Sunday, June 30, 2013


On May 11 of 2011 I wrote a blog about my shower head, which is actually part of a shower wand, the kind you can hold in your hand and then slip into a fixed holder when you need to have your hands free.  I was bemoaning the fact that I do not have a satisfactory experience when I shower due to a very recalcitrant shower head that manages to direct water directly into my face no matter how hard I try to aim it elsewhere. The last paragraph of that blog is as follows:
“I just may have to call upon my laid-back disposition for another few years while I wait on my aging brain to come up with another idea. A new shower wand might work but they are not cheap and there are, unfortunately, no guarantees.”

Today, June 30 of 2013 I have finally concluded that I WILL buy a new shower head THIS WEEK!  It wasn’t the aging brain that kept me from replacing it sooner.  It was simply that more important things kept breaking down and needed replacing (teeth, hearing, microwave oven, coffee-pots, etc.) and the shower head just never made it to the top of the list.
It’s there now.  And I deserve a new one.  Not only that, but very honestly, the whole unit is ready for replacement.  Nothing turns easily on it any more, making any kind of adjustment next to impossible.

We are in the middle of a very hot spell and to insure that I could walk my two miles this morning before the sun got hot, I got up at 4 a.m., did my little pre-walk routine, and headed out at 5 a.m. when the daylight had just passed the squinting point.  I was back home by 5:50, already sweating, and I knew the shower was going to feel very good.  But today, the little wild spray that always hits me right in the face seemed to be worse than usual.  I stood dripping in the shower for about 10 minutes, turning and twisting the adjustable sprayer part on the shower head to minimize that problem, but nothing changed.  If I stood on a stool in our shower so that the water could hit me lower on my body, that would solve everything.  (Of course that is also why Jerry doesn’t experience this problem; the water hits him in the chest, not in the face.) 
Nothing in our house (or on/in our bodies) broke down last week so that is why I have decided this week will be dedicated to finding the perfect shower head replacement.

I saw one featured in yesterday’s LA Times – it’s a Kohler brand “Moxie” shower head.  It has a waterproof wireless speaker that attaches via a magnet.  The Bluetooth speaker runs for seven hours and pulls out for charging via USB port.  It comes in different colors, starting at $149 through Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon -- and elsewhere, I’m sure. 
I don’t want that one!  I care not for the availability of color choices, and since I have music flowing through my ear buds while I walk, having music in my shower is not a deal-breaker.  But strangely, the idea of paying that much for a shower head is the least of my concerns at this point, although if I do use my money that way, we’ll probably be eating canned pork and beans through the month of July.  I am a firm believer, mostly, that you get what you pay for and THIS time when we buy a new shower head I won’t bother looking at price until I find what I want. 

Unfortunately, I cannot change the height of the pipe that is built to bring the water into our shower (I’m guessing that it is about 6 feet up from the shower floor) but SURELY I can find something that will aim that water at my chest, not my face, and at a price that I can afford.

Today is not a day to rummage around in the non-air-conditioned big box stores looking for the plumbing department.  Since they open early during the week to provide for the building trades, we can appear at their doors at 8 a.m. this coming week and make our decision – my decision, really – before the heat addles my brain into doing something rash like thinking I can “make do” again.  I’m going for EXACTLY the right thing this time.        

Friday, June 28, 2013


A shock is something that comes to you unexpected.  It isn’t only big events that shock; sometimes the little things carry a big wallop.  I am of the opinion that shocks almost make a physical imprint on a person; they can factor in and out of one’s consciousness and decision making later in life.

There are four times in my youth that I was truly shocked, although not of the kind that was really damaging.  I just have thought it funny that these particular incidents have stayed with me my entire life.  One of the four was a physical shock, and was so insignificant that I shouldn’t even have it in my brain, but oh yes, there it is.

I was just a tiny kid – maybe 2 or 3 - when my grandma lived in an apartment building on the ground floor in Long Beach.  I have a vague recollection of the way the apartment house looked on the outside – I do remember it was stucco - but because the shock happened in the bedroom, that is the only memory I retain from inside the apartment itself.  On this day my grandma was babysitting me.

 n the bedroom Grandma had a double bed.  She often read in bed, so she had an old bed lamp that hooked over the headboard, had a lightbulb screwed into a socket, and was turned on and off simply by pulling a little chain.  A dark pink and maroon floral chintz bedspread covered the bed, and the same material hung as fixed drapes on either side of the window that looked out onto the apartment walkway.  The window had a pull-down shade, which grandma always pulled down to darken the room when I napped.  I close my eyes and I can see exactly how that room looked so long ago.

On this particular day of my first shock, as usual we had lunch and then it was time for my nap.  Grandma pulled backed the bedspread and boosted me onto the soft bed.  She tucked me under the spread, pulled down the window shade and then gave me a kiss before she left.  To this day I remember the softness of her cheeks and seeing her little pince-nez glasses on a chain dangling toward my face.  I remember her walking out of the bedroom and pulling the door shut but not closing  it completely so she could hear me if I called to her. 

Why do I remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday?  Because shortly after she left, I discovered the dangling chain from the bed lamp and of course I had to pull it.  Nothing happened.  I was too young to know there should have been a light bulb in the socket, but shortly, in a continuation of my childish exploration, I stuck my little finger into that empty socket.  ZOWIE!!!!  I’m sure this is why the image of that afternoon with Grandma is still so present: the jolt of electricity I felt in my fingers was not enough to hurt me but came with enough surprise to permanently etch the event – and her bedroom – into my brain, where it remains to this day. 

The next real shock I had was in sixth grade.  Some boy in class, probably Tommy Graves who always was being called out for one thing or another, had just used the word “busted” instead of “broken” in answering a question asked by the teacher.   Ms. Whateverhernamewas (whose real name escapes me at the moment) drew herself up somehow into a formidable presence and said in very precise English, “The word you should use is ‘Broken.’ And then loudly with emphasis, “A BUST IS THE BREAST OF A WOMAN.”

Every girl in the class audibly gasped.  I can still see that event play out in front of my eyes.  Our teacher has her dark blue polka-dot dress on.  Her hair is upswept with a rat under her pompadour.  Her purse, made to be a handbag but carried by her with the straps over her shoulder so she could tuck it ever-so-tightly in her armpit, looks ridiculous even to a 6th grader.  Her long face is serious and dark.  She glowers one more time at poor Tommy and says loudly, “Don’t forget this:  “A BUST IS THE BREAST OF A WOMAN.” 

 Oh, the humiliation of it all.   In my family, any word describing a bodily function or part had to be spoken by employing a euphemism.  Had my sister and I ever said “breast,” we would have been warned the first time we said it, and our mouths washed out with soap the second and subsequent times we said it.  Words like “Breast” or “Bowel Movement” were forbidden words in the Dobbins household and were not to be uttered at all, for any reason.  My sister and I knew and used the euphemisms for everything,  so you can imagine my shock when this teacher uttered such a word in front of Tommy Graves and Sammie Collins and Charles Clifner and Allan Austin and the rest of the boys, all of whom we girls were beginning to be aware of in a totally different and puzzling way.  The shock marked this episode in my psyche for all time.  As with the little electric shock from the lamp, I can close my eyes and see this event also replayed in my mind.  Now I can laugh at it, but not then. 

Today, old and wise (or at least older and wiser than I was then), I grudgingly make allowances for the term “drug bust”.  After all, even I know it is not correct or meaningful to say “drug broken” when you mean a drug bust.   But if I hear a cop or a TV commentator say something like having to bust down a door, I feel myself automatically drawing up into as near a formidable presence as I can, tucking my invisible purse tighter in my armpit and saying, “We do not say the word ‘bust.’  A bust is the breast of a woman.” 

I somehow cannot make my peace with this breech of the King’s English, regardless of whether “bust” in this day and age is now sitting comfortably in one of the dictionaries that also allows jury-rigged instead of gerry-rigged.   My husband has been sensitized to this particular use of “bust” because he sees me get nearly apoplectic when I hear it used on TV.    When I get to the part said by the teacher, he always kindly says it right along with me.  We laugh about it, but deep down inside I don’t feel it is a laughing matter.

I managed to make it until about the 8th grade before I experienced my next big shock.  At Hamilton Junior High school a new girl entered our school mid-semester and was assigned to our homeroom.  I was asked to introduce her around and make sure she wasn’t left out of activities.  I will never know why I was picked for that job; I was terribly shy and perhaps the powers that be thought appointing me to shepherd little Donna around that first day would be good for me.  And perhaps it did; however, because of doing this job I later received a big shock that undoubtedly is the reason why I remember this event so clearly.  Donna was a darling girl and became popular very fast.  She certainly didn’t need me, a geek, as a friend, but she never forgot me and thought we never became social friends outside of school, I always felt a special closeness toward her. 

Donna and I later moved up to the same high school.  Our classes and interests diverged, but one day I found myself standing next to her in the cafeteria and in the idle chit-chat between us learned that she was a Catholic.   I was shocked down to my toes.  To my knowledge, I had never met a Catholic before.   My mother’s entire family was very anti-Catholic and they often, at family get-togethers, discussed at some length what they considered the evils of Catholicism, which of course included first and foremost the Pope.  While I never consciously paid much attention to these discussions, of course as a little kid I probably absorbed their prejudices.  We were not a religious family ourselves, but we knew what we didn’t like, and we didn’t like Catholics.  So hearing sweet Donna admit to being one was just a very shocking thing for me to digest.  I never again could see her without consciously thinking that she was a Catholic.    It didn’t change how I felt about her, but it certainly confused things for me.  She was a Catholic and she was a good person.  How can that be?  (Oh, the evils of prejudice!)

Again, as I got older and wiser I learned that my family was very bigoted in many areas, not only towards religion but also towards other races.   At any rate, by the time I came of college age I was able to shed the image of Catholic somehow being bad - and for a while all but shed my family, too, over that and similar issues.   I seem to have been born with a tolerance and awareness that was out of sync with my mother’s side of the family.  I remember so clearly the unreasonable shock I experienced with Donna, and I determined to keep my own kids from having those kinds of beliefs instilled in them. 

 Now in my adult life I have certainly experienced  a few shockers, but life does that to us.  There will always be things that tend to knock the socks off of a person, but at least as adults we are in a better position to sort things out with some real expectation of understanding and processing it into the right perspective.  I do have to say that life can sometimes get a little dreary without a dose now and then of surprises and/or shocks, but the kind that makes a person’s hair go grey I am better off without, that’s for sure. 

And luckily shocks happen less and less as we march into old age.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I say that, so I don’t have to eat my words!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


There is no good reason why I should be writing about goats, except that last weekend there was a picture in our newspaper of three little boys in Tenerife trying to drag a large goat into a  river.  The captioned explained that this photo was taken at a yearly festival called “The Bathing  of the Goats.”

My reading came to a dead stop while I scrutinized the picture.  What on earth was this all about, I wondered.  I’ve heard of the of the Blessing of the Animals, and one day many years ago on Olvera Street in Los Angeles I even saw a procession of animals being led past a priest who appeared to be baptizing (but in actuality was blessing) each animal.  Not being Catholic, I was fascinated by such a ritual – first because of the diversity of animals anticipating this blessing, and secondly that seemingly ordinary people were involved in shepharding their animals through the line. 

As an aside, I must mention that when an hour or so earlier Jerry and I had been having lunch at a nearby outdoor cafĂ©, we noticed an elderly lady seated across from us who had a brown paper bag with the eyes, ears, nose and collar with ID tags drawn on it.  This brown paper bag had its own chair across from the lady.  I won’t tell you what my reaction was, but when I saw her and the paper dog waiting in line for a blessing, I realized the bag represented a once-live dog who had already gone to his or her reward.  Apparently the owner was anticipating a posthumous blessing delivered to the bag.

But back to goats.  The photo didn’t elaborate on what was going on, but since I don’t like to leave unknown things rattling around in my brain, I subsequently learned what was going on.  I found it stranger than the blessing of the animals. The following is from the website, “Real Tenerife”:

At first light the action moves to the town’s harbour as it becomes the goat’s turn to enjoy the benefits of the enchanted waters. The clocks of time are turned back as goatherds from the Orotava Valley drive herds from their hillside pastures through Puerto’s streets, filling the harbour’s pebble beach with bemused and slightly anxious looking goats. Goats and water are not compatible bedfellows so the air is soon filled with tortuous cries as each indignantly protesting creature is dragged into the water and dunked, before being released to make its solitary journey back to its nervous looking mates.

Watching herdsmen, and women, methodically work through their livestock, it’s apparent that they truly believe that this ritual will benefit their animals; whether anyone actually considers the water enchanted, who knows, but veteran goatherds claim that the bathing of the goats results in increased fertility amongst female goats, improving their chances of falling pregnant and ensuring the continued growth of the herd. The bigger the herd, the more prosperous the owner; there’s method in this midsummer madness.

It seems to be more a cultural ritual than anything linked to a religious ideology.  It has longstanding roots.  I am sure it is satisfying to the resident population, but I personally think it is just weird!  Poor longsuffering goats, I say. 

But while reading this explanation I recalled a very funny video I saw on YouTube and, in fact, blogged about several years ago.  It seems there is a breed of goats that when startled or excited exhibit a peculiar reflex of falling over sideways.  The owners of this breed of goats say the reaction is not in the brain but rather is a strange condition that causes their legs to immediately stiffen to the point they are unable to walk or to stablilize themselves.  The result is that they splat on the ground sideways.  In a few seconds the spasm stops and they scramble to their feet as if nothing had happened.  It’s not an illness; it’s just the way these goats are.  And while they don’t lose consciousness, they do look as if they fainted, thus are called “Fainting goats.”
 Take a look at the Video.

I couldn’t help but have a good chuckle imagining these fainting goats being taken down to the ocean to be washed and at the first splash seeing them keel over in a faint.  To be really funny the shepherds would have to be unfamiliar with this particular breed!
I don’t know why I am so enchanted by goats.  We have several goat farms in our quasi-rural area, bred mainly for carne de cabra fresca.  When we first moved here Jer and I were speculating on the reason for all the goats, and with our big-city backgrounds we assumed the owners were selling the goat milk and/or making goat cheese for the markets.  The nearest goat farm to us – maybe a couple of miles away – was fairly small, and some of the goats were kept in the front yard.  There were “toys” for them to play on, and even the babies weren’t shy about jumping up on the roofs of what looked like big dog-houses and standing there to watch the cars go by.  All the momma goats were pregnant;  the babies were simply adorable.  Then one day Jerry saw the owner in the front yard and he stopped to find out more about those funny looking little critters.  That’s when he learned they were being raised for eating, not milking. 

I refuse to drive along that route any more.  I just can’t bear looking at those little guys, knowing what’s in store for them at the end of the day or the next day.  As I have always thought, it wouldn’t take very much for me to become a vegetarian. 

To me, goats are just funny animals, cute in their own way!  They have always seemed as if they didn’t quite get fully formed – either physically or mentally - when they were in the design process.  They all have beards, even the she-goats.  And they are, IMHO, kooky looking….about on par with the Affenpinscher dog whose face looks like his tail got stuck in an electrical outlet and made him look fairly electrified!

Now in case you think you might want to know a little more about goats, I’m sending you to a list of 100 things you should know about them.  You’d be surprised how much there is to ponder.

Have fun!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I have always loved to have projects.  The more, the merrier I have always said.  Now having put that statement out on the table, I am speculating that I’m behind on my blogging because 1) I am slowing down of old age (possible!), 2) I’m deliberately dilly-dallying (not so!), 3) I’m finished blogging (never!) or 4) I have too much on my plate (I think maybe so!) 

I love everything I’m doing in a day (walking, reading, working on the Poly Reunion, knitting), and have a list of projects I need to do (sorting some photos, finishing some genealogy research, getting some winter hats made for homeless people).  The days are not long enough to accomplish everything that needs doing.  I need to get a few things off the plate, I think.

But I do have some odd and assorted comments, observations and ruminations I need to get off my chest, thus at least removing them from the plate.   

I am a bit distressed by what has happened to Paula Deen.  I am not particularly a fan of hers; in fact, I am always a bit leary about being around those people who talk with the deepest of the southern drawls.  I have no way of knowing if they are going to turn out to be full of, at the most, “hate” of black people or at the least, full of all the old vituperative words which they think are  still okay because they don’t “mean” anything.
That is my prejudice and I understand that all southerners do not fall into that category, but I cannot stand to be around people who think that way.  I cannot change their way of thinking, but I will remove myself from their lives the minute that terrible language starts.  Back to Paula Deen.  Until such time as any residue of hate comes out of her mouth on her shows, I have to assume that she is meeting the terms of her contract and is still giving us an entertaining look at food and food preparation.  To end an association because she, in the past, admitted to using racially-laden words is not right.  I am sorry that this has happened to her. 

During my years in going to various kids’ camps sponsored by community organizations – and we’re talking here about the years 1945 to 1953 - we were taught many camp songs.  Most were rounds and we would sing them with gusto.  It wasn’t until the 1960s, during the years of the awakening national awareness of our country’s terrible racial injustices, that I realized what we had been singing in those old long-past camp songs.  I am too embarrassed here to even mention their names.  But the words were racist, the sentiments were awful, and I can’t in a million years think of why we were ever taught them in the first place.  But as a sign of the times, I think the adults involved really weren’t even aware of them being anything other than a song comparable to any other round or campfire song.  That is hard to understand from this point in time.  What we sang then was wrong, and I am, in retrospect, totally appalled.  But I don’t want to and won’t carry around that burden for the rest of my life.  And whatever it was that Paula Deen said that was so very bad then, until I know otherwise that deep down in her soul she’s learned that it was wrong regardless of whether or not it was ingrained in the old southern culture, I’d just as soon she didn’t carry that burden around at this point in her life either.


On a lighter note, I have often thought how much my mother influenced my thinking.  Mom and Dad each had a role in patterning my life.  I picked up from my dad issues like boss-employee relations and expectations, the role of a husband in the family life, and the idea of citizens’  responsibilities to the community, and the acts of charity.  My mother’s influences were entirely of a different nature.  I saw her sit down at a typewriter every day and “write.”  When it came time in my schooling to start picking out “electives” it was my mom who suggested I take typing and that I start in journalism classes. But some of what she gave me were of no particular value yet I have experienced many times as I was growing up – things she said to me that I remember at various times:  if you eat the crusts of your bread, you will have curly hair; if you pull all your hair back off your forehead, you will look like a peeled onion; and your kitchen and back porch will always look clean if you have white, instead of colored, appliances!

Mom was right.  My sister, who hated the crusts of bread and refused to eat them, had straight hair, and yep, I loved the crust and got the curly hair!  I DO look like a peeled onion if I don’t wear some kind of bangs and of course have always loved that sleek look and long straight hair that I will never ever have; and it took until the 1960s for me to give in to colored appliances, the first being an avocado washer and dryer for the back porch! 

I wonder what nonsense I passed on to my kids?  I wonder if they will ever remind me of any of my little homilies, which secondary dictionary meaning is this:  a tedious moralizing discourse.  Ah, me.


I am still walking each morning and enjoying it greatly.  I just added an Elton John album of favorites to my iPod and have discovered his music is wonderful to walk to.  His beat and my feet work well together.  On Sundays I walk to music from “Love Song”, an album and a music group that came out of Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel in Orange County in the 1960s.  It’s not particularly good walking music but it’s good for the parched soul.  I’m now on an iTunes hunt for a nice Latin jazz album – something that falls between the lovely sounds of Cal Tjader, Stan Getz et al of the ‘50s and today’s Latin jazz, in which saxophones can blow the earbuds right out of my ears.  I’m listening to the styles of various iTune albums and have yet to find one that fits the bill.  I know it is there somewhere but it’s just going to take some fun time to find it.
So that’s it today.