Tuesday, November 30, 2010


In my efforts to downsize my belongings, I have tried to be fairly ruthless in clearing out my bookshelves. The fact that I started out with three sets of bookshelves and now am down to two is proof that I meant business. And when I get right down to it, about a third of what remains on these shelves are not books at all but stationery and craft supplies, as well as lots of photo albums.

However, there are a few books that I will never part with as long as I am alive. And those are the books that you see in the picture above. Let me tell you a little about them, going from the fat red book on the right hand side to the fat green book on the left.

Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 27th edition. There has always been a Dorland's in my house. My first husband intended to become a doctor and he brought a Dorland's into the marriage. Later he left his book, his idea of doctoring and of marriage all at the same time. I was glad he left me that book, and I've periodically updated it -- except now it costs so much that I just have to be satisfied with the words and the drawings that exist in the last edition I bought in 1993. And besides, now it's possible to find out everything by sitting at your computer, so who needs a Dorland's anymore? Nevertheless, I can't bring myself to toss it.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. This one is pretty darn old too, but it's like an old friend. How can you let go of an old friend? I use it almost daily. I want to be sure of how something is spelled and if it is the exact word that I need to use. This book tells me.

Holy Bible. King James translation. Edited by Dr. Scofield I've used it since 1963. It has tissue-thin paper, has lots of writing in the margins and it too is something that I use almost daily, which is odd considering I am no longer a very religious person. But knowing it as well as I do opens up understanding of much in print.

The Synonym Finder, JJ Rodale. This particular book was touted to me as the synonym book with the most creative use of words. I've had lots of fun with it, because it opens all kinds of possibilities and images.

Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised. 10th edition. Many many years ago during my first venture into PTA (now we're talking 1962ish here) I became very interested in parliamentary procedure. In fact, I figured that when I "grew up" I'd become a Registered Parliamentarian. Well, that didn't happen, but I've always stayed interested, and now and then I'm able to help someone get "orderly." And in the meantime I have made a fast friendship with a real Registered Parliamentarian, and she's enriched my life immeasurely.

One Hundred and One Famous Poems (With a Prose Supplement) Revised Edition: An Anthology compiled by Roy J. Cook, 1929. This was my mother's book, and it was out of it that she introduced my sister and me to "Trees," "Abou Ben Adhem," "Little Boy Blue," "The Children's Hour," "The Duel," "The Spider and the Fly" -- and oh, so many others. And "Laughing Allegra" comes from "The Children's Hour," in case you wondered why that screen-name.

The New Union Prayer Books (2 copies, one for me and one for Jerry) for use in Temple during the High Holidays. Until I attended my first High Holidays with Jerry on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur in 1975 I had no idea how liturgical the services were. I had never attended any church that was heavy on the ritual side and certainly didn't expect to find that in the Jewish practice. But there it was, and we need these books to participate.

Webster's All-in-One Dictionary and Thesaurus. We purchased this to cover the gap between my old Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary and the present day. It helps, but I've had a hard time making the transition to full-time use. It is a stiff book and doesn't ooze into my hands and my soul the way the old Webster's does, yet!

Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Such a book. It is possible to justify any use of any word in this book. The big problem is that the minute you open it you find yourself spending way too much time reading, reading, reading. So much to learn resides in this book.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. 1955. There is no need to worry about who said what after 1955. Unless you are, of course, writing for publication and need to be a bit more relevant! But for us redundant people, this version is plenty sufficient, and plenty fun to read, too.

So these are the books I can't live without. They reside on the shelf right behind my back when I sit at the computer. Physically they couldn't be closer to my heart! And they certainly are there in spirit. Novels come and go, even the classics and even my favorite like "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "The Cloudsplitter." I haven't tossed those yet, either, but I know I can do it if I have to. But these other ten are here for good. They have served me well; they and I have been buddies for a long time, and I think they'll all hold up about as long as I will. And we'll probably be ready for the trash about the same time. But until then, they are safe in their place of honor. And they make me happy.

But I do have a favorite. You can tell which one it is by the picture below. I call it a well-used book!

Monday, November 29, 2010


I have a hard time finding jokes that make me laugh. This morning I'm sharing one with you. It's from Tom McMahon's blog and is uncredited, but I'm sure passing it on is fine with him.

A cowboy walks into a saloon and says "Hey, who owns the big white stallion out front?"

The Lone Ranger stood up, hitched his gun belt, and said, "I do, why?"

The cowboy looked at the Lone Ranger and said, "I just thought you'd like to know that your horse is about dead out there!"

The Lone Ranger and Tonto rushed outside, and sure enough, Silver was ready to die from heat exhaustion. The Lone Ranger got water for the horse, and soon Silver was starting to feel a little better.

The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and said, "Tonto, I want you to run around Silver, and see if you can create enough of a breeze to make him start to feel better."

Tonto said, "Sure, Kemosabe", and took off running circles around Silver.

Not able to do anything else but wait, the Lone Ranger returned to the bar to finish his drink.

A few minutes later, another cowboy struts into the bar and asks, "Who owns that big white horse outside?"

The Lone Ranger stands again, and claims, "I do, what's wrong with him this time?" The cowboy looks him in the eye and says,...

"Nothin', but you left your Injun running".

P.S. The photo is NOT Silver, but was one of the wonderful workhorses pulling Cinderella carriages around the Mission Inn!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Sometimes it doesn't seem as if "The Inland Empire" - a part of Southern California that is squashed in between the Pacific Ocean on the south and the Big Bear/Lake Arrowhead mountains on the north - has much going for it. But if you live anywhere near the City of Riverside, Christmas can't start until the Mission Inn decorates and invites the whole of the area to come for a look. And is it somethin' to see!

Each year seems to be bigger and better than before. The Inn lends itself to over-the-top decorations. It's not all Santa and reindeer and elves, either. It is as much as "cascading" and "draping" lights as it is anything. There is not too much to be "gauche" and not too little to be disappointing. The whole area around the Mission Inn is just perfect. For those who live anywhere in Southern California, setting an evening aside for a trip to Riverside will be well worth it.

Last night Kerry and Brian brought the two littlest granddaughters out for this annual event. We were treated to dinner first at a wonderful restaurant called Sevilla, a short four block walk from the Mission Inn. Jerry and I had never eaten there, but after ordering lots of goodies off their Tapa menu, we've decided we've been missing out on something wonderful. After dinner we walked to the center of activities for a ride in a horse-pulled carriage.

There are many different style coaches. The Cinderella pumpkin carriages are the favorites, but of course the lines are exceptionally long for them, and with the threat of rain last evening we decided to ride in whatever we could find. We had a perfectly good ride around the perimeter of the Mission Inn.

It is such a joy to watch the little ones ooh and aah over all the decorations, booths and shops, and live reindeer, even. And of course it's impossible for us older folk to not carry on a bit over the lights and the festivities, although we do admit to getting a little bit tired toward the end of the evening. We made it back to the car before the rain developed beyond a smattering of big drops. We were very lucky, because we had not thought to bring unbrellas. In California, a 20% chance of rain is NOT a call for an umbrella.

The Festivities began on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving. Normally we would have waited for a couple of weeks before we went to Riverside; the crowd thins down a bit as time goes on. But because Kerry is having surgery in a week we needed to go early. The lights were, of course, just as beautiful but there is an advantage to having a smaller crowd. Nevertheless, it was a great evening and we consider ourselves lucky to have the young ones want us old ones to go along for the fun!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Hanukkah is right around the corner. It seems hard to so quickly make the mental switch from turkey and dressing to potato latkes and applesauce. But switch we must.

There was a time when I wanted to be a purist in my cooking and do everything the "old fashioned way." Before I married Jerry I had never even tasted a bagel or kugel or tsimmes or latkes, and after we married I certainly wasn't going to try to put on a dinner with traditional Jewish foods and serve it to people who had been cooking and eating that stuff all their lives. So I enlisted Jerry's sister Judy to be the latke maker. Basically, I handed her a food processor, some potatoes and told her to grind away while I watched. Good sister-in-law that she was, she took over graciously.

The dinner went reasonably well - at least everybody said the food was good - but I knew in my heart of hearts that if left up to me, I would NEVER, EVER, make potato latkes from scratch. It was way too time intensive, and I discovered that if you put 10 latkes on a plate, they would be gone with the first intake of a breath. If you put 50 on a plate, they disappeared in the same time in the same manner. There was never enough latkes. Later, I discovered two very important things: First, latkes made from a packaged mix didn't get eaten nearly as fast, and second, Jerry didn't prefer one over the other. You can bet what this purist threw out the door first!

Anyway, everyone still came when we had family dinners and everyone ate perfectly tasty latkes from Manischewitz without any grumbling at all. I was let off the hook very easily.

This morning I found a blog written by Jamie Geller (blog.kosher.com) which talks about eight different kinds of latkes she's developed. As I read through her recipes, I was delighted with her creativity and her blending of tastes: #1 was Cheddar and Potato latkes, #2 Potato and Parsnip latkes (oh,how I love parsnips); #3 Zucchini latkes with a bit of Cajun spice; #4 Carrot and Apple latkes (a little sweeter than usual); #5 South of the Border latkes; #6 Steakhouse latkes - no meat, but uses spinach and potatoes like the side dishes served in steakhouses; #7 Samosa latkes, flavored with curry powder, peas and chutney; and finally #8 - Baked Sweet Potato latkes with Gingered Sour Cream.

I was absolutely entranced by what I read. And she also has a video on YouTube so you can watch her prepare the Samosa Latkes. I determined that I would start with her Parsnips recipe and try them all. Break out the old food processor for the grating and go back to the "old fashioned" way of making potato pancakes. My mouth started watering....

.....and then I came to a sudden stop in my plans. With my ideopathic dysgeusia (which if you haven't read the earlier blogs you'll now know is a condition I acquired four years ago of "impaired taste" - nothing tastes "right." Nothing tastes the way it should. Some things are barely edible; most things are not. There is no understanding of why this happens and no cure)it is senseless to go to the trouble of trying out new recipes, because I cannot taste them. And to be perfectly honest with you, Jerry would just as soon have the traditional Manischewitz potato latkes anyway.

Next best thing to trying out new and exciting recipes for myself is to pass them on to you in this manner, trusting that some of you will catch my enthusiasm for what Jamie Geller has created, check out her blog and follow her instructions. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was the only day that was celebrated by a “fancy” dinner. I suspect my mother’s dislike of cooking is why we never had big dinners on Easter or Christmas – or for that matter, on Sundays. In fact, we basically had no family traditions, period. Which is probably why I tend to remember every bite of food that I ever chewed on Thanksgiving.

Food was served promptly at 2 o’clock, so mother and dad were always up before dawn getting the big turkey in the oven. The menu was engraved in stone: big tom turkey, Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing straight out of the package, mashed potatoes, giblet-less gravy, green beans, canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce (the jellied type; god-forbid that we should have a squashed cranberry put into our mouth), store-bought Parker House rolls, lettuce and tomato salad (with nothing but Kraft mayonnaise for the dressing) and of course at the end of the meal, home made pumpkin pie. Later, as our palates expanded a bit, we added mince pie. Milk was for the kids, coffee for the adults.

It was as traditional a dinner as one could find. Nothing beyond the bare minimum went into each dish. If Mrs. Cubbison noted other possible additions to her dressing on the side of the package, they were ignored. No nuts or giblets or celery or oysters or anything else blemished the dressing that we expected on our plate. I am quite sure my mother never considered cooking fresh cranberries, smothering them in sugar as they cooked and then adding a big dollop of brandy to them (which I discovered many years later made the cranberries taste exceptionally wonderful!) Green beans were simply green beans cooked in salted water; no French cut beans, no green beans almandine or anything of the sort.

Very frankly, although I poke fun at the primitiveness of what passed for the yearly Thanksgiving feast at our house, it is still what I expect come Turkey Day. In the many years since I grew up and left my folks' bed and board, I have learned many things about enriching that gustatory experience on the fourth Thursday of November. In the “cooking” phase of my married life (which was that period of time early in my marriage with Jerry when I collected and tried out thousands of recipes because cooking and eating was such fun) I learned a whole lot about what could be done with my mother’s Thanksgiving menu. But for me, I also felt that no matter how fancy the dish, it still needed to be served at 2 p.m. and have the same basic menu but with “theme and variation” in the orchestration of the meal.

I have learned that the whole world does not have dinner at 2; there are many people who serve it at six in the evening. But for me, that isn’t a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a nice meal, but I always feel I need to go to a restaurant for the “real” one. I’ve had to learn that if you aren’t the cook, you keep your mouth shut until it is time to put the food in it! I have learned that many people say grace before the meal. My family was non-religious so grace wasn’t a part of any meal, and while I don’t feel a need to include it now I do need to wait respectfully with my eyes closed when it happens. Although my own family did not have traditions per se, there certainly was a memory of all the ways we did things stamped in my childish brain. Adulthood and good sense makes one realize that Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving no matter how you cook the turkey!

But don’t think the spiritual/historical idea of Thanksgiving flies over my head either. If it is one thing that living abroad teaches you quickly is that we have it very, very lucky here in America. God bless America. And when, like a benevolent Buddha I sit back and look at my progeny from a comfy place on the couch while the younger generation slave away over a hot stove, I am thankful that I have loving children and loving grandchildren who want me around. But it’s not only family; more and more as the old friends drop off our radar (from “movement” of one kind or another,) I think how lucky I am to have and to have had such a great coterie of friends in my life. And amazingly, the internet has brought me a whole bunch of new friends, friends that I have never laid eyes on but who have enriched my life with boundless happiness and contentment.

Jerry, I’m sure, joins me in these various forms of thankfulness. Today we head out to our son’s house where we’ll eat chopped liver as an appetizer, once again experience an old family recipe of cranberry sauce very different from my childhood but still totally delicious, enjoy the big flaky rolls that come out of a can and baked in one’s own oven, and if we are lucky find some of the acorn squash that most often graces their table on special occasions.

Who would have ever thought of eating acorn squash on Thanksgiving? Such a feast we’ll have today, even if it doesn’t include the ubiquitous lettuce and tomato salad with mayonnaise that was so much a part of my youth! That I won’t miss!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Back in the late 1990s I read one of Joan Beck's annual Thanksgiving columns and was stunned by its beauty and simplicity. I wanted every one of my friends to read it, so I wrote her at the Chicago Tribune asking her permission to put it in my Christmas letter to family and friends. The season wasn't the issue; its meaning for anytime of the year was what I was looking for. She wrote me back a lovely letter giving me that permission. She died a year later.

I think she would be pleased to extend that permission to me now, as I pass on this slightly dated but still as stunning as ever column that was a bountiful gift from her to all of us.

Thursday, November 27, 1997
For these things, we are thankful ...
By Joan Beck

As we gather together to count the Lord's blessings, 376 years after the first Thanksgiving Day, we are grateful, Dear God, for Mir if it's safe and the Mars Pathfinder when it worked and the bull market while it lasts, for browsers and brownies and brothers, for cells and cell phones and cedars, for planes and plumbing and e pluribus unum, for tea and T-shirts and a T-rex named Sue.

God of grace and God of glory, we thank you this November day for stock prices that go up and a budget deficit that went down, for the fragile peace in Bosnia and for Wei Jingsheng who is now free, for dividends and diversity and one nation indivisible, for e-mail and eagles and Edison and Easter, for salsa and cilantro and cinnamon.

For new drugs that fight cancer and new techniques for heart surgery and new progress on a vaccine for AIDS, we are grateful, O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, and for newspapers and newborns and new jobs and new years, for cats and catalogs and catfish and CT scans, for caterpillars and calculus and cathedrals and catsup.

O Lord, our God, when we in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, we offer praise today for modems and mothers and grandmothers and Mother Teresa, for the infinitesimal mysteries of the genome and infinite stretch of the heavens, for bonding and books and brooks and bootstraps, for carryouts and carryons and carryovers.

For teachers and preachers and all creatures great and small, we thank you, Lord God who made them all, and for vacations and cash stations and gustations and dalmatians, for faxes and fairies and fathers and farms, for fireworks and fireflies and frequent-flyer miles, for health and hearths and hearing and healing.

O God who is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, we are grateful this day for the World Wide Web and weddings and weekends for galaxies and galas and gardens, for hymns and hugs and heffalumps, for cars and caramel and carnivals, for carols and carillons and cancan, for www.travelocity.com and www.lonelyplanet.com and hhtp://whyfiles.news.wisc.edu/.

Septuplets when they are all healthy and normal we count as blessings this Thanksgiving Day, our Father who art in heaven. We thank you, too, for nests and nest eggs and neonatal intensive care, for mentors and Mendel and Mendelssohn and positive mental attitude, for Disney and Dilbert and dill, for caregivers and carpools and "I now pronounce you husband and wife."

Lord of all to thee we raise our grateful praise for 911 and 1-800, for 98.6 and 20/20, for 401Ks and 403Bs, for I Corinthians 13 and John 3:16, for Beethoven's 6th and Brahms' 4th, for 12-step programs and three-ring circuses and second-day mail, for Title IX and a half point over prime and 8 gigabytes of hard drive space.

Daughters and daisies and daydreams we count among thy blessings this day, O God, who moves in mysterious ways thy wonders to perform. So, too, sons and soul and soup and soap, comforters and comfort food and common stock, flextime and flu shots and flags and flamingos and "Yea, through I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

Our Father who art in heaven, we thank you for general assemblies and general practitioners and generics and Genesis, for Gen X and geniuses and the Geneva convention, for solitude and solitaire and serendipity, for sequels and soccer and Sesame Street, for "It's benign" and "You're covered" and "I lift my lamp beside the golden door" and "When in the course of human events" and "They all lived happily ever after."

For sisters and salads and salmon and saints, for Seuss and Sousa and Santa and Strauss, we give thee thanks this special day, O God from whom all blessings flow. And for docks and doctors and doctoral dissertations, for Meals on Wheels and blood banks and food banks and shelters, for psalms and samaritans and salt and salvation and that "surely the presence of the Lord is in this place."

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices for angels and auctions and anesthesia, for potatoes and poems and Poe and Paine, and for Lincoln and liberty and libraries, for licorice and luminaria and light at the end of the tunnel, for overtures and overalls and outlets and ova and "I have a dream" and "We shall overcome."

The mysteries of egg and electricity and eternity, of prenatal development and prairies and prayer fill our minds with wonder this Thanksgiving Day, immortal, invisible, God only wise. Our thanks abound, as well, for preludes and pralines and paramedics and pacifiers, for physicists and pharmacists and pianists and pragmatists, for gadgets and goslings and gorillas and godparents and "until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, we thank you once again for dawn after dark, for rest after work, for healing after hurt and for life after life, for a bridge over trouble and a shelter from the storm, for love that will not let us go and an eternal home and always, that "neither death nor life nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God."

Chicago Tribune

Saturday, November 20, 2010


In the last few weeks I have been somewhat concerned that my blood pressure is not quite as low as I would like it to be or as I think it should be. In the back of my mind is always the threat of a stroke. In my dreams a blood pressure of 120/70 is possible, but in wakefulness it appears not to be attainable, or even close. Periodically my doctor will change the type, style or dosage of my blood pressure medication, but my systolic mostly stays in the mid 130s and the diastolic in the mid 80s. Too high, I say. My mother worked with stroke patients in occupational settings, and she said she preferred to die quickly of a heart attack than to suffer the debilitating effects of a severe stroke. She got her wish, but she left me with her fear.

So it was with a great deal of excitement that this morning I read of a new finding for stroke recovery – at this time only proven on rats – which might be what all potential stroke victims have been waiting for. A UC Irvine neuroscientist presented his research last week at a meeting in San Diego. And it appears the answer couldn’t be simpler. The “magic bullet” as it pertains to rats is simply this: Tickling the rat’s whiskers. Yep. What could be easier?

According to the LA Times article, in a stroke “a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain and starves key areas of the cortex, where memory, attention and language functions are controlled.” In strokes, quick intervention is the key to limiting brain damage. So in this research the rats were given a kind of brain injury that mimics an ischemic stroke. The researchers already had determined that rats have a natural whisker motion when they are exploring their environments, and the research was to determine if stimulating their whiskers for 90 minutes after being given a “stroke” would cause the blood to be quickly rerouted to the damaged area, thus limiting and repairing the damage. Sure enough, it seemed with that kind of stimulation the brain began healing itself and the rats improved.

The researchers say lots more investigation must be done, but in speaking about its application to humans, “We’re looking for something that can help people wherever they are and long before they get to a hospital”

And researchers aren’t sure exactly what kind of stimulation humans would require equal to whisker tickling. One thought is perhaps touching on the lips or the fingers would be sensitive targets. But certainly for men, I think it would be very wise to grow a beard or a mustache – or even possibly a soul patch, just in case! What’s good for a rat surely must be good for a man.

And as for us women, I suppose we’d better rethink plucking our chin hairs!

Friday, November 19, 2010



I see that you are at odds with Facebook because you say it is causing some of your church leaders to think of going astray and dishonoring their marriage vows.

I have news for you. It doesn’t take Facebook to do that.

Forty years ago my children’s father switched from having strict Arminian views to a belief in “eternal security," thinking to keep himself in God’s good graces while he went on a year-long adultery binge, all the while teaching our adult Sunday School class.

It’s amazing what humans, men and women alike, will do to justify the call of the hormones. Christians aren’t the only ones who stray but I personally think it is particularly reprehensible when they, of all people, do.

Pastor, instead of trying to rid the world of all possible temptations perhaps it would be better to go back to basics and start preaching and praying about integrating Christian morality and marriage, Christian character and commitment – teaching what a life that is supposed to glorify God looks like and about the walk to get there.

Thank you for recognizing the threat, Rev. Miller. But forget Facebook. The sin is not there. It’s lurking in our hearts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JER - November 17, 1929

My dear, sweet longsuffering husband turns 81 today. You all know him if you read many of my blogs. Most of the time what I say is the honest truth. He knows, and I'm sure you suspect, that sometimes I take "literary license" with the facts. He's really a good guy, mostly patient, always helpful, and will eat anything I cook, unless it's Sauerkraut. As a birthday present to him I'm going to share his life with you visually.

I came into his life when he he was in his early 40s. I personally think he has aged very well. Come on, take a pictorial walk with me through his life.

Life always starts out on a bare-skin -- er, bearskin rug!

His bar mitzvah at the Breed Street Shul in Los Angeles was the first really big event of his life at age 13.

The second major event of his life was a "three-fer" -- graduation from MIT, Commissioning as a Lieutenant in the Army, and marriage to Carole Kaufman.

After Carole's passing in her early forties from breast cancer, I typed my way in Jerry's life by being hired at the company where he worked. That was more than 35 years ago. And we've had lots of fun.

In September we went to Santa Monica beach to participate in a Tashlik service. Jerry bundled up to keep warm and kept his eye on the littlest granddaughters to make sure they were safe and close at hand.

I personally think he's aged very well. He has beatiful silver hair. He has skin that stays tan through the winter months when the rest of us are looking like pale ghosts. He plays 18 holes of golf every Sunday morning with his son. What medical conditions he has are well-maintained and he always does exactly what the doctor says. Obviously he is doing things right. No one can believe that he is 81. And just today he said that he has now lived longer than anyone else in his family has. And I'm glad he's taken me along for the ride.

However, just so you know, there are some mornings when he gets up and what with the aches and pains he feels like a really-worn out senior citizen. I found a photo that approximates what he looks like on those mornings. Scroll down for a peek.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


If I own it (and I think I might, since Jerry kindly defers to me when it comes to kitchen equipment,) then I think the settings should always remain on “10,” which produces a perfect piece of toast. There is another reason why I think I own the toaster, and that is for 21,900 days (which is a good approximation of the number of days in my life that I’ve been able to choose my own breakfasts), I have started the day with two pieces of toast and a cup of coffee. Jer doesn’t have the love relationship with toast that I do. He prefers Wheaties or Cheerios.
The crux of the issue is this: If I own the toaster then isn’t it appropriate for Jerry to return the setting to 10 when he is finished using it? Now believe me, we are beyond the point of needing to fight over this issue. Jerry and I know where our differences lie and we accept them. As my mother always said, it would be very boring if everybody liked the same thing.

But there is a vast divergence in our thinking about toast. To me, it is impossible to over-toast a piece of bread. The only reason I don’t cremate my toast is that I don’t want to eat anything carcinogenic. So when I set my toaster dial at 10, I get the perfect piece of toast. Slather butter on it and it is a breakfast fit for a Queen.

On the other hand, Jerry believes the perfect piece of toast happens when bread is waved over the top of the toaster with the dial set at 1. He then takes that most-anemic looking bread (I can’t even refer to it as toast, because it is definitely not toasted), slathers butter on it, and enjoys it as much as I enjoy my cremated piece.

The problem is, of course, that he does not ever remember to turn the setting back to 10, and thus I am always taken aback when my toast pops up pale and floppy. I do believe that if I own the toaster, the setting should always be at 10, one way or the other.

Jerry, good guy that he is, doesn’t argue with me over ownership, and he always admits he forgot to reset the toaster dial. And I give him some slack because he is 81 and has far more important things on his mind than my toast, which he considers inedible anyway. It’s nothing to argue over.

But there is one other item in our house that truly needs to have its ownership defined. That is, of course, the toilet.

I cannot be as flexible about ownership of the toilet as I am of the toaster. I believe I own the toilet outright by default. More than once in our years of marriage I have gone into the bathroom in the middle of the night, (leaving the light off so that I don’t wake Jerry) and sat down on the toilet, only to fall rear-end first into the cold water because the lid has been left up. Having this happen is like a sudden ritual gone terribly awry, a unexpected baptism of the wrong end, so to speak. The suddenness, the shock, and the humiliation that occurs is so dramatic and senseless that the only atonement possible should be full and uncontested ownership. Along with that would come Rule Number One: “Under no circumstances shall the toilet lid be left up.”

I own my bed; Jerry owns his. I own my closet; Jerry owns his. He can own the plants and the coffeepot, the hair dryer and the television. I will even agree to share the toaster with him, if necessary. But the toilet should be mine, and I reiterate: Under no circumstances shall the toilet lid be left up. Period.

And I can hear his response after he reads this: TURN ON THE LIGHT, STUPID!

Monday, November 15, 2010


We here in Southern California are overdue for a big earthquake. Not that we’ve missed them or anything like that. It’s just that we’ve gone a long time without a major quake. And we, Jerry and I personally, have become very lax in our preparation for it.

In 1971 we felt the 6.6 quake centered in the San Fernando Valley. We lived some 70 miles from the epicenter and it nearly shook us out of our beds. The old two story wooden house creaked something fierce, but nothing was damaged. It just scared the daylights out of us.

In 1987 we felt a 5.9 quake, not nearly as bad as the previous one but still it was a good-sized shaker. I was at work and the kids were at school. We were about 30 miles from the epicenter on this one and while I simply sat at my desk during the shaking, most of the employees ran out into the yard. The only ones left in the building were the native Californians.

Jer and I were living in Turkey during the big Landers quake in 1992, the biggest of any in my lifetime at 7.3. The only reason that one did so little damage is that the epicenter was in the desert.

And finally in 1994, about a year after we returned from Turkey, the big 6.7 Northridge earthquake hit about four in the morning. Again, we were about 70 miles from the epicenter. Our house, again an old wooden house but single story this time, made a terrible noise, and shook the bejabbers out of us. Jer and I jumped out of bed; his assigned job was to hold up the china cabinet; mine was to hold up the curio cabinet. Our plan worked like clockwork, except that our little dog ran around the house barking, barking, barking, adding to the confusion. We knew this was a big and a bad one.

Except for a few minor shakers, we haven’t had a big one since then, and we are truly overdue.

Jer and I have always tried to be prepared. At our home in Orange we had large tin barrels filled with what we needed to survive for a couple of weeks without utilities, food, and the like. We rotated our blood pressure pills into and out of the barrels to make sure the pills would be efficacious in the event we needed to use them. I had a suitcase in the trunk of my car filled with a change of clothes and comfortable walking shoes just in case an earthquake tore down the bridge between my house and my office; I certainly couldn’t walk home in high heeled shoes. We put a wrench near the gas shutoff valve outside the house.

Since we’ve retired we’ve actually grown fairly lax about our “earthquake preparedness” kit. We keep a flashlight and hard-soled shoes next to our beds. In the event a big shake breaks windows and knocks over mirrors and curio cabinets, we need to have shoes handy so we can walk through debris. We are in single story apartments which are unlikely to collapse so we figure we can get to our pills if necessary. We always keep a big supply of water on hand. I did decide a few months back that I really should get a hand-operated can opener; our electric can opener might not work.

Today’s little project is to retrieve the suitcase from my car and replenish it with clothes that will fit me now. I am shorter and skinnier now than I was when I made up that suitcase and I need to be especially sure that the denim pants I have in there will stay up if I need to use them. If not, I’d better put a belt in the suitcase too!

The one thing that really concerns me is that every Californian is advised to keep a wrench near the gas meter so in the event the gas lines break we can turn off the gas coming to our residence. We have about 99 buildings, each with between 11 and 12individual apartments. However, here in this apartment complex we don’t have access to those lines, and very honestly there is not enough staff on site to run around and turn them off in an emergency -- earthquake or otherwise. Probably a call to the gas company would help us clarify just what, if anything, we can do if such an emergency came up. Our biggest threat here, I believe would be fire from the broken gas lines.

One hates to think of such things, but a big earthquake is not just in the realm of “possibility” but is definitely going to happen. We’re overdue. Jer and I once again need to get smart about this.

Now after all this let me tell you a truism. I would rather any day live in California with the threat of an earthquake hanging over my head than live in the Midwest having to think about tornados!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


In our family there is surname of Oney. So when I found a woman listed as Oney Boggs, I thought I was on to something. Come to find out, her first name was Leona.

In a county history written in 1885, Levi Sperry identified his wife and children by name. However, he had gone through a contentious divorce and to get back at his wife Nancy, he had omitted Nancy’s name in the book and instead inserted the name of his first wife, Paulina, as if she were the mother of his four children.

Shad McGlothlin was kind of a slacker and tried to get out of civil war military service by saying his arm had been injured in battle. He served, and later received an invalid pension. Later the government found that as a teenager he had injured that arm while falling out of an apple tree. They came after him for repayment.

A written family history stated that Louise Corel McGee and family had gone to Texas, where she died in a storm. Her son Bob came once to visit her sister’s family in Kansas. It is true they went to Texas and that she had a son named Bob. But she certainly didn’t die in a storm. She lived a long life, dying of acute pulmonary congestion in 1922 at the age of 74 in Mercedes, Texas.

In this same family history, written in 1929, the writer said she was told her mother’s great-grandmother came to America as a “Tobacco Woman.” Since the Tobacco women actually came to America in the early 1600s, the writer was off by more than a few generations.

A family in Oregon, whose progenitor, Rebecca Carl Parman, died in childbirth shortly after coming over the Oregon Trail from Kansas, knew where her tombstone was. Rebecca’s husband had erected a large stone in her memory. The only thing was that Carl was not her maiden name. It was Corel, and pronounced the early Virginia way as Curl. The family was shocked and surprised.


Genealogy can be tricky. Nothing can be taken at face value. In the above examples, two are a story of deliberate deception (Levi and Shad). The other four are just faulty recollections, although all the parties thought they were telling the truth.

A big part of genealogy, often omitted by those who are just too anxious to construct their own family tree, is the necessity to do additional research to prove what has been said. How did I find out the truth in the stories above?

With Levi, his first wife was Paulina Dobbins, sister of my great-grandpa. I had followed Levi and Paulina from Illinois to Kansas, found the stones of her and two daughters. I had tracked Levi’s second marriage and subsequent divorce. So when I read his bio in the county history book, I saw the lie right away.

I sent to the National Archives for Shad McGlothin’s pension records. Because of the legal action, they were being held in San Diego at a VA repository, of all places, and I had to pay $40 for a copy of them.

Leona "Oney" Boggs turned out to not even be a relative, which I discovered when I found her death certificate.

The stories of Louise Corel, the tobacco women, and Rebecca Carl all came from the same source, a copy of which I had acquired in 1985. Louise took the longest to prove – about 25 years. But a Corel cousin who has turned into a fantastic genealogist found living relatives in Texas and we finally got the answer to what happened to Louise.

This is why there is never an end to genealogy. There is always more that can be found, and oh, so much that needs to be proved. It’s a shame to spend your time building a flimsy, unproved lineage. If you are one of those who just doesn’t understand what the big genealogy hoo-hah is about, then it seems ridiculous. But for those of us who are dedicated researchers, it is FUN, FUN, FUN! We may slow down, but we’ll never stop!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


When I was a little kid, the war I was most conscious of was World War II. I was six years old at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. I had lots of uncles who served in that war -- one on the ground in Sicily, one in the air over Germany, one building a military base on the island of Peleliu, and others.

I didn't know much about WWI. I did, however, know about Armistice Day that came each year on November 11, because it was the day on which we honored the end of that earlier war. The elementary schools talked about it in general terms to us little kids; the beginning of our real understanding about it came later, when in seventh grade we had to memorize a famous poem, "In Flanders Fields" written about this war. Our social studies teacher made sure we understood what the author, Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and medical doctor, was describing.

It is right that our government later expanded the observance of Armistice Day to include the honoring of all our military veterans, no matter the war or the peacetime they served in and that they changed its name from Armistice Day to Veteran's Day, although I confess to still calling it the former.

So today is the day we will honor all of our veterans. The beauty of McCrae's poem "In Flanders Field" has always been a part of that in my mind. I think it keeps World War I from getting lost among the other wars of our nation's history. And I think today of Grandpa Ed Kaufman who as a young kid fought in, and was gassed during, this war and very nearly lost his life.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae wrote this poem in 1915. He died in France of pneumonia in 1918 after four years of service on the western front.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I am in the middle of a month-long foray into the machinations of my medical HMO because of a health issue I’ve experienced that apparently had been building up. To say that I am perfectly satisfied with how things are going would be to tell a big fib. I have discovered that at each visit I’m allowed 15 minutes with my primary care physician. In our screwy medical system now, he can’t find my paperless chart on the laptop he lugs with him from room to room; he doesn’t remember me from Adam (although I have been his patient for 4 years); he hasn’t yet received any notice that I’ve been in the ER due to a sudden pulse rate of 122 and a blood pressure of 180/113; he didn’t get the message that I called his office for further instructions; and he has not yet received the lab report from blood drawn on 11/2. This is mostly what one gets with an HMO.

Yesterday, to get my 15 minutes I waited in his exam room for three-quarters of an hour before he appeared. But I was lucky to get even this! My appointment time became available because a cancellation happened while I was listening on the phone to the appointment secretary telling me the next opening was in two weeks.

Unfortunately, this is the state of ordinary medical care. I don’t like it and I don’t think my doctor likes it either. The only mitigating factor, which has no relationship to anything at all, is that I do like my doctor, or I should say my Primary Care Physician.

So after laying out for you my litany of gripes, I must tell you I seem to have little tolerance for what came out in yesterday’s issue of USA TODAY in their Faith and Reason column. The headline says “Study: Muslim women uncomfortable with U.S. Doctors.” That’s ok. I can understand that these modest ladies might not be totally happy with the processes we’ve got in place here in the US. But I was flabbergasted when the opening paragraph of the article suggests that our doctors must become more attuned to Islamic beliefs and values that could affect the physician-patient relationship with Muslim Americans. First I had to I ask myself, “What relationship?” We don’t have any relationship with our doctor now. HMOs did away with relationships. (Before I retired my dermatologist had just been told she had to cut her time to 7 minutes per patient – and my appointments with her were at 6:30 a.m.so she could get through the day on schedule.) Just when do we expect our doctors to sit down and study Islamic beliefs so they can be prepared to have culturally relevant dialogs with a small subset of their patients. Maybe I’m just crabby because I think that dialogue might cut into my 15 minutes. Selfish of me, huh?

But what irked me beyond belief is that a representative of an Islamic medical group here in the US says that the “onus” is on the doctor to make sure that the Islamic patients’ modesty and personal dignity are being protected. I have on one lone occasion run into a doctor whose bedside manner was so crass that I refused to ever go back to him. But that only happened once in 75 years of being seen by doctors. I would hope to God that a doctor doesn’t have to walk on eggs around me so my personal dignity would be protected.

Frankly, as irked as I get at our medical system now that HMO’s are in place, I feel lucky that I can see the doctor at all. Sometimes I see Indian doctors, sometimes Chinese, Indonesian, and some whose ethnic background I don’t have a clue about. We all have certain cultural likes and dislikes, but we manage to work fine together. I am not picky. This is where we are in this day and age and I can either adapt to it or take the consequences. I do not expect doctors to change for me.

I think the medical group in question here would be doing themselves a great service if they would focus on mitigating the apparent dearth of Muslim doctors in the US by producing more of them to serve those who don’t much care for the run-of-the mill fellow who, like my doctor, tries his best, within the limitations of our medical disarray, to keep me alive and healthy. Barring that, or maybe at the same time as that, they might help the Muslim community come up with satisfactory ways to facilitate ease of care when they are faced with needing a doctor.

Don’t make my doctor and his peers the bad guys in this.

The article can be found at http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-11-09-muslim-women-doctors_N.htm?csp=34&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Religion-TopStories+%28News+-+Religion+-+Top+Stories%29

Monday, November 8, 2010


Do you like the picture above? In front of our little apartment I have, on either side of the walkway, a plumbago plant. These plants are not really suitable for using as a decorative bush, because they just grow every which way. Actually, where one sees them the most is along the freeway where they spread very easily and cover up the fences that divide freeway from commercial and residential areas. But the plumbagos I have are a fairly new variety called "Cape Royal" and are, as you can see, of a most glorious color. I wanted to use a photo of them in full bloom as a desktop on the computer, and it took a little finagling to accomplish it, but what you see is an actual photo of my desktop screen, with the images cropped out! I had to mix the colors for the desktop to match the plumbago lavender, which took more finagling. But I'm sure happy with the result. My plumbagos are now cut back to their scraggly selves, so with this desktop I'll bridge that gap until late next summer when they do this again!


I just finished knitting a red and pink stripped stocking cap, which turned out awfully cute but to my surprise a little bit Christmasy elf-like. It doesn't matter, because the stocking caps I knit will be taken soon to a home for abused women and children in Riverside. The kiddies, who often arrive quite suddenly, often don't come with suitcases full of their clothes, so these will be available for them to wear on winter mornings. Here's a photo of a couple that will be going there too.

And thinking of Christmas reminds me of the first Christmas we spent in Loma Linda, which was shortly after we retired. The senior apartments we moved into faced a narrow but well-travelled road that led to both the big Loma Linda University Medical complex and the Loma Linda VA Hospital. Our apartment was on the second floor and the balcony overlooked the intersection of Barton Road and Oakwood. Early one morning in December I began seeing city employees shutting down one side of Barton Road; then police cars arrived at the intersection to block any traffic. I stepped out on the balcony to better see what was going on. I heard a monumentally-loud motor noise coming closer and closer. Shortly into view came more big Harley Motorcycles than I have ever seen in my life, hundreds of them. The pace was as slow as the hogs could move, giving everyone a chance to see what was going on. Each rider was dressed as Santa and both sides of the motorcycle had huge bags full of wrapped and unwrapped presents. They were on their way to deliver toys to the Children's Hospital at Loma Linda. Believe me, it was a real tear-jerker. It also just about vibrated us right off the balcony.

Except for watching that event, we weren't very happy with the location of our apartment in the complex. It had been the only one available when we moved in. Later we found the same floorplan in a different location available and we relocated to it. I can't say as I missed the noise from Barton Road. What we heard in the new location was the sound of Koi swimming in the apartment's fish-pond!


I saw a funny definition the other day of "Floor" and it said, "Floor (n) - a place to set genealogy files." I laughed when I read it because it is so true.


And finally, some years back, Salon.com, an online magazine, had a piece in it that made me laugh. Patrick Smith was the writer:

I noticed the letters KLM are sequential in the alphabet. I was mulling this over until a friend reminded me that one of the first signs of insanity is looking for hidden meaning where there isn't any. The spelled-out letters of KLM - Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij -- do, however, possess a strangely onomatopoeic quality, you can't deny that. It's the sound a 747 might make scraping down the runway after a belly landing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


No, I never wielded a hammer, followed a set of blueprints or wore a hard hat (though once I considered getting a pair of Doc Martin's that would make me look like a really hard worker). No, I worked a lot, but not at that kind of a job.

My mother had programmed into me that I should learn to type and always keep up those skills, because they were always good for a job. I had a quick flirt at one point in college with a desire to be a social worker, but that affair ended shortly after I chose to marry and have babies. So as mom predicted, typing it turned out to be when the nest emptied.

For the first few years I held actual secretarial jobs. I'll say basically from 1972 to 1985 I was a secretary, a good one. Once I started into genealogy and realized
there was more to life than sitting at a typewriter, I chose to list with a temp agency and go out on various assignments. I'd try to find a two or three week job, and then take a couple of weeks off to do some research. It worked out well for the most part. But I did have some strange jobs in those years that I was doing this. I thought I'd share a few of them with you today.

I was paid by the temp agency at top secretary wages, even though often times the job I was hired to do was nothing more than scut work.

Once I was sent to a company who needed some photocopying done. Little did I know that for three days I'd spend my 8 hours in front of the photocopy machine. I was loathe to renege on a commitment, so I simply had to convince myself that if they wanted to pay that kind of money to use me as a clerk, then I'd just have to make sure that I got the job done quickly. I was like the "mad xeroxer" -- wild hair flying while my hands shovelled single pieces of paper, one after the other, into a stupid machine. I did finish the job but certainly never took a job there again!

Another time I was sent to the accounting department of a small local firm. I do not remember the circumstances but at the lunch break the 10 or so employees, whose boss was out of town that day, left me sitting in the department while they went into an adjacent break room and had a pot and sex party. I called my temp agency and said I was leaving and why. I guess I was just a prude.

Once I was asked if I was afraid of sitting in an empty building. It seemed that a four-story vacant commercial building in Newport Beach was empty but realtors would be showing prospects through at various times during the next two days. They asked the agency to provide someone who could sit at the main reception desk all day and just "be there" so they could leave the building unlocked for the real estate agents. I took the job because they said I could bring anything I needed to keep myself entertained for the day. I got paid to do lots of reading and knitting!

Once I worked at a company that manufactured smells. They wanted me to go permanent with them, but I just couldn't get excited over the product.

I worked several times at hospitals. Once was in the records department - an interesting department, I thought, but my specific job was to tear and separate duplicate copies of computer printouts that would go into the patient files. Again, it was just not a very good job for a secretary, and certainly not interesting! Another time I was in an accounts receivable department sending dun letters to former patients. Yet another time I worked for the speech and hearing department of a hospital, where I got to watch a speech evalutation on a fellow who was born with only a partial tongue. Now that was interesting. I worked for a company in their sales department where the reps their detailed heart valve replacements to doctors. I also spent a week at a medical company that performed amniocentesis on pregant women.

My favorite job, and one that I ultimately went permanent with, was for an insurance company where I did medical transcriptions of interviews with doctors who were being sued. Talk about fascinating!

There were many many more jobs in that time, some good, some bad, some boring, some fascinating. I did this for about 6 years. Sometimes the job was a good fit; sometimes it wasn't. But I will say, I was rarely bored. And when I was, I knew that it would soon be coming to an end. I knew something else more interesting would soon come up. It always did.

But I never had to work with a hammer and a blueprint!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


What better exemplifies the qualities of autumn than pears and gingerbread? Maybe hot apple cider should be added to the list, but to be honest with you, these two items will do it without any further help!

I cannot remember where I found this recipe, as it was a long time ago. But I am sure it was developed by the Dromedary company, since it specifically called for "Dromedary Gingerbread mix," and that is what I always used. However, I cannot find it anymore in any of the markets we have at hand, so I have had to substitute Betty Crocker Gingerbread mix and follow the instructions on their box for preparing and baking the cake.

I have the feeling that young people today probably don't know what real gingerbread tastes like. They may have, in their young lives, had a gingerbread cookie or two, but probably not a chunk of hot gingerbread, maybe with whipped cream over the top like we ate many years ago when I was a kid.

In any event, I think you all will like this wonderfully-autumnish recipe. Let me know.


3 firm pears
¼ C chopped crystallized ginger
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup brown sugar
1 box Gingerbread mix

Peel, quarter longwise and core 3 firm pears. Set aside.
Chop crystallized ginger

Melt butter or margarine in small saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir over low heat until sugar is not grainy any longer.

In a round pie tin or casserole (or cast iron skillet that can be baked in an oven,) pour butter and sugar mix. Place pear quarters in pie plate like spokes in a wheel, outside of pears facing the bottom of the pan. Small ends of pear pieces are to be pointing to the center.

Spread crystallized ginger pieces evenly over pear pieces.

Make Gingerbread mix as instructed. Pour it evenly over pears, smoothing to make it flat.

Cook as instructed on box. Remove from oven and immediately turn it out onto a cake plate. The pears will now be on top. Let cool slightly and cut into serving pieces. Top with whipped cream and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I am at my happiest when I --- no, not shop, as you might assume from the photo above. No, nothing puts a smile on my face faster than finding a wonderful new word.

Today, that new word is “Pungle.” Listen to this:

to pungle (third-person singular simple present pungles, present participle pungling, simple past and past participle pungled)

Oh, what does it mean? Again, not to shop but kind of an allied meaning – To pay, hand over or shell out. Who’da thunk there would be such a word!

The on-line dictionary that sends me a word each day (well, three of them do, but Merriam-Websters “Word of the Day”) today dangled this new word before me. It also said that this was a “regional” word. Since I live in a region (southern California) where it likely would be said, I have to tell you that I’ve never heard it used, even once. My old Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary dated bout 1975 doesn’t show it, nor does my newer Webster’s All-in-One Dictionary & Thesaurus (created in Cooperation with the Editors of Merriam-Webster.) These books are like my backup Bibles, and I figured if it was a word, one of these would surely have it. But no.

Nevertheless, the online “Word of the Day” says
"Pungle" is from the Spanish word "pĆ³ngale," meaning "put it down," which itself is from "poner," meaning "to put" or "to place," or more specifically "to contribute money." The earliest uses of "pungle" are from the 1850s and are in reference to anteing up in games of chance.
It also said that Mark Twain used it in Huckleberry Finn, and that in 2009 a San Francisco Chronicle writer used it to describe getting ready to pay the fees now required to adopt an animal from the pound. “They pungled up $107 to cover…”

The other use of it is a simple one which I’ve done myself many times in my life without realizing it: pungle up for pizza.

What I like about this word is that if you use it, you’re not likely to be thought a fairly pompous ass like when a person uses “pusillanimous” or “Myrmidon” – two of my favorite words that I am comfortable in using but which usually cause a bunch of “askance” eyeballing toward me. Not only will it be easy to remember the word, but I actually believe I can pungle with the best of them. In fact, the local Ralphs Market is already the recipient of about one-hundred dollars worth of pungling from me each week.

I certainly live in the region where no one should be surprised if I use it. And I think I might have a bit of fun with Jerry by asking him if he would like to pungle for dinner tonite. Or maybe after dinner for a movie. According to the definition, two people can pungle as well as one.

Monday, November 1, 2010


If I were a little kid and used tantrums to indicate my displeasure, right now I’d be down on my back in the middle of the floor having the mother of all tantrums. WAHHHHHH! WAHHHHH!


It has been confirmed by my doctor. I’ve SHRUNK!


All the tests I’ve taken in the last few years to measure bone loss have been in the normal range. So why, when I get on the scale at the doctor’s office, do I suddenly find that I am no longer 5 feet 6 inches tall, a height that I’ve maintained since I was a senior in high school, and now am a runty 5 feet 4-1/2 inches?

I have a theory, however. I’m going to go to a good shoe store and have one of those cracker-jack salesmen measure my feet, and I’ll betcha’ he will find that I take a much larger shoe size than before. I think the extra inch and a half that I have lost in height has simply moved down into my feet and elongated them a couple of inches.

This is just the same principle as the calcium in my fingernails leaving for the big trek to the toenails, which now, with that extra layer of nail on them are totally untrimmable by anyone except someone using power tools.

My upper eyelids are moving down to rest on my upper eyelashes. When I went to the eye-doctor the other day for my visual field test, which is for checking peripheral vision, I told the technician that I always had to be very conscientious about holding my eyes wide open, so I can see all the little flashing dots around the edge. I keep my eyes open as wide as if I had been goosed unexpectedly. Believe me, I see every flash! She laughed and said I should consider my doctor for doing a blepharectomy, as she does an excellent job. Obviously the technician does not recall that I am on Medicare, and eyelids are considered superfluous for medical attention. Maybe when the time comes that I have to scotch-tape my eyelids up to avoid needing a guide dog, Medicare will reconsider.

My usual happy-face grin, the reflection of my happy personality, now has suffered the same effect as a carved Halloween pumpkin does when it sits forgotten on the back porch until December.

Everything in my body, from the top of my head, my eyelids, my mouth, my earlobes, my neck skin, my boobs, my stomach, my gluteus maximus, the skin on my knees (of all things!), the arches of my feet, right to the end of my toes, are all moving south.

Now none of this is a big surprise – except for not being 5 feet 6 inches tall any more. That is just shocking to me. I am SO distressed.

I always considered myself a nice height. I bred three tall children and one short one. Short is hardly a word in my vocabulary. And the most distressing part is that I am almost shorter than my shortest child now. Oh my gosh, I am soon to be a little old lady, and that’s probably how my kids are going to refer to me, “Oh, my mom? Yes she’s still alive but she’s a little old lady now.” I can hear it coming!! WAHHHHHHH!

There’s not much I can do about it, except for this. Just as the DMV probably has always wondered how I managed to keep the same weight over the years, they now will wonder the same thing about my height. I’m not telling them, ever, that I’m not 5’6” anymore. And if I ever get stopped by a cop, I really doubt if he’ll challenge anything on my driver’s license.

Oh my, I don’t see myself as a little old lady. But I saw the measuring arm of the doctor’s scale stop at 64-1/2 inches so I know it is true. But I sure don’t have to like it! WAHHHHHH!