Sunday, August 12, 2012


DIVERTISSEMENT


I would need to look up that word if I came across it out of the blue. It's just a fancy way of saying "diversion". And that's what the visit from Chris, Frances and Owen was, a divertissement of the best kind.



They were here for a few days and then went to San Diego to visit Frances' brother and his wife. Frances has a college roommate who lives in that area, so there was a visit with them and a day at the San Diego Zoo before coming back here. They left to return home this morning after we had breakfast together. I'm not very good at goodbyes. If all goes well, they'll be back to visit at Thanksgiving.

Frances used her organizational skills to help me put some things in proper places. I'm in awe of her abilities and regretful that I lack

that talent. My room has a high ceiling and tall walls, but still, I suspect we have too many framed pictures. I made myself part with three items. The theory is that keeping a photograph makes parting with the item easier. I'm not so sure about that. I get a pang when I look at the pictures. When Tim discovered that I had taken this picture to the donation room, he scurried down and rescued it for himself.


 Chris pounded nails and got some things up on the walls. Miles to go, though. Hopefully Tim and I can get everything in order by Thanksgiving.

Tim's car is a jeep and difficult for me to climb into in the best of times, so it was Chris who took me on my first outing. 






First stop was the post office where our credit union has a branch.
I had three checks to cash, one made out to Mr. Bob. The tellers


were fond of Mr. B. and glad to see me out and about.

I can't recall if I told you about asking a charge nurse a month ago, when I might have a margarita. She thought a minute, no doubt mentally going down my list of medications and said,
"I don't see any reason why you couldn't have one now." To which I responded, "I don't know how to get to a Mexican restaurant". She didn't know, either.









If you're a parent or a grandparent, always take a book with you. For that matter, it makes sense even if you're going solo.

Tim finds it sad to drive past our old house, but he wasn't with us. I'd give my eye teeth to know what the new owner found worth
saving in the back garden. I'm not brave enough to go look.


Last stop was at Diane & Roger's. They called to see if I was open to a visit from them at the Manor and I suggested that we save them gas money.......we were right there. Due to the 100 degree weather we didn't talk for long, but it was a fitting end to our outing.


My brother had a saying as a tot when he wanted a repeat performance of a mechanical toy, "Make it again go". That's how I felt the other day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

FROM SUSAN

That's my Susan, in the red and black blouse.
That's her son, Justin, in the white shirt.
Susan sent a piece today that she had written about a recent experience. I'm feeling the desire to share it with you. Here goes:



Quick Trip to the Zoo

Jill, my best friend for more than twenty years, is practically a second mom to my two children, now 27 and 31. Last week she gave my son Justin and me personalized annual passes to the Anchorage Zoo. She had taken her visiting niece there a month prior and thought it would be a great activity for Justin and me to participate in together for an entire year. My family is very fortunate that Jill is so gracious and has afforded us opportunities we otherwise would not have. We are grateful.

The last time I was at the zoo was probably twelve years ago. Justin was much younger, his wheelchair much smaller and he, himself, was about 100 pounds lighter. Back then the gravel paths were challenging but manageable. Of course I was much younger then.

When we arrived my heart sank a little seeing how much deeper the gravel is now, but darn it, we were going to have fun! We showed our passes and begin down the gravel path to the learning center area where we had decided to attend, ‘All About Reptiles’. 

The path began as a slight decline; I gathered momentum and velocity, Justin doing his best to assist. Then the path became an incline. So as not to lose the slow speed I had achieved, I didn’t want to stop at the exhibits as we passed on the way to our destination. “Quick! look, Justin, on your right, Snowy Owl, like in Harry Potter. There on your left, Golden Eagle, related to the Bald Eagle. On your right, porcupines, live ones not like the ones we see on the side of the road.” My voice now breathy. “Alpacas, sweaters, sock and scarves.” “Ahead of us Musk Ox”, Justin states, 'I’ve been to the Musk Ox farm', “Good, because we are not stopping”.

We reached the top of the incline and stopped to readjust my undergarments, catch my breath. Next to us was the Black Yak enclosure. We could see three Yaks, one had his head through the railing and stood motionless, staring straight ahead, not blinking. Justin said, “He looks sad”, I agreed. My heart rate close to normal, again breathing evenly, we continued just a few yards to the oasis of the grassy learning area, a welcome sight.

Folding chairs were already aligned in rows. Justin sat in his wheelchair at the end of the second row and I sat to his left. Because we were early we got to see the zoo keepers set up the exhibit. Within the metal playpens they put a variety of turtles. There were a couple of totes that remained unopened.

   At 7pm, the rows were now filled with families with children, visiting grandparents, tourists. The Instructor introduced herself, explaining the many years of impressive training and degrees she had acquired in her years of schooling. She explained that the evening’s lecture was “All About Reptiles”. Did anyone have any questions to start with?  Justin’s hand shot up, my stomach flinched, “The Yak seems depressed”. The instructor replied, “Probably because he is getting castrated tomorrow”. Justin: “What does that mean?” the crowd was quiet. The instructor looked to me as if I was going to whisper the answer to him. I didn’t and waited for her highly degreed answer. “That means he won’t be able to reproduce and create more Yaks.” Justin was satisfied with her answer. I did turn and whisper, “His testicles are being removed” Justin’s eyes got big but he didn’t say anything. We listened to the lecture and learned what was in the tote, a ball snake that the instructor wrapped around her neck. She explained that box turtles, geckos, lizards and other reptiles don't make especially good pets. The audience was told that after the lecture folks were welcome to touch the turtles and ball snake, although they do carry diseases such as salmonella. Hand sanitizer was available.

We headed back to the parking area, much easier going downhill. We are both good sports and laughed about our, ‘speed dating’ zoo experience. Justin sat on a bench as I dismantled his wheelchair to fit in my small car.  Once home he entered his house, bathroom bound, his housemate and staff in the living room. As he passed by them they asked, “How was the trip to the zoo?” As he hurried by them on his mission he said, “Good. The Yak is getting incarcerated tomorrow”.
 

Such is life with Justin, every outing an adventure…………………….







Wednesday, August 8, 2012

OOPS!

When I went to toss my little notebook pages  full of food recollections, I saw that I left out a few and for my own self in the future I thought I should rectify that. And then we'll give the subject a rest and go on to something else.

Glendale, CA        Hondo's
                 ≈This restaurant no longer exists.
                   It was owned by the man who
                   has several other eating places
                   in the area, The Black Cow, the
                   Star, Jax and Clancy's and a 
                   hamburger place whose name
                   escapes me. At any rate, I used
                   to order enchiladas Suissa there.

Morro Bay, California   Hoppe's Annex
                  ≈Nowadays, Hoppe's is a highly
                    successful restaurant in                        
                    Cayucos and the smaller place
                    in Morro Bay has long been
                    closed. I loved the halibut in
                    lemon beurre blanc. Not usually
                    a fish lover, I made an excep-
                    tion for this.

Memphis, TN   Peabody Hotel cafe
                   ≈Perhaps this eating spot had
                     its own name. Never mind, the
                     mile high cake we had was
                     unforgettable. It gave me an
                     added appreciation for 
                     Southern desserts.

Los Angeles, CA     Tam o' Shanter
                  ≈My daughter, prone to mala-
                    propisms, refers to this as 
                    "Shanty Lanterns". Lots of
                    tasty items on the menu. If you
                    eat in the bar area you can order
                    brisket sandwiches with 
                    homemade potato chips and
                    cole slaw on the side.

Glendale, CA     Panda Inn
                  ≈This is where I first tasted
                     honey walnut shrimp. Many
                     Chinese restaurants have it
                     on their menus. Somehow the
                     idea of mayonnaise in Chinese
                     cuisine is curious, but it works.

La Cañada, CA       Min's Kitchen
                  ≈Often, customers call the 
                     charming owner/hostess by
                     the name of "Min", whereas
                     her name is "Toi". Thirty years
                     ago, she brought us hot & 
                     sour soup one evening when
                     we were keeping the shop 
                     open late in December. What
                     a memorable kindness! Today
                     I'd order her lemon prawns
                     (the sauce is akin to lemon pie
                     filling) and sizzling beef for
                     which she uses ribeye steak.

Westwood, L.A., CA     Bit o' Scotland
                     ≈We used to drive across town
                     to avail ourselves of their fish
                     and chips. Now for that we
                     head to Clancy's in Glendale.
                     I always seem to need extra
                     tartar sauce. It's at Clancy's
                     also that the cedar plank
                     salmon is outstanding.

Carmel, California      La Boheme
                    ≈We enjoyed many a meal here
                       before the owner decided to
                       close. It was a tiny restaurant
                       within which someone de-
                       cided to construct a tiny room
                       where we always hoped to 
                       be seated. Our wish was
                       granted one freezing cold
                       night (truly...many plants
                       up and died that winter) and
                       I remember it for the atmos-
                       phere mostly, but the food was
                       always outstanding.                             
    
Carmel, CA               EmLe's
                      ≈ Another casualty in the
                       world of restaurants (food
                       places have the highest rate
                       of mortality, followed closely
                       by bookstores.) This was
                       where I first tasted French
                       toast dipped in cornflakes. 
                       At the time it was unusual.
                      
Glendale, CA         Damon's
                    ≈Prime rib, always, and the
                      garlic bread, especially on the
                      nights that the cook has a 
                      heavy hand with the butter.

Verdugo City, CA     El Sol
                    ≈This has to be our favorite
                       Mexican restaurant, owned
                       and operated by Manuel and
                       his wife, Ana. The carnitas
                       is fantastic here along with
                       everything else.

Glendale, CA            Magic Wok
                     ≈Orange chicken every time. I
                        once asked why they didn't 
                        offer honey walnut shrimp,
                        Patrick pointed it out on the
                        lunch menu but it can be 
                        ordered any time.
                             

     Where is Mr. Bob's food? And why does
he look so dour? 'Tis true that he ate to live whereas I live to eat. Darn!
                
       


                   


Tuesday, August 7, 2012





STILL REMEMBERING FOOD

IKEA, any old where. Ours is in Burbank.

             ≈I've not been there lately, so I can                    
                  only hope they're still offering
                  Swedish meatballs, potatoes and
                  a dollop of lingonberry sauce.



         
Arcadia, CA                    Din Tai Fung
                     ≈We always order the juicy 
                        pork dumplings and the 
                        spicy green beans. It's too
                        good to think about changing.
       
Glendale, CA       Dinah's
                          ≈At a longtime Glendale landmark, you can get a
                            2 piece plate with a side order and a roll with
                            apple butter for under $6.


Glendora, CA      The Donut Man
                          ≈It's a long way to go for a doughnut, but where
                            else can you get such yummy stuff?      














Los Angeles, Tam 'O Shanter
                  ≈There are many
                     reasons to visit    
                     this well-loved
                     restaurant, not
                     the least of which
                     is that they offer
                     a C.C.Brown hot
                     fudge sundae.


Pasadena, CA,   Pie 'N Burger                                
                   ≈In 'N Out burgers may be almost just as good but  
                     you can't end your meal with a slice of pie.
I'm not a fan of French fries usually, but I discovered that if I order them "Medium well", it's a different matter.

Various locations, Beard Papa 
                       ≈Cream puffs, par excellence!

                          Eagle Rock, CA,      Camilo's
≈Too sinful to indulge in mini
pecan waffles very often. I justify ordering them on special occasions such as Mother's Day

Montrose, CA          Divina Cucina
                         ≈Even when spaghetti a la carbonara doesn't
                           show on the menu, most Italian restaurants are
                           willing to put a serving together.


Los Angeles, CA       Pacific Dining Car
                     ≈ Eggs, scrambled with chunks of cream cheese are
                        so much better than plain scrambled eggs. And
                        easy to make at home.

At home....... I've heard this referred to as "toad in the hole", but
that's not what I call it. Cut a hole in the center of a slice of
bread. Drop an egg in it, fry to the doneness you like. Voila!


P.S. This entry has challenged me for hours. When I changed the text to "large" (so you could read it) everything went out of kilter. For the sake of sanity, I'm through. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


FOOD RECOLLECTIONS

Something I came across in our recent purging spell was a little notebook in which I  noted memorable foods. Yes, of course it should be thrown away. Anyone in his right mind would toss it without a second thought.  If I share my jottings with you, that will help me release the pages to the round file.

In Amsterdam I discovered
        ≈French fries served with mayonnaise
          (much better than ketchup, methinks)
In France I still remember       
        ≈a seedless raspberry tart. How, I                        
            wonder, was that produced?
         ≈Icky cheese.....I'm not fond of smelly
            cheeses. When I was asked if I 
            would like some Stilton, I politely
            said, "No, thank you" and the lady
            misunderstood and put a sizable
            slice of it on my plate. 
          ≈Rising before dawn to get to a 
            famous antique sale, we ate at an 
            obscure cafe. A basket of fresh
            croissants on the table made even the
            scrambled eggs memorable.

In England
          ≈Fish and chips lived up to their
            reputation.
          ≈Breakfasts in the B&Bs....always
            including tomatoes and limp bacon
          ≈In one pub after dinner, dessert was
            served.......cheesecake under a 
            mound of real whipped cream.

Ruth's Chris
          ≈The prices will prohibit another
             visit, but I'll always remember the
             sizzling ribeye steak, served with
             a pat of butter on top.

Louisville, KY
          ≈In a little cafe on the river road, we
            were served hot pulled pork sand-
            witches long before they became
            popular here.

Honolulu, Hawaii
          ≈Seeking out real Hawaiian food, we
            ate at an unpretentious cafe that
            served pork, swimming in its own fat,
            greens and poi. I don't remember it
            for the food, but for the huge male
            customers that ate there.

Los Angeles, CA, Philippe's
          ≈The double dipped pork sandwiches
             drew us across town. We added
             hot, hot mustard and a scoop of
             cole slaw and moaned with pleasure.
             One time when I suggested having
             supper there, we hopped in the car, 
             drove to Philippe's and on returning
             home found that in our haste we'd
             neglected to close the front door. 

Claremont, CA, Walter's
           ≈I could never order anything other
             than the lamb burrito.
             Fabulous! Lamb cooked 
             with sauce, baked beans and cheese
             inside a flour tortilla topped with
             sour cream and alfalfa sprouts,
             served with Afghan potatoes.


           ≈In my experience, no waffle can
             compare to the one served by Ole's
             in Alameda, California. Crisp, 
             tender, good!

Oakland, CA, The Lighthouse
           ≈Garlicky chicken wings...bleu
             cheese is the traditional thing to
             serve with them, but I prefer the
             ranch dressing.

Culinary Institute of New Orleans
             ≈With an Elderhostel group we
                went here for a cooking demon-
                stration and discovered how much
                I liked gumbo. It was there that
                the chef said, "If you are cooking
                with electricity, there's only one
                thing to do. Move."

Arcadia, CA, Moffats
                ≈THE place to go for chicken pies
                   if you like them filled with 
                   gravy and chicken, no peas.           
                   my opinion, the healthy stuff
                   should be served on the side.

Glendale, CA, Café du Monde
               ≈Alas, this restaurant closed years
                 ago, but I remember so well
                 their garlic soup and steak au
                 poivre vert (a dish I learned to 
                 make at home.)

Glendale, CA,  Jax
                ≈Baby back ribs are always our 
                  choice here.......when am I going
                  to learn that it's no longer "we", 
                  but "my"......?

Montrose, CA, Town Deli
                ≈Another restaurant of the past.
                  Love their version of Chinese
                  Chicken Salad, even if the owner
                  was Mexican.

Bar Harbor, ME
                ≈It was in a restaurant
                  here that I ate the only
                  lobster roll I've ever had.
                  It was utterly delicious.

Nova Scotia
                ≈On the same trip, it was
                  here that I ate a lemon
                  ice box dessert that was so
                  good that I ordered a
                  second one (and I was
                  much smaller then)

Eagle Rock, CA,  Casa Bianca
                ≈If you time it just right
                  and arrive at opening time
                  you can be seated at
                  once......otherwise prepare
                  to wait. I'm sure all the
                  dishes are good here, but
                  we always ordered pizza.

I think this needs to be done in two parts, so we'll finish it tomorrow. Okay?
                 
 Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?  
                                      ~Author Unknown            

Sunday, August 5, 2012


MEMORIAL MEMORIES



In sorting through the stacks of cards that have arrived over the past six months........get well cards, birthday cards, thinking-of-you cards and messages of condolence, there was a letter from Lisa (pictured above) that I thought summed up Mr. Bob's memorial service better than anything I could write and I'd like to share it with you here.

                         ††††††††††††††††††††††

Dear Jane,

Words are not easy to find.

I didn't want to write until after Bob's memorial. I was sure I would learn a great deal from the Humphrey approach to a major Life event......always with inspiration, imagination, creativity and heart. I knew I would be touched. I knew I would find many valuable lessons. I did not know it would transcend any memorial I've ever attended. It was absolutely perfect from the warm greetings, to the beautiful photographs, to the heartfelt words, to the cloud of pure love emanating from the room. Your family was absolutely beautiful, each and every one. They did their father and their grandfather and their mother proud.

Tim's solo, joined by the jazz band was one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard. It expressed what could never be said with words. And, to end with "When the Saints Go Marching In" and the proud parade of the jazz umbrella.......was to know, without doubt, that a saint went marching in.

I found myself celebrating how loudly Bob lived.....in a very quiet way. I learned so much in his presence. People who live out loud never seem to have the same powerful effect of men like Bob who have no need to brag and boast. Actions define them. I was enheartened by those observations. I watched a real man love his life, his family, his wife, and his friends while saying very few words.

One of my indelible memories will always be the example you both set as husband and wife. It is unparalleled and will always guide me.......perfect in any imperfections, sweeter than any relationship I have ever observed. I have watched you and Bob live it consistently. You were incredible teachers.

The other words that will linger was the compliment that will always define you and Bob........that you changed the Manor. Your presence, your energy, your creativity, your warmth, your service ....gave it new heart, new soul. How beautifully the words were shared and how much it compliments you and Bob. That is a legacy!  That is something to strive for.......and you accomplished that by the sincere act of being yourselves!


Again, I am enheartened.
                                                                All my love,
                                                                              Lisa
Tim spoke of the music that his dad had appreciated.

Tim had taken a few clarinet lessons ten years ago, soon giving it up.
His playing at the memorial came as a complete surprise.

The Golden Eagle Jazz Band marched in after Tim played the opening bars.

Mr. Bob would have loved the music, but he'd never in the world have believed his memorial would draw such a crowd.


My words were few. I said that I had indeed married well and that Mr. Bob would be sorely missed.
Owen and his cousin, Ethan, were models of decorum
during the memorial.

Jeanine had spoken earlier of Mr. Bob winning the
jazz umbrella. He made a gift of it to her and we
were surprised that she brought it to the event and
marched to "When the Saints Go Marching In".

The Manor kitchen prepared a feast of delectable food.

Mr. Bob loved mariachi music, and so did the guests.




Here is Susan and her beautiful daughter and two sons. It was a blessing we
could all be together.

Memorial: A farewell party for someone who already left.z

Saturday, August 4, 2012

FIVE YEARS AGO

My daughter-in-law, Frances, might as well have a PhD in Organization......she's that good at it. She offered to be helpful in sorting through what's in my Assisted Living room, so yesterday, we started the task. Two hours later I was in tears at the need to dump so much of what I had thought to be important. Letters from authors and illustrators, lots of little notebooks with tidbits of information, important to no one but myself, articles about places I'd hoped to visit, restaurant possibilities. Goodbye to all of it.

One thing I happened across was the draft of the speech I gave at Chris and Frances's wedding banquet five years ago. It was one of the happiest occasions I'd ever attended. Wait.......it was THE most jubilant gathering of my life (tied, perhaps, by Mr. Bob's memorial service.....more on that tomorrow).

Here's what I had to say:

I can't tell you how happy I am to be here at this celebration. Most of you are probably aware that Chris and Frances have known each other for 20 years and have been "an item" for the last twelve years. Tonight I have a few words to say about patience.


Christopher, from birth, has always done things in his own good time and in his own way. When he was two years old we enrolled in a Mommy & Me class and on the first day of the session he refused the offer of bells and wouldn't march with the other children in a circle. He stood close by my side and watched. This went on for week after week until finally one day he accepted the bells and joined in the march.........never mind that he went in the opposite direction of his classmates.  I felt that my patience had paid off.

Several years ago Frances related an interesting story about something that had happened with a friend and I said, "Frances, we should have a party so I could meet all of your interesting friends." and Frances's answer surprised me when she said, "That would be called a wedding." At that time there were no upcoming plans for a marriage between our son and his beloved Frances, but patience was called into practice......and here we are tonight, celebrating with family and friends that wedding which took place yesterday.

Along with wishing this perfectly matched couple a long and happy marriage, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Hui family for the patience you've displayed and to assure you that when a Humphrey male finally commits with his heart and soul, it's forever.


                                                                                                                            Next, Mr. Bob said a few words during which his emotions rose to the surface. It was an evening of happy tears, laughter, and tremendous good cheer as the occupants of the head table worked their way through the room to give each guest the opportunity to toast the newlyweds.



 
I'm not at all sure that I didn't blog about this five years ago. I hope your memory of reading about it is as foggy as my own.















Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.Saadi