a million years!  Did you see the latest episode of Law and Order, SVU, where one of the contestants on a reality show was raped during shooting of the show?  That episode was a real, not surprising, eye-opener about how such shows are filmed and the contractual obligations of the participants.  I never watch them (talking about the mating and dating ones here) and have no desire to.

Are you better at drawing or coloring?
I only remember drawing one thing in my life that I liked, and that was a picture of toddler David taking a nap. (it's in my book "How I Did It").  And I have not gotten into the rediscovered art of coloring, but I know I would be better at it than at drawing.

Do you prefer meat or seafood?
It depends on which meat and which seafood.  If it's lamb, I like lamb.  If it's crab, it's no surprise to any regular reader that I love crab.  But I find I eat less and less meat these days and, thanks to Blue Apron, more fish than I have in my life.

Have you ever read the Bill of Rights / Declaration of Independence?
Sure.  But not in a very long time.

Would you rather become a police officer or a firefighter?
Decisions, decisions.  Neither, but if I had to choose it would be a police officer on desk duty.

Today was the first day my mother didn't recognize me. I don't know WHEN she didn't recognize me. She's always friendly and gracious and you never know what she is really thinking, but at one point she asked me the usual question, "what are you doing tonight?" When I said that I was going to review a show she said "Yeah, Bev likes to do that too." When I answered "yes I do" she said, "No, I meant BEV likes to do that." When I said *I* am Bev, she suddenly popped into reality again and realized who I was. Whether she popped out sometime after I arrived, or didn't know for the first 20 minutes I was there who I was, I have no idea.