Thursday, September 27, 2012


I am going to tell this story on Jerry this morning for two reasons: first, because it was so darn funny and second, because it could have happened to me.  It’s about old folks and short term memory.
We had not been out of bed for very long.  I was sitting on the couch putting eyedrops in my eyes for my glaucoma.  Jerry was in the kitchen feeding the cat and getting the coffee going.  I heard him utter a short, unmentionable word. Uh, Oh! I thought.

When he finished his little ministrations he came into the living room and I asked him what happened.  Here’s his explanation, verbatim:
“Took eggs out of fridge to boil for use in making tuna fish salad for lunch.

Put water in pan.
Put eggs in pan.

Needed more water so I filled a glass with water and emptied water into pan.
Turned gas on and set timer for eggs.

Filled glass with water for washing morning pills down.
Took pills out of cupboard.

Put pills in glass of water.
Fished non-dissolved pills out of glass and started over.

End of story.”

We both burst out laughing.  I told him it was a wonderful way to start the day.  And any old folks reading this will understand and identify with him.  Our brains have been working for many years and sometimes they just get tired!  We figure if we can laugh at these situations, we’re still ok.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Until I was in my teens, I am not sure I even knew the town of Bakersfield existed.  I was born and raised in Long Beach, some 30 miles south of Los Angeles, and LA was about the limits of my world.  I didn’t listen to country music so I would not have heard that Bakersfield was the home of Buck Owens, whose music filled those airways.  We had oil all around us in Wilmington and Signal Hill; the fact that Bakersfield had boomed because of oil just wasn’t in my purview. 
But when the Maynards moved in down the street from us -  a large family with kids close to my age - Bakersfield sudden came on my screen.  That is where the family had come from, and as I got to know them they talked a lot about their home town.  Mom and Dad Maynard, Shields and Birdie, brought five children with them. They had two adult children who were living on their own at that time, which was in 1951.  Glenn was the oldest child at home; Ruth his sister was a year younger than I was, Audrey was a year younger than my sister, and the last remaining kid was little Norman, who was cute as a button but totally invisible among a bunch of teenagers.

The year that they lived in Long Beach before returning to Bakersfield was the year I began moving out of childhood.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I had not been interested in “boys” prior to that time.  I had never been around them, as my family was very girl-heavy.  Of course I develop an immediate crush of Glenn.    I thought he was gorgeous – dark black hair and long eyelashes, with a gentle southern sensibility towards females (his folks were from North Carolina originally) and an understanding and tolerance of silly girls from having two younger sisters.  Although most of my time was spent with Ruth, I did a lot of rubbing elbows with Glenn, mostly just leaning over the fender of his old car watching him work on it.  Ruth, bless her heart, just let me be!  I have no recollection of what she did or where she was all the time I was hanging around Glenn. 

Probably the most fun I ever had was when we spray-painted Glenn’s car.  Armed with fly-spray pump bottles filled with blue car paint, we sprayed every inch of his old car, turning it from beige into light blue.  From a distance the car looked good; from up close it felt as if one could read Braille letters all over it.   At the time, I don’t think it was drivable yet, but that didn’t matter. That car simply was the tool that enabled me to do what was probably a pitiful rendition of flirting, which was all new to me!.
Although Ruth and I attended different schools – I was in my first year of high school while she was in her last year of Junior High, we spent every spare minute together and became fast friends.  My sister and Audrey did likewise.  The Maynards became part of the Dobbins family, and the Dobbins girls added themselves to the Maynard family.  At the end of the school year, the Maynard family returned to Bakersfield.  The picture below is of my friend Ruth.

In July of 1952 Bakersfield experienced a 7.3 earthquake, which was felt in parts of Long Beach.  The Maynards invited me to come up to see the famous clock in the center of town, which had been severely damaged.  I can hardly believe it now, but my mother and father allowed me to get on a Greyhound bus and ride up to Bakersfield alone – in that day over the old Ridge Route – and stay with them a week.  That was the week that Bakersfield arrived on my map.

I learned what country music was; that was all I heard during that week.  There was no “Slow Boat to China” on the radio.  Only guitars, banjos and twang.  I had my first motorcycle ride.  The Maynard kids were friends with the Earnshaw twins, Robert and Roy, and one of them took me for a short ride on his cycle.  (I never told my mother this).  Glenn’s words of admonishment to his buddy was “DON’T SPIN THE WHEELS!”  I didn’t know what that meant, but of course the fellow did, Glenn heard it happen, and I learned fast!  What a thrill I had!  I had been told by Ruth that we would go swimming, so I should bring my bathing suit.  I assumed we would be swimming in something like “The Plunge” in Long Beach, a public swimming pool.  No, that wasn’t the Bakersfield way.  We piled in a car, still with the Earnshaws, and drove out to a reservoir in the fields somewhere east of Oildale, where we changed into our swimming suits behind the shelter of an open car door, crawled over (or under) an enclosure of some kind, and jumped into the pitch black water.  There were frogs in it.  Oh, ugh!  I could not believe what I was doing.  If my mother had any idea of what “Bakersfield” meant, she would have had a heart attack. 
The Maynards lived in a small house with a fenced yard.  They had a goose which guarded the house from anyone who tried to get to the front door.  There was a broom outside the door, and at the front gate.  When a person wanted to leave the house, it was necessary to grab the broom to shoo the goose away while that person made quickly for the gate.  The goose meant business.  I was a city girl who had never laid eyes on a goose before, and this one was a mean old fellow.  All this did was add to the memories I have of such a family as I felt I belonged to.

Luckily the Earnshaws and the Maynards were good kids.  We all observed the lines we had been raised with, and in the doing so, tame though it seems in light of today’s mores, I had a wonderful week that I’ve never forgotten.    And yes, I saw the clock.  It was a mess. 
Over the course of my teen years I made several trips up to visit them.  As we teens grew up and began marrying, we brought our families into the equation.  My first husband Joe and I drove up to Bakersfield several times with our first two kids – Sean and Erin – to visit Ruth and Ernie and their kids Susan and John.  And they drove down to see us in Long Beach, too.  Time went on and our lives broadened and changed; I didn’t see the Maynards any more but they never left my heart.

Of course, the internet has restored our contacts.  Their parents are no longer living, nor are mine.  My sister has died and so has Audrey.  But I was fortunate to be in Bakersfield last year with my Jerry and shared lunch with Ruth, Audrey and Glenn, and ALMOST with Norman, but he had to work that day.  We all produced old pictures and old stories and spent an afternoon of laughs.   Audrey has since passed away and I count myself lucky that I was able to spend that wonderful afternoon with her. 
So I have such a fondness in my heart for Bakersfield.  For me, Bakersfield is and always will be intimately connected with my friends, the Maynards.  It may be hot as a pistol in the summer, and still a bit country western for my ear, but to me it is the place of good memories and a good family – and what more could a girl want?
And yes, for those of you who wondered, Glenn was the first boy I ever kissed.  A single kiss on the front porch of my house, after a movie now long forgotten. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Every once in a while I peruse my "joke" file;  I am not easily driven to laughter by a joke, so when I find one that really tickles my fancy, I stick it in this file to have in reserve for when I need a laugh.

In thinking about what to share with you this morning, my idea was to "go light"... and while today's choice isn't exactly a joke, it is funny and cleverly done.  But you also will see that before long it will be passe', as more things about the computer become obsolete.  You who have been around them for a while will know what all this is referring to.  And I trust you will enjoy it as much as I do before it is no longer relevant!


If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
and your data is corrupted ‘cause the index doesn’t hash,
then your situation’s hopeless and your system’s gonna crash.

If the label on the cable on the table at your house
says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel on another protocol,
that’s repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,
and your screen is all distorted by the side effect of gauss,
so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang
‘cause as sure as I’m a poet, the sucker’s gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy’s getting sloppy on the disk,
and the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
then you have to flash your memory and you’ll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom.

Monday, September 24, 2012


The missing has been found!  No, not my junior high school yearbooks, although they HAVE  been found also, right where they should have been. But something less personal and more interesting, I think.
I can’t imagine many of you know that Owen Brown’s tombstone has been missing for about 10 years.  (Actually, I can’t imagine that any of you even know who Owen is, or for that matter, care).  But he was a son of the infamous John Brown, was with his dad in most of the events old John Brown is noted for, and spent much of his later adult life in Pasadena, California.  He was buried on a hilltop there. 

To be honest with you, I really didn’t know much about Owen Brown myself, until in the course of my genealogical research I discovered that my great-grandfather Dobbins wrote in his later years that he “rode with John Brown in Kansas in 1856 and had some exciting adventures.”  I can find no proof that he actually did, but he WAS living in Prairie City, Kansas on a Sunday in June of that year when John Brown and his followers rode through town.  My great-grandfather had just moved from Illinois to Kansas with his folks; he was just 20 year old, didn’t know a soul in town, and of course as yet not many people knew what John Brown would become.  The Dobbinses were staunch Presbyterians and dedicated abolitionists, and I can see how enticing it might have been for young Dobbins to tell his father he was “joining Brown’s group,” jump on his horse and ride off.  Whether this actually happened or whether it was just an old man embellishing his youthful pursuits will probably never be known. 
In the histories I read of John Brown’s early Kansas trips, there wasn’t much written about Owen.  But before long I picked up Russell Bank’s book “Cloudsplitter,” which is a fictionalized story of the Brown family, told with Owen as the narrator.  Even keeping in mind that it was historical fiction, I came to like Owen a lot and understand much more about John Brown that I ever knew before.  And I came to my own conclusion that he was crazy. 

Owen seemed to have escaped that curse, and and after Harper’s Ferry he lived out his life in Pasadena as an exemplary citizen, a loyal American and in 1889 was buried with pomp, the singing of many praises, much oratory, testimonials and prayers, as was commonplace in those days.  He was buried atop a knob called “Little Round Top” in Altadena.  A substantial headstone, shaped like a pillar, ultimately was installed.

The hill eventually became private property and as time passed Owen’s burial site became off limits to visitors.  He was mostly forgotten and most people don’t even know of him.  When I wrote about his gravestone in an earlier blog (October of 2009), I had a fellow respond that he stumbled across the stone many years ago; it appeared abandoned and he notified the forestry service of his find.  
However, I’d guess it didn’t stay put, because it again was reported missing about ten years ago.  A few weeks ago the stone mysteriously appeared in plain sight at the bottom of a nearby ravine, discovered by a fellow and his son taking a walk in the foothills.  Plans are afoot to reset the stone, but for now it is in a “safe place.”

As much as I like historical burial sites, I am past the point in my life where I can make a trek up a hillside trail to see a tombstone, no matter how much I might want to.  The best I can do is to be pleased that it was found and hopeful that in my lifetime it will again find its place over old Owen’s grave. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012


Now it's called dumpster diving, but when my sister and I were little kids, my mom called it trash digging. She hated for us to trash dig and warned us of all the diseases we might pick up and injuries we might receive on our hands and arms as we reached down into the big trash cans. But we had a long alley behind our house in the 1000 block of Stanley Avenue in Long Beach and it called to us all the time......"Barbara! Ginnie Lou! It's time to come back here and see all the new stuff in the trash barrels!" And like the lure of the sirens to the ancient seamen, the trash called to us and we had to answer.

I'll make a guess that I was probably 8 years old and my sister 6 at the height of our trash-digging escapades. In those days - the early 1940s - it was safe for kids to play in the alleys. In the summer, kids were home, mothers mostly didn't work, and dads had taken the only car to work, so there was mostly just a bunch of neighborhood kids running up and down the alley to get to each others' houses.  And to trash dig. Oh, what fun that was!

This was a time before trash had to be separated in ecologically correct bins. Furthermore, there were no foodstuffs in the trash cans because it all went into the garbage pails, which were emptied into the garbage truck two or three times a week. If we ever found anything disgusting in a trash can, we didn't remember it when we grew up. What we DID remember was finding old beat-up pots, pans, dishes, mirrors and other household objects which we appropriated for our stash in the garage. My sister, who was really keen on animals, amassed a rag-tag collection of broken knick-knacks -- I remember especially a ceramic horse head that had broken off at the bottom of the mane. The body was unsalvageable.  Ginnie Lou used some clay to fashion a base so the horse head would sit upright.  She thought it was beautiful, and it had a place of honor by her little bed for years.

One by one we also increased our collection of jacks and marbles with those we found at the bottom of trash cans. Once in a while there were a few coins and we carefully horded those until we had enough to buy a candy bar from the market around the corner. Candy bars were a nickel each in those days.

Mother never gave up on telling us not to trash dig, but she also didn't inspect us every time we came in from playing outdoors. We kept our treasures somewhat hidden in the garage, but mother wasn't dumb. I'm sure she knew we were trash digging sometimes; for us, it wasn't a preoccupation but just one of those things we did when the alley called to us. When the "singing" stopped, we went about our business playing hopscotch, jacks, kick the can, Old Maid, and dolls, just like kids do.

 I thought about that today when I glanced over at the dumpster enclosure across the street from our apartment and saw a man inside one dumpster, tossing things from that one to the one next to it. In these apartments we don't separate our trash into separate bins, so he has a chance of finding some really revolting stuff that has been sitting out in the hot sun since Friday's pickup. I'd guess the smell is the price he will pay for the extra bottles and cans he's hoping to locate and turn in for cash. In principle, I don't really like adults digging in our dumpsters, but what the heck..... I'm not in to tattling either. As long as he doesn't make a mess, I'll let him be.

I wonder what he'd do if he found a marble in the bottom?

Friday, September 21, 2012


This is an easily recognized symbol.  But if you think about it, none of us had much occasions to use it before the advent of the internet.  I do believe that in the old days, salespeople more or less had the corner on it.  Someone wanted to buy three cases of something, and on the invoice we could find them listed as 3 cases of product @ $7.50 each.....and then in the total column we'd find $22.50. 

We all knew the symbol, and to some extent still use it in handwriting, although I thing the effort to write the tiny word "at" is far easier than making an "@" symbol and having it land in the right place on the line!

The September issue of Smithsonian magazine has a most delightful and entertaining article on this little symbol; however, I probably would have passed it by if it hadn't been for the amazing  lettering piece" that Erik Marinovich designed for it.

I am SO appreciative of those who have artistic talents.  I can visualize Erik's design worked up in a fantastic stitchery piece, but unfortunately I must simply be content in being an appreciator, not an executor, of any kind of art work.

From Erik's page you can find a link to the Smithsonian article - short and sweet and eminently readable at a glance.  It is entitled "Overnight Sensation" and tracks, to what extent it can, the beginnings - and of course the dramatic present -  of this little symbol that really doesn't have much of a name, unless you want to call it an "AT."

Thursday, September 20, 2012


A friend and I swap obituaries.  Well, that’s not exactly worded correctly.  Rather, we swap stories about interesting, or funny, or odd obituaries we read in our local newspapers. She lives in Northern California and I in Southern California.  Yesterday she sent me a snippit from her newspaper’s obituary section which was about a retired aviator, and the term “flew west” was used in it.  She asked me if I had ever heard of that expression.  I had not.
In the old westerns cowboys often rode off “into the sunset” which might have simply have been a way to end the film but it also could have signified the end of his life.  “Flew west” probably meant about the same, but I wondered when that term had first been connected to the end of a pilot’s life.  I asked Google.

I have to be very careful when I Google anything.  What might be expected to take a short period of time can sometimes take me on amazing trips – sometimes a wild goose chase where I don’t get the answer I was looking for but where I learn a whole bunch of really interesting things.  Yesterday’s hunt was an example.  And for yesterday’s efforts, here’s today’s blog about what I learned.
From the Google hits I first read this, from Wikipedia: 
Flight 19 was the designation of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945 during a United States Navy overwater navigation training flight from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida. All 14 airmen on the flight were lost, as were all 13 crew members of a PBM Mariner flying boat assumed by professional investigators to have exploded in mid-air while searching for the flight. Navy investigators could not determine the cause for the loss of Flight 19 but said the aircraft may have become disoriented and ditched in rough seas after running out of fuel.
Why does Google pick it up?  Because in the Wikipedia article there is this sentence:  About the same time someone in the flight said "Dammit, if we could just fly west we would get home; head west, dammit.
Fly west to safety?  To home?  Did the term “Fly West” predate 1945 or did it arise out of this report?  I don’t know.  Perhaps someone can tell me for sure.
After reading this I looked further at Google’s suggested list.  On it was a website called “Great Aviation Quotes” – and there, big as life, is a poem called “Flying West.”  Now reading this particular poem did not move me any closer to my quest for clarification of the term, but reading these quotes, many pertaining to World War II flying, couldn’t help but remind me of my Uncle Bert, who in 1944 flew a B-17 Bomber from the Kimbolton RAF air base north of Bedford in bombing raids over Germany.  He was one of the lucky survivors, though one of the planes he piloted barely made it home.  Shown below is his plane being inspected just after it crash-landed on the runway.
In this website’s collection of quotes is a poem written during that war by Sarah Churchill, Winston Churchill’s daughter.  I had not heard of it before, but I can imagine it pertaining to my Uncle Bert. 
The Bombers
by Sarah Churchill
Whenever I see them ride on high
Gleaming and proud in the morning sky
Or lying awake in bed at night
I hear them pass on their outward flight
I feel the mass of metal and guns
Delicate instruments, deadweight tons
Awkward, slow, bomb racks full
Straining away from downward pull
Straining away from home and base
And try to see the pilot's face
I imagine a boy who's just left school
On whose quick-learned skill and courage cool
Depend the lives of the men in his crew
And success of the job they have to do.
And something happens to me inside
That is deeper than grief, greater than pride
And though there is nothing I can say
I always look up as they go their way
And care and pray for every one,
And steel my heart to say,
"Thy will be done."

The culmination of my now side-tracked investigation of the term “Flying West” then reminded me of the ceiling of the American Chapel at the Madingley Cemetery in England.  I went to this chapel, which is in the same general area as Kimbolton, in 1985, not knowing anything about it.  The small section I was able to photograph does an injustice to the designers of that chapel ceiling; they had, with thousands of little tiles, created a gorgeous blue sky.  Every kind of American airplane was in that sky, all flying toward Europe; interspersed among them and flying with them were angels, with their arms outstretched. Around the edge was wording that said, “To the men of the United States Army Air Force who from these friendly shores flew their final flight.”
I did a blog on that American Cemetery and chapel on March 30, 2009 if you want to read more about it. 
It’s true, I have the gist of what “flying west” means but I’d still like to know where the term originated.  I certainly learned a whole lot trying to get there!   And gosh, all this is SO MUCH FUN

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


When I spied a box of Wheatena in our local supermarket, placed on a top shelf where it really wasn't very noticeable nor very handy, I was very surprised.  Wheatena was my favorite hot breakfast cereal when I was growing up -- and believe me, that was a long time ago.  I knew that Quaker Oatmeal was still around, but I felt that Oatmeal was as much for the making of  cookies and the feeding of sick people as for a simple breakfast choice.  But Wheatena!  Now that was different.
But so was breakfast in my early days.  And we're talking maybe from 1945 to 1955.  During those years (when I was from age 10 to 20) my family was comprised of my dad, my mother, my uncle, my sister and me -- and after 1949 my little brother.  Now talking specifically about the school year, we had a family breakfast each morning.   My dad was up first.  His jobs, in this order, were first to turn the floor furnace on, next he prepared the coffee for brewing in an old top-of-the-stove percolator and got it started, and then put the bacon in the frying pan to cook.  No matter what else we had for breakfast, coffee and bacon were always on the menu.  By this time my uncle was up, and his first duty was to knock on each of the bedroom doors and announce, with his own sense of humor and in a loud voice that we could hear as he walked down the hall....."SADDLE BLANKETS!"  I'm not sure any of us could figure out the significance of what he said, but we sure knew what it meant.  My sis and I were expected to roll out of bed and go to the inner hallway that my uncle had by now vacated and stand over the floor furnace.  Mother, who by this time had a cup of coffee in her hand (she always said she was useless in the morning until she got her coffee) helped us get dressed -- mostly just seeing that we stayed on schedule and didn't fight over who got to stand over the floor furnace!
While we finished dressing, mother took over the kitchen duties, Dad and Unc got dressed for work, and shortly we all migrated to the kitchen where we sat down to see what, besides the bacon and coffee, mother had prepared for us.  We did not choose what we were to eat.  We ate what had been prepared.  Mother rotated between hot cereal, cold cereal, and scrambled eggs with toast.  There was always a bowl of canned fruit next to our plates -- again, no choice; we ate what she put there.  The one concession made for me, because I didn't like milk at all, was that I didn't have to drink any.  My sis and I were allowed, however, to have a cup of  what we called "Coffee-milk" - which was an extremely milk-heavy cup of coffee.  We ate timely, with Dad and Unc reading the newspaper and mother watching the time. 
Breakfast over, we girls headed to the bathroom to brush our teeth and get our coats on while Dad backed the car out of the garage to take us to school.  Unc jumped in the company truck he drove and headed to work, and mother began the breakfast cleanup. 
The only variation of this scene was that we girls were allowed to "sleep in" during the summers when school was out, and on weekends. 
Now how does Wheatena figure into this scenario?  Only that when I recently saw it on the shelf (at an exorbitant price, I might add), I was flooded with good memories of my childhood breakfasts.  And I had to buy that box of Wheatena.  It tastes just as good now as it did then.  The big difference is that somewhere during my adult life I discovered that cream is a lot better than milk, and half-and half is a great thing to use on ANYTHING.    On Wheatena it turns what I always thought of as a very textured mouthful of tasty glop into a delicious morning ambrosia.....well, I think maybe I'm overstating the case, but it really does make for a yummy breakfast. 
And while I am eating it, I can take a walk down memory lane; my dad, mom, uncle and sister are now gone, and I doubt very much whether my little brother ever ate it, since during his youth the day of the family eating together disappeared.  But lots of things play through my mind as I eat that bowl of steaming hot Wheatena, and I can replay those innocent years of remembering family habits and traditions from my long-ago and cherished childhood,  

Monday, September 17, 2012


What would you take with you if you had to evacuate in a short period of time?  Not an easy decision, you say?  You would be right.

In 2003 we were living in an area where there was fire raging in the foothills to the north, and a lesser but nevertheless wildfire in the hills behind us.  Jerry was then volunteering with the San Bernardino Sheriff's "Citizens on Patrol (COP)" program and was going door to door with them near the big fire announcing mandatory evacuations.  To be honest with you, neither fire was threatening us, but the one behind me was making me nervous. 

Although we had always had a major 'Earthquake' supply storage container in our back yard in Orange, and a suitcase full of supplies and clothing in the trunks of our cars to hold us over if an earthquake hit while we were at work, when we retired we had no place to store such supplies.  This 2003 fire made me think about what I would grab if I had to immediately evacuate the apartment while Jerry was gone.

The picture above is what I came up with.  (If you click on it you can read the notations better.)  I would grab a few items of clothing and throw them over around my neck.  I would chuff all the small stuff like cell phone, wallet, jewelry, etc. in my purse and that could hang over an arm.  I would chuck the CPU under my left arm, grab the photo albums, baby books, bible, etc. in the other arm.  Tigger and Cipsi, our two cats, would go into their crates and since I had no more hands, I would have to push them along in front of me while I got the heck out of there! 

Yes, this made me laugh, but it wasn't so far from the truth.  At least at that time it made me identify what for sure I counted important. 

Things have changed since then.  Since my computer is backed up to my son's server, a thumb drive, and the cloud, I wouldn't have to lug the big CPU.  Throw the program CDs in my purse and that's that!  Add in  my new iPod.  Most of the albums have now gone out to the kids.  And my supply of books I can't live without is being routinely thinned.   And the only cat left is a new cat, Squeaky.

Now why is it that I am bringing this all up?

The senior complex where we live is very large.  There are 140 acres of property, on which some 90 residential buildings sit.  They are scattered willy-nilly over the area.  Each building looks like a military bunker -- a rectangular one-story building.  Each building contains 14 apartments - 6 on each side and one tiny studio apartment on each end.  Our county is working on a Disaster Management Plan and has chosen our development as the guinea pig.  Their thinking is that if they can make their plan work here they then can broaden and refine it for the rest of the county residents. 

A couple of weeks ago all the residents were invited to a meeting put on by the county Disaster Management group to introduce this plan to us.  Believe it or not, it was about the most interesting thing I've listened to in a long, long interesting, in fact, that in a series of blogs, I'll share with you some of the ideas presented that each of us, living in today's scary world, should know.

The presenter asked us to think about the difference between an Emergency and a Disaster.  She said the answer was simple and clear: in an Emergency you dial 911 and get a response from either the police, the fire department, the utility company or other organization.   In a Disaster, there probably will be no phone service, either cellular or otherwise, to begin with,  and even if you should be able to phone, there will be no one  available to respond to your need for help because of the magnitude of the event.  You will have to be the help for yourself and for others..  The disaster might be an earthquake, a fire, an airplane crash (we are in the takeoff path of airplanes flying out of Ontario), or even, say, a dirty bomb. 

This lady made us realize that disaster preparedness is not simply a matter of grabbing a few things and evacuating.  So what to do?

Friday, September 14, 2012


The bear is affectionately known as "Meatball" and sometimes called "Glen Bearian," because he had become a familiar figure in and around Glendale, California. 

For those of you are are not familiar with the southern California area, Glendale is in the foothills above Los Angeles.  Quite often wild animals will make forays into those foothill towns, mostly at night and mostly on nights before the trash pickups are scheduled.

The bear acquired his name this way:  he became adept at digging edible goodies out of residential trash bins on his first two forays into town; his most amazing fete was to get into a garage, open a freezer and consume a bag of Costco meatballs.

The wildlife authorities kept capturing him and returning him to the wilds above Glendale, but the town's leftovers still called to him and he responded.  However, the third and last bunch of "leftovers" had been planted by the authorities.  He was humanely captured and taken to Alpine, a small town near San Diego, where the "Lions, Tigers and Bears" sanctuary gave him a temporary home. 

As you can see from the picture above, not only does he have good food (sanctuary director Bobbi Brink says he loves avocados and grapes most of all) but he also has his own galvanized cooling barrel, where he can take a dip whenever he wants.  He obviously is taking all this in stride.

It is uncertain at this time whether he will remain at this place (the santuary must expand if he does) or whether he will be placed in a larger facility in Colorado.  Regardless, donations are already coming in from people who are charmed by this little fellow. 

It's nice on a day when it seems the world is falling apart to be able to talk about Meatball and about the kindness of people whose motto is "Live and Let Live."


Friday, September 7, 2012


Many years ago I saw a Hallmark Graduation card that really made me laugh:  On the front there was a cartoon of a young man standing in a cornfield – and the greeting over the cartoon said, “TO A YOUNG MAN OUTSTANDING IN HIS FIELD.”  Inside, of course, was a traditional greeting to a new grad – and a place to stick a bill or a check. 
So this morning, when it looked like our front lawn was not going to get mowed this week either (today is day 14 of no cutting and the grass is getting greener and higher and thicker….) and I couldn’t resist using the old Hallmark card for my own rendition.  So here I am, standing in my front yard….actually, “Outstanding in my field!”  (Just to reassure you, I DO have feet.) 

Apparently our management company doesn’t care how things look in the north 40.  For some reason they are seeing that all the lawns in front of their main offices are mowed and tidied up for the weekends, but alas, it appears not to be a “trickle-down” situation at building 38C.  The sad part is that now, all the dog-walkers are bringing their dogs to our front lawn; they apparently rationalize that if they can’t see any dog poop, they don’t have to clean up after their pups. 
The LA Times has a “Correction” box in each day’s paper, which is where we’ll often find funny boo-boos that we may have missed.  One of this week’s corrections said, “An article described the scientists who discovered a new family of spiders as etymologists.  They are entomologists.  Etymologists study words and their meanings; entomologists study insects.”   I think the writer of the original spider article needs to study his words a bit more, don’t you?
And just to be sure they are good at catching things, they said that at the Democratic Convention speaker Julian Castro wore a purple tie.  Fie on that colorblind reporter.  We are told this morning that his tie was blue; his twin brother, Joaquin, wore purple.  Now how important is that, pray tell?
It seems Russia’s president, Putin, has taken to soaring in a glider alongside the Russian cranes, who are on their migratory path to India.  It is reported that Russian bloggers are having a field day; seems there is speculation that perhaps he would wear a beak mask along with his white overalls so the birds would think he is their parent.  Others say the message to voters is that maybe the prez has “lost it!”  I guess it’s good to know that no matter what a president does, it is fair game for spoofing.  Kind hearted spoofing is the best kind; we here seem to have forgotten this kind, unfortunately.

Jer and I were at a meeting of our local “Friends of the Library” volunteer group yesterday and it was announced that shortly it would be required that any person who volunteers to serve the county in any capacity (specifically for us that meant belonging to the Friends group and selling used books once a month as a fund-raiser to help fill the void left by all the county cut-backs) would have to be fingerprinted by a particular outfit contracted by the county to do it AND pay a $42 fee for that privilege.  There are to be no exceptions.  Even if in your volunteering you do not interact with children or the public, you still must be fingerprinted.  Apparently there is more to it than just fingerprinting; certain information must be given, but that wasn’t specified.   I was aghast and appalled. Jerry and I spend 1-1/2 hours monthly in a meeting of the Friends of the Library, and 2 hours a month working the book sale, the extent of our volunteering.  I don’t consider myself an “against-er” but I sure as heck am against this.  What I am specifically against is making me pay to volunteer.  No way, Jose!  I have a “thing” about jumping to conclusions too fast, so just to be sure I heard correctly, I have an e-mail in to our district’s supervisor for confirmation --- and clarification and explanation!.  You know, inquiring minds want to know!
And finally, a railroad car loaded with new cars jumped the track yesterday on a bridge over our local well-traveled divided highway, Van Buren Boulevard.  Cars were stopped EVERYWHERE!  I was the first car at a stoplight on a cross-street about a mile south of this bridge, and cars were backing southward down Van Buren toward this intersection, where they hoped they could back onto Bellegrave, the street where I was waiting at a red light, and then make a Y-turn and go the other direction.  In the meantime cars going north on Van Buren sailed right on past them as if they weren’t even aware of the mass of cars stopped ahead.  (The drivers were probably all texting!)  I was watching a possible catastrophe right in front of my eyes, and if I hadn’t laid on the horn quite loudly a couple of times, the catastrophe would have been the back end of a car plunging backwards into my waiting car!  I was sure glad when the light changed and I could get out of there. 
Jerry later learned that this also had happened about 10 years ago too, only that time the railroad actually had some of the cars it was carrying plunge off the bridge and onto the highway below. All this is in an area now heavily functioning as a distribution point for material coming into the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with more of these huge distribution centers waiting in line to be built.  The area we live in used to be the old Mira Loma Quartermaster’s Depot.  It was acquired in March 1942 by the federal government and used for warehousing military supplies, first by the Army until 1955 and subsequently by the Air Force.  The area was also used for housing troops and some training activities. Approximately 60 percent of the site was disposed in September 1966, with the remainder disposed in June 1986.  Now all of this is being used for distribution of civilian trappings.  As we drive down the road, there are acres and acres and more acres of cars waiting to be put on trucks and shipped off to every part of the US.   

But when there is an accident, there is one holy mess, let me tell you.

Two confessions:  One, I found the Junior High School yearbooks right where they were supposed to be.  They are much smaller than the High School yearbooks and were simply hiding from my sight.  Let that be a lesson to us!  I think the lesson is to look before you leap, or something like that!

And the second confession is if I knew HTML I could take out these pesky lines below.  Alas...... here they be!

Monday, September 3, 2012


Not being very inclined to do a bit of work on Labor Day, and having been asked to provide a simple dish last night for a Labor Day weekend al fresco dinner at my daughter's house, I will simply share with you today this easy-to-prepare and easy-to-eat dish in honor of the occasion.

There's hardly even a recipe involved.  I allowed 1 carrot per person and added one for Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL); it is to him, as much as to anyone else, that the American labor movement owes its structure and characteristic strategies.

While the carrots were cooking, I mixed 2 Tablespoons of yellow mustard, 2 Tablespoons of HoneyBee Honey and 2 Tablespoons of melted butter.  I also cut up 2 Tablespoons of green onions and 2 Tablespoons of parsley.

When the carrots were finished cooking, I drained them and stirred in the honey-mustard sauce.  Just before serving, (in the interim we had schlepped the carrots from our little Jurupa Valley into Los Angeles) I nuked the carrots lightly to make sure the sauce was liquidy.  And just before the dish went on the serving table, I introduced the greenery into the mix.  Voila!  Easy Easy HONEY-MUSTARD CARROTS!   

This is truly a no-effort dish.  And if you can entice non-carrot eaters to give it a try, they'll probably ask for their share, 'cause it's awfully good.


Sunday, September 2, 2012


Actually, it isn’t “IT”, it’s “THEM.”  Where did I put them? 
In my recent drive to thin out the years of accumulated treasures in my little office, I have had to make many, many decisions, critical decisions, as to what stays and what goes.  I cannot in my wildest imaginings believe that I tossed out my three junior high school yearbooks. 

But neither can I find them anywhere.
For years they have sat with all our other yearbooks in a small bookcase in my office.  In the last year as I have winnowed through all our ephemera, I have kept in mind what our kids would be faced with when we died, so I have moved all Jerry’s material into one area and all of my family’s material into another area to make it easy for them to sort through.  With our marriage being a second marriage for both of us, we want to be sure items get to the proper family.

After being a secretary almost all my married life, I also knew that whatever I did with the material we’ve collected also had to be put in a logical place and easily found.  What good is a system if it only causes more confusion?
Getting back to yearbooks, Jerry has yearbooks from his mother, his father, his first wife, and himself.  The hardback yearbooks are in the left hand bookcase in back of my desk, and the softbacks (the older ones dating from the 1920s) are in labeled boxes sitting in the same area.

My high school and college yearbooks are in the right hand bookcase in back of my desk.  My mother's are in a box there; my dad had no yearbooks, as he only went through 8th grade (elementary school out on the plains of Colorado).  But where did I put my soft-back junior high school yearbooks?  If my system worked, they should have been in a box next to my own high school yearbooks.
But they are not, and I can’t find them anywhere. 

In my file cabinet I have what I call the “Archives” – a file for each person or family into which I have saved personal material.  In my own file, for example I have my college transcripts (awful grades, I see), a poem written in 1953 from a smitten suitor, a personal essay published in 1982 in a local newspaper about being a lousy grandma, and other things that I suppose after I am gone my family will enjoy/be surprised/shocked at knowing about me.  It is mostly insignificant stuff, but I wondered if perhaps I’d stuck those three yearbooks in a file next to “Bobby Personal.” 
Nope.  I looked and they aren’t there.

I sorted a lot of books and albums into storage tubs – things that I am not ready to part with and want to keep handy but not necessarily taking up room on a bookcase shelf.  I checked in those tubs, and they aren’t there. 
What did I do with them?  I’ve looked in all the obvious places, and according to my theory, they should be in an obvious place.  I imagine they are in a place where I thought, “Of course I’ll remember putting them here.  It’s a logical place!”  Well, it isn’t!  At least it isn’t now.  I’m sure it was when I came up with that idea.

I hate to say it but this is what old age does to a person!
So all I can think of now is this:  I must mentally mark the room off in quadrants and then go through each quadrant with a microscope.  As my mother always advised me when I couldn’t find something, “They don’t have legs.” 

The first quadrant includes a 4-drawer chest of drawers that has been turned into a storage bin.  The top drawer holds scarves, nylons, old eyeglasses - a true Fibber McGee’s drawer if I ever saw one.  Being a shallow drawer, my yearbooks will be visible if there.  The second drawer is used for computer peripherals and other electronic equipment that I really should get rid of, but then you never know when you might need to use the hub again, or the old optical mouse.  No books there.  The third drawer is for yarn supplies and equipment.  No books there.  The fourth drawer is for all my counted cross-stitch projects – unfinished, of course.  No books there.  And the last drawer is for my stash of towels and washcloths.  In this apartment we have no room for them in the linen closet so I keep them in this deepest of drawers.  With no books. 
I know those books aren’t in that chest, but I will force myself to look again with a critical eye; perhaps this time I will decide a few more things can be added to the “Salvation Army donation pile.”  I can’t afford to get sidetracked, however.  I must stay focused on looking for these books. 

Where could they be?  They don’t have legs.