Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I am fascinated by hoarding.  No, I don't hoard, and I don't think I've really ever known a real hoarder….but I've known people who come close!   The way I understand it, when the objects of their hoarding, their "things," cause them to not be able to use their basic necessities in a normal way (like not being able to sleep on their own bed because of so many "things" being stored there, or needing to eat meals at a nearby diner because their own kitchen is not accessible because of "things" – then those are true hoarders.  So just an overblown collection of certain things does not a hoarder make.


Sometimes I wonder about my files

I love files.  A file for everything, and everything in its own file.  And whenever there are too many things waiting to be filed, then a single file labeled "To be Filed" will certainly suffice.  My main problem is that I may never see the contents of that file again, because it too easily ends up underneath a pile of folders that accumulate on my desk.

But this blog is not exactly about that.

This blog is where I relocate some of the interesting things I've been saving to use in a blog sometime.  So sit back and read.  You'll just get a small taste of what all it is I have saved in this particular folder marked "To Be Filed."


1.  John Perry, at that time and perhaps still, a professor of philosophy at Stanford wrote a good article back in 1996 that explains how we can procrastinate and still get things done.  His premise is that the thing you most need to do should be put at the top of a "to do" list, and following beneath that are a whole bunch of necessary but not critical things that also must be done.  You can be a procrastinator and feel darn bad about it, but if you do a whole bunch of the lesser chores, you can still feel that you are making great headway by getting the closure you have made.  You can pat yourself on the back for a day well spent – and know that you will get to the #1 on the list tomorrow.  That's not exactly procrastination, he says.  Self-deception, maybe.

Read his funny essay in full here:  http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-ProcrastinateStill/93959


2.   Political correctness appears to be colorblind.  Some time back Michelle Obama went to a state dinner at the White house wearing a dress described by the Associated Press as "Flesh."  The designer called it a "sterling-silver sequin, abstract floral, nude strapless gown.  Was it flesh colored?  Not Mrs. Obama's flesh, obviously.  Associated Press changed the wording to "champagne."  And is the color "nude" a single color or a relative color?

Which reminds me, many years ago I had a nice tan, and a co-worker asked me if I tanned easily.  I assured him that I had to really work hard to get any tan at all, that actually the skin on my stomach is as white as a snake's belly!  (He wanted to see it, but I declined!). 

But getting back to the color nude, champagne, sand, flesh, or blush, peach, eggshell or cream – or for darker tones chai and darker yet "espresso" (all colors in the decorator's pallet) – I think probably nude and flesh should be retired and let the foods of the world dictate what color a dress is.

Jerry is color-blind; not the traditional red/green that many men have, but he has trouble differentiating between pastel colors.  He does not identify any difference between beige and gold, lavender and light pink, silver and grey, and other tones.  In one of his retirement jobs he worked for a police department following street sweepers and ticketing cars which had not been moved off the street before the sweepers came by.  In several instances people who received a ticket huffed into the Police Department indicating that they got a ticket but their car was not gold/beige/tan/ivory/silver or whatever color it was that Jerry saw and put on the ticket.  His spirit was willing but his eyesight was –well, not weak, but not 100% right on!


3.  Some time back there was a great article in the LA Times about a man in Compton who has made a good living for himself  - in fact, good enough to put both his son and daughter through College, he says.  He indicates that for 50 years, he has been raising colonies of crickets, Madagascar hissing cockroaches – and mealworms – piles of squishy, wiggly, red-orange mealworms.  They are his best product.

He has not suffered at all through any of the recessions.  He has 60 employees, most of whom are related to each other.  He started his business in the early 1960s and is still going strong. 

I guess if one has the stomach for it, one might do well.  As for me, I don't put bait on fishhooks and I don't pick up mealworms or any cockroaches, whether they hiss or spit.  Sure, I'd like a fool-proof way to increase my income a bit, but this is definitely not my project of choice.


4.  If you are looking for something different to do with your honey in tow, I suggest the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco.  Many years ago, when Jer and I were younger and more romance-able, we went to the then-called Miyako Hotel; the touted draw was a 2-person Japanese deep soaking tub, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience just as the book in which we read about it said it would.  (I think the book was something about 100 Things to do for Valentine's Day.)  This hotel has not been the Miyako for many years now; but the Hotel Kabuki goes a step further than only the deep soaking tub (which it still has):  it has a relationship with the Kabuki Springs and Spa communal bath which is merely two blocks away from the Hotel.  Hotel Kabuki now is part of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and if you book a hotel visit through the Joie De Vivre chain directly, you receive a complimentary pass to the Kabuki Springs and Spa.

Now understand, I have not visited it under this new ownership.  Romance-able now pretty much involves not having to sleep with the cat on our bed.  So I can't tell you exactly what this all means:

            "The baths are open for women only Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays,
            and open to men Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  Tuesdays are co-ed. 
            Bathing suits are required on Tuesdays."

I leave it to you to snoop around on the Hotel Kabuki website and make your own bed & bath, which you will, of course, either lie in or meditate in, Japanese style, with or without Bath Butler Service and soaking salts.

And do have fun!

So I now have cleared out part of one file folder.  That enables me to toss away four papers that I swear I have been keeping at the ready for five years or so.  No hoarder lives at THIS house!  Just a saver!

Friday, May 23, 2014



FICTION: (In no particular order)

1.  The Round House – Louise Erdrich
            A winner of the National Book Award, this story set on a present-day Indian reservation is as good and painful a story as I've found in a long time. I think it is the best of all I've read of her books. 

2.  The Testament of Mary - Colm Toibin
             Jesus's mother, Mary, reflects on the events surrounding the crucifixion of her son, who she knows is not the son of God.

3.   Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
             A book of twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat until you've read the last page.

4.    Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner
              1972's amazing book of discovery - personal, historical, and geographical.  It is a lovely, lovely read.

5.     The Good Lord Bird - James McBride
              Has Old John Brown ever been so deliciously portrayed?  You'll laugh, cry, gasp, and re-read.  

NON-FICTION: (In no particular order)

1.      The Man in the Sharkskin Suit - Lucette Lagnado
               What happens to an Egyptian Jewish family when the nation of Israel is born.

2.       1940: FDR, Wilkie, Lindbergh, Hitler - the Election Amid the Storm - Susan Dunn.
                I was too little to know this when it was happening, but reading it was a real eye-opener and, surprisingly, a very interesting book for those of us (moi!) who are not political or a historian.

3.       Blood and Thunder - Epic Story of Kit Carson - Hampton Sides
                Kit Carson's role in the conquest of the Navajo during and after the civil war.  But more than that, it's the conquest of the whole west - extending way out here to California -- in places I've walked all of my life.

4.       Crossing Cairo - Ruth Sohn
                 Review from my blog:  I heard her talk about this book at a book fair and knew that I had to read it.  What I appreciated is her ability to see events, people, culture, and locations through the eyes of an expat, a mother, a rabbi, a female and a scholar -- and still have every last word be interesting!  Most importantly, I think, is that it has set me to thinking about how I interpret news from the middle east, especially that which comes via TV. 

5.       Deadly Indifference - Michael Brown
                Under-Secretary of Homeland Security (under Bush) lucidly explains (and not with excuses) what turned out to be a very inadequate federal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and a good description of just what FEMA is and isn't.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Have you ever had the heebie-jeebies?

Now I don't go looking for trouble, but there are a few things that certainly give me the heebie-jeebies.

The first and most irrational one happens to be a leftover from my teen years.  I think I've even mentioned it in an older blog.  It is simply seeing a swimming pool without water in it.  I will spare you the reason why it gives me the heebie-jeebies, and forcing myself to walk in my own swimming pool when it was drained for repairs many years ago really never made the irrationality go away, although I thought it would.  But it just kind of "tempered" it.  I don't have many occasions anymore to see empty swimming pools, but I have to admit two things: if I saw one I'm sure I wouldn't faint or anything like that, and if I had any say so in the matter, I probably wouldn't look at it in the first place if I had to walk by it.

I know.  It's crazy, but not incapacitating!

The second thing that gives me the heebie-jeebies is not going to be good PR for California.  I do not like to be caught at a red light when I am driving under a freeway overpass.  I think this nervousness came from one of the old SoCal earthquakes - either the Sylmar quake in 1971 or the Northridge quake in 1994.  An overpass collapsed on a car.  Of course all the newspapers ran pictures of it.  I am not ordinarily fearful of earthquakes (except in Turkey, because our apartment building was not very substantial).  The slight chance of being injured in one here in California doesn't give me any particular fear, but when I am driving and see that I am going to be caught at a stoplight while I'm having to wait under a freeway overpass -- well, what I experience is a good case of the heebie-jeebies.  No yelling, no thrashing about, but I tell you I am always ready, at first shake, to jump out of my car and run for my life!  Man! I don't like that!

And the final thing that makes me nervous is driving on the freeway beside a semi-truck.  We have way too many truck-car accidents here on our freeways.  The car rarely wins.  Just today as I drove down the onramp onto the 60 freeway, I had to merge into the traffic lane next to a big red semi.  At least it was a pretty, clean bright red - not that it mattered, but since I was to merge at the speed of traffic it took a little maneuvering to end up away from that semi as fast as I could manage it!

Now these last two situations are rational, as opposed to the irrational fear of an empty swimming pool. Nevertheless, there is no way that I can control either of those from occurring like I do when I opt not to look at the pool.

This morning, with Jerry by my side as I merged onto the 60, I asked him if anything gave him "the willies" - another good set of words for "heebie-jeebie."  Good old placid Jerry.  "Nope," he said, "not that I can think of."

Ah...... I should be lucky enough to go through life not thinking of disasters and things like that.  Que sera, sera is his mantra. Fatalism, I calls it!  No use trying to change myself at this stage of the game.  I guess I'm one of those "set in their ways" oldsters.  At least these quirks aren't debilitating.  They sure don't keep me off the freeway.  (And it's age that keeps me out of the swimming pool!)

Saturday, May 10, 2014


As I recall the story, there was a lady who wanted very much to honor her mother, and did so by suggesting to someone, somewhere, that a day in May be set aside as Mother's Day, in which children were to specifically honor or memorialize their mother with a written note or letter.  Within a few years she was fit to be tied, because the original thought was commercialized and publicized by the suggestion of present-giving, non-personal gift cards and the like. 

I have before mentioned that my family was not very observant of events, other than Christmas, Easter and birthdays.  I can't remember ever giving my mother a present, but my father always gave her one from "all of us."  If we asked what she wanted, she always said, "Just a hand-made card."  She wasn't hard to please, but even from a child's viewpoint it never seemed like a very good a Mother's Day present to me.

In thinking about the impact of Mother's Day in my life, I am always drawn back to something my mother put in a handwritten note to us, her three kids, and attached to her holographic will.  Her last sentence, written before she headed to the hospital for heart surgery (from which she would not survive) was this: "So, at the moment I shall end this.  Just want you all to know how much I enjoyed being your Mom, and wish you long happy healthy lives.  Love always, Mother."

I have often felt deficient in the "mother" department, but if I think of this note from my mom – and especially I always do on Mother's Day, I realize that regardless of what a brat I might have been, or my too-far-apart phone calls, or not always being the peacemaker my mother expected of me, or not coming up to the standard she wanted for me, what I did do, by doing nothing more than being her child, still made my mother enjoy being a mother. 

So in a sense, without my knowing it, what I did and what I became, and who I was still was enough to make her enjoy being a mother.  And it was a gift I didn't know of until she was gone.

I remember my mother today with really warm thoughts.  She was a genuinely good, kind person; I don't think she had a mean bone in her body.  She set a great example for her daughters in the way she lived her life.  That sometimes we fell short was not her fault, and she never, ever, intentionally made us feel guilty.  (We were quite able to do that ourselves, thank you.)

And so for me, I think I have already received the best gift possible for this and for every Mother's Day – and that is being able to say to my kids – Sean, Erin, Bryn and Kerry - while I'm still alive to say exactly what my mother did: " I have enjoyed being your Mom!" And that is better than receiving a handmade card, roses, See's Candy, a Barnes and Noble Gift Card, or a cashmere sweater for Mother's Day.  Being able to still put my arms around you is enough! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014


In my whole life I have never signed up for ANYTHING that even hinted at athletics or exercise.  As a child I was thought to have a heart condition and the whole of my childhood was governed by not playing active games.  By the time I figured out I wasn't going to die, I didn't know how to play volleyball, basketball, kickball, baseball, and frankly, just wasn't interested. 

I substituted reading for my "sport" and never missed not knowing running around making sweat!.  I always said my exercise was accomplished by curling up on the couch making my eyeballs go back and forth across the written page.  Ahhhhh.  Such satisfaction!

I lived my young and middle aged life before LA Fitness or Pilates came into being.  To be honest, what one doesn't have, one doesn't miss.  And then, one starts into old age and begins  having little niggling physical things go on with my body.  That was when I realized I probably did need a little conditioning.  I walked for a while, shocked that I rather enjoyed it, but after the scare that I had last December thinking I was going to need dialysis or a kidney transplant, I stopped walking because I felt so punk.  It turned out to be a side-effect of a pill, and once I stopped taking that pill, I became my old self again, kidney and all.  However, I just never quite got my enthusiasm for exercise back. So when Riverside County arranged to hold a "50 and Fit" exercise class on the premises of Country Village, where we live, I suggested to Jerry that we participate.  The goal, set specifically for seniors, is to work toward Muscle, Flexibility and Balance.  The sessions are three times a week, no cost, everything provided!  We've now been twice and like it enough to continue.

But I do have some observations to share.

As we walked in the door we were handed a resistance band.  We vaguely knew how they would be used.  The leader said they would be used in the exercises to build muscle mass through resistance.  The fact that mine had about the resistance of a rubber band made me question what kind of muscle it was going to do any good on.  I was originally thinking of Popeye-sized muscles, but obviously that was not going to happen if I didn't get a stronger band.  But at the same time, I must admit that I thought I looked pretty darn fit stretching that band by holding it with my fingers!  It made me laugh.  I was hopeful that all those people behind me could see that I was already fit.  (I did ask for a stronger band at the second session!)

Next, the leader had us put the bands away and led us in an exercise that I'll describe as stepping left and right in a rhythmic pace, left and right: STEP! STEP! STEP! CLAP! STEP! STEP! STEP! CLAP! – back and forth many many times.  But I laughed at this too, because anyone looking at me would think I had no sense of rhythm at all..  I could not stay in step with any body else, and often I was at a dead stop, giggling at how stupid I was.

But there was a good reason for my difficulty.  First of all, our leader faces us, so her right is our left.  If she would face the same direction that we are, we would all be together.  Many of the people were confused about which way they were to move and people were going every which direction.  But I found myself at odds with both of them – like someone marching to a different drummer.  I burst out laughing again at how stupid I felt, but for good reason: The leader has music to accompany our efforts, but the beat of the piece accompanying this exercise was different than the beat she set for our movement. So I DID have a different drummer, and with a tiny bit of musical training in my background, I positively could not ignore the beat of the music that my fine hearings aids piped into my ears!  I was not out of step at all; everyone else was!

The leader of the exercise group, a youngish woman who actually is one of the employees of our complex's management company, appears to have never exercised before but has had a short course in how to lead a "50 and Fit" group.  Her spirit is willing….but you know the rest of that old saw.  She is fairly unsure of what all these exercises are to accomplish; she herself watches and follows a DVD that is playing on a table beside her.  She does – and then we do - whatever exercise the DVD instructor is doing.  Sweetly and earnestly she follows the rules, so I expect she will get better as she gets more experience. 

I really would prefer a trainer like some of those physical therapists who worked with me to get my "frozen shoulder" back to normal, but we can't always have what we want. And besides, I think to myself, if we had a "REAL" trainer, I would probably then have to truly exercise, which I think I still hate.  So I've made my peace with my silly efforts and lots of laughs, and have to assume that what I am doing now is a whole lot better than finding another book to read.

I do, however, honestly hope that by the time she gets us working on getting our gluteus maximus muscles back into shape, her skills will be honed and we will see some good results.  Have you ever looked at your behind in a three way mirror?  I'm telling you, there is nothing left except muscles, all resting!  It's worse than the flabby underarms we get as we age, but perhaps for us women, not quite as bad as losing what we held up years ago in a perky bra. 

Sadly and realistically, I'm really under no illusion that I will come out of this "50 and Fit" a new me, but in the meantime what it does is get me off the computer for an hour, give me an hour laughing with Jerry, and make me recognize that I really am not in too bad a shape for an old broad.