Sunday, January 27, 2013

YEP, IT'S US.......BUT

Genealogists, especially older genealogists, look forward to the time when they can begin finding themselves on research documents.  It's a bittersweet kind of look, though.  It's an acknowledgement that we have lasted long enough to finally appear on something, such as a census page (censuses are opened to the public only after 70 years have passed) and a similar, logical acknowledgement that yes, we are old.

In spring of this year the 1940 census was made public.  And for the first time, there I was!  Little Barbara was 4 years old, my sister 2 years old, with my parents living on Henderson Avenue in Long Beach, California.  There was nothing on our entry in the census that I didn't already know, but I felt just to be noted there was a real event!  I will be on the 1950 census too, still living in Long Beach, but I doubt very much that I will be around to see that census.  My children, at least 3 of them, will appear on the 1960 census.  This is one of the ways that genealogists track families.

The various genealogy "businesses" have made it possible for us to use the internet to do our research much more quickly and much easier than we did when I first started.  We are, however, limited in finding all that we want because everything in the world isn't on the internet (yet!). 

And furthermore, we must be very careful in evaluating whatever information we are lucky enough to find.  I knew when I read the 1940 census entry on my family that everything was exactly as it should be.  I was born in 1935.  Since I appeared as 4 years old, not 5, that possible discrepancy made me look at the date that the census was taken.  I was born in June, and if the census was taken before June I would show as 4.  If it was taken after June 26, I would show as 5 years old.   The census taker noted on the form that he/she had walked Henderson street in May of that year, so the 4 was correct.  We always need to follow up on anything that appears different than what we expect.  Sometimes the source is inaccurate; othertimes our memories may be faulty.  All this kind of information processing must go on if we want to be taken as serious genealogists.

So when just the other day I found my name listed in a 1959 Long Beach City Directory, the listing shown above, I was dumbfounded.  At that time I was married to Joe Kirkpatrick.  We lived on Gardenia Avenue in Long Beach.  But that was as far as "right" went.  Between 1956 and 1959 we lived at three different addresses on Gardenia.  My father owned one triplex next door to my folks house, and he also owned several more duplexes on the other side of the triplex.  When we married, we moved into the small one-bedroom triplex unit at 1610 Gardenia.  That is where our first child was born.  The larger two-bedroom unit at the back of the building, with its own address as 1614, became available and we moved into it in time for my second child's birth in 1957.  By 1959 I was pregnant again and dad suggested we move into one of the larger duplex apartments, at 1602 Gardenia, when it became available; we did.  Finally, in August of 1959, two months after our third child was born, we bought and moved into our first house, leaving Long Beach for Orange County.  The City Directory showing our address as 1614 was really off!

Now genealogists who deal with city directories will always take into consideration that between the time material is collected each year and the directory goes to print, people can move, divorces or death can happen, etc.  And we do make some allowance for accuracy, but I was truly puzzled with how the Long Beach City Directory in 1959 could have shown me at an address that I hadn't lived in for nearly two years.

But more than that, it said my husband was working as an orderly at St. Mary's Hospital.  Again, thinking of the births of my children, in 1956, Joe was working as a truck driver for Don Snyder Wholesale Liquor Company; in 1957, he went to work driving a truck for Coca Cola, and in 1961 he left Coca Cola and began his career with Parke Davis as a drug salesman.  Yes, there was a time in 1955 when he had odd jobs while he was trying to continue his education, but with the advent of a second child, he left college for full-time work to support his growing family.  Since his original intent was to get to medical school, he may have - for a very short while - worked at St. Mary's.  But I have absolutely no recollection of his being there and he is dead, so I can't ask him.  But I admit to being flummoxed when I read - if taken at face value - that in 1959 he was an orderly.

It is this kind of information that genealogists often get from various documents, and we have to remind ourselves that just because things get written down it doesn't mean it is engraved in stone.  The same thing happens with old family stories.  After years of hearing the story told, we often are very reluctant to admit that it may not have been exactly that way.... errors of memory creep in sometimes and sometimes the information gets passed on just like the old kid's game of "gossip" where a set of circumstances gets whispered from person to person in a circle and the person at the end of the chain repeats out loud what he/she was told; it is never exactly the way it starts out.  

Does any of this matter?  It does, to the extent we genealogists want our information to be correct.  But as to what I found in the directory, someone down the road making up a story they think is accurate based on the written information they find will be way off the mark.  It pays to check and double-check before we drive our stake in the facts. 

However, there is another benefit for even looking for such documents in the first place.  There is a story around most tidbits we find in our research - and in this case it's just a simple story about how our families stepped in and helped two dumb kids find their way when we obviously didn't have a lick of sense.  My kids probably need to know that, because sometimes I'm afraid they think we had it pretty easy when they were little.  The hard times were really by our own making!

Genealogy is fun because it takes us backwards into our families past and reminds us of stories we haven't yet told.  For some, genealogy is nothing more than getting names, dates and connections down on a piece of paper.  I do that too, but I am mostly interested in finding the story that is wrapped up in it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Many years ago – well, forty to be exact – I started a new job as an executive secretary with my left thumb wrapped in a huge bandage placed there by a doctor in the hospital emergency room.  Luckily, in typing left thumbs are more or less useless, so it didn’t impede my ability to type.  But of course everyone who was introduced to me asked what had happen and I had to tell them that my cat, Wildie, had bitten me.
As any of you who have cats know, they do not bite you unless you are doing something to them that they don’t like.  This cat thought that I was going to take away its pork chop (I was, but that’s another story) and she didn’t like it one bit.  Hence, the bite.  At the time I didn’t know that cat bites can be very dangerous.  A vet told me that a cat bite is like getting an injection of bacteria!

I didn’t know this back then, but when my thumb began swelling after my own ministrations failed, and wanting to show up at my new job with ten useable digits, I asked for and received good ER care. 
Many years later – twenty, to be exact – Jerry received what we thought of as a minor cat bite on his forearm.  Again, it was our own cat, Gloria Darling, that did it and we thought we doctored it appropriately.  On day number two, Jerry was ready to walk out the door to his part-time job at Nurseryland and I noticed red swollen area between his elbow and his armpit.  It looked awful!  I all but forced him to go to the ER, and the triage nurse almost knocked other patients aside in getting Jerry to the front of the line.  It was only when Jerry agreed to NOT to go work and to spend the next 48 hours with his arm over his head that they treated him and sent him home.  Had he not agreed, the doctor was going to hospitalize him.  He had developed a bad case of cellulitis from the bite.


The last cat bite inflicted on one of us was from a strange episode.  I was dressed for work.  Our cat, Tigger, was sitting in front of a closed sliding glass door.  He was carrying on something fierce, yowling and hissing.  I walked over to see what was going on, and on the other side of that door was a neighbor’s big cat, sitting there with a proprietary look and challenging poor Tigger’s domain.  This cat was a real pest.  Tigger was not allowed outside, and this cat not only taunted Tig any time he could but he also made a habit of spraying on the outside of all the doors leading out of our house.  I didn’t like that cat any more than Tigger did. 
I needed to leave for work via that door, so to get the outside cat out of the way, I stomped my foot as hard as I could and yelled “SCAT!!!!”  Although the neighbor’s cat disappeared, my stomping scared the daylights out of Tigger.  As if in a slow motion movie I saw Tigger start to swirl around, open his mouth and come down with his “fangs” – upper and lower – right across the top of my instep.  As it was happening all I could utter was “Oh……Tiggs!”  He got me bad.

I couldn’t be mad at him; it just wasn’t his fault.  I caused it to happen.  I ran into the bathroom, poured alcohol in the puncture wounds, squirted antibiotic lotion on them, slapped a bandage across my foot and headed out the door to work. 
An hour later I was limping.  By mid-morning my foot was throbbing.  I saw the handwriting on the wall.  Urgent Care departments were just being started and I called my clinic to talk to a nurse, which was the first step.  I told the woman I needed to be seen by a doctor for a cat bite; she told me I DIDN’T need to see the doctor but to sit with my foot in a pail of Epsom salts and it would take care of itself.  I told her that was not adequate, that I had seen a cat bite turn into cellulitis before my eyes and I wanted to see a doctor now.  She retorted, “I guess you didn’t hear me.  Sit with your foot in a pail of Epsom salts and it would take care of itself.”
I am not prone to throwing fits, but I threw a good one.  She finally told me to come in at 1 p.m.  By that time I could barely walk.  My shoe no longer fit on my food.  When I arrived I immediately took off my sock so the first person looking at the bite would see that this was an urgent matter!  That worked!  I spent the afternoon at the hospital with doctors and nurses hovering around me.  Luckily it did not turn into cellulitis and ultimately I walked normally again.  That nurse who gave me such inadequate help over the phone should have been fired.

We still have a cat and probably always will.  We are careful, however, not to put ourselves in situations where a cat-bite might be expected.  And should a cat-bite happen, we know where to go.

And we wouldn’t think of taking a cat’s pork chop away from her ever again!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


There has never been any shrimp as good as “Shrimpy Joe’s,” a little pierside shack that sat on the edge of Magnolia Pier in Long Beach back in the ‘50s.  People walked up to the counter, placed their order and watched the shrimp being butterflied, battered and deep fried.   It was presented on a paper plate sizzling hot, slightly salted and unbelievably succulent.  Catsup was available, but who needed to add anything to that shrimp?  Not us.

My best friend Dokey and I spent two summers during our high school years walking back and forth from our houses to the beach.  She lived about a mile from me, and she’d set out for my house about 9:30 and we’d head down Cherry Avenue for the beach, a walk of about 2 miles.  Both of Dokey’s parents worked, and my mother was busy caring for my baby brother and walking was our mode of transportation in those days. 

We were never in a hurry, because the haze didn’t burn off until close to eleven o’clock, so we leisurely strolled south.  Cherry Avenue was a street with lots of little shops on it.  We often stopped at Horgan’s pharmacy and bought a comic-book sized magazine that had the words to all the popular songs of the day in it.  It came out every couple of weeks, and we always had the latest one.  At another drugstore down the road, one that had a bigger candy selection in it, we’d pick up a couple of non-chocolate candy bars to tuck in our pockets, and sometimes pick up a soda to drink on the way down. 

Usually we would pick up a snack mid-afternoon from one of the little eateries along the beach, but food wasn’t a priority in our lives at that time.  On occasion we would decide to forego some of the hours of sunbathing and make a run for Shrimpy Joe’s.  Magnolia Pier was another mile and a half west of Cherry beach and we found it quickest to walk along the surfline; walking in the dry sand took far more effort than we wanted to expend!

I don’t recall how it was that we always had enough money for Shrimpy Joe’s food; neither of us had jobs yet and I have no recollection of whether Dokey and I operated on an allowance from our folks or whether we just asked for what we anticipated needing, but I do recall that in that day, shrimp was not an expensive item and it was simply distance, not lack of money, that caused us not to spend more time there! 

The one thing that we could always count on was running into someone we knew – it might be some kid from school or it might be a neighbor or even a family friend.  Shrimpy Joe’s wasn’t very well known in the greater Long Beach area, and those who had discovered it didn’t want to let their secret out.  Dokey and I never told anyone about our “find.” 

Making a run over there meant that we had to alter our going-home plans too.  It meant leaving for home earlier and walking diagonally through the downtown area of Long Beach.  Going home that way was about a three mile trek.  Once through the town, zig-zagging block by block, Dokey would turn north to head to her home on Orange Avenue and I would continue diagonally to end up near Pacific Coast Highway and Cherry Avenue, at my home.  We always aimed for a 5 p.m arrival, which gave us time to shower and get presentable before our dinner times. 

We thought nothing of walking.  We had plenty to talk about.  We didn’t worry about being kidnapped, or shot at.  We didn’t have cell phones and our parents neither saw us nor heard from us over that seven hour period that we were traipsing around Long Beach.  There occasionally was a need to go home earlier so we would take a bus.  In those days buses ran every 10 minutes so we never had very long to wait.  

The summer before our senior year was the last of our “beach” summers.  In the intervening years I went away to college, Dokey went to work, the Long Beach shoreline was altered and Shrimpy Joe’s disappeared.  Teenagers begin owning cars, it began being a bit scary to walk through certain parts of town, we married and moved to the suburbs; songs and their words exist now on my iPod and and the idyllic Long Beach of my childhood ceased to exist except in my memories and on my blog. 

What a good life I’ve had.    

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Many years ago a fellow I knew said laughingly, “My scalp is hosting a big battle:  it’s my dad’s gene for early baldness fighting against my mom’s gene for early graying. Keeps me wondering who is going to win.  I’m not crazy for either one of them.”  I retorted that at least it was better than the battle my body faced, my dad’s gene for long livers or my mom’s gene for early demise.  He agreed that his battle was better.
I’ve always remembered that little conversation.  My mother died at 71 and I’ve certainly outlived her, but I just can’t imagine hanging on another 17 years to beat my dad’s record.  (And who would want to!).  However, there is another minor little race that has developed in my body, and that is between my teeth and my hearing.

The dentist said that teeth were not made to last beyond a normal life span of seventy years, and once you cross that line, fillings become loose and fall out, decay happens under them, they all need either root canals or implants, and moreover, to be presentable we all need Lumineers on our teeth at $1,000 a tooth.   Furthermore, the handbook of dentistry says we don’t pull teeth anymore unless we are going to do implants.  Bridges?  Forget it.  False teeth?  NEVER!  These new dentists consider original teeth to be sacred.  Worth saving at all costs, and costly they are!
And what does the audiologist say about my ears?  Nothing.  The reason he doesn't is because I don’t bother to go be tested.  I am well aware that my hearing is getting worse and worse.  The audiologist will tell me that it is a waste to spend $1,000 on low end hearing aids, it’s best to pop for $5,000+ and get two of the very latest hearing aids that are set by a computer and will last at least a year if you are lucky, (not mentioning the chronic cost of new batteries.)   So since I know I’m not going to pay that kind of money for hearing aids, why pay him for telling me just how bad my hearing is.

How I wish that in my old age it were only my hair thinning that I had to combat or my eyes with baggy lids that have made inroads into my older self.  In my darkest imaginings I visualize myself trudging into my 80s using an ear horn and wearing wooden false teeth like George Washington.  And the crowning indignity - bald.   

Saturday, January 19, 2013


We like our birds, Jerry and I do.  But to be honest with you, we like best the birds that we can see from our front porch.  We are kind of beyond loading up with field glasses and hats, bottles of water, bird books and cameras and all the rest of the stuff that we used to take when my cousin Shirlee first introduced us to birding along the banks of the Santa Ana River in Orange County.

Shirlee was, by profession, a veterinarian, and she knew everything.  When we first started out, what shocked me more than anything else was that I had been living among all these birds my whole life, being native Californians, but I had never really “seen” them.  Oh, I saw them, of course, but never was startled enough to say, “Good grief, what kind of bird is THAT?”  I think maybe I had always looked at birds along a river bank and said, “Look at the ducks” – not paying any particular attention to whether it was a teal or a bufflehead or a mallard.  “Ducks” covered it.  The little brown jobs that ran around on our lawns everywhere we lived were all sparrows, as far as I was concerned.  And all gulls were Sea Gulls.  Birds were pretty much generic in my thinking.
But Shirlee changed all that.  For a period of maybe 10  years or so we took Saturdays off now and then to go birding – in city parks, rural canyons, along the ocean, the rivers (such as they are around Los Angeles) and in the marshes, adding birds to our life list.  But like many of our other hobbies, as we got older the interest in active participation waned and we mainly watched birds from our porch or through our sliding glass doors.

Several years ago we learned of a book “Backyard Birds in the Inland Empire” by a local author Sheila Kee.  This simple little book has given us just exactly the right kind of information to identify whatever previously-unnamed bird that stopped by our house for food and drink.  Just this week I spied a strange bird sitting on our hummingbird feeder.  It was smaller than a sparrow or a finch, had a longish beak as opposed to a short stubby seed-cracking beak, and was a peculiar shade of yellowish-grey.  Although I didn't have my field glasses handy, Kee’s book was on the coffee table.  Faster than you could say “Presto Change-o” I had the name of my visitor: Orange-Crowned Warbler.

What did Kee say in her book?  1)  Expect to see them in the winter; 2) Small;  3) Non-descript; 4) Olive-green above; 5) No wing bars; 6)Yellowish wash underneath, 7) Thin bill.  Another book I referenced said one generally doesn’t see an orange crown.  I didn’t.  So we’ve got another little bird to add to our yard birds. 

 Besides the hummers, the sparrows and finches and the crows that are omni-present we have Black Crowned Night Herons in quantity during the dark hours of the night.  They lumber around on our lawns looking for god-knows-what to eat, since they are mostly designed as water birds.  We had a flock of cowbirds one spring, but they only showed up that one spring out of the eight we have lived here.  We have a hawk that isn’t above snatching one of the little guys for breakfast on occasion, and then in March and April we get Archie Grosbeak and the Orioles passing through.  They are such a sight to see that we routinely use our entire discretionary spending money to give them exactly what they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  March and April are bird feasting months …..and then we drop back to crows! 

I keep telling myself that one of these springs, I’m going to mosey down to the Santa Ana river bed near the place where the park district has its offices and see what I can see down there.  I won’t go unless Jerry goes with me, of course, as there are a lot of homeless people living in the river bed and the last thing I want to see through my field glasses unexpectedly is a human face among the reeds, so I think of Jerry first and a Park Ranger second as my protection.  And I’ll also study Kee’s book extra hard ahead of time so I will know what I am to be looking for.

I’d ask Shirlee to go with me, but she moved to North Carolina and is busy watching cardinals and painted buntings in her own back yard.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my glasses and books at hand, spending time watching the feeders we’ve set up to keep the little guys occupied while we look for the next surprise that surely we will see if we are diligent in our awareness.

Monday, January 14, 2013


The trees in this picture are now naked as jay-birds.  The leaves turn a serious yellow in late fall, and the last of the leaves drop off in late December.    We have 4 of these trees lining our curb, so you can imagine what the lawn in front of our apartment looks like, until the wind either blows them away or the lawn mowers chop them to pieces so they'll end up as mulch.

This year our whole lawn system maintenance has broken down, and the best that our maintenance department has been able to do is to send a sole man out with a broom and dustpan to get the leaves that have landed in the gutter into piles.  I suspect that someone is to come around and remove these piles, but we residents don't bet on anything any more.

Yesterday (a Sunday, of all times) the sole man came in front of our yard and we ended up with the tidy piles below.  I watched him do it.  I couldn't believe how slowly he was working (cold?  bored?  low energy level?).  This was about 3 p.m., and at the end of his last pile he got into his little golf-cart maintenance truck and drove off.  Jer and I went out for a taco last night about 6 p.m. and the piles were still there.  Since we are prone to winds here in this area, we laughed about where his designer piles might end up.

In the middle of the night a Santa Ana wind came up.  It blew like crazy!  These are serious winds, usually around 50 mph but with gusts over 60 mph.  It blows big rigs over on the freeways, sends tree limbs smashing into utility lines, and of course worse case scenario takes advantage of sparks to force fires in the hillsides to wipe out hundreds of homes at a time.  However, lying in bed and hearing the winds start up, all I could think about were "the leaf piles."

Jumping ahead a little bit, I stepped outside  early this morning to see if the weather was tolerable for my walking activity.  I admit to being surprised that I was hoping to find the winds calming down a bit so I could take my day's walk.  In the past, I've always used the weather as a legitimate excuse NOT to walk.  To learn that my first thought was to hope it wasn't bad enough to keep me from walking was a nice revelation to me, and confirmed what I had started suspecting....that I was actually looking forward each day to my walk.  

But unfortunately, as I stood in the front yard, it was obvious that I needed to wait a bit for a lull in the winds.  The wind chill alone was enough to freeze one's buttons off (about 26F, it appears!)  It was just downright nasty outside.  I'd thrown on a long sleeved t-shirt, a fairly heavy flannel shirt and then my car-coat and still I was nearly frozen to death before I got off the porch.  So I bowed to the Santa Ana and decided to wait for early afternoon, a stronger bit of sun and hopefully less wind, though the chart below would indicate that it's not all that hopeful.

 But what made me laugh, and run for my camera, was to look out at those leafy piles in our gutter.  Not a leaf has been relocated.  Obviously the wind does NOT blow at street level.  I am totally amazed to learn this.  I am sure any nosy neighbors would wonder what this old woman was doing NOW, out in the street taking pictures of leaf piles.

They just don't know that bloggers can find a story in anything!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


In cleaning out a drawer the other day I came across some of the items pictured on this page – all from the WWII era and pertaining to rationing of both food and non-food items.  I was only 6 when the US entered the war, but I have a vague recollection of mother using these stamps and tokens to buy food and durable goods.

She saved a few for us kids.

I took these with me last week when we had dinner with Jerry’s sister, whose age falls between Jerry’s and mine – he’s 83, Judy is 79 and I am 77.  We talked about what we remembered and what we didn’t about that war.  Between the three of us, there always was something that surprised one of us. 

Of most interest, I think, was the wording on the War Ration Books 2 and 3:

“Rationing is a vital part of your country’s war effort.  Any attempt to violate the rules is an effort to deny someone his share and will create hardship and help the enemy.

This book is your Government’s assurance of your right to buy your fair share of certain goods made scarce by war.  Price ceilings have also been established for your protection.  Dealers must post these prices conspicuously.  Don’t pay more.

Give your whole support to rationing and thereby conserve our vital goods.  Be guided by the rule:  If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”

There is a really interesting website that deals with the very rationing program I’m talking about; it gives the ins and outs of how it worked and is certainly worth reading, not only by those who remember but also by those who didn’t even know about it:

We talked about the “excise or luxury tax” that was in place, we talked about the V-mail letters that were written on special paper and then microfilmed to save space that could be better used for shipping supplies to our armed forces.  We talked about saving grease from our cooking, collecting it in a tin can and turning the cans into the butcher for ultimate use in making ammunition.  We talked about Victory gardens, Gold Star mothers and the purchase of war bonds though our school systems, using little books into which the stamps we purchased could be pasted.  The bonds cost $18.75 and at redemption in 10 years were valued at $25.00.  And the blackout curtains and the blue light bulbs we had to use.  And so much more….
This is all such past history.  I’m sure many of our own children have no idea of what our citizens willingly went through to aid our country at that time.  And to be honest with you, we only understand all this from child’s perspective, too.  

The elementary school I attended in the primary grades prepared a scrapbook that included little paragraphs written by various students about the Second World War.  These scrapbooks were sent to Washington DC.  My mother saved a copy of our school newspaper from when I was in Second grade (1943) and in the top corner it notes:  “SCHOOLS AT WAR SCRAP BOOK.  The following articles were written by children in all grades of Willard School.  They were put in the Schools-at-War scrap book, which was sent to Washington, D.C. for an exhibit.”

At the bottom left is a little article I wrote about the U.S.O  

Even as kids we participated in the war effort.  We didn't fight, but we remember.  And before long, all of us who remember will be gone also.   Makes me think I probably should show all these things to my kids and talk about my experiences, such as they were….you know, pass the history on down the generations. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I wish I could say I loved walking.  I wish I could say I feel the endorphins kick in and make me happier, less depressed, more healthy and all those other things endorphins are supposed to do.  (The fact that I am not sad, depressed or sick is immaterial; surely they must be able to provide me with SOMETHING, even if I don’t know what it is.)  But alas, I simply do not enjoy doing it.  I guess it’s like taking a vitamin pill every day; I do it because I do it.

But the fact of the matter is that I AM doing it, or at least I have been doing it since December 27, a one mile walk around Lynn Circle (the circular street I live on in a senior complex and measured by driving my car around it to make sure I wasn’t stretching the truth when I said I walk a mile.) 

Actually, I am doing it because as I was going through some tests to see if I did or didn’t have Pulmonary Hypertension, the pulmonologist asked me if I exercised.  How I hated to tell him that I did not, that I never had, that I didn’t enjoy it even one bit, and would only do it under duress.  Instead, I said, “Doc, to be honest with you my exercise is limited to making my eyes go back and forth over a written page.”  He got a chuckle out of that and I listened carefully to him just in case he was going to tell me I should do it.  But he didn’t.  He simply went on with his testing, and finally I got the evaluation back that ruled out PH, much to my delight and relief.

And it was then that I decided I’d take on a self-inflicted regimen to walk every day, my way of saying “thank you” to whatever powers that be that I am healthy, or at least a lot healthier than I thought I was during the last few years! 

But for me, it’s not a simple job of just walking out the door and heading down the road.  I have to be prepared!  Since it is winter, I am dressed warmly.  In my left jacket pocket I have a pack of Kleenex, my house keys, two Hall’s Breezers (for my dry mouth) and my cell phone.  In my right pocket I have my ID card, my little digital camera, my gloves and my iPod.  On my iPod I use the Stopwatch function to see how long it has taken me to walk the mile, and then through my ear buds I listen either to a Chicago album or a Cal Tjader Jazz album.  I pump the music loudly into my ears, rationalizing that if I turn it up loud enough I won’t even realize I am doing something I don’t like to do.

I try not to stop.  (One of the tests for PH is how far you can walk before you have to stop and gasp for breath.)  I begrudge a shoelace coming untied or a nose that needs wiping from the cold air – I find I can do neither of those with stopping and removing my gloves – but I do understand that this stop has nothing to do with my breathing!  I DO NOT begrudge stopping to stare at a Cooper’s Hawk that is sitting in a tree adjacent to Lynn Circle, watching some nearby crows.  (He was there again today so I stopped to get my camera out, only to realize that the battery was being recharged at home!  RATS!!) 

The only other time I have willingly embarked on a walking program was when back in 1980 Jer and I decided we were taking a retirement vacation early and going to Egypt, Jordan and Israel for 3 weeks.  I didn’t want to miss out on anything when we arrived, least of all scrambling up the pyramids, so for 6 months we walked every morning to get ourselves in shape.  I have no such motivation any more, except, when I let myself think about it, perhaps the motivation this time is keeping myself alive in a healthier condition.  My dad died at 93; I hope I don’t live that long but if I have inherited that gene from my dad, I sure want to be in decent health!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


About this time in 1993 Jerry and I were temporarily living in Amsterdam.  Our ultimate destination was back home to California, after spending almost two years living in Istanbul.  The 2 month hiatus in Europe was to more or less re-introduce us to western living, as well as provide us a base of operations for one last bit of sightseeing in Europe.  In March we would be heading for the US, for finding new jobs and within a few years, retirement.

It was hard to leave Turkey.  We had explored every part of it that the State Department had said was safe for travel, and even now, 20 years later, we marvel at what we saw in that amazing country.  But to be honest with you, when I think back on that time, what I mostly remember are the people. 

Here are a few pictures, along with a few comments, to share with you.

We lived a block from the Marmara Sea and very close to the Bosphorus.  In our drives through the little villages lining the Bosphorus we saw lots of fishermen tending to their boats and nets.  There was always that ubiquitous cigarette!

Each town and village had a market day, where a street was closed off and vendors displayed their wares on both sides of the streets - and sometimes in the middle.  Probably the most astounding thing I ever saw was cheese for sale being stored in huge bags made from the midsections of cows - complete with hair.  But often times the most interesting things were the shoppers.

We rarely were able to take pictures of the women, except for an occasional shot taken somewhat surrepticiously with a long lens.  But this lady posed for us.  She was working outside a small village called Kumbetkoy.  After I got back to Istanbul, I was able to send her a copy of this photo.  It's my favorite of all the shots I took in Turkey.

This fellow knew I was taking his picture and he turned to tell his friend about it just as I snapped the shot.  He had plastic items pinned or sewn all over his clothing.  At this particular time he had no customers, but as you can tell it wasn't for lack of promoting his wares!

And then my favorite of all the "people" pictures -- the family that lived in the little town of Tonya in the hills above the Black Sea.  As I look at this picture, I am reminded of the short "chat" with the little old lady leaning on her walking stick.  I was the oldest person in the group of ladies I went with, and she was certainly the oldest of her group.  She spoke to me in Turkish and I spoke to her in English.  Obviously we didn't know what the other said....but I told her that I had a family in America just like hers here and that there is a great deal of satisfaction in looking at what we've produced and see that we've done well.  A translator for our group gave her my message, and the little old lady told me that she was honored to meet an American mother and realize how much in common we had.  It was a poignant moment.  As I look at this picture I can see that the baby surely now is a young man in his 20s.  But in my mind they will always remain just like this.

This is why we take photos.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


A little silver-haired lady calls her neighbor and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get started."

Her neighbor asks, "What is it supposed to be when it's finished?"

The little silver-haired lady says, "According to the picture on the box, it's a rooster."

Her neighbor decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, "First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster."

He takes her hand and says, "Secondly, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea, and then," he said with a deep sigh ............

................................. "Let's put all the Corn Flakes back in the box."