Friday, June 29, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Tuesday was a gorgeous day. The deck set up for al fresco dining was fairly empty, as we timed our arrival for about 4 pm, too early for the rowdy working bunch to arrive for the "2 for 1 Cocktail Hour."
Not being a very big eater, for my birthday meal I ordered from the appetizer menu: Ahi Tuna slices, served with wasabi mustard, ginger slices and white rice -- everything for sushi except for the seaweed. I had some crusty bread with it, and a lovely glass of Mondavi's Sauvignon Blanc.
The birthday cake was, instead, a little bowl of Creme Brulee, taken with a cup of strong black coffee. What a nice birthday meal it was!
My dinner partner was, of course, Jerry. He was pleasant and comfortable to look at, and we began discussing what we will do for my birthday next year. I've already got the place picked out. At this stage we don't need a lot to entertain us; it's enough to figure we'll both be around to enjoy another meal like this again next year.
As for the birthday girl? Here's what a happy 77 looks like!
Monday, June 25, 2012
Penney's had a big sale on NO IRON shirts. Under their new policy they do not offer special prices unless it is truly on sale. If it is not a sale day, then the marked price is the every-day honest-and-truly-patootie price. When I arrived at the store, the "sale" price looked suspiciously half-again as much as what I paid several weeks earlier. Howver Jer needed the shirts so I bought a couple. From being folded on the shelves, I had to wash them before they could be used, and that is when I discovered that they are far from NO IRON, label notwithstanding.
All I can say is that it is a good thing I don't mind ironing but since I am a woman of a certain age, I'd like to think I can put ironing in the past like climbing up on chairs to get things out of distant cupboards, or washing my kitchen floor on my hands and knees.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Thirteen is a goodly number of grandchildren to have. Not too many (though I don't know anyone who would think they had too many grandkids) and not too few.
We actually have quite a spread in ages. Jerry's two children and my four children are not all that far apart in age - ranging from births of 1952 to 1961. But the spread in our grandchildren ranges from 1974 to 2001. We have several great-grandchildren who are older than some of our grandkids. (That's like one of those "I'm my own grandpa" things.)
These last six grandchildren range in age now from 29 to 10. The pictures which I have picked for this blog are there because I happened to like the shot. There are some photos that are not particularly flattering but make me laugh. I could have chosen to show a granddaughter who now is in college and gorgeous, but it is the picture of her years ago wearing glasses that I love the most.
So we'll start today with granddaughter Jill (1984), the only grandchild we had who refused to go in our swimming pool. She was scared spitless of it, in fact. So when her family came to the house, we prepared a sheet cake pan full of water for her to sit in. We put the pan besides the chairs we were sitting in, and she spent her hours by the pool using a plastic spoon and a cup for her entertainment.
Grandson Brendan (1987) and family lived up north and we didn't see them much, not nearly as much as we would have liked. The image I have of him growing up shows him in karate garb, as he and his younger sister both were very interested in that particular sport. His folks often sent us newspaper articles in which their picture appeared, mostly for earning another belt. We didn't have many snapshots sent to us, and newspapers just don't do him justice. Also, I don't think he ever saw our swimming pool, as we sold the house when he was just three years old. To be honest with you, I don't know if Brendan even swims. But as his whole family is musical, he plays a mean french horn.
The next grandchild, Caitlin (1992) , is Brendan's sister and is the one I said is really quite beautiful now. These pictures are always so funny to look back on, if you are not the one with the big glasses and a pacifier stuck in your mouth. But to make sure she doesn't become unhappy at being reminded of her childhood image here, I'll note that at the present time she attends USC and plays flute (or maybe piccolo?) in the USC marching band.
The last two grandchildren are the babies. Well, none of these kids are babies anymore but I should be more precise and say "the youngest." Olivia (2001) was born in Los Angeles, and since I retired in 2000 I have been able to be much more accessible to do grandmotherly things for O and her sister than I was with the other kids. She starts middle school in the fall, and her folks, along with us, can't believe time has passed so quickly. Seems like she was just a babe in arms...
Justine (2002) is Olivia's sister, and is the last grandchild Jerry and I will have. She has the biggest eyes and the biggest smile that a child has ever been given, but my favorite of all of her pictures are the few that show her with a pensive look. She's heading to fourth grade this next year, a voracious reader. In fact, both girls are "readers" and think nothing of tackling a 300 page book. And as you can imagine, this does my heart good! Incidentally, the cat is Lucky, who was rescued twice - once from being dumped at 6 weeks of age, and the second at 8 weeks when he fell through a floor heating vent in the girls' LA house and had to be rescued by LA's finest. Lucky is right!
Thus ends the Grandchild saga. We couldn't be more pleased with them if we tried! We think our kids have done a good job of parenting and luckily, negative outside influences have not played many tricks on them.
How lucky we are.
Friday, June 22, 2012
This is not a "My grandkids are cuter than your grandkids" kind of blog. I'm merely sharing with you snippits of those who have enriched my life. I'm giving only first names and dates of birth, for privacy's sake. You'll see seven of them today, and six of them tomorrow. All except the final two are adults now. But no matter how old they get, I will always remember them as they were in these photos.
I took a photography class through UC Irvine Extension and the teacher gave us instruction on how to take a portrait like this one below using natural light. I had to practice on everyone and Christopher (1982) happened to become a very fetching model. The more I took, the better I got on the focusing, but still, this photo made its way into my heart and my memory.
Christopher's brother, Andrew, (1984) was one of those kids whose ordinary actions were reason enough for a picture. My scrapbook is peppered with funny shots of him. He and his brother played AYSO soccer throughout their growing up, and now in their late 20s and early 30's, they have started up again. Well, Andrew never stopped. I understand Chris just recently rejoined him for Sunday morning games.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
“The biggest misconception is the belief that, at the time of the crusades, everyone understood them as religious wars between Christianity and Islam. Latin Christians understood it in that fashion – a war fought against an unbelieving enemy for control of Jerusalem, the center of the earth and the place of humanity’s salvation. For Greek Christians, on the other hand, the crusaders were essentially mercenaries employed against a rival empire, governed by Seljuk Turks. Both the Sunni Turks and the Shi’i Egyptians probably understood the crusades in similar terms. It would take the Muslims several decades to learn to think of the battles against the Franks as religious wars rather than as conflicts over the control of frontier settlements.”
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I loved him though all those periods. He wasn't always like he was at any one point in my recollections. I keep hoping that the last part of his life and the awfulness of that period will fade from my memory and I'll only remember the good times. His time of drinking didn't affect me as much because I lived in a different town, was married and busy raising my kids, but I saw what it was doing to my mother and my little brother.
Each Father's Day I remind myself that this was the man who began at the age of 10 taking care of his widowed mother and his sister by dropping out of school in Colorado and selling newspapers on the street corners; burning the trash, a janitorial chore, at the incinerators of Glockner Sanitarium in Colorado Springs; washing dishes at a Manitou Springs cafeteria to help make ends meet. This was the man who in 1932 married my mom, and began taking care of his mother-in-law and my mom's younger siblings through the Depression. This is the man who provided rent-free housing in some apartments he eventually built to my mom's younger brothers and sisters as they each started out their married life. And he did it for me and my sister too when we married. This is the man who in his old age kept sending me to See's Candy stores to buy boxes of candy for his friends and family, something he was known for during his adult life in Long Beach. And this was the man who was honored on his 90th birthday by his family and any old employees we could find still living locally, who all agreed that he was the best boss any employee could have.
And each Father's Day I look at the picture above, my favorite, and remember that this was the man that made childhood so good for my sis and me. We agreed that we had the best childhood a kid could have. Each Sunday we took drive somewhere -- to Balboa for a ride on ferry, to Anaheim or Montebello Park for a jar full of pollywogs, to Belmont Shore for a Currie's Mile High Cone, to Wilmington where the smell of the refineries was strong and he told us that the smell was the smell of money, which we believed. He drove us out on Atlantic to a feed store each spring when they put all the fluffy newly-hatched chickens in a window where we could get up close and see them. And many a game of Miniature Golf was played at Shady Acres, with him always whipping the socks off of all of us. He drove me around wherever I needed to go, and since I didn't drive many a time I called him from college in Los Angeles, asking him to come pick me up, that I wanted to come home for the weekend; he happily drove up on a Friday and took me back on Sunday, pleased to do it for one of his girls. He did the same for my sister.
He was a good father. That he had a serious personal flaw was no different than many others have and I work on finding a perspective that allows me to celebrate the goodness and set aside all the other stuff. What I want to remember on Father's day is my dad, dressed to the nines, with a smile on his face and his arm around his two little girls, my sister Ginnie Lou and me.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Chapter 14 of Kevin Starr's 2009 Book, "Golden Dreams" is entitled "Brubeck! Jazz Goes to College." It was at tiny little George Pepperdine College at 79th and Vermont in LA where I first heard of progressive or "cool" jazz. The big bands of the late '40s and early '50s that sent swarms of couples onto the dance floor were being moved out by a smaller groups of jazz musicians whose followers listened instead of danced, according to Starr. In 1954, '55 and '56 I started listening too. The college was right in the middle of this west coast music development and we were able to hear what was going on at Shelly's Mann Hole in Hollywood and at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. Later in 1955 I discovered Chico Hamilton and his Quintet at the Strollers night club in Long Beach.
To read Starr's book, particularly the 14th chapter, is to take me on a visual treat back during those years. There were a lot of people who didn't think that what these fellows were playing was music. But to use an old phrase, it was music to my ears, then and now.
Through the years I've had various recordings of these jazz legends: Dave Brubeck, of course, Charlie Mingus, Buddy Collette, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Cal Tjader, Shorty Rogers, Shelly Mann, Oscar Peterson, Chico Hamilton and jazz cellist Freddie Katz. There were others, but these were the ones I teethed on.
The post-college years of marriage, children and work opportunities took me out of the little hole-in-the-wall jazz venues, but I've always had that time in my life - the college years - still lurking around in my soul, reminding me of good times, good friends and good music. However, for the most part whatever recordings I had in the past - 78s, 45s, LPs and then tapes - all disappeared. When CDs appeared there was never a section set apart in Sam Goody's and other music stores for much of a cool jazz selection, and finally music stores themselves disappeared. Except for finding a nice 2-CD set of Dave Brubeck, I had to depend on my memory for the rest of the good stuff.
However, recently I was given an iPod and I decided to load it up with whomever and whatever I could find from those "cool jazz" years. And I pretty much have been able to give myself an "aural" treat to go along with Starr's "visual" treat. These were my first, and favorite, choices!
I found Cal Tjader:
I found Chico Hamilton & His Quintet (with "Fred" Katz):
I found Stan Getz:
I found Chet Baker:
And here's Dave!
I cannot listen to these recordings as "background" music. I've discovered that I need to sit somewhere comfortable, plug in my ear buds, close my eyes and simply listen. Anyone passing by may be startled by my visage, thinking that perhaps I died sitting there, or have segued into a catatonic condition. No, it's just me, still living and enjoying it, being transported back to being that young 18-19 year old college student, not yet old enough to drink but sitting in a quiet little club somewhere in LA getting acquainted with the most remarkable music!
Monday, June 11, 2012
In trying to deflect their snit I started singing and one-handedly making motions as I drove west on Wilshire Boulevard in LA. (I've always been good at multi-tasking, a necessity in raising kids.)
The song was entitled “WAY UP IN THE SKY”
The song saved the day. By the time we arrived, they couldn’t wait to get inside and sing for their teacher.
Friday, June 8, 2012
My blog of Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Yesterday I was in the front yard trimming the beautifully colored (but very messy) plumbago bushes and this most interesting fellow buzzed past my shoulder and lit on the bush. It startled me, to say the least, and once I composed myself again I ran for the camera. There should be some kind of blessing recited for digital cameras, because if I'd had to go get my old Canon T90 SLR out of the closet and afix the macro lens on it, I would have missed capturing this delightful bug photo.
I didn't know what kind of a bug it was. It was about as big as a bumble bee, had a somewhat furry body and most interestingly had a "cat-face" head (can you see it?), with amazingly decorated wings. I e-mailed a picture of it to my cousin in North Carolina, who is the family bug-identifier and then phoned her. After consulting her bug book she pronounced it a Tiger Bee Fly. We then Googled "Tiger Bee Fly" and sure enough, she was spot on.
I am delighted, of course, that I was able to capture a photo of it and share with you all today. The Plumbago bush flower on which it landed is what I'd call beautiful. But the Tiger Bee Fly is beautiful too in an ugly sort of way, don't you think?
I am reminded of a prayer in the Hebrew prayer book that Jerry keeps on his shelf. There is a section called "Blessings on Various Occasions" and one blessing reads thusly:
When seeing good trees and beautiful creatures:I see this as a very appropriate blessing to remember when seeing something as amazing as a Tiger Bee Fly, which I also learned is just one of a myriad of bee flies. Who every heard of such a thing before!
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, or God, King of the universe who possesseth such in His world.
Because my cousin has a sharp eye for bugs and critters and has in the past few years, since she left Southern California and moved to North Carolina, sent me various photos of flora and fauna, I'll share a few more below that certainly fall under the banner of the blessing too.
A remarkable katydid.
The frog who came to a coffee-break.
Newly-born mantis babies.
A hiding, white legged "Goldenrod Spider"
A possum taking shelter on a cold winter night.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
I’ve mentioned this one before:
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to God's covenant, and keeps God's promise.
On seeing a giant or a dwarf
Blessed art thou, the Eternal, our God, King of the universe, who producest variously-formed creatures.
On getting new clothing:
Praised are thou, Eternal our god, King of the World, who clothes the naked.
Blessed are You, LORD our God, Master of the universe, who formed mankind in wisdom, and created in him all manner of openings and cavities. It is manifest and known before the throne of your glory that if any one of them ruptured or were blocked, it would be impossible to survive and stand before You. Blessed are You, LORD, who heals all flesh and is wonderful in His acts.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
So I am not blaming anyone but myself for “The Silver Pig.” I wish I were smarter; in setting it aside I did so knowing that it was not the author’s fault, it was mine.
Luckily I have another pig book that arrived in the mail today via Abebooks, since I couldn’t find it at a library. It’s called “On the Pig’s Back” and is an autobiographical excursion by Bill Naughton, the author of “Alfie.” It’s set in present day England and I am fairly confident I should be able to figure this one out!
Friday, June 1, 2012
The other day I was talking to my cousin on the phone and Jerry was puttering around in the kitchen. Suddenly I smelled a horrible smell emanating from his machinations and I yelled at him, “What’s that horrible chemical smell? What are you doing in the kitchen?” It was awful. He yelled back, “I’m not using any chemicals. I’m peeling the hard boiled eggs I just cooked.” Aha! I said. My cousin asked me what I had smelled and I said, “Sulfur.”