Friday, April 20, 2018

Is a Puzzlement

Things are "different" somehow at Atria these days.  She is more often than not out of her room, and may have become one of the "wanderers," which means I often find her walking around, which is a good thing, I guess.  As I was signing in yesterday, I saw her kind of shuffling by.  I'm wondering if this is the result of the meds that are keeping her anxiety under control (apparently she is not refusing them any more, which is a relief).

We sat in the entry hall for awhile and then, inexplicably, she got up to look at something on the sign-in table, then walked to the opposite end of the hall and sat down to read.

At some point she looked up and saw me and was surprised to see me there and why didn't I tell her I was coming and it had been so long since she saw me.  Though I know it's pointless, trying to explain to her that we had been sitting together minutes before and that she had left me, because she can't process that much information, but it gives me something to talk with her about.  I moved over to the chair next to her.

I had brought a 100 piece puzzle with me to see if I could get her to work a puzzle.  It took awhile to get her to understand what I was suggesting, but eventually she said that she'd like to work on the puzzle and that she used to work puzzles all the time.

We walked down the long hall to the "den" (what I call the room which has a couch, a TV on a bookcase, and a table that will seat 4 people).  When we got there there was a woman sleeping on the couch, but other than opening her eyes a sliver when we arrived, she went back to sleep.

I set up the puzzle on the table and we were quietly starting to work it when an aide came flying down the hall and into the back room, slamming the door behind her.  The sleeping woman woke up and glared at us and demanded to know why we had broken into her house to work a puzzle.  But she went back to sleep.

She is someone new.  I'm seeing lots of new faces around the memory unit these days, and few familiar faces.  Not sure why.  Suddenly there seem to be lots of empty rooms in the place.  My mother is still alone, since Marge moved out to be closer to her family.  Which is just fine, considering how unpleasant Marge was.

At first, the puzzle totally confused my mother.  She said "just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it."  So I told her to make sure all the pieces were turned over to the right side, and while doing that she found a couple of pieces that went together and it suddenly seemed like she was starting to remember how to work a puzzle. 

I thought it was going so well when suddenly she looked out into the yard and said she wanted to check on something.  She went out the door...and never came back (getting up and leaving me seems to be becoming a "thing" with her now!)

I waited awhile and then realized the puzzle idea was not going to work, so I packed up what we had done and left the puzzle on the bookcase in case someone else wanted to work it.  I may not try again.  We'll see.

I went down to her room to see if she had found her way there, and she had not, so I took the opportunity to go through her drawers and see if I could find a little scrapbook that her nephew had made for her many years ago...and I did, so I took that out and left it for her to "find."  She always loved looking through that book because it has so many photos of her older siblings.

Finally I decided to just leave and I started walking toward the entry hall and when I got there, turned around and was surprised to see that she was following closely behind me.  I sure don't know where she came from!  She was so pleased to see me because she hasn't seen me in about two years and where had I been?
I told her I was going home and she was very upset.  Couldn't we sit and visit for awhile?  So I sat with her for a few minutes, but really did have to go, so I signaled one of the aides that I was ready to have her open the door for me. By the time I got up and gathered m stuff, my mother was already walking down the hall, totally oblivious that I had ever been there.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday Thirteen

Back in 2011, I participated in Thursday 13, where people post a list of 13 things ... anythings that they could think of.  I did 100 Thursday 13s and the topics were as diverse as:

*Movie quotes
*Guilty Food Pleasures
*Things I remember about China
*Ways to cook "something with chicken in it"
*Favorite Flowers
etc., etc., etc.

Anita of Blue Country Magic has been, as of last week has written 548 lists, the most recent of which was "Things I fear."

It's kind of a fun thing to do, and stretches the brain some weeks.

Since today is 1 day before the 19th anniversary of Paul's death, I thought I would list 13 things about Paul (next month, the 22nd anniversary of David's, I'll do a list about David). Paul was a complicated person and I'm trying to add only the good things (or, in one case, the funny ones).

1.  Paul was the first birth that was induced.  The delivery was easy, but the recovery room was full, so I was left on a gurney in the hall.  I started bleeding heavily and had no way to call a nurse.  They finally found me and got the bleeding stopped, but I had lost so much blood, I fainted twice, first (and last) time I've ever fainted.  Walt knew something must be wrong because it was nearly noon before I called him because I couldn't even think about the long walk down to the pay phone!

2. Before he was born, Paul was very quiet during the day, and most active at night.  As a baby the pattern continued, which was terrible for someone with two toddlers who were active during the day and wanted to sleep at night.  I cannot think of the number of nights I had Paul in a backpack, walking around and around the dining room table, me crying, and him wide awake and so happy to have all this activity.  Was it any surprise that he became a performer, who was most active at night and slept during the day?

3. Seymour was our family dog but toward the end of her life, all the other kids had left home and she became primarily Paul's dog. They had a wonderful bond and it was Paul who had to make the decision to put her down, when she suffered from cancer.  He wanted to go to the vet alone.  I cry thinking about it.

4. Paul hated mayonnaise with a passion, so it was hilarious when he and Ned were making a movie that included a scene of Paul taking a huge spoonful of mayonnaise.

5. Paul once bought me a cheap smiley face necklace for Mother's Day or my birthday or something.  Smiley faces became a joke between us and we exchanged smiley face gifts for several years (one Christmas I gave him a smiley face tie and he gave me a smiley candle the size of a bowling ball).

After he died, the cheap necklace was added to our "necropsy ornaments" that we hang on the tree each ear--dog collars, Seymour's tennis ball, a black leather jacket for David and now the necklace.

6. In the last years of his life, he developed vision problems.  He sometimes could read, other times, the letters made no sense to him.  After he died, a professor friend of his read about symptoms of a particular kind of brain tumor and it matched his symptoms exactly.  He had such fear of any physical problems that it's probably good he never knew it.

7. His first play was in first grade.  He had a tiny part at the very end of the Christmas play, with one line.  He waited through the whole play and then his friend Kag, who was supposed to say the line that was his cue, forgot and skipped over it, and the play ended without Paul making an appearance at all.  He was heartbroken.  (He made up for it later, for sure!)

8. He was lead singer of Lawsuit for 10 years and had such a high school following that he had to park his car on a side street because if the girls, who recognized his orange Pinto (he got the car when my father died) would knock on the door to see if they could see Paul.

9.  After Lawsuit ended he did several monologue shows which were a hit with not only his peers and his family but young and old alike.  The guy knew how to tell a story!  He was planning another show at the time of his death.

10. He loved sushi and whenever Walt was out of town, he and I would meet for a sushi lunch, which is why Walt and I now have sushi on Paul's birthday and the anniversary of his death.

11. One of everyone's favorite stories about Paul was one I wrote in my diary at the time and posted here along with a bunch of other stories.

12. He managed the theater downtown when it was a live theater (now a movie house).  He made a kind of clubhouse upstairs with couch, TV, and food, where he and his friends could meet when there was nothing to do in the theater.  He was responsible for the care of the theater and was very good about safety issues, which is why his death during a rehearsal accident was so crazy.

13. We had a very good relationship and he usually called me at least once a day to chat about something funny or some movie or something else.  I think of how it would have been if we had text messaging then.  The very last conversation we had, the morning that he died, he asked if I thought it was weird that he liked talking to his mother so often.  I told him no, that it just showed we were friends.

I miss him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Davis Happening

According to the opening remarks by former mayor Dave Rosenberg, this is the 9th year that there has been an Oddfellows Classic Film festival.  Previous festivals have featured Academy Award Best Picture Films, Classic Westerns, Classic Courtroom Dramas, Classic Film Noir, Classic Screwball Comedies, Classic Comedies, and Classic Science Fiction, Classic Jimmy Stewart.  I didn't attend any of them, though Walt remembers going to one movie once. 

This year, however, the festival features Hitchcock movies.

I love Hitchcock so we decided to go.  I discovered it was a real Davis "happening."  The event takes place in the upper hall of the IOOF building.  I saw people entering carrying their own chairs and wondered if we would have to sit on the floor, but there were folding chairs (very uncomfortable) and I was jealous of those who had brought their own more comfortable seating.

There's no entrance fee, but they do ask for a donation to keep the group going.  And once you pay, you get free popcorn and get to enjoy the background music playing by a group that features, I think, an accordion, though I only heard it, but couldn't turn my head around enough to see it.

Drinks are for sale and Walt bought a beer, which he was tickled to see came in a 2009 Octoberfest glass with a caricature of the aforementioned former mayor, Dave Rosenberg.

Dave, then and now!

Paul was a particular favorite of Dave and his wife when Paul was still alive. 

The audience was about our age and I was actually surprised that we didn't see more people we knew (though we saw some...I was cornered by someone who wanted to complain about the acoustics at the Sacramento Convention Center, where she had seen Book of Mormon).  Lots of silver heads and canes, like us, in the house.

Davis' own Derrick Bang, former editor of the entertainment section of the newspaper (and my first boss as a critic) took over the movie section of the paper after they had to drop the entertainment "section" for financial reasons.  (I never write the phrase "Rodgers and Hammerstein" without remembering Derrick hammering into me that there is a "d" in Rodgers!)

In addition to being an expert on Peanuts and all things Charles Schulz (he has written several books on Peanuts and was a participant in the creation of the Schulz museum in Santa Rosa many years ago), he is also a walking encyclopedia of film and started the evening off with a fascinating history of Hitchcock, starting with his youth and early movies in England and then tidbits about the movie we were seeing this evening.

And then it was time for the movie itself.  The metal chairs were killers and I was very uncomfortable, but watching the movie helped me forget, occasionally, how much my back was hurting.

It was very dated, very hokey in spots, very Pro-America and Anti-Fascist, but also fun.  Derrick had a Q&A after the movie but Walt didn't ask him the question he wanted to ask.  The bad guys want to blow up a ship and they do but after they halfway succeed, the bomber for some reason goes to the Statue of Liberty, where he is followed by the heroine, who lets the police know where they can catch him, but he, for some reason, has  to catch a certain ferry back to NYC and she is trying to prevent him from leaving.  But there is no given reason why he goes to the Statue of Liberty or why he is so intent on getting back on time.  I explained to Walt that the reason was that it was in the script.

I went to Derrick and asked the expert the question and his answer was "who the hell knows?" and we both decided the only reason was so that Hitchcock could film a chase scene on the statue itself (a precursor of the similar chase seen on Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest years later).

The whole evening was such fun and we are looking forward to seeing Shadow of a Doubt next week (right after we see a matinee of Guys and Dolls to review).  That's one of the movies I remember.  I will bring my own chair next time, though.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hitchcock and Hickok

Tonight we are going to the start of a Hitchcock film series.  I've never seen Saboteur so it should be interesting.  Robert Cummings is the star and apparently Hitchcock was not happy with him--thought he looked like the comedy star he was noted for and not enough like a drama actor.
But I thought this big of trivia from ImDB was interesting: 
Alfred Hitchcock's original director's cameo was cut by order of the censors. He and his secretary played deaf-mute pedestrians. When Hitch's character made an apparently indecent proposal to her in sign language, she slapped his face. A more conventional cameo in front of a drugstore was substituted.

Every so often I find it remarkable how history seems to go in circles and the more you read, the more you discover that every generation has its awful points.  It's just that this particular point in time seems to be more awful than others.  But is it?

I just finished reading "White Houses," which is the fictionalized version of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lenora Hickok, a relationship which lasted for some 7 years, while Hickok lived in the White House.  The author stresses that it is a novel, but it is based on a lot of history that I have both watched and read and it's like she just fills in the dialog and situations she imagines took place while the women were following what is an historical time line.

At the same time I was watching a PBS special on the Kennedy Dynasty and Ken Burns' intimate portrait of the Roosevelts.  While nothing really compares with what we see today, there are scandals and scares a-plenty.  Knowing we weathered them gives some slim hope that they will survive this administration too. (Though I still want to come back in 50 years and read a history book for this time period.)

 I have a special warmth in my heart for Eleanor because she kept a published daily journal from 1936 to 1962.  I have a few years to go to match that record.  Of course she had more interesting days, most days.  They are all, wonderfully, reprinted on line.  (She may have been the very first on-line blogger!)
I checked what her entry was for this date in 1943 (when I was two months old) and found this interesting (I particularly liked it because I think the Jefferson Memorial is my favorite DC memorial)

Yesterday morning we attended the dedication of the Jefferson Memorial. It is beginning to look very beautiful and someday, when the cherry trees around it bloom in great profusion, people will forget that we were ever afraid of spoiling the landscape around the Basin. It was my first glimpse of the statue, because the day that I had walked over and read the inscriptions on the inside walls of the building, the statue was not in place.
Today it was silhouetted against the skyline and the effect was very impressive. I like very much the President's emphasis on the fact, that it was Jefferson and his generation which could be easily understood by this generation. Both loved peace and freedom and found they had to fight to preserve the freedom they loved.
It is not only in war, however, that we fight for freedom. One fights for freedom in personal contacts and in many phases of civilian life. When the war is over, the four freedoms will not have been won, we shall simply have dominated their more aggressive enemies. At all times, day by day, we have to continue fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from fear, and freedom from want— for these are things that must be gained in peace as well as in war.
We are very far in this country from actually facing what the four freedoms mean in our day-by-day actions. If we really live up to them, there are many little habits and customs that we have allowed to grow up among us, which will have to go by the board.
And we haven't changed much since then, have we???  In fact, we are, perhaps, worse off than we were in 1943.  That's pretty depressing to think that in my entire life we have not made permanent progress in terms of the four freedoms.

The next day after a dinner with a group called "the Friends of German Freedom," she wrote:
In many of these countries, the only non-Fascist organization that will exist when the war comes to an end, will be whatever leaders or organizations have been kept alive within the labor group. I think it is important that we, in this country, do all we possibly can to recognize these groups and to strengthen them now and in the future.
In every Axis country, there will undoubtedly be people awaiting the United Nations at the end of the war, who have experience in running industry and large scale agriculture, and who have been active during the past few years because of their willingness not to protest against Fascist control. They may sometimes seem to be the only available material for organization, unless we make it a point to look for those who have led labor in the past.
Since this is to be the century of the common man, there must be a partnership between those who work with their hands and those who work with their heads. They must all insist on their common interest because they are the workers of the world. They are the mass of people who must control their governments in order to have a chance to build a better life throughout the world.
There is no real cleavage between the intellectual and manual contribution, if in both cases the dignity of labor well done is the badge of glory. There is no reason why the workers as a whole cannot join hands in every nation and understand each other and make the future a time of greater opportunity.
Yeah...well we see how well that is working out.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. Have you ever had a movie both totally captivate and complete confuse you?
Well, probably any Star Wars movie I have seen.  I really wanted to love the series, but I'm confused by every one that I watch.

2. When watching a movie, do you prefer things all laid out or to have to 'hunt for your own clues' along the way?
I'm rotten at picking up clues, but I would rather have clues than have it all laid out for me.

3. Do you want an ultimate ending to your movie or do you prefer to have it open for conjecture and discussion.You mean "finale-interruptus"?  I hate leaving things dangling.  There might not ever be a sequel and I want to know that the good guys live happily ever after and the bad guys get their comeuppance.

4. Do you talk during a movie (preferably one in your home, not in the theatre)?
Sometimes when we are at home, though I watch most movies by myself, so there is nobody but Polly to talk to.  If I talk in a I theater, it's only in a whisper in Walt's ear.

5. Have you ever seen a blockbuster movie and not get what was so great about it?
We don't see a lot of movies in the theater, but lately I would choose Ladybug and LaLa Land. What hype both had and how little they deserved it

6. What book frightened you as a young person?
Hmmm....can't really think of one.  Maybe "Rosemary's Baby," though I was married by the time I read it.

7. If you had to become a ‘living book (i.e. able to recite the contents of a book cover to cover upon request – reference Fahrenheit 451), what book would it be?
"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck.  Love that book

8. What movie or TV show scared you as a kid?
I was almost always scared by The Twilight Zone.

9. What movie (scary or otherwise) will you never ever watch?Any of the Friday 13th series or any of those popular slasher movies  Not for me.  I couldn't recognize Freddie Krueger in a lineup.

10. Do you have any phobias?
Driving on the left side of a big semi truck.  I'm convinced that it's going to go out of control and roll over to crush me.

11. What's the happiest thing to ever happen to you?So many happy things!  The birth of each of our kids, the relationship with The PiƱata Group, my years with The Lamplighters, Cousins Days.....

12. What's the saddest thing to ever happen to you?
By the time you get to 75, not only do you have a collection of happy things, but too many sad things -- the death of each of our sons, the death of my best friend Gilbert, the death of my two cousins, my mother's Alzheimers..... etc.  I couldn't pick just one, though right now Alzheimers is running at the head of the pack.

13. What's the thing that got you the most angry in your life?
I want to say "I don't know--what has our glorious leader done THIS week?" but really the thing that got me the most angry in my life was after Gilbert died, when my other good friend was ordered by his partner never to speak to me again.  All sorts of things around that incident infuriated me for years and even though they are both dead now, I can still get all worked up about it.

14. What's the most frightening thing to ever happen to you?
I had claustrophobia as a kid and my cousin once locked me in a closet.  I can still remember how terrified I was.  Later in life, I was convinced for years that my teeth were falling out because of neglect.  I spent many days and nights in an embarrassed cold sweat.  I finally came to the point of no return and admitted to my dentist friend Cindy that I needed her help (for years I had been hiding my mouth whenever I talked with her).  I might have put a couple of her kids through college, but I still have all my teeth and I no longer have nightmares about it.

15. What's the most unbelievable thing to happen to you in your life?
I have been fortunate to have experienced many unbelievable things.  Looking around me and realizing Walt and I were standing in Red Square, for heaven's sake.
(don't think I'd want to be there now, though!)

Looking myself up in the card catalog of The Library of Congress.  Sitting and having a drink at a party with Carol Channing.  Meeting Judy Garland. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!
  Saturday 9: High Noon (1952)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) What will you be (or were you) doing at high noon on Saturday?
Probably working on this week's Sunday Stealing.

2) In this song, Tex Ritter sings he doesn't know what fate awaits him. How strong is your sense of intuition? Tell us about a time you knew what would happen before it occurred.

I have absolutely horrible intuition.  If I "know" a thing is going to happen, you can bet your bottom dollar that's the LAST thing that will happen.

3) This song was the theme of a hit movie western by the same name. It starred Gary Cooper as a small-town sheriff. When did you last interact with a member of law enforcement

The last time I remember was 8 years ago, when we had to hire a police officer to supervise my mother's 90th birthday party (because those nonagenarians are so rowdy, dontcha know)

4) Grace Kelly co-starred as the "fair-haired beauty" mentioned in this song. Four years later, she gave up films to become Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco. Which job seems like more fun -- movie star or royal?

Good lord, neither!  But given a choice, I've been to Hollywood and I've been to Monaco, and I guess I'd choose Monaco

5) Though he cultivated a "just plain folk" persona, this week's featured artist, Tex Ritter, was really cosmopolitan and highly educated, earning a degree in economics from the University of Texas before going on to study pre-law at Northwestern. Do you think the "real you" is consistent with the image you convey?

I think the "real me" is a lot more introspective and boring than the image some people have of me.

6) Tex Ritter was the father of Emmy-winning comedic actor, John Ritter. John is remembered fondly as the voice of Clifford, the Big Red Dog. Clifford appeals to children because he is "gentle, friendly, loyal, lovable and clumsy." Do any of those adjectives apply to you?

Probably all of them, adding "big" to the list!

7) Tex is also the grandfather of Jason Ritter, star of ABC-TV's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. If you followed one of your grandparents into their line of work, what would you be doing

None of my four grandparents, but my great grandfather, on my mother's side, established the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and was its editor and columnist for many years.  (My paternal grandfather parked cars for a living, my maternal grandfather was a farmer.  Neither grandmothers worked after marriage.)

8) In 1952, the year "High Noon" was popular, Stopette, the first antiperspirant deodorant spray, was introduced. Do you use a deodorant spray, stick or roll on?

I'm not sure what you call it.  You turn a button on the bottom and some stuff squeezes out the holes on the top.  I guess that is closest to a roll on, without the ball.

9) Random question: What's something you have always wanted to own, but never have?

When I was a kid, I wanted one of those beautifully dressed dolls, but never got one.  I don't know if they even make them any more.  When I went into grief therapy after my friend Gilbert died, the therapist told me I should buy something I always wanted.  I knew instantly I would buy one of those dolls, but when I looked at dolls, but the thrill was gone (and the therapist never asked me about it again).

Friday, April 13, 2018


Happy Friday the 13th, all.  I wouldn't even have thought of it if someone hadn't mentioned it on TV.
Yesterday was not an unlucky day; it was definitely a lucky day.

I was very lucky that Walt came in at about 11:15 and asked me what shows we are seeing this weekend.  I looked at the calendar and read the name of the three shows we were seeing and then realized I was looking at the shows for next week.

So I turned the calendar back to this week -- it was now 11:22 -- and saw that I had a lunch date with my friend Kathy (whom I meet at 11:30).  We have been doing these monthly lunches for about 20 years now and this may be the VERY FIRST TIME that neither of us emailed the other to verify that we were actually getting together.

I quickly called her and she said she was just getting off the freeway in Davis, so I rushed to the restaurant and got there not really very long after 11:30 (fortunately this is a small town).  It was a nice lunch without a lot of angst or trauma this time.  Oh there was angst and there was trauma and there is always the president, but overall it was a fairly unemotional lunch.

I had been snacking before I left home, so I really wasn't very hungry so instead of ordering a "meal" I ordered a Cajun shrimp appetizer, which was delicious and just the right size.  I was actually able to finish the whole thing.

Of course when I got home Walt was disappointed because I usually have so much food left over I bring it home to him for lunch, and he had postponed having lunch because he was waiting for my leftovers.  Sorry.  I ate every single bite.

I was watching Polly last night as she chewed on a lamb bone Walt had given her and realized that, with Lizzie gone, she has created an "apartment" for herself.  The bed on the left has become her sleeping place, with a blanket she brought into it.  The one on the right is her "dining room," where she brings food to either eat or "bury" in the seam of the outside lip of the bed.  

Watching her trying to dig out a rawhide treat is so funny--she gets hysterical if she can't get it out and Walt had to help her.  Not sure why she brought the dishtowel into her dining room...maybe a table cloth?

I was saddened today to read of the death of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, from breast cancer, at age 84.  Whenever I have a Sunday Stealing or other question about personal heroes, she is often on my list.  She is that marvelous woman in Kenya who established the David Sheldrick Charitable Trust (to honor her late husband) which rescues orphan elephants and raises them to be able to return them to the wild when they are old enough.  I can't begin to think of the number of babies she has saved.  What a wonderful legacy.  Fortunately, her daughter will continue her work