Friday, February 23, 2018

Mental Clutter

Without evidence to the contrary, I think we all pretty much assume that what we experience, what is normal for us, is pretty much what is normal for everyone.  I know I was 12 years or so old and got health insurance before I discovered that it was NOT normal to have a good eye and a bad eye.  I just assumed everyone did and was surprised when the doctor tried to correct my amblyopia (they caught it too late and never did get it corrected until my cataract surgery 2 years ago!)

So maybe not everyone goes to sleep the way I do.  I know probably all of you sleep in a bed, but that isn't what I'm talking about.

When I get onto my couch and snuggle under my quilt and get my pillow punched into the right shape, my brain goes onto auto pilot.  It decides what I'm going to think about as I fall asleep.  I kind of visualize this long plain white banner on which is printed ... oh, I don't know ... something about the day, or memories of something, or thoughts about a particular political issue I'm upset about (I try not to think about that), or just what is on the schedule for tomorrow. If I haven't written this entry yet, I'll think about what I want to say in the morning.  Often, because I'm a food-a-holic, my last thought before going to sleep is what I plan to eat when I get up.

Last night as I sat here writing this entry, my body cried out to go to sleep!!!  I finished up and went to the couch, but that mental white banner was as jumbled as the stuff on my desk. Thoughts I could not control came flying in from everywhere, everything from the things I planned to do that I've been putting off for weeks, to unpleasant memories from decades ago, to sadness over deaths we've experienced, to concern about my mother, to the projects I'm working on for SwapBot.

It was a real collage of feelings, thoughts, emotions, and visual images.  I tried to sort through them and concentrate on only one or two, but the effort of doing so woke me up and I ended up back in the family room watching Morning Joe and then as that got too depressing, switching to Netflix to finish the last 3 episodes of Grace and Frankie.

It was after 5:30 when I finally decided to try the couch again and by now all the mental clutter had gone and I don't think I was awake long enough to think of anything at all.  I managed to sleep for 2 hours.

Walt went off to San Francisco to the symphony this afternoon, after a "nap-ette" (he said) before hand.  It was quiet downstairs until he left and especially after he was gone.  I had all sorts of grand plans for things I was going to get accomplished and as usual did few of them, but I did make a big dent in the unfolded laundry and made "mystery soup."

I call it "mystery soup" because when I got home from the supermarket yesterday, the refrigerator and freezer were very full so I had to remove some things and chose to remove all the bones I had accumulated.  I knew there were turkey bones but I didn't know what the other bones were.  Some were from our spare ribs last night, others I haven't a clue.

Anyway, I plopped them all in the Instapot with veggies (some of which were well past their prime) and herbs and pressure cooked them for 2 hours, resulting in a flavorful broth, once I removed all the solid from the liquid.

The "mystery bones" looked solid and like regular bones, but after being pressure cooked for two hours they practically crumbled when I touched them.

I took all the solids and put them in a blender with some of the broth and blended it all up and it will be Polly's food for several days.  She was Very Happy.

In the evening, I alternated between watching ice dancing at the Olympics and flipping to MSNBC  to hear what is going on in Washington today.  This whole "arm teachers" thing is fraught with so MANY problems it's hard to know where to begin.  Teachers already have to buy their own classroom supplies because there isn't enough money in the budget.  Who is going to buy the guns and ammo and pay for training?  Will we arm nursery school teachers? Will a teacher have time to both protect kids in the closet AND go all Rambo on a shooter?

And, if we have a school filled with armed teachers, what happens when the police arrive to capture the bad guy and sees a hall filled with people with guns?  Who does he shoot?  Will teachers have the marksmanship to shoot just the bad guy and not the kids who are fleeing from him?

How many schools ARE there in the United States?  How many to-be-armed teachers are we talking about?  Thousands? Millions?  Where does the money come from?  Who will pay for the psychological assistance a teacher who might actually be lucky and hit someone will need after killing another human?

Oh such a bad idea.  Isn't it easier just to ban assault rifles???

Interesting to run #45's comments on background checks and compare them with Wayne LaPierre's comments and note that they are nearly word for word identical.  This does not bode well for substantive changes a-coming.

(I was also tickled to learn that several businesses--car rentals and banks--are ending their association with the NRA and that the FBI may be investigating the NRA to see if they are laundering money for Russia.  It's terrible that the NRA has such a terrible reputation when it is my understanding that the majority of the actual membership does not agree with the opinions of Wayne La Pierre.)

It's more pleasant to watch ice dancing.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Castoff Day

Today was the big day!  It was the day my mother was having her cast off. 

When I told her, thinking it would make her happy, she didn't know what I was talking about and when I pointed to her cast, she said "what is that and why do I have it?"

I had to encourage her to get up and come with me.  She didn't realize that "we are going to the doctor" meant that she had to actually get up and go to the doctor.

But we got her in the car and I had Walt go the "scenic route," out the back roads instead of  the freeway because I knew how many orchards were in bloom and thought she'd enjoy that, though she didn't seem to understand when I pointed out the trees. Sigh.

When we were last at Kaiser, they gave me an appointment for 3:30, but then I got a reminder from them yesterday saying that the appointment was for 2:30, and to get there early so she could have an x-ray.

We got there at 1:45 and were told that her appointment wasn't until 3:30....and that she didn't need an x-ray.  Sigh.  It would be nice if the left hand talked to the right hand!

But they weren't busy and they took her right away (as a matter of fact, we were back at Atria before 3:30!)

A P.C named Kevin (I told him Kevin was a nice name, but not as nice as "Sundance," the PC who took care of us the last two times!) took the cast off.  When he came toward her with the little saw that takes it off and asked her to give him her arm, she opened her mouth wide.  She thought he was a dentist.  Sigh.


She winced during the sawing process, but I suspect it was more from anticipation than from actual pain.  And then it was over.  No more cast.  She still has some pain, which Kevin says is to be expected, and doesn't know why her wrist is hurting and doesn't remember ever having a cast.  But at least it's done.  Now if only we can keep her upright with all bones intact.


 
Earlier in the day, I went shopping.  I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by the sticker shock.  I don't think I ever go over $200 (or even near that much!) in a normal shopping trip that is NOT for a holiday meal.

But we were out of pretty much everything.  I really don't like shopping any more and the wonderfulness of delivered meals is that you don't have to shop and don't have to plan.  But they DO only deliver 3 meals a week, so unless there are leftovers, you have 4 other days to cook.

Any shopping trip that involves buying meat is already an expensive trip.  And I was out of my multi-vitamins and my Vitamin-B, both of which the doctor says I should take, and that's a big cost right there. 

On this trip, I also paid attention to the odd fruits I had not seen before, like the "Sumo Citrus" which looked like tangerines on steroids....big and muscular (someone said that they are really quite good).  I was particularly intrigued by the rambutan and passion fruit.


I knew of passion fruit (the ones on the right) but don't know that I'd ever seen one...but I had neither seen nor heard of rambutan, which is apparently a fruit native to Southeast Asia.  It sounds suspiciously like a relative of the odious durian, so though Wikipedia tells me it's tasty, I probably won't be intrigued enough to buy one.

We are all stocked up now and with luck I won't have to go to the store again for several weeks, except for that one thing I forgot, which of course I remembered as soon as I left the store.

When I got home, I was moved to write to the manager of the store and commend the bagger, a guy who must be close to 7' tall and whose name was Patrick.  My complaint with most baggers is that even if you specifically ask them to pack the reusable bags you dutifully bring to the store with you light, they seem determined to fit as much as they can into one bag and leave 10 bags empty.  When I complain, they tell me not to worry--that they will carry the bags to the car for me.  My question of whether they will then come home with me and carry the bags into the house goes unanswered (and my wit unappreciated).  Patrick first asked me if I wanted the bags to be packed light, then he packed one bag and had me test it for weight.  When all the bags were loaded in the cart, he started to push it to the car and then stopped and asked if I'd prefer to push it myself (which I appreciated, since I use the cart as a quasi cane).  He was so considerate and friendly that I thought the manager should know what an impression he made on me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fenton's

One thing my father taught me was a deep love of chocolate malts.  He could get positively orgasmic over a good chocolate malt.  I remember sitting on a stool in the little drug store near our house, having chocolate malts together (in those days, drug stores often had a place where you could get a sandwich or an ice cream treat).

It's hard to find a good malt these days.  A long time ago, I discovered vanilla malts, which are even better (IMO) than chocolate, but places that offer malts often put so little actual malt powder in their drinks that they are essentially tasteless.

However, Fenton's, a creamery we knew in Oakland which we visited far less than I wanted (I had to force myself to stay away from the place!) opened an outlet at the old Nut Tree site (about 20 miles from Davis) and we have occasionally gone there for lunch.  I have taken my mother there for ice cream and she loved it.  I'm not sure she would now...too loud for her.

Char and I have chosen Fenton's as a location for meeting for lunch.  It's a longer drive for her than it is for me (three times as far), but that is her preference for where we meet.  Today was that day.

I got there early and ordered a vanilla malt to have while waiting.  

Char finally arrived and ordered her own vanilla shake and we both ordered our standard meal, a crab salad sandwich, adding onion rings instead of potato chips.

It was a huge lunch and I was not hungry for dinner (I also brought half of the sandwich home for Walt).

We had a nice visit, and then said good bye. I decided to go home the "back way" through the town of Winters, where I knew I would find lots of trees in blossom.  I did not, however, expect to run into this...

This guy was very patient while I got out my cell phone and took several shots...he even posed, buy opening his wings a bit. 

I finally left and drove toward home, finding the orchards I expected to find.

This is such a beautiful time of year and I just love all those never ending blossoms.  Such a shame it lasts such a short time.

I came home, took a nap, and woke up so full I realized that I was not going to want dinner.  Thank goodness I made a meat loaf last night, so Walt is on his own for fixing his dinner.  I'm going to watch for Lindsay Vonn and remember how good that malt tasted!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It's Only a Game


As I was driving to my dentist appointment yesterday, I was listening to an interview on NPR. The man being interviewed worked in developing video games and said that the last game he was expected to work on was a game which allowed the player to choose a random person on the street and shoot him.  He was to help make the blood look more realistic.

There is always a lot of talk about the effect of violence on children (and young adults) and whether it plays any role in the increase in violence we are seeing in this country.

I did some research on violent video games (leaving aside violent TV shows and violent movies) and was shocked at what I saw.  There is even this video game.


which uses actual film from the massacre.  Great fun, of course.  At least one of the recent mass murderers apparently spent a lot of time playing this video game before he went on his rampage.
I wondered what parents are thinking letting their kids play games like this--or a game in which the idea is to kill random people.

Then I thought about that infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super bowl and how up in arms parents were at what their kids might have seen and how it would warp them.  You know, I saw the reruns of that infamous split second many times over many news broadcasts and I never saw any breast tissue -- and I was looking for it and was seeing it up close and personal on my television screen, not from half a football field in the stands somewhere.  (When I checked photos on Google, I did finally see what people were talking about)


Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were under some sort of black cloud for a long time because of what they did to the psyches of the country's young people.  Yet those same parents let their kids virtually shoot people at random?  (OK, not necessarily the same parents)

When a baby is born, it knows nothing.  It learns what is good and what is bad, what is acceptable and what is not, what is normal and what is not from observing the world around him, so it only makes sense that realistic role playing games have had a part in inuring today's kids to the shock of violent crimes...that, and how often they are reported on television.  I suspect they learn more of what is acceptable from "Super Columbine Massacre" than from Roadrunner cartoons.


My dental appointment went well.  It's not often that Cindy says "good brushing" to me! Best part was that the posters on the ceiling had been rotated.  I am used to seeing posters of types of peppers or animals threatened extinction, or varieties of fruit (like durian), but today I got to concentrate on something different.



Whoever first got the idea of putting posters on the ceilings of dental offices was absolutely brilliant.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Word Nerds

The last time we attended a taping of our favorite radio show, Says You, ("a radio game show of bluff and bluster, words and whimsey") Richard Sher, who started the show in 1996, was the host.  Richard died in 2015 and actually, though I have been a devoted listener lo these many years, I had a difficult time listening to the show without Richard at the helm.

Richard was first replaced by Barry Nolan, who had been a panelist for all those years, but I found he was a much more enjoyable panelist than he was a host and so I just stopped listening altogether.  Walt still listens, but he no longer lets me know it's on, so I haven't heard it in a long time.

Barry has since been replaced by Gregg Porter of Seattle's KUOW.  I had never heard him before, though he has been hosting for some time now.

Says You broadcasts at various venues around the country.  Though they are based in Boston you may find them all over the place.  We have seen them in San Francisco, in So California, and somewhere near Stanford.  One weekend we flew to Burbank and attended tapings in two different venues on two different days. We began to recognize some of the other "regulars" as we stood in line waiting to get into the venue.  I even worked for panelist Tony Kahn for awhile, doing some transcription for him and his own PBS radio show.

I think the group must have come to San Francisco once before, since Richard's death, because the guy sitting in the box seat with us yesterday saw them at Herbst theater, and we did not.
Walt let me know a few months ago that the show would be recording in San Francisco on my birthday, which seemed to answer the question "what are you going to do on your birthday?"
We drove down to SF in the afternoon and got there in time to have dinner at Max's Opera Cafe.  They must have known I was coming.

 
It was delicious and though the cabbage didn't look that appetizing, it was almost (but not quite) better than the crab cakes, but it was sautéed with bacon and onions and huge chunks of shitaki mushrooms and was fabulous.

 
We were finished in plenty of time to walk the block to Herbst Hall and find our box seats.
Then the panelists came out and filled in the "stereo left, stereo right" seats.

 
We did wonder whatever happened to Barry Nolan, who said he had been out on SF Bay during the day, but didn't mention the color of his face!

 
They tape two shows each time and toward the end of the first show, the host made the announcement that I was in the audience and celebrating my birthday.  Tony (left above) said he didn't realize I was there.  I guess someone backstage had been checking the Says You Facebook page, where I mentioned looking forward to going to the show for my birthday.  It was a lovely surprise to be recognized.

All three of the kids (and grandkids) called during the day, which was lovely.

I got to sleep before midnight and slept almost 7 hours, so it was a win-win-win situation all around.  I am a lucky woman.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Stealing


1. What is your middle name and what is a middle name you'd rather have instead? Why?
It's Anne and I'm happy with it.


2. How would you spend $1MM (you have to spend every penny!)
Help my kids with what they need most, give the maximum amount ($200 ea) to my sponsored kids on Compassion, and see how many clean water set-ups I can have built in Kenya (where I have the most sponsored kids)


3. Yellow light - speed up or slow down??
Slow down -- that drives Bostonite Jeri nuts.


4. What was the last movie you saw and what did you like/dislike about it?
Jane, which is a documentary about Jane Goodall .... I loved it!  She is one of my heroes and I have long followed her work with chimpanzees.


5. If a movie was made about you, who would portray you in that movie?
Melissa McCarthy,


6. What is the strangest thing you've eaten and what did it taste like?
Ewww....Durian.  Indescribably awful.


7. What color is your bathroom?
Blue (the guest bathroom, which I use the most, is covered with wallpaper that has old fashioned toilets on it)


8. If you could vacation anywhere in the world RIGHT NOW, where would it be and why?
Right NOW?  Don't rush me with decisions!


9. What is your least favorite thing to cook?
Kale.


10. What is the dish you make that your family rolls their eyes at?
I don't think there is anything, except maybe Joe Special (spinach, hamburger, eggs, Parmesan cheese), because before Home Chef I made it so often.


11. What are three things on your bucket list?
* see Hamilton
* more movies this year
* see the end of the Trump administration.


12. How many skeins of yarn do you think you are currently hoarding?
Zero.  I am not a knitter.


13. Today is my birthday.  What virtual gift are you going to give me?
Well, since I'm "me," I'll just see what the rest of you are going to come up with.


(Google loves me)
14. What is your favorite candy?
It used to be a U-No bar, but lately they taste too sweet to me, so I'll just say See's candy's California brittle.


15. What is your favorite time of the day and why?
Lately, believe it or not, I've been enjoying 3 a.m. when I wake up each day.  I watch TV for an hour and a half and then fall back asleep.  (I'm currently doing a mini-marathon of Grace and Frankie)


16. If you could call in sick for a day, what would you do with the time?
I'm retired.  Who do I call?


17. How much did your last crafting run cost you?
Any time I get out of Michaels under $50 is a good run.  That's why I go there rarely.


18. Can you play a musical instrument and if so, which one?
I'm a whiz on the kazoo.


19. What is your least favorite craft that you still do? Why?
I do so few crafts that I only do the ones I like.  Currently I'm working on 2 journals



20. If you could have any job for just one day, what would it be and what would you do?
I'd work with the staff at the Sheldrick Foundation in Kenya, taking care of baby elephants (I suspect a day is about all my body could take!)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday 9


Baby Love (1964)

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

1) When this song was popular, the Supremes were known for their elaborate hairstyles, make up and full-length gowns. When was the last time you got dressed up? I can't remember.  I look like shit in pretty much anything I wear and after going to 60 shows a year, a night at the theater doesn't seem like a "dress up" occasion any more.  I did wear my beautiful tailored Chinese jacket to a Chinese New Year tea last weekend, though.

2) "The girls," as they were known to the engineers and executives at Motown Records, were Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross. They began singing together when they were high school classmates. Are you still in touch with any friends from your high school days?
Three.  Joyce, Anne and Margie.  Joyce and I are Facebook friends and may touch bases briefly once or twice through the year.  All three of us exchange Christmas cards.  I haven't seen Anne and Margie in decades.  I saw Joyce about 30 years ago when we met for lunch.  I also stay in touch with my "Big Sister" (when I was a freshman).  We talk on the phone about once a month, but haven't seen each other in about 20 years, though she lives just about an hour to an hour and a half from me.

3) Mary Wilson was born in Mississippi and her family moved a great deal before settling in Detroit, where she fatefully met Florence and Diana. Were you uprooted often when you were a child? Or did you spend your school years in the same neighborhood?
My parents moved into a flat on the edge of North Beach in San Francisco when my mother was pregnant with me.  I moved out when I was 18.  They moved out about eight years later.

4) The Supremes began as a quartet called the Primettes. In addition to Mary, Flo and Diana, there was Betty McGlown. In 1960, Betty left the group to get married and was replaced by Barbara Martin. In 1962, Barbara left the group to have a baby. They quit trying to replace the fourth voice, soldiered on as a trio, and made pop history. Have you ever found yourself in a position similar to Betty's or Barbara's, where you had to make a difficult decision and choose between your personal life and your career?
Well, I loved my job as private secretary to a physics professor at UC Berkeley, and left shortly before Jeri was born.  It wasn't a difficult decision, though.  I never intended to be a career secretary, and only wanted to be a mother.  I do occasionally still miss that job.

5) Thinking of babies and "baby love," is anyone in your life expecting a baby in 2018?
Not that I know of.

6) With twelve #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, The Supremes remain America's most commercially successfully recording group, and this song (along with "Stop! In the Name of Love") is one of the most popular karaoke songs. If we handed you the mic this morning and absolutely insisted you perform, what song would you choose (any song, any genre)?
Good lord...you are masochistic, aren't you?  Any song, any genre?  How about Stan Freberg's "Take an Indian to lunch this week" ?

7) Original group member Florence Ballard left the group in 1967. She died of cardiac arrest in 1976 at the age of 32.
Since February is National Heart Month, it seems appropriate to ask: Is anyone in your life battling heart disease
No, thank goodness.

8) Florence Ballard's brother, Hank, wrote Chubby Checker's famous dance song, "The Twist." When did you last dance?

Tom's wedding in 2003.  I am not a dancer, though my mother still asks me all the time if Walt and I are going dancing tonight.  I finally told her it's difficult to do with a cane, but of course she doesn't remember that.

9) Random question: Close your eyes and visualize the most beautiful place you've ever been. Now describe it to us.

Wow.  That's difficult.  I have seen so many beautiful places in my life.  I think it would have to be the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.  Whenever I think of beautiful places, my mind always goes to somewhere with an ocean view.  These huge cliffs and that crashing surf underneath took my breath away.  The memory of it still does.

Speechless


It's not often that I sit here, getting ready to write one of these entries, and have nothing to say.  Sometimes I struggle trying to think of what to write about, but somehow it always flows.
Today, I am speechless.

I am not exactly speechless, but my brain is such a jumble that trying to sort it out is overpowering.
I have been on the verge of tears ever since the shooting in Florida.  I have alternated between fighting tears and wanting to explode in anger, especially this morning when Our Beloved Leader stood up, did not take questions, spouted a bunch of meaningless platitudes and ended with "we are here for you.  We want to do whatever it takes to make you feel better."

How about strengthening the gun laws, Mr. President? I suspect the survivors of this tragedy would feel somewhat better if they could at least think that the loss of their loved one led to some change in the rules in this country.  But it won't.  Someone pointed out that if the mass shooting of 5 year olds in Sandy Hook didn't move the hearts of Congress to stand up to their NRA masters, this ain't gonna do it either.

As others have pointed out, strengthening the gun laws isn't going to fix it.  We need to concentrate on help for the mentally ill too.

Of course.  And yes, I realize that even if we had changed all the rules last week and made sure that the shooter had lots of mental health help, it still might not have changed anything.  But is that a reason to do nothing?  There is another Cruz out there making his own plans. Maybe we can stop him.

(Oh, and BTW, the weirdos are all over Twitter claiming he's a DACA guy because his name is Cruz, the name his adoptive parents gave him when they adopted him)

Obama put regulations in place that made it more difficult to buy a gun if you were mentally ill, or a domestic abuser, or even on the TSA no-fly list.  Trump lifted them all.  You can be a crazed, wife-beating, terrorist suspect, and still buy a gun.  

His budget also cuts funding for mental health care.

So yeah, Mr. President.  You want to make me and 90% of all Americans, 70% of all NRA members feel better?  Let's put those regulations back in place and throw in a couple of bucks to mental health too.

No, it won't stop all mass shootings, but it's a step.  Something is better than nothing.

And while you're at it, let's ban assault rifles.  Who needs an assault rifle?  Do you have to blow up a deer?  Or a duck?  What does one use an assault rifle for, outside of shooting bad guys in war?  or kids at their school desks?


Three of the worst shootings in the history of this country (let me repeat that: in the history of this country) have occurred in since Trump was elected -- the Las Vegas massacre, First Baptist Church in Texas, and now this school shooting.  The timing could be coincidence, but all of these shootings were done with assault rifles yet nobody will even officially consider banning the guns.  It would offend our NRA overlords.

I don't want to wish ill to anybody, but my black little heart wishes that SOMEONE in congress had to suffer the painful loss of a loved one by either gun violence or due to mental illness.  Maybe they they could then make a more convincing argument in favor of gun control and/or mental health support.

"We are not powerless," the president says in his "sound and fury signifying nothing" comments today.  OK.  Prove it.  Sponsor the Very. Best. Gun. Control. Regulation the country has ever seen.  Be the best.  Everyone will sing your praises.  You want to out-shine Obama--that's how you do it.  Do what he tried to do and Congress would not let him do.  Be a hero.

And pigs will fly.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

29 in 18

There have been 29 mass shootings (12 in schools) in this country in 2018. 
In only 45 days of the year.

Think about it:

February 14, 2018 Florida
February 13, 2018 Louisiana
February 11, 2018 Michigan
February 10, 2018 Kentucky
February 7, 2018 Florida
February 5, 2018 Colorado
February 3, 2018 Ohio
January 31, 2018 Missouri
January 28, 2018 Pennsylvania
January 28, 2018 Pennsylvania
January 28, 2018 Indiana
January 27, 2018 California
January 27, 2018 Kentucky
January 25, 2018 District of Columbia
January 23, 2018 Pennsylvania
January 23, 2018 Kentucky
January 21, 2018 Florida
January 21, 2018 Illinois
January 17, 2018 District of Columbia
January 16, 2018 South Carolina
January 15, 2018 Florida
January 14, 2018 Alabama
January 14, 2018 Alabama
January 12, 2018 Tennessee
January 11, 2018 Missouri
January 7, 2018 Florida
January 5, 2018 Mississippi
January 4, 2018 Arkansas
January 1, 2018 Alabama


What will it take for changes to be made in our gun laws?  Deporting people who have been here as responsible citizens for 40 years is NOT going to cure this problem!  Strengthening gun laws will not eliminate the problem, but it would help!  (If nothing else, it would show the country that our congress critters actually CARE about the problem and are willing to do more than just give a "moment of silence" for the victims.) There were two police officers routinely assigned to the school attacked today (the NRA solution) --- and still there are somewhere around 17 deaths and ~14 injuries.  (Obviously these stats may change as more information becomes available)

From Amy Ferris:  

17 humans who aren't walking through the door tonight, who aren't going to run into someone's arms tonight, who aren't going to give a kiss & a hug to someone they love tonight, who aren't going to be sitting at the dining room table or watching their favorite TV shows tonight, who won't be snuggling with their mother or father or sister or brother tonight, who won't be getting up to go to school tomorrow. 

17 dead; 17 lives taken because bullets & guns mean more than a human life.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Valentine Redux

I said it last year and can't possibly improve on it this year, so here's a repeat, with slight revisions...

As I sit here in my office writing this entry, Walt is busy collecting all of the garbage from the house and dog poop from the yard so that he can take our 3 garbage cans (we are into mega-recycling in this town) down to the curb for garbage pick-up tomorrow.

Walt's a good guy and while I mention him in this journal now and then, I never actually write about him, so I thought that on this Valentine's day, I would do just that.

I knew I had someone special the day we brought Jeri home from the hospital.  We arrived at our apartment and he parked the car and told me to wait, then he went inside and when I went upstairs holding our precious new baby, the house was full of pink roses and there was a record of music box music playing lullabies in the background.

How he loved that baby!


SUperbaby!

It warms the cockles of my heart that he and Jeri have always had a close relationship.  I'm jealous of her.  I would like to have been that close to my own father.

But Walt was always a great Dad, whether giving each kid a piggy back ride right after coming home from work, coaching Little League or going to Indian Guides, helping make a Pinewood Derby car for the Boy Scouts, working backstage at Sunshine Children's Theater, or just reading "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas eve.


He started buying each of the kids little boxes of Whitman sampler chocolates for Valentine's day, and now that they are grown, he mails them (now including one for the spouse, and boxes for Brianna and Lacie).  

There is nobody who doesn't like Walt.  He'll do any favor anyone asks, happily, without complaint.  Right now he's on the board for Citizens Who Care for the Elderly, and has been for many years, helping raise money for people who can give caregivers in Yolo County a break for an hour or two now and then.  He does his own respite work with our friend who is in a wheelchair so that his wife can get out a couple of times a month.

He's so patient with my difficulties with my mother.  He has been there and knows how difficult this is for me at times.  His mother didn't have dementia, but she was quite incapacitated by her blindness and inability to move much.  He went to Santa Barbara as often as he could, and after a particularly bad time, he stayed there for a couple of weeks, sleeping on her little half-couch and making sure she got her "Boost and cheese" every day, in an attempt to keep her weight up.

He has been an amazing husband.  Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve him.  When he retired, he said he had decided to take over the job of keeping the kitchen clean, and every night after dinner, he takes the huge mess I have made preparing it and makes the counters (or as much of the counters that don't store stuff permanently) all clean again.

He has done his own laundry ever since the day I washed his Air Force uniform (when he was in the reserves, back in the 60s) with something red and didn't realize that his uniform was pink because he left before the sun came up.  He discovered it when he got to the base.  After that, he took over doing his own laundry and we have both been better for it!

He has put up with all of crazy part-time jobs and my weird projects, especially 10 years of hosting foreign students -- and what experiences we had with those 70 kids from around the world!

He is my chauffeur and attends all these plays with me.  He understand my terror of big trucks (a terror which developed for absolutely no reason one night in 1986 and has not left me) and he is careful either NOT to pass a large truck or to pass it two lanes over or to go slow and stay behind the truck.  He puts up with my intermittent gasps when my mind sees imminent highway danger where there is none.

He drove me to and from Logos every Thursday for four years, since my knee won't let me ride a bike any more and the City of Davis won't let me park for four hours.  (Of course the beer he got every Thursday before he picked me up, at the pub around the corner from the book store, might have been an incentive!)

We have traveled the world together and he's always been very encouraging, helping me make it just a few more steps when I'm ready to give up, and waiting for me to rest when I just can't go any farther.  I have seen more of the world than I ever dreamed I would....and walked farther than I dreamed possible.

I love the relationship he has with Polly.  He is "her person" and she prefers to sleep in his lap at night.  If he walks by the chair where she is sleeping without stopping to pet her, she jumps up and barks and barks and barks until he comes back and does so.  He has liked all of our dogs, but Polly is the first dog who chose him as her person and she is so cute with him.

He keeps me supplied with mini ice cream bars at night while we are watching TV after dinner.  We both love to watch Jeopardy together.  After 52+ years, we speak in movie or play quotes and punchlines of old jokes.  I've said that we've run out of original material.

He is kind and loving and does much more than his share around here and I love him for it.  I don't exactly sit and eat bon bons every day, but I definitely don't do a fraction of what he does.

He's a very special man and I don't tell him that often enough.  So now I have.  Happy Valentine's day, dear!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Shrove Tuesday

It's no secret that I am not a religious person.  I am spiritual in that I believe there is a something bigger than ourselves, but not an old bearded man in a golden chair watching over everything we do, giving conflicting orders to different religions.

However, that said, I grew up with traditions around religion.  So I celebrate Christmas, Easter and other religious holidays.  Maybe my favorite holiday is Shrove Tuesday, which is rooted in the Christian tradition of Lent, the 40 days before Easter when people are encouraged to give up certain luxuries as a penance for their sinful ways.

If you live in New Orleans, you do it in spectacular fashion during Mardi Gras ("fat Tuesday") celebrations.

I don't think much about my sinful ways when Shrove Tuesday rolls around.  I think about the fact that tradition says you eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and I am all about pancakes.  The explanation for why you eat pancakes is that pancake recipes are thought to date back to the Pagan times as a way of using up eggs, flour and milk in one dish and you are thus able to rid your house of temptation before Lent starts.

Some Christians believe that the four ingredients in pancakes represent the four pillars of the Christian faith: flour for sustenance, eggs for creation, milk for purity and salt for wholesomeness.
The heck with that.  I just like pancakes, but I rarely make them. 

However, this year we received a gift from Walt's sister and her husband following their trip to the east coast....


...and Shrove Tuesday seems to be the best time to try it out, so we will be cracking out the cinnamon bun mix and real maple sugar and celebrating Shrove Tuesday this morning.



We have a smoke detector that drives me absolutely nuts.  We have one downstairs and one upstairs.  It seems that all I have to do is turn on the stove and it goes off.

Any time I am cooking anything, the slightest bit of searing causes the damn detector to start blaring.  And 90% of the time it happens when I'm in the middle of doing something I can't stop doing to push the button that quiets it.

The button is in the middle of the detector, which is on the ceiling just inside the front door and can be reached by a pole that I use to push up on it, if I can center the pole around the tiny button.
 
As I get older, my balance isn't all that great (one reason I walk with a cane) and standing under the damn detector with my head tilted all the way back trying to get the pole centered over the little button has more often than not caused me to get dizzy and lose my balance.  Thank goodness there is a wall for me to hang onto, which means I'm working with only one hand to push the button.

Walt is almost always upstairs when the smoke detector goes off and has to come down, climb over the gate that blocks the stairs so that Polly doesn't go upstairs, and silence the detector.

If I'm alone in the house, I may let the detector go off for several minutes until I finish what I'm doing.  No neighbor has ever come to see if everything is all right!

Every night I end up cursing the damn smoke detector.

Last night I was getting ready to sear some shrimp and had put oil in the pan and was standing with my back to the stove, patting the shrimp dry, when the smoke detector went off.  I cursed, Walt yelled that he'd get it and then when I turned back to the stove, I saw that it was on fire.  A potholder I had left on the stove had caught on fire, as had a wooden spoon.

In an instant, my hatred of the smoke detector melted and I was glad we had it.

I just wish they made smoke detectors that were easier to turn off.

Monday, February 12, 2018

All in the Family

I'll tell you, the internet is a strange and wonderful place.

In yesterday's comments there was a note from a woman named Penelope West, who said she was the granddaughter of my grandfather's brother.  I emailed her and we have been having a lovely chat about family -- what I know and what she knows (far more than what I know!).  She also sent me a photo of my grandfather's brother, taken in 1898 -- he is the coxswain in this boat.


Obviously this doesn't give you much information at all!  All of the brothers in my grandfather's Irish family made names for themselves.  Tommy almost became champion bantam weight boxer, until he was blinded by someone who wanted to prevent that from happening.  My grandfather made his name in vaudeville, where he was a well known Irish tenor and nearly got a recording contact (until my grandmother put the kibosh on that), my godfather Fred was a famous six day bicycle racer, with lots of headline reports of his wins in the scrapbook I inherited after my father died, Roy ended his career as a bouncer at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, and apparently had a feud with SF Columnist Herb Caen.

Apparently Penny has a son living in Davis and she visits here occasionally, so we hope to get together some day.  We are second cousins after all!  A follow-up email from her shows that we have been kind of crossing paths in our lives for years. There is also a woman in Argentina who is a second cousin on my mother's side with whom I have been Facebook friends for a few years now.



What an absolutely wonderful afternoon I had yesterday.  I was invited to a luncheon to celebrate the year of the dog, which starts next week on the Chinese calendar.  Our hostess has two daughters-in-law who are Chinese and so she celebrates each year.  It was interesting to see a poster of many dogs hung up for the year, since she is also terrified of dogs!

There were four guests.  Two or three others had to cancel out for various reasons, but the five of us who were there just had a great time.

The table was loaded with tea leaf eggs like these


These are a typical Chinese savory food commonly sold as a snack, in which a boiled egg is cracked slightly and then boiled again in tea, sauce and/or spices.

There was also a lovely fruit salad and also several kinds of cookies (including fortune cookies--my fortune said I was going to do "something different" this weekend.  We are going to a show, which is not exactly "different" but Confucious got it half right.)

We just sat and ate and chatted for several hours and it was just wonderful.  After you chat long enough it starts to become cathartic and you realize how much you miss that sort of interaction.
We were sent home with mandarin oranges, and instructions to eat them at the end of the week because if you eat one at the start of the new year, you will have luck all year long, or so it goes.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. Do you prefer winter or summer? Why?
Winter.  I'm not a hot weather person and you can always put on warmer clothing, but there is a limit to how much you can take off when it's hot

2. What are your favorite winter activities?
No real "winter activities" but curling up with a good book and a warm quilt.

3. Can you tell me about a time you went skiing or skating?
When I was in college, a group of us decided to go skiing.  I had never been.  I rented all the equipment here before we went into the mountains.  A guy was going to teach me how to ski and we started on the bunny slope  I remember him yelling at me to "plough!"  I had a difficult time holding onto the rope toe because I have always had terrible grip strength.  The third attempt to get to the top of the bunny slope, the heel came off of my boot and since I'd rented it here, I couldn't get a replacement.  By that time I was pretty tired of skiing anyway.  I've never gone again.


4. Have you ever made a snow angel?
Sure.  Those are fun.


5. Is your house cold?
We are lucky that we have a 2 story house and it both keeps the warmth in winter and the cool in summer.


6. Do you have a fireplace in your house?
Yes, but it hasn't been used in years.  For one thing there is a burn ordinance here, for air quality control.


7. What do you usually do to keep warm in the winter?
I wear a lot of sweatshirts over my t-shirts, and quilt over all of that, when I sit down.


8. Have you ever gone hiking in the snow?
I don't think so.


9. Tell me about a snowball fight you had.
I can't remember, but I'm sure we must have had snowball fights with the kids when we took them to the mountains.


10. Have you ever looked at a snowflake carefully?
I have not but I was really intrigued by the Big Bang Theory when physicist Leonard trapped a snowflake in glass for his girlfriend.


11. Do you have a sled? Have you been sledding?
I think we had one when the kids were little.  I don't think it lasted more than a year.


12. What do you usually do after a big snowfall?
Watch about it on TV since it does not snow here.


13. What’s the best thing about winter?
Cooler weather!!!!


14. What’s the worst thing about winter?
Well, in California, where we have drought conditions, not enough rain.


15. Have you ever been in a blizzard?
No.


16. Can you describe ice for me?
The ice I'm familiar with comes in cubes, is cold and wet and crunchy and goes in a glass over some liquid.  Then there is the ICE that likes to tear people away from their homes and send them to countries they have never visited.

 
17. Have you ever slipped on ice and hurt yourself?
Yes.  I was crossing the road in front of our condo at Lake Tahoe, where I had taken a bunch of students from Chile.  I slipped and fell on my head.  The leader of the group happened to be a physician and got me to the local ER to stitch up the gash in my head.  (The doctor by the way, returned to Chile and at one time was the physician for Augusto Pinochet.  I watched him give updates to reporters on YouTube.)


18. Have you ever had to shovel snow?
No, but I have a daughter who lives in Boston and she has definitely had her share of shoveling!


(her truck is under all that snow.  This was 2015)

19. Will you be watching the Olympics?
Not religiously, but I will watch at some of the events.  Loved the opening ceremony, especially watching the two girls from N and S Korea jointly carrying the torch.  The true spirit of the Olympics.


20. If yes, what are your favorite events?
I particularly like the downhill skiing (slalom and jumping) and snowboard events but also enjoy the skating events and any competition where the talking heads have spotlighted a specific athlete that I can cheer for.