Saturday, February 28, 2009
Aging means making lots of adjustments. The last time I took an airline flight, I rode[a shuttle bus from my car in the parking lot to the airport. Getting onto the shuttle wasn't too bad, but getting off carrying a purse over my shoulder, a small carry-on piece of luggage in one hand and a briefcase full of books in the other was sheer terror. My knees are a bit iffy at this point, and with the steps off the bus being steeper than usual, I had to proceed going down sideways while holding onto the rails as if my life depended on them. At least if a knee gave out, I wouldn't pitch forward onto the macadam roadway in front of the airport terminal where the bus stopped.
In restaurants everyone wants to sit in a booth. I do too, except now it is getting harder and harder to get out by scooting completely across the bench and then hoisting myself up into a standing position "gracefully." Again, it is my knees that seem to be the weakest point, and because of that I'm ready to opt for a table out in the center of the floor, though no one else wants to do that yet. Getting out of a chair is a piece of cake compared to getting out of a booth. I just have to decide which I'd rather have - privacy or grace!
When my mother was alive and getting older, her skin was tissue paper thin and she hated the red bruises she would get under the skin of her arms, mostly. She constantly kept band-aids on them to hide them. I used to tell her that the band-aids looked as bad as the bruises did and not to worry so much about them. Of course I have come to eat my words, as I have inherited her predisposition to early bruising. I have several different size bandages that I use - one is a tiny circular bandage for tiny bruises, and another is a rather large bandage, which works well for cat scratches AND big bruises on my arm. I have been known to explain to someone who asks what happened that I have a cat scratch, when all I've done is covered up a bruise.
I do not like the looks of the crepey skin on my upper arms. I have decided that if I want to wear tee shirts in the summer I am going to make sure they have regular short sleeves instead of the inexpensive little capped sleeve tee-shirts that Target and WalMart feature in their casual clothes department, the kind that all the little teeny-boppers wear.
I am really sorry that getting older isn't easier. But there's not much I can do to change that, other than to baby myself a little and make some allowances for myself. I do think old age really is mentally coming to terms with what 70 or 75 or 80 feels like -- and accepting that it surely doesn't feel like 40 or 50 any more!
Friday, February 27, 2009
Several years ago Santa left in Jerry's stocking a two-piece indoor-outdoor thermometer; the sensor was to be placed on the front porch (which incidentally our apartment management calls our "private patio!") and the inside digital readout screen remained inside, aimed at the sensor. At any time we could see not only what the outside temp was but also the inside temperature. It was a nice little gadget and we used it all the time. Its only drawback was that Santa only had pink ones left, so we were stuck with that wretched color.
Anyway, about a week ago that gadget died, and in replacing it, we found that technology had sufficiently evolved so that with the replacement thermometer we got plenty more weather information. We had no idea about how much fun we would have with this new one.
First of all, you will see that we get an outdoor temperature reading across the top. The next "section" tells us if the barometer is rising or falling (shown by an up or down arrow in a box), the visual condition outside (in this case sunshine with a few clouds), and the humidity (41% and a somewhat sad "happy face" that indicates it is a little bit too dry. The happy face smiles if the humidity get higher.) The temp inside our living room is 77.1 degrees, the date is 2/27 and the time 7:50am. Armed with that information we can be as accurate as - or perhaps more accurate than - either our friendly Channel 4 weatherman or Accuweather.com.
But what makes this a toy, and lots of fun, is the little man. He drops or adds bits of clothing as the temperature changes. When we got up yesterday morning he had on boots, an overcoat, a scarf and a stocking cap. We laughed ourselves silly, because no one in Southern California hardly ever has need to dress this way, and certainly not at the degree posted. But since this was a generic little man he had to be useful for everyone who thought 42 degrees might be long-coat, muffler weather. Anyway, as the day goes on, his pants go from long, to bermuda shorts, to a bathing suit. His arms can have long sleeves, short sleeves or, I supposed in the heat of the summer he can go bare chested, although we haven't had a chance to see that yet. The man also scowls or beams, depending on what he is wearing!
Jerry and I have had so much fun watchng this little man, who of course seems to know everything. And after two days of calling hims "the little man," we decided to give him a name. A few names were tossed around, but none had much significance. Finally I said, "We need to give him a name of someone we know who is a little man who thinks he knows everything." Quick as a flash Jerry shouted "Ivan" and we both burst into laughter. "Ivan" he became.
To be honest with you, the man we named him after is not really named "Ivan." It is unlikely the real Ivan would ever find my blog, but if he did, he would recognize his name because it is unusual. He also would take great umbrage at our thinking of him in such a way. He does not recognize that failing in himself.
For any of you who might be enticed to get an Ivan of your own, it has a Weather Channel logo at the top, we found it at WalMart and paid the small sum of $25 for it. We've certainly gotten our money back in fun since we purchased it.
As we creep into our dottage, we find it harder to remember things. Jer and I have had some verbal set-to's over whether I said this or that, whether he did this or that, and Jerry is prone to think he is right all the time. By means of this blog I'm reserving the right to change Ivan's name to you know what if Jerry keeps on thinking he's right all the time. And I don't think they make this with a little woman, so I'm safe.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I have to admit, though, as the internet has taken to replacing books as a source of information, I have spent less time in the dictionary because words now come to me via http://www.dictionary.com/, a nice website that each day chooses a word to spread before us oddball subscribers. I do find it strange so many really “simple” words are sent, words that I think most everybody would know. But I suppose there are young people coming up behind me who simply don’t have the 56-year acquaintance that I do with words and dictionaries from reading books all those years. Words have always been a “fun” thing for me.
I’ve been retired for nine years, but I still relish a moment on my last job that had to do with words. My position was as the only clerical worker in a local good sized non-profit organization. I had way more on my hands than I could reasonably be expected to handle each day, and I had both a demanding boss and a “high-maintenance” accountant to deal with in a day’s work. The accountant had to supply me with certain information each day for my reports. This fellow and I had a good working relationship and considered ourselves “buddies,” but our temperaments were vastly different. I didn’t rile easily, usually managed to finesse a difficult employee or a sticky problem, and tended to be able to cajole people into producing what I needed. The accountant was a fussbudget and could have driven me nuts if I hadn’t been such a passive-aggressive person. He was single at 50, used to getting his own way, and was so moody I simply considered that he was having PMS periodically. One day he totally refused to supply the numbers that I needed and made a smart crack as I headed out of his office. I turned to him and said in a fairly scornful voice, “Don’t be such a prima donna.” I wheeled around and headed back to my office.
About 15 minutes later he showed up at my door, figures in hand. He didn’t apologize and I didn’t expect him to. I was just glad the ordeal was over and I didn’t have to face an irate boss because I was late with his report. But the accountant stood at my desk, looked a little sheepish, and said, “What is a prima donna?” I snatched good old Webster’s dictionary off the back of my credenza, handed it to him and said, “Two words – Prima Donna. Look under the “P” and bring the book back when you’ve finished. I’ve got to get to the boss’ report.” I swiveled to face the computer and let him figure out what I thought of him at that moment.
Imagine, an adult not knowing what prima donna meant. He does now and I actually doubt if he has ever forgotten. Luckily we remained friends, probably because we were about the only two sane people in the place.
Now you’ll find out the reason I again speak of words. Yesterday I was sent a word via the dictionary website that I had never heard before. Frankly, I thought it was a strangely icky word. The word is “peculate” and it is a verb. When I read the meaning (to steal money or goods entrusted to one; or to embezzle) I felt as if the wrong definition had been given to that word. I looked at its etiology (where the origin of the word is shown on the website) and found it to be “from Latin peculatus/peculari – to embezzle.” Then there was also another entry – “from peculum ‘private property.’” Ah HAH! Now that sounded more like what peculate should be about.
My own personal feeling about Latin in general is that whatever is being said probably has to do with either religion or anatomy. Now I know that isn’t true, but I have to tell you that especially “peculum” comes into my mind’s eye (or more accurately my mind’s ear) as something having to do with one’s anatomy. And peculatus is way too close to “flatus” for me to think of embezzling; no, it too should have something to do with anatomy, though I’m not sure which part.
I think that anyone who uses that word in the manner of the illustration that accompanied the word on the Dictionary page “Not surprisingly, they use their positions to demand bribes and peculate public funds” needs to gear down a little bit so everyone will know what is happening to those funds. With my feeling about that word, I think probably no one would want to touch the public funds after they were peculated on. There is definitely no way at all that I can ever use “peculate” if I meant “embezzle” because I’d probably have to titter while I was saying it (and think anatomical thoughts at the same time.)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The New York Times had reviewed this book, which has been out about a year. That review was enough to put it on my list of "must reads." I knew that Mata Hari, who was Dutch, was thought to be a female spy and was executed "a long time ago," but I was too rusty in my history recollections to be able to conjure up much more than that. Nevertheless, I found the book in the library and plunged in.
What a wonderful surprise awaited. From the very first chapter I was hooked. The author, Yannick Murphy, has lovingly crafted a book that is as beautiful as a bolt of pure silk. She writes with soft and serene images. Her vision of Mata Hari in all her roles - as a child, a young girl, a new wife, a mother, a sexual being, a femme fatale, an exotic dancer and a prisoner, among them - is done with empathy and understanding. Even the hard parts of the novel, which is written as a memoir of sorts, is overlaid with the optimism Mata Hari carried throughout her life.
About midway through the book, I figured I'd better find out a little something about the "real" Mata Hari. Doing so helped me to have a framework in which to place the story, although there is still some questions as to whether or not she was really a spy for the Germans in WWI. I read that the Dutch have her records sealed for 100 years and that these records finally will be opened in 2017, at which time it may become possible to know the truth of this woman's life.
What I so appreciated about this book is the chapters were short, each a little vignette, like another tiny brush stroke on a painting. I was able to pick up and set down the book without losing things, which often happens when life interrupts me in the middle of a long chapter. For me it meant relishing over and over the beautiful writing and crafting of this very intriguing story.
This is not Yannick Murphy's first book. And it will not be the last of her works that I read.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"A tiger's roar might be scary, but Australian researchers have found that the predator's poo is just as potent.
"Researchers at the University of Queensland said Friday they had successfully tested a tiger poo repellant, warding off wild goats for at least three days.
"Goats wouldn't have seen a tiger from an evolutionary point of view for at least 15 generations, but they recognize the smell of the predator," repellant creator Peter Murray said in a statement.
"If we can show this lasts weeks...we've just tapped into probably a billion-dollar market. It's enormous," he said.
Murray said the repellant, made of fatty acids and sulphurous compounds extracted from tiger excrement, also worked on feral pigs, kangaroos and rabbits, and might deter deer, horses and cattle too."
Reuters News released this story and things like this always catch my fancy. I wonder in the first place how someone thought of such an idea. I wish the story had gone into a little further details. How does poo of all kinds in a zoo normally get disposed of? If the Australians can think of such a way to take care of Tiger poo and make money -- billions, yet -- why can't we start such an operation too. Think of all the unemployed people here in the US who might find this right up their alley as a change in career, and in the meantime, if it is a government-run operation, perhaps all those projected billions can help us stimulate the economy with more smells.
While I was nosing around on the internet this morning looking for tigers (I know! I know!), I came across a fantastic news story published in England's Daily Mail newspaper this morning about white Bengal tigers -- especially about one who swims. There is a video to watch, and I'm giving you the link in hopes that you can take a peek at it. All cats have a funny way of closing their nose holes when they are in the water, and this video not only shows that up close and personal, but gives a wonderful look at just what an amazing animal this big cat is. If for some reason the link doesn't work, you still should take the time to go to this website and seek out the video.
But getting back to the Tiger Poo operation, I wonder if a gopher in the central California town of Delano would recognize a tiger poo repellant as coming from a predator, seeing that probably nary a tiger has walked over that hot dry place in a bizillion years.
As for the swimming tiger, here's the link:
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Faithfully every morning I crawl out of bed, swing by the medicine cabinet to pick up the eye drops and a Kleenex, and then head to the corner of the couch which is “my place” for medicating my eyes. The directions say to put one drop in each eye and then for a period of one minute place a finger over the tear duct in the corner of each eyelid to keep the medicine from draining off the eye via the tear duct. At the end of the first minute I am continue with my eyes closed for another 60 seconds without covering the tear ducts. I do this, and when I am finished I wipe my eyes with the Kleenex and run for the coffee and the newspaper.
This is a very straightforward procedure, except that I have no way of knowing that a minute has passed unless I count from 1 to 60. I have never seen any kind of a timer that could be set to ring after the first 60 seconds and again ring after the second 60 seconds. When I’m so shortly out of bed, I often have to do something fairly active to keep from falling back asleep the minute I close my eyes. I have made my feet tap on the floor as I counted. I have made a one-second wave with my little fingers while my forefingers were on the tear ducts, as if they were batons leading a beat for a school orchestra. For a while I used Jerry’s electric toothbrush to help me count. His toothbrush vibrated for exactly 60 seconds, then gave a little lurch and then vibrated another 60 seconds. This was perfect, but frankly sitting on the couch holding a vibrating toothbrush was just too silly to contemplate. Within a couple of weeks the toothbrush died and the new replacement didn’t have such timed vibrations, and that was that. So now I have to mentally count from 1 to 60, twice. If Jerry forgets what I’m doing and asks me a question, I have to switch to saying my numbers out loud so he will know why I am not answering him. Oh, he says, you are counting.
Sometimes when I am counting I inadvertently begin thinking of something else and don’t know whether or not I’ve skipped any numbers, so I have to start all over again. I'd rather be safe with too many numbers than not enough numbers, I say. Sometimes I play little mental games -- when I get to “10,” real quickly I mentally say “one-sixth” before I get to the next number….and then of course at “20” I say “one third”…and so on. I laugh when I do that. Except I shouldn’t laugh because it is comforting at my age that I can even remember something like that, considering I never was very good at fractions!
Now if you can imagine, every morning since mid-2003 I have counted to 60 and then repeated counting to 60 again. The number of mornings I have repeated this counting procedure is close to 2010. So you can understand why sometimes when I am standing at the sink waiting for hot water to come out of the spigot I find myself saying 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 for no reason at all. I kind of “come to” and realize I don’t need to count. I lie down on the couch to take a nap, stretch out, and discover that shortly I’m thinking 15, 16, 17, 18, 19…. I give a huff, turn over on my side and drift off to sleep that way. I find myself counting at odd times – a couple of time even when I was on the commode.
Any time there is a period of quiet where I am doing nothing more strenuous than cogitating or ruminating, I am apt at some point to start unconsciously counting away. And since I have a colonoscopy coming up where they put you under light sedation, I am wondering if I am going to come out of sedation counting away out loud. I just might, even though I hope I don’t. I would be embarrassed, and I can just imagine those medical people going home and at dinner during their table talk saying that they had a funny patient today who came out of her colonoscopy counting. I might get written up in a medical journal as an oddity.
Anyway, numbers 1 to 60 and I have become good friends. They are working with me to keep my eyes healthy. I don’t mind doing whatever it takes to be a compliant patient. I always wish I could think of something more productive to do while I am spending all that time counting, counting, counting. If you get any ideas, let me know.
Friday, February 20, 2009
When we arrived in Istanbul on a consulting assignment for a Turkish-American partnership, Farouk Bey, the owner of the large Turkish company, assigned us car and a driver. Ahmet was our driver’s name; he was a nice young man, about the age of our own kids. He had earlier lived in England for several years and in the intervening years because he had not had many occasions to use English, he was a tinch rusty. But we did fine together and came to really depend on him.
One day Ahmet picked me up from a meeting and on the way home he said, “Mrs. Title, may I tell you something? “Yes, Ahmet, what is it?”
“Mrs. Title, Farouk Bey bought 40 ships!”
My mind whirled. I knew Farouk Bey was very rich. I knew he maintained a fleet of 250 cars not only for the company but also for his relatives. He was like an Italian padrone – oversaw the care and feeding of family, relatives and hangers-on to an extent that it was hard for us even to imagine. But 40 ships? It didn’t make sense.
“Ahmet Bey, 40 ships? Is that what you said?”
“Yes, Mrs. Title. 40 ships.”
I mulled it over again. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Are they big ships?” I asked, wondering if we were talking about freighters or yachts (either of which Farouk could well afford 40 of) or more practically, sailboats, rowboats or outboard motorboats, small fishing boats, canoes or kayaks.
“Yes, Mrs. Title, big ships”
We rode a while longer. My mind was turning his information over and over. I can’t imagine what Ahmet thought about my response, but something still wasn’t right.
“Ahmet, what on earth is Farouk Bey going to do with all those ships?” I finally said, not in the least understanding what was going on.
“He’s giving them to the employees,” Ahmet announced in his most beneficient voice, as if he himself were the donor of the ships.
Now I was lost. Why would Farouk Bey give 40 ships to his employees. Which employees would get them? Why would the employees get them? Why not his family members? or had he already given each of his family members a ship?
Still trying to formulate a question whose answer would provide a final understanding on my part, I said, “Ahmet, is he going to give you one?”
“Oh, no, Mrs. Title. My father already bought a ship for Kurban Bayram and we are donating it to an orphanage.”
I finally got it!. Not ship. SHEEP! Farouk Bey had purchased 40 sheep and was giving them to his lesser-paid employees so they would each have one to sacrifice to Allah at the very important and upcoming “Sacrifice Holiday” that is so important to the Muslims.
I nearly split a gut trying to hold in my laughter at the miscommunication. Had he used the right word, the story would have had very little significance beyond the moment. The wonderful part of his mistake is that it made such a good story. I could never correct him directly, because he, like many people, was very sensitive and probably would not only have been crushed but also offended had I corrected his mistake.
I had to struggle to hold myself together soberly until Jerry came home from work that evening and I was finally able to throw myself down on the floor in a fit of laughter while telling Jerry all about the ships and the sheep.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Here's the scoop:
In 1875, manufacturers George Frost and George Phelps patented the 'Union Under-Flannel', a no bones, no eyelets, and no laces or pulleys under-outfit.
In 1889, corset-maker Herminie Cadolle invented the 'Well-Being' or 'Bien-être', a bra-like device sold as a health aid. The corset's support for the breasts squeezed up from below. Cadolle changed breast support to the shoulders down.
In 1893, a woman named Marie Tucek patented the 'breast supporter’; the device included separate pockets for the breasts and straps that went over the shoulder, fastened by hook-and-eye closures.
In 1913 Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite was the first to patent an undergarment named 'Brassiere' derived from the old French word for 'upper arm'. Mary had just purchased a sheer evening gown for one of her social events. At that time, the only acceptable undergarment was a corset stiffened with whaleback bones. Mary found that the whalebones poked out visible around the plunging neckline and under the sheer fabric. Two silk handkerchiefs and some pink ribbon later, Mary had designed an alternative to the corset. The corset's reign was starting to topple.
In 1914 a patent for the 'Backless Brassiere' was issued. “Caresse Crosby” was the business name Jacob used for her brassiere production. Running a business was not enjoyable to Jacob and she soon sold the brassiere patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for $1,500. Warner (the bra-makers, not the movie-makers) made over fifteen million dollars from the bra patent over the next thirty years.
World War I dealt the corset a fatal blow when the U.S. War Industries Board called on women to stop buying corsets in 1917. It freed up some 28,000 tons of metal.
In 1928, a Russian immigrant named Ida Rosenthal founded Maidenform. Ida was responsible for grouping women into bust-size categories (cup sizes). And so we've not had too much of a change since then except for underwires and push-ups and wonderbras and burning bras.
The demise of the corset is also a nice study, but as a corset was not a part of my growing up (except for a thing called the "Merry Widow" that was like body armor, with long stays and a plethora of hooks and eyes, that guaranteed one a 19" waist AND big boobs to boot), it will not be dealt with here. The above is probably more than you wanted to know about brassieres, but you have to admit it's quite eye-opening!
Monday, February 16, 2009
Since there are only two of us in our house, this recipe makes just a small amount.
1 cup Bisquick pancake mix
1/2 cup of milk
I stir these together until mixed but not smooth.
Heat up a big electric frying pan, slather butter on the bottom, and when the butter is hot, pour the batter in. This amount will make two very large pancakes.
While they are cooking slice 1 banana and get out a bag of flaked coconut.
Put half the banana slices on the top of each pancake while the bottom is still cooking. Sprinkle a seemly amount of coconut over that. Watch until the pancake is almost dry on the top and then using a pancake turner, flip it over. It doesn't take long on the second side since the pancake is almost done anyway, but I leave it long enough to make the bananas hot and soft, and the coconut brown. If you don't like coconut, toss some chopped pecans on instead.
Place them banana-side up on plates. Again slather each with butter and some warm maple syrup. Pour yourself a cup of black coffee and enjoy. It is every bit as good for a Sunday night dinner. Eat and enjoy.
Life is good (and fattening)
Saturday, February 14, 2009
When I think of Turkey, I sometimes think of the lush green tea-growing areas around the Black Sea, or the wonderful mediterranean area with the famous "Blue Cruises" and the lovely beaches. Then there is the Aegean area that features not only the very bluest of water and tiny islands, as well as more Greek ruins than you can find in Greece. Cappadoccia looks as if it belongs on another planet, and as you go from area to area you find it hard to believe what you are seeing. And who can ever forget Istanbul, the city whose beauty is sometimes obscured by traffic and potholes and haze from burning brown coal but who nevertheless will let you see what she really looks like if you care. It is hard for me to pick one region over another as my favorite.
But probably the area I am most fond of is an out-of-the way place, a place that few tourists ever go and that Jerry and I probably wouldn't have seen if some distant American cousins hadn't insisted that we contact friends of theirs who were living and working on a military base outside of the old town of Eskisehir southwest of Ankara in central Turkey. Mack and Jean took us in hand and showed us what they had found. The pictures below are from that day, a day we will never forget.
There are a whole series of villages which must once have been the heart of the Phrygian Kingdom of Midas. Kumbet has a Phrygian tomb from the Roman period, with lions carved upon it.
There are Roman tombs and one or two Hittite reliefs which show that the site has a history stretching back at least a thousand years before Midas. Now because we were in this area without a historian or a knowledgeable guide, we didn't really know what we were looking at, other than everything we saw was old, and amazing, and beautiful and took our breath away.
Kumbetkoy (koy means village) was the place where I got a photograph of a lovely lady tending to the white sheet with yellow grain on them in the picture below. I posted that picture in an earlier entry. But below, you can see her day's work. The sheets with black on them were being worked on by two other women. They had big dried sunflower heads, and with a stone they were beating the seeds off the sunflower heads, whichare shown on the bottom right. These women then would spread the seeds out to dry in the intense summer heat. We saw that farming, harvesting, planting and tending were for the most part the women's jobs.
Not too far away from Kumbetkoy is Seyitgazi, where a superb tekke, or convent, crowns the hill to the west of Midassehir. Seyitgazi is named after a legendary Arab warrior in the wars between the Arabs and the Byzantines in the 8th century. In this large facility there is a large communal kitchen, where some of the neighboring villagers were preparing freshly slaughtered lamb for roasting.
According to Wikipedia (and you always take what you find there "under consideration" as to its reliability) the town was named after the 8th century Muslim saint and warrior Battal Gazi who fell in a battle here in 740. A külliye dedicated to Battal Gazi and containing his tomb, a mosque, a medrese, cells and ceremonial rooms for dervishes as well as benevolent services for the community such as kitchens and a bakery was built in 1208 on a hill overlooking the town by Ümmühan Hatun, wife of the Anatolian Seljuk sultan Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I and further extended in 1511 by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II. The shrine and the adjoining complex remains much visited by visitors from across Turkey as well as by international visitors.
What I do know for sure, though, is that via our driver Ahmet our party was invited to partake in the dinner under preparation. But we still had miles to go before the day was over and we had to head back towards Istanbul, so we had to decline. Actually, I was quite relieved, because I was not yet ready to witness the slaughtering of that lamb which would have provided dinner for us.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Jerry does not particularly like tromping through a cemetery, but being a good trooper and a good husband, he always does it without grumbling. And because of his engineering background and his inclination for precision, he can take one look at an unmanned cemetery (one without an office and staff onsite), mentally lay out a research strategy, and without fail find the stone I am looking for. I so appreciate this talent he has, because I must confess my strategy comes from the shotgun approach!
I particularly like cemeteries whether or not I've got a relative buried in it. But the kind I like are the old fashioned ones with lots of trees and upright tombstones. When my sister and I were little kids (I was in 1st grade and she not yet in school) we moved to the town of Whittier here in California for a three month period. Across the street and down a few blocks was the Whittier cemetery and my dad would often take the two of us for walks through it. Mother never went. In fact, she hated for us to go there. She indicated that it was sacrilegious for us to walk over the graves and constantly admonished dad for taking us there. I can close my eyes and still see my tall skinny daddy holding our hands as we made our way through the tombstones. When we came upon one that was just our height, he would have us use our fingers to trace over the letters in the inscription and he would teach us our letters. (In that day children weren't taught to read until 1st grade; the educational system thought we weren't ready.) I can't say that I learned to read from those stones, but it was certainly a start. Both my sister and I grew up with a fondness for cemetery walking and we were equally sure it stemmed from this time with our Daddy.
But as genealogists we have to learn that a tombstone does not necessarily mean what it says. In the case of Jane Bond's stone above, the information comes from a fairly large four-sided monument that has her dad's information on one side, her mom's on another side, and she is listed on the third side. The family lived in Lisbon, Noble County, Indiana and this stone is in the Lisbon cemetery where almost all the Bond family is buried, including the Grahams and Ihries. Upon looking at this stone, you can see that Jane was young when she died - 4 years, 11 months and 19 days. She was the daughter of Elijah and Catherine (Whipple) Bond. The information on the stone looks pretty straightforward. However, what it doesn't say is that Jane is not actually buried under it. The family didn't move to Noble County until very close to 1850. In 1841 when Jane died, they lived in Summit County, Ohio. They did not bring Jane's body to Indiana. They simply memorialized her existence on the stone of her parents so she would not be forgotten. This is a nice touch but can really lead a genealogical researcher astray if he or she isn't aware that such things even exist. It is important to remember that there is not always a body under every stone.
There is another side to this cemetery researching. There is not always a stone over every body, either.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
People who own cats get scratched on occasion. Sometimes it happens inadvertently, such as when a cat is sitting in your lap and is startled; the cat may leap off your lap with a push of his rear feet, leaving scratches on the top of your legs. Other times a kitten will try to climb up your body as if you were a tree or a couch, and those scratches smart! But cats don't do these things out of meanness. Being scratched is part and parcel of being a cat owner.
Now if you don't laugh, I'll tell you how I got my most unusual cat scratch without my cat ever knowing he did it.
As most of you know by now, Tigger, who died earlier this year, was a real part of our family and we always tried to accommodate him in many, many ways. He was crazy about spiders and if he saw one on a wall, he'd jump and swat at it, and if he was lucky enough to knock it off the wall, he had a wonderful time harassing it. (Needless to say, the spider never won).
One evening while I was finishing up in the kitchen I saw Tigs leap up on top the microwave, which was sitting on a cabinet next to a short wall between our kitchen and dining room. He was stretched out his full length up the wall, going after a spider that was nonchalantly sitting out of his reach. I said to him, "Tigs, do you want that spider?" and of course he said he wanted it in the worst way. So I walked over to him, grabbed him with one hand under his behind and the other on his chest and lifted him up over my head and against the wall so he could reach the spider.
(I know, I know!)
I was trying to watch what was going on, but as his body was quite substantial, I couldn't see behind him very well. Suddenly I caught sight of the spider plummeting down toward me and I quickly stepped back. Tigger, in the meantime was bound and determined to follow the spider down, and in the ensuing confusion, Tigger's back claw got hooked on the nose-piece of my eyeglasses and his weight caused the glasses to cascade down my nose. And all this caused one back claw, the most wicked of all a cat's claws, to lay a scratch from my bridge of my nose to the tip, at which point the glasses flew off to the carpet, the cat thudded to the floor, the spider scuttled behind the cabinet, and I ran pell-mell into the bathroom to see what on earth my nose looked like.
I was sure it was flayed open as if a dull surgical scalpel had been laid to it. It wasn't, but I really did have a substantial scratch. I grabbed the peroxide, drenched a bunch of cotton balls with it and laid them on my poor schnoz. After a suitable time, I slathered Polysporin on the long scratch -- and then went into the den to show Jerry what had happened.
I didn't get a lot of sympathy from him, as he was never as much into babying the cat as I was. All I could think about was how I was going to explain my poor nose at work the next day. Once the nose stopped smarting, I began to see the humor in this episode and by the next day, I felt I could get a lot of mileage by telling the truth. Sure enough, everywhere I went I was the center of attention. Luckily, those people knew me and my fondness for old Tigger (who actually wasn't so old then) and the cat people understood. The others just thought I was crazy, I suppose.
To this day, every morning when I stand in front of the mirror and put makeup on, I am reminded by that long white scar going down my nose of the day both the cat and I lost, and the spider won.
DO NOT LAUGH AT ME!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Turkish is not the easiest language in the world to learn. If one could go around just stating or conjugating verbs it really would be quiet easy, because it is a language with lots of rules and few exceptions. But alas, that does not qualify for speaking it. In theory, once you get the hang of what you are to do with Turkish nouns and verbs, it should not be too hard to structure a sentence in a way that any kind-hearted Turk will understand. If you learn all about the rules for prefixes and suffixes and know a medium amount of verbs and nouns, you just may be able to make your wants understood. But all that is contingent upon starting off with the correct word.
I took a few Turkish lessons when we arrived in Istanbul. A new Turkish friend’s daughter, bi-lingual in both Turkish and English, gave me very inexpensive lessons. However, the only books available were actually written for high school students, and while what I did learn was fairly helpful, in the end I decided that learning more about students, teachers, dorms, finals, and homework just wasn’t what I needed. I decided to wing it on my own and try to pick up what I could.
I studied hard and by the time we left for home eighteen months later, within the limits of my vocabulary I could tell Turks what I wanted or needed. I also could tell them not to answer me because I couldn’t understand spoken Turkish yet. That worked out fairly well. The only time I know that I made a mistake was when one night after dinner Jerry and I set out for a walk. We had a bekci (a gate-keeper) at the front of our apartment, and as we passed him I announced to him that we were going for a walk. Half way through the walk I came to a dead halt. “Jerry,” I moaned, “I meant to tell Nezemettin that we were going for a walk, but instead I told him we were going cooking.” Jerry and I laughed, wondering what on earth he thought we were going to do. If he understood and believed me, where did he think we were going to cook? On the street? In the park? If he didn’t understand me, it was impossible for him to correct me. Well, by the time I got back I had formulated in Turkish what I would say to him. So in my best fractured Turkish I said, “Nezemittin, I am cooking, no! I am walking, yes!” He laughed and said “Evet, Evet!” which means yes, yes. If was our first communication. I think. At least I thought we communicated. But in Turkey one never knows.
Better than that, though, was my friend who also had her own episode, from which she and the participants both never fully recovered. She needed bread, and near her house was a neighborhood bakkal (mom and pop-type market) that always had a ready supply of “ekmek” (which as an aside is the most wonderful bread in the universe.) This bakkal also had a ready supply of working men who stood or sat around drinking tea and shooting the bull with the owner. Wanting a large, fresh loaf of bread (as opposed to a half-loaf, which also was available), she confidently said in her best Turkish. “Erkek istiyorum. Buyuk erkek. Erkek cok guzel.” The bakkal exploded with laughter. The men pounded each other on the back and pushed each other to the front of the pack. Of course my friend didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. She paid for the ekmek and left amidst the hooting and hollering. It was only later that she realized she had not used the correct word. “Ekmek” is the correct word for the bread. She had inadvertently used “Erkek” which means “man.” She had said that she wanted a man, a big man, and a very beautiful man.
Even if it wasn’t grammatically correct in the Turkish language, those men understood full well what she said and probably what she meant, too, but it was too good a gaffe to let pass. Bloopers are appreciated and relished in any language, and my friend is sure that they are still talking about the American woman who came in wanting to buy a big, beautiful man.
I’m glad my mistake only had to do with cooking.
Monday, February 9, 2009
We were at the right age to be transported by romance and fantasy. We lived and breathed those serials and knew those characters intimately. Ginnie Lou and I each had our favorites but we listened to them all. Weber's Bread sponsored the Lone Ranger and since that was my sister's favorite program she insisted that Mother buy that kind of bread. I was equally adamant that mother buy Langendorf Bread because Red Ryder, my favorite program, was sponsored by Langendorf. Mother alternated brands weekly for years to keep the peace.
As I went into my teen years, I became a more solitary radio listener. After heading to bed I always tuned in to a late evening program hosted by a husky-voiced female disk jockey who played romantic ballads. She called herself "The Lonesome Gal" and signed off at midnight by crooning in a low whispery voice the words, as well as I can remember them: "Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I wonder if you'll know when my heart starts to sing. If you have love to spare, lips to share, why don't you be a pal? Share them, with your Lonesome Gal." How I identified with her! At that time I was just starting to discover boys, but since I was shy and timid and a nobody, love seemed a long way off and I felt her loneliness as if it were mine. My mother had no idea I stayed awake until midnight every night. I lived with the Lonesome Gal for a long time -- probably until my senior year in high school when I started becoming somebody and the Lonesome Gal wasn't so important any more.
In the summers all the teenagers who owned "portable" radios lugged them to and from the beach every day. The radios, not tiny transistors like today's, were big and bulky. I think mine used nine D-batteries. None of us had cars and we had to walk anywhere from two to four miles to the beach and back, but our portable radios always went with us. We baked in the sun for hours, slathered in baby oil, singing all the current pop tunes. This is not so unlike today's teenager but the difference was in the type of music, for this was post-WWII and pre-rock. For us it was Rosemary Clooney, Kay Starr, Don Cherry, Mario Lanza, Frankie Laine, Les Paul and Mary Ford, and Mantovani.
When I went to college I took my trusty radio with me but actually didn't use it much because my roommate and I were hardly ever in our room. And then along came TV and radios were all but finished, except in cars.
I grow nostalgic when I remember those happy hours with the radio. And then I have to laugh when I think that my kids' nostalgia probably will be for the boob tube. How romantic, right?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started......
Did'ja get it?
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Daughter Bryn called this morning to update me on all things Alaska. She said the daytime temp yesterday was in the 20s and the sky was so blue it took her breath away. Obviously, there is no volcanic ash in it, YET.
She advises that the volcano tenders think the upcoming eruption will not be as bad as the one in 1989-90 that lasted for five months. She reported that the FBI OSHA rep came to their office this past week and gave a hands-on demonstration of how to properly fit the goggles and mask that will be required apparel once the volcano erupts. These only will be worn outdoors, not indoors. The rep also gave a report that in the event of an earthquake, it is no longer advisable to stand in a doorway, as we Southern Californians have been taught to do, but the new advice is to drop, duck and cover – which harks back to what we as little kids were taught to do in the event we got bombed during WWII. The wheel turns round and round.
But Bryn’s immediate concern, and the reason for calling, was to tell me that when she got up this morning at 7 to take the doggies outside to do their duty, she saw moose tracks all over the front lawn. They are leasing a house on the golf course and it is unfenced. So she thought perhaps she could take them to the back yard. When she looked out the back door, she found the moose lying in her back yard, chewing his cud (if that is what a moose does), and flicking his ears. She gave me the latter details in response to my questioning whether he might be dead. Earlier she had told me that mooses (mice?) are very ill-tempered and if you see a moose, it behooves you to get out of there quick. Needless to say, her dogs did not get “dutied,” but they were put in the garage, “just in case.”
She also told me some things I didn’t know.
1. Moose lose their antlers during the winter. Some people collect them like other people collect sea shells.
2. Anchorage now has 8 hours of daylight each day.
3. One of her friends has a stream running through his property and he has a fish wheel on it. This is like a small ferris wheel with buckets on it. When he wants fish for dinner, he runs the fish wheel and in each bucket there will be fish. He makes his choice, dispatches it by knocking it on the head, and the family has fresh salmon for dinner. Other people have light colored salmon nets, which only need to be dipped into the water once to get a salmon. She says they can’t be of a dark color because the salmon will then perceive them as rocks to be avoided. She says the salmon tastes much better than any she’s ever had before. I can believe that.
3. Last week Anchorage had a couple of days of warm weather which, if there are much more like that, is going to bring the bears out of hibernation early.
4. Lots of people, including my daughter, carry guns for protection from moose and bears. (YIKES)
5. The best way to drive to Alaska is through Montana on the AL-CAN highway. There is another way further west, but it is a dirt road – maintained, but still dirt. She says she and Tony took it one time but feel no need to EVER go that way again.
6. She lives 2 miles from WalMart.
7. They finally leased out their house in Reno after having had it on the market for sale for almost a year.
So now you know everything I know about Bryn, Alaska, Wasilla, Moose, Salmon, and volcanos. I can hardly believe one of my daughters living such a life!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I think one of the funniest new terms that I’ve heard in the last few years – and first heard by me a few years ago when my daughter announced her first pregnancy – is the saying, “We’re pregnant.” I assumed then that this was something this generation’s “baby handbook” was saying to the young people today.
Since I still hear it today, I suppose the term is here to stay. But I’m sorry, I can’t help but hee-haw when I hear “We are pregnant!” I’m probably being way too literal when I say that when the male has an unborn child within his body and stands beside his pregnant wife, it will then be appropriate for them to say, “We are pregnant.” But until then…
I imagine the idea of this phrase is to help slide the feeling of fatherhood onto the sometimes- hapless male. And some men may need this kind of connection. I recently read a memoir of Sandra Day O’Connor’s childhood on a big beef ranch in the Southwest. Her father was out of state testifying in a court case at the time of Sandra’s birth and was only able to come home for a single day to see his wife and first child. In a letter he wrote back to his wife, Sandra quotes, “Though I cannot say that I feel any great parental love for Sandra yet, I would like to see her and touch her again.” I think quite possibly her father could have used a dose of the “We are pregnant” theory.
Nevertheless, I continue to be surprised about how in such short periods of time so much can change in the thinking about pregnancy, birthing and parenting. I think maybe the Lamaze thing was kind of a Pandora’s box that opened the door to so much more than just carrying a baby to term, going into labor, delivering the baby and integrating that baby into the family circle. My generation did it the old fashioned way: I got pregnant, carried and delivered the baby and my husband became a father at the same time I became a mother, all without him ever being pregnant. Apparently today that is not possible.
I heard the other day about a man who had certifiable morning sickness during his wife’s pregnancy. I think this is more like a sibling acting out because of a slight case of jealousy over the new baby. Or maybe it just illustrates a slight neediness on father-to-be’s part.
At any rate, in trying to be a good mother and mother-in-law I keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. In private, though, I laugh and shake my head a lot. Such a time we live in!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
What I learned in this morning’s newspaper is about a church of a different ilk, but one that I can’t discount just because I can hardly believe what I’ve read.
It’s another type of “drive-in” church but it could more accurately be called a “ride-in” church, because the parishioners ride their horses to church. Horse owners can tie up their animals at a metal hitching post or a wooden fence. Oh, and dogs are welcome too. The pastor preaches from an old-western wooden building façade in the town of Norco (south of us here in Mira Loma) and the pastor plays bluegrass hymns on his banjo.
The article doesn’t say how many parishioners are in attendance but does say that sometimes there are as many as 25 horses engaged in listening to the songs and the sermons. The pastor tells the newspaper that Norco, known locally as “Horsetown USA” (a self-given name), had people who didn’t want to come to church because they wanted to ride their horses instead. So seeking to give those people the best of both worlds, he began the outdoor “cowboy service.”
Not all horses are really interested in the service; some prefer biting each other and making lots of noise, so those owners drag a folding chair over to where their horses are eyeing each other. Decorum in the house of God is as important to horses as to their owners. ( And from my point of view, the horses may be better controlled than small children who now are pretty much allowed to run free anywhere making any kind of noise.)
Now who am I to say that God cannot be worshipped on horseback. I don’t know if the pastor’s vision is anywhere as big as Dr. Schuller’s was back in 1955, but people do move to Norco because horses are the focus of their life, and going to church on horseback is a big plus, the article says. I say more power to them. Whatever works!
Still, for us non-horsey people, we are still trying to get over our amazement at a Norco lady who loved riding after dark so much that she designed a contraption worn on her horse’s rear that had battery operated tail lights. This was so that cars approaching from behind could better see the dark-colored horses trotting along the road. Her next project, which I have never learned whether or not came to fruition, was horse head lights, apparently so the horse would know where it was going in the dark.
Now all this strikes me as exceedingly strange. And it makes me laugh, which is a good way to start the day, don’t you think?
Monday, February 2, 2009
It came from Arcosanti in Arizona, a place I've known about way back into the late 1960s and to which I took Jerry sometime after we married. Arcosanti is an amazing place, and something about it touches an "arty" core inside my being. I couldn't possibly tell you the "how" and "why" of Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti and do it justice, so I've borrowedfrom their website <http://www.arcosanti.org/main.html> and trust that you will go there on your own, for it is absolutely fascinating.
Here's what you'll read: "In 1970, the Cosanti Foundation began building Arcosanti, an experimental town in the high desert of Arizona, 70 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix. When complete, Arcosanti will house 5000 people, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth. Its large, compact structures and large-scale solar greenhouses will occupy only 25 acres of a 4060 acre land preserve, keeping the natural countryside in close proximity to urban dwellers.
"Arcosanti is designed according to the concept of arcology (architecture + ecology), developed by Italian architect Paolo Soleri. In an arcology, the built and the living interact as organs would in a highly evolved being. This means many systems work together, with efficient circulation of people and resources, multi-use buildings, and solar orientation for lighting, heating and cooling. In this complex, creative environment, apartments, businesses, production, technology, open space, studios, and educational and cultural events are all accessible, while privacy is paramount in the overall design. Greenhouses provide gardening space for public and private use, and act as solar collectors for winter heat. "
Sunday, February 1, 2009
However, she called me the other day to advise that the FBI had issued her a face mask and goggles to use when the volcano erupts. Apparently all employees are routinely issued this equipment when they are hired, but somehow Bryn didn't get hers when she transferred in, so she was really shocked at learning about this.
The volcano is some 100 miles south of Anchorage and the major damage to the city from an eruption comes from the ash and glass that rains from the skies. Below is an AP article which will explain what is going on much better than I can.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Geologists monitoring Mount Redoubt for signs of a possible eruption noticed that a hole in the glacier clinging to the north side of the volcano had doubled in size overnight — and now spans the length of two football fields.
Scientists with the Alaska Volcano Observatory on Friday flew close to Drift Glacier and spotted vigorous steam emitted from a hole on the mountain. By Saturday, they had confirmed the area was a fumarole, an opening in the earth that emits gases and steam, that was increasing in size at an alarming rate.
They also saw water streaming down the glacier, indicating heat from magma is reaching higher elevations of the mountain.
"The glacier is sort of falling apart in the upper part," research geologist Kristi Wallace said.
The signs of heat add to concerns that an eruption is near, which could send an ash cloud about 100 miles northeast toward Anchorage, the state's largest city, or onto communities on the Kenai Peninsula, which is even closer to the mountain on the west side of Cook Inlet. It would be the first eruption since 1990.
Particulate released during an eruption has jagged edges and can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages, especially in young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems.
It can also foul engines. An eruption in December 1989 sent out an ash cloud 150 miles that flamed out the jet engines of a KLM flight carrying 231 passengers on its way to Anchorage. The jet dropped more than two miles before pilots were able to restart the engines and land safely.
Will I worry about Bryn? No. Am I concerned about her? Yes. Will I keep you informed? Of course.