Tuesday, April 30, 2019


I took this photo of my mother when I went to visit her last week.  It may seem like not the most flattering of photos, but the more I look at it, the more I like it.

We were sitting at the kitchen table at Eldervilla and talking...about...whatever.  It was not a serious conversation anyway.

Suddenly she looked out the window at the lemon tree across the yard, on the other side of the fence and she started talking about how beautiful the tree was.

She has always loved trees, and as her dementia has progressed, trees became the most important thing to her whenever we went out.  She never noticed people or things or even beautiful gardens.  If I would point something out to her that I thought she might like, by the time I could get her to look in the right direction, the thing was behind us.

But she always paid attention to the trees and how beautiful they were.  When there was no way to have a conversation with her, I would take her for a drive around Davis and go to where the trees were the thickest.  She never recognized that we had gone on the same block a few times.  She always marveled at how beautiful the trees were.

As her dementia got worse, she stopped noticing trees and I found that very sad.  So this picture, which shows her appreciating the tree again, made me very happy.

Back in the days before dementia started eating away at her brain, I remember driving her to Inverness, and going through lots of places with lots of trees and she always commented on how beautiful trees were.

But the thing that she talked about many times, which has changed my own appreciation of trees, to tell you the truth, was about the color.

Here's an assignment for you:  Go somewhere where there are a lot of trees, and maybe grassy hills.  We did that on the way to Char's party yesterday.  Lots and lots of trees lining the freeway, and especially on the streets on the way up to the party.

Now, look closely.  How many shades of green do you see?  It's impossible to count.  There are dark greens and light greens, yellow greens and grey greens.  And within all of those categories there are hundreds of different shades.  Just sit under one tree on a nice clear, sunny day and look at the leaves.  They aren't all the same color.  They are all green, of course, but each one has its own twist on the color green.

It's kind of like people and the many flesh tones that you can find wherever you go.  There are pink people and brown people and yellow people, but nobody is the same color of those categories.  Pink people can be anyone from a pale hermit who never sees the sun to a sun lover who likes to get a tan--and every shade in between.  Same with yellow and brown people.  There are no truly black people, but just very, very dark brown people.

It's kind of magic, looking at leaves and seeing the visual proof of the millions of shades of green around us.  Kind of makes you believe in a god, somehow!  I know that seeing trees through my mother's eyes all those years ago has given me an appreciation of the beauty of nature around me, and especially how the beautiful color of the trees.  I will always appreciate trees...perhaps not the way my mother does, but she taught me to look beyond just a bunch of "trees" and see the intricate color shades.  It's pretty neat.

We brought home lots of uneaten clam dip yesterday.  I hadn't realized that so many people were going to be competing in the clam dip contest, so I made a triple batch, figuring with so many guests we would need lots of clam dip.  About half of the dip that I brought was eaten, but that still left a huge amount to bring home.

Clam dip and potato chips make a nice breakfast, when you add a banana and a cup of coffee.

In the afternoon, though, I sent Walt out to buy English muffins.  I have a childhood memory of something like clam dip spread on English muffins and broiled, which I think I had at a restaurant in downtown San Francisco one time.  So we had that for lunch.  Actually, it didn't brown like I thought it would and basically it was just warm clam dip on a toasted muffin, but it was tasty, and by the end of the day, with the help of a little more snacking we managed to finish all the dip I brought home.

Monday, April 29, 2019

On Turning 80

Char turned 80.

Sometime in the past few months, she was discussing with her kids  the way to celebrate this momentous occasion and the kids decided they should have a huge party and invite essentially every person she had ever met.  I don't know how many invitations they ended sending out and obviously a lot didn't come, but there was a great gathering of people from all walks of Char's life and the Pinata People were well represented.

I hadn't intended to take the group photos that we usually take at such things because of the NON-Pinata people there, but when I realized we were all there and that we are all getting so old and infirm, you never know when someone will be missing next time, so we did the Gen 1 and Gen 2 pictures.  

Not all the kids, of course, but a good representation.

I've said this before and I'll probably say it again, but one of the things that just warms the cockles of my heart at events like this is that there are 23 kids in Gen(eration) 2.  They were all raised like a large family living near each other, going to the same schools for the first few years before we all started branching out.  They are, for all intents and purposes (other than DNA) like cousins.

Whenever we get together, whether it's been a year or two since they last saw each other, it's like they just saw each other recently.  They pick up wherever they left off and there is never any awkwardness because it's been so long since the last gathering.  I just love sitting and watching them together whenever that happens.

This may be one of my favorite pictures from the day, though.

This is the Gen 2 group taking pictures of the Gen 1 group---and by the time this photo got taken, a couple of them had already left.  I love how Cathy has her arms around Ned to get her photo.

Clam dip is a traditional part of these gatherings and this time they decided to have a Clam Dip contest.  Ten of us made clam dip and votes were taken to see which was the best (mine was not...in fact the winner was a dip that had no clams in it at all).

When it was time, Ned stepped up to be MC and lead everyone in singing.  (Earlier in the day, Jeri had posted on Facebook:  Dearest friend and surrogate mother, the happiest of birthdays to you. I'm sorry I won't be there to celebrate with you.)

All things considered it was a wonderful party and as I looked around at the faces of all of us Gen 1 Pinata people with our various ailments and devices, I realized that at 80, Char looks the youngest of us all.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

My Head Hurts

(Happy Birthday, Fred...wherever you are....)

It's 2 a.m. and I can't sleep because I've been going over and over and over all of this in my mind.
Joy Reid on MSNBC finally did what I've been waiting to hear SOMEone do for months...she pressed her guest (I can't even remember who it was now) to get to the bottom line on how the administration in general and Trump specifically can be held accountable for their slow destruction of the country we have known for so many years.

With the Mueller report pointing to so many criminal activities, but stopping short of indicting anyone, because Mueller says he can't indict a sitting president where do we go from there?

The House, now that the Democrats are in the majority are going to dig deeper and get statements of their own.  But today I learned that Trump has forbidden anyone in the White House to appear before the House.

So they can take it to the courts, but Trump has been stacking the courts with people sympathetic to him and even if they get a judge who has some guts and sides with the House, they take it to the Supreme Court, where Trump's lackey will cast the deciding vote in the president's favor.

I have heard that if this or that (like Trump's tax returns) can't be obtained then they'll have to subpoena them.  Oooooo..... the dreaded subpoena.  And what happens if the subpoena is ignored?  Who will enforce the law?  The Department of Justice, now headed by Trump's personal attorney?  I think not.

I heard today a little thing that has been pretty much ignored because it's a little thing compared to the destruction of our constitution, but they've relaxed the emoluments clause and now it's OK for the president to receive gifts from foreign dignitaries. 
From Esquire:
The so-called foreign emoluments clause was intended to curb presidents and other government officials from accepting gifts and benefits from foreign governments unless Congress consents. But in a forthcoming article in the Indiana Law Journal, the Washington University Law professor Kathleen Clark reveals justice department filings have recently changed tack. The new interpretation, Clark says, is contained in justice filings responding to recent lawsuits lodged by attorneys generals and members of Congress.

Clark’s article notes that in more than 50 legal opinions over some 150 years justice department lawyers have interpreted the clause in a way that barred any foreign payments or gifts except for ones Congress approved. But filings by the department since June 2017 reveal a new interpretation that “… would permit the president – and all federal officials – to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions with an entity owned by the federal official,” the professor writes.
With Trump's barrage of tweets against "fake news" and taking on Fox News as the only true news source (the same Fox news where, as I saw on a clip yesterday, one of the commentators said, following the Notre Dame fire and the rescue of the crown of thorns, that Mary Magdalene had brought the crown to Paris after Jesus death.  Huh?  Not fake news???) the news is so filtered that some people don't hear anything negative against the president.

I remember having a discussion with someone from Facebook when we first learned of the separation of children from their parents.  I was so incensed about that (still am) that even though we have diametrically opposed views on the president, I simply had to explode about what was going on.  Her response was that she thought it was hyped by the media and she hadn't really heard much about it.  There are still thousands of children separated from their parents and now the administration says it may take "years" (!!!) to reunite them.  What do those little children think about their parents?  And where are they?  Surely not in thousands of loving foster homes.

There are so many terrible things going on, or discussed, that it's hard to keep track of which is supposed to help deflect from which bigger thing.  I guess they have decided not to truck immigrants seeking asylum to sanctuary cities now, but who knows...maybe they still plan to do that.  This seems to be an administration that acts first and thinks later (if at all).

I guess at least they reversed the attempt to take away funding for special needs children, after the outcry that caused.  But as a general rule appealing to the administration's softer side is useless, because as a Sociopath, he doesn't have one.  Send him all the pathetic photos of crying children and mothers and it doesn't move him.

You don't hear a lot about the wall these days, except at the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn this week, there was a clip of Trump sitting and coloring with a bunch of kids and telling them about the big wall he was going to build and how beautiful it was going to be.

And what is happening to prevent Russia from hacking the 2020 elections?  Despite every single intelligence agency in this country proving that Russia helped to get Trump elected, Trump says his buddy Putin says they didn't do it and he believes him.  

These must be glory days for Putin, who is paying Trump for all he can get out of him, and Trump doesn't even realize that he's being manipulated by a guy who actually knows what he is doing, unlike our president.

I don't know how coherent these thoughts are, but they are what is keeping me awake tonight.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A bit of this, a bit of that

Another treasure was unearthed today:

No need to try to read it.  You can get the gist of things by glancing at it.  This is the 124 page solution book which accompanies the text book, "Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics," which I typed when I was working at the physics department.  That book had lot and lots of text and lots of equations, but this book is almost entirely equations.  124 pages of equations.  Can you imagine typing  that?

This was in the days before the IBM Selectric had interchangeable balls for different typefaces, which was probably a good thing.  What it had was interchangeable keys.  Google has finally failed me.  They have no pictures of the interchangeable keys, but just show the balls, which came shortly after the books were published.

I had a board with single keys hanging from it, and when I was going to type an equation, I could substitute one of the regular keyboard keys with a key that had a character on it.  It was better than the ball because the ball is all characters, but sometimes you are using the same character many times and you can just keep that key in the typewriter instead of a key that you seldom use, so you don't have to change in and out many times when typing equations.  I got to be incredibly speedy changing those keys in and out.

I actually found an email address for Roger Knacke, the grad student who wrote the solution manual.  He's now retired, of course, and I have no idea if this email address works or not, but I sent him a brief note an the photo of the page.  I hope he responds.

In 2007, early in my "critic life," I saw a production of a show called "Every Christmas Story Ever Told," the holiday offering that year of Capital Stage in Sacramento.

It is a play for 3 actors and during the course of two acts, they do indeed put on just about every Christmas story you've ever seen or loved.  It's their salute to "B.H.C."s (beloved holiday classics) and before the show starts, they call for suggestions from the audience (since there aren't all that many of them, they can easily work off a script to salute each favorite.

Of Gary Martinez, I wrote "  Martinez is loveable in a "cowardly lion" sort of way, a big man with the gentleness and simplicity of a child, bringing all the heart-tugging moments. He gives a beautiful rendition of Linus’ "True Meaning of Christmas" from "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and he plays nearly all the characters (except George Bailey) from "It’s a Wonderful Life." In the midst of all the frenzy on stage, Martinez becomes the heart of the season.

(The photo above shows him as "Gustav the Green-nosed Reingoat."  They couldn't do "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because of copyright infringement problems, they say.)

Over the years, I saw Gary do that show one or two other times, and he appeared in several other shows that I reviewed as well (I last saw him in "Diary of Anne Frank" in 2017) but I had a soft spot in my heart for his Gustav.

When I found him on Facebook, we became Facebook friends and I followed his timeline and found we had a lot in common.  I read about the shows he was in in No. California.  I never saw him do Shakespeare, I don't think, but apparently he was quite a Shakespearean actor.

A few years ago, his brother died and it threw him for a loop.  I've watched him struggle with the grief and depression, very open about both on Facebook ever since the death.  I was not, however, prepared for his entry yesterday, "my body and brain just can't/won't take it anymore.....my onstage acting career in the USA is over....its hard to face, but the reality of it all is all too apparent....I will be doing other things in the theatrical/musical arts....again, I've had a great 45+ year run....I'm collecting my Equity pension, social security, and I've made some wise investments...I'm ready to party/travel/wander aimlessly through life...I've withdrawn from the Berkeley Rep production of Kiss My Aztec!---perhaps what could have been my most prestigious onstage appearance.......ah, the irony....."

I am sad to realize the pain he must still be in and will miss looking forward to his next appearance, but I am glad that I have had a chance to experience his acting and that we remain Facebook friends.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Easter that Wasn't

I do miss the traditions of Easter, whether the religious, or the secular Easter bunny stuff.  But with how I feel about the Catholic church, it would seem wrong to return just for Easter week ceremonials.  And with no kids or grandkids around, I didn't even buy a chocolate bunny. though I did enjoy seeing pictures of the girls decorating easter eggs.

And it was fun seeing them ready to collect eggs...though I wonder how many they expected to collect!

Last year I think my mother came for dinner, but dinner out is always confusing for her now and she has no concept of holidays anyway, s there didn't seem any point.  So it was just a day like any other.
I slept until 9:30 (after 2 hours in the middle of the night awake) and Walt was already off at Mass. 

We had our upstairs/downstairs life throughout the day, but I did cook a kinda/sorta Easter meal of a slice of ham (I seriously considered a leg of lamb, but the smallest one I could find cost $30, so I didn't get it).  There wasn't even a special Easter dessert, since Walt isn't into desserts and we had our ice cream bars.

The TV was off a good deal of the day because I was busy finishing Sally Fields' autobiography (which I did, but my word was it depressing!), but I did turn the set on at 5, for my one Easter tradition--watching Easter Parade.

Turner Classic Movies is so funny.  They day is filled iwth Easter-themed movies, covering every possible angle of Jesus' life and death, and then between The Shoes of the Fisherman and King of Kings is Easter Parade, then back to more Jesus.

Somehow I don't think the Easter parade down 5th Avenue in New York compares with the way of the Cross in Jerusalem!

But I like the movie and enjoy seeing it each year.

But the holiday is over and it's onto a new week.  Today I will be writing the review for the very strange, but funny, Disaster! the 70s Disaster Movie...musical! and this week I will be seeing Pajama Game and then, on Sunday, watching Char turn 80.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

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: Mighty Clouds of Joy (1974)

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

1) This song celebrates serenity. Are you feeling peaceful this morning?
Yeah, pretty much.

2) The lyrics include allusions to sun and clouds. How does the world look where you are? Is it sunny or cloudy?

Bright, but grey.

3) This week's featured artist, BJ Thomas, is in the Grammy Hall of Fame for another hit record that uses weather as a metaphor, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." Make up a Hall of Fame that you believe you should be inducted into. (For example, Crazy Sam has inducted herself into The Meme Mistress Hall of Fame for her service to Saturday 9.)

Oh, it would have to be the Blog Hall of Fame, 'cause this has been going almost 20 years, and very few other blog writers can say that.

4) When Crazy Sam hears this song, she always sings along ... loud. Is there a song you simply cannot resist singing along with?
Lately I am on a Hamilton kick, and always sing along with "The Room Where it Happens"

5) BJ Thomas has performed this song at The Grand Ole Opry. The Opry has been broadcast on the radio every week since 1925, nearly 95 years ago! Of course, back in the 1920s, radio was the only broadcast media. Today we have other choices. Is listening to the radio part of your daily routine?

Only when I'm in the car.

6) Though their dress code is lenient, country music fans who attend the Opry for a live show are warned: "Just remember, there's one rule we take very seriously here at the Grand Ole Opry -- you must wear something." Easter Sunday is a day many of us dress up. What will you be wearing on Sunday?
For many years, I dressed up on Easter, starting when I was a kid....

These days it's not a big deal and I don't go to church, so I'll just be wearing what I wear every other day.

7) Easter is recognized as the start of the spring season. What are you looking forward to this spring?

It's been spring around here for at least a month...our blossoms have already leafed out.

8) Lilies are popular at Easter. Do you have a favorite flower?

Red roses with a rose smell.  Not the red roses that have no smell.

9) Which would rather find in your Easter basket: yellow marshmallow chicks (aka Peeps) or a plastic egg filled with pennies?

Actually, I'd rather find a chocolate bunny!

Friday, April 19, 2019


I was happy to wake up early enough to watch Barr's press conference.  But I fell asleep and when I woke up, talking heads were into discussion of Barr's comments, and waiting receipt of the Mueller report.  "Oh shit," I thought.

I was glued to MSNBC as they tried to make sense of Barr's comments and I was even more upset that I hada slept through it but I hoped that the meeting would be re-played, but then the Mueller report arrived and there was a studied frenzy in readings quickly as they could and picking out important bits.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

How do I feel about all this? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I listened to reporters and taking heads all day long and I have to admit that I agree with Rachel Maddow  and I think where things need to go from here is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Meanwhile, I heard back from the rare newspaper person (www.rarenewspapers.com), who isn't interested in the Life magazines, but had encouraging things to say about some of the other papers.  I'm not holding my breath.  He has agreed to repay me for postage to send it to him (last time I sent something to someone who wanted it, it cost me $50 and she hasn't even said "thank you" or acknowledged that she has even looked at it, though she did say that she received my package) and if he feels that the condition is good enough, he may pay me more, but I don't know.  I'd just like to know that the papers will go to someone who will appreciate them.  I can't see just dumping them in the trash after they've been saved for more than 70 years!

I am frequently surprised when I go back and check my entries from the previous year, how I am talking about something that I talked about exactly a year ago.  I was going to mention that last night I decided to try an idea I saw somewhere and make Spam tacos, which is just frying strips of Spam mixed with taco seasoning and then fill taco shells with the Spam, cheese, onions, guacamole, cilantro.  It was kind of tasty, but the we are Spam fans around here and I was glad there were leftovers, because I had another taco for lunch today.

But, when I went back to my entry of one year ago yesterday, midway through the entry I talked abuot how I had made Spam musubi for dinner, which is essentially Spam sushi, which we had at a Japanese restaurant and which seemed easy to make (it was).

Obviously Spam is a more versatile food than most people think (though I have not seen Spam with jalapeno sold in this area, though I understand they make it).

While waiting with bated breath for the Mueller report to be released, I have been engrossed in the autobiography of Sally Field, which someone recently recommended to me.  I was never particularly a Field fan, but I started reading the book and my word was this an unhappy person!

There is nothing happy in the first half of her book was so depressing that if I had quit reading before her joining the Actors' Studio and studying under Lee Strasberg I might never have finished at all.
She was born of an actress mother (Margaret Field), who was also an alcoholic.  Her father left the family and mother remarried stuntman Jock Mahoney, who sexually abused Sally until she was 14.  But even before Jock entered her life, Field had the strongest form of self loathing of anyone I've ever heard.  In remembering her mother, for example, she says, "...It's the same ache I had when I was five, sitting on the bench outside the nurse's office at school, feeling embarrassed and ashamed because I had once again panicked for no apparent reason...I still don't know why grammar school was so agonizing for me.  Still can't figure out whether the agony was waiting for me in the school or I brought it in with me.  Either way, it didn't matter because nothing and no one could distracter or engage enough to lessen the dread I felt..."  She never had a school friend.  Never.

It goes on like that for some 200 pages.  Even when she had a successful TV series (first Gidget and thenThe Flying Nun) she hated it.  Hated everything she did, whether successful or not.  As I read it, I could, for the first time, understand her famous quote on receiving her second Oscar. "The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it—and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" (often misquoted as "you like me! you really like me!)

The Actors' Studio was her saving grace and she discovered a sense of her own talent.  I have just come to that part of the book and I'm hoping that she will eventually find something good in her life.  I know she has done some very good work on film and I hope as I continue this book, she will finally accept her own talent.

She has not yet met Burt Reynolds, with whom she had a 3 year relationship, which was not easy either.

I keep asking myself why I am reading this book, but I continue.  It is easy reading and interesting, in a very sad sort of way.