Thursday, June 13, 2019

Only 98

It has cooled of from 105 all the way down to 98.  I guess I have to acknowledge that we have reached summer.  California is getting nervous, hoping to avoid the fires that destroyed so much last year.  Pacific Gas & Electric is actually talking about turning off power to people in dangerous areas for as much as 4 days.  I'm trying to decide how we would survive four days without electricity.  I hope it doesn't come to that.

I have enough electric gadgets and ways to turn them on without plugging them in, but not for four days.  We have flashlights and candles.

We have a gas stove and a French press, so we would still have coffee, for example.

We could drive to another town and spend the day in a mall or at a movie if the house got to be an oven.  But I don't know what we'd do about things in the refrigerator or freezer.  It would be a good excuse to eat meals out (every situation has a silver lining).  This is what happens when first world people are faced with possible third world problems.  At least the toilets would still flush.

But looking on the bright side, four days with no way to hear Trump.  Doesn't sound too bad.

The problem with the heat, even in an air conditioned house, is that just knowing how hot it is outside is is so enervating (and this is a dry heat, the good kind) -- I simply have absolutely no energy whatsoever.  As soon as I wake up from a nap, I am looking forward to my next one.  Talk about being a lazy slug.  Fortunately, Ned didn't come today, so I had no sorting of anything to do.

Lately I seem to be getting a "normal" amount of sleep, in a not normal way.  I start out on the couch and sleep almost exactly 3 hours, then go to the recliner and am awake for 2-3 hours, and then fall back asleep for another 3-4 hours....and then there is the mid-afternoon nap.

I mention this because I have started watching the new Netflix series of Tales of the City, one or two episodes until I feel sleepy, and then go right back to sleep.  
This morning I woke up to the background noise of Live with Kelly and Ryan.  Ryan Seacrest was interviewing the Jonas Brothers and they were discussing "comfort objects" they had as children.
I was a thumb sucker.  I don't know how long I sucked my thumb but apparently I sucked it so hard the doctor felt I was in danger of developing an infection, so every day I would stand on the toilet seat, to make me taller, and soak my thumb in some vile tasting solution.  After I had soaked the thumb, they put a wire cage-like thing over the thumb.

I don't know that it really worked.  I developed a taste for the wet metal and when they didn't put that on me, I would lick and lick and lick until I finally got rid of all the bad taste of whatever I was soaking my thumb in.  I wonder what they ever did to finally break me of sucking my thumb.

Tom and David never had comfort objects, and never sucked anything either, but Jeri sucked her two middle fingers and Ned and Paul each sucked their thumbs, though not with the determination that I had as a kid.

But the three older kids each had their own "comfort object."  For Jeri it was a frilly satiny-feeling comforter with a kind of lace trim.  We carried that with us everywhere.  She had to have the lacy corner stuffed in her nose when she went to sleep.

Ned had a thermal blanket to which he was addicted.  It got so old and ratty that the entire center section of it fell out and he then only had the satin binding, which tired itself in knots with threads of the thermal part hanging off of it  We lost it one time and searched everywhere for it, while Ned cried and cried.  Finally, we mentioned it to our neighbor, who said he found something like that on his lawn.  He checked his trash and there it was...the precious blanket.  I can't imagine how he would think of something so "sacred" as trash!

The most notable thing about that blanket, though, is that 51 year old Ned still has it in the pocket of one of his jackets.

By the time Paul came along, I was determined we were not going to have the blanket problem, so I never gave him the same blanket every night.  I had three blankets and I rotated them.  And when Char was babysitting him and having a difficult time calming him down, a cut up swaths of an old dress of mine, that smelled like me, and that made him happy and we didn't have to bring a big blanket with us.

HOWEVER, that plan backfired on me and he reached an age where in order to go to sleep anywhere, he had to have all three blankets AND all of the swatches from my dress!  Parents are never smarter than their kids.

It was a relief that Tom and David never needed comfort objects, though each of them nursed for more than 4 years.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

More Oddities

We're kind of getting toward the bottom of the books, though far from finished (and this, of course, does not count the books in the other part of the house).  But more oddities keep turning up.  Like where did this come from....

It was printed in 1915 and contains not only the translations, but also pictures of allthe U.S. presidents (ending with Wilson), a "how to" section of what to do if you want to become a citizen, and a sample citizenship test.  I don't have the slightest idea where this came from.  We never had a foreign student from this part of the world and neither of us have Danish or Norwegian ancestors, nor have we ever even thought about learning the language(s). 

And then there was this book...

Yes, I worked as a typist for an ob/gyn office for 12 years, and I certainly would remember acquiring this book, but I don't.  And don't know what I'd do with it if I did.

Today's last oddity is this

I'm not even quite sure that I know where Tunisia IS, much less wondered about living there! Where DID all of these books come from?

In a way I will be sorry when we have finally sorted through and given away so many books.  It is, I have to admit, a voyage of discovery every time Ned sets up stacks of books for me to sort through.  Of courses the next problem will be--where will we put all the books we decided we want to keep, since all of the bookcases in the other rooms are full.  I hadn't thought of THAT problem yet.

We went to see Shrek--the Musical tonight and it was a fun show.  Jeri and I always send each other pictures of the programs for whatever show we were seeing each night.  By coincidence, tonight she was seeing Fun Home with music by Jeanine Tesori, who also wrote the music to Shrek.

After several "dry" weeks, it appears we are headed into a busy season.  We have one more show to see this week, then three next week, and Oklahoma! the following week.  There's also a memorial service, a graduation party, and a dental appointment in there too.  So I guess I won't be bored for awhile.

Friday, June 7, 2019

I can't believe I ate the hole thing

I decided that if I wrote an entry about donuts, I'd remember that today is National Donut Day and would remember to go out and get donuts for breakfast.

Then I stumbled across an Alton Brown Good Eats episode all about donuts and realized that there is more history to donuts than I realized.  The donut is an offshoot of the Dutch "oliekoek" which was round balls of dough, fried and covered with a sugary substance.

The Dutch brought donuts with them so that by  the start of the 19th century, this country had donuts.  The earliest printed mention of donuts comes from a 1809 book by Washington Irving.
Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast of an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough-nuts, or oly koeks: a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, excepting in genuine Dutch families.
Wikikpedia adds a bit more of the history:  Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was 16 years old. Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of doughnuts twisted into various shapes and with the raw center of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship's tin pepper box, and to have later taught the technique to his mother. Smithsonian Magazine states that his mother, Elizabeth Gregory, "made a wicked deep-fried dough that cleverly used her son's spice cargo of nutmeg and cinnamon, along with lemon rind," and "put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough might not cook through", and called the food 'doughnuts'.

Though "doughnut" is the proper spelling, "donut" is also correct and given that Americans are all for doing things the fast way, is much faster to type than doughnut.

When I was a kid, there was a donut shop on Market Street in San Francisco and I loved standing at the window and watching the hot donuts roll off the machine

When our kids were little, my mother usually had donut holes for them to snack on when we visited (Walt's mother had M&Ms).

The best donuts I've had recently were apple cider donuts, which we bought on Apple Hill in the fall a couple of years ago.  Those were wonderful...and every fruit stand sold them.

I was going to try making them, since they are baked, not fried, and went out and bought donut baking pans...but have since lost the pans, so I have not yet made them.

I probably won't get all patriotic and try these....

Being a plain person, my druthers are always either sugar or glazed, but apparently you can find all sorts of specialty donuts.  I'll be happy if I can just have my sugar donuts tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

All It Takes is a Keyboard

I have been so concerned about my typing in the last few years.  It seems I can't type two words without making 3 typos.  I still type fast because I've learned to correct errors almost as fast as I type.

People who want to borrow my keyboard are very frustrated because most of the letters have worn off from overuse.  I don't need them, but if you don't touch type, it's difficult to use my computer.

I am not quite so error-prone on my laptop, so I wondered if maybe my error rate would go down if I had a better keyboard.  But when I went to shop at Office Max, all they had were the same flat-ish key keyboards like that one I had.  My guru told me what kind I needed to order from Amazon, but I never got around to it.

Yesterday Ned found another keyboard in among the "stuff" (he says it might even have been his that he moved over from Sacramento) and got it installed.  This is the fourth paragraph in this entry and I have made TWO typos since I began, so I think I have solved my problem.

We aren't at the end of the Big Book Sort, but the end is in sight.  So far we have filled 22 large boxes and donated two to a rummage sale.  We have found such weird things.  When we FINALLY get this all done, it still hasn't made a dent in our book collection,, since this is just sorting through the books in t he two rooms that Ned and Marta will be occupying.  There are still books in Walt's office, his bedroom, my office, the family room and the living room. But we don't need to get to them yet.

I sorted through the first box of my clothes (all my clothes are now in boxes awaiting a solution to the termite problem).  I have a kinda/sorta new wardrobe of all the things I'd forgotten I had...and she tells me there are two more boxes to go through.  I have two bags ready for donation somewhere.

I had a nice visit with my mother yesterday. She was very pleasant, very talkative and didn't make a bit of sense. But I just go along with her and it works out all right.  When she used to ask me why her sister(s) haven't been to visit, I used to tell her they were dead, but each time it's a fresh grief and anger that "nobody told me."  Now I just make up a story about where the specific sibling is and that seems to suit her.  She has, however, seen and talked to her mother often, who is in good shape for someone in her 140s.

She pointed to Simba, the dog who lives at Eldervilla, and told me he was a nice dog and asked his name. I told her, and when 2 minutes later he moved to the other side of the couch, she said it was a nice dog she had not seen before. But that's just the way things are these days.  Visits are more for ME, I think, than for her.

Nicest thing was that she told me several times what a nice house she lived in and how much she likes it there. I'M SO HAPPY!

I'm going to start taking photos on my cell phone to show her because that's something we can talk about, briefly--and often.
So on a more serious note -- I'm sure you remember those 1000+ kids that our government kidnapped 
and put in prison for months?  You know, the group that had 8 of them die while in our "care."
Well, the latest, if you haven't heard the news,  last month, 37 children, age 5-12, were put in a van for what was to be a 30 minute ride, after which they would be reunited with their loved ones.  The children spent 23 to 39 HOURS in the van.
NBC News obtained emails sent between employees of BCFS Heath and Human Services, the government contractor and nonprofit organization responsible for transporting the children, who were frustrated by the lack of preparation by ICE, and senior leadership at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)....

Despite two notifications from HHS that the children would be arriving, ICE officers kept to their regular schedule, clocking out for the day while the parking lot filled with children eager to see their parents again. There was no one present to greet the arriving children and they were not equipped to process them in a parking lot, the BCFS official told NBC News, describing the scene as "hurried disarray."
I'm not sure - have we made America great yet?

Monday, June 3, 2019

Who Knew?

Because of Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing, I didn't get a chance to recognize "World Outlander Day," which is June 1, the anniversary of the publication of the first Outlander book ("Outlander") in 1991.

Though I am an avid fan of the 8 books (and eagerly awaiting Book 9 later this year), it didn't start that way.  I don't know who recommended the first book to me -- it might even have been my mother.

I can't remember if I read it all the way through the first time or not, but I set it aside for a long while.  I don't remember what made me pick it up again, and this time got caught up in the magic of the Outlander world and read that and the subsequent books which had been written to that point.  I don't think it had anything to do with my Scottish heritage, but that didn't hurt.  And I don't think that I was immersed in the Outlander story when Walt and I went to Scotland or I would have paid more attention.  I was more interested in bagpipes than anything else.

This is a time travel series, and I'm not really into sci fi.  But it's not really sci fi.  It's a great love story, and I'm not into chick lit but this is...different.  It is kind of historical fiction and I've always liked that, but I certainly would not file the books under "history." I'm not into war books or cruelty in books.  And yet the series is all of these things and I love it mostly because Diana Gabaldon is such a good writer.  Above all, I like good writing, especially in long books (most books are >1000 pages).  And she does incredible in-depth research on the era she is covering (18th century Scotland).

I loved the story of Claire, a married former army nurse on her second honeymoon to Scotland with husband Frank, an historian, when, on a solo trip to a site of some standing stones, so prevalent in Scotland, she happened  to touch one of the stones and was instantly transported to the 18th century.
Attacked by her husband's look-alike, Jonathan ("Black Jack") Randall, whom Claire realizes from her husband genealogy research is his umpty umpth grandfather. She is rescued by a band of highlanders and taken to a house, where she ends up treating young Jamie, who has a dislocated shoulder.  The rest is the start of history.

Over the next books, they fall in love, marry to save her from Randall (making her an historical bigamist), both Claire and Jamie at different times, are captured and tortured and saved by the other, they live in France trying to change history, unsuccessfully, during which time Claire is raped by the King.
They return to Scotland  Knowing Jaimie will be killed in the upcoming battle of Culloden, Claire returns to the 20th century to give birth to their child so there will be "something left of him" after his death.   Twenty years later, after discovering that he survived the battle and was working as a printer in Edinburgh, she returns to Scotland to see if the romance is still there.  It is, of course.

There follow many adventures with pirates, indians, and lots of different bad guys, always with the relationship between the two foremost in the story.  Author Gabaldon says the story will end with Book 10, so there are at least three more years before we know in which century Claire dies.

Fans of the books were thrilled to say the least when STARZ decided to make a mini series out of Book 1.  Gabaldon had turned down many offers to turn the book into a movie, feeling "a" movie couldn't possibly cover the material in the book, so a mini series seemed  the perfect idea.

Casting was important and the first criticism came from those who felt Sam Heughan, cast as Jamie, wasn't tall enough (Jamie's height is a big part of all the books)  and his hair not red enough.  People complained that Claire's eyes were not the right color.  But the chemistry between Heughan and Caitriona Balf was perfect and everyone grew to love them in the roles.

Season 1 was pretty well perfect, though there were some visual things that made me wonder.  For example, the first day Claire is with the highlanders, they ride all day for 2 or 3 days, she sitting on a horse with Jamie.

Her voice-over says that she hadn't ridden a horse in years, yet she gets off the horse without a sign of soreness or without problem riding.  Now THAT is suspension of disbelief!!

The casting of Tobias Menzes as Claire's husband Frank and as Black Jack Randall was brilliant (it will be interesting to see how he does as Prince Phillip in the next series of The Crown).

The costuming is gorgeous.  I could not find a good picture of Claire's wedding dress, which was amazing, but this one from their year in France (Season 2) was one of my favorites)

And yeah, there's a lot of sex.  Some have called the show "soft porn," yet there are only a handful of episodes where there is anything that could come close to being that, but done so naturally within the scene in that it would seem strange if it were filmed any differently.  (Do people REALLY have hot sex in beds with their underwear on?) It's the relationship-relationship-relationship, and the story that keeps me a fan.  

Jamie's rape by Black Jack is about the most graphic scene in the series, so difficult to watch, but so "appropriate" to the story.

Last season Jamie and Claire's daughter Brianna went through the stones to warn her parents of news of their impending death, which she read in an old newspaper.  When Jaimie meets his daughter is one of the really tearjerker moments.

Then there are

Jamie's godfather Murtagh, who dies in the books, but still lives in the TV series because fans liked the actor so much
Young Ian, Jamie's nephew, who saves everyone by agreeing to join a band of Indians, giving up his blood family forever.
Lord John, a closeted gay man in love with Jamie but married and raising Jamie's illegitimate child.
Gellis Duncan, another time traveler who saves Claire's life...and then tries to kill both her and Ian.
...and so many more.  Memorable characters, memorable incidents.  Is it any wonder that someone decided to set aside a day to honor the book, its author, and the TV series.  I can hardly wait for the next season on STARZ and the next book!

One of the things that has kept this series so popular is how accessible the stars have made themselves to fans.  Sam Heughan tweets all the time, Caitriona Balf and Diana Gabaldon less so, but still often.  There are opportunities on You Tube to see what is going on behind the scenes of the filming and Heughan even did a fund raiser for a charity this year, bringing a lucky fan to Scotland for a "date" with him.  I haven't come across another show that is quite that open and accessible with its fans.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunday Stealing

What was you first movie-going experience without your parents?
There was a movie theater four blocks from our house and we went every Saturday, but I don't remember which was the first one that I went without my parents.

Do you still buy DVDs or Blu Rays (or do you just stream them)?
No, I don't buy DVDs any more.  It's Netflix or Amazon or nothing.

What is your guilty pleasure movie? What about it works for you?
A lot really, but let's go with Legally Blonde which is a relatively dumb movie, but for some reason I just really like it.  I guess it's because Reese Witherspoon is so good.  Or maybe it's the Chihuahua.

You have compiled a list of your top 10 movies. Which movies do you like, but would not make the list?
Legally Blonde, Toy Story (all 3), any of the Christopher Guest movies (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind), and Notting Hill, for starters.

Which movie(s) do you compulsively watch over and over again? What makes it so great?
If I like a movie, I'll watch it over and over.  A Star Is Born (1954, with Judy Garland) tops the ist.  I've probably seen it more than 100 times--before they showed movies on TV!  But others that I have watched many times include An Affair to Remember, Dave, North by Northwest (and any Hitchcock)....and too many others.

Classic(s) you’re embarrassed to admit you haven’t seen yet?
I did a google search on classics and was pleased to see that I've seen most of them.  Only 3 that I have not -- The Shining, A Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane (yes, really!)

Do you have any movie posters hanging on your wall? If yes, which ones and why?
No movie poster but I do have lifesize figures of the Scarecrow Tin Man and Cowardly Lion in the living room--it was the decoration for my 70th birthday party.

Tell us about a movie that you are passionate about.
There are dozens of movies that I like a lot, but I can't think of any that I would say I was "passionate" about.

What is a movie you vow to never watch? Why?
The Matrix.  I tried and couldn't understand it at all.  Any movie with too much fighting.  I want a story

Tell us about a movie that literally left you speechless.
Gaijin, a Brasilian film, beautifully filmed, but MUST be seen captioned, not voice over, or you miss the whole point of the movie.

What’s a movie that you always recommend?
Well, I recommended Affair to Remember, one of my all time favorites for a long time until a friend decided to rent it and watch it with me (after seeing Sleepless in Seattle, which talks about it a lot).  She made fun of it about halfway through and then fell asleep.  I don't recommend movies any more. They are too special to me.

Who is an actor you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie?
Robin Williams, Cary Grant (though I don't think he ever made a crappy movie), Spencer Tracy

Who is an actor you don’t get the appeal for? Why don’t you like them?
In the past 20 or so years, all the actors, male and female seem to look the same and while I don't NOT like them, I can't tell one from another and don't go out of my way to watch them.

Who is an actor, living or dead, you’d love to meet? Why do they intrigue you?
I really don't have any desire to meet an actor, living or dead.  If I enjoy them, it's for the characters they play and I don't want to be disillusioned to find out what they are like in real life.

Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture requested!) - gee I wonder which Kwizgiver will choose....

Sam Heughan from Outlander
(though he is almost young enough to be my grandson)

You are casting a movie, pick four or five actors you’d hire to be in it and why we’d love them together.
Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard -- these are part of Christopher Guest's group who have made several movies together.  I love each of their movies!

Which are your favorite actor pairings of all time?
Tracy and Hepburn, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Buzz Lightyear and Woody the Cowboy.

Have you ever watched movies from a decade that was before you were born? If so, which decade is your favorite?
I was born in 1943 and so there's really only one decade from which to choose and I have seen many films from the 30s, like Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.

If you were to be in a movie would you rather play the hero, villain or anti-hero? Why?.
Oh the anti-hero is much more fun.