Monday, December 31, 2018

Start the New Year Right

For the last day of the new year, I was going through my word processing documents, realizing that I never delete ANYTHING.  Ned and Marta have been married for more than 20 year and I have a file that I believe I wrote before they were married.  It's quite a trip down memory lane, and in among the many oddball things I'm finding are some Funny the World entries that I wrote at some time, intending to post them, but apparently never did.  I really like these from 2004
16 June 2004
Our cable company is doing work on the line these days, so we are having intermittent interruption of service.
I’m one of those people who need the "company" of tv in the background, so the TV is on all day long, whether I watch it or not. The lineup of the shows that I have on keeps me aware of what time it is: Today Show / Regis and Kelly / Today Show #2 / West Wing #1 / West Wing #2 / Columbo / first half of Queer Eye / Ellen / Oprah / News.
However, with the cable going out intermittently, I don’t always get the channel changed at the right time, so today I happened to have some infomercial about a skin care product.
The only reason this warrants a journal entry was because I felt I had just stepped into Stepford.
A woman put a box that looked like a big metal toolbox on the table and opened it up. The four women watching, in rapt adoration, all gasped and put their hands to their mouths and let out "oohhhh!" sounds.
What was in the box? Make up. Layers and layers and layers of make up in all different shapes, textures, and scents.
but wait...there’s more!
A beginner kit only costs $60 and they include brushes and a DVD that tells you how to put on makeup.
OK, folks, I know that I pay very little attention to my appearance. I get my hair cut at Supercuts, I haven’t worn makeup in years, I go out in clothes that are coffee stained and in the summertime I don’t wear a bra unless I have to. I’m fat and sloppy and all that.
But surely there is better use to be made of $60 than to spend it on a starter kit of makeup.
I’d love to see this infomercial running back to back with one for Christian Children’s Fund, with the dirty faced starving kids. How much food a starter kit of makeup could buy for those kids.
19 June 2004

I don’t remember what gift I got for my high school graduation back in 1960, but I know for a fact it wasn’t a boob job.

This evening’s news reported tonight (this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this report) that a popular gift for girls graduating from high school is breast enhancement.

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but...


More to the point, what in God’s name would possess a parent to agree to such a procedure for a 17 or 18 year old???

I haven’t seen the new Stepford Wives movie yet, though it looks like a funny film. I enjoyed the first one back in 1975. But somehow I think that it’s not quite as much fiction this time around as it was back in ‘75.

We are becoming a culture where plastic surgery, which used to be something people “didn’t talk about” has become a spectator sport, as people settle in each night to watch The Swan or Extreme Makeover.

We are producing a generation of people who have lost all sense of individuality.

If you lined up any number of today’s young stars from Brittney Spears down to the Olsen Twins, and asked me to name them, I wouldn’t be able to. They are all blonde, perfect features, and look like they came out of the same cookie mold. I envision a factory somewhere with a bunch of Oompa Loompas waddling around stamping out perfect blonde young things with perfect breasts and perfect hair and perfect teeth and perfect noses and then turning them out into the world.

This business of going in for major surgery to look more like your favorite celebrity (which is easy, since they all look alike) is crazy. When I was a teenager and wanted to look like Judy Garland, I slicked my hair back, wore wispy bangs and red lipstick. I didn’t chop five inches off my legs so I’d be short.

Even just enforcing the notion that whatever one has been given at birth needs to be tweaked in order to become more beautiful is a sad thing.

It’s major surgery for one thing. Have I mentioned lately how my friend died during routine surgery (hernia) because of a bad reaction to anesthesia?

Of course you rarely read about the horror stories, the things that go wrong. We only see the success stories.

Has anybody looked at Michael Jackson lately?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to plastic surgery across the board. But like everything else, it should be all things in moderation. A better gift to give the college grad is the sense of self-worth that comes from knowing she is loved, accepted, treasured.. That her family is proud of her accomplishments and ....
Apparently I never finished this, which may explain why it was never posted.  But the thoughts are still good to post, even this many years later.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Welcome to Sunday Stealing. This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. 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. (Past hosts include: Our first - Judd Corizan, Mr. L, Kwizgiver and Bud)  Cheers to all of us thieves!
Stolen from Strawberry Lollipop Kisses.

1. Are flowers a nice gift to give someone?
Sure.  Either flowers or wine.

2. Do you wear any jewelry?
I almost always wear earrings, sometimes a necklace, if I'm dressing up. 

3. Have you ever laid in a field of flowers?
Yes, but not lately.

4. Do you like tea?
It's OK, but rarely something I make for myself.  If I am going somewhere where tea is to be ordered, I order Earl Grey, which I do like.  Jeri has recommended a couple of teas for things like insomnia, but I have not tried them yet.

5. What would you do with a million dollars?
Probably squander it!  It would go to my kids, both the ones to whom I gave birth and the ones I sponsor through Compassion, Int'l.

6. What word do you have trouble saying?
Nothing that I can think of now, but I grew up in San Francisco two blocks from Greenwich St. and it took me to adulthood to realize that it was not pronounced Green-Witch.  The proper pronunciation still sounds strange to me.

7. Favorite fairytale?
I don't know that I have a favorite, but I do like "Beauty and the Beast."

8. Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
No.  I have often thought it would be nice to cuddle up with a soft teddy bear, but my recliner is too small to accommodate me and a stuffie.

9. Do you prefer the city or the country?
For a long time (15 years) after we moved here from the San Francisco Bay area, I really missed big city life.  Here we are small city, not country, and it is finally "home" for me and my preference.

10. Are you a big fan of makeup?
I haven't worn makeup in about 30 years.  For one thing, my eyesight is so bad I can't do anything that requires taking my glasses off!

11. Favorite drink?
Ice cold water.

12. What’s the longest amount of time you’ve stayed awake?
Probably 48 hours, the night Paul died and the next day/night.

13. Have you ever traveled outside of your country?
I have been very fortunate to have visited about 25 different countries.

14. Do you like spring?
Spring around here is so beautiful.  I love it.

15. Lipstick or lipgloss?
I haven't worn lipstick in a long time, but occasionally do put on lip gloss, if my lips are dry and cracked.

16. Favorite color?
Red....the bluish shade, not the orange-ish shade.

17. Do you like to decorate?
I would love to, but am terrible at it, so I just throw stuff around and let it lie where it lands.

18. Do you ever go barefoot when you’re outside?
I never go outside without either socks or sandals.

19. Are aliens real?
If this means from outer space, who knows?  It is illogical to think we are the only sentient beings in the universe (and more and more I question "sentience" with us!)  Aiens from other countries, of course--and we treat them shamefully.

20. Does you zodiac sign fit your personality?
I once read that Aquarians are the kind of people who never quite close drawers all the way.  That so fits me!  I am disorganized and messy....stereotypical Aquarian.

21.Favorite sea animal?
I love whales, especially humpbacks.

22. Are you a nice person?
Well, of course I am.  Would I admit it if I were not?

23. Favorite word?

24. Night or day?
I like night, though lately I am not staying awake as late as I usually do, and sleeping in in the morning is nice.

25. What would make you happy right now?
Binge watching Mrs Maisel, since I'm supposed to be quiet today after my surgery yesterday.  Lunch would also be nice. We're having leftover burritos. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Winter Wonderland (1968)

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

Welcome to the last Saturday 9 of 2018! Thanks for a great year, everyone.

1) This is an unconventional take on an old familiar song. Over the holidays, do you prefer traditional carols? Or do you like to mix it up with with more contemporary fare?
I'm old fashioned.  I prefer the traditional carols.  It's not Christmas without Bing Crosby.

2) Now that Christmas is behind us, are you enjoying a relaxing week? Or do you have socializing/celebrating/chores to do?
Definitely relaxing.  Walt is post-op and my surgery was yesterday.  We aren't doing ANY socializing or celebrating (except that the procedures are over!).  I'm binge-watching Mrs. Maisel

3) Winter is a time for cocooning. What book or movie did you enjoy in 2018 that you would recommend to your fellow Saturday 9-ers?
We only saw two movies.  Of them, Jane (about Jane Goodall) was my favorite.

4) Looking back on the past year, what was one of your happiest moments?
Yesterday, when they told me, after a 30 minute procedure and an hour waiting for lab results, that I am cancer free.

5) What was the smartest thing you did all this past year?
Hmmm.....we've been dealing with doctors for so long it's hard to think of anything else, so I guess deciding to have the "wart" on my nose checked...finding out it was basal cell carcinoma in early enough stage that it could be removed entirely.

6) As 2018 comes to a close, what are you most grateful for?
That all my kids are happy and healthy, that my mother, though with worsening dementia, is as happy as she can be and safe where she is. 

7) This week's featured artist is Herb Alpert. Because of the style he popularized and the name of his band, people assume he's Hispanic. Yet his parents were Jewish immigrants from Romania. What's something we'd be surprised to learn about you?
That I really don't like to listen to music much.

8) He performed an instrumental version of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXII. How did your favorite sports teams do in 2018?
The 49ers and the San Francisco Giants didn't do well, but as Jeri lives in Boston, I was happy for the Red Socks

9) Random question: When did you last check your social media feed?
I check it regularly, so probably half an hour ago.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Cancer Free

It's over and I am cancer free!

It didn't take 9 hours.

And while I didn't get ice cream, I did get a vanilla malt.

Ned and I got to Kaiser around 9 and I was handed a sheet of paper telling me what to expect over the day--and that they hoped I had no other plans, because this could take awhile.

We hardly had time to set up our electronic devices when they called me.

The first thing I saw on entering the surgery area was this giant poster of my doctor, who I see here is a "service hero."

He said he's embarrassed about it but he won an award a couple of years ago and it came with posting this huge poster on the wall.

The nurse got me set up in the procedure room.  I groaned when I saw that I was going to have to be lying flat  for t he procedure, especially after she told me it would take about 30-40 minutes.

But when the doctor came in to adjust things he decided it might be better if patients were at an angle, and he positioned the table on which I was lying to almost exactly the position that I have my recliner when I sleep at night.  I was comfortable throughout the whole thing.

Modern medicine is certainly wonderful. I sort of felt the needle with the Novocain going into my face, but literally for only seconds and then I felt nothing but the doctor poking and prodding to make sure that the medication was evenly distributed.

As for the procedure, I was blissfully unaware of what was going on, other than a lot of pushing and in the end cauterizing (I could smell that).  But soon I was bandaged up and sent out to the waiting room to wait for the results from the lab.

Of course I took a selfie!

Of course I sent it around to everyone, including Facebook and Instagram.  I had no sooner gotten my audio book set up when the doctor came out and told me that the edges were clear and that as soon as he stitched up the wound, I could go home.  Yay!  No 9 hours of waiting for me!
The stitch up took 30 minutes and I actually dozed off while he was working, having some bizarre dreams.

When I posted my "after" picture, my friend Kari posted HER similar photo.

(I wrote to ask if she had the same doctor!)

I am mostly thrilled that I can wear glasses, though as you can see they are a bit askew,  which kind of affects my balance a bit.

Ned decided we should go to Fenton's for lunch so I was able to have that yummy crab salad sandwich, and probably scare lots of the kids eating around me.

We stopped at Costco on the way home, and I was plum tuckered by the time we left there, so I kind of dozed on the way home and then fell asleep while Ned and Walt were discussing Depends.

Now that the Novocain has worn off, I am starting to get a bit of pain that radiates from the incision all the way to the back of my head, but it's not bad and Advil helps.  I'm just so glad it's OVER and that it all went well.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


I remember my last surgery.

I was 5 and had my tonsils out.  I remember staying overnight in the hospital and my mother bringing me Donald Duck comic books.  I know you are supposed to get lots of ice cream after such surgery, but I don't remember if I did or not.  Probably I did, though I suspect not the first day.

It's 70 years later and I'm about to have my second surgery.  This one will be significantly different, since it's a simple basal cell carcinoma removal from the bridge of my nose and will require not anesthetic, just an injection of a Novocain-like substance.  I will be awake through it all.

And there won't be any ice cream when it's over.

Nobody has any idea how long this is going to take.  The procedure (a MOHS procedure) involves shaving the affected area, then sending it to the lab to see if the margins are clear -- no cancer to be seen around the edges.  If the margins are not clear, I go back to do the thing all over again.  Wash, rinse, repeat until the margins are clear, which they tell me could, with all the waiting for lab results, be as long as 9 hours.  The benefit of this is that they know they got ALL the cancer, so no need for radiation or other post-op treatment.

Fortunately I have rigged up earphones for my iPhone (which did not have a built-in plug, amazingly) and have been listening to an audio book at night when Walt needs golf to put him to sleep.  So I have a book to listen to while waiting and, if the battery runs low, Ned can take it to a charging station and charge it up while I'm having my next procedure.

It all sounds very easy, and probably just boring.  

But it's been 70+ years since I went "under the knife" and there are a few butterflies beginning to flutter around.

This will be a different event from Walt's 2 surgeries, where his sister drove up from Santa Barbara to be with him and his brother came from Petaluma and all were there with Ned and me to visit him before and after he had his surgery.

Not even Walt will be there tomorrow because there is no way he would want to be away from the bathroom and his supplies for up to 9 hours.  So it will just be Ned and me, which is kind of nice because I don't have to feel rude for reading and won't feel the need to participate in conversation.

Jeri, silly, person ordered me a video from iTunes to have with me while trying to sleep, since I won't be able to read, I don't think (suspect it may be difficult to put my glasses on at first--hoping for impressive selfies).  

What did she send me?  Pride and Prejudice, my sure-fire sleeping pill, as reliable a sleep inducing medication as golf is for Walt.
I have seen more golf in the last few weeks than I have in my entire life  Walt is snoring within 5 minutes of turning the golf channel on but I lie there unable to sleep and marveling at the expertise, not of the golfers, but of the cameramen who are able to follow a ball into the air and accurately onto the ground.

Other than Tiger Woods, whom everyone knows (and who rarely appears in these broadcasts) and Phil Mickelson, whom I recognize for his frequent commercials, nobody is familiar to me, either in name or in video.

But I watch and since the volume is so low I can't hear anything, I have learned absolutely nothing about golf except that the cameramen are miracle men.

And at least golf is better than elevator music at just barely audible levels.

I'll just be glad when it's all over tomorrow and am hoping I'll be able to figure out how to write a journal entry if I can't wear glasses (I've said it before--I can't find my glasses without my glasses!)  I won't exactly be blind, but reading it totally out of the question without glasses.

(I should just write an entry and post it anyway, so you can see how many errors I make these days, how many words run together, and how totally awful it is without editing!)

Ned and I went to see my mother.  I hadn't been back since Christmas eve, when she would not wake up.  Then, I just left the Christmas candy for her.  Today she was still sound asleep, snoring, and the candy unopened (Ned and I opened it).  We stayed for awhile, but it was clear she was not going to wake up so we left.

When we came home, Ned saved our marriage.

Now that Walt is spending so much time downstairs he is bothered even more than usual with the volume of the TV.  Even when I turn it down as low as I can hear it, it's still too loud for him.  My lowest point is 18...his is 6.  For decades this has not been an issue until lately when he's more vocal about it.

But Ned brought headphones that we tried and...voila! They work beautifully.  He can even mute the TV entirely and I can hear everything loud enough for me.  It may be a whole new world for us!

Now if i could just calm those butterflies....

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


These were photographed at a Trump rally.  Have we made America great again yet?  While Trump does not have control over what is sold at his rallies....have you ever seen anything like this garbage for sale at anybody else's rally, much less any president, Republican or Democrat?

Not only that, but we have killed two children under the age of 10 for Christmas.  The president says the democrats are milking these stories for political purposes.  (The last child who died had to be driven ONE HOUR to a hospital when they finally decided that maybe a 103 fever should have medical attention.  On Christmas Eve.)

Joaquin Castro, chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said that “many questions remain unanswered, including how many children have died in CBP custody.” says the Washington Post.

Gee.  Ya think?

It's been an interesting week for presidential tweets.  There was that picture of himself supposedly signing "lots of bills" at his desk, though congress had not sent any bills to him, the paper on his desk was appeared to be blank....and the cap was on the pen.

There was another picture of him supposedly meeting with Marines about North Korea, though nobody had seen a Marine anywhere near the White House that day.

He's fired people on Twitter and appointed people with zero experience in little jobs like -- secretary of defense.

His new Acting Attorney journal, we just learned, lied on his resume about honors he received in college, which his college denied ever bestowing, and the "bone spur" doctor admitted that he lied for Trump's father that his son had bone spurs so he could avoid the what difference does it make if you can prove that the Attorney General is a liar?

He says that lots of government employees have support the government shut down and one wonders how they got to him.  Phone?  E-mail?  Nobody has come forward to explain that.  I'm sure Huckabee Sanders has an explanation for all those employees who are happy to give up their salaries so he can get $5 billion for an unneeded wall at Christmas time with their rent due in a couple of days.

And then there is the awkward asking of a 7 year old child if she "still believes in Santa Claus" and then assures her that at her age it is "all marginal."  What the hell was that?  Don't let him anywhere near my 7 year old graddaughter!

At least they found a way to get him to visit the troops during the holidays.  Until now he was the only president since, I think, Truman (maybe Eisenhower), who had not visited any troops anywhere during the holidays.

But a guy wrote this tweet:

ATTENTION JOURNALISTS: If Trump is secretly en route to visit troops, ask if he will be returning to DC or FL. The trip will be cover to get to Mar-a-Lago NYE party where tickets were sold guaranteeing access to the president. He would be using the troops as a distraction.
Makes sense.  If he took off for Mar-a-Lago for party, he'd be eviscerated by the fake press, but now he has a good excuse to be on Air Force One and just drop by his mansion en route home.

I was so upset today about the death of the second child (that we know about) under the control of our government that I decided to sponsor a new child.  It's the closest to doing something to help those kids who are living under threat at home.

Actually, I have been seeing her photo everywhere.  I look at Instagram, and there she is.  I look at Facebook and there she is.  I get an e-mail from Compassion with suggested new kids to sponsor and there she is

I finally decided to sponsor her yesterday, but when I clicked on her photo, I got a notice that she was being sponsored by someone else.  I was much relieved.
But then I was looking through Instagram in the car while eating the first fast food meal I've had in six months (didn't taste as good as I remember) and there she was again.

I assumed it was a mistake and surely if I clicked on her name I would get the same message that she had been sponsored.  But no, for some reason she is still available.  Her name is Allison and she is from Nicaragua.

She is the kind of child I like to sponsor -- there are lots of cute kids that are snatched up quickly, but she's the kind of kid I was -- chunky and not very appealing, as witness the fact that she's been waiting for a sponsor for nearly a year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Dreamng of a Weird Christmas

I have been feeling smug since the 16th of December, since we had our Christmas on the 15th and so all the gifts had been shared, the turkey carved, the pumpkin pie leftovers finished and the pressure was off.  We'd "done" Christmas.

But when the 23rd rolled around and I saw the family starting to gather at Tom's for the Christmas eve celebration, this little worm of jealousy began to form.  Even though there were texted photos and a family conference call, things here in Davis were calm and bright and Christmas was over and all the fun was in Santa Barbara.

Oh maybe I was glad not to have to share Tom's pain when the dog ate their prime rib roast  before he had a chance to cook it.  When I cooked my first (and only) prime rib last year it was the best meal I'd made but it cost $150.   No matter how much I love dogs, I would have killed that dog!

We did get a little feel of what it was like to be there with a 45 minute chat during which I texted a photo of Alice Nan's gift, which did not arrive in time for me to get it to Santa Barbara for Christmas.

(she's a big giraffe fan)
But there was no excitement waking up on Christmas morning.  Ned had spent the night and I planned to make a fancy breakfast until I remembered that he was going to his in-laws' for breakfast, so I didn't.  Gifts had been opened on the 15th, so none of the mystery in those odd shaped boxes.  So we just sat there watching The Today Show like every other morning.

The girls modeled their new Christmas pjs for a text message (note the offending dog in the corner)

I spent the afternoon watching a couple of different Christmas Carols, while I made cookies.  I have now seen Scrooge played by Patrick Stewart, animated Jim Carey (the Disney version), Alistair Sim (1951), and Reginald Owen (1938).  Stewart was the best, Carey the worst.  I'm sorry I couldn't find the Muppet version.  And I know Stewart is not the best Scrooge, but he was the best I could find.
And so our Christmas has passed calmly.  Walt is getting very antsy and trying to find ways to get out and take a walk which he sorely misses, but is afraid to be too faraway from a bathroom.

I couldn't find a leg of lamb to cook for dinner, so I'm trying my hand at an Instant Pot lamb shank.  Tomorrow it really WILL be all over for everyone.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sarcastic Ghosts

The day after Gilbert died, in 1986, I was driving his family around San Francisco to make funeral arrangements and do some sightseeing.  San Francisco is a notoriously terrible place in which to find parking.  Over the years of our friendship, whenever Gilbert and I went somewhere, I was in charge of looking for parking for us.  So as I got into his car to start the drive on that awful day, I said "OK, Gilbert, I've been finding you parking for years.  Now it's your turn."

Amazingly on that day I found parking everywhere, especially in the middle of Chinatown and in front of Ghirardelli Square, two paces where you can NEVER find parking.

At first it became a joke but as people discovered that no matter where I went there was available parking they began to believe me.  For the first several years after Gilbert's death, a bunch of us met on the anniversary of his death to have dinner  together in one of his favorite restaurants.  Invariably, there would be a parking place directly in front of the front door when I arrived.  Over the past 30 years it has just been generally accepted that Gilbert has become my parking angel.

I figured this was Gilbert's version of hell--spending the rest of my life finding me parking.  The last Lamplighters funeral we attended was held in a beautiful church in a very, very busy part of town, but even though we were not early, we had a place to park directly across the street from the door.

After David and Paul died, I started talking to them too about parking, especially when going to Atria.  I figured it was their grandmother and they should not expect Gilbert to do all the work.
This morning was a brunch for the memory unit people and their loved ones.  I figured it would be difficult to park, so I reached out to all three of my parking angels and when I got to the Atria parking lot there were three vacant slots lined up next to each other.

I told them that the blatant sarcasm was not lost on me!!!

It was a difficult morning.  Walt has been having problems with incontinence, so has been sleeping downstairs, where it is easier to get to the bathroom.  As I opened my eye this morning, he called out, "I'm sleeping in a pool of my own blood." 

And a good morning to YOU too!

However, he was right and the amount of blood was a bit alarming.  Ned was coming over to have brunch with us at Atria and he called his friend Jessica, who works with old folks like Walt and me, to come and do an assessment while waiting for him to arrive.  She did not feel there was cause for alarm, which was reassuring.

When Ned got here we called Kaiser and the decision was made to have him come to Urology to be checked out, both for the bleeding and for the incontinence.

But what to do about Grandma?  Though she doesn't know Christmas from last Tuesday or next Monday, I still felt bad blowing her off, so we decided Ned would go to Kaiser and I would go to Atria, which meant maneuvering my walker into the car...and finding a place to park.  I loved my Christmas present from my three parking angels.

Brunch, it turned out, was in the Memory unit dining room and she was not there when I arrived.  One of the aides told me she was in her room.

I went to her room and not only was she still in bed, but she was so soundly asleep she was snoring.  Knowing what an ordeal it would be to wake her up, get her dressed and get to the dining room--and how crabby she would be for being awakened out of a deep sleep, I just left the box of See's candy I had for her and left.  I'll be back next week.  It won't make a difference to her anyway.

When I got home Ned and Walt were gone and I took advantage of the alone time to watch last night's Outlander.  Walt had been sufficiently upset about his incontinence (before the blood) that he was in and out of the room every few minutes while I was trying to watch it.  Nothing like trying to watch a graphic love scene while someone is asking you about Depends.

The show was just ending when Ned and Walt returned.  Walt was much mollified to learn that nothing was unusual and that his body was doing just what it is supposed to do...and probably will be doing for perhaps as long as a year.

It appears he will be sleeping in his recliner for possibly a long time to come, so Ned is helping me choose wireless ear phones so I can listen to the TV at a volume that is OK for me and doesn't drive Walt nuts. 

I can hardly wait to see what personal aberrations will be caused by MY surgery on Friday!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Welcome to Sunday Stealing. This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. 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. (Past hosts include: Our first - Judd Corizan, Mr. L, Kwizgiver and Bud)  Cheers to all of us thieves!
This isn't stolen from anywhere in particular, but it is a questionnaire I have tried to answer each year....maybe it originated with Sunday Stealing; I don't know.  But maybe you'd like to look back on 2018 as well.

What did you do last year that you had not done before?
Lost all of my muscle strength!  (Fortunately it's back now)

Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year? What are they? What are your new ones?
I never make resolutions because I'm so bad at keeping them.

Did anyone you know give birth? Or become pregnant? Or adopt?
Not that I can think of.

Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness/injury?
Walt and I both had minorly seriously illnesses.  Surprisingly, I can't think of anyone who died.

What places have you visited?
Because of our weird afflictions, only Santa Barbara, for Tom's birthday.

Any new pets? Lost a pet?
We conferred with Polly and she let it be known that she is VERY happy as an only dog, running the house, so no.

What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing i.e. love, job security, peace of mind...)?
No health concerns for anybody

What date from last year will remain etched in your memory and why?
Obviously since I can't think of one, none will remain etched in my memory.  I remember EVENTS, but not dates.

What was your biggest achievement last year
Driving!  I drove for the first time in six months this week.

Did you get sick or injured?
Bad reaction to a statin drug, that drained my muscle strength.

What was the best thing you bought?
A $9 anti-bark thingy that has ended Polly's barking.  And to think I've up up with it for 10 years!!

Where did most of your disposable income go (money leftover after you pay for food, medical care, basic clothing, transportation and shelter)?
Sponsorship for Compassion kids, and Kindle books.

What song will always remind you of last year? Doesn't have to be a song released last year.
I worked to learn the score to Hamilton in case I actually see it some day.  "The Room where it Happened" is often an ear worm now.

What do you wish you would have done more of?

What do you wish you would have done less of?
going to doctor visits.

What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to? Any recommendations?
I can't remember if it started this year but I'm loving Young Sheldon and also the new medical shows that started this year.  And, of course, the new season of Outlander is wonderful.

What was the best book you read this year? How many did you read?
I usually read 50-60 books a year, but this year I have only finished 15.  I just have not been taking time out to read.  Probably the best was "White Houses," the story of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently?
The school shooting in Florida happened on my birthday, so I spent most of the day watching TV and crying.  Two days later, Walt and I went to San Francisco for dinner and to attend a taping of our favorite radio show.  As far as feeling the difference between 74 and 75, no.

What political or social issue stirred you the most?
Oh Lord....all of them.  But mostly the separation of parents and kids and the thousands of "leftovers" who are still in baby jail

Who was the most interesting new person you met?
We haven't met face-to-face, but I now have an audio pal with whom I exchange audio recordings.  It's been about a year now and it's fun.

What changed at your job?
Nothing.  I'm still retired.

What changed in your home?
Ned, the white tornado, came in and started organizing and straightening.  Everything looks much better now, even if I'm constantly looking for where the whatsit or the whosit is now.

Describe how a relationship changed.
Ned had become much more directorial, realizing that Walt and I are aging and that he and his siblings will have to sort through the house after we are gone.  He's very efficient.

Do you think you are still the same person that you were at the beginning of the year? How so?
Probably.  The muscle thing sidelined me a bit, but not seriously.

Summarize the year in three words or less. Bonus points for doing it in one word. Explain.
Kaiser!!!!  We spent so many weeks at doctors' visits, follow-ups, lab tests, procedures, and emergencies for Walt, for me, and for my mother, that this has to be the year of Kaiser.

How have people around you changed?
My mother's dementia is worse.  Lacie, age 7, has become an avid reader (e.g., read "Harry Potter").

What have you learned throughout the year? (Other than crafts)
Nobody wants to discuss politics, which is frustrating when you are so angry all the time!

What was your favorite outfit for warm weather? Cooler weather?
I pretty much wear the same things year-round -- black pants, t-shirt and if its cold, a sweatshirt.  On my feet Birkenstocks with socks (even on rainy days).  This is California, after all.

Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favorite thing you made?
My favorite things are always journals.  Not sure I learned anything from them, but I do enjoy putting a journal together to share with someone.

What changed about your physical appearance? (Hair? Wrinkles? New makeup style? Etc)
Nothing except this "thing" on the bridge of my nose, which will be removed next week.

What are your hopes and dreams for the new year? (Some suggestions-family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance)
I actually have no personal hopes and/or dreams for next year, as I don't see anything really changing, except possibly my mother, who is pushing 100.  On the wider stage, I hope that we find a way to rein Trump in without making Pence president. But I am not hopeful.

Saturday, December 22, 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:  Happy Holidays

(from the archives)

1. As you can see, Sam loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. Yet some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? Or did you by pass it altogether -- either because you wrote him a letter or because your family didn't celebrate Christmas?
I was terrified, but my mother needed that Santa picture so I endured it each year.  I also wrote a letter.  If you ever get a chance to see David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries, it's worth seeing and very funny.  This is part of one of my reviews of the show, about a visit to Santa:  We get a tour of Santa’s Village, including "vomit corner" and learn about high tech parents who force their kids to sit on Santa’s lap to be photographed, even if they’re screaming in fright. (Anyone who has ever stood in line to see Santa, whether as a parent or as a child will find someone with whom they can identify here.)

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?
Oh, I'm very boring.  I've been so housebound for so long all I can be is nice!

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest?
Again, because of immobility, I did all shopping and shipping on line.  It was so effortless and so pleasant, I may do it that way all the time from now on!

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?
Not really.  I did just order a headphone splitter adapter for my phone, though.  Maybe that counts, though since I "bought" it with my saved account money, it was really "free."

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie? Have you seen it yet this year?
Two:  Miracle on 34th St (the original, without colorlization) and White Christmas.  I have seen both this year, White Christmas twice.

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day?

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party?
Not that I can recall.  I always worked in small offices that had low key parties, if we had parties at all.

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather?

9. Share a memory from last Christmas.
Two.  First was spending $254 for the very first (and probably only) prime rib I have ever cooked, but I decided to splurge and make it.  I was terribly nervous I would botch it and read every recipe and hint on the Food Network pages, but ultimately it was probably the very best roast I had ever made and worth every penny, but not to repeat.
But on Christmas eve, Jeri and Phil were here and I decided to dust off the fondue pot and make fondue for dinner.

I had forgotten how delicious cheese fondue is...and compared to the price for skimpy servings in fondue restaurants, it's a great bargain!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Stacks of Letters

So this is what I did today:

I answered lots and lots of letters.  The letters from my Compassion kids had been piling up and I had gotten behind on answering them.  It turned out that I had letters from 25 of them and then when I'd finished answering all of those, I wrote to the 4 that had NOT written to me, so all in all, I wrote 29 letters.

Compassion has evolved over the years I've been involved.  It used to be that you wrote to your child, sent it to Compassion headquarters in Colorado, it was forwarded to the country of that child, where it was translated and then delivered to the child.  When the child responded, it was the same process, but in reverse.

This meant that it could take a good six months for your letter to get to your child and his/her response letter to get to you.  And as many of the children's letters are so similar, it was often a great disappointment when the letter finally arrived because 9 times out of 10 it was pretty close to the last letter(s) that you received.

Once in awhile you'd come across a real good letter writer and then you could actually get a conversation started where you'd write something and the child would respond to what you wrote.  Those letters were golden, but it still took months for the exchange to take place.  That may be one reason why I ended up with so many correspondent kids.  If you have 30 kids to write to, instead of just one or two you're bound to get more letters.  So I sponsored lots and agreed to correspond with lots of kids whose sponsors, for one reason or another, were not interested in corresponding with their sponsored child.  
For me, the chance to have conversations, however stilted, with these children in so many other countries (12 now) is the perk of sponsorship.  But I know that's not everybody's bag.  My biggest influx of correspondents came about two years ago, when a corporation decided to sponsor 1000 children in Kenya, but obviously were not going to write to them.  A whole bunch of us picked up new kids to write to at that time.  I took on eight of them, along with the 3 I was already sponsoring in Kenya.

But all this time, Compassion has been working to improve the speed between letter exchanges, and the internet age has been a great boon in that.  Now you can write a letter on line.  They have a bunch of different stationery designs to choose from, both decorative and seasonal.  At first you could add a couple of photos on the bottom of the letter, but now you can include two pages of scanned photos, which is lovely especially at Christmas time.  I think I sent 10 photos today.

What has sped up the process is not only on-line letter writing but the facts that now you do not receive the child's actual letter, but a high quality scanned copy.  Some folks don't like not being able to touch the actual paper their child touched, but that doesn't matter to me.  Now instead of an exchange of letters taking six months, sometimes I get my child's letter a month--or sometime just a couple of weeks-- after it was written.  The new system allows for a much closer relationship to develop with those children who enjoy writing (the others still send the same canned phrases)
Of course, with the speed between letters having shortened considerably, this means that letters pile up a lot faster.  It is not unusual to receive 3-5 letters a few times a week.  If I don't sit down and answer them right away, they can easily get buried.

I used to be very faithful, writing to the kids every 1-2 weeks, but now I hear from them so often I don't have to follow that schedule any more.  I also found that they only get letters delivered once a month, so writing once a month is sufficient.

I used to send little gifts by snail mail but I've stopped doing that.  Now the gifts I send by snail mail are to Brianna and Lacie.

I've discovered I'm not the only one in the family who writes to the girls.  Jeri and Ned both write, and once in a great while Walt will write if one of them has written to hi first.  I love t hat we are establishing a habit of writing letters.  The girls actually gave Walt a box of note cards for Christmas so he can write to them

My mother's sister was a great letter writer; my mother was a terrible letter writer, so I'm more a chip off the aunt block rather than a chip off my mother.

The one thing I did NOT do today was to write to a friend to whom I have owed a letter for several months.  Actually, I can't remember which of us owes a letter but I need to write to her.  And I was thrilled today to receive a short email from a friend I thought had melted into the woodwork, but says she will write soon.  That promise made me happy.  I don't know her well, but I always enjoy hearing from her.

See?   Letter writing is NOT a dead art!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Going It Alone

First of all, if you are a theater person and have not heard about this video you must watch it.  It's James Cordon, Emily Blunt, and Lin-Manuel Mirandez singing 22 musicals in 12 minutes.  At some point with all the lyrics and choreography you begin to wonder how did they DO that???  Absolutely fabulous

And while we are on absolutely fabulous videos, how about this Christmas song that I had never heard before, believe it or not, sung by Judy Garland on an old Johnny Carson (well, of course it's old.  They've both been dead for a very long time!).  This is from 1968, the year before she died.

Yesterday was a red letter day.  I drove to Atria.  Ned decided to see how I'd do, both loading my walker in and out of the car and then driving over to Atria.  Piece o'cake.  Just like riding a bicycle.  Feels strange to be driving again after nearly 6 months.

We had a nice visit, or as nice as they ever are, with my mother and then dropped her off at the dining room for lunch.  Ned wanted to get home because he is preparing for his annual Christmas party.  We stopped at the store for a few staples, but since we didn't go to my usual store, I forgot necessities -- like bananas.

I guess I was worn out, though, because I came home and slept for 2 hours.

Walt slept upstairs in his bed last night but it didn't go well.  He doesn't articulate the problem all that well, but when he decided to sleep downstairs again, I finally figured out his concerns, so he's back in his recliner downstairs and since I can't watch TV when he's in the recliner (and I hate elevator music...and golf, which he uses to put himself to sleep), I came in to my office to get some letter writing done until I was too sleepy to do it any more.

In the morning, Walt was unsettled about how his recovery is going.  He seems to think he should better by now, though he is following the recovery schedule he was given after his surgery
He sent me off to CVS to get some more supplies for first driving alone, which means if I did something wrong that didn't kill me or anybody else, there was nobody to point it out to me.  I'm not sure if that was a good or a bad thing, but it all went without incident.  I didn't even take my walker, realizing that all I really needed was my cane to get me from car to shopping cart, and then using the cart as a walker.

When I got home, Walt met me at the door saying I needed to drive him to Kaiser.  I was reluctant since this would be my first long trip, it would be in heavy traffic and would involve parking a distance from the building, all things that I had not done in six months.

But I told him I would do it.  In the meantime, Ned called and talked with him and talked him down. pointing out how the things that frustrate him are normal parts of recovery.

He also sent me a text message telling me NOT to let his father call the doctor unless it was a real emergency.  I am so glad Ned is in the know and that he is able to remind his father of all the things the doctor has said and what is and what is not normal.

The rest of the day went uneventfully, until I went to cook the pulled pork I had bought for dinner the night before and discovered Ned had put it in the freezer, so it was frozen solid. We ended up having spaghetti with pesto.

Walt decided to sleep in the recliner again, so I spent some time in here at my desk while he listened to elevator music.

I will be very happy when life is finally normal again, but I am encouraged to see that he really is better every day

I wonder what is going to happen when I have MY surgery next week!

Listening to all the chatter about the resignation of Gen Mattis has taken me back to 1996, the year that I left the job I loved because it had become impossible for me to stay.  My nature made me want to write a seething letter about my resignation and all the thing that were wrong with it, but my friend Olivia told me to write something controlled, to make it my future resume, talking about all the things I had done in that capacity (and there were many) and thanking the people responsible for my departure for the faith they had in me when they hired me in a supervisory position.

The letter was a thing of beauty and a couple of people told me it was the best resignation letter they had ever read (not the "f-you" letter I was going to write).  I have always been grateful to Olivia for convincing me to be polite, not angry, though it was written through gritted teeth, which I am sure Mattis did too!

When I read Mattis's letter, I could see exactly what he was doing and good on him for damning with more than just faint praise, while being civil and polite.

It's a real talent!

But God help us now. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Singing Choruses in Public

There was a children's chorus on The Today Show this morning.

It made me think of the choruses I have sung in, over my life, until my voice decided to leave me (I now have a vocal range of about 3 notes)

I specifically remembered a concert we performed, on TV, when I was in high school.  I went to a Catholic school which was also associated with a home for unwed mothers and the local TV station was doing a Christmas show from that home.  Only they couldn't show any of the actual girls who were there, so they had our choir go in to be them.

I remember how strange it felt to wear a maternity smock (little did I know I would live in them for about ten years!)

The house was rather nondescript.  Nothing outside to indicate what was behind the doors and I remember how "naughty" I felt going and mingling with those "bad girls."  Oh how naive we were in those days!

In grammar school, we gave a concert as we marched through an old folks home (again, how little did I know I would spend so much time in one later!).  There was some object--maybe a statue?--from the Vatican that was touring the United States and was spending time in this facility.  I was terrified seeing all those old people (how little did I realize I would one day be one of them!) and just didn't look if I could avoid it until we left the facility (which was across the street from our grammar school).

I loved my years in choirs and especially loved the chances I had to stand in a choir stall above a church, the vibration of the organ rumbling through my body.  This was especially true when I was in grammar school and sang in the choir for St. Brigid church, standing next to the organ under that big stained glass window.

In high school, I sang with the choir all four years and there, as an alto, I learned all the alto parts to Christmas songs. I still l can't hear a Christmas song without mentally humming the alto harmony to myself.  I miss singing.

One of the most fun times I remember caroling was when we were active with the Lamplighters.  We sang Christmas carols on the cable car in San Francisco from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf.  There is nothing like joining with a bunch of professional singers singing songs that you know.  You sound so much better!

When we got to the end of the line there was the Buena Vista.

The Buena Vista is where Irish Coffee was invented and so after all that singing, we had to wet our whistles with a glass or two

The last time I went Christmas caroling was a few years ago.  We had gone to dinner on Christmas eve at the home of Marta's parents and after our burrito dinner her step mother passed out kazoos and we all went marching along accompanying ourselves on the kazoo to the house of a mutual friend a couple of blocks away.  I have to admit that was really fun.  

I don't think I've sung Christmas carols since, though I love to listen to them, but this damn voice just won't cooperate any more.

Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast

One reason to have a full Christmas dinner on the 17th of the month is so that you'll have pumpkin pie for breakfast on the 18th.

There wasn't anything to clean up from the previous evening because Ned and Tom had done it all.  I hardly even had to cook in the morning since I had made a breakfast casserole the night before.

Ned stood himself at the orange juice squeezer and made full glasses of fresh orange juice for everyone.  He made a big dent in a fresh carton of oranges!

Everyone enjoyed breakfast, even Bouncer.

The girls were very respectful of Polly and Polly, other than hating Bouncer, was fairly good...for Polly...and by the end of the visit, she was tolerating gentle pets from Brianna, which I considered a great triumph.

When they finally got all packed up, everybody headed over to Atria to visit my mother and take her a box of candy from Walt's sister.  Reports are that things went well and Laurel sent a message that said "Brianna was so sweet with Gaga.  Kid has a heart of gold."

There is "reorganizing" to do around here, but I let it go and took a nap in the afternoon.  We "grazed" for dinner, each finding his/her own leftovers from last night.

And then in the evening, I put on my fluffy new therapeutic socks and settled in to watch Outlander.  

Our holiday is over and I have only good memories.  Now I can watch everyone else have their holiday!

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Successful Christmas

While the rest of you may be rushing about doing all of your last minute preparations, buying those last minute gifts, I took the afternoon off to recover from our Christmas.  Tom and the family decided to come up a couple of weekends early so they could spend the night with us and we could have a proper Christmas without having to split their time between Tom's family and Laurel's (also the girls are old enough that they don't want to leave their own home on Christmas morning).

Ned had this place ready for a royal visit.  If Tom were a regular visitor, he would not have recognized it.

They arrived with a different Christmas hat to show off.  The turkey waves its legs and was the case of great hilarity most of the evening.

We had hors d'oeuvres while the turkey cooked.
Ned and Marta brought their dog, Bouncer, who is a very well behaved dog...and Polly hated her.  She snarled whenever Bouncer walked by.  Bouncer was very good at ignoring her for most of the evening but finally they got into it...I suspect Polly started it.  We kept them separated after that.

Marta played a matching game with Lacie.  She should know better. Nobody is better at matching than Lacie.  She skunked her aunt!
Ned and Tom were such helps in the kitchen that I was able to spend time in the living room until time to get things started.  

It was quiet, like a reading room.

While we waited for dinner to cook, there was the usual movie making going on.  The girls took turns being photographer, with Ned's new camera taped to their heads. Ned stopped to check raw footage with Lacie and Tom.

When the food was ready, everyone pitched in to get it on the table.  Tom carved the turkey, Ned and Brianna did the potatoes, Lacie made the salad.

Everything turned out perfect.  It was even the best stuffing I've ever made (in my opinion--and I've been testing stuffings ever since my mother stopped making hers!)

Between dinner and pumpkin pie, we opened presents.  Ned was Santa.

I think it's fair to say that the two most popular things in this house all weekend were the fart machines Ned gave each of  the girls, and my walker.  They had more fun pushing that things up and down the hall....and hiding the fart machine (an upgraded whoopie cushion that is remote controlled) under everyone. 
It all went so well and Ned decided to spend the night in case there was a problem with either Walt or the girls, but we all slept well, visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.