Thursday, July 10, 2014


A very strange thing has been happening in the dental office where I go to have my teeth cared for. This is not a new dentist nor is it a new office,  But over the 4-year span that I've been going there, I have noticed that either the dentist is getting crotchety or the office staff is trying to change the office ambience.  Either way, it's bad enough to have to go to the dentist, but when you start finding the office becoming oppressive, it's more than a little bit disconcerting.

The outer office is quite small, I'd say possibly 12 feet square.  There is room for 5 people to sit. There is a large corner table between two sofas, a coffee table stacked with magazines, a television set high up in a corner, a door to the outside, a door opening to the patient rooms, and a counter, behind which the office staff works.  It is a single dentist office.

When I went for my first appointment I noticed two signs: one was scotched taped to the TV set and said "DO NOT TURN THE CHANNEL".  Understandable, I thought.  Someone might not like what was being shown, but it was not their decision to make.  Leave the TV set alone.  There also was a sign near the counter that said "We do not take Credit Cards."  OK, I thought.  A bit strange in this day and age, but I could live with that.

Yesterday I walked in and the proliferation of signs just hit me smack in the face.  It was not like I had not seen them before, but for some reason yesterday the negativity of these signs -- all done by the computer, plain heavy black lettering on white printer paper, and either scotched taped or pinned to the wall -- just jumped out at me.  OH, SO MANY SIGNS!

 I counted:

No food or drink allowed - 1 sign.
No credit cards accepted - 1 sign
Payment must be made before treatment begins - 1 sign
Restroom not available to non-patients - 1 sign
No changing of TV channel - 1 sign
Seating is limited so do not bring non-patients with  you - 2 signs.
No smoking - 1 sign
Take crying children outside - 1 sign.
Right to refuse service to anyone - 1 sign

and worst of all........
No cell phone use while in this office - 5 SIGNS

Let me be clear, what I have listed above is just the "gist" of the signs.  They are all forcefully stated and are written in a very authoritarian way:  YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE FOOD OR DRINK OF ANY KIND IN THIS OFFICE AT ANY TIME!  

Considering there are 4 walls, and all are fairly close to where patients sat, you can imagine how it wouldn't take a person very long to see that apparently this is not a happy office.  Whether the signs are the idea of the dentist or the staff, there really is just too much NO, NEVER, STOP, FORBIDDEN, DON'T, etc.

Although re-wording the signs would be helpful to take away some of the negativity (i.e., Please step outside if you find it necessary to use your cell phone.) I'd guess someone doesn't want to be bothered.  And my feeling is that if it is necessary to continue putting up cell phone signs, those signs just aren't doing much good!  FIVE CELL PHONE SIGNS!  For crying out loud.

I am not likely to change dentists.  My strategy is to get either the first appointment in the morning or the first one after lunch, so I don't get caught having to spend much time in the waiting room.  But frankly, I just shake my head at how some people go about trying to solve a problem.  Hitting people over the head with another sign is certainly not the answer.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Each year our "Senior" apartment complex produces a very large celebration to commemorate Independence Day.  Neither Jerry nor I much like a bunch of hoop-lah so we usually don't get involved in its production, opting instead simply to bring out some chairs to set along the parade route and watch what goes by.  It's not like a small town parade; ours, being celebrated by oldsters, features decorated golf carts, flatbed trucks carrying various residents in historic costumes, a few local dignitaries interspersed between our leasing agents riding in convertible cars, and more golf carts; we usually have a single band from one of the high schools (or intermediate schools) in the area, a few horses, and a cub scout or brownie scout group marching in the 90 degree heat with their tongues hanging out.  The best part is the plethora of cop cars and fire engines that start off the parade with sirens ablast!  And then bringing up the rear is the local old car club, not driven by old folks but by young men who, with spit and polish and a great talent with hydraulics, making those cars able to stand up, lean over, drag their heinie and do cartwheels.  When the old '57 Chevy Bel Air goes by, I always kick myself for not keeping the one that I owned, although at the time we never gave it a thought!

This year the Riverside Transit Authority let their beautiful bus (shown above) come join the parade.  I'm telling you, that bus is a standout!  How lucky we were to see it "up close and personal" as it lumbered along between an old style military jeep and a car featuring a World War II vet living in our facility, dressed in his full white Coast Guard uniform, and surrounded by vets from the Korean War, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan.  Later in the day, our great-grandson Tyler got to sit in a helicopter that landed on the property, flown in by one of these vets.  Because we wanted Tyler to experience all this, we were far more involved this year than we have been previously.  I wore a hat that shaded my face (I don't EVER do that!), we slathered our arms and legs with sunscreen (I don't EVER do that either) and carried water bottles with us, because the temp was in the scorching 90s and we are really too old to be out and about in it for very long.  But I confess, it was a much better day because we got off our duffs. 

Earlier Tyler had asked me what was the funniest thing I'd ever seen.  I didn't have an answer for him, but when we had to sit on the grass to eat the free hot dogs offered by "management" I told Tyler to watch, because me trying to get up after sitting on the grass was going to be PRETTY DARN FUNNY!  (And it was!)

Anyway, Happy Birthday, America.

One of the genealogy projects  I've been doing since the first of the year is transcribing parts of old books and documents to be placed on various state web pages to aid in genealogical research – all volunteer work and mostly very, very interesting.

Yesterday I was doing one on Pinella, Florida written in the 1890s but describing some of the happenings that took place during the civil war.  I was to transcribe 10 pages – and the first of those 10 pages started in on the middle of a story.  It was an bad thing to have to type – about soldiers, after burning down a house and barn, took target practice on the barnyard animals, shooting at chickens, ducks, and pigs mostly, and leaving them dead if they were lucky, but wounded and in great distress if not.  The words were graphic and I wished it hadn't been my lot to have to type that particular section.

But the worst part of it was realizing that these soldiers being talked about were the Union men.  Why would I think that Union men wouldn't do that (and unsaid was that Confederate men might?).  Fie on me!  And it reminded me of my shock and surprise when I first read "Son of the Morning Star" by Evan Connell, his dynamic book of the growth of the West leading up to Custer and the battle of the Bighorn.  I was astounded to read of what society expected, and allowed, and justified time after time after time as we grew into what we considered a great, civilized county.  It wasn't only the "bad guys" that did bad things.  Pogo wasn't too far off when he said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

In this morning's L. A. Times I read that "Lockheed Martin Corp. is developing a system that will revamp the way the U. S. Air Force identifies and tracks dangerous space debris.  Millions of pieces of man-made junk – including disabled satellites, rocket parts and debris from collisions – are orbiting close to earth."  I always laugh when I read things like this.  I know it isn't likely that any one of us is going to be klonked on the head by a piece of space junk.  But someone is worrying about it besides Chicken Little, else why all the effort to track it?  And it makes me wonder at what the powers that be have up their sleeves/sights to deflect a large asteroid that may head our way one of these days.

Oh, but then I think of the middle-east…..


On that cheery note, I'll tell you one of my favorite jokes:

Scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed
trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the British engineers. When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin, like an arrow shot from a bow.

The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the US scientists for suggestions.

NASA responded with a one line memo: "Defrost the chicken."

Friday, June 27, 2014


I am not going to ask you to understand why I needed a death certificate for my grandma's cousin, Blanche Stevens Thompson, who died in 1910.  Just accept that fact that for genealogists to learn about people in the family who have been long dead, it sometimes is necessary to get death certificates and/or obituaries.  This blog is about the funniest and most frustrating try for a simple death certificate that in 25 years of genealogy has happened to me.

In a nutshell, my great- grandma Nellie had a brother George Stevens just a tiny bit older that she was.   George married,  and Blanche, born in 1889, was his first child.  Blanche was my grandma Jessie's cousin. Down the road George moved to Oklahoma, and in my research I discovered that Blanche married in 1909.  In my research I also found a tombstone indicating she died in 1910, one year after she was married.  Why? I wondered.  In childbirth?  A disease?  Or maybe even murdered?  A death certificate might give me an answer, so I went online to find out what Oklahoma required to provide me a copy of her death certificate, if one existed.

I knew that such certificates were not always available that early, but the Oklahoma website said there actually were some as early as 1910.  I had to fill out a form, making sure I answered every question, and then send the completed form with a $15 research fee to the address at the top of the form.  I did exactly what they asked.  These instructions made it clear that the $15 was simply a research fee for their work in looking for a death certificate; if one wasn't found, they would not return the $15 to me.  I understood this, and was willing to risk losing the $15.

I sent the form and the check off on January 23, 2014.  The check was cashed on January 27, so I knew the form had arrived.

When no answer had come by the end of March, I sent a follow up request, nicely worded, simply noting that I was still anxiously awaiting word from them.

On April 23, I received a request from Oklahoma to provide documentation for my relationship to Blanche.  I opened my file cabinet to the "Stevens" file and photocopied my birth certificate showing my mother's name (Virginia), my mother's birth certificate showing her mother's name (Jessie), a delayed death certificate filed by my grandma Jessie showing her mother as Nellie, a Census report showing Nellie as belonging to the family of Chester and Ellen Stevens, and showing George as Nellie's older brother.  Then I photocopied a census report showing Blanche as a child of George.  These documents were among those specified as acceptable as proof by the State of Oklahoma. 

On June 16, almost two months after sending them all my documentation, I received a letter from Oklahoma saying NO birth certificate was found.

The end.

What can I say?  They did their part, just as they said they would; I did mine.  That it took almost 6 full months to hear "no" blows my mind!  Was I surprised? No.  Disappointed? Yes.  But that's all part of the genealogy game.

What I find hard to understand is this:  Did they not have an index anywhere that could have provided a "yes" or "no" in less time?  And preferably before I had to dig up and send copies of all my files?  I have bit my tongue every time I come close to saying something like, "Well, what do you expect from ........" No, I won't  say it.  Oklahoma has a bad enough rap as it is. 

And that is why I laugh.  In my own mind the whole thing is simply preposterous. There is a way of doing things, and a way NOT to do them.  But I consider that life is full of little quirks, and in genealogy we run into lots of "nos" - usually just a little bit faster, however, so I need to explore other ways to find an answer to why she died.  Poor Blanche.  Truly gone, but not forgotten!

Monday, June 23, 2014


For the past couple of years I have had a sneaking hunch that barring my sudden demise, it would be my knees that gave out first.  I did have a frozen shoulder a few years ago that was quite satisfactorily unfrozen through some good physical therapy sessions at a nearby clinic.  But the knees have never got to the point where I felt they needed help. Going up and down stairs is where I have a problem, and I simply avoid stairs if possible and if not, I take it slow and easy like an old person would do.  So far the knees and the tiny bit of pain they cause me has pretty much remained stable. 

After seeing my oldest daughter through a total knee replacement this past week I have decided to rethink my own knees.  I do not want to EVER need that particular surgery.  No way, no how!  No stairs.  No squats.  My knees henceforth are going to be cared for and babied so as to extend their natural lifespan.  Rather than replacement, should that ever come to pass, I'll opt for a wheelchair instead of a replacement.  That is one nasty surgery, and I don't want it!  Ever!

* * * * *

I'm having some trouble getting projects to the completion stage.  Part of this is caused by the "Do It Twice" syndrome that has become standard operating procedure since the advent of something…..maybe the electronic age.  I am presently trying to buy a battery for my camera.  I went to Radio Shack to order one; they were out of them but said they could order one for me, which would be sent to their shop within 3 to 5 working days.  The order would be confirmed by e-mail and I would be notified by e-mail when it arrived.  I had to pay for it first.  By the time I got home, the confirming e-mail had arrived, giving me an order number and saying I could track its progress.  On day 5 I had not received notice of its arrival at the shop, so I checked their website.  Lo, it said my order could not be filled because they no longer carried that battery.  I called the shop and asked what was going on?  No one knew.  They made a phone call and confirmed that my order had been cancelled, which was the reason I didn't get an e-mailed notice of its arrival!  Was no one going to let me know?

I understand from reading the business section of the newspaper that Radio Shack may not be long for this world.  That might account for their not carrying the item I needed any more, but couldn't someone have notified me?  I AM keeping my eyes on my AMEX bill to make sure they cancelled EVERYTHING.  And now I've tracked down another place to get the battery and placed another order.  I haven't seen anything in the news about the financial health of Samy's Camera.  Hopefully it is just fine, thank you.  In the meantime my camera sits idle, which is about like losing the use of my computer!

* * * * *

The other project I am having trouble with is getting wi-fi into my house so I can utilize my iPod in ways other than music through the ear-buds.  The start of this project began in January with good intentions of everybody involved.  It has yet to be completed.  Everybody is busy, which I understand.  I'm reconsidering my original plans and am close to hiring someone from the Geek Squad to get me set up.  I've set Aug 1 as the point of switch.

* * * * *

Has anything pleasant, anything good, anything exciting happened to counter-balance all these little irritants?

I'm thinking hard ……..

Friday, June 13, 2014


I have always thrived on change.  When I worked, I loved Mondays because I hit the ground running and felt energized by having projects to do and phone calls to make.  I loved Fridays because change - a weekend - was on the horizon.  There were chores to accomplish at home and grandbabies to visit.  If it was different, I loved it!

Now retired, I look at handmade quilts and think, "I have time to do that now!" But change comes slowly to a quilt, and I understand myself well enough to know any quilt would end up half done in one of my drawers alongside the other started and now languishing projects in my craft drawer.  I have no business tackling large projects!  A small patch of quilt turned into a wall hanging might be a possibility, but certainly even that is kind'a "iffy."

So imagine my surprise when I found myself offering to create an index for a 600 page genealogy book. That meant finding every name in the book and inputting it along with each page number where it appears into a computer database.  It was a long project that needed doing, and since I was one of the few who had ever had any experience indexing on a computer, it seemed only right for me to loan my fingers to the project.

If I had any doubts about my ability to stick with it, I knew that my sense of responsibility was stronger than my dread of sameness.  If an index was needed, I would see that one was available!

The final count of names was somewhere around 15,000.  My fingers flew on the keys.  I zipped through those pages one by one - staying up sometimes well past my bedtime just to get another couple hundred into the database.  I canceled lunches with friends because I wanted to get more pages done.  During the time I worked on the index, I left my books unread and my social life unattended.  I can't remember when I had such fun!  That project took a while to finish, but doing it was as much fun at the end as at the beginning.  Next to counted cross-stitch, it was the most repetitious thing I had ever done.  Amazingly, I loved every minute of it.

In fact, since that time I have indexed many more books.  Of all the hobbies I have had in the course of my adult life, and there have been many, far and away the most satisfying to me has been this one - indexing.

To all appearances indexing names should be a monotonous, no-brainer job.  It looks like the very kind of job I should stay away from, the very kind I always have, in fact, hated to do.  But there must be something inside me that really likes to bring order out of chaos, that likes to grab the thrown gauntlet.  Maybe it is doing something that no one else can or wants to do.  Maybe it is just ending up the hero.

Now I don't think that I have changed, but I do know I have found another dimension of myself that I had not known was there.  I have always maintained that as we age, we had best look for all the new experiences we can find.  But I had more been thinking in the line of finally being brave enough to tackle riding a roller-coaster.  Nevertheless, we older folk needn't allow ourselves to be rigid and predictable, always doing the same things because we have always done them.

Up against something we have never done before, we might as well give it a try.  Seniors need not always be the same people we think we are, and the change coming around the next corner may just hold a wonderfully soul-satisfying surprise.  Maybe it won't be indexing, but then, who knows?

Friday, June 6, 2014


Don't let the "headline" or the graphic lead you astray.  I wouldn't be so crass as to lay out a medical problem – unless it was a true story about a child (or a crazy adult) who swallowed some kind of electronic item and while it was mid-body in its travels started losing battery power and was trying to let someone know.  Now THAT would be a reportable item for my blog.

But no, the bowels I am mentioning today are merely either the area deep inside my very large purse, or in my very crowded apartment.  You would think a beeping signal would be easy to find.  Now if Jerry were the only person living in this apartment, a single heard beep would lead him to exactly to the sound.  He has lots of "plusses" in his make-up; among the best is that he always puts things back where they belong – you know, one of those "a place for everything and everything in its place" kind of person.  He has the DNA of an engineer.  (I have always said that it is lucky he married me because I have spent all this time trying to teach him to be a little more loosey-goosey – a release of his more creative side.)  But he is not really amenable to that, as he likes order very, very much!

Early this morning a single beep from somewhere in our aural vicinity presented itself.  I was on the computer and I did not hear it.  But Jerry did.  What could it be, he asked me?  He and I both know that it has to be either one of two cell phones, my iPod, our landline handset, or, quite possibly, from a piece of equipment that we didn't know ever beeped. 

We each have our strong suits that help us navigate through life, but dealing with electronic things is not one of them.  Right now we have hopes of someday being hooked up to Wi-Fi so I can use my iPod for something other than listening to music.  I have several family members working on this, but when they arrive to get me set up they find I am missing another VIP (very important part).  We are now into month 6 of this effort. ( I do think it is a shame to be so dumb as to need grandchildren to keep one relevant!)  In the meantime, a tiny airplane icon has arrived on the top left side of my iPod screen.  Perhaps it beeped when it arrived and it was one of the beeps we had to ignore because we couldn't find it.  This makes me wonder why I put my family through all this for Wi-Fi when I don't really know what something as simple as an airplane icon means. 

So sometimes it may be the iPod beeping, but sometimes it is one of the phones.  We are smart enough to know that if we can't find our cell phone we can use our land line to call it, and if the battery is still running we'll have it in no time.  However, we did not know that our land line also has a built in beep, so mostly we remain in a state of confusion. 

Occasionally, and what must have happened this morning. is that some extraneous beep from outdoors happened to be loud enough for Jerry to hear it and assume it was one of our pieces of equipment trying to get our attention.  This has happened in restaurants too, and when it does, I spend 15 minutes or so digging through the bowels of my purse trying to locate either my phone or my iPod, only to discover it was not my beep!

Ah me, life has become so complicated.  Think of life before beeps.  It was a simple life.  We didn't feel deprived.  But having once experienced little machines that do good things in between beeps, we just can't go backwards to simplify our existence.  The simple solution to most wayward beeps is so easy: put things in their place when you set them down!  That's not a hard thing for Jerry to remember, but oh,doing that is  SO out of character for me!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I am fascinated by hoarding.  No, I don't hoard, and I don't think I've really ever known a real hoarder….but I've known people who come close!   The way I understand it, when the objects of their hoarding, their "things," cause them to not be able to use their basic necessities in a normal way (like not being able to sleep on their own bed because of so many "things" being stored there, or needing to eat meals at a nearby diner because their own kitchen is not accessible because of "things" – then those are true hoarders.  So just an overblown collection of certain things does not a hoarder make.


Sometimes I wonder about my files

I love files.  A file for everything, and everything in its own file.  And whenever there are too many things waiting to be filed, then a single file labeled "To be Filed" will certainly suffice.  My main problem is that I may never see the contents of that file again, because it too easily ends up underneath a pile of folders that accumulate on my desk.

But this blog is not exactly about that.

This blog is where I relocate some of the interesting things I've been saving to use in a blog sometime.  So sit back and read.  You'll just get a small taste of what all it is I have saved in this particular folder marked "To Be Filed."


1.  John Perry, at that time and perhaps still, a professor of philosophy at Stanford wrote a good article back in 1996 that explains how we can procrastinate and still get things done.  His premise is that the thing you most need to do should be put at the top of a "to do" list, and following beneath that are a whole bunch of necessary but not critical things that also must be done.  You can be a procrastinator and feel darn bad about it, but if you do a whole bunch of the lesser chores, you can still feel that you are making great headway by getting the closure you have made.  You can pat yourself on the back for a day well spent – and know that you will get to the #1 on the list tomorrow.  That's not exactly procrastination, he says.  Self-deception, maybe.

Read his funny essay in full here:


2.   Political correctness appears to be colorblind.  Some time back Michelle Obama went to a state dinner at the White house wearing a dress described by the Associated Press as "Flesh."  The designer called it a "sterling-silver sequin, abstract floral, nude strapless gown.  Was it flesh colored?  Not Mrs. Obama's flesh, obviously.  Associated Press changed the wording to "champagne."  And is the color "nude" a single color or a relative color?

Which reminds me, many years ago I had a nice tan, and a co-worker asked me if I tanned easily.  I assured him that I had to really work hard to get any tan at all, that actually the skin on my stomach is as white as a snake's belly!  (He wanted to see it, but I declined!). 

But getting back to the color nude, champagne, sand, flesh, or blush, peach, eggshell or cream – or for darker tones chai and darker yet "espresso" (all colors in the decorator's pallet) – I think probably nude and flesh should be retired and let the foods of the world dictate what color a dress is.

Jerry is color-blind; not the traditional red/green that many men have, but he has trouble differentiating between pastel colors.  He does not identify any difference between beige and gold, lavender and light pink, silver and grey, and other tones.  In one of his retirement jobs he worked for a police department following street sweepers and ticketing cars which had not been moved off the street before the sweepers came by.  In several instances people who received a ticket huffed into the Police Department indicating that they got a ticket but their car was not gold/beige/tan/ivory/silver or whatever color it was that Jerry saw and put on the ticket.  His spirit was willing but his eyesight was –well, not weak, but not 100% right on!


3.  Some time back there was a great article in the LA Times about a man in Compton who has made a good living for himself  - in fact, good enough to put both his son and daughter through College, he says.  He indicates that for 50 years, he has been raising colonies of crickets, Madagascar hissing cockroaches – and mealworms – piles of squishy, wiggly, red-orange mealworms.  They are his best product.

He has not suffered at all through any of the recessions.  He has 60 employees, most of whom are related to each other.  He started his business in the early 1960s and is still going strong. 

I guess if one has the stomach for it, one might do well.  As for me, I don't put bait on fishhooks and I don't pick up mealworms or any cockroaches, whether they hiss or spit.  Sure, I'd like a fool-proof way to increase my income a bit, but this is definitely not my project of choice.


4.  If you are looking for something different to do with your honey in tow, I suggest the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco.  Many years ago, when Jer and I were younger and more romance-able, we went to the then-called Miyako Hotel; the touted draw was a 2-person Japanese deep soaking tub, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience just as the book in which we read about it said it would.  (I think the book was something about 100 Things to do for Valentine's Day.)  This hotel has not been the Miyako for many years now; but the Hotel Kabuki goes a step further than only the deep soaking tub (which it still has):  it has a relationship with the Kabuki Springs and Spa communal bath which is merely two blocks away from the Hotel.  Hotel Kabuki now is part of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and if you book a hotel visit through the Joie De Vivre chain directly, you receive a complimentary pass to the Kabuki Springs and Spa.

Now understand, I have not visited it under this new ownership.  Romance-able now pretty much involves not having to sleep with the cat on our bed.  So I can't tell you exactly what this all means:

            "The baths are open for women only Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays,
            and open to men Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  Tuesdays are co-ed. 
            Bathing suits are required on Tuesdays."

I leave it to you to snoop around on the Hotel Kabuki website and make your own bed & bath, which you will, of course, either lie in or meditate in, Japanese style, with or without Bath Butler Service and soaking salts.

And do have fun!

So I now have cleared out part of one file folder.  That enables me to toss away four papers that I swear I have been keeping at the ready for five years or so.  No hoarder lives at THIS house!  Just a saver!