Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Once in a Red Moon

"I feel like Tevye," Walt said.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye's son-in-law, Motel the tailor, has just gotten a new sewing machine.  All the people of Anatevka, the little town where they live, are very excited about it and crowd around the shop to see it.  Tevye arrives late and wife Golde is ready to go home and tells him he can see it later.  He insists he wants to see it now, sticks his head in the door, then comes out and says something like "OK, I've seen it"

There was a lunar eclipse tonight, called a "super blue blood moon."  According to Reuters, "the Earth will cast a darkened red-tinted shadow across the face of its natural satellite, hence the term “blood moon."  The last time this kind of moon was visible was apparently 1866.
Reuters goes on to report, "In Los Angeles, a crowd ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 people was expected to make a pilgrimage in the dark to the Griffith Observatory on Mount Hollywood, where extra telescopes will be set up for them to see the celestial show, Griffith Observatory officials said."

We didn't have a telescope here.  Walt set the alarm for 5 a.m. and woke me up.  I hadn't been asleep long because I had been up until 2 writing a review.  The moon was visible from our back yard and yep.  There it was.  A red moon.

"OK.  I've seen it," Walt said as we both came right back in the house and went back to bed.
It seems like it should have been a bigger deal, but there really wasn't much more to do other than see that yes, it was red...or rust colored, really.  I couldn't take a photo--too far way--so I had to rely on Google Images to find a picture that looked like what we saw.  Even this doesn't look like what I saw because of my eyesight making it look blurry.  Maybe this is what it looked like to Walt.

But by golly, we saw the blood moon.

My plan last night had been to finish watching the David Letterman interview of Obama during the State of the Uniom [sic] speech, but in fact I had a show to review, so while #45 droned on, we were on our way to Sacramento to see Jersey Boys.

I wasn't particularly excited to see this show, which it seems like I just reviewed in this venue very recently (actually it was 10 years ago).  It's a wildly popular story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and is chock full of the songs of my young adulthood performed by some very talented singers, while telling the often tumultuous story of the group. 

I realized that I hadn't remembered much of it, so I enjoyed it all over again.  Call me an old fogey, but it's nice to hear ballad-ish songs that I know rather than loud discordant new music that I don't.  The Four Seasons (who got their name from the name of a club where they were performing at the start of their career) lasted from 50s to the 70s

I found watching their signature "choreography" with synchronized hand and leg movements...I don't know....quaint.

One of the four died in 2000 and I think another one died a couple of years later, but here are three of the four at the opening of Jersey Boys back in 2005.

That's Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli.  Valli is now 83

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The State of My Union

No, I will not watch the State of the Union tonight.  The last thing I need is to spend an hour watching #45 tell us how wonderful he is.  I figure if anything memorable or historic happens, it will be dissected over and over and over again by the talking heads.

Instead, I think I'll watch this....

...and remember when we could be proud of our country.  It's from Letterman's new show on Netflix.  I watched part of it last night and it was so nice to see Obama again, and in such a relaxed form.  And how nice to see a president talk with such love and affection -- and pride -- about his wife.

We may have finally found our restaurant.  Ever since Cafe Italia, where my friend Kathy and I have been eating lunch every month for the past ~2 years was forced to shut down, we have been searching for a new restaurant in Davis.  We both admitted that though we have been eating in Italian restaurants (the Olive Garden in Sacramento for about 10 or more years, and then Cafe Italia) neither of us were wedded to Italian, so we have tried Mexican, Chinese, burgers, and barbeque, but nothing hit us as the perfect place.  (Davis is replete with Thai and Japanese restaurants, but Kathy doesn't like spicy food and isn't into sushi.) Yesterday we went to Paesano's, which happens to be Italian again, but it seemed to be the right fit.  I had the most wonderful pesto tortellini.

Kathy, who normally orders spaghetti "light on the sauce" got exactly that, which she didn't always at Cafe Italia.  She seems to have enjoyed it and agreed to go back again next month.  I'm glad because I saw several other things on the menu I want to try.  I guess no matter what we do, we are destined to eat Italian!

After lunch, I drove to the post office to mail a few letters and then through the cemetery to check on the flowers we left last night.  I encountered a flock of turkeys and stopped to watch them.  Two of them were either fighting or playing.  They chased each other around and around a tree, first in one direction and then in the other.  Then they'd fly up at each other and back to the ground to chase each other again.

I know the turkeys are a big pain in the patootie around town, but I do admit enjoying it when I stumble on them and get to watch them in action (especially from the safety of the car).

Monday, January 29, 2018



We almost had a head-on collision the other day.

I had gone to Atria to pick my mother up for her new orthopedist appointment, to have her cast replaced (because the swelling has now gone down and the cast was too loose).  I've noticed new people in the memory unit lately.  Like the lady who always sits in the foyer in her wheel chair asking everyone when someone is going to pick her up.  They always tell her "tomorrow" and I suspect nobody ever comes to pick her up.

There's also the very nice lady who carries around a stuffed kitten wrapped in a blanket, holding it like a baby, who walks close to us so that she can escape out the door if we leave (the aids are good at redirecting her).

My mother's "friend" Loretta, who lives across the hall from her seems to have a new roommate.  As I went to my mother's apartment she was coming out, with her walker, arguing with the helper she had that she did not want to be walking with the walker.

I got a jacket for my mother and walked down to meet her, halfway to the back door.  By the time we got her jacket on her, the walker lady had walked the length of the hall and was on her way back.  She saw us standing there, aimed her walker directly at us and sped up  We had to grab my mother out of the way or she would have run right into us.

Exciting times at "the home."

The doctor appointment went well, though she still doesn't know why she's there or why her arm hurts.  
 (I loved the tattoo on the guy who put on her new cast)
 She seemed more fragile and more depressed than the last time, which doesn't surprise me.   This accident has done something to her stamina.
We dropped her off at home and then the next day I went to visit and be there so Jeri could call her.  I told her that Jeri would be calling and she didn't know who that was (she also thought I was a "nice lady").  I said that Jeri was her granddaughter and she said "I didn't know I had a granddaughter; I guess I've never met her."

While waiting for Jeri to call, she seemed to fall asleep.  I let her sleep and by the time Jeri called, she was out.  Like one of her passing out spells.  I couldn't wake her up, so Jeri couldn't talk to her.  After we hung up, I tried again to wake her up, to no avail.

I went to the person who run the memory unit and suggested to her that they leave her be and check on her in an hour.  I fully expected to get a call telling me they had sent her to the ER, but no.  I guess she woke up on her own.

I told Walt I've decided that these spells are "practice dying" spells and that one day she just won't wake up again.  If only she could end her life that peacefully.

We were back in the theater Saturday night, after about a 3 week hiatus.

We saw The Nether, a play by Jennifer Haley. "I don't know what I just saw, but I loved it," Walt said when it was over.

I checked with the wife of one of the other critics for her opinion.  "I hated it," she said (which didn't surprise me!)

"I'm sure glad you're writing this review and not me," said another critic.

Another recently retired critic expressed disappointment that he had nobody to write a review for because he found it an enjoyable challenge.

This is a kinda sci fi story taking place in some dystopian world, when technology has evolved enough to allow people to enter a virtual realm on the internet and interact with the virtual people there.

The site was set up by a confessed pedophile, who finds this a way to release his urges without any danger to any real children in his real life.  Apparently part of the experience is having sex with children and then killing them.  But since they are androids, they can regenerate and you can do it again.

It's all very creepy, but written so well and acted so well that I found myself enjoying it, though it does open up the doors for all sorts of discussions about morality!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
Walt pays our bills, so I don't write the checks, but I do hate paying my mother's bills for her emergency room visits.

2. What do you really want to be doing right now?
Having dinner in a fancy restaurant.

3. Why did you choose the shirt you have on now?
It was on the top of the laundry basket.

4. Thoughts on gas prices?
I once took a picture of our son at a gas station where the price was 99 cents a gallon.  I took the photo because I knew we would never see that price again.  California prices (last time I looked it was $3.66/gallon) are the highest in the nation, the price we pay for cleaner air.

5. First thought when the alarm goes off in the morning
I don't have an alarm. I wake up to my body alarm, but my first thought is usually having to get up and feed the dog.

6. Last thought you have before you go to sleep?
I know I am going to wake up in the middle of the night and I wonder how many hours  I'll get to sleep before my body wakes me up.

7. Do you miss being a child?
I miss parts of it, but I am basically happy to being an adult...especially being a mother!

8. What errand/chore do you despise the most?
Folding laundry.  My laundry.  Walt has been doing his own laundry for most of our marriage, since the time I accidentally dyed his Air Force uniform pink (which he didn't realize until the sun came up while he was on base). But I can't complain.  Walt, who is a very good guy, has taken over most of the chores around here, so folding my laundry is about all I have to do!  (Well, that and cook dinner)

9. Up early or sleep in?
Lately I've been waking up very early (3-4 a.m.) but then after being awake for an hour or so, going back to sleep and sleeping until after 8.  This morning it was after 9.

10. Favorite lunch meat?
My favorite meat to make a sandwich out of is cold roast lamb.

11. What do you get every time at Trader Joe’s?
Frozen chocolate croissants and frozen Mexican quiche.

12. Beach or lake?
Beach!  Love watching waves.

13. Ever crashed your vehicle?
I crashed my parents car twice, the first time the night I got my driver's license.  Fortunately, both crashes were bad for the car, but not for the driver.

14. Strangest place you've brushed your teeth?
I dunno....maybe a sand dune?

15. Somewhere you've never been but want to go?
South Africa.

16. At this point in your life would you want to start a new career?
Heck no.  In a month I'll be 75 and who wants to go back to work at that age?

17. Do you own your own house?
Yes, we do.

18. Do you have a go-to person?

19. Are you where you want to be in life?
I suppose so.  I don't think about it much.  I'm content

20. Growing up, what were your favorite cartoons?
I liked Casper the Friendly Ghost and all the Disney cartoons.

21. What has changed since you were a child?
Houses have indoor plumbing now. :)  But seriously, we now have cell phones and computers, and internet access, microwave ovens, roombas, McDonald's, 24 hour TV (when I was a kid, all 3 stations shut down at midnight) and hundreds of stations.  I could go on and on and on.  We were also more polite as a people when I was a kid.

22. Looking back at high school, were they the best years of your life?
I don't know that they were the best, but I loved high school and they were some of my happiest.

23. Are there times you still feel like a kid?
Yes, but then I stand up and my bones tell me otherwise.

24. Did you have a pager?
Never did.

25. Were you the type of kid you want your kids to hang out with?
Sure.  I was a good girl who never got into any trouble and who liked doing things like going to the movies or playing board games, or skating.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel (1956)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) Elvis checked in to the hotel at the end of Lonely Street. Where was the last hotel or motel you stayed at? It's been a year or two.  We stayed at one of the chain motels (I can't remember which) in Salinas on our way to Santa Barbara.  We don't usually make that trip in 2 days, but I wanted to stop and go through the Steinbeck museum.

2) He sings that Heartbreak Hotel is always crowded. The fear of crowds is so prevalent that it has four names (enochlophobia, ochlophobia, demophobia and agoraphobia). Are you comfortable in a crowd?
Mildly uncomfortable.  I don't panic like any of the medical definitions, but I'd rather be on the edge of a crowd than in the middle of one.

3) The desk clerk at Heartbreak Hotel is dressed black. Do you often wear all black?
Often.  Most of my slacks are black and many of my tops are black as well.  It's not a "signature look," just what I seem to keep buying.

4) The song was written by Mae Boren Axton, who said it was inspired by the story of an anonymous young man's suicide in a hotel. She said she read in The Miami Herald that the John Doe left behind a note that said, "I walk a lonely street." What's the last note you handwrote? (Hopefully it was more upbeat.) I sent a post card to my granddaughters from my teddy bear, Benny.  He is traveling around the country and this was a post card from a bovine jamboree in Wisconsin.

5) When Elvis was 11, his parents bought him a guitar. He had asked for a rifle, but his mama convinced him a guitar was a better idea. Tell us about a time one of your parents was right about something
I can't remember. It would have been a very long time ago, since my father has been dead 30 years and my mother's brain has been mush for about five.

6) Not long before "Heartbreak Hotel" was recorded, Elvis' father recommended he give up the guitar and become a truck driver. Tell us about a time one of your parents was wrong about something.
My father wanted me to study teaching in college because it was an "easy job," where you only worked until 3 each day, had 3 months off in the summer, and made a great salary.  I'm glad I didn't listen to him!

7) There are many stories about Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker. One anecdote, about his career before Elvis, has the Colonel painting sparrows yellow so he could sell them as canaries. Have you ever been ripped off? The last thing I was ripped off was for a gadget that will allow me to download photos from my cell phone to my computer, only when I got it, it does not work with an iPhone 7 (which the ads say that it does).  Naturally, there is no response to a request about returning it.  Anybody want it? 

8) Speaking of birds, Elvis
once owned a peacock. It damaged his cars, so he gave it to the Memphis Zoo. In earlier days, it might have been dinner, for peacock was considered a medieval delicacy. What's the last poultry you prepared?
We had chicken two nights ago.  I cook a lot of poultry, but haven't tried peacock yet.  I wonder if it tastes like chicken.

9)  Random question: You and a friend
have dinner at a restaurant. Your friend left her wallet at home, so you pick up the entire tab of $62, including tip. A few weeks later, you two meet for lunch and when the bill comes, she puts down half. Do you remind her that she still owes you $31 from the last time you dined together?
Sure.  We're old and forgetful.  I have two friends I have lunch with regularly and I would not feel uncomfortable reminding either of them that they owe me for the last time (and hope they would do the same for me!)

Friday, January 26, 2018


I was sitting peacefully in my own family room, sipping my Peet's French Roast coffee and getting ready to start the day when I heard a news report that coffee can cause cancer.  I got up and poured myself a second cup and ignored the warning.  I like to live on the edge.

Seriously, when you live nearly 75 years, somehow these dire warnings lose their impact.  It's all juice and crackers.  I told Walt that in another 5-10 years someone will tell us that really all the research on the cancer-causing properties of coffee was mistaken and that coffee is really a health drink and can help prolong your life.  I've seen it too many times

It's all margarine's fault.  I think butter was the first "this will kill you" substance that I ignored.  I tried.  I really did.  But I can believe it's not butter.  I love the taste of butter and decided that if it was going to shorten my life, so be it.  I just don't like margarine. I'd rather die happy.

This went on for probably decades and then one day came the news that scientists have discovered that all the chemicals in margarine were actually worse for you than the fat in butter and that people should eat butter instead.  Vindicated!

Sugar was something else that was going to kill us and now we had all sorts of fake sugar substitutes...then people began to worry about them and admit that maybe a little sugar was OK.  (Not sure now that we have Splenda)  Again, I ignored the warnings, so didn't have to worry about the chemicals I was putting into my system in my attempt to avoid the bad sugar.

Liver was supposed to be this super food that gave your body lots of iron.  Weight Watchers required its clients to eat liver once a week.  My mother cooked liver periodically.  But I hate liver and never ate it (except when my mother made me).  People told me I hadn't eaten it with enough bacon or enough onions and I tell them that there isn't enough bacon or onions in the world to make me eat liver.  Now we have learned that consuming liver is the act of eating all of the toxins that an animal was unable to expel throughout its entire lifetime, and there are really toxic materials at farms nowadays.  Liver consumption has also been repeatedly linked with clenbuterol poisoning in Spain, China, and Portugal. Clenbuterol poisoning consists of muscle tremors, headaches and nervousness. The condition can last for days, until the toxin is isolated by (and contained inside) the liver, where it will remain for the rest of a person's life, and impair his health forever after.  (From Health Wyze.)


It seems that if you try hard enough you can find studies that show that everything will kill you.  Life will kill you.

The Today Show's Jeff Rossen has a segment called "Rossen Reports" where he does good research on things like how to tell if there is a hidden camera in your hotel room, how to get out of a train accident alive, catching disreputable home repair persons like plumbers and locksmiths, how to get your car out of an icy skid, etc.  Usually really helpful information.

But occasionally he does things like this morning where he checked the level of germs on the items that we use daily.  Apparently a bacteria reading of 100 was acceptable and anything above that was very germy,.  Hoda Kotb was thrilled that her keyboard came in at 99, while Savannah Guthrie was appalled that hers shows over 200.  Likewise the telephones of each woman had very high ratings.  He also has done segments on germs on airplanes, rental cars, and the "germiest" machines in your gym.

Do reports like this cause panics?  Do we change our behavior or just feel creepily icky when we have to use these things?

I dunno, but I've been flying, renting cars, going to the gym (occasionally), and using implements in my house for decades and am still healthy and do not bathe in Purell whenever I move anywhere.  I don't even use the cleaning wipes they stick next to the shopping carts at the supermarket.
Am I less healthy for ignoring these things?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Stirring old Memories

Walt and I are big fans of The Amazing Race.  I love watching the teams race around the world and seasons, like this one, where there are no "bad guys" (whiney women; angry men) are more fun because I have no favorite, so I'm rooting for everyone.

The most fun episodes are when the teams have to go to someplace where we have been.  I remember when they visited Shanghai on a sparkling clear day.  How did they manage that?  When we were in Shanghai the smog was so thick that natives wore face masks.

You felt like you could chew the air.  Yet The Amazing Race somehow found a crystal clear day.
Last night's episode started out by driving through Nice to St. Tropez (or "Saint Tropay" as one pair of contestants pronouned it).  We did not go to St. Tropez, but we did spend a couple of days in Nice when I went to France and Italy with Char and our daughters.  Since all the activity happened around St. Tropez, I wasn't paying close attention but suddenly realized they were at Les Baux, where we stopped on our bus tour.  I didn't realize what was there at the time.  I only knew it was beastly hot and that it was up high and I didn't want to a climb a hill, but I took a picture.  (I found out on Wikipedia this morning that this is known as "one of the most beautiful villages in France.")

It was fun to see what I missed....and I'm now sad that I sat down on a rock in the heat instead of joining the others.

After the Amazing Race contestants left Les Baux, they went to Arles, one of my favorite stops on all our trips, because Vincent Van Gogh did so much here.  One of the tasks the contestants had to do took place in the Amphitheatre where they sometimes hold bullfights.  It was literally across the street from our hotel.  Our room looked out on it.

The contestants also had a VanGogh task, which took them to one of the sites where he painted.  I was looking forward to doing the "VanGogh walk" around town, which takes you to many of the sites where some of his famous paintings were done.  We were going to do that, but then canceled our trip when Mike died, so I never did it.  We did stand at the spot where it says that he painted "A Starry Night" but it was just looking across the river to the sky, not as "scenic" as the bridge where The Amazing Race took place.

I look forward to future Amazing Race episodes to see what other memories they will evoke.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Alert the Media

I left the house yesterday!

I haven't left the house to review a show in 3 weeks and my lunch date had been postponed twice so I've just been huddled at home. (Though I've been t Atria and to Kaiser with my mother, I don't really consider that "getting out.")

Walt has been picking up food when we run out (his standard store run includes ice cream and bananas), but I haven't had to go to the store in weeks, so I've been enjoying "hermit-ing" and realizing that the older I get the more like my father I get.  (At least I don't have a "go away; don't bother me" sign on my front door!)

But yesterday, I had to face the face that we were out of major food stuffs and that I had cooked our last Home Chef meal and unless we were going to have toast for dinner, I had to actually go out in public and do some shopping.

Of course, the first stop had to be Atria.  I know she has no concept if I've been there yesterday or last month, but I always feel guilty if I skip more than a day.  Problem is that more and more I drag my feet.  I somehow hate the long walk from one end of the building to the other, and don't look forward to our hour of hearing about how old she is.  The good days are when she's in fantasy land and talks about what her sister is doing these days.

But I went.  And there was no parking to be had for love or money within the long block.  Rather than park a long way away, I realized that I have been thinking for weeks about going to the World Market to look for a donut pan.  

I saw a new chef on the Food Network recently who made baked apple cider donuts and it reminded me of the delicious donuts we had in Apple Hill a bit ago and I really wanted to try making some when Jeri and Phil were here, but I needed donut pans.  Thinking I would get them right away, I bought the apple cider and it's been "aging" for 2 weeks.  So I've been thinking about getting donuts to use the cider and casually looking whenever I was in a store, but realized I needed a specialty shop.

So I went to World Market.

The first thing that greeted me was their big display of chocolates of the world.

This is just a small section of the display of chocolates from Switzerland, Africa and other places (I didn't look carefully).  Each bar is 3.5 oz and cost $4.  I wonder if they sell many at that price.  But they it was certainly a colorful display.

Then I looked to my left and saw this display for the upcoming Chinese New Year's celebration.

This will be the year of the dog.  We should celebrate.  But then every year is the year of the dog around here!  They had some Chinese almond cookies which I loved when I was a kid, so I got a big package of them (they don't taste the same...but then the foods I loved when I was a kid, I'm discovering, don't taste the same now that I'm an old lady.)

World Market did indeed have donut pans and I bought two of them so am now in business.  I just need to make the donuts.

After I'd made my purchases, I drove back to Atria, but there was still no parking, so I decided to go to the supermarket and then try again.  It had been so long since I'd been at Nugget Market that I was having a lovely time looking at all the new displays and deciding what I was going to fix for the next two nights.

By the time I'd finished my shopping and got into the car, it was 3:30, and really too late to go to Atria.  I feel guilty that I was not sad about that.  Today is the day that her "Alzheimers buddy" comes so I don't fee bad about skipping today (since Walt needs the car), but I'll visit on Thursday and then on Friday she goes back to the orthopedist.  The cast remains on, which is a good thing.

But anyway, the world didn't notice that I'd emerged from hermithood briefly, but I did.  Saturday there is a play to review, so my days of being a hermit are about over

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Crazy for Animals

I've always been animal crazy.  Maybe it came from not being able to have a pet because of my sister's allergies (ironically, the first thing she did when she moved out into her own apartment was to get a dog!).  But I have loved animals and learning about them my whole life.

Blue Planet II started this week, the second series by David Attenborough about life in the sea and while aquatic animals are not my #1 love, I was hooked by the first episode.  Did you know that fish can use tools?

I was taught all through school that what sets humans apart from animals is our ability to use tools.  This has been disproven over and over again, as researchers start spending time observing animals in their natural habitat.  Even insects use tools, when it suits them.  But I'd never heard of fish using tools.

This is a fish who lives in a coral reef -- probably the Great Barrier Reef -- and who leaves the reef to go hunting for breakfast.  He digs in the sand until he finds a clam and then he takes it back to his "kitchen" (as it was described)

which is a circular coral enclosure, where he hits the clam against the walls until it finally cracks open and he can eat the clam inside.  I was fascinated.

But I love all the Nova specials, especially of the African animals.

I was in about the 3rd or 4th grade when my friend Stephen loaned me his copy of Walter Farley's "The Black Stallion."  I don't know if I was a horse fanatic before then but I certainly was after.

I got immediately lost in the story of young Alec Ramsey, shipwrecked on a deserted island with a wild Arabian stallion, whom he tames over time and eventually brings back home to Flushing, New York, where he trains him to run a match race, which he wins.  The horse can't be a regular racehorse because he tends to attack all the other horses.

I read all the Black Stallion books (there are lots) but I especially loved the Island Stallion series.

A kid named Steve something-or-other goes on an archaeological search with his uncle on a deserted Caribbean island.  They discover a series of tunnels which lead to the center of the island and there they find Flame and his mares.  Steve and the stallion become friends and while he doesn't take him home, I remember that he revisits the island in subsequent books.  I'm not too clear on the details here, but I loved that book as well.

The Farley books made me a horse lover and I devoured books by Dorothy Lyons, whose main characters were all young girls who tamed wild horses.  My favorite was "Dark Sunshine," about a girl recovering from polio, whose family moves to a ranch to help improve her health and the horse she finds.  I don't remember exactly what the story was now, but on Amazon it talks about how the two, girl and horse, heal each other.

I was a city girl in love with horses but unable to interact with them, except only briefly.  My mother belonged to a riding club with my grandmother for awhile and I remember visiting the stable once, but wasn't able to get on a horse.  I think I've ridden a horse once or twice in my life, when we vacationed in Boyes Springs, but they always plodded along and while I imagined myself galloping along, my hair flying in the breeze, feeling "one" with the horse, I was terrified if it even started to trot.

I got a chance to have a bit of a horse fix in Australia, where we stayed on a farm that had several horses on it.  This was about as close as I got to any of them, but I loved watching them from afar.

I was disappointed that none of my kids are animal crazy and none showed any interest in reading books about animals.  I had thought of giving my copy of "The Black Stallion" (Yes, I still have a copy!) to Brianna, since she's such a reader, but she is more into fantasy and princesses and I don't think it would interest her, and that would be a disappointment.

So I just subjugate my continuing love of animals with programs like Nova and watching the Triple Crown when racing season comes along...and watching reruns of The Black Stallion movie, which was on yesterday.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Letters--We get Letters

When I was in grammar school, there was a woman named Mrs. Chegwidden who found pen pals in England for girls in the United States.  I was matched with a girl (whose name I have forgotten) and we corresponded for awhile...maybe a year or two?  I don't remember when or how the correspondence ended.  I also corresponded with my cousin Peach for a very long time, pretty much from when she was in high school until her first child was born.

In those days, the arrival of the mailman was something magical.  I was like Winthrop from The Music Man waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon to arrive. 
O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' now,
I don't know how I can ever wait to see.
It could be sompin' for sumone who is
No relation but it could be sump'n special
Just for me!
I just loved writing letters and was happy when I had someone who would write back.  When Char was living in Alaska, we had a lively correspondence.  When my friend Phil got sick and was in and out of the hospital, he enjoyed letters and while he rarely wrote back, I wrote to him every day for a couple of years. 

The 1980s was a golden era for letter writing for me.  It was the decade when we were hosting a lot of foreign students and when they returned home, many of them wrote to me for awhile.  Our mailman said that I got more international mail than anybody in Davis.  In fact, someone wrote a letter to "Mrs. Beverly, Davis, CA" and they delivered it to me!

With the advent of the internet age, gradually more and more people communicated electronically.  That was at least as good, if not better, because it was instant gratification. Not the excitement of opening an envelope and taking out some gem, but still mutual communication.  It's how Peggy and I became friends, by writing to each other frequently throughout the week.  For many years.

I "met" my friend Ron on line and we were good electronic pen pals (and eventually face to face friends) for several years.  Less now that he's found love and has a husband to take all of his spare time.

Finding Compassion was wonderful.  Not only could I help children around the world, but we actually corresponded with each other.  After so many years, I have to admit that most of the letters I get are pretty boring.  The same thing letter after letter ("I am fine with my family and I hope you are too.  I pray for you and I hope you pray for me,") with little actual information about what is going on in their lives.

But there are a handful who are a joy to hear from.  Annie Rose is one of the best.  She always talks to me about what she is doing ("Intramural is almost near this coming week.  I do practice on our mass dance for the coming contest in the different grade level.  Maybe our activities take one week.  Many games and events will happen soon.") 

Josphat, whom I decided to sponsor because he had been orphaned and was living with relatives, has also become a great letter writer ("I'm promoted to the next class seven come next year.  At home I like to help do several work like cooking, taking care of the siblings.")

Rifaldi who was kind of an "also ran" when I took him on is just a delightful correspondent ("In the end of 2017 there was a total solar eclipse in my country.  Some of the areas were affected.  The moon covered the sun so that it was as dark as it is at night....At school there are some intern teachers who are practicing to teach.  I like an intern teacher named Anton because he is very kind.")

Swap Bot has yielded some interactions with people, but none have blossomed into a real "pen pal" friendship yet.  Maybe soon.

But the most rewarding letter I received last year, or maybe the year before, was from Brianna.  I have been writing to both girls weekly, to keep the grandma relationship alive.  It has worked wonderfully when we see each other and when Brianna's first letter came it was such a treat.  She was just learning to write.  Yesterday I got her latest letter, which is a real letter, telling me about the dog they are taking care of and a sleep-over she is having at a friend's house.  I am looking forward to this correspondence least I hope it will.

Yesterday this also came --

It was my very first letter from 6 year old Lacie, decorated with the Washi tape that I gave each of the girls for Christmas.  She is pleased with herself that she is learning to read, and I expect that in the future she, too, will begin to write occasionally.

Snail mail isn't dead.  My granddaughters and I are going to keep it going (at least until they each have their own e-mail accounts!)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. Have you ever tried to learn (or re-learn) a foreign language as an adult? Which one? What worked for you?
I studied Latin and French in high school and loved French so much I chose it as a major in college.  I have never really had to use it, though, except very briefly when we visited France.  I also sorta-kinda learned Portuguese through osmosis from 10 years of hosting various Brasilian students in our house.  There was a  time when I considered myself "conversant" in Portuguese, but have lost most of it since the 1980s.

2. Do you donate blood? Do you know your blood type?
I donated blood for many years, since the 1970s, but a few years ago, it began to get more difficult.  They changed the staff at the blood bank and nobody knew me any more.  It began to be more difficult to find a vein (sometimes it took two people to find a vein) and it actually started to hurt, which it had not done for all the years I donated.  I have a couple of free t-shirts because of the blood they spilled on the shirt I was wearing, trying to find a vein. I think my veins have changed because it's more difficult for them to do a blood draw in the lab too, so I'm taking time off from blood donating right now.
My daughter and I both donated blood together many years ago, when she was still in high school, and they told us our blood type.  Jeri, who was an excellent student, said "See...even when I take a blood tests, I get an A-plus"

3. Have you ever been in a play or musical?
I was, believe it or not, the romantic lead in our senior high school play.  That's the only time I performed, though I raised children who performed (and some still perform) all the time.

4. Do you use certain text or ring tones for specific people? Who gets their own? Or do you just use the default on your phone?
The long story is here, but the short story is that I have not been able to create or assign special ring tones to my new phone, so I have to use the default.  My husband's ring tone is a dog bark (default) because of all of the dogs we have hosted and my daughter's default ring tone is a duck quack because she lives in Boston, where I remember seeing "duck boats"

5. When did you get your first digital camera? Do you still shoot on actual film, or all digital now?
It was a Christmas gift from a friend in 2000.  She was learning digital photography and thought it would be fun if we learned together.  I can't remember the brand of camera, but it stored photos on 3" floppy disks that were inserted in the camera.  I came home from vacations with piles of floppies to deal with!  I haven't used a "film" camera in at least 10 years, probably more.  Now I just use my cell phone.

What do you think someone else would say the most daring thing you’ve done is
I lead a pretty un-daring life, but flying 9,000 alone to spend a vacation with a friend in Australia was pretty daring. I had never traveled to a foreign country without Walt, so that was a different experience.  Of course, as soon as I landed I had a friend to take care of me, so the "daring" part ended!

7. Do you talk with your hands?
I don't think so.  People who look at me will have to answer.  I'm not aware of it anyway.

8. Do you have a lucky number? What is it, and what is the story behind it?
There is no special story behind my lucky number, 7.  It's ridiculous that I have always thought of that as my lucky number because it has never brought me luck in anything.  I guess I just like the way the number looks.

9. What kind of milk did you drink, growing up? And now?
Until I was in the 7th grade, I always drank regular full-fat homogenized milk.  Then the doctor put me on a diet and I had to learn to like skim milk.  When I went off the diet, I discovered that the full-fat milk gagged me because it was so rich.  Now I don't drink milk, except in cereal and I will use whichever is in the fridge -- usually fat-free, but occasionally I splurge and buy half and half.

10. What is your favorite kind of pie?
I love several kinds of pie.  Maybe pumpkin is my favorite.  I also love pecan pie and some fruit pies, especially blackberry and peach.  I like apple pies, but not any pie made with canned apples.  My mother was a killer apple pie maker.  I miss her pies.

11. Are you a note taker?
Never have been.  When I started writing theatrical reviews, I tried taking notes, but (a) I could not see where I was writing and (b) when I got home, I couldn't read what I wrote.  This is a sample of a note I took for Funny the World when I was writng "Today at Logos."  I still can't figure out what it says.

(My journal entry tells me I finally figured out that it said that a tall man in a striped knit cap was looking at the music section and finally purchased a copy of "Elementary Training for Musicians.")

12. Do you have an eclectic mug collection, or is your stuff all matchy matchy?
We have a few matchy-matchy mugs from various tube stations in London that we bought at the transportation museum and a set of mugs from various international capitals that we got as a gift from Walt's sister, but I drink my coffee out of a thermal mug that I bought at Peet's because it keeps the coffee hot.

13. Do you have a junk drawer in your house/garage/at work/wherever?
What do you think?

14. What is the longest amount of time you’ve worked at one job – and what was/is it?
I have a weird work history.  In an office, the longest I worked was 12 years as transcriptionist and office manager for an ob/gyn office, but at the same time I worked at home transcribing for a psychiatrist for 30 years.

15. How old were you when you took your first commercial flight? To where did you fly?
It was the end of my sophomore or freshman year in high school, so around 1957.  I won 5th place in an essay contest about the merchant marine and the prize was a one-way cruise on the President Cleveland cruise ship from San Francisco to Los Angeles (essentially overnight).  My mother and sister and I took the cruise, spent the day in Los Angeles going to Disneyland and then took our first flight, back to San Francisco on Southwest Airlines. 

In the 60s, I flew frequently to LA.  Southwest charged $19 round trip.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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: Jump (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) David Lee Roth does a lot of jumping in this video. He credits his flashy moves to his study with marital artist Benny Urquidez. Have you ever tried karate, judo, or jiu-jitzu?
No.  My son was into judo, and our granddaughters are in karate, but not me.

2) Dave claims to be fluent in Spanish. Say something "en español."
dónde está el baño

3) Dave appeared as himself in an episode of The Sopranos, playing poker with Tony Soprano. Are you a good poker player?
I have not had a lot of opportunity to play poker, but I used to be a pretty good card player, so I think that I would get better at it.

4) Though known for his prowess on the guitar, Eddie Van Halen wrote the opening of this song at the keyboard when he was still new to the synthesizer. When do you recently venture outside your comfort zone? Was it a success?
Any time I have to speak in public (even if it's speaking up in a meeting), it's definitely out of my comfort zone  I've had varying success.  Best was when I was giving a talk to a group of some 50 or so mothers on breastfeeding and I decided to wing it.  Best speech I ever gave. (It helped that I knew the subject very well.)

5) Eddie's older brother Alex is the Van Halen drummer and his son, Wolfie, began touring with the band in 2007. Have you ever worked with a family member?
Many times on theatrical projects, but not in a 9-5 "normal job" situation.

6) Van Halen's first manger was Marshall Berle
. Mr. Berle's uncle was Milton Berle. Does the name Milton Berle mean anything to you?
LOL.  You mean Uncle Miltie?  We watched hisTV show every week.
7) In 1984, when this song was popular, AT&T/Bell Telephone was broken up into 24 separate compan
ies. Today, who is your phone provider?
AT&T for land line (Yeah, we still have a land line) and Verizon for cell phones.

8) Also in 1984, Michael Jackson was severely burned while filming a Pepsi commercial. Would we find any Pepsi in your kitchen right now?
Pepsi.  Ewww.  Blech.  I've always been a Coke girl and yes, I can taste the difference.  These days I rarely drink any soda, preferring just plain ol' water.
9) Random question: Have you ever been so angry that you kicked or hit an inanimate object?
Not in many years, but yes, I have.  One of our sons kicked many holes in many walls, some of which have been fixed.

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Cloud of Pain

I don't remember the last time I had any sort of major pain.  I have been fortunate in that regard.  It probably was 2003, when I had my bike accident and dislocated my shoulder. But the thing I remember about that time is that when you are in that much pain, it's like you are living inside a cloud of pain, oblivious to everything around you. 

Looking at my mother today, that's all I could think of.  She was in this big cloud of pain and nothing outside the cloud registered with her.

Of course she was not wearing her splint.  They've taken to calling her "Houdini" for how quickly she can get out of it.
The wrist was much more swollen and discolored and every little thing that touched it, or came near it, caused her to cry out in pain.  I think if she could have taken a pill to end her life then and there she would have.

And of course she doesn't know why it hurts.  And she can't understand that the splint is to protect it so that she can't accidentally brush it against anything (she told me she didn't know anything about a splint and guessed she didn't have one).

I told one of the aids today that I have noticed a significant decline in her cognitive functioning recently and she agreed and said "sometimes it comes on suddenly."  At 98, that's not surprising.  I suspect that even after the wrist has healed, she will have taken another step down from which she probably won't recover.

Today was her appointment with the orthopedist and we had to check in an hour early so she could get an x-ray.  Of course I couldn't stay in the room with all the rays flying around, so I don't know how much the manipulation of her wrist to get four shots hurt her, but I suspect a lot.

Then back to ortho to wait for her to be called.  Her official appointment time was not until 2:50, so we had about 45 minutes to wait and after about 40 minutes, she had to go to the bathroom.  This was my first time with bathroom duty for her and getting the wheelchair into the ladies room was almost impossible and with her unable to understand such commands as "hold the bar while I move the wheelchair" made it even more difficult.  I finally got her to understand she should hold onto the metal bar while I moved the wheelchair out of the way, but then she couldn't understand that she had to lower her body to the toilet.  Trying to manipulate her I couldn't help at brush her wrist several times and each time she let out a mournful groan.

I suspect this is something I will get better at doing.

They finally called her back to a room and the certified physician's assistant came in. I have to admit I'd never met a medical person named "Sundance" before!  She was very sweet and very patient and said that it was a bad break, that they had aligned it well in the ER and that it had shifted a bit, with all the splint on/splint off-ing. 

Said that she couldn't put a cast on her herself, so she called the wonderful Arthur, who got her all decked out in a bright green cast.

She was already picking at it before he'd left the room, but he assures me that it is solid and she won't be able to remove it.

I'm not convinced and I'll be curious to see what I find when I check on her tomorrow.

We dropped her back at Atria and I decided to let the aid take her to her room.  She was totally lost and confused and didn't know why I was there and I told her I'd see her tomorrow. 

I came home to take my now-normal post-Atria nap.  Unless she tears the cast off between now and next week, she won't have to return to Ortho until next Friday.