Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back, Part 2

I've been trying to do this every year toward the end of December, so here goes.  The whole questionnaire runs 50 questions.  Part 1 ran on December 28.

26. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I can't remember back to the first part of the year, but I sure am excited about my new cell phone.

27. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2016?
I lost my taste for alcohol many years ago, and water is my drink of choice now (with the occasional coffee).  I may have an occasional glass of wine on a special occasion or maybe a gin and tonic if we are at a bar, but that is less than half a dozen times in the year.

28. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2016?
Only legally prescribed ones: for diabetes, for high blood pressure, and for cholesterol. Also some vitamins.

29. Did you treat somebody badly in 2016?
I hope not.  Not deliberately anyway.

30. Did somebody treat you badly in 2016?
Nobody that I can think of, though I have had a few disappointing encounters with my mother's long term care insurance provider.

32. What do you wish you'd done more of in 2016?
After seeing two movies this week, I wish I had seen more of them throughout the year instead of only six.  I also wish, as always, that there had been more socialization with female friends.

33. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Attend memorial services for friends (5 this year)

35. What was your favorite TV program(s)?
Jeopardy, Big Bang Theory, NCIS (the original as well as New Orleans and LA), Madam Secretary, The Blacklist, Designated Survivor, Criminal Minds, SVU, Speechless, Rachel Maddow and, when it returns, The Amazing Race.

36. What song will always remind you of 2016?
I can't think of one.

37. How many stage shows did you see in 2016?
According to the blog where I put my theater reviews, 76.

38. Did you have a favorite stage show in 2016?
I wrote this for one of the newspapers for which I am a critic:

There were several plays from which to choose in picking my five favorite productions this year. In no particular order...

Gospel According to First Squad is the very powerful third in Tom Burmester’s "War Cycle," which attempts to show the effects of war on the combatants and their families. It was presented by U.C. Davis and deserved a broader audience.

The Davis Musical Theater Company has grown a lot in its 30+ year history and its recent Music Man was excellent, with one of the best Harold Hills I’ve seen (Richard Wall, in his DMTC debut). It also produced a superlative Man of La Mancha, with a magnificent set and professional quality cast.
Bells are Ringing, part of the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble’s summer festival reminded us how good the old musicals are, and had the quintessential musical comedy couple in Gia Battista and Ian Hopps.

Capital Stage’s Blackberry Winter was a tour de force one woman show about the effects of Alzheimers on an adult daughter. Amy Resnick gave a riveting performance that was both heartbreaking and funny at the same time.

39. What was your greatest musical discovery?
You cannot hum the score to Rogue One

40. What was the best book you read?
"Elephant Memories: 13 Years in the Life of an Elephant Family" by Cynthia J. Moss
I loved this book.  Moss spent 13 years in Amboseli National Park, following elephants and observing their interactions, their behaviors, how they handle everything from birth to death.  A great book for an elephant lover.

41. What was your favorite film of this year?
We only saw six and of those, I think my favorite was Room because I had read the book and was glad to see it in "real" life.  I also loved Sully and cried all the way through it!

42. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 73 in February and we had no celebration on my birthday because we were both busy, but later in the week we went to a new-to-us restaurant, one where they set fire to your food in front of you before they serve it to you, and that was a lot of fun

43. What did you want and get?
A NEW CELL PHONE !!!!!  Better yet, an iPhone 7 which I had NO hope for, given the cost, but there was this deal .....

44. What did you want and not get?
A ceiling light for the kitchen and a Democratic president.

45. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If Donald Trump had been devoured by a Chtorr.

46. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I don't need no stinking fashion concept.  I'm comfort all the way, in sweats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and fuzzy socks.

47. What kept you sane?
I guess writing, and communicating with women from SwapBot.  Also NCIS or SVU marathons to turn on when the news gets overwhelming.

48. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Cindy Stowell.  Check her story.  Amazing woman.

49. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Never trust all media stories, fact check everything, and even if you are the better candidate, an effective false smear campaign can lose you the election.

50. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
The old folk song by the Kingston Trio, the "Merry Minuet."  May its message please not be the song lyric that sums up 2017.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Today at Logos

In the morning I had lunch with my mother.  I had to laugh at her half of cheese sandwich.

That is a HUGE lettuce leaf that was folded in about fourths and stuck on her sandwich under the cheese.  The wad of lettuce was easily half again as thick as the rest of the things in the sandwich, to say nothing of the big bulk of the actual fold.  I sometimes wonder what goes on in that kitchen.  I didn't stay long this time, because of having to work at Logos, but just packed up her dirty laundry and came home.

Today was L minus 4.  Only 4 more work days before my days at Logos end.  It's a bittersweet thing to contemplate on one hand, but on another nice to think of "having my Thursdays back."

Today wasn't as busy as last week, but still busy.  The first customer greeted me like a long-lost friend and commented that it had been a long time since we'd seen each other.  We had a nice chat about Atria and her friend with dementia.  When she left I still didn't have a clue who she was. She did buy a contemporary fiction and the woman with her, who must have been her mother (because they looked so much alike), bought 2 contemporary fictions.

The guy I call "Pete Seeger" was in checking out books in anthropology and music but didn't buy anything today.

A tall young man with a yellow shirt that had something about McGurkin and Colorado, but his jacket covered up the rest.  He left his backpack on the chair while he browsed and came back with a contemporary fiction called "Moo" and a math book about future something or other.

An African American woman with a man I assumed was dark skinned Indian, since he had those Indian-from-India features.  They looked in the children's room and were disappointed not to find a book of Grimms fairy tales or anything by Hans Christian Anderson, since their son loves fairy tales.  I have to keep reminding people that we are a used book store and our stock depends on what people donate.

Jeri and Phil dropped by, followed by their friend Sarah and we all had a nice chat.  Jeri bought a book by Ann Patchett, her current favorite author, and Sarah, who used to own her own catering business bought 3 books on food and a book by Mark Twain

The store was filling up and I hadn't seen this cute little dog come in.  He was with a woman and a tall man in a black cowboy hat.  The dog shrank back with his ears flat whenever the man talked to him.  I wondered if he were a battered dog.

A mom with 4 adult children came in.  All looked around and mom bought a novel called "Samurai." Then they all left.  Soon one of the daughters returned with a bargain book and when she went back outside, another daughter came into buy a bargain book by James Patterson..

A man bought a copy of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and a book of cartoons.

A man in a red plaid jacket bought two history books -- one on the Balkans and one on historical fashion of the Renaissance.

A physicist who has been in before bought 7 physics books and paid in cash, pulling money out of his very ragged wallet made from duct tape and patched many times.

I had called Harrison, the store manager when Susan and Peter are out of town, to ask if he could relieve me a bit early.  We had decided to do another family movie night, this time seeing La La Land at the theater just a block from Logos.  This movie had a bit more of a crowd than last night's Rogue One.   It also had a better plot, more hummable music, and nothing exploded, so I liked it better.  Strange new-fangled musical, but with the most incredible opening scene you are ever going to see!

The movie ended at 8;10 and the sushi place where we planned to eat dinner closed at 9, so we rushed over there and had some delicious sushi.

Then home to watch Jeopardy, after which everyone but me headed off to bed, which I am about to do myself.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lost and Found

When I picked up our >$100 prime rib the other day, I still hadn't decided what I wanted to do for Christmas Eve dinner.  It didn't seem right just to have a "normal" dinner.  But there were only going to be the two of us.

Then I saw the crabs at the meat counter.  A huge display of fresh Dungeness crab and I thought that would be the perfect dinner.  Crab and French bread.  Nectar of the gods.

I got a nice sized crab, had them clean it and package it and I brought it home.  

And it was delicious.  The perfect start to our decadent food weekend.

After I finished my portion I realized I had forgotten to take a picture.  (And you know it doesn't exist if you don't have a picture on Facebook of something somewhere!)  I went to get my cell phone to take this picture of the leftovers, but I didn't see the phone.  I didn't feel like doing a search for it, so I just took the photo with my regular camera.

But then I started looking for the phone.  It is usually only in a handful of places.  It's on my desk, on the table next to my recliner, in my purse, or on the kitchen counter next to the charger.

It was in none of those places.  Then  started to get worried.  Could I have left it somewhere?  I went on Facebook and found that the last picture I posted was the one of the label on the prime rib package, and I hadn't been out of the house since I got home from the store, so it had to be here. 
I started searching through everything, including emptying the garbage cans, going through the to-be-done laundry.  I went through my purse at least 3 times (and this baby is a BIG phone, so hard to miss in a purse!)

Walt got into the act and we looked in chair and couch cushions.  He checked all the paces I had and it was still just...nowhere. We wondered if the dogs could have taken it outside, but that seemed highly unlikely.  I did check the dog beds, though.

I even downloaded the "Find My Phone" app but it didn't work unless I set it up with the phone.  It did tell me, however, that the iPad I was downloading the app to was located half a block from where it was sitting in my lap.  Or a block away, it varied.  It did not inspire faith in the app!

I was just sick.  I love that phone and knew that there would be no replacement ... it costs too much! ... but how could I lose it in the house.  I had not been upstairs all afternoon.  I hadn't been in the living room either, though I searched there too.

Finally I sat down at my computer and noticed a pile of "stuff" on top of the scanner and could not remember if I had looked through that or not, so I got up to do it.  It wasn't there, but the lid of the scanner was not flat with the scanner and that's when I remembered I had taken a scan of the face of the phone because I was having problem with a game and hoped to get answers from the FB mind.  Opened the scanner and there it was. I felt pretty dumb, but oh so relieved to have it back.

I feel like I want to hang it in a pouch around my neck after all the hell it put us through!

We met the kids in Sacramento to see Rogue 1 tonight.  Given the popularity of this latest installment of the Star Wars saga, we decided to get there early to avoid crowds.  We need not have worried.

In fact, I'd be surprised if there were as many as a dozen other people in the theater by the time the movie got going
This was the 3D version of the film, so we were all ready.

Now bear in mind that the last Star Wars movie I attended was The Emperor Strikes Back in 1981 and I fell asleep in that so I'm not of the Star Wars universe and got very little out of the film.  My professional review is that if you like lots of CGI and battles, especially involving very large equipment, you'll love it.  If you aren't into all that stuff, stay home...or go to see LaLa Land instead!  (Jeri helpfully explained the plot to me at home.)

But the best part of the evening for me and what made it all worthwhile is just watching how much my kids like each other and enjoy each other's company, how all six (our kids and their spouses) get along so well and how much Bri and Lacie love both Ned and Jeri, but especially Uncle Ned.  It just warmed the cockles of my heart, even if I didn't have a clue what was going on in the movie.
Afterwards, the four of them stuffed themselves into a photo booth in the cinema complex for some fun shots.

You can watch on a screen outside the booth as they are taking the pictures so you get an idea of what to expect

Then it was time to say goodbye.  Tom, Laurel and the kids are heading back to Santa Barbara tomorrow and so our holiday together time is over.  But it sure has been special!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking Back, Part 1

I've been trying to do this every year toward the end of December, so here goes.  The whole questionnaire runs 50 questions, so this is just part 1
1. Was 2016 a good year for you?
On the whole, OK.  No serious complaints

2. What was your favorite moment(s) of the year?
Seeing Book of Mormon again, taking Walt to The Dead Fish for dinner, the 50th birthday party for the 5 Pinata kids who turned 50 this year, spending a week with Tom et al. over Halloween week.

3. What was your least favorite moment(s) of the year?
When Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Donald Trump.

4. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
I learned how to make pocket letters and have shared many of them with other people.  I don't consider myself crafty, so this was definitely new for me.

5. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I gave up making new year's resolutions because it's so depressing when I can't stick with them.

6. Where were you when 2016 began?
We went to the annual New Year's Eve party of The Psychiatrist (remember him?) and his wife, who have been hosting this party for 42 years.  This is a wonderful party, full of food, conversation and lots of music.

7. Who were you with?
With a lot of the people we have known the longest in Davis, coincidentally a lot of the town's movers and shakers who all started out as PTA friends back in the 70s.

8. Where will you be when 2016 ends?
At the same party.  I love being around lots of music.

9. Who will you be with when 2016 ends?
Same people as last year.

10. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Our dog sitter and good friend Ashley gave the world Gabriel (Gabe), who is now nearly 5 months old and militantly adorable.

11. Did you lose anybody close to you in 2016?
We lost several friends.  Richard, our friend from the 1960s when our kids went to nursery school together; Martha Dickman, heart of the Davis Comic Opera Company (DCOC); Arthur Sullivan, a wonderful man we had known for over 50 years after meeting him at the Lamplighters; and Larry Fanning, also from DCOC, whom we had also known forever.  Walt's old boss and friend Charles Davis also died.

12. Who did you miss?
The people who died, the people who disappeared without a trace, and especially lately my cousin Peach.  Sure could use her to talk to about my mother.  Heck, I even miss my sister for the same reason and she has been dead since 1971.

13. Who was the best new person you met in 2016?
Off hand, I can't think of any new person I met in 2016, other than some of the volunteers at Sutter Davis Hospital (but I haven't yet put names to faces, so I don't know which ones I like and which ones didn't make an impression!)

14. What was your favorite month of 2016?
June, because that's the month Ned finished my new office and I have been happily ensconced in here ever since!

15. Did you travel outside of the US in 2016?
Not this year.

16. How many different states did you travel to in 2016?
I don't think I left California this year, which is unusual.

17. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
My mother's brain back!!!  But that ain't gonna happen.

18. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I wouldn't be able to tell you the date, but it was probably the first time I got a call from Atria telling me they had taken my mother to the hospital.  Now, sadly, it has become old hat.  :(

19. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Nothing tremendous, but I am proud of managing to keep up with reviewing for two newspapers.  I am officially a "writer."  Whoda thunk?  I was even interviewed on the local PBS station.

20. What was your biggest failure?
I know it's not my fault and I can do nothing about it, but I always feel like I should be able to do something to help my mother feel more comfortable with her dementia, especially when she has one of her anxiety attacks.

21. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope.  Clumsy though I may be, I have avoided injury and other than my normal cough, which usually plagues me from September to January, no illness.

22. What was the best thing you bought?
Definitely the new iPhone 7!!

23. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Ned wins top honors, for all the hours and days and weeks he spent building me a new office. I will be forever grateful.

24. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Good lord, could there be any other answer to this:  Donald Trump.

25. Where did most of your money go?
The bulk of my "discretionary spending" goes to the kids I sponsor through Compassion, International.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Atria Saga

The Atria Christmas saga started about a month ago when we met with the general manager and the woman who oversees the "inmates" of Atria about a statue that had been broken by the workers who had been around the place for weeks.  Richard, the general manager was effusive in his apology and even though I told him they didn't need to do anything, he insisted they must do something, like maybe putting Jeri and Phil up at a hotel while they are here or maybe they could treat us to dinner to make up for breaking the statue.  He blanched a bit when I told him it would be 11 people but he was determined.  Relief was all over him when I suggested that we have lunch there at Atria.  He readily agreed and would see that we had the special dining room and they'd do it up great for us.  Just keep him posted about when and how many people.

So when we knew the number (11) and when (December 26 and noon), I wrote to Richard, thanking him and letting him know when we would be coming  This was  two weeks ago.

I didn't hear from him so just to be sure that we had everything set up, two days ago I wrote to the "director of culinary" and explained everything to him, said we had Richard's OK and that if he couldn't talk with Richard, he could talk with Brianna, the woman in charge of "inmates" who had also been in on the discussion.  I asked him to please confirm that he had received my email.  I didn't hear from him either.

Then yesterday, when we went to see my mother for Christmas Richard was there, in Santa hat, driving inmates to church. I was so pleased to see him and said "so we're all set for tomorrow, right?"  He didn't have a clue what I was talking about and had not read my email from 2 weeks ago.  But he would take care of it right away.

He came back with the report that no, we could not have the separate dining room he had promised us because someone else had that, but they would set us up with a long table in the main dining room.  When I got there today, I didn't see any table set up and when Brianna made the mistake of walking by I got angry with her.  She said essentially that wasn't her business, but she would check for us.  She later reported that they had set up a table and we were expected.  It worked out fine, but I didn't see anybody using the private dining room.

Atria aside, it was a good day, except that the car wouldn't start, so we had to ride over in Jeri & Phil's rented Camero, which was truly not designed for 4 people.  Fortunately it's a short hop. 
While we waited for the others to arrive, Jeri helped my mother figure out who all the people on her new blanket are.  That was good for a long time!  She's still not sure she knows who they all are.

The others finally arrived and we headed off to the dining room, where the seating arrangement was fine, and I got to parade my whole family through the room.  The girls, of course, decided they had to sit with Uncle Ned.

Lunch was leisurely and everybody got a chance to visit.  I'm not sure my other always knew what was going on, but she handled it well.

Our waitress, Judy, was quite attentive and made things go well for us.

We had agreed not to open gifts at my mother's (too confusing for her), but just give her the gifts that were hers.  But Ned, who wasn't feeling well and thought he would NOT go back to our house (he later changed his mind) had brought t-shirts for everyone.  These were shirts he designed based on the movie he and Brianna made, called "Star Warts, Episode VII-1/2."  Naturally, there were photos.

I could see things were starting to get to my mother, so we moved the party over here, where many gifts were opened.  Bri was cute in her Star Wars Santa hat

And Ned wants it to be known that this was a gag gift, not something he wanted or would have purchased for himself. (The look on Marta's face tells the story!)

The girls showed off their new t-shirts for Uncle Phil.

And when it was over, there was a new game to play.

There were naps to be taken and Phil checked out his new cookbook.

remembering no doubt, that at this time last year, he and Jeri, along with Ned and Marta and Walt's sister and her husband were all sunning themselves on the beaches of Jamaica and soaking up all that music and especially the foods (hot sauces were given as gifts this year!

All things considered, it was a very successful Christmas.  Jeri, Phil, Walt and I finished off some more of the prime rib from last night and then we settled in to call up YouTube on the smart TV and watch "Star Warts" again.

Tomorrow, Walt has to take the car to be repaired, and rent a car so we have some way of getting to Sacramento so I can review White Christmas.  Time to get back to work

Monday, December 26, 2016


I am writing this at 2 a.m.  At 9 p.m. last night, I was so tired I could barely move and so decided to chuck it all and go to sleep, knowing full well I would be awake around midnight.  I actually didn't get up until 1 a.m. and when I finish this, I hope I can go back to sleep.  But it was a perfect day, so I'm not complaining.

Around noon, Walt and I went to Atria with my mother's Christmas presents.  She was in the dining room, so we left her presents in her apartment and joined her.  We had coffee while she finished her meal, then we returned to the apartment, where she couldn't understand why she had all those presents.  Surely this wasn't Christmas already..

I had brought her a box of See's candy, some new lipstick, since she was out (I found a deal on a set of lipsticks called "Wet and Wild," which I thought was funny).   And then the photo blanket I had made for her.  I was most anxious to give her the blanket and get her reaction.
To my delight, she seemed to love it, though at first she didn't have an idea of who all those people were (and identified a photo of Walt and me as a picture of herself and me (I'm not sure which one of us had the beard).  She started to recognize people after I went over and over who was who and ultimately said she would have to study it so she could remember who everybody was.

She asked what she was supposed to do with it and I told her she could fold it up and put it on the couch for when she was gong to take a nap and she said "Now, see? I didn't understand a word you said."  I folded it up for her.

But she was, all things considered, pretty good so I even invited her to join us for dinner, but she declined, when I told her we would be back today for lunch.
Walt and I came home and he went off to a friend's Christmas party. I stayed home to get things ready for our big dinner.  I was VERY nervous about cooking my very first prime rib, especially after I picked it up yesterday. and saw the price.  Walt's comment "Just don't burn it!"

I had lots of advice on Facebook about how to cook a prime rib, but ultimately I went with what my friend John Fitzgerald assured me was a foolproof method (turns out he was right!  It's nice to know that, though given the price of the roast, I think it will be a long, long time before I cook on again!)

I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped in the house because I had a Facetime call from Walt's sister, brother, and sister-in-law and we chatted for about an hour and a half.  I was so sorry Walt wasn't here to join in the conversation.

But eventually I got in gear, finished wrapping the few gifts I had to wrap and got the table set for dinner.  Then it started to feel like Christmas.

Ned and Marta stopped by on their way to Marta's family's house for dinner.  I had posted to Facebook that the one thing I forgot to get was horseradish.  Ned responded that he had some and drop by the house on his way to the in-laws' Christmas dinner, which he did.  Crisis averted (you can't have prime rib without horseradish!)

Jeri and Phil texted that they had arrived on time in Sacramento, and it was time to Put The Roast In.

To make the roast the way I did it, you first coat it thickly with butter mixed with herbs and pepper, then sprinkle thickly with kosher salt and then put in a 500 degree oven for a period of time depending on the weight.  Our weight was 7.39 lbs, which you multiply by 5 and then round up to discover that it had to cook at 500 degrees for exactly 37 minutes.  Then you turn the oven off and don't even look at it for 2 hours.  At the end of 2 hours you have a perfect rare to medium rare roast, just the way we like it.  And hot damn!  It worked! The meat was perfectly cooked and by the time it comes out of the oven it is serving temperature (and you don't need to let it rest, because it has been resting for 2 hours).

Jeri and Phil arrived in their rented Camero convertible.  We sat and chatted while the roast did its thing in the oven.  And then it was time to eat.  I can honestly say this was the very easiest fancy dinner I have ever put together.

I held my breath when I cut the first slice of the roast, but it was perfect.  Outer edges medium rare, interior rare, rare, rare.  Could not have been better

My gift to Walt had been 3 bottles of fancy Cabernet, which I'd purchased from Char's stash.  She says these have already been aged 10 years, so are ready to drink now, and what a perfect complement to a $115 slab of meat.

I had also made a simple salad of romaine, sliced mini tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts with a balsamic dressing, and potatoes I baked in the microwave because I couldn't use the oven.

Dessert was a cheesecake with a caramel topping, which I got from a Pioneer Woman broadcast earlier this week..  I love cheesecake, but this was too sweet even for me.  If I ever make it again, it will be without the caramel topping.

And then it was over.  We cleared the table, I loaded the dishwasher, Jeri and Phil who are on Boston time, headed off to bed, and I collapsed.  It is now 3:30 and I think I can go back to sleep for a couple of hours.

We still have Atria Christmas, with Tom and his family to go this morning.  How THAT came about till have to wait until tomorrow.  There is another Atria saga involved.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

1, Do you send out Christmas cards and if so how many do you send?
I have written an annual letter since 1965. Several years ago, I made it an on-line version and mail out links to about 140 people.  I mail to a handful of folks who do not have email.

2.Do you write and send a holiday letter to describe your year?
I have written a chritmas letter for >50 years.  Now I post it on line.

3. What do you think of photo cards?
Love ‘em.  It's fun to watch everyone's kids grow up.

4.  How about the tree thing -- do you have one?
We always have had a real tree, but these days when we have no kids around to celebrate, and 2 dogs in the house, who might decide to eat ornaments, I used a small tree made out of ornaments.
5. Describe your typical tree (size, decorations, type). If you don’t have a tree, do you decorate and if so, tell us about it. (If you don’t decorate make up a story here…)
This year I bought a teeny fake tree, about 3' high, scrunched in a little box, so the branches had to be unfolded.  It just has teeny lights on it, with an angel from our manger set on top.

6. Do you hang up stockings? Whose names are on them (and relationships)?
.When the kids were living at home, we did.  They were huge stockings I knitted when they were babies.  Now we don't.

7. Your favorite Christmas Movie(s) is/are?
Miracle on 34th St (the original version).  I also love White Christmas

8. Tell us about a Christmas movie you hate
I don’t HATE it, but I am no longer a big fan of It’s a Wonderful Life.  I am tired of the chick lit flicks on the Hallmark Channel 24/7 in December.

9. Favorite Christmas Song(s)
Silver Bells

10. What holiday song makes you want to hurl?
Feliz Navidad
11,  What do you prefer for your holiday meal?
We always have turkey, but it was only a week or so ago that I finished the Thanksgiving turkey, so this year we are having prime rib ($115!) for the first time.  (when Walt saw the price all he had to say was "don't burn it!")
12. When do you open your gifts?
It varies.  Used to be we opened family gifts in the morning and extended family at night.  Now it's just Walt and me, so we open from each other in the morning and wait for whenever the kids can get here to open the rest.

13. Do you buy gifts for your pet?
No.  But I might buy them some Greenies this year.  They have bad breath (especially Polly)

14. What's the worst gift you've ever gotten?
A Mary Hartman doll when I wanted a big fancy doll (I was about 10 at the time) 15. Do you ever travel for the holiday?
We've gone to Santa Barbara a few times to have Christmas with the grandkids, but with my mother's dementia, I don't want to leave Davis this year.
16. Did you see Santa as a child?
Definitely. Santa at the Emporium in San Francisco.

17. Have you ever gone caroling?
Yes several times. My favorite time was when we did it on the cable car in San Francisco with a bunch of professional singers. The last time we went caroling it was here in Davis with a handful of people with kazoos.

18. Do you drive around and look at the Xmas lights?
We just did that two days ago.  I posted photos yesterday.

19. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
I was born and raised in San Francisco.  No white Christmas.

20. Do you know how to ice skate? If yes, when did you skate the last time?
I ice skated a little bit when I was in grammar school and took lessons. I could not skate now if my life depended on it.  I don't think I've skated since high school.

21. Are we crazy for thinking that the holiday season is WAY too commercial?
Since it now starts around 4th of July, definitely!!!!
22. Have you ever worked Xmas eve or Xmas day?
Fortunately, no.

23. What are your Xmas pet peeves?
The commercialism, and the 24/7 Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channels

24. What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family being all together, which is why I have had such a difficult time the last few years. Family is scattered, 2 kids are dead, and my mother doesn’t even know what month it is, let alone that it is Christmas.

25. Here's your chance to say something significant to our players. Go for it!
They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much!!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away!!
They're rioting in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't so to us
Will be done by our fellow man
Kingston Trio - Merry Minuet Lyrics |                                                                

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Lights of Davis

The Davis Enterprise released names of the winners of the annual town house decorating contest.  As usual (and not at all surprisingly), the top prize went to my old boss, Derrick Bang, who used to be the entertainment editor of the Enterprise for many years, until he fell victim to a downsizing.  

When Walt picked me up at Logos, it was dark and we decided to go out checking house lights ourselves....and it would give me a chance to test out the quality of the new cell phone camera.

We started with what this family calls Paul Plaza (Actually the E Street Plaza, but there is a performing center that is dedicated to Paul).  That's where we could see the official city tree (lit in blue).

The houses we found covered a wide range of topics.  There was the manger scene, with the house next door having a big snowman....

...and then the house with a Star Wars theme, which had a storm trooper holding a candy cane on the lawn.

There was a time when we put lights up on our house, but we only had one string, so Walt kind of draped them across the bush in front and the kids decided it looked like it was spelling "nunu" (Mork and Mindy was big then).  We found a house that had a similar lighting arrangement.

But all pale when you get to Derrick's house

It's impossible to do this justice, but in addition to a light display that would do Clark Griswold proud, there are lots of Minions, Mickey and Minnie Mouses, and a ton of Snoopys.  In fact, you can even see Snoopy's house.

(Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside Snoopy's house?)

There is a train that runs around the periphery of the house (at the roof line) and he is hooked up to a radio signal so if you turn on the right station, you can hear his Christmas music for about a block in either direction of the house.  Twice a night there is a program (I saw it one year, but can't remember what it is) that runs a few minutes and then repeats two hours later.

It's easy to see how this would be difficult to beat!  But I love watching it every year.  Inside the house is even more spectacular, minus the lights, but it starts with a floor to ceiling tree right inside the door that is decorated with nothing but Peanuts ornaments.  In the years when he was entertainment editor, he had a party each Christmas for the entertainment staff and one of the party games was to check the whole house and see how many Snoopys you could find (usually somewhere short of 100, including pictures, stuffed animals, ornaments, statues, etc.)

Derrick is the author of this and many other books about the Peanuts cartoons and Charles Schulz.  He was also part of the building and opening of the Charles Schulz museum in Sonoma. My big coup was that on the flight back from Australia in 2003, I was able to get a Qantas Snoopy (which they were giving to kids) which he did NOT have in his collection, though he has a gazillion stuffed Snoopys.

Now his house is infamous and it's my favorite thing to check out in this town each Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Today at logos

At Logos last week, I had a whopping total of 3 sales, with a few other customers in the store.  Normally I write notes on a quarter sheet of paper, an 8-12 x 11 piece of paper torn into 4ths.  In a normal week, I fill four sheets of paper.  Yesterday, when Walt arrived to pick me up I had just started my EIGHTH sheet of paper.  It was last minute gift buying day! Susan tells me that we sold $399 worth of books!

I needed to go to the bank, which is across the street from Logos.  I'm so frustrated.  I have used my pin on ATM machines for over 10 years and suddenly it's just..gone.  I know the four numbers, but I cannot for the life of me get them in the right order, so I have to deposit a check at the bank and get my pin switched.  I had hoped to do that before working, but we left the house a little too late so I was going to ask Sandy if she could stay just a bit longer, but her wife was there with their granddaughter, so I didn't.

Thinking the store was empty we were talking quite openly about our latest favorite subject: the upcoming Trump presidency.  Today we were talking about his decision to up our nuclear capabilities and what a danger that was after decades, ever since the Sainted Ronald Reagan, of working to reduce nuclear arms around the world.  It's probably not the conversation we would have had with customers in the store, but suddenly this very tall guy with a French accent appeared, making a statement about France's nuclear capabilities.  That was a surprise!

The next guy to come in was kind of a blend of Anderson Cooper and Mister Rogers.  He didn't buy anything either, but I had to mention him because I loved the visual I had of him!

3 women came in, looking like mom, daughter, and grandma.  Grandma had kind of a sour look and said loudly 'What are we DOING here?"  I couldn't tell if she was being funny...or if maybe she was like my mother, who would probably wonder the same thing.  The mom bought a book of ancient civilizations of somewhere I can't remember and the daughter bought a history of Greece.

A portly red-headed bearded guy searing a Bob Marley shirt under his dark corduroy jacket had worn-looking shoes with toes that turned up almost like those of elves.  His rumpled jeans dragged on the floor over his shoes.  He wore his sun glasses on top of his head and he spent a long time looking through the literature and the history sections, but ultimately didn't buy anything.

A woman who looks like my blog pal Mary Wise looked at cookbooks briefly and then bought a book on pizza.

A woman asked questions about the future of the store and of the French discussion sessions, which I told her I assumed would not continue with the transfer of ownership to Friends of the Public Library.  She bought a bargain book.

A man arrived with an armload of wrapped Christmas packages.  I said "Oh you shouldn't have" and he gave a small smile at my pathetic joke.  He bought a big coffee table book on the Bayeux tapestry from the window display.

A woman came in with a bargain book and asked for directions to a news store.  I told her how to get to Newsbeat, just a couple of blocks away.  She asked if she could leave the book there and get it later, which I said she could do.  I had told her to turn right out of the store; she turned left and I never saw her again.

A woman bought The Physics of Golf and The Story of English.  She put them both in her book bag, with a bag of coffee beans and the whole store smelled of coffee.

5 people entered at the same time, groups of two and three.  The two, kind of swarthy looking men with head bands, left quickly, while the 3 women stayed longer and laughed a lot.  

A man bought a contemporary fiction book.  His right arm, I noticed, was heavily tattooed (I suspect they were henna tattoos) with the letters spelling YOKE on his fingers and ornate flowers covering all the skin I could see.

An older man with white hair and mustache, who walked with an unsteady gait was looking for art books, but didn't find what he wanted.  He was so unsteady when he left I worried about him (the man needs a cane!)

A very tall woman bought a book on witchcraft and a man I had not noticed entering bought a book on the Celts.

A woman named Carol J brought in an armload of 10 bargain books, paid for them, and left them behind to pick up later  She met a friend outside as she was leaving and the friend was picking her own stack of bargain books (7 of them).  She returned an hour or so later for her books and bought a book on Van Gogh for $7, which was teeny compared to the bargain books she had purchased.  She also bought a kids' Christmas book.

Two women were sitting on the floor in front of me looking at cookbooks.  One of them had the biggest, fattest stuffed cat I had ever seen, which she had just purchased at the toy store across the street.

A woman chose a book that costs $7 but didn't have that much and said she would return, but she did not.

A woman bought three kids books, including "The Phantom Tollbooth."  The total came to about $7 but I kept screwing up the cash register and at first had her owing >$20.  I finally got it right on the third try.

A man talked with me about the takeover of Friends of the Pubic Library and when I mentioned Logos' donations to charity over the years. He was unaware of it and was impressed.

A woman asked if we sold gift certificates, and since I didn't find any blanks in the drawer, I guessed that we no longer did.  Another Logos tradition leaving.  The woman bought three personal growth books, including one by Edgar Cayce, the "sleeping prophet," the "father of holistic medicine," and the most documented psychic of the 20th century. 

A striking tall woman in a long white coat with a long scarf around her neck and a regal bearing entered, looking for "coffee table books."  She looked like what I would imagine Kay Scarpetta looking like, if Scarpetta were taller.  The woman was pleased to find three books, one on Scorsese, one on Humphrey Bogart and one on movies of the 20th century (I think this last book was one I donated).

Next there was a zaftig woman in blue overalls and a blue gingham shirt with a red knit cap.  She reminded me of Laffing Sal's nicer sister. She bought a book on Pancho Villa and had lots of interesting things to tell me about Villa's son, who apparently grew up in Hayward, CA and didn't know he was related to Villa until he was an adult ("Villa had kids all over the place," she said).  While she was talking to me another customer (Carol J from earlier in the day) stood right next to her having a conversation on her cell phone, making no effort to lower her voice or move out of the way.

Two Asian women came in, one bought a book of poetry and the other a cook book for the wok.

Another man came in wanting to know about the future of Logos. 

The last customer bought anther coffee table book and also talked about the future of the store.  Amazing how many people have come to love the store and are very concerned about what will happen when Susan and Peter retire.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now/

We've had our Verizon experience.

We innocently walked into the Verizon store to see about getting me an upgraded phone, since mine died last night ("screen death," they say).  Two and a half hours later we walked out with 2 new phones and two Samsung tablets.  We either got an incredible deal, or these guys are the best gol-durn used car salesmen in town.

We were easy pickin's.  There were actually five guys and for the first two hours, we were the only customers.  We apparently happened upon one of Verizon's best sales in the history of Verizon and we could get an iPhone 7 (which I did not expect to buy, knowing how expensive it is) for me, a new Samsung for Walt (they would buy back his 2 year old phone), cut our monthly payment in half, and throw in two Samsung tablets just for ducks.  And the total we paid today was less than half the price I've seen for the iPhone 7 alone.

One of the guys was supposedly just learning how it all worked, so the manager did a lot of the computer.  The paperwork went on forever, Walt signed a dozen agreements (half for him, half for me) they downloaded some apps for me until I told them I could do it myself. 

And, as I said, we walked out after 2-1/2 hours dazed and with so many bags one of the guy carried our bags out to the sidewalk for us.
The acid test will be when the bills start coming because apparently all the discounts we got won't show up for 2 months yet.  Walt did get that in writing.

While Walt was signing papers, I was testing out the new camera (which is amazing) and texting pix off to Jeri and Ned, the only two email addresses I could remember without double checking.  I also set up the alarm clock that rings every day at 9:30 to remind me to take my pills and installed Word with Friends. And then out to the car to test out our new toys.  We tried out the bluetooth and couldn't figure out how to configure it and decided it was kind of silly to be parked just a few blocks from the house trying to figure out how our new phones worked.

Needless to say,  am happy as a clam to have a working phone again...and to be able to play Word with Friends on my cell phone again.  There is also a big learning curve ahead of me, I know, but I'm looking forward to it.  Of course the iPhone 7 for Dummies that was on sale today for Kindle was ordered ($3) and has not been delivered.  Sigh.

I didn't have a lot of time to play with the phone at home because I had to get over to Atria and make sure my other got to her hair appointment.  I had the usual struggle with her.  How did I know she wanted to get her hair done?  How could she go when she had no checkbook, and what was I doing with her checkbook anyway.  What if she wanted to write a check.  And did she really have to go to the beauty parlor

We got through all of those and I actually delivered her to Lucy.  Found out Lucy cann't take credit cards and I had left my mother's checkbook at my house, so while her hair was beig done, I came home and got the check book.

In the end getting her hair done was a WONDERFUL idea!

Even she thought so.  I also took a photo of her hair from the BACK.  She is always complaining about people in the dining room who have beautiful curly hair and she has told me all of my life how disgusted she is when she looks at my hair because she ways wanted curly hair and never had it.  I thought she would like this photo:

I told her that everyone in the dining room would tell her how beautiful she looked tonight and she actually was in good spirits when I pointed her down the hall to her room, and left to come home.
I am spending the evening trying to bond with the new phone, but Amazon has not delivered the Kindle iPhone7 for Dummies that I ordered.  Grrr.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Lunch and Logos

I had lunch with my friend Joan and Nancy today.  We lunch periodically when the political scene is overwhelming and we need to talk about it.  I realized today that we've been doing this for about 12 years.  This was easy to figure out because we were first Bashing Bush Babes, perhaps after Bush's re-election.  We met maybe once a month to let off steam.  We couldn't do this on a regular basis because Nancy's schedule is so crazy and she is often out of town.

For the last 8 years we haven't really had that much to complain about, so we haven't lunched together to talk politics in a long time but things ramped up during the campaign and now things are taking a more serious turn as we face the upcoming inauguration. Maybe we are now the "Dump Trump Dames."

It's always such a wonderful catharsis to spend time with these wonderful, intelligent women and I always come away with a big load off my shoulders.  At least I had somewhere to dump my frustrations.

Today we had an unexpected visitor at our lunch, though.

Meet Bartholomew.  Nancy found him at Costco and couldn't resist, thinking he would be wonderful to give to some children's home.  Only so far nobody wants him, so for the nonce, he is going to stay at the University Retirement Community (URC), where Joan lives, and sit next to their Christmas tree.  When Christmas is over, Nancy hopes to give him to the library for their children's section.  What a great place for a little kid to sit and  read.

He was quite a hit, though, and people took his picture and the bus driver for the URC decided he needed glasses.

Before he moved to the Christmas tree, he was going to take a ride on the bus this afternoon, with a bunch of the other residents.  I think those retired folks are going to have a good time with him.
We could easily have spent another hour at lunch, but I had to get home so I could get to Logos. The person I relieved today was someone I had not met before.  When I said I was there to relieve her, she said "No, you aren't.  I don't feel relieved at all."  She was an interesting person who, I thought, had interesting lace across the top of her shirt until I realized it was a shoulder-to-shoulder tattoo of tongues of fire rising up off of her chest.

It was a rainy day and she had a light morning, but the rain was coming down harder and I had the lightest day ever. I think I made five sales.  Things started off just fine, with a guy wearing a North Face jacket buying a coffee table book about mountain climbing.  He said it would be perfect gift for a friend of his.

Believe it or not, I didn't have another customer until my friend arrived.  He was an hour earlier than usual and said he wanted to come in early before the traffic got crazy (he drives in from Sacramento to meet with a group of guys every week).  We chatted more than usual.  He said he will be gone now until January.  He bought a book of Japanese literature and a book abut code breakers in World War II.

Another customer, a tall guy with a wet pony tail bought "Notes from the Underground" by Dostoyevsky.

Some time after this my cell phone crashed.  I went to play my "4 Words" game to pass the time and the screen froze.  It has done this before.  You can't move anything and can't even turn off the phone.  I finally stopped trying and just let it turn itself off and now it won't turn on.  You can call the phone and it rings, but you can't answer it.  I phone recognizes it, but that's it.  Because I can see what is on in the photo files, even if I can't open the phone, this morning I moved all of the photos on the phone to my hard drive so I don't lose them.  We are actually, be still my heart, going to buy me a new one today.

A couple came in looking for books about teaching English to foreigners.  While they were there, the GPS on her cell phone was telling her how to get to the Avid Reader book store in the next block.
Two guys came in to ask about the future of Logos and left without buying anything, but then spied a book they wanted in Bargain books (a book on epidemiology).

A woman came in and walked purposefully to the back, was there a couple of minutes and then left.  A business man came in to drop off a letter for Peter and Susan.  

The last customer for me was a couple, the guy in a yarmulke and either prayer shawl or neck scarf (hard to tell which one!) who bought a book by Voltaire.  His female companion, with her close fit black pants and her boots, as well as just her bearing, looked like she must be an equestrian.

And then it was over.  Walt came by, dripping wet, and we walked the two blocks to where he had parked the car  I had not brought my rain jacket with me, but wasn't all that wet when we finally got to the car.  It would have been lovely to have come home and curled up in the lap of a big bear named Bartholomew!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Stealing

What is some of your favorite music?
I don't listen to music much any more.  I don't have a real genre.  I don't really like rock.  I enjoy old folk music like John Denver or the Kingston trio.  I like show tunes a lot (since I'm a critic, I see a lot of musicals).  I enjoy classical music, but not as much as I used to.

List your three favorite scents.
Sigh.  This question again.  The smell of the sea, puppy breath, and fresh ground coffee.  I also like the smell of acetone, rubbing alcohol, Vicks and gasoline.

How do you ground yourself or recharge?
I'm almost 74.  I take lots of naps.

Any ways you treat or spoil yourself?
Chocolate or a good pastry.

Besides your blog, do you have a creative past-time?
I'm not really particularly creative but I do enjoy making pocket letters.

Share something difficult you've been through.
How much time do you have? The death of my two sons (1996 and 1999), the grieving periods following the death of my best friend and my cousin, who was more like my sister. And right now, watching my mother's dementia eat away her brain.

What helps you fall asleep?
Usually exhaustion, but if I still can't sleep, I find that Morning Joe is a great soporific, if I'm still awake at 3 a.m...unless the day's news from Trumpland is terrifying and then I won't be able to sleep at all.

What is one strength and one weakness of yours?
I am generally good in a crisis (I've had lots of experience) but I have lots of personal failings, like procrastination, inability to keep the house clean, lack of self-discipline.

Have you ever received a letter or written one to someone else?
Oh my yes!  I write lots of letters (mostly to the 29 kids I sponsor around the world) and my granddaughters, and receive letters from all of them.  Even with her dementia, my mother is proud of the fact that she never writes letters.

What makes you feel powerful, what breathes life into you?
I don't know that I ever feel powerful any more.

What's your favorite thing to do at night?
Watch TV

If you could go back to any era, what would they be?
I'd like to revisit the 1950s and find out why I thought it was such a good time when it was not good at all for an awful lot of people (I suspect I thought they were good because I was a young white girl living in a white neighborhood.,  We weren't wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but if my family had money worries, I didn't know about them. Politics was not discussed in our house, so I never knew what was going on in the world.  I lived in blissful ignorance.

Your favorite things to wear at home?
pajama bottoms, t-shirt, and fuzzy socks

If you could be immortal or have an extremely long life span which would you pick and why?
Neither.  Immortality would be terrible.  You'd spend your entire life saying goodbye to loved ones.  And, watching my mother deteriorate at age 97, that doesn't hold any appeal for me either.  Just let me go to sleep some night and not wake up.  Maybe I'll find old friends on the other side.

Tell us about something positive you have done for yourself or someone recently.
Today is my day to write to all 29 kids I sponsor.  Three are in Haiti and one is in Indonesia and I worry about how they are doing after the natural disasters to hit their countries.

One thing you like about your appearance?
My hair isn't too bad.  It needs cutting right now, but it's my best feature.

Something that makes you feel better after a hard day?
Sinking into my recliner, turning on the television, and NOT seeing anything about Donald Trump.

If you have one, name a favorite book & movie.
Favorite book, "Prince of Tides."  Favorite movie, "A Star Is Born" (1954, with Judy Garland)

Since almost all of you are women, add this question: How do you feel about beards? No bonus points. I'm curious
Walt has had a beard for at least 40 years or more.  I won't let him shave it.  We have compromised on a goatee.  Does that answer your question?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Saturday 9

Why does it hurt?  I happened, quite by accident, to see the "blogs I follow" list of someone I have known and followed for many years and on whose list I always showed up, but I'm not there any more, though I continue to follow her blog and have since the beginning.  I am grateful to everyone who follows Funny the World, but I guess there is a sell-by day for old friends.  Heck, sometimes I even bore me!

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: Snowbird (1971)

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

1) In this song, Elvis wants the snowbird to fly away and take the snow back with her. Have you seen a measurable snowfall yet this season?
I've seen the same measure of snowfall we see every year - zero.  In the 43 years we have lived here, it has snowed twice, only once long enough to stay on the ground for photos, but gone within the hour.

2) Drivers in snowy climes are encouraged to keep salt, sand or kitty litter in the trunk because those items can help a car regain traction in the snow. Do you have an emergency kit in your car right now? If so, what's in it?
Well, not really.  We have flashlight and jumper cables and gear to change a tire or put on chains, but that's about it, I think.

3) Back in 2007, North Dakota set the world record for the most snow angels made at one time (8,910). Do you enjoy playing in the snow?
I don't know that I have ever played in the snow, except one year where we took the kids to the mountains.

4) Chionophobia is the fear of snow. Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightening. Lilapsophobia is the fear of tornadoes and hurricanes. Do you have to cope with any of these fears?
Nope.  The only natural disaster we have here is earthquakes (seismophobia), but I don't have that.
5) Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie split her childhood between Memphis and Los Angeles, so she seldom saw snow. When she was a little girl, she was whisked her off to Denver in her father's private plane so the two of them could spend an afternoon playing in the snow. If you could take off and spend the afternoon anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Well, "anywhere in the world" is silly unless you are going somewhere close, like Memphis to Denver.  If I wanted to spend the afternoon in London, that's a 12 hour flight., if I wanted to go to Australia or Africa, the afternoon would be over and I'd still be on the plane.  But if I had a transporter or Tardis, I wouldn't mind going on an African photo safari before dinner back home again.

6) At home and onstage, Elvis refused to wear jeans and only wore denim if a film role demanded it. This is because when he was young, classmates teased him for "dressing poor" in jeans and coveralls. What did you wear to class when you were in grammar school?
I wore a uniform from 1st grade through 12th grade. decisions about what to wear.

7) Elvis and President Jimmy Carter are distant relatives (the President is the sixth cousin of the King's great grandfather). Your turn: Tell us about one of your more interesting relatives.
My aunt was apparently the first woman granted a pilot's license in California.  My great uncle (and godfather) was a champion 6 days bicycle racer.  Another great uncle came within one fight of being feather weight boxing champion.  My grandparents were in vaudeville, and my grandfather was an Irish tenor in a barbershop quartet.

8) In 1971, when Elvis released his recording of "Snowbird," You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown was a hit on Broadway. Who is your favorite Peanuts character?
I love Snoopy, and our kids did You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, where Paul was Charlie Brown, David was Linus and Tom was Schroeder, so I have a soft spot in my heart for all of them, especially Charlie Brown and his eternal quest for getting a kite to fly.  (That production, BTW, was directed by Jeri and Ned was on the set crew.)

9) Random question: You receive a gift certificate from a gourmet food company that can be redeemed for one of these three things: 1 lb. of caviar, 5 lbs. of steak or a 10 lb., live lobster. Which would you choose?
No problem.  Steak.  I don't like either caviar or lobster (and the thought of killing a live lobster turns my stomach, though I wouldn't mind having someone kill a Dungeness crab for me!  (And BTW, I suspect 5 lbs of steak would be by far the cheapest of the choices)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

All I want to do is pay the %$# bill!

In this day where everything is automated and computerized, trying to deal with a human being is nearly impossible.  Even if you CAN get to a human being, they refer you back to their on-line site because it's so much easier.  For them.

Today I had 3 bills to pay for my mother.  Somehow she managed to "misplace" 2 months of telephone bills, which I just found on her coffee table this week.  Her phone had already been disconnected.  I don't know what happens with her papers.  She gets volumes from Atria in a week and I go through them and toss out the outdated ones and get everything organized and then a week later I will find more notices from 6 months ago.

I called AT&T but before they could help me I had to either give them her 3-digit account number or the last 4 digits of her social security number.  I didn't have the SS number so I put in the account number, which was not recognized.  I'm holding the bloody bill in my hand and reading the numbers, but they don't recognize them.

So I went to Atria and got her SS card and copied down the number.  I went back to AT&T and they don't recognize that number either.  I finally called customer "service" and after a quite lengthy wait on line, while I was told many times how easy their on-line service was, I eventually reached a human being, who didn't want to accept payment from me until they could have my mother verify that it was OK for me to pay her bill for her.  I explained that she was 97 and had dementia and threatened to call back and pretend I was my mother. She finally, reluctantly, agreed to let me pay her bill.

One down, two to go.

The second bill was easier.  It was her portion of the ~$2,500 bill for her 3 block ambulance ride to the Emergency Room the last time she was sent there.  Her portion was $125, which makes you realize why you pay for health insurance.  It's for unexpected times like these!  But I wrote the check and mailed it.  

The third bill was her co-pay for the $7,701 charges for her 2 hours in the emergency room.  Her portion?  $50.  Again, thank God for Kaiser.  I cringe whenever I pay these bills because I know that she does not really need to go to the ER, but the one time I say "don't take her" will be the one time when her unconsciousness turns out to be a stroke.  So we pay.

I called their number and got the recording to use the on-line payment method, but when I went to on line she had to sign in with her account.  Her account number is on her bill, so I put that in and they didn't recognize it.

So I called.  And I waited. And I got a recording saying to say to type in her account number.  It wasn't recognized. I finally got through to a person who could help me and, not surprisingly, she encouraged paying on line.  I explained my difficulty and that I could not log in and could not start an account.

She said I could log in and pay as "guest" and that she could guide me, so I got the web site up on my computer and it was, indeed, quite simple.  She got me through the first couple of screens and all I had to do was put in the credit card number.  I thanked my guide for her help and she hung up.

I put the credit card information in and clicked 'submit" but it would not accept it without the last 4 digits of her Social Security number and it, too, did not recognize the number I entered.  Even though it says that is her number right on the card!

There was a link to send a note to their customer service address, so I wrote one and sent it.  Within a few minutes I had a response saying that though their office hours are  7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST and though I was calling at 3 p.m. PST on a Wednesday afternoon, they were out of the office.  The e-mail suggested I use the on-line option.


I should have expected this.  Today is "pie day" at Sutter, I thought.  At the lunch yesterday they reminded us we could pick up our pies between 6:30 and 8:30 or later in the afternoon.  I actually set my alarm so I could get to Sutter by 7:30 so we could have pumpkin pie for breakfast. But when I got to the hospital meeting room, nobody was there and there was no sign of pies.  I went to the volunteers' office to see if maybe the pies were there, but the sign on the wall for "pie day" says that it is tomorrow.  

So I got back in the car and started the iPod to continue listening to my book on the ride home, but there was no sound.  Not on the audio book, nor on music, nor on anything.  

Obviously not my day.  I was going to visit my mother, but it's raining and it's cold, so I'm staying home.  But I'm nervous about touching anything mechanical for fear it won't work.

I did get the iPod working again, by essentially kicking it.  Electronically, that is.  I hooked it up to iTunes and played something from the iPod thru iTunes and when I disconnected from iTunes, it worked again, but it is clear that this beloved gadget is on its last legs.  I have looked at replacement options on Amazon, but I really need to hold something in my hands and see if it is what I want/need.  I did order something that I thought would work, but it turned out not to be compatible with iTunes or with and since all I want the machine for is to play audio books, that won't work, so I am returning my purchase and taking a credit.

Now I just have to find a place to look at replacements.

I DID do something intelligent, though.  While iTunes was reading the iPod I did a copy and paste on the list of all the books I have stored on the iPod so that when/if I get a new one, I will know what to download from Audible again.

Though with my electronic luck these days, it probably won't recognize me either!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Who orders salmon in a steakhouse?

When the invitation to the Sutter Davis Hospital volunteers Christmas luncheon came, I didn't think I was interested.  This is not the "come and let us treat you to lunch as a thank you" lunch (which comes about in the spring), this was the "pay big bucks and we can all eat together" lunch.  The idea of eating at Cattlemen's was pleasant.

It's a great steakhouse that I've been able to visit a couple of times.  They have fabulous beef and we almost never go there.  So that was something in its favor.

But there was that whole social anxiety thing that so often cripples me.  But in the end I decided to go.  I had enjoyed the free lunch last spring, though I was fairly new then and didn't really know anybody by name.  I had felt out of place, but enjoyed myself.

So I sent in my money and today was the day.  Of course, a good ol' steakhouse like this comes with the thing that I hate....dead animals on the wall.  But I decided not to look up.

We all gathered around the front table to sign in and then go find a seat.  People were meeting friends and going off to tables. I decided to sit at an empty table and see if anyone would sit with me.  I watched people I knew give me smiles before going off to a different table.  

I expected that this entry was going to be a "poor me, nobody likes me" entry, but then a woman asked if the seats were taken and she and her friend (someone I actually knew) sat with me, then a woman who talks to me all the time when she passes the information desk arrived and then a woman who used to teach our kids in grammar school joined the group with a woman I didn't know but see all the time, and she always gives a cheery wave. So things were looking up. 
I'm not sure why people order salmon at a beef restaurant, but there were only two of us who ordered the sirloin steak, which was delicious.

Three of the women at the table are gift shop buyers and so there was lots of talk about that, but then I remembered that the ex-teacher had just traveled to Africa.  I had seen some of her Facebook photos, and so I talked with her about that, the place I've always wanted to visit and know now that I never will.  I was feeling more comfortable.

Then one of the gift shop ladies, who talks to me whenever she passes by, asked me what was the last show I saw.  I told her about Cinderella, which we saw last weekend.  The woman next to me asked if I write things about shows. I told her that I was the critic for the Davis Enterprise and that was an a-ha moment for most of them.  It was like the time someone at a new theater asked if I was "The" Bev Sykes. Turns out they all read my stuff, which is quite humbling.

Suddenly we had mutual things to talk about.  They wanted to know how I got to be a critic, and the shows I'd seen lately.  It was about 5 minutes where I was in my element and my social anxiety melted away for the rest of lunch.  (When we were leaving one of the women said "we learned a lot about you today!")  I left feeling 100% better than I had felt standing awkwardly on the porch of the restaurant waiting to be let in.

They gave us each a nice Christmas mug and someone from management gave each of us a teeny box with a piece of Sees candy in it.  Since lunch had not come with dessert, the candy was a nice end to the lunch.

As I got into the car, I was surprised to realize I had enjoyed myself, felt I had a better relationship with the women at my table and was feeling very good about the whole event.

I had to go from the restaurant to the hospital because I was working a half shift.  The lobby was nicely decorated and after talking with the gift shop buyers, I had to check out the things in the gift shop.  I was looking for a pair of Christmas earrings to replace the two pairs of earrings that I lost one earring from.  I got a cute pair of package bows.

I won't be able to sleep in them, as I have the earrings I've been wearing for several years, because they are too lumpy, but they'll get me through the holidays and maybe then I can go looking for another pair of "forever earrings."

All in all a surprisingly pleasant day.