Monday, May 31, 2010



1. The FEMALE always makes the rules.

2. Rules are subject to change at any time without prior notice.

3. No MALE can possibly make the rules.

4. If the FEMALE suspects that the MALE knows all the rules, she must immediately change some or all of the rules.

5. The FEMALE is never wrong.

6. The FEMALE can change her mind at any given time.

7. The MALE may never change his mind without express written consent of the FEMALE

8. The FEMALE has every right to be angry or upset.

9. If the FEMALE is wrong, it is because of a flagrant misunderstanding which is a dire result of something the MALE did or said.

10. If #9 applies to you, the MALE must apologize immediately for causing the misunderstanding.

11. The MALE must remain calm at all times, unless the FEMALE wants him to be upset or angry.

12. The FEMALE must under no circumstances allow the MALE to know whether or not she wants him to be angry or upset.

13. The FEMALE is under no obligation whatsoever to follow the above rules. The MALE will be expected to follow the rules at all times. There will be no exceptions.

The Female

Sunday, May 30, 2010


The picture above may be of Roll Humphrey Stevens. It is in the Stevens family album but does not have a name on it. A process of elimination, although very “iffy,” suggests it is he. Like everything else about Roll, however, it remains a loose end.

Genealogists hate loose ends. Roll is one of mine.

He was my grandma Jessie’s first cousin. Both were born in Sterling, Kansas, one in 1885 and the other in 1886. He died in 1903 while still a teenager, and I never heard any family stories about him. In fact, I didn’t even know he existed until 1984 when I received in the mail a copy of a short handwritten family history written by Frank Dana Stevens, forwarded to me from a very distant relative in Wichita. The first page said, “Roll Humphrey Stevens, born August 29, 1886, died October 29, 1903.” Nothing more was said. The fellow was only 17.

In 25 years of researching I had never turned anything else up on poor Roll. I admit that I hadn’t looked very hard, but I did know that he was buried in Maple Hill cemetery in Wichita but without a tombstone. I knew that Humphrey was his mother’s maiden name, and that there was a family friend or relative also named Roll Humphrey, which I’m sure is where Frank Stevens got the name. And in a printed bio of father Frank in a Kansas book it noted that Roll was killed in a train accident. I also learned that his first name was Rolland.

Recently I have been cleaning out out my genealogy files, tossing away extraneous stuff that I’ve kept for years. While one is never “finished” researching, there does come a time when one says, “OK. I’d better get this wrapped up.” So this was the reason I was sorting out old files and tossing things right and left.

Until I came to the Stevens file and confronted Roll again.

I needed to wrap Roll up too. I didn’t feel I needed to buy a tombstone for his unmarked grave, but I did feel I needed to give him a little attention and leave a better record of this young man’s life.

In the interest of time, I hired a researcher in Wichita to find me a death certificate and do a newspaper search not only for an obituary but also for a newspaper article about the train wreck. With the results in, I can share the following, excerpted from the October 31, 1903 issue of the Wichita Eagle:

“Roll Sevens was a young man well and favorably known in Wichita, and has always borne an excellent reputation. He was born in Sterling, Kansas, August 27, 1885. His parents moved to Wichita a number of years ago and the young man has always lived with his parents until a few weeks ago, when he left for St. Louis to accept a position with a train news company. The boy had not been heard from since he left home, and consequently Mr. Stevens was horrified to learn of the sad accident. The boy attended the public schools of the city in his boyhood, was a student at the high school at Carbondale and graduated from the Wichita Business College.”

The newspaper article is very vague on the cause of the accident, calling it simply a “smash-up” and it isn’t clear about the injuries and deaths of passengers. It was probably too soon to have the details in print. What is left hanging is an understanding of the following paragraph: “THE ENGINEER AND FIREMAN JUMPED AND SAVED THEMSELVES, BUT THREE TRAMPS WHO WERE RIDING ON THE BLIND BAGGAGE GOT THE FULL FORCE OF THE COLLISION. ONE MAN NAMED STEVENS, WHO LIVED AT WICHITA, WAS KILLED AND ANOTHER WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED.”

So I’m left with some questions:
1) What was a “train news company” that supposedly he was employed by?
2) Was Roll Stevens a tramp?
3) Since his father was already well-to-do in Wichita, why didn’t he put a stone on the grave of his first son?

Now I ask you, how can I say I am finished with the Stevens family genealogy?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I cannot let a survey or a non-academic test pass by without taking it. I'm sure that has something to do with how my insides (head, not gut) processes such unfilled lines or unchecked boxes, but that isn't the issue. I just love to rise to the challenge. Sometimes I succumb to some dumb "tell 25 things about yourself" survey that comes through online. Sometimes I hate it when I participate -- and I do have a mental line drawn over which I won't transgress - but for the most part I just do them because they are fun to see the answers that pop out, and I am never compelled to let anyone else see them if I choose.

So when I found Daniel Eatock's blog online and discovered his "Holley" thumbprint, I knew that this was one of those that I'd just better do and get it over with because it was a compelling challenge. Here's what he wrote about it:

Holley Portraits
On my first day at college each student in my graphic design class had to present a typographic self portrait. Years later I can only remember one, an example made by a friend named Richard Holley. His response to the brief is one of the best pieces of graphic design I have seen. Richard has since lost his original. I invite you to create your own…

Instructions: Using an ink pad make a print of your thumb in the center of a white page. Enlarge this thumb print on a photocopier to match the approximate size of your face. Place a thin sheet of copy paper over the photocopied enlargement of your thumb print and secure it in place with tape or paperclips. Starting anywhere you wish and using a black ink pen and your natural/everyday handwriting, compose a text about yourself following the contour lines of your thumb print as a guide. Use a light box or window to improve the show-through.

The final result combines your text, your handwriting, and your finger print to form a self portrait.

What you see above is my Holley thumbprint. In order to do this I first had to go buy a good ink pad. I tried it with an old pad that I had, but the thumbprints from that one indicated I had no more thumbprints! I looked closer at the pad of my thumb and sure enough, my lines were still there, although until that moment I hadn't realized that thumbs can get wrinkles on them just as faces do. And I noted that both my face and my thumb were about equally wrinkled.

A trip to Michael's craft store produced both an ink pad and a tablet of tracing paper (neither of which I will ever use again so will probably pass on to the little granddaughters for their school projects.) I set about getting a decent thumbprint, and then finished off with writing my composition. And the result is what you see above.

The best part of this is that now I have a typographical self portrait. It will go into my "When" file - and when I die, down the road someone cleaning out my file cabinet will say, "Gee, I wonder why mother had this old thumbprint in her folder. Guess we'll never know, so let's hoist it." (Along with all the other crazy bits in that file that really are the essence of "me.")

Thanks to Daniel Eatock and Richard Holley for providing me with many hours of fun, contemplation, shopping and crafting. I am very pleased with the result.

Friday, May 28, 2010


When I was a kid I saw lots of potato bugs. They are really named Jerusalem crickets but here in California we know them as potato bugs. They are pretty ugly.

I haven’t seen one in years, but that doesn’t mean I think they have died out like the Tyrannosaurus Rex. I imagine there are a couple of reasons I don’t see them anymore. First, my eyes are now much further from the ground than they were when I was a little kid. Secondly, I really am not outdoors playing in the dirt as much. And finally, where I’ve lived as an adult has been in wall-to-wall tract housing, and this fact may have chased the potato bugs back into the boonies.

But still, you’d think that at least once in the last 60 years I would have seen one. But no.

Wikipedia says that when they mate, they make a drumming sound by hitting their abdomen against the ground. The whole article on potato bugs on Wikipedia is very interesting, and it includes a taped noise of this drumming. You should listen to it.

When my diverticulosis is at its worst, I feel like doing a little potato bug drumming too. Do you fellow sufferers know what I mean?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I don’t know why I just can’t accept coincidences without getting all goofy about them.

Coincidences happen. I understand that. It is just a coincidence that a new friend and I use the same bank. It is just a coincidence that I show up at a party wearing an identical dress that another guest is wearing. But these are not the coincidences that I am talking about.

I’m talking about the spooky, inexplicable kind.

Last night I was doing a bit of genealogy. I had pulled an old file out of my cabinet to review. In it was a worksheet of a very distant relative – one of those that involved things like sixth cousins four times removed – which of course are barely understandable without a lot of thinking and figuring. On this worksheet, which had been prepared by another researcher, was a husband and a wife and two children. The wife is the one who was related to me. Her maiden name was Calista and she married a man named Cyrus Carr. On this worksheet was listed a son, George Carr. Just out of curiosity I wondered if I could track George via censuses until after he married and had a family. (George was born in 1870). I spent a little bit of time looking at the various censuses – 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 but drew a blank. It was getting late – and actually the family was so remote I really didn’t need to even be working on it, so I logged off the computer and didn’t give George Carr another thought. I went to bed.

This morning while I was having my first cup of coffee I picked up a book I had been reading, opened it at my bookmark and started reading. The chapter ended at the bottom of the page, and when I turned to the new chapter, the first paragraph introduced a new character, George Carr.

I call that a spooky, inexplicable kind of coincidence. And I don’t like these kinds – because they don’t have any significance. They just ARE.

Plutarch’s Lives, Volume II, "Sertorious,” offers a word or two:
In is no great wonder if in long process of time, while fortune takes her course hither and thither, numerous coincidences should spontaneously occur.
It’s a good thing I am mentally stable because I can conceive of a person beating their brains out trying to figure out how such coincidences could happen. Religious people might say “God” did it. Astrologers might have a starry explanation for it. But at least I am sane enough not to need an answer. But I don’t seem to be able to gather the equanimity that Plutarch has about it.

I still wonder how that could be? Just too spooky, I say.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I don’t follow baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, bowling, archery, badminton, et al. I’m just not interested in the least. I come from a family whose interest in sporting events was also nil, except for the “prize fights” that my father and Uncle Bill used to listen to on the radio.

There have been two times in my life when I’ve been inflicted with sports on the telly. First was in the first year of my marriage to Jerry, who during that period was most interested in bowling competition, which as I recall was shown on Saturday afternoons. If I wanted to sit next to him on the couch, which of course as a newly-wed I did, then I had to take the sounds of bowling along with it. My eyes were always on knitting or cross-stitch or some other sort of feminine diversion; I didn’t have to watch it but oh, could I hear it.

The second time I have been inflicted with sports has been now in my old age, when Jerry has taken up golfing at dawn on Sundays, which also means that when he’s not on the golf course on the weekend, he is in front of the TV watching the golf competitions. A small apartment means that unless I want to rudely shut myself up in the extra bedroom I call “my office” for the weekend, I will be surrounded with the sounds of golf. I must admit these sounds are not as intrusive as balls hitting bowling pins, but after a few hours even the soft-voiced commenting and the occasional outbursts from the observers can seem awfully loud. I am pleased that Jerry is healthy enough to play 18 holes of golf each weekend and grateful that he skips the 19th hole. But very honestly, watching golf all weekend is not my idea of fun.

I have been spared having soccer brought into our house. I do believe soccer fans are about the worst of the bunch, “worst” here meaning loud and obtrusive. “Rabid” is another word I’d use to describe them. I’ve seen the outworkings of soccer in a society first hand in Istanbul, where vans full of “futbol” fans hang out the windows of these vans, waving flags and cheering for hours after a win as they drive through every single street in town! I’ve watched on Facebook my darling grandson who was raised in AYSO and who now, in his mid twenties, posts only about his two passions, beer and soccer. I wait for him to grow up ... but technically he is grown up. He’s just a soccer fan.

But I digress. Today I saw that a couple of British Reverends have devised three prayers for the upcoming soccer World Cup. I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was done, because I do know a little about the frenzy of Manchester United fans and know that England is another hot spot of devotion to the game, to put it mildly. But I was impressed that these religious men would devise prayers for the occasion.

One prayer is aimed generically at all the national teams and starts “"Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being." Very clever, I think. And I trust the good lord is listening to this.

The second one is specifically for South Africa, who is hosting the games. I do hope that this prayer covered rowdy behavior by losers.

The final prayer is just for me, I think, although the Reverends say it is "A prayer for those just not interested." It has somewhat the same sentiments as the serenity prayer and I suppose we who are truly not interested should take it to heart. I will apply it to myself liberally as I watch my grandson’s Facebook posts and keep my comments to myself.

Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.

It would be well if I applied this to myself on the weekends and changed the prayer a little, substituting “golf” for “World Cup.”

Monday, May 24, 2010


It is a truth than whenever you look for just the right gift for just the right person -- you can never find it. Sometimes you will remember something you have seen that would be perfect but you can't remember where you saw it.

So when I stumbled upon a website that features the glasses above, which have been created out of old beer bottles, I decided I'd better bookmark this site for myself, as well as share it with you. I'm sure that when you see these glasses you'll know exactly who in your family would be a candidate for them.

I picked their bio off the website, because it shows that they not only are creating very funny things but they are doing so with a good intent.

BottleHood was created out of a passion to help our environment, create local jobs and stimulate our local retail economy. The company was founded by a couple of folks in San Diego who took their concerns for the environment and the local economy and decided to “do” something about it.

BottleHood has taken a stand on keeping bottles which have no California Redemption Value (CRV) out of California’s landfills or sent overseas to be recycled. In the process, BottleHood produces a line of uniquely handcrafted tumblers and vases made from bottles whose contents were enjoyed in our neighborhood. We hire local craftspeople, who also share our concerns for the environment and the local economy, to produce our line of glassware.

BottleHood is just really all about our neighborhood; helping extend the life of discarded glass, creating jobs and stimulating our local economy

The "Arrogant Bastard Ale" glasses aren't the only clever ones they have. See for yourself. And make sure the candidate in YOUR family for such a gift is someone whose ego doesn't bruise easily and will find these as funny as I do.

Photo used with permission.

Sunday, May 23, 2010



In his lifetime, my father was a lot of things. Starting at age 8, when his own father died, he because the “man of the household” – not so much assigned to that position by his mother as but becoming it out of necessity. His widowed mother, having been left with little money and no insurance (and long before social security) took in boarders, his 12-year old sister helped her mother cook and do the household chores, and my dad brought the coal up from the basement each morning before school and then after school did odd jobs around the neighborhood. Later in his teens after they moved from a rural community in eastern Colorado to Colorado Springs, he sold morning and evening newspapers on the street corners. And although his mother tried to keep him from the pool hall, he snuck in every chance he got and earned a little money that way.

He dropped out of school in the 10th grade and got a job working as a dishwasher in Manitou Springs. He didn’t want his mother to have to work so hard, so it made him work longer and harder and pick up more odd jobs. He became a jack of all trades and eventually became a successful businessman here in California.

The circumstances of his childhood shaped his feelings about women, marriage, family and work. How his feelings played out was that he became and remained, almost to the end of his life, a modern day Sir Galahad – the Perfect Knight” – perfect in courage, gentleness, courtesy and chivalry. He died at 93, still charming everyone. To be honest with you, he was a bit “too much” at times, and he came across as a “character.” But those who saw him that way didn’t have a chance to see the whole picture.

He loved my mother as deeply as anyone ever loved a wife. On a few occasions he tried to get that love captured in words. He was limited by his shortened schooling time and tended to get tangled up in his own words. In his old age he spent a lot of time on his poetry – and while we saw what sometimes seemed to be very silly writings, to him they said exactly what he meant to say. I saw a few of them, because toward the end I was the only one who lived in the same town as he did.

He died in 2001. The other day my daughter brought over something of his I had stored in her garage and had forgotten about. It was a “Proclamation” he had written for my mother and had it hand lettered and framed as a gift for her at Christmas, 1972. In it he again got tangled up in his words and his continuity of thought was a tinch haywire, but his intent was plain: he loved his wife, still, and he wanted to honor her with his words, just as he had done with his life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I've got the CPU Blues
and that ain't good news.
Things are falling apart
and breaking my heart.
Oh I've got the CPU Blues.

What's going on? Don't ask me why?
AOL sent me 22 pages of fixes to try.
JAVA says lang.nullpointerexception
So no indexing, it means. Can I cry!

I've got the CPU blues
and that ain't good news.
Things are falling apart
and breaking my heart.
Oh I've got the CPU Blues.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The fellow who recently planted the Times Square bomb that failed to go off is puzzled. While being questioned he expressed surprise that the device failed to blow up and asked his interrogators why it failed.

Floyd Landis, disqualified winner of bicycling’s 2006 Tour de France, finally admitted he had lied about whether or not he doped, but he didn’t feel guilty about it. He said he had two choices: he could either do dope and see if he could win, or not dope and tell people he didn’t win because he chose not to do dope. (At least that is how I interpret a rather convoluted quote published in a recent story.) He decided to use the dope and see if he could get away with it.

A man trying to board a plane in Puerto Rico headed to Boston had in his possession four box cutters, a switchblade knife, a stun gun, pepper spray, two lighters, matches, scissors, a flight stimulation program, a wire device that sets off an electric charge, and information about NYC. After being arrested and obtaining an attorney, he said he would plead not guilty.

Two Department of Water and Power employees have been fired and four others are still being investigated for visiting a strip club in the middle of the workday or for drinking while driving a city vehicle. Apparently they thought no one was looking, but a TV channel was.

So which is it, gall or stupidity – or both?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The secret to seeing Turkey is getting the right book in your hands before you ever leave the US. I was lucky enough to choose Tom Brosnahan's book "TURKEY - A TRAVEL SURVIVAL KIT" and it was this book, now old and well used and sitting in a place of honor in my bookcase, that encouraged me to see things in Turkey that I would have missed had I stuck to the obvious (and of course very important) tourist sights.

Because of Tom, I learned about the local daily markets that were set up in various locations in the larger towns - a Monday market was in one section of town, the Tuesday market in another section, and so forth. Whatever day I went into a town, I could ask the taxi driver to take me to the daily market -- and there I saw the real Turkey. Of course in the smaller towns one didn't need to ask to be taken there. The main road would be closed down and street market set up, just like that!

This photo above was taken in Izmir. Aside from showing a man lying down on the job, it pictures a big cistern of water, and the resting man is the one who delivers water to the shops and the vendors in that area.

In a sense this is the equivalent of our yard sale, in that the goods for sale are placed on the ground and bartering is above ground. This picture is so perfect for showing various manners and styles of dress -- from the very western dress to the styles worn by more rural folk. So many of the ladies wore scarves, and I asked our driver if there was any significance to the scarves, since mostly they didn't look like the "headscarves" that were then just starting to become an issue in the Turkish universities. Ahmet Bey looked at me kind of funny and said, "Mrs. Title, they wear them to keep their hair clean when they are in dusty places."

The lastest in Baby Bjorns are not a necessity here, at least they were not a necessity at the time I lived there or in the out-of-the-way places that I was drawn to. Just a strap or two did the job.

It was these daily markets that I found so very interesting. I rarely bought anything there; in fact, I didn't buy a whole lot of "stuff" during the time I lived there. But I came home with thousands of pictures which have helped me stay in touch with that very special time in my life when I learned so much, gained so many good friends and probably most of all, learned that we have it awfully easy living in the United States. I made a vow that I would never again complain about long lines at the post office - and here almost 20 years later I am still holding to that! But even with the difficulties that arise in living so far from home, I loved every minute of my time there and would go back in the flash of a gnat's eyelash!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I suppose by now everybody except Jerry and me have grabbed their savings and are heading to Barstow. Why? To reserve for themselves and their families a bunk in the underground nuke-proof bunker that is being touted as a way to survive doomsday - the end of the world - which is scheduled for December 12, 2012. The way I hear it, $50,000 will get a bunk in a four-person room. Reservations are $5,000 for adults and $2,500 for kids. Pets are free.

Never mind that there is a fool born every minute. Never mind that those who believe the bible is God’s word know scripture says “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Never mind that in 2006 alone, the end of the world was predicted by various major personages (major enough to have followers) to happen on Jan. 26, May 26, June 6, August 22, September 8/9, Sep 12, and Dec 17. Did it happen and I just didn't know it? No, I think not.

It seems now that the buzz is about the Mayans and an ancient calendar that gives the doomsday as 12/12/12. At least nobody is blaming the potential disaster on computers like what was feared at the 1999/2000 changeover.

The thing that causes me to laugh about all this whoopla on the part of sellers and buyers of underground bunkers is this:


Monday, May 17, 2010


If you like animals and have been lucky enough to discover, you’ll probably have read about this picture.

Seems that Purina Friskies decided to find out exactly what cats do in the house when the owners are not home. I think we all suspect that a lot of sleeping goes on. So to prove this, the company put little cameras on the collars of 50 indoor cats; these cameras were set to take pictures every 15 minutes. Pawnation put these pictures on their website – and I’m here to tell you that I almost laughed myself silly over them.

The picture above was taken by a cat as he or she passed “Brutus.” Just thinking about the cat walking past this dog makes me laugh.

The photos showed that cats really do have an active life even in the quietness of a house empty of humans. If there were other animals in the house, those animals showed up in lots of photos, which means the cats were probably socializing.

And what the pictures showed was that these cats didn’t sleep nearly as much as we thought they did.

The organizers of the study didn’t think to ask me what my opinion was. I could have told them just what cats do when their owners are away. In the Loma Linda apartments where I lived right after I retired I had a little cat sitting service. I went once or twice a day to feed and play with the cat or cats at each apartment, according to what the owners wished. The apartments were close together and it was just no trouble to go from one to the other. I didn’t do it to make money; I did it because it was fun!

No two cats were alike. Some were friendly. Some were skittish. Some were sweet little things and a few were just awful!

“Callie” – a young female tortie – did not like for her family to be gone. In the 2 days I watched her she upended a rocking chair, pulled all the afghans and throws off the furniture and onto the floor, knocked all the knick-knacks off the top of the television set, and bit me on the ankle while I was preparing her food.

In two different apartments I took care of cats that I never laid eyes on – Priscilla was in one apartment and Biff and Henry were in the other. I still have no idea what they looked like. I had to check the cat box to determine that they were alive and well.

I cared for Sammy – a long sinuous young male with a wonderful disposition – who paid no attention to the Cockatiel that went in and out of the cage hanging in the living room. I never went in that apartment without expecting to see cockatiel feathers scattered throughout with no body to be found.

Chrissy, a beautiful Persian, was a dumb blonde. She thought very highly of herself and pretty much posed and primped whenever I came into the apartment to feed her.

Another cat named Trixie, a sweet little thing in a two cat household, made it her mission in life to pull all the linen out of the linen closet every time her mom went away. Those closet doors didn’t close very tightly, so finally Jerry engineered a little shim which wedged the door tightly closed, much to Trixie’s dismay. She was a brat, but oh so very charming. When the owner had to move and needed to find a new home for the little one, we gladly adopted her and she now is our sweet Squeaky.

One lady had two old cats, both requiring a dose of medicine every day to keep from getting constipated. The owner had a tube of something she bought at the pet store – like fish-flavored Vaseline - and every morning I had to squeeze one inch of this stuff on my finger and let Peaches lick it off. Then I had to repeat it with Oscar. They loved it. Since my own cat Tigger was having the same problem, I bought a tube of it for him but he refused to lick it off my finger. So I held his mouth open and squeezed it up against the roof of his mouth. Usually cats swallow it without a fuss. However, Tigger wasn’t going to have any part of it. He gave one mighty huff/sneeze and I ended up with a big blog of oily, fishy goo on the front of my blouse! So that was that.

Each time I walked into an apartment I could tell how the cats were entertaining themselves. Excepting for Oscar, who was really old, none appeared to be sleeping very much.

The pictures that the cats in the Purina study took from their little “hidden cameras” certainly show that they didn’t spend their time snoozing either. You can have a good laugh if you go to and search for the Purina Study.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Being as old as I am, I probably shouldn't even concern myself with what the "latest" in the fashion industry has put forth for the young clothes horses to wear. I suppose if the designers are looking for shock value, they've finally come close to perfection if the new, stylish "bloomers" shown above are any indication.

Now the models on the runway who introduced these clothes first did not look much like the picture above, being as they appeared as clothed walking-sticks. But this beautiful young woman above is one of us ordinary people -- and I think she would be all the more startling for us to see going around in public. She could be our daughter or our granddaughter -- and criminy, can you imagine her walking down Main Street looking like this?

Some of the shorts that appeared on the runway were a more traditional kind - that is, not a bloomer. We've been through the hot pants and go-go boots craze back in the 70s, although we didn't see them being worn at work, unless the work was at a disco or a night club. But now, the designers think that adventuresome young women will like the bloomer look. And maybe they will. Not only is there no accounting for propiety anymore but also no taste left, as far as I am concerned.

Here I have to admit that I am biased. When I was growing up in Long Beach, both the junior high and senior high schools required that for their gym class girls had to wear a standard blue two-piece cotton gym suit. The pants were bloomers, although we didn't call them that. But to insure modesty during athletic endeavors, the elastic in the legs of the shorts did the trick. The problem was that except for those few girls who really had pretty legs, we all looked stupid in them. We hated them. The chubby girls hated them because they showed off how fat their thighs and behinds were. The skinny girls hated them because their legs looked ridiculous hanging from bloused-out pants. We had to wear the same style for all six years of our schooling past elementary school, and we never made our peace with them.

So when I saw the ladies on the runway wearing bloomers as the new look of choice for daytime wear, and when I saw the lovely lady above being shown walking around New York in a bloomer get-up (she was actually an intern who was chosen to illustrate a story on this new "look"), I shook my head and wondered how anyone in their right mind could think they looked good in a pair of puffy shorts -- bloomers.

The article said that long-legged, well-toned, under-30 young women were the only ones who should consider this "look." Well, I suspect there will be plenty of others who see themselves as fitting this category but who you and I will know very well shouldn't have dared to appear in them. Fat legs and thin legs undoubtedly will appear on the streets too.

I apologize ahead of time to those who choose to wear bloomers -- apologize for any snicker they might hear coming out of my mouth, or for pointing at them with a startled look on my face. I can't help it, kids. My six years in bloomers have left me with an image that I can't get past -- the image of looking really stupid in those pants.

Old friends from Poly High School, Long Beach, California about 1953! Bloomers!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Here's my favorite way of fixing roasted red potatoes, made tasty by a little easy magic. How? A dollop of garlic and rosemary oil that you make up a couple of days ahead of time and store in the fridge. Here's how it's done.


1 T finely chopped fresh garlic
1-1/2 T fresh rosemary leaves, stripped off stem
3/4 C regular olive oil
1/4 t paprika
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt

Mix above ingredients well and let sit for a couple of days so flavors will blend.


Wash and cut 2 pounds of unpeeled red potatoes into wedges. If you do this ahead of time, cover them with cold water and keep in your refrigerator. About 1 hour before serving, drain and dry potatoes with paper towels. Toss with a little of your now-savory rosemary and garlic oil. You don't need to use all of it. Store the extra oil in jar with tight lid.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place potatoes on the foil in a single layer. Do not overcrowd. After 30 minutes of roasting, turn the potatoes wedges over and roast another 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I was shocked when I pulled into a little heretofore-unexplored mall in Riverside and found a shop that specializes in "Sales, Service and Supplies" for typewriters. In driving by this mall Jer and I had noticed a cafe at one end that advertised its "GREAT BREAKFASTS" so it was in arriving there one morning at 7:30 to give the restaurant a try that we noticed this sign. I peeked in the window to ascertain that the grates were there for security purposes, not because the store had gone out of business. Yes, it is still in business. I can't imagine there would be enough traffic in typewriters to sustain even a smallish shop, but apparently there is.

Now a couple of years ago I had read a really interesting article that noted the New York Police Department in 2008 had signed a $432,900 contract for typewriter maintenance. New York? Police Department? Typewriters? Could it be true that in this day and age, with the average age of employees being young enough to have grown up with computers at their fingertips....could it be true that they still have working typewriters in use? Apparently so. In hunting down the article, I noted that one former police officer said something to the effect that the only place you'll see typewriters today is in museums and the New York Police Department.

With my first computer I bought a dot matrix printer and I needed a typewriter for typing envelopes. But many years later when I finally upgraded to my HP laser printer, I was able to shove my little electric typewriter out the door. Envelopes do just fine in laser printers! The last time I typed on a typewriter you'd have thought I'd never had a typing class in my life! Talk about bumbling!

I've been typing for a long time. The picture below is from my 1948 junior high school yearbook. I had to wait until 1950 to take a typing class, but this is exactly how the typing classes looked. We learned on great big clunkers that had no letters on the keys, forcing us to learn touch typing from the very beginning. In looking at that picture what stands out most, of course, is the brave young man in that room full of girls!

When I finally got to be a ninth-grader, my time came. In thinking back on that time in my life, out of elementary school and starting to make life-defining choices in various subject offerings, I remember my mother encouraging me to take three specific classes. The first was typing, the second was journalism and the third was chemistry. Obedient child that I was, I did take all three. I did well in two of them.

Typing obviously was a good choice.

So from 1950 to today - 60 years - I have typed almost every day for one reason or another. Knowing how to type certainly helped me in my journalism path (less so in chemistry, but then I'm afraid nothing would have helped me much there; it was not a class I should have taken!)

At this point in my life I'm counting on my daily typing pursuits to do the same thing for my finger joints, that is, keeping them limber, as using my mind daily in pursuits such as reading, researching, and indexing is to keeping my brain limber. But I actually do these things because for me they are great fun. I wish I could convince myself that getting up from the computer or the couch for a healthy walk was fun. But alas, it is not. Nor has it ever been. I am not showing you the report card from Phys Ed. Only from typing!

Monday, May 10, 2010


It’s common knowledge among the aging population that our short term memory isn’t what it used to be. Why can we remember what clothes we wore on our first date but not whether we took our pills this morning? We remember our parents taking us to ride on the Balboa ferry when we were little kids but we are hard pressed to recall exactly what we ate for dinner last night.

I think this is euphemistically referred to as “slipping a little.” Jer and I have, over the years, come to a nice symbiotic relationship of our minds. We help each other “remember” things. We also are kind to each other by not poking fun at the other’s “slip” – at least in front of other people. We kid, but we do it gently because we both are in the same boat.

The other day I had to have Jerry’s help with a little math problem that came up with my friend Kelli, for whom I do a little accounting work each month. She owed me $50 but only had a $100 bill. I had $42 in my wallet, so she took that and said I could keep the $100 and adjust my bill next month. That was fine with me, and I cashed the big bill at the bank on the way home. A couple days later she needed me to do another little chore that was probably going to run about $15, so she gave me an extra $5 to make sure I had enough money. I did the chore and paid out $13. Now here’s the funny thing: as I was driving home I kept trying to figure out where Kelli and I stood in our "high finance," but it was like my brain was just too tired at that moment to come up with an answer. I knew we were close to being even, and I certainly wasn’t worried about change, but when I got home I repeated the transaction to Jerry and asked him where I stood. He quickly told me, and that was that. I am not so stupid as to be unable to figure it out myself, but that particular morning his brain power was comforting, assuring and much appreciated!

That afternoon, Jerry and I were sitting quietly in our living room. I was reading and he was working a crossword puzzle. He finally said to me, “I’ve got it all except for one word. Who wrote ‘All Quiet on the Western Front?’” Without any hesitation I said “Remarque” and spelled it for him. Now I have never read the book, never saw the movie, couldn’t tell you the plot if I tried (although I think it is set in the WWI era), but my 10th grade English teacher, Miss Weiherman, mentioned the book one day and told us she suspected the author’s name was really Kramer but for literary reasons he wrote it backwards and changed the spelling. That explanation apparently is incorrect; nevertheless, that’s what she said in 1950 and that little statement lay dormant in my brain for 60 years until Jerry asked that question of me.

My point is that in our house, it is tit for tat. Share and share alike. What's yours is mine. Some days Jerry and I both seem to be operating with half a brain but we figure together we’ve got a whole one that's not in too bad a shape for old codgers. We can’t ask for much more than that.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


In my lifetime I’ve had three good moms. Today on Mothers Day 2010 I’m going to give a short tribute to them.

When I married the first time at age 20, a super lady came with the package. She was kind, warm hearted, giving and loving. No one could have hoped for a better mother-in-law. She was good to me and good to the grandchildren that came in due time. She knew her son’s new wife was young and didn’t really know how to cook, so she always invited me into the kitchen to help her make one of her southern specialties. I watched her carefully, and it was always a bonding time. In the 16 years I belonged to that family, she never had a bad word to say about something I might have done better. She became as dear to me as my own mother. The tears I shed after my divorce was as much for losing her as for losing my husband. I kept in touch with her until she passed away in 1984.

As if having one wonderful mother-in-law wasn’t enough, I was given a second one some years later when Jerry and I married. He had been widowed and meeting his family for the first time was scary. I was not Jewish and I just wasn’t sure how that was going to set with his mom. But I needn’t have worried. That first evening his mom grabbed my hand and said, “Bobby, I want you know that I am really pleased that you’ll be in the family. Jerry has been sad for so long, and you make him happy.” And she gave me a little kiss on the cheek. From that day until the day she died, she exhibited that kind of love and care for me. I always considered myself lucky that I got two such kind and loving mother-in-laws.

My own mother passed away in 1982 after a failed heart surgery. In cleaning out her apartment, my brother, sister and I found a note that she had left for us. She had a hunch she wasn’t going to live through the surgery and had a few things to say to us. She noted a few little things that she wanted us to know about – and then she closed her note by writing, “I had a wonderful time being your mother.” After we got through crying our eyes out we questioned ourselves as to whether we had told her enough that we loved her too. Our family was not one that was very physically demonstrative, but we did love our parents and were thankful that we had always told them so.

Today being Mother’s Day, I want to let everyone know how lucky I was, and how grateful I am, that I had three such great Moms in my life.

............Ida May Kirkpatrick – 1904-1987...................................
.................Bertha Title – 1908-1990.............................................
...........Virginia Louise Dobbins – 1911-1972................................


Saturday, May 8, 2010


I get myself in trouble when I start nosing around YouTube and listening/watching music videos. "Getting in trouble" is a euphemism for "spending money!" It's like this:

I subscribe to a genealogy blog and in reading it early this morning it sent me to a video of Amazing Grace being sung by the Mormon Choir. As I was listening, I saw another rendition of the same song by a Soweto choir. I wondered if the Hawaiians also had a video, but the minute the word "Hawaii" entered my skull, I immediately started searching for some of the videos I've seen of the Brothers Cazimero. From there I was reminded that I had, in the past, intended to order a CD of one of their "Favorites" disks - and why hadn't I done that? Doggone it! I meant to, but out of sight is out of mind for sure.

When Jer and I had the house in Orange, we had a big den and in that den we had a wonderful stereo hookup and many dozens of our favorite LP albums. Later we turned them into tapes and there was music in our house all the time. The original owners had put speakers in the ceiling of our dining room, so when we entertained we had great mood music just at the flick of a switch. Once we sold our house and made so many moves, downsizing little by little, we lost the space for the stereo system, gave the records away, and at this stage of our lives we have almost 100 audio tapes and a smallish boombox that seems to magnify all the hissing noise inherent in audio tapes. It has not been very satisfactory.

Periodically I have bought a few music CDs -- probably 13 or so -- and daughter Kerry provided me with my favorite songs of the 70's, but my intention has always been to get rid of the tapes and replace some of my very favorites with CDs. I can't say as I've done that, except I did get an exceptionally enjoyable 2-disc Dave Brubeck set and later a beatiful rendition of Faure's Requiem. Oh, and Phantom of the Opera too. But no Brothers Cazimero. No "Best of Bread." No Cal Tjader. No Jean Luc-Ponty. No Manhattan Transfer. No Oscar Peterson. No Stevie Wonder. No Frank Sinatra.

It's no one's fault but my own. Well, part of the problem is that nowadays when you want "old stuff" you have to hunt for it. And of course in finding it online, there is always the shipping cost to pay, and that is irksome. I'd rather go down to a music store and pick it up. But alas, there are no music stores anymore.

However, listening to the fellows on the YouTube video this morning made me realize that if I get nothing else, I will today, as my way of celebrating Mother's day, order that CD. I'll take care of the others in due time!

Do you know the Cazimero brothers? Have a listen:

Friday, May 7, 2010


I just finished reading a nicely written novel, “Happy Now?” by Katherine Shonk. According to the jacket cover, the author “explores both the possibilities and the limitations of human relationships.” A suicide is what forces the exploration. But this is one of those books that after finishing the last page you wonder where the ending is? Have they hidden it somewhere that you missed? And then you realize it’s a Marshall McLuhan kind of thing, where the medium is the message. I’m very ambivalent about this kind of story. Without a “wrap up” given to me, it keeps me thinking long after I put the book down. Which I’m sure is what the author wants me to do.

A note in the newspaper today said a cattle truck full of calves overturned on a local freeway yesterday in Redlands, causing the deaths of 70 little animals. I wish I hadn’t read that; more than that, I wish it hadn’t happened. But in the scheme of things it wasn’t as bad as the two ships colliding in the Bosphorus when we lived in Istanbul and some twenty-thousand sheep drowning. When our driver told us about this horrible event, he called them cows – which was just a mis-recollected word on his part and we didn’t realize it. We didn’t watch Turkish TV, so it was a big surprise the next day when an American friend living nearby who spoke Turkish asked us if we heard about the boats full of twenty-five thousand sheep colliding. At first we thought there had been two separate accidents – until we realized that it was unlikely that almost 50,000 animals drowned in the Bosphorus the previous day!

I read that our fine California State Assembly has legalized a process called alkaline hydrolysis (using water, heat and an alkaline solution) to be used as an alternative to cremation. It is called “bio-cremation” and speeds up the decomposition process. I suppose it is the ultimate “Go Green” for those who want to practice what they preach. I say “Gross!”

Also an article is headlined “Neanderthals and Humans Mated: A DNA study of ancient bones shows interbreeding about 80,000 years ago.” The way I see it, the practice is still going strong!

While I have reluctantly accepted the fact that “bust” and “busted” is an acceptable synonym for “break,” and has been since at least 1975, which is the publishing date of my trusty old “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary,” I can’t bring myself to like it, and certainly not to use it. Mrs. Peterson, my 6th grade teacher back in 1946-47 one day corrected Tommy Graves in front of the class after he said something “busted” by saying, “Tommy, the correct word is ‘broken.’ A BUST is the BREAST of a woman.” I was totally mortified at her language, since my family required euphemisms for all body parts. Mrs. Peterson’s pronouncement is seared into my brain, and this morning when our local NBC anchorperson said in front of God and everybody watching TV, “the Louisiana oil well that busted…” I just about had a stroke of apoplexy, Webster notwithstanding.

That’s it for today, folks.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Here's a short story with a happy ending - the very best kind. To totally appreciate yesterday's events, you really should have seen KNBC's TV coverage of this event, but I'll let a couple of the pictures give you a good idea of what happened.

In Oxnard, a city up the coast toward Ventura, a California black bear (which actually is brown) came into the city and found himself 25 feet up a tree, probably thoroughly confused about how it all came about. But this tree, located on the edge of a city cemetery, was not a place a bear should be, so the authorities put their heads together to figure out how to get the 200 pound bear down. He really didn't want to leave his perch.

A number of tranquilizing darts were aimed at him and finally enough found their mark to do the job, and he drifted off. But now the problems was how to get a limp bear down without hurting him.

A hook and ladder truck was brought in and those brave men chosen for the job went up the ladder and put two slings around him. His back end was heavier than his front end, so he simply would have slipped out of a single sling. Once completely slung (slinged?), he was lifted out of the tree very carefully and lowered into the waiting arms of Officials with the Department of Fish and Game whose plans included taking the woozy fellow back up into the hills and letting him sleep it off.

People aren't crazy about loose bears in a city, but no one wanted the bear injured in the removal process. With all the mayhem in the world, it does a body good to see officials taking the time to care for a wild creature out of his element. Thanks, guys. Good job!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Three old men are at the doctor for a memory test.

The doctor says to the first old man, "What is three times three?"

"274," was his reply.

The doctor says to the second man, "It's your turn. What is three times three?"

"Tuesday," replies the second man.

The doctor says to the third man, "Okay, your turn. What's three times three?"

"Nine," says the third man.

"That's great!" says the doctor. "How did you get that?"

"Simple," says the third man. "I subtracted 274 from Tuesday."

Monday, May 3, 2010


In genealogy we often run across interesting stories about people who do not belong to our family. In researching a friend's family I found this newspaper article from the San Bernardino Daily Courier of June 14, 1893. She knew that he had died in an accident but not how.

The Careless Handling of a Revolver Causes the Wounding and
Probable Death of a Promising Young Man
The Shooting Entirely Accidental

Word was received in this city late yesterday afternoon that Ed Hadden, son of Thomas Hadden, and grandson of Judge J. M. Morris, had been accidentally shot on the train at Riverside by Capt. Jack A. Mellon of Yuma.

The facts of the case, so far as could be obtained, were these: Mr. Hadden had secured a position on the ranch of Dan Freeman in Los Angeles county and had taken the 4 o'clock train to go to the ranch to commence work. When the train reached Riverside he got out on the platform and talked to some acquaintances, getting on again as the train was about to start. He took a seat directly in front of Mr. Mellon. That gentleman was at this particular time just in the act of removing a revolver from his valise to his pocket for some purpose, when, just as Mr. Hadden sat down, the revolver in some unaccountable way went off, the ball going through the back of the seat and penetrating Mr. Hadden's back about two inches below the heart. The ball went clear through him, striking the tenth rib.

The injured man was at once removed from the train and his parents, who reside in this city, sent for.

The report last evening was that Mr. Hadden was mortally wounded and could not probably live until morning. It is sincerely hoped by his many friends here that this view of the case is incorrect.

Most of the citizens of this city will remember Mr. Hadden, who several years ago moved with his parents to Fresno where he lived until quite lately, he having reached San Bernardino only a few days ago. He is about 24 years of age and is a very bright young man, well thought of wherever he goes.

Captain Mellon, the accidental cause of the shooting, is captain of the steamer Gila, plying on the Colorado river. The captain has a summer residence at Santa Monica and was on his way there for a few days' rest and recreation when the unfortunate accident occurred. Captain Mellon is described by some of his friends in this city as a most kindhearted gentleman, who makes friends wherever he goes. He will suffer nearly as much as the wounded man on account of the accident.

Altogether it was a most unfortunate affair.

And yes, Ed Hadden died.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The Enfield, Connecticut, school board needs a venue for their high school commencement activities. They had planned to hold it on the school athletic fields but learned from the manufacturers of the pricey artificial turf recently laid down that commencement foot traffic will void the warranty. Renting a civic center or arena would cost as much as $70,000 and in this economy that’s too much money for school boards to lay out.

So what to do? For $16,000 the district can rent a nearby mega-church that seats 3000 people. According to the pastor, the inside of the church is basically generic space; that is, it doesn’t look like a traditional church on the inside. And of course the commencement itself will not have any religious overtones.

There’s a big difference between $70,000 and $16,000, and the school board voted to rent the church.

But now comes the ACLU. They are prepared to sue on behalf of “unidentified students” who might consider they are being forced to be subjected to religious symbols and to avoid this would have to stay home instead of attend the graduation ceremony. But it’s not only the ACLU that is concerned. There is also a group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State and their position is that holding commencement in a church is antithetical to the American idea of neutrality about religion as laid out in our Constitution. This group feels that being in that church would make non-Christians feel very uncomfortable.

Now all this seems so foolish. From an economic standpoint it makes good sense to use this particular church. I get awfully irked at the ACLU sometimes, even with as liberal a mind-set as I have. In the particular case of the Enfield school commencement activities I find it easy to say these other groups are sure making a big brouhaha out of nothing.

However, I also imagine that if the Enfield school board had decided to hold commencement activities in a big mosque, or even a big synagogue, there would be a bigger brouhaha than what they’ve got on their hands now. I am afraid that asking Enfielders to ignore the religious trappings of those buildings for such a secular event would not go over well at all. Double standard? Yes, I think so -- maybe not because we are bigoted, which none of us wants to admit to, but because we are simply uncomfortable around what we aren’t familiar with.

Enfield may have this resolved by now. I am interested in knowing how this plays out.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


In yesterday’s LA Times there was a funny op-ed piece written by Meghan Daum on Supreme Court nominees. The gist of the story was that one of those who may be a nominee, Diane P. Wood, a US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge among other things, should be especially considered because she is an oboe player. Daum’s column give the traits necessary to be a good oboe player and says they are the same traits necessary for good judges, and she tops the list with the fact that oboe players are the ones who sound the A that tunes the first violin that in turn tunes the whole orchestra. Oboes are not easy to tune, she says, and even if they don’t exactly hit the A right on, regardless the whole orchestra uses that note as an A. She says oboists are not always right but they are the deciders and everyone falls in line!

It was a very humorous and appealing column. I laughed and wished that our government could approach things in such a manner: stop the fighting and get on with the important stuff.

But also in this column Daum says that there is arguably one instrument that is harder to play than the oboe and that is the bassoon. Which brings me to the topic for my column today.

When I was in school we didn’t start our musical knowledge in elementary school learning to play recorders like kids nowadays do. We had to wait until seventh grade. At that time the schools furnished us with either a string or a woodwind instrument if we wanted to learn to play and we got lessons right in school. Some kids wanted to do this and some kids didn’t. All my friends did, so I got in line with them.

Now as I have told the story all these years, (which may or may not be exactly how it transpired) I happened to be the last kid in line and when I got to the music teacher there was only one instrument left – a bassoon. I had never seen nor even heard of a bassoon. It came in a large trunk-like case, which should have been my first clue that it wasn’t going to be a good fit.

In junior high school I was such a runty little kid that my parents drove me once a month to a clinic in Monrovia, about 60 freeway-less miles from Long Beach, where there was a doctor who specialized in nutrition for ailing and asthmatic children. I wasn’t skinny because I was sick; I was just skinny, period, and my folks worried about me. But no matter what Dr. Pottenger prescribed for me to eat, I stayed skinny. Well, I was so small I could barely carry the case that contained the bassoon. To make matters worse, when I got to the first class and the teacher showed me how to put the bassoon together, it was at least twice as tall as I was. Furthermore, as I recall (and if I am wrong here I will surely hear from my son about it) the teacher told me to bite down on the reed with my lip-covered teeth and then blow my lungs out through the now very squeezed-together reed. That first day I managed to get only a few anemic EEKS out and then spent the rest of the day not eating because I was afraid my sore lips were going to fall off.

I don’t remember how long it was that I labored to produce a sound. Many years later a friend said she remembered bringing her saxophone over and practicing with me and my bassoon. I don’t remember that, probably because I hate to remember traumatic events. But I have the feeling that I never got to the point of being able to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or whatever tune #1 in Tune Book #1 was.

I have my yearbook from seventh grade, the year we got our instruments, and in the photos you will find all my friends sitting with their instruments either in the orchestra or the band. Dokey and Ro had saxes, Irene had a cornet, Fran a clarinet, Allan had a saxophone and Sammie (who later played football in high school and became a Captain in a big-city Sheriff’s department) had a violin. But you won’t see me in those photos. I have the eighth-grade yearbook too, and the same kids are sitting and the same kid is NOT sitting. But neither does a bassoon appear in either of the yearbooks, so I suspect it was not just me who objected to that huge instrument. (Well, the tuba was big too, but there was always some short tubby kid who had the lung power to make that one work.)

Basically what my not continuing with the bassoon did was to send me off in a different direction than my friends. They all played in bands and orchestras throughout their entire public school years. Dokey later joined the Army and played her sax in the Army Band. Ro still travels all over and plays the recorder at Shakespeare festivals and Renaissance Fairs.

Me? While they were all busy making music I was taking journalism classes and working on school newspapers. Even though our extracurricular school activities went in different directions, my friends and I stayed friends throughout school and in fact are still friends to this day, lack of bassooning notwithstanding.

Actually, from having taken violin, piano and guitar lessons in addition to the short stint with the bassoon (I never learned to play any of them) I did learn to read music and play the ukulele, and later I knew enough to sing in choirs, to direct Children’s choirs and to really love and appreciate music, especially cool jazz. So I’m lucky that in spite of giving up on the bassoon, I still ended up doing what I love most, being surrounded with music with the flick of a switch, and putting pen to paper (or words to monitor)!