Thursday, November 30, 2017

Forget the Bombs

In between the far more important dissecting of the sexual indiscretions of Matt Lauer, occasionally talking heads today talked about the most recent missile testing and how that should affect the passage of the horrible tax bill.

I've had a shitty day but at the end of the day, I have the solution for the missile crisis, if any foreign leaders want to listen to me.  How to bring the United States to its knees without spending a cent.  I don't think.

It started like every day does, when I came in here it was to finish writing Funny the World and post it.

To post these  entries, I click on a link that I saved years ago which goes directly to the Yahoo page where all I do is to upload the files I need to upload, text and photos.

Only instead of getting that page, I got a yahoo log-in page.  No problem  I put in my address and password and it told me I had the wrong address and/or password.


This started which became, I kid you not, a day-long struggle to get back into Yahoo.  Now there are several problems.  First of all, when we first got on the internet, my address was  But after a few years, Davis Community Network (dcn) shortened all of our addresses to, which is easier to type.  But before that, I had joined all sorts of websites with the original address, and they didn't recognize the extension

Add to that that I have a gmail account and for a lot of political things that I don't want to clutter my dcn mailbox, I use my gmail account and once in awhile will use that email address for something else.

Now let's talk about passwords.  I have a handful that I rotate.  One is based on information from when I lived in San Francisco, one is a Lawsuit-based phrase, two are birthday related.  I never did try a password saver and am sort of sorry now that I did not.  But I have a long typed list kept on WordPefect, which is fine unless the computer itself breaks down, in which case the file is backed up on a flash drive.

The list itself is meaningless to anybody but me because it is coded.  For example, if I have a password that is based on the word "fox" with lots of either words or numbers attached to it, the list read "fox one."  Only I know what to add to "fox" to make it a true password.

So I started trying variations of my log in with different passwords and none of them worked.  I finally found one that worked, but it took me to the wrong web site.

See, when I worked for Dr. G., he had me set up a web site for him.  Anyone finding it would think it's a porn site since it's where he has before and after pictures of his labial cosmetic surgeries.  He eventually got someone to make a different site for him....same photos, different design, which was fine because by that time I'd left his employ anyway.  But the web site still exists and that's all Yahoo would lead me to.

My two problems -- one was to delete Michael's account, and two was to get back to the upload page for Funny the world.

Do you think Yahoo has an easy to find customer service phone or email address.  Of course not.  Every page I came to that looked promising led me to a page with articles to read none of which addressed the issue of how to delete your former boss's porn page so you could use your own journal page.

A guy from Facebook started sending me suggestions, which either didn't work or were things that I had already tried.  

I finally got the attention of a couple of Yahoo people (I am resisting the temptation to call them a couple of yahoos) who started helping me.  I played the old lady card ("Have pity--I'm nearly 75 years old and haven't had to do any programming in years").

Looking back on the time line of my exchange of emails with ultimately "Chris" I see that from the first time I posted a "help" plea on their customer discussion board until Chris finally got me back on line again was roughly 6 hours.

Six hours of frustration with inability to get onto Yahoo mixed with news of Matt Lauer's indiscretions and Trump's stupidity and worry about my friend who is having a pacemaker installed on Monday and this was not my best day.  (Nor was it a good day for Lauer or my friend!)

But based on how I handled all of this emotionally made me realize that if you go anywhere in this country today what do you see?  People on their phones.  Standing, walking, lying down, eating meals, before a play and at intermission and definitely as soon as the show ends.  People rarely talk with each other because they are busy on their phones doing....whatever.

Now, thinking about how frustrated I was, how much I ate, how much I paced, how much I tore my hair out I realized that anybody who wants to take over  this country just has to pull the internet plug.  Leave us without the ability to reach the internet, send email, tweet (yes, please don't let the president tweet!), etc. we will be so destroyed that whatever one would do with a country that has been bombed into oblivion, you can do with a country that is still intact, but peopled by a citizenry walking around, bug-eyed, mumbling, and fruitlessly punching buttons on their non-working machines.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


 note:  Yahoo is not letting me into Funny the World.  Working on the problem.

I received, I kid you not, 178 emails from charitable organizations today (some more than once).  Having made my decisions about where charity dollars go, the constant influx of requests for money to save children, elephants, dogs, and all sorts of worthy things that need saving it all becomes a big irritant!  The "please give us money so we can save the world" messages compete with the "please give us money so we can send you this piece of junk that you don't really need" and though my email box has been overflowing all day long I have only received ONE personal email.

Today was the day to get my mother beautiful.

A few weeks ago, in one of her more lucid moments, she glanced at herself in the mirror and commented on how bad her hair looked, how long it was, and how much she needed a permanent.  This was so unusual because she has stopped caring about how she looks.

I called to make a hair appointment for her with Lucy, who runs the beauty shop in the Atria complex, but it being right before Thanksgiving, she was booked up.  By that time my mother had stopped commenting on her looks so I just made an appointment for her for the first available slot, which happened to be yesterday.

I went to Atria early, fearing that she would still be asleep and I would have to get her up and dressed (her appointment was scheduled for 10:30), but to my surprise when I got there she was in the dining room finishing her breakfast coffee.

She was sitting with a woman I had not seen before, a tall, white haired woman who saw me before my mother and made some indication that I was there, which showed that she knew who I was.  After I sat down and got a cup of coffee, I tried to chat with the new woman, but she had no language capability....or at least no intelligible language capability.  Very sad.

We went upstairs, my mother not quite sure where we were going, but she seemed glad to be in familiar surroundings.  Lucy, who has been cutting my mother's hair almost every time since she got to Atria was not there and a woman named Liz was there in her place.  I was concerned because I remembered the last time Lucy did not do her hair, when she came out looking like a q-tip.  I didn't know if Lucy had done that or not, but I wasn't going to chance it, so settled myself in to watch the progress.

Liz has lived in nearby Dixon her whole life and we had a good time talking about old Davis thing.  Who else remembers Stan's Meat Market?  Or Marge Wellings, the wonderful gossip columnist who would print anything related to Davis news. If you sneezed and wanted to tell the town, Marge would publish it for you.  She was a publicist's dream.

Liz lives on a ranch where they grow almonds and had packets of favored almonds sitting on the desk for sale, so I bought a package of toffee flavored almonds to munch while I waited 

At some point Liz asked me about my mother's hair--longish or shortish, very curly or loose?  I pointed to a picture on the wall and said "like that" and s we avoided the Q-tip.  In fact she looked like the "old her."  I wonder how long it will look like this.  The last time she had her hair done, by the next morning you couldn't tell, but with this being a permanent maybe it will last a bit longer.

It was noon when we left the beauty shop and so I decided to stay for lunch.  As soon as we sat down, she asked where her glasses were.  I assumed she had left them on her night stand, as she often does, but checked the "before" photo above and saw that she had been wearing them when we got to the beauty shop, so I went back upstairs and got them for her.

I was pleased that lunch today was actually delicious (toasted turkey and cheese sandwich).  When we finished, she looked around blankly and said "what now?"  I told her I was going to my house and she was going to her room, but she had no idea where her room was and said I would have to wait until she figured out what was going on.  
Fortunately about then an aide came by and took her by the arm and led her into the living room where everyone else was, and I was able to leave.  I came home and slept for an hour, which seems to have become my standard "after-Atria" activity!

Heartbroken ...  Matt Lauer too?  I've watched him since his very first appearance on The Today Show. So very, very disappointed and sad.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Jumping the Shark

jump the shark

(of a television series or movie) reach a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality.
Before I begin, let me advise viewers of the Outlander series that if you have not seen this week's episode, just leave right now because there will be lots of plot spoilers.  Come back after you've seen the episode.

Secondly, let me reiterate once again my love for this TV series.  Having loved the books, I am loving the television adaptation, though necessary revisions have had to be written to fit into an hour's time frame.  I'm also already anticipating the "Droughtlander" period that will begin when this season ends, in two episodes.  I don't remember who came up with the term "Droughtlander" but it's perfect.

That said, there were definitely a few moments in Sunday night's episode where I rolled my eyes, moaned and thought that they had jumped the shark.  Not that this indicates a decline in quality, but nonetheless, non-sex moan-worthy.

To recap, for those who don't watch the show and don't know the story, in the last episode, Jamie and Claire are on a ship trying to get to Jamaica, hoping to find Jamie's young nephew, Ian, who was captured by pirates in Scotland.  The small ship is hailed by a big British frigate.  The young captain comes on board asking if they have a doctor and that many of his crew are sick and many have died of the illness.

The time-traveling Claire, who back in the 20th century, became a doctor recognizes the symptoms as typhoid and agrees to visit the frigate and see what she can do to help.  But once she gets on the ship, it raises its sails and takes off, effectively kidnapping her so she must stay and take care of the sick.  Needless to say, neither she nor Jamie is happy about this.  She also learns that someone on the ship knows that Jamie is  wanted for sedition and murder back in Scotland and that they plan to arrest him when he arrives in Jamaica.

Claire must warn Jamie but they are some 50 miles apart and she doesn't know what to do.  The woman on board the ship to tends a flock of goats which provide the crew with milk, agrees to help her, and after an abortive attempt to escape when the ship docks to let the goats graze on land, she shows Claire something that will keep her afloat, shows her that she is close enough to shore that she can swim and so, under cover of darkness, Claire takes the plunge, literally and the episode ends.

As the next episode opens, Claire has fallen asleep on her floating device but is now within sight of land, when a wave rolls her over.  She wakes up and stumbles ashore, a deserted beach with no sign of life anywhere.

By some miracle a packet containing all of her clothes somehow floated along with her and is waiting on the beach for her.

She needs to search for signs of life and heads into the forest, desperate to find water (she remembers that a human can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food).  She finds big leaves with small bits of dew on them and desperately seeks more as the forest deepens.

The first night she wakes up with her legs covered by ants, which leave big welts all over her.  The next time she falls asleep, she wakes up with a giant snake crawling over her.  (Award nomination for actress Caitriona Balfe!)

As she is losing strength, she hears singing and she collapses in the yard of an ex-priest, a weird guy who talks to coconuts.  The priest and his dour mother-in-law, Mamacita (his wife has died) nurse her back to health (apparently the ant bites disappear overnight) and tell her where she can find a town where there is a dock where she can rent a ship to take her to Jamaica.

Getting ready to head to the town, for some reason that is not logical at all, she finds a small mirror on a table and takes it.  I've never known Claire to steal anything and there is no logical reason why she would need a mirror, but she slips it in her pocket.

Just then the dog sows up with the head of a goat in his mouth.  Turns out the goat has been killed by a "Chinese" and Claire realizes that this must surely be Mr. Willoughby, who is traveling with Jamie.  She learns that there are sailors and wood pieces and sails down on the beach and she's sure it must be Jamie.

Mamacita points her in the direction of the beach and she takes off running.  The distance that seemed to have taken her two days to get there is covered quickly and though there is no path through the forest, she unerringly manages to find the beach.

On the beach it is Jamie.  Something happened to the ship he was on (it ran aground or something), the cruel captain is dead and Jamie and his men are working to get the ship sail-worthy again.  When all the work is done, they transfer everything back to the ship and prepare to set sail.  Naturally Claire arrives after they have all left.

But she is sure it is Jamie and calls to him -- across the very wide expanse of water.  When there is no response, she takes out the stolen mirror and tries to flash it in the sun.  It's a mirror about 2" square yet shines a light so bright it hits Jamie's eyes.  He gets a telescope and sees Claire on the beach.
The next scene is not in slow motion, but it should be.  Jamie back on land running toward Claire, Claire running toward Jamie and the moment we have longed for for 2 episodes--they are together again.  All is well.

Other things happen but my eye rolling was over by now and I never dreamed that the spoken word "Fraser" could make me cry every time I see scenes of the wedding that takes place on the beach for Fergus and Marsali.

I loved the episode despite the moments when I felt it had jumped the shark (mostly with the mirror). And yes, it ends with the requisite bare buttocks and fade to black.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Old Folks

What do old folks do on Sundays?

They sit at home, turn on PBS and watch them wheel out old performers, prop them up, and have them try to remember the words to the songs that made them famous fifty or so years ago.

Some of them are still pretty good.  Debbie Reynolds looked like "Tammy" up until the day she died, I swear.  I wonder how much makeup that took.  Other females looked perky with the help of wigs and foggy camera lenses.  But the boy groups that we all loved are now older, more wrinkled, grey and with a lot more padding around the middle.  Sometimes one of them will forget the words to their signature songs.  

The show we watched this morning (can't remember which year it was originally broadcast) was hosted by Pat Boone, or a guy who looked like a skinnier, much more wrinkled version of the young heart throb that used to be Pat Boone.

But no matter what they all looked like, it was fun to hear all the songs again (especially since I mostly listened instead of watched since I was working on the computer).

I'm wondering if 50 years from today there will be nostalgic retrospectives of rap music of today. I watched a video of Bruno Mars recently and can't imagine that today's stars won't be hampered by arthritis!

The retrospective with stars of old singing today was followed by "Songbook Standards," which was the same kind of show but instead of the musicians today, it was video clips of them in their heyday.  I swear the clip of Dinah Shore was from her high school years.  Likewise, Rosemary Clooney was almost unrecognizable, she was so young and so thin.

The picture of Bing Crosby, with Clooney, reminds me of Al Franken, which may seem strange, but let me explain.  Through the years of my show biz obsession, there are idols who turn out to have feet of clay.  For some of them, I will excuse anything.  I loved Judy Garland through all of her drug years, her run ins with people, her divorces.  I didn't care about her private life.  I liked her for her singing and that overcame everything.

But there are some performers about whom I hear terrible things that alter how I feel about them.  Bill Cosby, for example.  After all the accusations about him came out, I just could not watch the Cosby Show any more.  All I could think about was the accusations that women made about him.
Bing Crosby is another one.  No, there were never (that I knew about) any scandals about him.  I knew that he had a big disconnect with the sons from his first marriage.  And I knew he had two or three children from his second marriage.  But I saw an interview where, in a question about his religion, he was asked what he would do if his daughter told him she was pregnant.  His body stiffened and he very coldly said "I would throw her out of the house and never see her again."  I think of that every single time I see him on film.  I also heard  that he was a very cold man with no close friends (not even Bob Hope) and on this "Songbook Standards" show, there was a clip of him singing "True Love" with Patti Page and I had such a negative reaction to seeing the two of them cuddled up together.  I can listen to Crosby and still enjoy his voice (it's not Christmas until Crosby sings), but I have lost the ability to enjoy his romantic scenes on film.

Yeah, I'm weird.  And there was a time when I followed this stuff much too closely.  My mother and I were both into Hollywood and stars and stuff when I was in grammar and high school.  Today I can't even recognize most of the current big stars.

But at the moment, Al Franken falls into the Judy Garland category for me and sincerely hope he doesn't slip into Bill Cosby territory.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Stealing


We stole this from Phoenix the Blogging Mama , who stole it from Karen, who made up the questions herself.

1. How has your life most benefitted from the Internet? Whether it’s meeting people, cutting business overhead, finding rare collectibles, or simply sharing funny cat pictures, share how the web has made life easier.
LOL.  Let me count the ways!  I guess it's most benefited from the friends I've made, some of whom have become face-to-face friends, most of whom will forever become faceless.  I've learn new crafts (like pocket letters and junk journal), and I learned a lot about programming and how to create and keep an on-line journal.  I've even learned, after years of trying, how best to make sense of Twitter. The internet really changed my life.

2. How do you deal with negative comments on your blog?
I rarely get negative comments on this blog, but on the blog where I keep my theater reviews, I once got a comment so negative it sparked a firestorm of answers, pro and con, and ultimately led me to embrace the writer's accusation and re-name the blog "Bitter Hack."

3. There’s never enough time, is there? What would you do with an extra three hours today?
I don't really pay much attention to time, since I don't have a regular schedule.  With three extra hours I'd just do three hours more of the same thing I'd been doing all day!

4. The getaway car is waiting outside – where is it taking you?
To my hideaway overlooking the ocean.

5. Who was your "arch enemy" in high school? Do you have any enemies today?
"Enemy" is such a strong word.  I don't remember any "enemy" in high school and while there are people in my personal life today that I don't much like, I can't go so far as to call them "enemies."  Now if you want to get political......

6. You’re giving the keynote address to the graduating seniors of a high school today. What’s your advice to them?
Think before you act.  Believe in yourself.  Work to make the world a better place.  And floss.

7. Thinking of words of wisdom: What's the worst advice you've ever received?
"Study to become a teacher.  They have a cushy job.  They only work 9 months out of the year, only work until 3 p.m. and make great money."  (that was my father's advice. . Fortunately, I didn't take it!)

8. Tell us about the best summer vacation you EVER had.
I think the year after my father's death, when I used his entire savings (it wasn't all that much) and took the seven of us to England and Ireland.  It was my first trip out of the country. It was the last year when the kids were "kids."  They would soon be going off as adults.  And David was old enough to drink in pubs, so we did a lot of bonding over beer, which mended many of our teen-age disagreements.  In Ireland we met some of Walt's relatives which grew into friendships that lasted a long time and resulted in more trips back and forth.  And Walt and I discovered that international travel wasn't as impossible as we thought it would be, so we did a lot of traveling without the kids.

9. What do you have to have with you when you travel? Why?
My laptop, of course, so I can do a travelogue for Funny the World!

10. Would you accept $1,000,000 tax free, if it meant you had to leave the country and never come back?
No.  What would I do with that much money if I couldn't be with my family?

11. Do you believe the world will be a better, or worse, place 100 years from now?
It depends on how much longer Trump will be in office.

12. Do you expect to buy a new winter coat this year?
No.  I bought one 2 years ago that I just love, but rarely have occasion to use.

13. If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience, would you do so?
In a heartbeat.  I might not remember anything but I would enjoy the 365 days that I had.  It would be like having Alzheimers when I returned.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday 9

First of all, I went to visit my mother this afternoon.  She's not as bad as I expected, obviously still in some pain, and aways disoriented, but I feel reassured.  Now on to 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: The Man in Black (1971)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 24, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains?
I would not go near a store on Black Friday!

2) Among the biggest the Black Friday advertisers are Target, Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy. If you could have a $100 gift card to any one of those stores, which would you choose?  What would you buy?
Since I don't shop at three of the, it would have to be Target.  Not sure what I'd spend $100 on, probably little bits of this and that.  Investigate all of those "as seen on TV" things, for example.

3) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game?
Neither.  I don't watch football, as a general rule and while I might eat a lot, it would be abit of picking here and there.

4) Thanksgiving weekend is a major time for travel. How far did you venture from home for the holiday?
With a trip to the home where my mother lives and then Ned's in-laws for dessert and then back home again probably less than 2 miles.

5) This week's song, "Man in Black," is about a singer who refuses to wear bright colors. What color are you wearing as you answer these questions?
LOL.  Black.  I don't wear black exclusively, but I war a lot of black.
6) Johnny Cash first performed this song at Nashville's Vanderbilt University. When were you last on a college campus? What brought you there?
I was on the UC Davis campus a couple of weeks ago to review a show.

 7) The average American man wears a 10.5 size shoe, the average woman wears a 7.5. Johnny Cash wore a size 13. Are your shoes bigger or smaller than the national average?
Bigger than the average woman, not as big as Johnny Cash.  Best fit is 10-1/2 extra wide (if I can find it--it's very difficult to find.

8) He
preferred his coffee very strong. To make sure what he was drank was to his liking, he carried a jar of instant coffee with him and would ladle it into his cup in restaurants. What about you? What's your standard coffee order?
I rarely buy coffee in a coffee shop, but when I do it's always dark roast.  At home we drink Peet's French Roast, which is dark.  I shudder to think of adding instant coffee to anything!

9) While in the
air force, Cash wrote short stories under the pseudonym "Johnny Dollar." Make up a pen name for yourself.
Well, taking Cash's idea as an inspiration, I'd go with Barbara North.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Last Thanksgiving?

They called at 5 a.m.  She had fallen, but had gotten herself back into bed.  They wanted to call the EMTs but she said no and that she would only go to the hospital if I wanted her to.  I told them to leave her alone.  She was angry the last time they sent her to the hospital and asked me why I didn't tell them to forget it.  She is a DNR and she is not happy in her life right now, so as I write this, she is at her apartment in bed and I don't know what is going to happen.

Every year, I refuse offers to go to Marta's family for holiday dinners because I want to spend the holiday with my mother because I don't know when it is going to be her last holiday.  Will this be the year?

I don't know if she will be alive next Thanksgiving, but we won't try to do any celebration.  This was not a good day.

It started in the morning, trying to clean up a bit.  I got myself in a snit when I couldn't get the hand-held vacuum cleaner to work.  Lizzie knew I was upset and, being a wonderful comfort dog, just stood by me.  Wherever I went.  I appreciated her concern, but I wanted to kick her out of the way.  I did not.  Good me.

Ned and Marta picked my mother up around 1 and brought her over here.  The dogs were locked outside, but I finally let them in and amazingly. Ned has finally won Polly over.  She barked and barked but once he picked her up, she was fine.

My mother has always been a dog person and once she started feeding peanuts to the dogs, they both loved her.

In fact Polly became her best friend.

I was, however, concerned about how many nuts my mother ate.  I thought she would not have an appetite for dinner.

Things went downhill when Ned and Marta left.  I had planned to give her the job of taking the ends off the green beans, but it was so late and the turkey cooked too soon (from Facebook comments, it seems that everyone had that problem this year!) so I just got them into the oven myself while my mother wandered around the family room commenting that I "had a lot of stuff" (no kidding!).

She kind of just wandered, opening anything she found -- mail, a jewelry box, a pouch with toiletries in it.  When I got up to get dishes on the table, she picked up a banana and started eating it.  When I told her we were about to eat dinner, she closed up the banana, then opened it again and said someone had been eating it, and then sat there while I put food on the table and munched the banana.

I was convinced she wasn't going to eat anything after all the nuts and the banana, but she ate everything and even had seconds on turkey.

When dinner was over, she said she had to lie down and complained of chest pains, which she says she's had all week, but when she got up, it was her back that was killing her and she tried lying down but was still uncomfortable.  She was also too warm and got up to open the door to the back yard (which is very tricky) and would not let me help her even though she could barely move because her back was hurting so much.

She hobbled down the hall to the bathroom, locked the door and couldn't figure out how to get out so had to knock on the door to get us to help her.  She could barely move but insisted on "doing the dishes" but I told her we were going to take her home and said "OK, but leave the dishes and I'll do them tomorrow."

Mostly she looked miserable all evening and didn't know why she was there.  When she first arrived she said she was just going to sit down until she figured out what was going on.  I'm not sure she ever understood, but except for interacting with Ned an the dogs she looked (and acted) miserable all evening.  I decided I'd done the dinner more for me than for her and I'm now not quite sure how to handle Christmas.

We got her into the car and got someone from the memory unit to bring a wheelchair to take her to her room.  I had gone inside to arrange for the wheelchair while Walt waited in the car for her.  When she came through the door and saw me she was THRILLED.  She wondered where I'd been and why she hadn't seen me in such a long time


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

So the day is here.  I have been awake since about 4:30 going over what needs to be done today.  It's pretty straight forward.  I need to get the pie(s) in the oven first, then put the turkey in around noon.  Ned and Marta are going to pick up my mother and bring her here to visit for a couple of hours until it's time for them to go off to Marta's parents' house for dinner.  We'll have our dinner, return my mother to Atria, and then go to Marta's parents' house for a second dessert.

I'm going to make the traditional green bean casserole that I don't like, but Walt does.  I figure it will be a great thing to give my mother to do--take the ends off of the green beans.  She needs a job and that should be perfect -- easy, time consuming and I hope she doesn't forget halfway through the job what she's supposed to do!

I tried to get things organized yesterday.  Not much "organizing" to do when there are only 3 people and no complicated things to prepare, but I am trying some new things, like Geoffrey Zacharian's guide to make sure the turkey is dry before putting it in the oven.  He recommends putting it in the fridge, uncovered, for 24 hours.  So I've done that.  I brined a turkey for the first time last Thanksgiving and couldn't really tell the difference from un-brined so we'll see how GZ's recommendation works.

I'm also NOT going to stuff the turkey, but am going to make dressing in the crock pot.  Since this is the part of the meal I am most picky about I hope it works.  I read several recipes for doing it and will make my own, based on everyone's suggestions.  It certainly makes removing the dressing to a serving plate easier than scooping it out of the body of the bird.

And then there will be Jeff Mauro's sinfully rich mashed potatoes, with cream cheese, butter and half and half.  Oh, and potatoes too.

A good idea, but here are a few things on my "thankful list."

* Of course #1 is the family and how much I love our relationships with each other
* Especially Walt, who works so hard around here and how much I appreciate him
* (I love him too!)
* The dogs who entertain us nightly
* Having a warm home to live in on these cold days
* Being able to see so many theatrical programs
* Having the good fortune to be paid to write
* All of my "extended family," the Compassion children around the world
* Char, my best friend, without whom my life would be very blank
* All of my other friends, close and casual
* My mother's health and the good care she is getting now
* Books.  And more books
* Having Brianna and Lacie to write to
* Everybody who has read Airy Persiflage through the years.  I love you all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sex and Turkeys

You can't turn on any news program without hearing about sex.  It is disheartening to hear what goes on with such beloved icons as Charlie Rose or Kevin Spacey.  There must be soul-searching all over Congress....surely a good percentage of those high and mighty representatives have some hanky panky in their history and now that women, after so long, are being believed they are tentatively coming forward and the stories are slowly coming out.

It appears the only person who does not believe the women is #45, who says Moore says he didn't do it and he must be believed.  BS.

But I'm having such a difficult time about Al Franken.  I was heartsick to hear the accusation against him and waited to hear more women come forth.  While waiting I examined the lewd photo and, as a photographer, I looked at it closely and saw that his hands are hovering over her breasts, they are not on her breasts, which I found reassuring. I also realized that they were on a comedy tour and the kiss, while stupid and ill-advised didn't rise to the level of dating teenagers, or grabbing pussies, or rape or any of the other accusations that have come up about other big names.

So the jury is out on my opinion of Al Franken, who has obviously lost his opportunity to run for president (though if #45 is any indication, sexual misconduct isn't an automatic show stopper), but I felt better when I read that 36 women involved in Saturday Night Live, whether stars or production people signed a statement which reads, in part,
What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.
A second accuser has now come forth, saying that he grabbed her butt while they posed for a photo.  And I don't excuse that.  Again, how stupid can you be....but at the time he made his living as a comedian and it was something funny to do in an age where nobody gave it a second thought.
If nothing else does it rise to the level of the other men who have been accused of everything from pedophilia or rape?

There is a very thought-provoking article written by feminist S. Novi who is also having difficulties knowing what to think of Franken.  I really encourage people to read it.  She doesn't excuse anything that he has been accused of doing, but offers another way to look at it.
Let me say right up front that as a woman and a life-long feminist, I absolutely support women coming forward when there have been sexual assaults or abuse. There has been a history of demeaning women in both the courtroom and life so that most refused to put themselves through the process and simply remained quiet. However, this situation is quite a bit different and it requires that we step back and view this with a lens of logic. The fact is that Franken doesn’t have a history of demeaning women, in fact it is the opposite.
I had a disagreement yesterday with someone with whom I have been in agreement about politics for years.  She is adamant that Franken is a disgusting human being and she wants nothing more to do with him.  When I pointed out the photos of the woman grabbing a guy's butt on the same tour, she snapped " now they are slut-shaming."  I don't consider her a slut, nor do I 100% consider Franken on a par with the other molesters who have been accused.  I consider this a comedy tour where bawdy things are commonplace.

In her defense, she is running this through a colleague she respected, who turned out to have a hidden history that included sexual misconduct.  I can't be that black and white.  I don't in any way condone the actions of which Franken has been accused, but I just can't write him off.  

I wait and watch and see where it all goes from here.  I will be very disappointed if a legion of other women come out with new accusations.

In the meantime I am nothing but disgusted by the sexual abuser in the White House, who seems to prefer to support a pedophile for Senate than risk the election of a Democrat.  But then he disgusts me on most days, so why is today different from any other day?

But speaking of turkeys.....

Yesterday I did my big Thanksgiving shopping and enjoyed the choices I had for the main course.

Since there will only be 3 of us for dinner (assuming we can convince my mother to come out to the house), I looked for a smaller turkey, remembering the time I cooked a 31 lb turkey for 24 people.  I managed to find an 18 lb turkey and will be brining it today.  

With only 3 of us, and planning a very simple menu, I was surprised to see that the tag come to $177.  But I hope I have everything and though I have successfully cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for 50 years and though our only guest will be my mother, I find I am still nervous about getting it all right.

Happy Thanksgiving all!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gracie and Jane

I don't know how many are familiar with the show Talk Stoop.  Apparently it is a full 15 or 30 minute show in New York with interviews of celebrities who happen to pass by the front steps of hostess Cat Greenleaf for a brief chat.  Out here on the West Coast we don't get the show, but we get like a 5 minute (or less) snippet of the show in between programming on the USA network.

My favorite part of the show was always "Gracie Greenleaf," Cat's bulldog, who sat, or usually slept, on the top step...

...occasionally sniffing the guest.  Gracie made the show for me.

I hadn't seen Talk Stoop in awhile but it popped up the other day and...there was no Gracie!  Instead, Cat had a new dog who looked like a terrier -- not nearly a good substitute for Gracie.  Apparently Gracie died back in April.  I looked and looked but can't find either a photo of the new dog or what his/her name is.  However, I did find a web page "In Memory of Gracie," where people can post photos or videos of Gracie.  There are no entries!  But I guess I'll have to get used to the new dog...and maybe eventually learn his/her name.

In the afternoon we went to a movie!  Alert the media!  This is the second movie we have seen this year, the first was Beauty and the Beast when Caroline was here in March.

Several movies came and went that I missed (like Victoria and Abdul, which I really wanted to see.  I'm assuming it will eventually make it to Netflix).  But tonight we actually went to see Jane, the story of Jane Goodall in a theater.

Jane Goodall is one of my heroes and I have followed her story since the National Geographic aired the very first special on her in the early 1960s.  I still remember that before Jane, I was taught that humans were the only intelligent creatures because only humans knew how to use tools.  Jane proved that theory wrong, showing chimpanzees taking twigs and sticking them into ant holes to get ants to eat.  It has since been shown that many animals know how to use tools.

The movie was very special but as much as I enjoyed all the chimpanzees, I was most impressed with a scene where a male and female lion attacked a wildebeest during the great migration.  The female had the wildebeest by the nose and the female had him by the tail, while all the other wildebeest ran by.  Then the whole herd stopped, turned around, came back and started threatening the lions, who dropped their catch and slunk off.  Lemme tell you, the last thing you want is to be threatened by hundreds of angry wildebeest!

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Perks

There are perks of being a critic. 

The obvious one is that you get to see all the big shows that come to town.  Any traveling Broadway show that hits Sacramento, I get free high priced tickets, great seats, and all I have to do is enjoy the show and write about it.

Another perk is watching a theater company improve over the years, like the Davis Musical Theater Company, which was not wonderful 40 years ago, but which has turned in some amazing first-rate productions these last years.

The down side is that I have to see everything and while most are fun, some are real duds and trying to write something about them is real work and I figure helps pay for those great shows that are easy to review.

The perk that I don't often think about until it happens is seeing shows that are maybe not the best but so much fun it more than makes up for it.

One of my very favorite theater groups is the Winters Community Theater.  Winters is a small town (~7,000 people) and they have had this theater company which has been going for some 40 years.  They perform in the community center and people sit on uncomfortable folding chairs around big round tables (on opening night you get free champagne and cheesecake; other nights you can buy cheesecake)

What I love about Winters is that they are amateurs and they know it.  The definition of "amateur" is someone doing something for the love of it, and these guys love what they are doing.  They don't pretend to be or act like they are better than they are.  They just do what they can, but love what they are doing. Walt and I rarely leave a Winters production without smiling about how much fun it was and how much everyone loved what they are doing.

This week we had what may have been the most fun we've had at a theatrical production this year, and it was at Winters, where set changes seem to last forever and the pace of things is slower than it should be, but the overall result was just so much fun you almost didn't mind.

This show was The Wizard of Oz and it had a cast of thousands (well, about 35), including Tibby, who played Toto, and who was incredibly cute, especially when any of her "real" family came on stage (like the Cowardly Lion or Glinda) when her tail would wag much faster.

I was covering this show for two different newspapers (both of which will get the same review).  Debra DeAngelo, on the right, is the editor of the Winters Express, and since she was also playing Auntie Em, she couldn't very well review the show.

The last time she did a show it was Calendar Girls and I reviewed that one for her as well.

In the Munchkin number, I lost count of how many little kids were on stage, but one of them had a real baby in a front pack and a toddler by the hand.  The toddler wasn't into show biz and kept struggling to break free, finally doing so and first running off stage by a side ramp and then trying to run off stage and into the audience. Since the girl who was supposed to be his Munchkin mom was packing a baby, she couldn't chase him, so someone else managed to catch him before he plunged off the stage.

Toto didn't stay on script and barked when she should not have and didn't bark when she should (but Dorothy hid her face in Toto's head and barked for her)

Putting some of the familiar actors in the Oz costumes changed their personality and several gave better performances than I've ever seen, particularly the wicked witch who chewed the scenery just wonderfully.

And then there was Sunday's British Panto, Robin Hood in the Forest of Frogwarts, a zany 2-hour romp that is perfect for little kids.

There was lots of audience interaction, a chance for many kids to come on stage, and a finale that had everyone in the audience throwing plastic balls at the stage.  It was a little too much for me, but the kids in the audience loved it.  For the older people, they even had banners hanging over the houses of Hotwarts:  Pachyndwarf, Canary foot, Rasta Puff, and Chirpiz.

All too silly for me; I much preferred The Wizard of Oz.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Stealing

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

 With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I thought it might be fun to find a set of Thanksgiving-related questions.  This came from a site called Documented Legacy

1.  What made you feel patriotic this year?
The women's march the day after the inauguration and seeing the crowd that easily outnumbered his.

2 . What do you value most about your life?
My relationship with our kids and how close our family is -- no arguments when we get together!

3.  What do you appreciate about your friendships?
There is something wonderful about a long-term friendship that has lasted 50 years or more.  You know each other's lives, their family and you can go months without seeing each other, but then step back as if you just saw each other yesterday.

4.  Name one person who can make you laugh, even months later. Why?
The grandkids.  Kids can always bring a smile to your face even months later.

5.  What is the funniest thing you remember about a Thanksgiving past?
Watching Walt's mother playing charades, when she was alive.  Never ever being able to give a clue silently! (We always liked giving her the hardest clues for that reason!)

6.  Do you have any unusual traditions, rituals or habits around Thanksgiving?
These days, no.  In the days when we went to Lake Tahoe every Thanksgiving, we loved playing games and especially charades after dinner.  Also, Tom's annual baked Alaska.  I miss those days.

7.  Name one ancestor that you think about on Thanksgiving and tell us why.
My godfather, Fred West, who brought a 2 lb box of See's candy each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We looked forward to that.

8.  Is there a family heirloom at the Thanksgiving table? What is its story?
Not any more, but in the Tahoe days we had this ragged old paper turkey that we bought for the first Thanksgiving there, and we brought out every year, as it got more and more ragged and required more and more Scotch tape to hold it together.

9.  What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving Day?
Getting up in the middle of the night and sneaking leftover stuffing or pumpkin pie!

10. What random act of kindness did you perform or that was done to you this year that makes you feel grateful?
I suppose this could come under a random act of kindness.  We hosted a young vet student from Guernsey while she was taking a course at the university.  Her mother had stayed for 3 weeks with us when she was her daughter's age.  We were younger and had more stamina then, but I think Caroline had a good time here.

11. What do you appreciate about the change of seasons?
I am always a much happier person when the summer temps are finally gone.  And I love the fall color, even though we don't get a lot of it here.

12. Name five things that make you happy about today.
* A good visit with my mother (the Klonopin must be working!)
* #45 decided to reverse the decision lift the ban on killing big game animals in Africa, until he has a chance to "study it."  Signing those petitions HELPED!!!
* Fun production of The Wizard of Oz at the Winters Community Theater
* Free champagne and cheesecake before the show
* Nothing on the calendar for the rest of the day

13. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were little?
For all the years of my childhood, we had dinner at our house, and the family all came there. 

(my sister took the picture)
After Jeri was born, the dinner moved to Walt's and my house and I enjoyed being the hostess, then we started going to Tahoe until David died.  

dinner at Tahoe, 1990

Now we have lost all tradition.  With the family spread out, there is no logical place to get us all together and the older my mother gets, the more I feel the need to celebrate what might be her last holiday, so I have dinner with her, and others either come or not, but she's not comfortable in crowds.

Thanksgiving 2016

14. If you could share Thanksgiving dinner today with one person in history who would it be? Why? (Note: it can be a relative)
Wampanoag chief Massasoit. He was at the very first Thanksgiving and I'd like to hear how that compares with today.

15. What is one wish you have for the next generation as they begin to establish their own Thanksgiving traditions.
I think our kids have good memories of Thanksgivings past.  I hope they are now establishing their own traditions, especially Tom and Laurel so that when the grandchildren grow up they will have fond memories of their Thanksgivings.

Saturday, November 18, 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: Son of a Preacher Man (1968)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) This song was originally offered to Aretha Franklin, who turned it down. What's the most recent thing that you said "no" to? We were invited to join Ned's in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. Because it would be too confusing for my mother and because she's 98 so I never know when her "last" holiday is going to be, I said that I would be cooking dinner for my mother instead, so we would not be able to come.
2) Two years later, Aretha recorded "Son of a Preacher Man." What's something you changed your mind about When I graduated from high school, my plan was to become a nun.  I had my trunk packed and my plane ticket in hand to fly to St. Louis, where the motherhouse was. The nuns weren't sure I was ready, so encouraged me to wait six months and then decide.  After six months I decided I didn't really want to do that after all.  I often wonder what I would be doing now if I had gone ahead with my original plans.

3) This song tells the tale of Billy Ray, a young man who could be very persuasive. If we wanted to change your mind about something, would you be more easily swayed by an emotional argument, or with verifiable facts? Definitely an emotional argument.  My mind's made up---don't confuse me with facts!
4) If you ordered a "Son of a Preacher Man" in a bar, you'd get a cocktail made with peppermint schnapps, gin and lemonade. When did you last have lemonade? Was it just lemonade, or was it spiked with alcohol? Whew.  I don't remember.  But whenever it was, it was just plain lemonade without alcohol.

5) Dusty had a thing for maps. She admired them artistically and enjoyed using them to take long car trips. Do you use printed maps? Or do you rely on technology, like GPS or Google Maps?

I used to be very good at reading maps.  Now I'm hopeless.  I use our GPS to get me somewhere I have never been before.

6) As a girl, she attended convent school. There, one of the nuns discouraged Dusty from performing, telling her that if she would do better to be a mother or a librarian. When you were growing up, did the adults in your world encourage your dreams?
Well, I didn't really have dreams but my father decided my life course (which included becoming a teacher, which I knew I did not want to be).  I just wanted to be a secretary, which I eventually became--and loved it.
7) That nun inspired Dusty's first major act of rebellion. In an attempt to make herself look less like a future librarian or housewife, she bleached her hair platinum blonde. In school, were you much of a rebel? Or did you conform to the expectations adults had of you?
Oh lord, I was so NOT a rebel!!!  I think that's the 11th commandment of Catholic girls' schools -- thou shall not become a rebel!

8) Early in her career, Dusty provided the entertainment at a family summer camp. She appeared on the bill with a clown, a fire-eater and a hypnotist. Have you ever been hypnotized?

No.  I've often wondered if I would be susceptible, but the fear of losing control would keep me from volunteering, if I ever had the opportunity.

9) Random question: Have you ever played matchmaker to your friends? If yes, did your efforts lead to romance?

Just once.  They are married now and their children are adults.  It wasn't so much "matchmaker" as "facilitator," as they had broken up and had not seen each other for a few years.  I made it possible for them to see each other again and the rest is history.

Friday, November 17, 2017


If you've read this journal for any length of time, you know how this makes me feel.....

This is sickening -- Trump’s just given the greenlight for bloodthirsty American hunters to murder elephants  in Africa and bring their heads home as trophies.

Trump’s own son shot and mutilated an elephant -- and now he’s changed the law so anyone can join the slaughter and bring home elephant body parts as souvenirs, even as ivory poaching threatens to wipe them out.

Let’s build a massive global outcry to shame the US into dropping this disgusting plan, and when its huge, Avaaz will work with key African countries to deliver it at a major wildlife protection meeting days away.

Sign the petition to President Trump, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and conservation authorities around the world:
"Elephants are facing extinction and this is no time to strip them of protection. Trophy hunting drives the slaughter of elephants, increases demand for their body parts, and projects a double standard that makes it harder to tackle ivory poaching. We call on you to do all you can to reverse the US decision to allow the import of elephant trophies, before it is too late."

Many efforts have been made to outlaw hunting elephants for their tusks, but poaching still occurs on a regular basis. It is thought that from 1930-1940 there were 3 to 5 million African elephants roaming the continent. Now in Western Africa elephant populations are counted in the tens or hundreds.  Conservation Int'l estimates that an elephant is killed every 15 minutes....and this is with the international ban in place.

It was a gigantic win when China was convinced to ban ivory.  What will happen now?  Will China decide to follow suit and allow ivory importing again?

Having read many accounts of people who have spent years with elephants and recorded their families in action, this lifting of the ban hurts me personally.  I hate what happens to elephants.  I cheered when the circuses decided to retire their elephants.

We went to the Chicago zoo once and there was one lone elephant (the other two had died) standing in this small cement yard just staring out.  I apologized to her.  She died a couple of years later.
There are two elephants at the Santa Barbara zoo.  A favorite of the kids who visit, but I hate to see them.  Elephants belong in families.  And free.

I've been following stories on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the world's most successful elephant rescue and rehabilitation program.  It's wonderful to follow a baby orphaned when his mother is killed for her tusks, to watch that baby bond with the helpers at the orphanage, to watch them create families with the ther orphans, the grow to teenagers and start learning how to live on their own, to watch them finally graduate and become free...and then return in a year or so with a baby in tow to show him/her off.  Wonderfully rewarding.

But what is tragic are the babies who are too traumatized and never get over seeing the slaughter of their mother...and literally die of a broken heart.

Also watching video of the whole group working together to help a baby in trouble is so terribly moving.  And the death rituals of groups of elephants is downright human.  In fact, when you read the observations of these researchers who study elephant behavior you can't help but come to the conclusion that elephants may be the most "human" of any animals.

And now thanks to our glorious leader, people are going to be able to fly to Africa and kill them again to bring their "elephant trophies" home. 

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told CNN it means "elephants minding their business are going to be gunned down by rich Americans."

I have been so upset by this lifting of the ban, I have been very teary all day.  Not boo hoo crying, but every little thing on TV moves me to tears.

If we didn't have a sociopath in the White House who seems incapable of feeling empathy for anything, we might have a chance of getting the ban put back in place again, but I have little hope.
My grandchildren know elephants.  My great grandchildren may never know an elephant.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Christmas Miracle

I always go through the tortures or the damned before I do an interview.  I knew today's interview would be easy because I would be with Ned, who knew the information he wanted Tom Fay, the lead singer of the Rhythm Kings, to talk about and is a take charge guy anyway.

The last interview I did I did in the lobby of Atria because it's the most quiet place around, so I chose that for our interview today.  

Ned with Tom and Ned's friend KC

The point of the interview was to get information to publicize a fund-raiser Tom and Ned are working on, to raise money for a Sacramento animal organization.  Tom has been doing an annual fund raiser for about 7 years, now.  Each year it's a different organization and with the glut of animals needing care this year because of the fires in No. California, this seemed the ideal charity for 2017.

Tom wrote the Santa Rhumba, which I embedded yesterday.  I heard  that he wrote it in his sleep, got up one morning with it all in his head, wrote it down and recorded it.  So my main interest was in finding out how he dream-wrote it (especially since I dream-wrote my pig entry the other day!)
Tom had lots and lots to say about lots and lots of musicians I'd never heard of (not being into the local rock scene) and I hoped he wouldn't be disappointed when I only was able to write a one-paragraph thing about the concert.

However, as he talked, I realized that what I had here was a real human interest story and I hoped that my editor would let me handle it like that (after I wrote to her, she agreed with me)

It starts with the Santa Rhumba and the CD that came out of it, a compilation of music by a bunch of local bands that was a fund-raiser for AIDS.  Lawsuit was part of that CD and recorded their "Grassy Knoel."  Tom and Ned didn't really know each other, though both of their bands played at the CD release concert.

Anyway, the song took on a life of its own and everyone loved it.  Ned was still at the radio station at the time and made sure it got played (along with "Grassy Knoel") during the Christmas season.  Since 1994 it has been played on college radio stations, NPR affiliates, and local radio stations, as well as being available on iTunes. 

Six weeks before Christmas in 2014, Tom had a stroke.  A bad stroke.  He nearly died.  And he left the hospital with a feeding tube because he could not swallow and a walker.  The doctors figured this was as good as he would ever get.  That year was the bleakest Christmas he had ever known but he was watching TV and the host of the show said he had just heard this really cool song by the Rhythm Kings and it was #12 on the Sirius Radio top 100 countdown of alternative Christmas hits.

Tom contacted the host and said "that's my band."  The guy was very excited and said "you have to get better and perform that song on our show next year!"  So Tom began to fight.

His wife Cottie (who was the bartender at a club where Tom had performed) is absolutely adorable and is obviously the reason why Tom is alive today.  They discovered that the fluid he was being fed was mostly sugar and salt and researched to find an organic liquid called Liquid Hope and slowly he began to get better.

In May of 2015 he was able to swallow again and he worked so he was able to throw away his walker and sure enough in December of 2015, he performed "The Santa Rhumba" on "Good Day."   He contacted Ned's friend KC about playing with him and KC brought Ned, who sang backup and became kind of Tom's helper.  Now Ned and Tom are working together to put on this year's charity event.

Tom still has post-stroke symptoms, but he has progressed further than anybody ever thought he could...and it's all because of "The Santa Rhumba."