Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Breaking Barriers

When we went out to dinner last night, we were looking for a place to park and found on street parking.  I realized the building we were next to was familiar to me, though I had not been in it for about 10 or more years, but I recognized the bread store next to it.  Last time I saw it, the bread store parking lot had a mural on the wall; now it's all painted white and I don't know what is in the building I knew so well, but when I volunteered there, it was called Breaking Barriers.

I don't remember how I heard about Breaking Barriers, but it was a volunteer organization that provided service to people with HIV / AIDS.  There were three levels of assistance...maybe more.  I volunteered to drive clients to doctors' appointments and for a short time I was someone who would just befriend a client, talk to them, just be their friend.

But I started out driving two or three times a week.  This was the very early years of this journal and my favorite client was a woman named Priscilla, who had both AIDS and cancer and I took her to get her Methadone once a week (she had other drivers on other days). I wrote about her often and called her "grandma" to preserve her privacy.  For someone with all the problems she had (social and physical), she had the most upbeat attitude of anybody I knew while working for Breaking Barriers.

We became friends and I got wrapped up in her life....too wrapped up, it turned out.  One Christmas when her daughter had been incarcerated in Southern California, leaving nobody to care for Priscilla's grandchildren, Priscilla brought the kids here from Los Angeles. At about the same time, right before Christmas, her bed collapsed and I bought her a bed frame.  I mentioned that I was planning to do that on Funny the World -- I believe it was the first year of this journal, (which is no longer accessible on line).  People who had come to know "Grandma" and follow her life, were incredibly generous and sent me so much money I was able to buy her a bed and buy Christmas gifts for the kids and Christmas dinner for the family.

But after the grandkids returned home, Priscilla asked if I could give her a ride to the nearby prison where her son was incarcerated.  She had no car and she had no way to see him, so I took her twice --- it's an hour and a half drive, after driving an hour to pick Priscilla up -- and it got to where she was calling me every week, angry if I couldn't take her back to the jail. She also wanted me to help "kidnap" her mother from her brother's home, which I foolishly did.  What a mess that was! 

I just kind of stopped answering her calls but I always wonder how she is doing.  I heard that she was eventually able to buy her own car and her health improved so she no longer needed Breaking Barriers.

I remember one day taking a one-legged man to his doctor's appointment and discovering how difficult it was to get him out of the car.  He was a large man and I nearly dropped him.  That was pretty scary.

Most of my clients were fun people that I enjoyed chatting with going to and from their appointments, but I had a couple of really bad experiences, especially the woman who got into the car with her kids, while talking on her cell phone.  She talked the whole way to her kids' school, to drop them off, and then out to her doctor's office and all the way back home without so much as a thank you.  But the worst was that she seemed to have zero awareness that I was there.  She was talking about how she had gone out with her cousin and her cousin's date but her cousin got drunk and fell asleep so of course she (client) had to f**k the boyfriend because he expected something her had cousin was sleeping.

(In subsequent trips with her, I got go know her better and she really was a nice person, trying to put herself through school to become an attorney.)

It was definitely a look into a world that I was not familiar with.

One of my "friend" clients was a woman with a grammar-school aged daughter.  I took them up to our cabin at Tahoe to have a fun weekend.  I don't think the little girl had ever been in a swimming pool before.  It was a real feel good weekend, but when I went to their house to take them Christmas gifts, she had moved out and I assume she was back on drugs again, since Breaking Barriers had not heard from her either.

My favorite client was Mary.  I think she was in her 60s and she contracted HIV during a blood transfusion.  She lived several miles north of Sacramento, so driving her to her doctor involved driving about an hour or more from Davis to get her, then half an hour back into Sacramento to her doctor's office, waiting around until she was finished, then driving her home again and then driving back to Davis.

She was very particular.  She didn't like most of the drivers who showed up and she would refuse to answer her door if she didn't like the driver.  But she liked me.  When she liked you, she asked for a 5x7 photo to put on her wall.  She also had a big doll collection and I remember that when we went to Scotland, I bought a doll for her then, but never got to give it to her.  At that time, gas prices were going up to astronomical levels and I had to give up working with Breaking Barriers because it was just costing too much.

But Breaking Barriers is gone now and I don't know how any of my old clients are. It was a brief, but memorable period in my life, when I broke the barrier between my comfortable middle class life and made friends with people I might never have met otherwise.

I don't know if it was before or after that I volunteered in the Davis homeless shelter.  I worked in the office and helped some of the men (there were no women in this shelter) learn how to use a computer.  I really liked this one guy who had come in and left the shelter many times.  The last time he came in, sober, he said that if he started drinking again, he would never come back  He was a nice old alcoholic, but one day he was gone and we never heard from him again.  It saddens me that alcohol had such a hold on him that as much as he wanted to get sober he just couldn't do it.

It was politics rather than anything else that took me out of the homeless shelter.  The new manager was impossible to get along with and most of us didn't last long after she took over. She was so disorganized that you could never get anything done...and if you did, the person who came in the next day would undo all the work you had done. Now I hear the shelter has become a halfway house for guys coming out of jail and needing to get oriented back into the community.

My volunteering is more mundane these days, now, with the loss of Logos, just the hospital, but I think back fondly on the days when I worked with my friends at Breaking Barriers.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Four Show Weekend

I remember way back in my early days of being a critic when I sometimes had two shows a weekend to review.  Rarely, a 3-show weekend, which wiped me out.  

Since I joined the staff of Sacramento News and Review, I review more shows than ever, with three show weekends being more common.  But I think this was the first four show weekend I've had.
It started Thursday night with a production at the university of Vanya, Sasha, Masha and Spike.  It's a comedy that celebrates Chekov plays and the production was wonderful.  Even if the actors hadn't been so good, it's worth the price of admission for the set alone

But the show was good too, probably my favorite of the four shows we saw.

The next night it was The Diary of Anne Frank.  Something ironic about seeing a show of Jews hiding in an attic so that they won't be rounded up by the police at a time when there are people who are fixing spaces where they can house illegal immigrants to prevent them from being deported.  The set for this one wasn't as gorgeous, but also a complex set.

Another good production.  The girl who played Anne took on a huge role for someone without a lot of experience, and she did it very well.

How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying was a bit of a disappointment.  I'd reviewed this company previous two productions of the show and gave them a rave review each time, but this one seemed slow moving.  The first act dragged and both Walt and were having trouble staying awake.  The good stuff happens in the second act anyway.  There were enough sorta-wow moments in the show that I was able to give it a good review.  I wrote about the outstanding performers in the very large cast and just didn't mention the ones that I didn't think much of.  

We ended the weekend with a matinee of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  It starred one of my favorite local actors, Matt K. Miller, as Prospero.

This is a Shakespeare that I had not seen before and I will have to think about it before I write the review, but since I have already turned in 3 reviews to the Davis paper, I can be a little late with this one and get it right.

Today was also Walt's birthday and so after the show, we met Ned and Marta at an Italian restaurant near the theater.  We were much earlier than I thought we were going to be, so we sat and had wine....

...and a starter of flatbread with three different dips -- a hummus, an olive tampanade, and a piquillo pepper romesco.  They were all delicious, but I loved the romesco.

We had a nice dinner during which Walt got calls from both Tom and Jeri, so all the kids had checked in.

So we have passed through "birthday season," my reviews are almost all written, and I only have one show to go to next weekend, so it almost feels like this is a vacation week.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

How to Survive

Last night I received a phone call from a former co-worker with whom I have not had contact in more than 20 years.  I expressed delight at hearing from her and asked how she was.  There was a silence and then in a tremulous voice she said "well...not very well."

As it turned out, the man she describes as her soulmate for the past 10 years had just died, unexpectedly.  She said that she was "doing this all alone" and that she didn't know what she was supposed to do.  My heart went out to her.  We had worked together for a couple of years and she always reminded me of Jeri.  

We talked for a long while and I learned that her neighbor had come to bring food (I didn't ask if it was ham) and criticized her for the condition of her house, which didn't help any.

She said she couldn't think of who to call, so called me.  We were working together when David died and she knew I had been through something like this before.

I finally asked if she'd like me to come over in the morning (we had a show to review that night so I couldn't go right over right then).  She thanked me and said she would like to see me.

Before I went, I found a little book that had been given to me in 1986 by a woman I worked with.  It was a new job.  I had only been there a couple of weeks when my friend Gilbert died.  Though of course I had been through deaths before (including that of my sister), Gilbert's death was the first to hit me so hard and I was having a difficult time keeping it all together while I worked.  It was a small office -- just four of us -- and this woman went out to lunch.  When she came back she handed me a book called "How to Survive the Loss of a Love."  I have probably written about it here before.  It's by Peter McWilliams and Harold Bloomfield and is a very thin book, just a little over 100 pages, that can easily be read in half an hour.  It contains prose and poems and it lays out what grief feels like and how to recover.  

It explains at the outset that loss can be as devastating as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a romance...or something as small as moving to a new house or the loss of a job or a tooth.  The degree of the loss will determine the length of the grief, but there is still a grief to get through.

This may be the book that has had the biggest impact on me in my life.  I read it every day and marked my progress through grief by how far I could get into the book before I started to cry.  It was a few months before I could read the whole thing without tears, and by then I was on the road to grief recovery.

The thing about grief is that you never "get over it."  When you lose someone you love, you grieve.  The grief comes in waves.  Just when you think you are starting to feel better, you get hit with it again.  I described it as hills and valleys.  You start in a deep valley and gradually climb up to a hill and then slide down into a valley again.  Over time the hills get higher and the valleys are less deep and the slides come at longer intervals.  (Heck, Gilbert has been dead 30 years and I had a brief slide at a recent Lamplighters show, thinking about all the other Lamplighters who have died since then.  My sister has been dead since 1971 and before dementia took her, my mother once in a GREAT while could still feel twinges grief about her death.)

You learn during this process that while the person whom you grieve is no longer here in the flesh, their spirit becomes a part of the new person you become following their death.  Gilbert is always with me (in addition to finding me parking places), David and Paul are always with me.  Kathy and Peach are always with me.  Who I am today is the me that I started out being, and the me that was affected by my love of them.

I went off to see my friend this morning.  and spent some time with her.  My heart ached for her because I knew how she was feeling, especially since she doesn't seem to have a support system around her.

Comforting people who are hurting is a difficult thing.   As I read somewhere "death rewrites your address book."  People you thought you could always turn to turn their backs, and people you never dreamed would become friends are there for you.  I remember a woman after Gilbert died who told me that I was "too public with my grief" and I never heard from her again.  This was someone with whom I had shared many of her own traumas and tried to be supportive, but when the shoe was on the other foot, she couldn't handle it...which, of course, just escalates the depth of your own grief.  You've not only lost someone you loved, but you lost someone ELSE you loved who doesn't want to have anything to do with your grief.  (We never did see each other again and last I heard she had Alzheimers.  I don't know if she is still alive or not.)

I have seen people I knew well in this town spy me at one end of a supermarket aisle and turn and walk away to avoid running into me.  While that hurts, I remember the death of a boy who was friends with our kid.  I didn't want to go to his memorial service because I didn't know what to say.  I did go, but I don't think I spoke with his parents at all because I felt so uncomfortable.

So I understand why people act the way they do, but I also remembered that the people who helped me the most, especially after David and Paul died were the people who just let me talk.  People seem to feel if their names come up, it would be too painful, so they act as if nothing is wrong.  I remember Walt's mother's cousin in Ireland saying to us, when we arrived at her house, "Now, I won't bring it up again, but I just wanted to say how sad I was that David died."  She then would not mention him again.  Ignoring him completely like that buries him even deeper.  When you have lost someone, talking about him/her lets that person be alive again, however briefly.  I may cry, but it is cathartic.

I didn't do anything magical today.  We just sat and talked.  I found out all the information about how he died, I found out how they met, the things they did together, etc.  Just chit chat.  She cried a little (even I cried a little), but it was good.  I think when I left she felt a little better.  

I will check back with her in a couple of weeks when the shock has worn off and she is really in the throes of grief and see if she needs to talk again.  Or maybe she won't need me again, but I'm glad she called me.  It was good to see her, though sad that it had to be under such sad circumstances.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Just Too Nice a Day

The plan for the day was to go to Atria, maybe for lunch, and then get some errands done.  But on the drive over to Atria, the skies and the trees were so gorgeous that I knew I had to get my mother out of the damn place and go. see. nature.

Everywhere you looked there were gorgeous cloud formations and all the trees were starting to come into full blossom.  When I saw my mother lying, as she always does these days, on the couch, awake, but just staring off into space, I didn't ask her, I told her  that I was taking her out to lunch.  I figured we would go to Denny's in Woodland but I would take the long way to and from there, driving through areas of Davis where I knew we would see a lot of trees...and open areas where there would be good views of clouds.

She was confused, of course, but meekly followed me out to the car.  It was perfect.  She loved the clouds (which she sometimes called "flowers" when she couldn't remember the word for clouds) and even noticed the blossoms on the trees.  And you could not ask for a more glorious day.

We passed by almond orchards just coming into blossom, not quite full, but very pink, and stopped to watch a crop dusting plane which was flying over the orchards.

Then on out to Woodland, to Denny's, where we parked under a tree that she thought was so beautiful.


The choices on a menu always confuse her, so I give her a menu, but order for her, letting her make her own choices if the waitress asks her, but if the choices are still too confusing (don't ask "white/wheat/rye/biscuit/muffin?" -- entirely too complicated!), I just answer for her, since I usually know what she wants. 

She had a fried egg, hash browns, bacon and wheat toast. To my amazement, she ate it all, which she usually does not do  During the lunch she kept staring out the window marveling at all the cars that were driving past the restaurant and how they all looked new.

We got back in the car and drove back to Davis.  I drove around, downtown through the arch of trees on F Street that is always so beautiful, and the line of blossoming trees on Covell Blvd, which are so pretty at this time of year.

Of course she had no idea I was driving in big circles, and she enjoyed all the views and I think that by the time I returned her to Atria (which she recognized as somewhere she had been before), she was tired and ready to take a nap.

It was a lovely day and she only asked me twice what I was doing tonight and only once if I was going dancing.  I consider that a successful afternoon

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mickey and Benny and Gasper

I am so incredibly grateful for my friend Claire, who unwittingly gave me one of the best ideas I've had in a long time.  Claire was just showing me photos what she'd been doing when she introduced me to her Mickey.  Her Mickey had one of those new high tech brooms for his game of Quiddich.

I thought that was a cute idea and shortly afterwards, I happened to look in a closet and found Benny (so-called because I had a hat from Berklee College of Music with a "B" on it). I decided to try making pictures for the girls.

It has already been wonderfully successful.  So far Benny has visited Logos, learned the abbacus, gone fishing, dressed up for Valentine's day, played Quiddich, and introduced his friend Happy.

The Happy idea came from Claire too, as Mickey has a friend he is occasionally photographed with.  Happy has a long history with our family.  Paul and I had a "thing" about smiley faces and I was tickled when I found this laughing doll, which I gave him one Christmas.  Paul loved it and we laughed a lot with him.  Paul's widow even took Happy to a Talking Heads concert, shortly after Paul died, and had him photographed with David Byrne and the rest of the Talking Heads.  I hope somehow Paul knows that, because Byrne was his idol (he even wrote a song featuring him).

But I though it would be fun to add Happy to the mix and I have some ideas for things the two of them can do (like going on a picnic or playing cards).  It also keeps the memory of Paul, whom Brianna never met, alive.

When I sent the first letter to Brianna, Tom texted that Benny was a big it.  After I sent the quiddich picture, I got a great letter from her saying that maybe she and I could play quiddich next time she comes to visit (though I suspect i would need a Mickey-style broom to hold my weight!).

Three days later I got another letter from her with a picture of her monkey, Gasper, riding on a horse.

I don't know how long this is going to go on, but it was an inspired idea and I will forever be grateful to Claire for giving it to me.  What a great way to keep a bond going between Brianna and me before she becomes a sullen teen ager who isn't interested in talking with her grandmother any more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


There is a Word Press site that I visit once in a great while.  It's interesting that it posts a daily one word prompt designed to spark inspiration for bloggers looking for something to write about.  I often feel intimidated by the way people interpret the prompts.  I usually check out several of them and am rarely inspired -- my brain doesn't work in that way.

But today, I clicked on the prompt "translate," which has linked to nearly 200 blog entries sparked by that word.  It's interesting to see what people think of when they think of that word.  Some write poems.  

I have a hard time with poetry.  Most of it I don't understand. My brain doesn't think in high falutin' terminology.  I can write "there once was a XX named XX" and finish that quatrain.  And I often write haikus, though when Ned went to Japan and sent back haikus about his experience ...

...he learned that this isn't strictly speaking a "haiku."  Apparently Haiku has to do with seasons.  I didn't understand it, so I checked Wikipedia, but that was even more complicated.  I guess just the 5-7-5 syllables is not enough to qualify as haiku.  But whatever 5-7-5 is, I can write that, if not real poetry.

One entry talked about a dream and how to translate that dream into reality, another translated her cat's "language."  One talked about trying (unsuccessfully) to speak French, despite 10 years of lessons.  One was trying to make sense out of family conflict.  Not surprisingly, at least one entry tried to translate Trump.  One read a grave inscription and tried to figure out what it meant.

One took the word and talked about how we have lost the ability to relate to strangers and how we ignore pain and suffering around us and challenges the reader.  "Notice someone’s pain, take someone’s away, but there’s no good reason to cause anyone any pain."

Someone took a text by Stephen King and talked about the meaning behind the words.  One wrote a science fiction piece that I didn't understand at all.

I finally came to one that I could relate to.  It was about a woman who was learning how to translate medical jargon.  "I got a job as a USDA food inspector and started to learn a lot of really long words about chicken diseases, little did I know it would lead to where I am now."

She never became a medical transcriptionist, a job she found quite boring, but it did get me started thinking about my experience of some 30 years of medical transcription.

When I think of medical transcription, I think of my very first job.  I still cringe when I remember it.  A Japanese veterinarian brought a box of tapes from a conference to The Secretariat, where I worked.  He wanted it transcribed.  My boss explained that we had never done medical transcription before and he said that he knew there would be lots of errors, but something was better than nothing.
And so I took on the job.  I had tapes and a medical dictionary and it was my job for the next month or so.  All these years later, after I actually became a medical transcriptionist, I can't even begin to think of how horrible my translation of this conference must have been.

For one thing, even under the best of circumstances, transcribing a conference is the worst kind of transcription.  You don't know how many people are talking, you don't know who has what voice, there are people who talk on top of other people.  It's just awful.

Add to that the fact that they were speaking in medical jargon and that not all of them spoke English with an American accent and you get the idea.!  I think I did about 20-30 of those damn tapes and had to search the medical dictionary for nearly every word.  I'd love to read my transcription now.
The veterinarian seemed content with what I had done and we never heard from him again.

Later when I got a different job, working for The Typing Company, my boss, who was a medical transcriptionist, threw a dictionary and a tape at me and told me to learn it.  And I did.  She told me that when I knew how to spell cholecystectomy, I would know I was a real transcriptionist.  And I did.

But I also learned that the ability to translate the words of an orthopedist who spoke very clearly (and at great length) into a perfectly typed manuscript was NOT being a medical transcriptionist.  I went on to become the on-call transcriptionist for every medical office in town, when their in-house typist was ill or on vacation.  Going from orthopedics to gynecology was like going from French to Spanish and required a whole new learning curve.  Same with learning Internal Medicine or cardiology, or translating reports on lab tests.

Working for the medical lab was quite an experience.  For one thing, the typewriter was in the basement with the medical equipment.  I would get there at 6 a.m. and work until about 8.  I never saw anybody and nobody ever saw me.  I would leave my transcriptions by the machine and let myself out of the basement and go home.  I had some nice interesting reports to type, but my boss got the best one.

When you go to a lab, they have to report on anything that is taken out of the body.  Blood? Splinters? Bullet fragment?  In this case, what was removed from the body was a door knob that had been removed from a guy's anus.  As if that weren't bad enough, the patient requested that after the exam had been done they return the knob to him because "it was his favorite one."

I don't agree with the blogger who found medical transcription boring.  Being a medical transcriptionist in a small town is fascinating because you learn the most interesting things about people you may see every day, but of course you never mention it to anyone.  There are still people I see now and then whose quirks I know because I remember typing about them, but nobody ever knew what I knew (and those people never knew that I was typing notes about them either).  It's an experience I am glad I had...and I owe it all to a Japanese veterinarian and a very obnoxious orthopedist.

(And here when I started this entry I thought I was going to write about speaking foreign languages or learning how to speak "dog.")

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Great Again

I can't believe I'm saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:

1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.

2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.

3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They're holding signs and marching every week.

4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone's forgotten he's kind of a jerk.

5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.

6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.

7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.

8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.

9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.

10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.

11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.

12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.

13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)

14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.

15. Stephen Colbert's "Late Night" finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today's Jon Stewart.

16. "Mike Pence" has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.

17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.

18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.

19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.

20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.

21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.

22. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell's "1984" increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)

23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.

24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone."

--Susan Keller

Monday, February 20, 2017

And so it ends

The festival celebrating the 74th anniversary of the day of my birth has finally come to an end.  It didn't end with a bang, but it didn't end with a whimper either.  It just...ended.

Friday, the day itself, we had a show to review, so the day was pretty much a non-event.  Lizzie Borden didn't even wish me a happy birthday.

Saturday Walt took me out to dinner.  We went to a lovely Italian restaurant (Paesanos) here in town.  It hasn't been here long.  I went there for dinner with a friend a couple of years ago, but Walt had never been there.  Our dinner was delicious, starting with bread with a dipping sauce that was heavy on the balsamic, which was delicious.

For dinner I had a chicken dish that I had not heard of before (and can't remember the name), but it was chicken with pasta and a balsamic sauce.  Since I rarely use them, I always forget how tasty pine nuts are.

I even had a rare glass of wine with dinner and found out why it is that I don't drink any more.  One glass of wine and it wiped me out.  I went to sleep almost immediately after we returned home.  I don't like that.

On Sunday we met Ned at Atria.  He brought me a gorgeous bouquet of yellow roses.

My mother was confused about why we were there, but did wish me a happy birthday.  Ned regaled us with tales of his recent trip to Japan and then when we were discussing the current administration, Ned tried to explain Trump to her.

For her part, she seemed fixated on Ned's new haircut and must have told him every few minutes what a nice haircut he had.  At lunch, we wuld talk about something and her eyes went to Ned's head and she interrupted to tell him what a nice haircut he had and then be indignant if he didn't acknowledge her right away.

But lunch was good and I got my usual Ned-Grandma photo, which I seem to take whenever we get together for lunch at Atria.

And then it was all over, and I felt all warm and fuzzy for the time spent at lunch.  Really, the very best part about being 74 is having such a wonderful family.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Stealing

1. Which living person do you admire the most, and why?
Especially now, the Obamas, who led this country with grace and dignity despite overwhelming odds.  When I see what has happened in the last month, I miss them more than ever.  I used to be proud of our president.  The one we have now is an international laughing stock.  Also Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who runs the foundatioan in Kenya that saves orphaned elephants.

2. When were you the happiest?
Probably any time when we lived in a place where I had lots of friends around and I had friends to hang out with.  The five years working with the Lamplighters were some of my favorite too.

3. Besides property, automobile or furniture, what is the most expensive thing you have bought?
Hmmm....I guess my computer.

4. What is your most treasured possession?
I've answered this question several times.  This is it:

This is Delicate pooh, and I have told his story here

5. Where would you like to live?
If I were rich, I'd live in or near Santa Barbara so we could be closer to the grandchildren, but I'm happy living in Davis.  I have no desire to move to some exotic location.

6. Who would you get to play you in a film of your life?
Rosie O'Donnell or Melissa McCarthy

7. What is your favorite book?
This question again?  I always answer either "The Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson or "Prince of Tides."  I might add the "Outlander" series now too.

8. What is your most unappealing habit?
Pick a habit, any habit. 

9. Twitter or Facebook? (Or if both share the differences in your opinion.)
I never really got into Twitter until recently (figuring it was self preservation to find out what the president was saying). I kinda sorta enjoy it, but I've been on Facebook for about 9 years and have made many casual friends there.

10. What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
I never do costumes.  Last time I dressed in a costume was more than 40 years ago.  (I dressed as our friend Andrij Hornjatkewyc.)

11. What is your earliest memory?
I have two, and I don't know which is earliest.  When my sister was a baby, I wanted to find out what it was like to be in a crib drinking from a bottle.  I would have been 4.  I also have snippets of memory of a train trip I took with my mother to Pasadena.  I was probably younger than 4.

12. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Any over the top sundae or milk shake from Fenton's Creamery.  Fortunately I rarely get there.

13. What do you owe your parents?
My sense of humor, my love of music, my love of San Francisco, and, from my father, my curly hair, from my mother my love of books.

14. To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Sigh.  This question again.  Peggy .... for whatever it was that I did.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family.

16. What does love feel like to you?
Comfy as a pair of old slippers,  no drama.

17. What was the best kiss of your life?
No one kiss stands out.

18. Which words or phrases do you overuse?
They all have four letters.

19. What's the worst job you have done?
I worked for an attorney here in this town for awhile.  He was a most annoying man and the day I quit was one of the happiest of my life.  He later asked if I could come in and work for one day while he was in court.  He asked me to stop by his house to get instructions.  Turns out he wanted me to pretend to work and keep track of who talked instead of working while he was out of the office.  I said no.  He never called me again and I was happier for it.

20. If you could edit your past, what would you change?
One thing I wish I could change was advice I got when I was choosing courses in my first semester at UC Berkeley.  My roommate told me that Speech-1 was an "easy A" and I should take that.  So I did.  For someone terrified of public speaking, and somene who loves to write, taking that class set me up for failure from the beginning.  I might have finished college if I had taken an English class instead.

21. What is the closest you have come to death?
I almost drowned at a lake when I was a little kid.  I remember the lifeguard carrying me out to shore.

22. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising five kids to adulthood, seeing what good people they are, really liking them, and considering them some of my best friends.  Writing the Lamplighters history ranks up there too.

23. When did you cry last?
As I have said many times, I cry easily (my grandmother used to call me a "spitzmuller").  I cry at Hallmark commercials.  I cry if anything emotional comes on TV, even something as simple as a contestant winning a game show. 

24. How do you relax?
In my recliner, in front of the TV, with a laptop at my side to check e-mail.

25. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A different resident in the White House

26. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
People you think are going to be your friends forever, won't.  (Char is hanging in there, though.)  Jobs that you give your all to, thinking you will be there forever, turn on you.  Never give up yourself for someone or something unless you really want

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ego Boost

If you're ever feeling low, or wondering if you're worthwhile or not, try belonging to Facebook on your birthday!

As of this writing more than 200 people have wished me a happy birthday on one post and another couple dozen or more on another, some sent personal messages on Facebook, plus all those people who wished me a happy birthday on yesterday's journal entry and individual messages not on a thread that I have lost count of

Thank you ALL!!!  It's quite a humbling experience.  I feel very loved.

I also had texts and phone calls from all of my kids, which is the most special, of course.  Ned was calling with a report about his recent trip to Tokyo.  A good friend had frequent flyer miles, so was able to treat him to the plane fare.  He was there for three days and after he got home posted highlights from the trip on Facebook.  He's such an amazing writer!  It was a real culture experience for him.  His last international experience was going to Jamaica for Christmas in 2015 and the contrast between the Jamaicans and the Japanese was like night and day.  Having spent a formative year in Brasil, Ned is a very huggy person, which the Japanese are not at all.  He was also amused that his host kept telling him not to take photos of such-and-such because it would be rude...Ned was thinking of Japanese tourists in this country with their ubiquitous cameras taking pictures of everything

Anyway, it was wonderful hearing about his experiences, and I'm so glad he had the chance to take the trip and renew acquaintance with his friend.

As birthdays go, it was pretty low key.  It was grey and rainy (my favorite weather--thank you, God!) so I just hunkered down, mostly here at the computer.  A problem with the new president is that there is so much to talk about that he is keeping all of the "fake news" TV commentators  busy 24/7, just about.  What with that and newspaper articles posted to Facebook, which link to other news articles and before you know it a couple of hours have passed.

I know Ned told me to turn off all media for the next four years, but it's like a train wreck that is so horrible you can't stop looking at it.

I thought about going to Atria, but by the time I was able to pull myself away from the computer it was 3:30 and too late, really, for the usual visit.

In the evening there was, of course, a show to review.  First we had to get there (to Sacramento).  Ned's sister-in-law had left this note on Facebook:  If you don't really have to go to Sac or Tahoe tonight, don't. Every street leading to I-80 east on-ramp is backed up for miles. And that's just to get ON the freeway. I've never seen it that bad.

Undaunted, we went anyway and it was as bad as she predicted, but we were smart.  Instead of getting in the middle of the slowly moving parking lot that was I-80, we took the frontage road and blissfully sped past all those slowly moving cars.  Until we got to the backup of cars getting onto the freeway.  By that time traffic on the freeway as lightening up a bit and we were stuck motionless, with a long parade of cars ahead of us and nowhere to turn around. on the 2-lane road.  It was 7:30, the show started at 8 and I was sure we'd never get there.

(It was raining too.)

But Walt hung in there and, miraculously we arrived at the theater with more than 5 minutes to spare.

It was Lizzie: The Lizzie Borden Rock Musical, which I figured would be a good companion to the other musical we will see in a few weeks, a musical about the Donner Party.

(Do playwrights and lyricists need to get new material???)

The words "rock musical" made me cringe and I was sure that I would not like it and made sure I had ear plugs with me, but I was surprised to discover that I liked it after all.  It was maybe a bit more "rock" than I would have liked, but the four actresses were wonderful and when they weren't rocking out at full volume, there were some very lovely numbers, including two duets which were absolutely beautiful because of the blend of the two singers' voices.

I realized that I knew nothing of Lizzie Borden but the famous verse

Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her mother 40 wacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father 41.

I didn't know whether she was jailed or executed or what.  As it turns out, she was acquitted after an hour of jury deliberation.

But I have my work cut out for me today.  Before I write the two reviews, I want to do research on the life of Lizzie Borden, who was apparently sexually abused by her father and had a lesbian relationship with her maid, among other things.

There was a champagne reception after the show and we stopped by briefly.  Walt looked around and said "do you think we are the oldest here?"  ABSOLUTELY!  I caught a glimpse of myself, bent over, padded with my jacket and avoir du poid and wondered if I had "CRITIC" blinking on my forehead.  We were obviously not the intended audience for this show!

It was a nice birthday and Walt is taking me out for dinner tonight for an "official" celebration.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Spring Forward

It's one of my favorite couple of weeks in Davis, when all the trees as bursting forth into blossom.  It's just starting now.  In another week, the entire F Street, from 14th Street down to 1st Street will be  under an arbor of these white blossoms.  I asked one year what kind of trees they are, and someone told me, but of course I have forgotten now.  But I do love driving under the arches on my way downtown.

I took my mother out for a drive one year, when the blossoms were at their peak and she seemed not even to notice.  These days she doesn't notice beautiful gardens or wonderful blossoms; she just concentrates on green leaves on trees.  Spring is something else I can no longer share with her.
Today I had lunch with my friend Kathy, with whom I lunch once a month.  We had both watched Trump's first press conference earlier in the morning and both of us were just about speechless.  As Chris Matthews said, "Kellyanne Conway had it right...she called it 'epic.'"

I'm wondering how Trump is feeling about FOX news tonight.  FOX, whom he described as the only non-FAKE news service, tore him to shreds for his lies.  The man seems incapable of telling the truth.  He continually insists he won by "the largest electoral college margin in history," though it has been shown over and over again that this is not true (Clinton, Obama, and Bush-1 all got higher votes)

Over and over he twisted questions he didn't want to answer into some sort of an attack on Hillary Clinton -- he's still campaigning against her.

He insisted that he wanted to meet with Congressman Cummings, whom he said was all excited about meeting with him, but that Cummings cancelled their appointment -- "Maybe Chuck Schumer thought it would be bad politics for him to meet with me." Congressman Cummings says the meeting was never scheduled.

He insists there was a "very smooth" roll out of the travel ban, television news reports to the contrary.  

He's been asked three times ow, that I have seen, what he is going to do about the increase in anti-semitic and ethnic violence and he has yet to answer the question except to say he is the least anti-semitic person you'll ever meet and then to talk about his wonderful family and how any blacks voted for him.

Try to follow the logic of his answers about Russia.  It will make your head spin.

Re his 90 minute attack on the media, Trump admitted that "the leaks are real, but the news is fake."  Huh?  All those leaks that he loved so much when they were directed at Hillary are now terrible and though during the campaign he invited Russia to hack Russia's server, and said that he "loved Wikileaks," he now wants to do an investigation and arrest the people who are leaking information.
He is the man who cries wolf every time he opens his mouth and one of these days he's going to have a very important message to deliver and nobody will believe him because they have become so used to his lies.

BUT, the worst part of it all came after the conference.  I had to leave the house, so I listened to the end of it in the car on the way to meet Kathy at the restaurant.  When it was over, the radio host opened the phones to comments from listeners and one after the other they came on raving about what a wonderful showing it had been for Trump and how he was turning out to be exactly the president they hoped he'd be.  

It was enough to make my head explode.

We got our anger and frustration out before we ordered lunch and then got caught up on each other's lives once again, since there was nothing left to say about this very dangerous man who is now the most powerful man in the world.

But on the other hand....


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Horror Stories

I'm finding out what a "support group" is all about.  The Senior Center has a dementia workshop on the third Wednesday of every month.  I was pretty good about going every month, but as the issues with my mother subsided (i.e., I had all the answers and knew what issues had no solutions), I got lax about going.  It would think about it and then realize that the third Wednesday had passed.  Again.  But I put it on my calendar this month.

I had no "issues" this month, but decided to go anyway, and it was great.  Seven people, two of whom were new to me.  Those two were still struggling with specific issues and we got into a discussion of local doctors ... who was good and who was someone who should be avoided at all costs.

I am someone who has loved "doctor shows" from the first time I saw one on TV.  It was probably Ben Casey and I've followed most of them from Ben Casey through St. Elsewhere, M*A*S*H, Marcus Welby and today's shows like Code Black and Chicago Med. I loved Hawkeye Pierce and McDreamy and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Dr. McCoy and even Doogie Howser

I learned that doctors are always warm, caring, knowledgeable and miracle workers.  Even Dr. House, who may nearly kill a patient who came in for a simple rash, always cures them in the end, after using every machine and test available in the hospital.  House would be my last choice of a doctor!  I always wanted Dr. Welby to be my doctor.  A guy who seems to have nothing to do but stand around waiting for a call so he could make a house call.

Apparently people who work in gerontology never watched doctor shows.  The horror stories about uncaring or incompetent doctors is staggering.  Doctors who refuse to give tests for dementia, even simple tests (this was true not only of my mother but of others as well), doctors who will sign a release for someone who clearly has dementia to drive a car (or, if Congress is to be believed, buy a gun), doctors who listen to the patient with dementia rather than his or her caregivers to decide what is the proper course of action to take or medication to prescribe...and the disastrous results that follow. 

(There is one particular doctor who is detested by the leaders of the group, who think he is the worst thing to happen to Davis.  I am always embarrassed and never admit that I used to work for him in my my medical transcriptionist days.)

But the nicest thing about being back in the group today was just listening to everyone who is dealing with the same sorts of problems.  I am the only one with a loved on who is NOT living at home, so I have it easier than most of the others.

And to prove it, I went to Atria to visit my mother when I left the meeting.  It had been my plan to have lunch with her, but there was no parking to be had for love nor money, so I stopped a couple of blocks away and had lunch at a Panda Express.  I couldn't decide between their orange chicken and their walnut shrimp, so I ordered a "plate" instead of a bowl and got both, knowing that it was going to be WAY too much food for me.  And it was.  I had a whole lunch left over to bring home to Walt.

By the time I got back to Atria, there was (thank you, Gilbert) a real parking place.  I had bought her a little box of Sees candy for Valentine's day and between the two of us we ate the whole thing (4 pieces each).  
This was one of her better days.  Amazingly, she didn't ask me once what I was doing tonight, and, after the zen that comes from the dementia meeting, I just let her lead the conversation and went wherever she seemed to need to go.

We did talk a lot about her laundry (I had returned her clean clothes today) and how amazed she was to learn that I've been doing it for her for nearly four years and that she doesn't pay me to do it.
In the evening there was Jeopardy and the nightly shows.

After Walt went to bed, I sat up to watch the late night shows.  I record both Colbert and The Daily Show and then watch the opening monologues of both.  Rarely do I watch either show all the way thought.

Tonight Trevor Noah said he had finally figured out the problem with Trump.  He's the oldest person to ever be inaugurated as President and he (Noah) realized he's just a grumpy old man.  Noah was very funny as he portrayed Trump in all sorts of situations where he was reacting like a grumpy old man and went out of his way to say often that Trump was  OLD....VERY OLD

Trump is 70.

I will turn 74 tomorrow and I am feeling the need to go lie down now, I think.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Staff of Life

No bread?
No car?
No problem.

Walt went off to Berkeley for his dental appointment and I was at home without any bread.  Actually I haven't had any bread in several days and have made do with tortillas and other things, but today I had a hankering for bread.  So I just hauled out the bread maker and made a loaf of bread (thanks Neil Rubenking!).  It wasn't any special bread, just your plain run of the mill white bread...but is there a better aroma to come home to than freshly baking bread?

I was remembering the days when I made all of our bread.  Seems impossible to me now.  But back in the day, Char, Pat and I used to go to a specialty store where we bought all sorts of different flours (I used to love cracked wheat) and other ingredients and we really made most of our own bread.   (I remember that there was a character on a soap opera in those days who seemed to be making bread every time she was on the screen--and she NEVER got the hang of kneading bread dough.  It drove me nuts.)

I made bread at least twice a week, sometimes more and spent a lot of time bend over the breadboard kneading dough (which I don't do any more).  I heard once that the quickest way to get the gluten active was to throw the dough down on the board as hard as possible.  We had a shy sheltie in those years and he would run and hide whenever I started throwing the dough around.

(Later, I got my wonderful Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook and that made the whole process easier and I didn't have to scare the dog any more.)

My staple was Cuban Water bread, which just had yeast, water, sugar, salt and flour, but I used potato water and it turned out huge, probably because you started it in a cold oven and so it continued to rise as it began to bake.  It also had a fabulous flavor.

There was also a quick loaf bread which rose faster because it used more yeast, and it had a different flavor because the sweet element in it was honey, rather than regular sugar.

Refrigerator potato bread was great because you could keep the dough in the fridge for up to 10 days and use it for loaf bread or for rolls.

But I think my favorite was Whole Wheat Spiced bread because it got its flavor from cumin, one of my favorite spices.

Char got tired of making turkey stuffing, so developed a recipe for "stuffing bread" where all you had to do was cut it up and add liquid and stuff the turkey--this was before you could buy pre-seasoned bread cubes in the supermarket.

We also got into sourdough.  I don't remember how that happened, but probably through Char, since she lived in Alaska for awhile.  But we all had bowls of starter in our refrigerators (I kept mine for over 10 years until a helpful visiting foreign student decided to clean my refrigerator one day while I was out and proudly told me she had thrown out "that terrible smelling bowl in the back of the fridge.")

You have to be dedicated to keep a starter going, using part of it for your new bread, replenishing it and then letting that ferment so you can use it again.  I made lots of sourdough breads, but we also made things like scones (very best scones I ever had out of Engand were my sourdough scones).

Of course sourdough pancakes were a favorite.  Whenever we went camping, Char brought the sourdough starter so we could make pancakes in the morning.  We would go hunting huckleberries in the afternoon and the kids would spend the afternoon doing "quality control" (tossing out the leaves and the bad berries).  At night Char would sleep with the starter so it kept warm and was ready to become pancakes in the morning.  And then we cooked the pancakes on the Coleman stove and ate them while sitting around the fire pit (then it was time to go huckleberry hunting again for the next morning).  Some of my best memories include those sourdough blueberry pancakes.

I rarely bake bread now because it's just Walt and me and if I make bread, he eats a slice and I finish the loaf, which is exactly what I shouldn't do.  But it sure was nice always having homemade bread in the house.

At that time we also had a stove where one of the burners was sunken so that you could keep a pot simmering on a burner down below all the others.  It allowed me to have homemade soup going most of the time.  A great place to put leftover vegetables, bones, etc.

I guess nobody makes that sort of stuff any more, at least not enough to still build stoves like that.  It's easier to buy take-out, I guess.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentne

As I sit here in my office writing this entry, Walt is busy collecting all of the garbage from the house and dog poop from the yard so that he can take our 3 garbage cans (we are into mega-recycling in this town) down to the curb for garbage pick-up tomorrow.

Walt's a good guy and while I mention him in this journal now and then, I never actually write about him, so I thought that on this Valentine's day, I would do just that.
I knew I had someone special the day we brought Jeri home from the hospital.  We arrived at our apartment and he parked the car and told me to wait, then he went inside and when I went upstairs holding our precious new baby, the house was full of pink roses and there was a record of music box music playing lullabies in the background.

How he loved that baby!


It warms the cockles of my heart that he and Jeri have always had a close relationship.  I'm jealous of her.  I would like to have been that close to my own father.

But Walt was always a great Dad, whether coaching Little League or going to Indian Guides, helping make a Pinewood Derby car for the Boy Scouts, working backstage at Sunshine Children's Theater, or just reading "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas eve.

There is nobody who doesn't like Walt.  He'll do any favor anyone asks, happily, without complaint.  Right now he's on the board for Citizens Who Care for the Elderly, and has been for many years, helping raise money for people who can give caregivers in Yolo County a break for an hour or two now and then.  He does his own respite work with our friend who is in a wheelchair so that his wife can get out a couple of times a month.

He's so patient with my difficulties with my mother.  He has been there and knows how difficult this is for me at times.  His mother didn't have dementia, but she was quite incapacitated by her blindness and inability to move much.  He went to Santa Barbara as often as he could, and after a particularly bad time, he stayed there for a couple of weeks, sleeping on her little half-couch and making sure she got her "Boost and cheese" every day, in an attempt to keep her weight up.

He has been an amazing husband.  Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve him.  When he retired, he said he had decided to take over the job of keeping the kitchen clean, and every night after dinner, he takes the huge mess I have made preparing it and makes the counters (or as much of the counters that don't store stuff permanently) all clean again.

He has done his own laundry ever since the day I washed his Air Force uniform (when he was in the reserves, back in the 60s) with something red and didn't realize that his uniform was pink because he left before the sun came up.  He discovered it when he got to the base.  After that, he took over doing his own laundry and we have both been better for it!

He has put up with all of crazy part-time jobs and my weird projects, especially 10 years of hosting foreign students -- and what experiences we had with those 70 kids from around the world!
He is my chauffeur and attends all these plays with me.  He understand my terror of big trucks (a terror which developed for absolutely no reason one night in 1986 and has not left me) and he is careful either NOT to pass a large truck or to pass it two lanes over or to go slow and stay behind the truck.  He puts up with my intermittent gasps when my mind sees imminent highway danger where there is none.
He drove me to and from Logos every Thursday for four years, since my knee won't let me ride a bike any more and the City of Davis won't let me park for four hours.  (Of course the beer he got every Thursday before he picked me up, at the pub around the corner from the book store, might have been an incentive!)

We have traveled the world together and he's always been very encouraging, helping me make it just a few more steps when I'm ready to give up, and waiting for me to rest when I just can't go any farther.  I have seen more of the world than I ever dreamed I would....and walked farther than I dreamed possible.

I love the relationship he has with the dogs, particularly Polly.  He is "her person" and she prefers to sleep in his lap at night.  If he walks by the chair where she is sleeping without stopping to pet her, she jumps up and barks and barks and barks until he comes back and does so.  He has liked all of our dogs, but Polly is the first dog who chose him as her person and she is so cute with him.

He keeps me supplied with mini ice cream bars at night while we are watching TV after dinner.  We both love to watch Jeopardy together.

He is kind and loving and does much more than his share around here and I love him for it.  I don't exactly sit and eat bon bons every day, but I definitely don't do a fraction of what he does.
He's a very special man and I don't tell him that often enough.  So now I have.  Happy Valentine's day, dear!

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Few Tears

My friend Gilbert Russak died when the Lamplighters were doing a run of Yeomen of the Guard.  The timing was ironic, since the character of Jack Point in that show was one of the two for which Gilbert was most noted (KoKo in The Mikado was the other).  Performers had a difficult time at the first performances after Gilbert's death, particularly when saying lines like "He was a living man and now he is dead, and so my tears may flow unchidden."

History repeats itself.  Co-founder of the company, and the man at its heart for more than 60 years, Orva Hoskinson, died last week, at age 92, during a run of Patience, the show for which he is perhaps best known.  His famous depiction of Reginald Bunthorne, "the fleshly poet," was once compared by San Francisco Chronicle critic Robert Commanday to John Gielgud's Hamlet ("There was Gielgud's Hamlet, and there is Hoskinson's Bunthorne.")

Orva performed all of the tenor roles over his years with the company and long after he stopped performing, he directed many, many shows.  We are so fortunate that in 1975 they decided to film a production of Patience, in order to have a record of Orva's performance.

I had known Orva for a long time but was not close to him.  The best time I had with him was a 2 hour interview I did for the second Lamplighters history.  We were sitting alone in the house, he on one side of the room, me on the other.  There was a big Boston fern off to the side.  He had no animals.  There were no windows open.  Suddenly in the middle of our interview, the fern began to shake for no apparent reason. It shook for several seconds and then stopped. We assumed it was Gilbert deciding he wanted to be a part of the interview.

I last saw Orva in 2012 at the 60th anniversary of The Lamplighters, when he made a rare appearance on stage with an even rarer appearance with his co-founder, Ann Pool MacNab.

We went to see the current production of Patience today, meeting Char for lunch first. The company has continued to grow since the last time Orva played Bunthorne.  The costumes and sets are more opulent, but there are still hints of Orva on stage, and a bit of a tear formed watching the excellent Lawrence Ewing in the role today.

The production had been dedicated to Orva, but at the curtain speech, Ewing not only talked about Orva's death and what he had meant to the company, he also announced the death of John Vlahos, who had been the company president for more than 30 years, performed with the company for many years, and even met his wife in the company.  He was an all around good guy and I mourn his loss as well.
I last saw him a couple of months ago, at the Lamplighters Gala, at which he was honored (and surprised by the honor!).  His cancer at that point was quite advanced and he was shadow of his former self, but still with that smile that welcomed everyone in and that made him both a good attorney and a good representative for the Lamplighters for all those years.

I had a fun interaction with John and his wife and Ann MacNab and her husband,  The two couples were best friends and the had this silly plaster of Paris boat that one of them got at a Christmas party one year.  They passed that boat back and forth for years, hiding it in each other's house (or office) or having it sent in some weird way.  I don't know when the last exchange was or who has the boat now, but I was pleased to be the one to sneak the boat into John and Martha's house one time.

It was a big surprise to see Ann's husband Adrian, that 12 foot tall Welshman, in the audience today.  I thought I saw him come in before the show, but figured it couldn't be him because Ann wasn't with him.  She doesn't get around much any more -- he says her health is fine, but it just hurts too much to walk (I can identify!), but I hadn't seen him in several years and it was lovely to see him again, however briefly. 

Today was just a trip down memory lane...but then these days any trip to the Lamplighters ends up being a trip down memory lane.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Stealing

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
LaLa Land.  I wanted to see at least one movie before the Golden Globes, but we had actually also seen Manchester Bay too.  I hope to get to see Lion before the Oscars.  I probably can't fit in more than one more movie by then.

2. What book are you reading?
Two of them right now.  One is Mary Tyler Moore's latest book about living with diabetes ("Growing Up Again")  I'm also reading "Cats, Dogs and Other Things that Poop in the Yard," a bunch of essays about people's pets, edited by my friend Debra DeAngelo, editor of one of our local newspapers, The Winters Express.

3. Favorite board game?
I haven't played board games in years, but I used to love Monopoly.

4. Favorite magazine?
I'm not a magazine person.

5. Favorite smells?
Fresh coffee, the ocean, baking bread, brewing coffee, puppy breath, and the heads of newborn babies.

6. Favorite sounds?
The ocean crashing against the shore, rain falling on the roof, a huge pipe organ

7. Worst feeling in the world?
Grief, loneliness

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
"What time is it?"  (It's usually 3 a.m.) and then the second time, "can I snuggle under my quilt for awhile without the dogs knowing I'm awake?"

9. Favorite fast food place?
Jack in the Box

10. Future child’s name?
ROFL.  I'm 74 years old (as of next week) and think that 'future children' are out of the question, but I do like the names of the five I already have:  Jerilyn, Ned, Paul, Tom and David.

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….?
Find the best way to help my sponsored kids around the world.

12. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
If she's in the mood, a Chihuahua.  Does that count?

13. Storms – cool or scary?
Way cool, as long as I'm safe inside.  I love thunder and lightning, love the rain.  I find the wind exciting, unless it's blowing trees down.  I might feel different if I lived in the midwest.

14. Favorite drink?
Ice water

15. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would….”?
Actually, I am retired so I really have the time to do anything I want.  The better question would be "If I had the energy, I would...."

16. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
If they are cut up.  Not in one big chunk.

17. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?
I am happy with my salt and pepper.  I earned these grey hairs.  I once tried to dye my hair auburn, back in the 1970s.  It looked purple.  I never tried again.

18. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?
All in California:  San Francisco for 18 years, four different places in Berkeley, a rented house in Albany (next door to Berkeley), Oakland, and then Davis, for the last 43-1/2 years.

19. Favorite sports to watch?
Equestrian sports at the Olympics, springboard diving, and if we talk of team sports, baseball (SF Giants fan)

20. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?
Nobody edits these things!  I downloaded it from the web site myself.  I am a very nice person.

21. What’s under your bed?
Dust bunnies

22. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
Good lord, no.  I don't mind having been the person I have been, but once is enough.

23. Morning person, or night owl?
I used to be both, going to bed way after midnight and waking up at 5 or 6.  Now I'm neither.  More and more often I am going to sleep before midnight, and it takes me an hour or so before I feel human when I wake up in the morning.

24. Over easy, or sunny side up?
I used to like over easy, but lately I've been ordering sunny side up.

25. Favorite place to relax?
In my recliner, in front of the TV

26. Favorite pie?

27. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Butter pecan

28. Of all the people who play, how many of the posts do you usually read?
I try to read everyone's.  I don't always comment, but I at least read everyone who has posted by Sunday evening (if they post later, I often don't check back)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

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: Love Yourself (2015)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Justin sings that he doesn't like to admit he's wrong. When did you most recently cop to a mistake? Oh lord, I do it all the time.  Walt is always quick to correct me when I get political ire not quite right.

2) He also complains that his girl doesn't like his friends. Who is someone that you've met recently and liked?
I don't often meet new people these days.  I think the last person I met whom I liked very much was Sandy, who shared a day with me at Logos--I met her more than a year ago.  I have met some women at the hospital, but haven't had a chance to get to know any of them, though they all seem very nice.

3) Justin first performed this song live on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Who is your favorite talk show host?
I don't watch afternoon talk shows any more, but when I did I always liked Ellen.  At night, I like Colbert

4) Young Mr. Bieber recently had his credit card rejected ... at a Subway Sandwich Shop. Think about your last trip to a fast food restaurant. Did you pay with cash or plastic or your phone?
It's been quite some time now but was probably a cheeseburger at Jack in the Box.  I always pay with cash.

Even though we're featuring a lack-of-love song, this is the last Saturday  9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday.

5) In Victorian England, it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine. Have you ever received an anonymous card from a secret admirer? No.

6) Retailers report that approximately 3% of pet owners buy Valentines for their furry friends. Have you ever purchased a gift for a pet on a special occasion?
Not really, except I might (if I think about it) buy turkey flavored dog food for them at Thanksgiving.

7) It was once believed that if a maiden ate a heavy meal before bed on February 13, her dreams that night would reveal the identity of the man she would eventually marry. Do you find that eating too close to bedtime disrupts your sleep?
I don't know My sleep is so weird,  don't know what affects it..

8) The postmaster in Verona, Italy, reports that Shakespeare's Juliet Capulet still receives love letters. Without looking it up, can you give us a quote from Romeo and Juliet?
Well, there is always "Romeo, Romeo, wherefor art thou, Romeo?"  or "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  I don't like Romeo and Juliet.  It makes me as angry as Grease.  Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline at the beginning of the play until he takes one look at Juliet and then forgets all about Rosaline and wants only Juliet.  She falls instantly in love with him and within two days they are married and both dead.  I believe Juliet is 14.  What does that teach young people?  (I don't like Grease because the message seems to be that you can only become popular and find love if you become a slut.)
9) Necco's Sweethearts -- those little candy hearts that say things like "Be Mine" -- are Valentine Day's top-selling confection. Sam never could stand eating these candies. Do you like them? I'm was never fond of them.  But they are sweet and bad for me, so of course if they were around I would eat them.