Friday, May 31, 2019

Project Runway

Why do I like Project Runway?

I don't sew.  I don't know a bobbin from a button.  I couldn't thread a sewing machine if my life depended on it.  I don't know a thing about fashion -- and care less.  I've never seen a single copy of "Elle" magazine.  And yet Project Runway is currently in its 17th season and I think I have watched it from the beginning.  I can identify "Elle"'s editor, Nina Garcia.

My history with sewing is extremely limited.  My mother was an excellent seamstress and even took a course in tailoring at one point.  She made wonderful clothes for Karen and me.  

I took sewing in high school.  My teacher, Sister Bernadine, was a large woman who joked that the first thing she did every morning was to check the obituaries to see if she was alive or not.

I don't remember a lot about what I did in my sewing class, but my finale was a dress that I don't remember at all, except that it had a reversible overskirt that I really liked, which Sister wasn't all that keen on, but as I began to make it, she was very encouraging and I think actually liked the idea...until I accidentally tore the top of the overskirt and she was so upset about it, I don't remember her being at all encouraging after that.  I wore that dress for our mandatory fashion show and never again.

I made a couple of costumes for Jeri, which never turned out as I'd hoped.  The words I hated most in any flyer about an activity were "mothers will make costumes."  One costume I made never looked right at all until I realized that I had the head piece backwards and didn't realize it.

Walt had shirts he threw away because they needed a button.

And yet I became fascinated by Project Runway.

What kept me going in the beginning were co-hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn.

Probably Gunn over Klum, since she often drove me nuts and I loved his relationship witwh the contestants, especially when he visited the final 4 at their homes.  I had to laugh at how many times my favorite choice of all the fashions that were modeled at the end of each episode were the ones that the judges sneered were for "older women."  But I cheered the season that the winner was a rotund woman with blue hair who designed for larger women. 

The only designer who ever won (or even was a contestant) whose name I remember is Christian Siriano.

I liked him when he was a contestant, was happy when he won and thrilled to see his name starting to be given on awards shows when stars were asked whose fashion they were wearing.  He is considered the most successful designer who ever won Project Runway.  Perhaps one of his most notable designs was this one for the Met Gala.

Klum and Gunn left Project Runway after Season 16, but Bravo has brought the show back with Siriano in Tim Gunn's position and model Karlie Kloss (whom I'd never heard of before because I don't pay attention to fashion shows) is the new Heidi Klum.  The only hold over from the old days is Nina Garcia, who still sits on the judging panel.

I've been watching Season 17 but realizing that I'm not enjoying it this season, and I think this is my Project Runway finale.  There are very few designs that I like any more, many of the contestants annoy me, and I often sit there wondering what in the world am I doing watching this stuff.
It's time to find another show.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


I don't do as many swaps on SwapBot as I used to.  But I do like exchanging post cards and journals.  This year there have been monthly journals, where you keep a journal for a whole month and then send it off to your partner.  There has been one of these journal swaps every other month, and they've all been fun to do.

The day before I began the current (May) journal, Walt and I met our friends Jeri and Phil (the other Jeri and Phil) for lunch at Fenton's in Vacaville.  At that lunch, I discovered (after years of eating there) that they have (free) post cards, including the one at he left, which is one of my favorite pictures--a larger-than-poster size copy of this picture adorns one of the walls of the restaurant.

I brought home a couple of the free postcards and so the first page of my May journal was this photo and a description of Fenton's.

Today is the 30th of the month and the journal will end tomorrow, and yesterday I met Fenton's, so I got a different free postcard that that will be at the end of my May Journal.  It's kind of like Fenton's was bookends for this particular journal.  

Given the distance from Davis to Vacaville it's definitely rare that I would eat at Fenton's twice in one month.

As usual we had a great lunch.  We started with shakes (I had a vanilla malt) and I learned a great secret for next time.  It used to be I would get a small sundae which comes heaped high in a small bowl and dripping with so much topping that the topping all rolls off the ice cream and pools at the bottom of the plate that the bowl sits on.  Awhile ago I asked for my sundae to come in a LARGE bowl and that was just GREAT.  For the first time I didn't have to try to figure out how I was going to get hot fudgs off of a flat plate without licking it.

They deivered the shakes.  The waitress had asked us if we wanted whipped cream and we both said yes, but my malt had no whipped cream on it.  When I complained to the server who brought it to me she said she would get some more.  She came back with a whole little bowl of whipped cream -- easily twice what would have been squirted on the top.

(the whipped cream was actually heaped on this bowl)
Next time I will order my malt with whipped cream on the side and see if I get that much whipped cream again.

My new favorite menu item is a crab melt sandwich which is different from the usual crab salad sandwich I have gotten on several trips to Fenton's.  The melt comes with avocado and I like it a lot better.

The sandwiches are huge and I usually bring half of my sandwich home to Walt, if he doesn't come with me.  Today he was here with Ned while an assessor came to check the house and give us an idea of what it might be worth.  We have no plans whatsoever to sell it, but Ned thought it would be good to get the assessment before he and Marta start doing major rennovation around here.. 

When I finished the first half of my sandwich, I did consider taking the other half home, but it just tasted too good, so I ate it.

After lunch, my plan had been to stop at one of the other stores in the mall where Fenton's is located, but once I got into the car, I felt so full I couldn't see getting out and wandering around a store again, so I just drove home.

I got home in a full post-prandial exhaustion.  I thought about the standard Mexican siesta after heavy meals and what a good idea that was.  It took me a good, oh, 5 or maybe 10 miutes to get to sleep and I slept for an hour or two.  I woke up still groggy, was up for an hour, trying to think about what to cook for dinner, given that there was no way I was going to eat anything.  I was so groggy that I went back to sleep for another hour.

I finally woke up and made dinner, but gave it all to Walt and stumbled back to the recliner.  It was probably 8 p.m. before I actually felt "normal" again!

I woke up in time to paste a Fenton's postcard into my May journal, to make the second half of the Fenton's bookends.  Now it's time to go back to sleep.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Bridge

Whenever I think of the emotional pain New Yorkers went through when the twin towers came down, I have to think of how I would feel if one of those bombs from N. Korea took out the Golden Gate Bridge.
I only lived in San Francisco for 18 years, the first 18 years of my life, but still think of the City as "home" and one of my favorite things is going up on some hill and looking at a view of the bay, with the bridge stretching across to Marin County.  I'm a bigger tourist than the tourists I take to view the City.  It would take a piece of my heart if the bridge were to be destroyed.

The two San Francisco bridges were built at the same time in 1937 and two of my uncles worked on both of them.

(no, those aren't my uncles! ... that I know of ...)
Strong winds come through the golden gate and workers were constantly buffeted by high winds and were in constant fear of plummeting to their deaths.

Here are some stats:
*The bridge is 8,981 feet long (1.7 miles) and contains about 88,000 tons of steel.
*The total weight of the bridge is 887,000 tons.
*There are two towers that hold up the two steel cables anchoring the bridge. Also, there are approximately 80,000 miles of wire inside each of the two steel cables.
*The towers stand 726 feet above the water and 500 feet above street level. They weigh 44,000 tons each and are 4,200 feet apart from each other.
*The bridge is 90 feet wide. There are six driving lanes and two sidewalks. The width of the driving lanes is 62 feet between curbs and the sidewalks are 10 feet each. Street level is about 220 feet above the water.
The bridge opened in May (and the first suicide off the bridge was in August of that year!  As of 2012, 16,000 people had jumped off the bridge, only 25 of whom survived.).  

My father and grandfather were among the pedestrians who walked across the bridge that first day.

I remember when I was a kid, the toll to cross the bridge was 25 cents.  I just learned that the latest raise in toll will bring the cost to cross this bridge to $9.

The 50th anniversary of the bridge was celebrated in May of 1987.  The bridge was closed to cars and pedestrians could walk across it.  Walt. Char, Mike (and others) went to do the walk.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with them, so I drove them to as close as we could get so they didn't have that far to walk.  As it turned out, it was a madhouse on the bridge and so crowded that they never actually made on to the bridge, but were trapped on the road leading up to it.

It was a great idea, but they estimated 80,000 people would come and more than 800,000 did, 300,000 actually got onto the bridge.  Nobody anticipated that the weight of all those people would actually flatten the curve of the bridge. "The Golden Gate Bridge, all 419,000 tons of it, groaned and swayed like an old wooden plank thrown across a ditch," painting contractor Winston Montgomery wrote. "Frightened and seasick people vomited on their shoes.  People began throwing bicycles and strollers off the bridge in order to lighten the load on the bridge."  The engineers, however, stated later that there was never any danger of collapse.

The Golden Gate Bridge is my "twin towers," and when swords start rattling in other countries, I get afraid for the safety of my bridge.  It wouldn't be San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge, even if I had to pay $9 for the privilege of crossing it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Memorial day

This is reprinted (and edited) from 2011.  It's the story of my Uncle Roger Scott (Scotty):

By way of introduction, this is an uncle who had never really spoken to me before, but we found ourselves seated together at the far end of the family table at a dinner and he began telling me about his experiences in a prisoner of war camp in World War II.  It killed me that I had NOTHING to take notes with--no paper & pen, no recorder, not even a camera that would record video.  When we returned to my mother's RV after dinner, I raced into the thing, dug out my laptop and wrote as much as I could remember.  Here, unedited, is what I wrote..
I think I knew he was a P.O.W., but I had never known much about it and there we sat, the two of us, oblivious to the rest of the table, and Scotty talked on and on about his experiences in Germany in WW II.

He was shot down over Germany and spent 9 months in the camp.  I can't remember where he was at first (a name I couldn't pronounce and don't remember hearing before), but he was moved to Nuremberg and then marched 100 miles to (Musberg?).  On the march he befriended an older German sergeant, about 55 years old, who was in no shape for a 100 mile march.  The sergeant was trying to find a truck to hop aboard, and Scotty signaled to him to let him (Scotty) carry his (the sergeant's) pack, which he did.

After they got to Musberg, they were sitting around cooking C-rations when this sergeant and another officer walked by.  The sergeant shoved his hand in Scotty's pocket and walked on.  Scotty put his hand in and found an egg and 2 onions.  Nobody in the camp had even SEEN an egg, much less one, in literally months and he said "you wouldn't believe what I went through to cook that egg without anyone seeing me."  The next day on the march he ate the onions, though "we weren't supposed to eat vegetables because they put human manure on the fields, but I ate them anyway."

Another tale was when one guy was going around with an empty can trying to collect a spoonful of powered milk from everyone in the camp.   The deal was that there was a guy who said he would masturbate in 3 minutes and if he was unsuccessful, he would contribute a whole can of powdered milk.  The whole camp gathered in the bathroom to watch and the guy did masturbate in 3 minutes...and then asked if anyone wanted to bet another spoon of milk for him to do it again (nobody did).

There was a German sergeant they called "Mr. Stoop" who had, it is reported, strangled 3 American POWs with his bare hands.   But Scotty ran into him one time and the guy gave Scotty a cigarette.  After the camp had been liberated by Patton's troops, they lined up all the German officers and paraded the POWs past them to indicate which were the ones who had done them wrong.   The sergeant who had given Scotty the egg, "I think was taken into another room and given a medal; everyone liked him," he said.  But Mr. Stoop was not to be found.  Later they found his body in one field and his head in another some 12 miles away.

They were liberated by Patton's troops, as I said.   Scotty said that this one day he and his friend decided to take a shower.  It was the day for officers to shower, but he and his buddy had not showered in something like 6 weeks, so lined up with the officers (I am not clear on whether they were without clothes or not--they must have been because Scotty said that you couldn't really tell the officers from the enlisted men--they had to argue to get the group in because there were 2 too many and the officers weren't going to give Scotty and his friend away).  Anyway, they had to cross a courtyard beneath a guard tower to get to the shower, and as they were making their way across the area, Patton's troops in tanks arrived and opened fire on the guards in the tower.  Scotty said, "if you've ever seen men trying to dig instant foxholes in concrete, this was it!"

After the liberation, Scotty's friend came across an English soldier who was roughing up a German housewife who hadn't really done anything, but who was German.  His friend tossed the Englishman over the bridge, 40 feet to the water below.

He said that he weighed 174 when he went into the service and 138 when he came out of the camp, but returned home on a troop ship on which the baker had just quit.  There was a sign up that there would be no bread unless someone volunteered to take on the job.  Scotty said he had worked as a baker when he was about 12, so he agreed to take on the job.  He was so good to the troops that he ended up with a key to all the store rooms, full run of all the ship's stores, and his own private stateroom.  And when he returned to Galt, he weighed 174.

I don't know if all this reads interesting in the telling, but the best part of it was that it was fascinating, and it was just Scotty and me talking and I think that it was the first conversation I have ever had with one of my uncles about anything.  I left the restaurant feeling as if I had discovered an uncle--and feeling that this was the best night of the whole trip.

NOTE FROM TODAY:  Scotty and I never had another conversation and he died a few years after this incident took place.  But I will treasure it always as a wonderful night.

After he died, my cousin Peach found a lot of things pertaining to his time as a POW, most special of which was this little book:

The cover is corrugated cardboard, as if it was cut from a box and the pages inside are like tissue paper--apparently it was toilet paper.  On the pages, he recorded the names and addresses of the guys in his unit (some had X's on them, and we wonder if those are the ones who died when the plane was shot down).  But he also recorded the forced march that they made shortly before they were liberated by the Americans.

This is the telegram his family received letting them know that he had been taken prisoner.

Monday, May 27, 2019

143 in Pennsylvania

I missed it by a couple of days, but May 23, the 143rd day of the year, was declared "143 Day," in Pennsylvania, a day to celebrate and honor the Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers) by following his example. According to the Fred Rogers Center, the number was a reminder of compassion, and it meant a lot to everyone's favorite neighbor.  "1-4-3" is a code that Rogers would say to his friends in the neighborhood — and it stands for the number of letters in the words "I love you." 
Isn't it nice to see a headline dealing with something positive for a change?

To help people show their neighbors a little extra kindness through simple good deeds, the state's website created a "kindness generator," which pumps out ideas such as "Donate to a local children's fund" and "Write your favorite teacher a letter." 

Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person. --Fred Rogers

It may be belated, but better late than never.  Here are some other ways you can show you care:

- Donate a book to the library
- Bring constructions workers bottled water
- Giver a server a big tip and a good review
- Send care packages to the troops
- Leave some quarters at the laundromat
- Send friends or family a postcard
- Let someone ahead of you in line
- Make a list of your best qualities
- Throw away a piece of litter
- Help someone who's busy at work
- Give a stranger an honest compliment
- Bring donuts or muffins to work
- Send someone an encouraging tweet
- Offer to cut a neighbor's grass
- Offer to take a photo of a couple
- Clean up a common area at work
- Send flowers to nurses at the hospital
- Give your pets a brand new toy
- Give a friend or coworker a ride home
- Sweep a neighbor's walkway
- Feed some birds in a local park
- Return an abandoned grocery cart
- Leave someone a nice note
etc., etc., etc.

It doesn't take a lot of work, and not necessarily any money, to show kindness to someone.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if 143 Day became a national holiday? 

I spent the day showing kindness to lots of people.  I spent the day writing letters and sending photos to the Compassion kids, a job which is more time consuming than you would think and I didn't get as many letters written as I would have liked, but the letters were more personal than the ones I write and send to everyone from time to time. 

Ned and Marta were here today and showed lot of kindness, some of which I almost wish they hadn't done.  Marta decided to organize my closet and she found a big picture that one of our foreign students had drawn for me.  It's about poster size and was leaning up against the wall.  When she took it out to bring it to show to me, she uncovered a termite nest.  So instead of organizing the closet, they removed everything from the closet and will make an appointment with an exterminator on Tuesday, when the Memorial Day holiday is over.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Taste of Home

When my father's mother was nearing the end of her life, I don't know for what particular reason her diet was restricted, but I remember her saying "when I can eat again, all I want is a big slice of rare roast beef."

I don't know why I think of that from time to time. Maybe because as I get older, things don't taste quite the same as they used to and I miss the foods I used to love.  It's strange how many vivid food memories I have.  It's no wonder that I have had a  weight problem all of my life.

Walt went to San Francisco yesterday to go to a symphony matinee and decided to take the train down, so I took him to the train station at 8:30.  On the way home, I stopped at the donut shop and picked up a couple of donuts for breakfast.  I love donuts but almost never buy them, for several reasons -- one because I need them like I need a hole in the head, and two because it means getting up and out in the morning and doesn't seem worth the effort, but whenever I do get donuts at this particular shop, I'm always happy because if you get there early enough the donuts are still warm and so very, very fresh.  

I always think back to my days at UC Berkeley and the mornings we would go to Mass at the Newman center and then walk down to a donut shop nearby where I'd have a couple of warm donuts and hot chocolate.  What a way to start the morning.

My father didn't cook much, but when he did, what he made was memorable.  I have never had a potato salad to match his.  He said the secret was to slice the potatoes very thin, but even with that and adding the onions, mayonnaise, and sweet pickles that he mixed together, I've never been able to recreate that special taste.  I was his "taster" whenever he made potato salad, to let him know if he had the salt right.  My mother occasionally made potato salad, but it was never quite right.

I also remember the first time he made egg nog from scratch.  I can picture myself sitting in the kitchen while he worked in the pantry and gave me a taste of what he was making (without the liquor, of course).  It was like drinking flavored cream and I loved it.

He once made...and I can't remember what they are called, but Italian meat pies.  How he loved Italian food and swore that somewhere in his genes there were Italian ancestors.  But his pies were delicious and I have had them many times in many places, but never as good as the ones he made.
Of course then there were the peanut butter cookies that you had to drink from a glass.  We always teased him about that.  I don't know what he put in the mix, but whatever it was, it had the consistency of milk.

He always wanted the richest and the most calorie filled.  We would occasionally have taste tests where he would sit in our laundry room and open the window into the kitchen and we would give him a taste of two things and he would decide which was the was always the thing that had the most calories.

My mother was a good cook, but mostly cooked "basic" things, though she made the best meatloaf, which try as I might, I have been unable to duplicate.  My cousin Peach had the same complaint.  She loved my mother's meatloaf and could not duplicate it either.  Something about the texture, I think.  I can't get the texture right.

One thing I remember most about my mother's cooking was her chocolate cream roll.  She must have made it often when I was a kid.  It was a chocolate sponge cake that was turned out onto a powdered sugar covered towel after it came out of the oven.  The edges were trimmed off (Karen and I got to eat them) and the cake was rolled tightly until it cooled.  When it was cooled, she unrolled it, filled it with real whipped cream, rolled it back up again and frosted it with a dark chocolate frosting--something else I have been unable to duplicate, despite my many years as a cake decorator.  I have often thought of making my own chocolate cream roll but don't think I ever did.

But outside of home, throughout my life there are special moments..."nothing" moments really, that I remember vividly because of the foods involved.

I worked for a summer at a tool company with my friend Joycie.  We would meet for breakfast before work each morning and I can still taste the wonderful pastries I had there, loaded with butter and just toasted enough.  Another taste I was never able to duplicate, though I've tried.

That was an interesting place.  The guy sold those cheap dollar tools and I was his biller-clerk.  I don't know why but I can't remember his name, but I remember that his birthday was March 24.  And I remember after I left the job reading that he had been arrested for something related to fraudulent business practices.  I wonder whatever happened to him....

I can picture the restaurant where I sat with my boyfriend Bill and his father.  The father ordered sweetbreads and Bill dared me to try them.  I didn't have a clue what sweetbreads were until years later -- and how could I pass up something with "sweet" and "bread" in the name? But I remember liking what I tasted.  I wouldn't eat them now that I know it's really the pancreas from a lamb or cow.  Shudder.  But I didn't know that at the time.

Like I can picture sitting at my grandmother's table (my mother's mother) and eating tongue for the first and only time and how much I liked it until I thought about it later and didn't want to ever eat it again.  I am not an adventurous eater.

I did agree to eat escargot once, though, when I took Gilbert to dinner at a French restaurant.  He had taken Paul and me to dinner somewhere after a rehearsal of a play Paul was in and someone nearby had escargot.  That buttery garlic smell was enticing and he talked about how delicious escargot was, so I decided I would try eating snails and offered to take him to dinner for his birthday.  The restaurant where we went didn't have the standard escargot but had them in a sauce and my word...they were so good we had a second order.  I don't think I've had escargot since, though I remember that dinner fondly.  I just can't get past the "snails" part.

I remember when Walt and I ate dinner at the home of a friend of his mother's once.  I don't remember her name, but I remember she made pie for dessert.  I don't remember what kind of pie it was, but I remember that it had the flakiest crust I'd ever had and I had to ask her how she made it.  In the days when I could still make pie crust (another art I've lost in my old age), I was able to duplicate that and think of her whenever I had a crust that came out light and flaky.

It is weird how vivid so many of my food memories are, and so I understand my grandmother's longing for a good slab of rare roast beef.  I don't think she ever got it.  I don't know that I have that sort of longing, but if I did long for something delicious from my past, I guess it would be to have another big dish of my father's potato salad.

Thursday, May 23, 2019


I went to Eldervilla yesterday.  I hadn't been in a little over a week.  She was at the kitchen table eating her lunch when I arrived.  I sat down with her and we had a nice visit.  She joked with Mala, the care giver who was cleaning up the kitchen.

The thing I noticed most about her is how relaxed and happy her face looks.  She really does feel at home.  And she is definitely treating Sandy like her boyfriend, which he handles well.

(notice she has a new manicure)
I'm not sure who she thought I was but we talked about her parents and what they were doing today and I made comments based on things I knew about things when she was growing up.  It was a good conversation.

At one point she went to the bathroom and when she came back, she sat down and looked at me in amazement.  She had no idea I had come.  She said she had been talking to someone else and was surprised to see me there now.  Of course who "me" was, I don't know!  I know that many people feel very upset when their parents don't recognize them.  I guess after all these years, I'm just used to it.  It's not one of the things that upsets me.  I'm more upset when she has no connection to Bri and Lacie at all, just that they are "cute kids."

I did have a bit of a pang when she told me that my "glass paper" was pretty.  "Did you mean my hair?" I asked, since she had gestured toward my hair.  "Yes," she said, "your glass paper."  It gave me a pang because the subject of my hair has been an almost constant topic for decades.  One of the things my other has been VERY disappointed about all of her life was that she did not have curly hair, as some of her sisters did--and as I do.  She never failed to mention it for a long time  Every time she saw me she said "Oh look at that hair! It just makes me sick. That makes me feel so DISGUSTED."  Of course she meant it as a compliment because she wanted hair like mine, but I finally told her years ago how it made me feel to be told that she was disgusted whenever she looked at me.  She actually never used that word again and rarely mentions my hair now except to say it looks nice.  I'm not sure if I'm sad or happy that I never disgust her any more.

Sandy and I talked a bit.  Nancy, the woman whom the police picked up last week, fell in the ER and broke her hip, so she's been in the hospital and is moving to a convalescent home.  And I never dreamed that Jeannie, my mother's best friend at Eldervilla, is almost completely blind.  You'd never know it to watch her.

While we were talking my mother got up and went into her room and to bed.  I had been there for about an hour and a half, so I just left and didn't bother trying to tell her goodbye.

I often left Atria fighting back tears.  I have never done that at Eldervilla, and usually leave feeling so happy and grateful that we found this wonderful place.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Fear of Buying

I didn't go quietly into the supermarket yesterday, apparently.  I had not one but two people stop me to talk about my socks.

I told one guy that I wore them so I could be found in the dark.

I hadn't been to Nugget Market in awhile and it's always a wonderful revelation of the cornucopia of delights from which to choose.  They recently reorganized the place, and I'm still learning where to find things I used to be able to find easily.  But in the search, I've discovered wonderful new things, like green pea snack crisps, flavored dried peas which are nice and crunchy and better than empty calorie crackers.  There are also always new things to discover in the international aisles, with more and more Middle Eastern offerings.  It's difficult to get out of the place with under $200 worth of purchases.  I even bought some Ben and Jerry's Urban Bourbon ice cream, which I'd heard of but not found before (it's rather tasty).

Before going to the store, Ned set us up for more book sorting.  More hard backs.

This was a more difficult set of books to toss.  These were a lot of books that I have read and reluctantly put in the "give away" pile.

But then I come across books that I had forgotten I meant to read, like one by my hero, Erma Bombeck, "Aunt Erma's Cope Book," one of her earlier books.  Erma Bombeck is the whole reason why "Funny the World" came to be.  At one point there was discussion about having a journal-type column in the paper and I decided to see if it would be possible for me to write a newspaper length column daily (which, at that time, Bombeck was doing).  Nearly twenty years later I think I've proven that  I can, but almost never have I written anything that satisfies me as much as any entry written by Bombeck.  (There is such a column now but it's weekly and it's much better than I could have written.)

I know that I need to put this Bombeck book in the "give away" box but I have to read it first, so I spent yesterday reading it.  It's about all the self-help books that have been written for every possible condition.  (The title of this entry was one I loved from her book, the funny take on "Fear of Flying" about situations happening in a supermarket.)  It's a relatively short book and I should finish it today and will then feel comfortable putting it in the "give away" box.

In the middle of all of the sorting and giving away books, I bought a new one.  Do you guys have the "Nextdoor" feature where you live?  I've seen people on Facebook talking about it in other cities.  It's a private social group for people in particular areas of towns.  I don't know how many groups there are in Davis, but our group has been quite active, asking for suggestions, giving warnings, and just notifying others of things this area should learn.

A newcomer to Davis, and to our area of Nextdoor, wrote asking for suggestions of books about California that would help her learn more about where she is now living.  There were lots of suggestions, but one guy recommended a book called "Cool Gray City of Love" by Gary Kamiya, which he says is the best coverage he's seen about San Francisco.  I'm always interested in books about San Francisco and had to order it.  

So I'm reading the Bombeck book and the San Francisco book simultaneously and both are excellent.  I'm particularly loving the San Francisco book, and in the first chapter learned a whole lot about the Farallon islands, which I have seen 30 miles off the shore of the city but really knew nothing about.  For example there are more than 300,000 birds of 13 species found there as well as five species of seals and sea lions, including  the huge elephant seal.  Humpback, gray and blue whales regularly feed there and in the fall 30-100 great white sharks come to feed.  I could go on and on, but I expect to find all sorts of new things about "my" city and look forward to reading more.

See how we came to have so many books?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Remembering Yom

In the Big Book clean-out, we found a book of bathroom trivia, which we have put, where else?, in the bathroom.  Because of that I know that Rutherford B. Hayes was the first person in the United States to own a Siamese cat.  She was given to Mrs. Hayes by David Sickels, the American consul in Bangkok and was named Siam.
From Wikipedia:
Siam had a long journey and probably used up quite a few of her nine lives on the way from Thailand. She was first shipped to Hong Kong, then to San Francisco; and from there, she traveled by land to Washington.

Elegant and slender with long legs and bright blue eyes, Siam created quite a stir in the White House. Lucy Hayes at first named the cat Miss Pussy, but changed her name to Siam after noticing her regal bearing and high-born attitude. The cat soon became a favorite of Fanny, the president’s daughter.

Sadly, Siam became sick several months after arriving in our nation’s capital. Even though the president’s own physician was asked to examine the cat, Siam did not recover. Records show that instructions were given to preserve the cat’s body, but a stuffed Siam has never been found, according to the Hayes Presidential Center.
There were two other presidents who had Siamese cats.  Gerald Ford's daughter Susan had Shan:

and Amy Carter had Misty Malarky Ying Yang

I am not a fan of Siamese cats.  I acquired my dislike of Siamese cats when I lived for about six months with Char and Mike and then-baby Tavie (now in her 50s).  The cat was named Yom (short for Yom Kippur, a logical name for this nice Catholic family) and every morning he woke me up by reaching his paw under the door of the bedroom that Tavie and I shared and scratching the inside of the door, crying that annoying Siamese meow (Siamese cats are acknowledged to be the most talkative breed of cat.  Their meow is often likened to the cry of a baby.).

In those days, I worked in the Physics Department of the University of California, and dressed nicely for work, including heels and stockings.  Yom and I had a battle every morning.  As I walked down the hall, the sound of my legs rubbing together was an enticement for him to attack my legs and I cannot tell you how many days I had to go back into my room and change my stockings because his claws had caused a run.

For Christmas that year, Yom gave me a box of stockings as a gift.

But I still don't like Siamese cats.

Monday, May 20, 2019

"Just the One Who Died"

At David's memorial service, Paul  talked about my sister's murder and said he grew up knowing very little about her or her death (he was a toddler when she died).  I was not aware of deliberately not discussing her but since she hadn't done much after her death, there wasn't much more to talk about.
But Paul said he didn't want that to happen to Dave.  He didn't want Dave to be "just the one who died."  He wrote a song about him, which he performed, and David was featured prominently in Paul's monologue show, "Sedona, Arizona." He said that was the way that Karen felt to him...she was just the one who died.

Both Paul and David died before Facebook and the explosion of social media and I think it's fair to say that neither of them will ever be "just  the one who died."  Each year on their birthdays and on the anniversaries of their death there are many people who post things about them -- photos or comments -- and dozens more who respond to those. 

My friend Ron, who died last year, and who met Paul only once, told me one year when I posted this photo:

that he was always happy to see this picture whenever I posted it, because he liked it so much.  Other people post pictures of Paul and/or David on their special days.  Jeri posted this yesterday.

This is Dave with the cat he and Jeri owned, when they were sharing an apartment.

We have our traditions surrounding the two of them.  Every year on Paul's birthday, his friend Jessica takes a small jar of mayonnaise to put on his grave, because he hated mayonnaise so much and it's her way of reminding him that she's still angry.

On each birthday, Walt and I go out for sushi, which came about because Paul and I used to have sushi together whenever Walt was out of town and we went to a sushi place one year to celebrate both boys' birthdays (Jan 29, Feb 5) and so we continue the tradition.

And, because Kraft Macaroni and cheese was David's favorite meal -- he had it for lunch every day for years -- we served it at his memorial service and I cook it for dinner every year.  (Somehow it doesn't taste as good as it used to!)

I wonder what Brianna and Lacie will think of Paul and David as they grow up.  We talk about Uncle Dave and Uncle Paul all the time, but will that translate into their being "just the ones who died"?  I don't know, but thanks to the internet, they are certainly being remembered a lot more than Karen ever has been.  We're doing out best to make sure they aren't "just the ones who died."  I hope that makes Paul happy.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Stealing

Hi! 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!

From Unconscious Mutterings.  There are no right or wrong answers.  Don't limit yourself to one word responses, just say whatever pops in your head.  Thanks to The Gal Herself for the suggestion.
I say ... and you think ... ?

Hurry! ::
Dumb ::
as a rock
Fudge :: fudge sundaes!
Sturdy :: 
Printing :: 
is good, but kids need to learn cursive
Itch :: 
that's what back scratchers are for
Creaks :: 
Paste :: 
doesn't work as well as double-stick tape
Waste of time :: 
signing petitions to change #45's mind about anything
Let down :: 
milk!!  (remembering my breastfeeding days)
Cancellation ::
At this time of the year, "cancellation" makes me think of favorite TV programs that are no more.
Suspect ::
we haven't heard the last of the Mueller report.
Fireplace ::
The unused place in our house where you can sit...because of pollution we aren't supposed to use our fireplaces any more.
Spring ::
a beautiful time of year here, unfortunately followed by summer.
Commute ::
Something I don't have to do, which, seeing  the roads and freeways around here during rush hour, makes me very happy.
Places ::
in the heart
Fraud ::
Any millionaire politician who thinks because he has money (or not) he can run the country.
Adoption ::
Election ::
A day of hope.  Depending on how 2020 goes, either relief or all-out depression.
Moving day ::
boxes and boxes.  And more boxes. Our house is full of things left over from moving days of many people!

Saturday, May 18, 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!
 Secret Love (1953)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.  I love doing this song because it was from her movie Calamity Jane, the soundtrack of which was one of the very first LP records I bought as a kid.

Rest in peace, Doris Day (1922-2019)
1) In this song Doris admits she's spoken to the stars, "the way dreamers often do." Do you often daydream?
Always.  I have weird daydreams.  When I am reading something and am starting to feel sleepy, my brain rewrites a scene into whatever I'm reading.  When I "come to" and go back to the book the scene my brain wrote has nothing to do with the story, though it has all the same characters.

2) What's the last secret you kept? (It doesn't have to be romantic.)
I learned how to keep secrets typing medical notes for an ob/gyn clinic.  I was very careful to forget all the personal secrets that I uncovered, so well that now when I am told a secret, I don't usually remember it myself, unless it requires me to do something.

3) While "Secret Love" was one of Miss Day's best-selling records, and the song won an Oscar, she did not perform it at the Academy Awards Ceremony. She said she was just too nervous to sing it live before an international television audience and an auditorium full of entertainment professionals. When did you last suffer an attack of nerves?
Good lord, I suffer nerves about everything.  I'm nervous speaking to an acquaintance at a party (not a friend, fortunately).  I'm nervous making a business-type phone call.  Heck, I'm even nervous to check my bank balance on line for fear I won't understand it.

4) Doris' well-publicized attack of Oscar stage fright was unexpected because she began her career as a band singer, performing before live audiences every night. But she reportedly did develop more phobias over the years, including a fear of flying. Is there anything that scares you now, as an adult, that didn't frighten you as a child?
I am more nervous now driving/riding on the freeway than I ever was before some 30 years ago. 

5) Doris Day made 39 movies between 1948 and 1968. She said one of her favorite things about filmmaking was working with costume designers on her wardrobe. Do you enjoy shopping for clothes?
I hate it.  When you are built like I am it's terribly embarrassing to shop in the fat ladies store and discover they have nothing that fits you.  And if it fits you, it looks terrible.  I can't remember when I last shopped in a store for clothes, but it's probably been 10 years at least.

6) Doris confessed that when she had to lose weight for a role, she gave up ice cream. If we checked your freezer, would we find any ice cream?
You would indeed.  We have mini Haagen Daz bars for dessert every night so there is almost always ice cream in the freezer.

7) In 1985 she hosted a cable show called Doris Day's Best Friends. She used the show as a platform to promote pet adoptions and animal welfare. Most of the guests were celebrity friends who reportedly donated their salaries for appearing on the show to Doris' pet foundation. Did you more recently ask a friend for a favor, or perform a favor for a friend?
It's a little thing, but the last favor I asked for was when I asked Ned if he could change the water bottle in our water cooler for me.

8) For more than 20 years, Doris co-owned the Cypress Inn in Carmel, CA. The Inn expects to continue on without her, and maintain the pet-friendly policies she introduced. Have you ever traveled with your dog or cat?
Only once.  When we first got Sheila, I took her everywhere with me.  We took her camping once (though not overnight) and it was fun, but since we usually had two dogs and traveling with Lizzie was a pain and Polly won't ever settle down, we leave her home when we go anywhere.

9) Random question: What's the last thing you complained about?
Well, THIS week it's the damn new laws going into effect in Alabama.  Or maybe the impending war in Iran.  Little things like that.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

That's HOT

I'm trying to clear out the freezer and use up things that have been in there for months (some for years).  Now that I have ordered freezer labels, I think things will go more smoothly and I won't run the danger of pouring pumpkin pie mix into my spaghetti sauce again.

Tonight I defrosted a rather large container of "something."  I could see it had beans in it and it smelled chili-ish, so  was fairly certain this was a legitimate dinner.  And it was.  It was a chili I made awhile ago and as I stirred it on the stove and took a small spoonful I remembered this recipe.  This had more heat than most chilis I make.  I don't know why I followed a recipe.  I never follow a recipe for chili, but I must have been inspired by a food network program or something.

In any event, as I tasted it, I remembered that when I first made it, this had been almost too spicy to eat.  And still is.

You know, of course, that when you have something super spicy, water does nothing to ease your mouth, but milk does.  I found something even better.  I also had half a package of tater tots and some fresh cherry tomatoes so served those with the chili, and taking one or the other or both after each mouthful of the chili made it palatable.  However, I told Walt (who cleans the kitchen each night) that unless he liked the recipe, he had my permission to throw the rest of it away, even though there was enough for another meal.

I was reading Malala Yousafzai's book about displaced families and the terrible conditions under which they live and what they go through to try to find peace in the United States, and telling Walt to throw away perfectly good food when there are so many starving around the world gave me a twinge of guilt.  But since I couldn't mail the food to them, I assuaged my guilt.

I have never been an adventurous eater.  In a fast food place, I order my cheeseburger plain (no sauce), buy mild cheeses, etc. The most adventurous I ever got was having escargot with Gilbert on his birthday in a French restaurant in San Francisco.  

But with all the food network programs I've been watching, I've decided to start trying to eat a little bit more spicy foods.  Everybody is always tossing in red pepper flakes to "turn it up a notch" and I'm starting to do that...just a tiny notch.  I am now actually adding the sriracha they send with our Home Chef meals (still only half of what is supplied) and am slowly helping my taste buds adjust to a slightly more spicy diet

Of course the fact that your taste buds change as you get older helps.

My favorite candy bars for forEVer have been either Snickers or U-No bars.  Now I find them both too sweet for me.  I used to love a nice rare steak or a big slab of prime rib.  Now I look at them pictured on menus and know I can't eat a fourth of what the pictures show.  I am no longer tempted by restaurant commercials which show delicious multi courses of delicious foods.  I know I couldn't eat a quarter of the foods shown.

Even my favorite crab salad sandwich at Fenton's is too big and I usually take half of it home either for Walt or for my next meal.

I now understand my (paternal) grandmother who, toward the end of her life, said rather plaintively "when I can eat again, I just want a big slice of prime rib."  I don't think she ever got it.

I guess this is why, though I think I eat way too much, my weight has not changed in about 5 years or more.

I am remembering the pledge I made a couple of years ago, to set aside time for reading, since I hadn't been reading as many books as I wanted.

While I would like to read something like 75 books a year, it seemed that my average was about 50.  But this year, as of the first of May, I had read only FIVE.  So I've been spending time reading for the last two weeks and am enjoying it.

It helps when I continue to read books as bad as "A Diary on my Screwing Up my Year Abroad."  All I wanted to do at the end of that book was to read a better book.

I chose a book that I described in my review as a "palate cleanser."  It was "The Tour: A Feel-Good Irish Springtime Read," which was a low key, easy read story of a group of people taking a bus tour around Ireland.  They were predictable character types and the life each one of them (including the bus driver, who had his own drama) was changed during their one week tour.  

Lots of suspension of disbelief that they all had such major life changes. 

But it was an easy read that took slightly over a day to read.

When that was finished, I was ready for something a bit more meaningful and chose the Malala Yousafzai book I mentioned before, which tells the stories of several women who were forced by violence or other circumstances to leave their homes and relocate elsewhere.

It's too bad our glorious leader doesn't read or his heart might be moved by the stories of what caused these women to leave their countries and why they endured such hardships to get to where they hoped they would find peace and safety in this country.  Of course, he doesn't have a drop of empathy in him, so I doubt he'd be moved anyway, even if he did care about the conditions of refugee women and children.

Next I'm moving on to re-reading "The Hobbit," which I first read in 1969 (I know because Paul was the baby at the time).  Bri tells me that's our next book club discussion and I have from now until July to finish it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

On Being 11

Brianna is 11 years old.  You probably know that.

A happy little girl, small for her age.

It's a terrible thing to even contemplate, but if she lived in Georgia and were to be raped and become pregnant, the government would make her bear the child and give birth to it.
The newly signed bill, which goes into effect in 2020, forbids all abortion past the time of heartbeat, a time when most women don't even realize they are pregnant.  There are no exceptions for rape or incest.  If she were to go to another state for an abortion, that is also illegal.

If Laurel were to become pregnant again in Georgia or Alabama, and should she miscarry, she could be forced to undergo questioning to prove she did nothing to abort the baby.  Miscarriage is painful enough but to have to go through an interrogation to prove that you did nothing yourself to cause the loss of the pregnancy is rubbing salt in an already raw wound.

Abortion is always going to be a controversial, emotional issue.  Since Roe v. Wade (which I heard this morning is now in jeopardy, as some legal eagles are saying that there are issues which can be challenged to revoke it), the number of women killed trying to get a illegal abortion has declined significantly.  Since Roe v. Wade, women have had a say over what happens to their own bodies, and the government is trying to take back that choice.  Death rates will rise again.

There has even been talk (by our great and glorious leader) that there must be punishment for a woman who has an abortion -- 99 years in prison has been suggested -- though nobody seems to want to bring punishment to any of the men who father these unwanted babies.  Punish the men?  Pfft.  Surely you jest.

I worked for 12 years in an ob/gyn office where abortions were performed on Tuesday nights.  It was not strictly an "abortion clinic" because it also did women's health and obstetrical care.

I started as a part time transcriptionist and when I was offered to become full time, I had to do a lot of soul searching.  Until then I would not work on Tuesdays and considered that I was "wishy washy" on abortion.  If I was going to work full time, I had to come to peace with whatever my opinion was.  I finally decided, along with the Supreme Court, that the decision to abort or not should be between the woman and her doctor.  That if it was OK to end the pregnancy for a little girl who had been raped, could we say that her next door neighbor with six children who couldn't handle another one, but whose religion forbad the use of contraception, could not choose to end the pregnancy?

I finally decided that I was pro-choice.

I did not always agree with the choice that some women made.  I always think of  the woman who had an abortion because she didn't want to be pregnant in the summertime, who returned a year later for help in getting pregnant because she was ready and was having difficulty.

I hated the high school kids who showed up with their friends for their pre-abortion appointments in the morning as if they were going to a social event.

But I also saw so many women for whom abortion was a serious decision, who had good reasons.  The doctors and staff were never judgmental, unlike the protesters outside the office who would beg me not to kill my baby (I guess because I was fat they assumed I was going into the office for an abortion, not to type).

It always amazes me how uninformed the men (and yeah, there are some women, but mostly men...middle aged to older men) are who makes the decisions about women's bodies.  Does Trump really think that doctors will deliver a baby, then wrap it up and, with the mother, decide whether to kill it or not?  He has described that gruesome scene many times.  Does that idiotic senator really think that you can just remove an ectopic pregnancy and move it from wherever it has imbedded into the uterus?  Even if you could (and nobody has ever done it) it would be major surgery, and life-threatening for the woman.

There is no good answer to abortion, but given the choice between back alley abortions that often kill women, and abortions done by trained doctors in sterile environments I go for legalizing it and letting women decide what works for them.  If our legislators put half as much work into taking care of the children of the world now, homeless, suffering starvation, rejected by parents, as they do the life of a fetus, this would be a much better world


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Why Facebook?

There are a lot of bad things said about Facebook -- cyber bullying, terrible political battles, hacking by Russians and others, etc., etc., etc.

But when you use Facebook as I have since 2007 it's more fun than not.  I have made lots of "imaginary friends" (as my CompuServe friend's wife used to call us) here, most of whom I'll never meet but who have been following me--and I them--for more than 20 years.  I can't think of any negative situation I've had with Facebook, at least not that I'm aware of.

I've received unsolicited gifts, which surprised and delighted me.  I've had more sympathy than anybody has a right to and have joined in countless digital memorial services (even a wedding or two).  My mother's family has its own group where I can keep up with what is going on with everyone.  I've learned so much from the Dementia group here.  I get so much information and recipes from the Instant Pot group. And since nobody that I talk with on a regular basis is a fan, it's great to have somewhere to share feelings about Outlander.

Yesterday was one of those days where I hoped Facebook would come through for me--and it did--in less than 10 minutes.  It was one of those times which I have too often when I hit something on the keyboard without realizing it as I was leaving the room and when I came back I couldn't figure out why everything was outlined in blue.  Everything.  Not just Facebook, but WordPerfect and even Photoshop.  I couldn't get rid of the blue outlines.

I have had speakers attached to my computer forever but they have not worked in decades, so it was not until I put speakers in my ears to listen to an audio message that I realized that the blue outline indicated the things that were being narrated.  I opened up G-mail and suddenly the whole pages was being read to me!

I spent a long time trying to look through everything to find out how to turn OFF narration, but to no avail.

I finally put a note on Facebook, wondering how long it would take to get an answer.  The first answer came within 3 minutes, but from someone who is a Mac user (they are invariably the first, usually to let me know how inferior my PC is), who said he didn't know but this was what he did on his Mac.  Literally 2 minutes later, a PC user was there with the answer and within 10 minutes, my narration was turned off.

I cannot list the times when Facebook followers have come through for me, helping me solve a nagging minor computer problem -- or commiserate with me while my guru has the computer and is trying to fix it.

Facebook is also good for stupid quizzes, which yes, I know are designed to get information from you to be used nefariously, but I still enjoy them, like this one today, the Enneagram, designed to get my personality type.

Turns out I'm The Peacemaker. Your Enneagram personality type is the Peacekeeper. You're a daydreamer at heart with incredible artistic potential. You're driven by love, a love for others, a love for life, and a love for all challenges that life brings you. You fear loss and separation and you thrive in cooperative and peaceful environments. You tend to avoid conflicts and you'd rather not shake things up. This can often make you somewhat detached from the conflicts around you. Use your natural peacemaking skills to help others resolve their issues. You're a true diplomat that unites total opposites. World peace may very well be on your shoulders. Are you up for the task?  That seems pretty spot on, though I'm too old to wrestle Jared for solving the middle east problem at the moment.

So Facebook is a good friend.  It's there when I need conversation, and can be shut down without being rude.  It has not (yet) brought me ill and I was such an open book on the Internet long before Facebook was invented that I don't worry about my privacy being breached because you have long been able to find out most of what you wanted to know about me anyway, long before I even though that privacy was something to be guarded.