Friday, April 29, 2011


Just in case you have been nibbling on armadillo meat in your spare time, I'm sending you this warning. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, take another bite of it.

It isn't just that it is revolting in appearance, which it is, but it now has been found to be dangerous to your health. And the warning extends even to touching and handling the critters.

What did the poor ugly armadillo do to get such a bad rap? Well, it seems that armadillos have been found to carry a gene for leprosy. And it can be passed on to humans.

CNN reported the following:

Each year...about 150 people in the US are infected with leprosy, a bacterial disease that can lead to nerve damage and disfigurement. In most cases, people are infected after being exposed to saliva from an infected person, usually while traveling to parts of the world, such as Africa and Asia, where the disease is more prevalent.

...Until now, experts haven't been able to confirm that armadillos could pass the disease to humans. But a recent study provides the strongest evidence to date. Researchers analyzed the genomes of leprosy-causing bacteria collected from seven patients and one armadillo. After identifying specific strains of the bacteria, they compared them with a larger group of infected people and armadillos from around the world.

Of the 50 patients and 33 wild armadillos the researchers analyzed from the US, 25 patients and 28 armadillos shared a genetically identical strain of leprosy bacteria. And at least 8 of the 25 patients carrying the strain reoprted contact with armadillos.

Now this is just a highlight from the original story. You can do a follow-up Google search for further details, but the reason I'm warning you is that I just finished reading the book on Father Damien who spent his adult life working with lepers on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands, and after reading about leprosy and its affects, and then reading about this new study, I swore off even looking at armadillos, not to mention eating them.

I don't care if they taste as good as lobster tails. You will never find me eating an armadillo. "No Armadillo, no Leprosy" has now become my raison d'etre, and you lucky people are the first to hear my good news "No Armadillo, No Leprosy!"

Monday, April 25, 2011


Ever since I laid eyes on this lovely hat I have had it in my heart to knit it. There were some stitches involved that I had never tried before and although it seemed that I might be able to learn them, I wasn’t totally confident that I could do it. Some time back I tried what looked like a simple lace pattern – and I absolutely could not make MY handwork come anywhere close to looking like lace, so I gave up on that one. The worst part of it was that I had purchased a special yarn to do it in, yarn that I paid more for than I usually do. So this time I decided to use some of my excess yarns and not to worry about the colors. Just see if I could do it.

After a few fits and starts, I discovered that this edging was do-able, and today I have finished knitting the hat. Yes, my colors are pretty strange, a forest green hat with lavender edging. But that is what I had on hand for my trial run! I’m ready to tackle the big flower now, but that is going to necessitate buying longer needles because I have to start by casting on 220 stitches. I’ll finish this flower up – and if it turns out as well as the hat has, THEN I will by the yarn in the colors I want to use and have a go at it. So far I’m quite pleased with it. I don’t wear these hats; mostly I see if any of my little granddaughters or great-granddaughters want them, and if they don’t, then I give them to a local women’s shelter.

Yesterday we went to dinner at son and daughter-in-law Garry and Nancy’s house. Garry had offered to do the cooking and Nancy had set the table with the lovely china that my Jerry’s first wife had chosen when she and Jerry married. After she died and Jerry and I married, we used it whenever we entertained or had special family celebrations. Our dinner yesterday included our two adult granddaughters, Jill and Katie, and Jerry’s sister Judy. Seeing the china grace the table while we ate Garry's superb meal of brisket, potato pancakes with applesauce, tsimmes and green beans, with macaroon cookies and good coffee for a finale, made me rejoice that a second generation is using that china, and likely the girls when they get older will be the third generation to use it. As I have mentioned before, my own family didn’t have many traditions, so marrying into a family that has them was a lucky day for me.

I am presently reading a book about Father Damien, the Catholic Priest who ministered to the lepers on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands. Of course, I knew of him, but really knew nothing specific about him, so I’m finding this book exceptionally interesting. Such dedication. Such a calling. And such a sad ending.

And finally, a tiny political comment. Donald Trump for President? You’ve gotta’ be kidding!

Friday, April 22, 2011


I opened the LA Times this morning to see a picture, something like the one above, of a mother duck and 12 ducklings trying to cross Atlantic Boulevard in the busy industrial suburb of Vernon. "CHEEZ......." I exhaled, as my eyes lit on those tiny little guys. In the Times photo, tail lights of cars that had already passed were on the left side of the picture and I knew that on the right hand side were yet-unseen front tires of oncoming vehicles.

There is nothing like a tiny critter in trouble that gets my heart pumping. Yes, I knew that the photographer was not going to let those cars run over the ducklings. But still, just the thought of the many mother ducks who don't manage to pick a time when no photographers are handy -- well, I try my best not to allow my brain to even think about that. There are such dorks on the road who don't give a damn!

When we first retired we moved to a lovely senior apartment complex in Loma Linda that always had interesting little critters doing things around it. We had a resident road-runner who was a real crack-up to watch. We had a heron who stood over the koi pond, periodically shooed away by women residents flapping their crepey arms at him. We had a racoon family who nightly took their little brood for a walk past my bedroom window. And we had the occasional migrating duck who found the swimming pool a nice place to rest for a while.

But what wasn't nice was the mother duck who every year managed to walk babies so close to one particular storm drain in the front parking lot that at least one duckling fell into it. The mother duck wasn't about to go off and leave that baby, so she would run back and forth in front of the drain and squawk her head off until some of the maintenance people came with a pool scoop and rescued the baby. The first time I saw that happen I told Jerry we either would have to move or I would have to stay inside the apartment until the ducks were grown and able to fly off the premises. I just couldn't bear the tension of that drama!

Of course we did neither, but I could count on having to endure such a rescue every spring. The mother duck, smart as she was, just didn't get it that she needed to choose a different route. Same mother, same drama, for the five years we were there.

For some reason the LA Times didn't post their dramatic picture on the online newspaper, so I had to go looking for a similar one. And in looking I found the picture below that shows another form of rescue - and that reminds me of another short story.

My daughter's family in Los Angeles was presented with a tiny kitty that a gardener had found all alone in a flower bed. They brought the kitty inside, cleaned it up, named it "Lucky" and made a warm bed for it. Within a couple of days the baby cat had walked on a grate covering the vent for the heater/AC, which was in the basement of their house, and somehow managed to slip through the vent cover. It then went plunging down into the basement. From the basement the family could hear the cat mew but they hadn't a clue as to how to find it among all those many conduits.

My little granddaughters, 7 and 9, were hysterical. Their dad put them into the car, drove to the fire station a few blocks from their house, and sent the girls to ask the firemen if they could come help rescue the cat.

Everyone knows that firemen are busy men, but when called on by two sobbing little girls to rescue a kitty, what could they do? It took a couple of hours of work to retrieve the cat but their hard work paid off. Lucky arrived back upstairs safe and sound by LA's finest! My kids wired up the vents so NOTHING smaller than a gnat would ever fall down them again.

I once bribed a hungry cat down from a tree by putting a cube of butter on the tines of a rake, sticking the rake/butter within licking distance of the cat, and then slowly withdrawing it until my boss, a Salvation Army Officer who was lurking behind the tree trunk with gloves on, could snatch the cat as it got within striking range. No one came to take our picture, although I think they should have. It would have made a nice feature article for the local newspaper and some nice publicity for The Salvation Army, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


You can't write a blog unless you are sitting in front of your computer.

It seems to me a long time since I've posted...but wait, I have a good excuse. I have been behind the wheel of a new car instead!

Now, it is not really a "new" new car -- just a new car to us. Those of you who know us will remember that Jerry had a minor accident early in December that put our old van out of commission for good. I mean, we thought we could still drive it, but the insurance company called it junk and said it wasn't worth repairing. So to our dismay, we reverted back to a one-car family.

There was a minor little problem with that, however. Our remaining car, a 1993 Buick with 150,000 miles on it was far more unreliable than the van we had been driving and we couldn't count on it for anything. We had good mechanics to work on the Buick, but they would shrug their shoulders when we talked to them about the NEXT repair job and say, "Well, you know how American-made cars are!" With the demise of our van, we now had to share a car that might or might not work at any given time.

Luckily during the four months we shared the Buick we only had to rent a car once, and that was to drive to and from San Diego at Christmas. We needed to be assured we could get down there and back, and we didn't have that confidence in the old Buick. It would have been nice to be able to go shopping for a new car, but unfortunately our ship had not yet come in.

But surprise of surprises! Take a look at the smile on my face as I stand beside our "new" car, which I've dubbed Nannette. Son Garry and his wife Nancy purchased a new car a couple of weeks ago and offered to let us have the car that was being replaced. We jumped at the chance: a 2003 Mazda Tribute in very good condition. Oh gosh, did that solve a problem for us and make us happy!

Jerry said I could pick which car I wanted to drive, and my thinking was that if one of us was going to be in the Buick when it broke down again, I didn't want it to be me. And since taking possession of Nannette, I just haven't had time to do my blogs as faithfully as I would like. I mean, I can think of hundreds of little things I need to do in the course of each day, all of them requiring me to get in my new car and drive (of course)!

Do not laugh at the fluorescent green steering wheel cover that you can see if you look carefully. That color is to help me identify MY car when it is sitting in front of some big box store amid all the other silverish vehicles. No one else has such an eyecatching cover!

Anyway, we are so greatful to our kids for doing this for us. I am sure Nancy is enjoying her beautiful new car as much as I am enjoying her beautiful old one. I guess one of these days I'll get over being enthralled with Nannette and can get back down to business as front of the computer, for sure!

Friday, April 15, 2011


I have always been a worry-wart. It started early. About the time I was four or five years old I started worrying about fires. Every time I heard a siren I would run to the nearest wall and stand with my back up against it. It was a strange reaction but it gave me comfort. Handling the practice fire drills at school, where the bells clanged in short bursts, just terrified me. Luckily someone at that elementary school recognized my problem and took me to the office where they explained that a fire drill was planned and I was going to get to push the button on the wall that would set off the bells. They said I could watch out the window to see all the classes line up outside. I pushed the bell and like magic the worrisome problem disappeared.

In the third grade my teacher, Mable M. Atkinson, wrote on my report card, “Barbara does very strong work. She is sometimes overly conscientious and perhaps worries about her work, which is never necessary.”

Throughout elementary school I was just exceptionally conscientious, which often times made me seem like I was trying to be the teacher’s pet (which I probably was). Added to that was my mother’s constant admonition at home to “be good” as a counterbalance to my younger sister who was a tantrum-thrower, a yeller and screamer when she didn’t get her way. My mother didn’t want to have two problem children, and I seemed very adaptable, she thought. I tried very hard to be good.

I finally outgrew all those moments of angst, but I must admit that even in my adult life I still tend to worry about things. Actually, I had no idea that when my children were grown up with families of their own I would still need to worry about them – not all the time but more often than I would like.

What I hate the most about worrying is that it too often happens in the middle of the night. I turn over, check to see what time it is, and then my mind grabs onto something worryable and I might as well forget any more sleep. I hate doing that, but – it just happens.

So now I find myself worrying about the Decorah baby eagles. I am almost sorry I found the website. Luckily all three eggs had hatched by the time I heard of the site. Apparently one was a bit tardy. One of the news sites commented that if it didn’t hatch soon, it would be so far behind the other two in development that it would likely die because it couldn’t fight for its share of the food. So that is what started me off with the eaglet worries. I find myself needing to check on them several times a day to make sure they are all eating.

As with most worries, the worst doesn’t happen – and all three are now eating and growing well. However, Iowa just had a tornado – so next I had to worry about whether it was near Decorah (it was not). I heard on the news this morning that another storm is brewing in the Midwest, and I keep telling myself that it is highly unlikely that THIS nest is going to destroyed in a bad storm. But just so I could be sure where the storm was going, I went to Accu-Weather and added Decorah to my list of cities to watch. I’m not sure whether that is going to ease or exacerbate my worrying. But I did it anyway.

Luckily my kids seem to be at a good point now, so it is only the eaglets I have on the “to worry” list. However, something happened this morning in the eagle-nest that I think maybe has a message for me. The camera was aimed at the back end of the sitting eagle. One of the little guys was trying to back out from under the parent’s tail feathers and it was a struggle for him to do so. He finally made it, and quick as a flash he shot a large white blob of poop out from his tiny rear end – far more poop than I ever expected a baby bird to have – and it was aimed right at the camera lens. Of course the camera isn’t all that close, so it wasn’t affected, but I ducked!

And that made me laugh…at myself for being so damn preoccupied with those birds and worrying so much about them. I figure that poop was a message for me; I’m not sure exactly what that message meant, but I decided to assume the little birds will do whatever little birds do whether I worry or not…so just let them be!

I am still laughing. But hopefully not taking myself quite so seriously!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


In January of 1944 my father brought home a small machine on which home recordings could be made. I can't know for sure if the machine shown above was exactly like the one he brought home, but it's possible, as the time frame was right. After dinner, my father set it up in the living room and called together our little family, which included me (8 years old) and my younger sister (age 6).

I recall two records being made. The first, which was the "test drive" had each of us girls speak a little childhood rhyme, and the second was of my playing "Hungarian Airs" on the violin. I have no recollection of any others being made, and I'm sure the recording machine itself went back to the retail appliance store where my father was the manager. I'm sure his idea was to familiarize himself with how it worked so he could sell it.

The records themselves were about 7" in diameter and seemed to be of a sturdy but thin cardboard. I don't remember how I managed to become the "keeper" of those records, but along the way I accumulated records of two yearly concerts by our college choir, dating from 1954 and 1955. Then I added one from my son's junior high school band concert in the early 1970s -- and a couple more I can't remember. In the 1980s I was able to play the old violin recording on the stereo unit Jerry and I owned, but that is the last time I heard any of them.

Several months ago when my son was down from Sonoma we got talking about old times and I mentioned the Vina Danks band concert record -- and I brought all those old records out for him to look at. He offered to take them home and see if he could get them onto mpg3 files.

Imagine my surprise when last week I got this e-mail from my son, which he sent to all our family members:

While on a visit to SoCal some months ago, my mother gave me a hand full of old recordings that she has kept for years, in some cases, since 1944. I thought that you all might be interested in what I'm doing with those recordings, specifically that I'm digitizing them, playing them on a turntable and recording them on my computer, and then cleaning up the noise as best I can. The links below will take you to a series of MP3 that are hosted on my website and you can hear mom play the violin when she was 8 years old and hear the Dobbins family (not including uncle Steve who wasn't yet born in 1944) tell "Little Stories".

I don't know if your kids (the grandkids and great grandkids) will be interested in this, please feel free to pass this on to them. I will leave it to you all to explain what a "record player" is to any who don't know. :)

If any of you have similar recordings that you'd like to save for posterity, let's talk.

If you go to the website below, you'll find two mp3 files that are the result of my re-recording the two items above. Little Stories begins with my grandfather, Scott Dobbins, asking his two daughters, Bobby (my mom at 8) and Ginnie Lou (6?) to tell their story. My grandmother is there too, although she is almost too soft spoken to be heard and is apparently flummoxed by the recording process and "can't think of a thing to say." I have no idea how the original recording was made, but it is on a cardboard disk about half again the size of a CD.

Hungarian Airs is again my mom at age 8, playing the violin. This disk is a vinyl disk somewhat bigger than the cardboard disk described above. This disk is a pretty bad shape and by the halfway point, the vinyl is so trashed that it's all but impossible to make out the sound of the violin, even with some pretty aggressive noise filtering.

So I invite any of you who are interested to check out these very old amateur recordings. I do have a couple of observations to make, though. I was 8-1/2 years old at the time, and I was not a dummy, by any means. But I can't imagine why I would recite such an elementary ditty for my part of the recording. While I was able to recite "Jack and Jill," my 8-1/2 year old granddaughter Justine is likely able to recite the whole Gettysburg address! So you'll have to pardon what I call the silliness of the recitative and chalk it up to the times. Secondly, when my own children heard this recording, they were less taken by hearing my voice at 8 than they were with hearing their beloved "Granddad" again.

So the whole episode has engaged our family in a nice conversation of "remember whens" - and I am so pleased that my son has the smarts and the talent to give a new life to some old things. (Come to think of it, I wonder if he could help with some new knees? I suppose not).

Anyway, just so you know who it was that was speaking in the tiny little voice and playing so softly on the violin it was me, below!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Last week I found a simple recipe in the LA Times that begged to be tried. I had all the ingredients but one in stock, and that missing one was simple enough to purchase. So yesterday morning while Jer was on the golf course I did some baking. And was I pleased with the results, pleased enough to pass the recipe on to you.


3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 extra-large egg
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, stir the brown sugar into the melted butter. Stir in the egg, then the vanilla.

4. Stir in the dry ingredients, then fold in the nuts.

5. Place the batter in a greased 8-inch square baking pan and bake until set (a toothpick inserted will have moist crumbs), 25 to 30 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving.

These are very sweet, so when our kids dropped over in the afternoon I served them with a dollop of Redi-Whip on the top, which provided a taste balance to the sweetness. And it dressed up the brownie, making it look like a nicedessert. My daughter-in-law asked for the recipe, so I do believe it passed muster!

Anyway, it's yours to try now. The recipe in the newspaper was adapted from a bakery in Los Angeles called Clementine's. I've never heard of it before, but I just may have to scout out its location when I go into the city next time and see what other goodies they might entice me with!

Happy eating!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


In spite of my dislike of seeing things in the wild eating other things in the wild, watching these eagles tend to, and feed, their little newborns is just too amazing not to watch.

Sometimes the babies are not visible because they are tucked into their feather bed. This morning I caught them waking up for breakfast, and I can hardly tear myself away from the screen. I must confess I wouldn't want to be watching when breakfast is coming in on the next flight, but so far I've been able to log on to the website at a "safe" time. (Yes, I know I'm a wuss!)

Anyway, you need to take a look, because it's something we'll just never be able to see by ourself. Be sure to double-click on the photo so you can see the enlarged picture.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Is this graffiti?

I say yes. It is the work of taggers armed with spray paint and mostly done in secret in the middle of the night.

Now is THIS graffiti?

The wall, bordering an alley, belongs to a resident who happens to be an artist herself. To brighten up the dullness of the alley she commissioned some young high-school artists in the Hollywood area to paint a 75' long mural on her fence.

A neighbor apparently didn't like it and called the city Department of Building and Safety inspectors, who determined that because a single word, "Like," appeared on the mural it was therefore a sign, not a mural, and was illegal according to city code. She was issued a $360 citation and told to remove the word. She did.

At which time the city came back and told her now it was an illegal mural and that they would fine her an additional $1,925 if she didn't have the whole thing removed.

The alley wall is now white again, painted over by the young people who designed it in the first place.

The neighborhood is divided on the issue. Some think it looks an awful lot like graffiti. Others think it definitely is art, even if it isn't everybody's favorite style. Some think the city ought to be tackling far worse problems than this.

The LA Times, whose photographer caught the last two photos above, shows the exuberance of the mural, the start of its demise and the heartbreak of the artist who championed the work of the younger artists and has been keeping readers apprised of the situation.

It would be an easy decision to know if this mural was a good or bad thing if you had to look at it every day in your neighborhood. Any more it is hard to know the boundaries of art, folk art, and graffiti. It is possible to like this kind of art in one place but not in another? Many people are taking kind of a "David & Goliath" approach to the whole thing - with of course the city being Goliath.

I'm not sure I know where I stand on this. I think the full-length mural, which is definitely not graffiti, is stunning but I'm not sure it should be in an "in-your-face" kind of place. What d'ya think?

And as always, thanks goes to the LA Times for making each day's newspaper worth reading!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I am satisfied!

A month ago I decided I HAD to have a picture of a most unusual bunch of cows that were grazing in a field about 6 miles from our house. They were standing right at the fence, as if they were looking for a way to get out onto the roadway. As you know, I am a big city girl by upbringing and barely know one end of a cow from another. Now I’m going to tell you a secret to illustrate how little I knew about cows. I was not sure whether the word “cow” was a generic name for both genders of an animal (that is, cows, like ducks, or sheep, or horses) or whether it was specific to one gender or the other. I knew I was going to be doing a blog on them and I didn’t want to expose myself as a real rube, so I did a Google search on “Define: cow.” Google told me that a cow was the mature female of a bovine animal. I’m glad I checked before writing this.

Anyway, once having decided that I needed a picture of them, I made the trip back down to their field more times than I’d like to admit, and every single time they were as far from where I saw them as they could possibly be. I used to have a wonderful Canon T90 camera with a 200mm fixed focus lens before I got my little Canon digital camera that is nothing more than an old “aim-and-shoot” and those cows were so far away even that old 200mm wouldn’t have brought them close enough to satisfy me. But I decided to see what I could get anyway, so I put the little camera in my purse in case a propitious moment arrived.

And today, on the way down that road to do the weekly grocery shopping, I found those lady bovines standing out in their field close enough to me that if I was lucky and the stars were lined up right, I MIGHT get a viable shot for my blog.


Now, I hear you collectively saying, “SO?????”

Guys, look at those reddish-brown cows with a white midsection. It looks like someone took a roller, dipped it in white paint, and painted a very large band around their waist. Er, belly. They are the strangest looking cows I’ve ever seen. For my money, most dairy cows I’ve seen appear to be black and white mottled or spotted. These were just too much!

I did a Google search on Cow breeds and came up with several possibilities: The first one was called a Buelingo, the name coming from Mr. Russell Bueling of Ransom County, North Dakota who developed this breed. But then I found Dutch Belted, Swiss Belted, American Belted – and I decided I didn’t need to know that much about my cows. After all, if I was really interested I could figure out where the owners of this dairy lived and ask them. But no, I decided it was enough to know a few new things: a cow is a female bovine! The white around the middle is called a belt! And that the black cows with the white belt are colloquially called “Oreos”!

But best of all, on Mr. Bueling’s website I found a real gem of a poem about this breed. There are a multitude of verses to it, many of them speaking of cow-y things that only a breeder would understand. But the first two verses were an exact description of my efforts to find them. I can’t say that for sure the cows I found are Buelingos. But they look like Buelingos, act like Buelingos – and now you’ll see why I think they must be:

When I dream about the perfect cow,
There are some things I must mention,
First of all when you see her,
She must attract attention.

She is easy to spot in a pasture,
You don't have to hunt or shout,
She is easy to see on the highway,
If she should ever get out.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I took one look at this reddish "thing" and wondered, firstly, what was crawling out of it, and secondly, what was the crawling thing coming out of? I'd just never seen anything quite like this, and without knowing those two facts, it seemed awfully creepy to me.

Pity the poor dummy (me!) Maybe everyone else in the world knows this, but I didn't. Lo, it was nothing more than a cashew in disguise. Who would'a thought?

Cashew nuts grow on trees, of course, and this is what they look like while they are growing. Each nut hangs at the bottom of what is called a Cashew Fruit. Wikipedia can tell it better than I can:

The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp or false fruit). What appears to be the fruit is an oval or pear-shaped structure that develops from the pedicel and the receptacle of the cashew flower.[1] Called the cashew apple, better known in Central America as "marañón", it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long. It is edible, and has a strong "sweet" smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport.

The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands into the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed.
Once I got past knowing that this horrible looking thing at the bottom of each "fruit" isn't alive, in the crawling sense of the word, then I could see that it did, in fact, in its little covering have the exact shape of those wonderful cashews that I love to eat.

Wikipedia also talks about about the cashew "apple" being mostly utilized for making a fermented drink, which in various forms is called either feni, gongo, or "agua ardente" (translated in Mozambique as burning water.)

When I saw how much space it took to produce one little cashew nut, it occurred to me that the Cashew tree needed to be mighty big to produce even a small bag of cashews like I buy occasionally. And although I know they are expensive, it seemed to me that to get as many cashews as a harvester would need to make a profit, they should cost a whole lot more than they do. But of course I'm not suggesting that prices be raised.

What I did find, though, was that cashew nut trees are mammoth things and probably produce plenty of nuts for the owner, so I struck that thought off my list of things to worry about.

I can't remember how I happened to get tangled up in the internet looking at cashew nuts. I was looking for something entirely different, and as usual I got sidetracked. And I just had to share this with you, so you'd know as much as I do now about the yummy cashew nut.

Friday, April 1, 2011


In the late '70s I spent five years working for a group of clinical psychologists at a local privately-owned practice.

The "boss" was a noted therapist, having written a best-selling book, having made some classical films on styles of therapy, and currently having a full, four-day week of patients. He had several other licensed clinical psychologists working for him as independent contractors, as well as always an intern or two gaining experience and hours for their MFCCs or Ph.Ds or other graduate work. I was the only "employee" and I took care of all the scheduling, insurance billings, etc. -- and for the boss, typing all his manuscripts for magazine articles and new books. It was a great job and I loved every minute of it.

Not a whole lot of funny things happened during those five years. Being in therapy was a lot of work, and more often than not there were tears, rather than laughter.

But I did have a good chuckle once. The boss maintained files on all his clients and one of my jobs was to file the notes he took during his sessions. He put each client's initials at the top of the page so I would know which papers belonged to which client.

He was an excellent therapist and I would not have hesitated to refer someone to him. However, if he had one little hang-up it was that it pained him to work with very religious clients and he avoided it if he could, but often they came to him as a referral from another client and he felt obligated to work with them. He and I had met the first time when I entered Pepperdine College as a psychology major and he was on the teaching staff. At that time Pepperdine was run as a religious Church of Christ college, and I suspect both of us had our own views of religion shaped somewhat by that fact.

When he had time between clients, he always was working on developing psychological tests or writing chapters on his book, so I had to be prepared for him to say things that didn't make much sense, at least until I found out what he was thinking about. Often I would be handed a scribbled three-page manuscript and asked to type and edit it for his next book! Anyway, one day he came out of his last session for the day and appropos of nothing announced to me that R.L. was his most boring client, C.S. was his most interesting client, B.D. was his most difficult client, and he didn't know what he was going to do with M.P. He abruptly went back into his office, grabbed his coat and left for the day.

Since no one was in his office and since my day wasn't over yet, I went in to do his filing. Sure enough, there were notes on R.L., C.S., B.D. --- and when I came to the notes from M.P., I saw what the poor doctor meant. The page looked like this:

M.P. - 5-2-77

John 14:16
John 3:16
Matthew 6:21
Luke 5:12
I Cor. 1:9
Acts 2:25
Romans 3:32
and about 25 other Bible references.

I can't remember when I've laughed so hard. I guess he earned his fee that day and I wondered if M.P. felt that she got her money's worth!