Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Isn't this just about as good as it gets when it comes to showing the joy of becoming grandparents? Our friends, Bill and Susie, welcome their first grandchild, Master William James Martin.
We wish you a long and happy life, little one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don Meike

To set the scene, we need to introduce you to our friends, Nadine and Mickey. Longtime Glendale residents, they moved in to the Manor just a few months after we did. 

 As sometimes happens, the 4 of us resonated. I'm the only one of us who drives which is handy if we get the urge to eat Mexican food or if Mickey needs some items from the market. 

Came the day when a new librarian was needed. Neither Nadine nor I wanted to take on the full responsibilities, so we agreed to co-chair the position. It's working very well. 

These are
people who are very generous about
sharing their family and friends. I know
the feeling of wanting my loved ones
to get acquainted with one another.
Not everyone feels that way. To each
his own. We've met and dined with the daughter and son-in-law of these friends........on their way between Portland, Oregon and New Zealand.......they travel endlessly back
and forth. We've been introduced to
some of their former neighbors, one of whom assisted Mr. Bob in contacting the right person at the Department of Motor Vehicles to help in the process of regaining his driver license. Special people, all.

This week Nadine had a telephone conversation with a longtime friend of theirs in Wyoming, who seemingly on the spur of the moment decided to fly down to visit. Too much time had gone by since they were last together. Two days later he appeared at the Manor. We were invited to join them at dinner yesterday.

The friend's name is Don Meike and he's a sheep rancher in Wyoming. His brother had to stay home this time to oversee the 4500 sheep.

As usual I was full of questions. Did the sheepdogs arrive as trained animals? (No.....most of the tendencies are inherent, the training hones the skill of how it's to be done) Does a dog ever fail the test? (Yes, they have one right now that is too friendly to herd sheep) How big is the town of Kaycee? (250 people) Would you mind terribly if I photographed your belt buckle? (Go right ahead)

Mr. Bob, just the other evening, had watched a documentary on wolves, so that provided a subject of conversation and produced a story that made me want to share our experience with you. He told us that wolves had not always been the problem that they are now for livestock and that somehow the government had been involved (just how, I don't recall......perhaps in naming the wolf as an endangered species.) And Don told the story about the time he was addressing Congress and trying to get across a point. In trying to convince the legislative assembly that a national plan doesn't necessarily work for all states, he used the following example. In his small town of Kaycee, WY when a traffic problem arose, it was solved by putting in a 4 way STOP sign. He questioned whether the same solution would work in Washington DC's traffic congestion. Not one Congressman "got" it, not even enough to smile at the absurdity of the idea. Politics.

I wish I'd asked to take a picture of his boots. He leaves for home tomorrow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Not until I Googled McDonald's McRib sandwich, did I realize it's been available nationwide only twice before. Count us in as fans although we're people that go to McDonald's only when we're traveling and then we use it as a rest stop, buying coffee to take out in order keep ourselves honest. We do, after all, have scruples. Allow me to digress. While on a road trip, we've found that the very best and by far the cleanest restrooms are to be found in Visitors' Information Bureaus. Just a hint......but it took us years to come to that realization.

Let's go back to the sandwich. Its detractors refer to it as being made out of "mystery meat". My guess is that it's simply ground pork. The fact that it is then shaped into a mold resembling a rack of ribs seems a little overly ambitious to me, especially when it's then covered with barbecue sauce and hidden away in a bun.

Last week we snuck out of the Manor and indulged in a McRib sandwich not just once but on 2 occasions.

We discovered that lunch can't be ordered before 10:30, which is the decreed minute that breakfast is over. None of this "Breakfast served all day" for McDonald's.

Our orders were placed at 10:31 for we skipped breakfast those days and considered our McRib sandwiches as a sort of brunch.
When I told Tim what we had done, I halfway expected him to look down his nose at such lowbrow food, but his comment was, "I always eat 2 at a sitting".

So, you have 1 more week to see if you like this rare treat (rare as in "few and far between" rather than "under cooked", for it is pork, after all). You might like it; you might not, but the Humphreys are smitten with McRib sandwiches.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Mr. Bob is partial to Reyn Spooner shirts and yesterday was the time to wear the special one for Thanksgiving.

When people asked what our holiday plans were and we said we were taking Thanksgiving dinner to a friend in the hospital, the response was always, "How nice of you!" I didn't consider it in the realm of "nice". We just wanted to be with the friends we've long celebrated with on this least commercial of all holidays.

 The roads were clear at 3 in the afternoon when we drove to Conrad's to pick up our order for 5 turkey dinners. Refusing help from Tim, Mr. Bob marched with his cane into the restaurant but soon called for assistance.

Once at the hospital, the cart was loaded up and we headed for the cafeteria,
a spacious room, mostly empty and we chose a table. We bought the tablecloth and napkins at the last minute. Orange had been snapped up, so I settled for green without knowing it would match the upholstery of the chairs,  with yellow napkins and plastic cutlery.

Tim had thought to bring something for a centerpiece and set up the flickering LED candles, the miniature Indian corn and tiny pumpkins. Martinelli's was the drink of the day.

And for restaurant food, the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and green beans were quite delicious, even eaten from styrofoam.

Our mutual friend, Fiona (she's in her 90s and had been to 2 dinners ahead of stopping at the hospital.....not only that, but had parked far, far away, climbing a steep hill in the dark to get to us) joined us and after seeing our plight of trying to take a self-timed photo, a kind soul offered to take a group photo to appease my sense of needing to document everything. 

It was lovely to be together and there was no doubt about what we counted as being at the top of our list of things for which to be thankful. Roger had come back to us after many dark and scary days. As Diane pushed the wheelchair back to Roger's room, we departed, driving Fiona to her faraway car. Thanksgiving 2010 was over. And it had been one to remember.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The above 3 turkeys were seen at St. Orres, the place I wrote about yesterday. Whether the photo was taken by Christopher or by me, I don't know. There are ways of finding out, but I've already spent my spare time figuring out what to share with you for Thanksgiving.
Progress has rendered my traditional holiday movie too far away to reach, in spite of my efforts. A new film needs to be made anyway so that Owen can be included; movie editing is a skill I hope to regain in my weekly computer lessons. 

Here are some pictures from past Novembers. Thank goodness for flickr where so many of our pictures reside. It took a little searching, but these are a few I found. As a shopkeeper I admired this high-class hardware store's show window. Customers were asked to write on scraps of paper what they were thankful for.

Unless we've been out of town at this time of year we've always gathered with Diane and Roger for Thanksgiving dinners. Sometimes we've eaten out, learning one year that a sunny, 3 o'clock reservation was too early and we all agreed that prime rib was not an acceptable substitute for turkey; other times Diane has cooked, or we've purchased complete dinners from an enterprising restaurant. But we've almost always celebrated together. 

With Roger in the hospital this year, we have a different plan and we'll let you know more about it tomorrow. The next photo shows them some years ago, working diligently in their kitchen ahead of our sitting down at their big dining table. Remember the pictures

 taken from their balcony of the scene below as we gathered for the feast? I don't have a copy at hand, but this is a detail. My rosy cheeks tell me that wine has already been poured and quaffed.

One November our favorite jazz group included a Sousaphone with an appropriate cover on it showing a turkey with a picket sign reading, EAT PORK.

I walk a wide swath around turkey meatloaf and turkey burgers and turkey bacon. I know some of it's tasty, but my rebellious nature forgets that. We do like the roasted bird, however. Dark meat, please.

Forgive me, Tim. I've not learned how to put 2 pictures side by side or I'd include the one of me obviously suffering indigestion. I owe you one.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Chris and Frances visited here and told us about it with so much enthusiasm that we, being in our hedonistic phase, called and made reservations for 3 nights in September, 2004.  When the time came to depart, the trip north brought much pleasure as we paused halfway to visit family and friends and then continued north on the winding Highway 1 with its  spectacular views of the California coast.

Upon arrival, we were assigned to Rose Cottage. The rustic exterior

belied what lay within. We opened the door to find a living room with a Franklin wood burning stove, Persian rug, comfy sofa and chair. The tiny kitchen had standing room only for one adult and we ascended the 3 steps to a sleeping area with a queen-size bed.

The bathroom was outfitted with a deep, deep tub, the likes of which we'd never seen. I think it was designed for youthful, limber individuals. We bathed in awe with neither grace nor ease.

The cabin was situated in a meadow populated by friendly, wild turkeys and occasionally we spotted deer. At a distance we could see the Pacific Ocean. There was a fine restaurant on the premises. Everywhere we looked, there were artistic touches added to the beautiful landscape.

We were experiencing perfection, except...................................... we were out of sorts with each other. I can't remember now what the quarrel was about, but I recall knowing full well at the time that we were spoiling our holiday; but neither one of us seemed capable of rising above the small-minded altercation.

Later, into my possession came a greeting card that I'll never send. The message is worth keeping as a reminder for the future. In the words of Ralph Emerson:

"For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness."

We had robbed ourselves of 3 days of happiness by allowing personal turbulence within such supreme tranquility. Near the end of our extremely silent 3 day sojourn, I took my journal and paintbox out onto the deck and recorded the placid view, so I could remember it all.

Of this I am relatively sure; every journey has its own individual character, but it doesn't alleviate the responsibility of bringing our best selves to the experience. Most of our travels have been filled with happy discoveries and good humor, but every once in a while there's a surprise in store. The Gualala cottage episode was one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I give up

Today I wrote the best blog yet and the computer swallowed it up. So we went out and bought a new computer which I won't get until tomorrow or the next day.

And I'm going to begin taking weekly lessons again and then watch me go!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


 For six weeks every fall, Glenna Beaver’s kitchen becomes a workshop for producing the peanut brittle we anticipate around holiday time. 

In between serving residents picking up their orders, Glenna took the time to tell me a little about her annual project. When just a child in Oklahoma, her mother took orders for peanut brittle and Glenna remembers disliking the mess that resulted in the kitchen and even worse, the task of delivering the finished candy. 

However, history repeated itself, when Glenna, as a young bride, decided in 1963 to earn a little extra money in the same way her mother had. That first year she sold 12 bags and felt very proud that she made enough money to buy her husband a Christmas present with her own earnings. 

The second year, sales increased to 20 bags. She finished delivering the candy by Christmas and was delivered of her first baby on January 6.

Years ago, Glenna’s mother-in-law worked here at the Manor as a bookkeeper. Thus, word got out about the special peanut brittle and since that time it’s become a tradition to place our orders. Last year Glenna sold 756 bags; this year’s count won’t be completed until the last bag has been delivered. Although we are her major account, word of mouth brings orders from people who hear about this delicious confection. 

Proudly, she told me that her candy is sent by customers to lucky recipients in Cambodia (last year some went by way of Colombia, arriving in February, still edible), the Czech Republic, the Philippines and Australia.

One batch makes 2 bags; each bag holds 1 1/4 pounds of peanut brittle. Glenna admits that it’s easier these days to make 945 pounds of candy without children underfoot. Her 2 offspring are grown and have given her and her husband 4 grandchildren and 1 1/2 great-grandchildren.

The recipe is little different from others, but what makes it special and so sought after is the way she pulls and stretches the brittle, making it so delicately thin that there's little danger of breaking a tooth when eating it. As she cooks, she isn't tempted to taste test, but she admitted to nibbling on the crumbs sometimes. Her advice is that we not attempt to freeze the peanut brittle, but crumbs can be frozen and put on ice cream (don’t thaw them first, or a goopy mess will result). 

As she gathers candy making supplies each fall, it’s exciting to anticipate the start of peanut brittle season, but about halfway through Glenna begins to think that this year might be the last. Hopefully, that feeling will fade by autumn of 2011.

Glenna Beaver, of peanut brittle fame

Friday, November 19, 2010

THE SIBLING (archival)

"The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out his nose."  ~Garrison Keillor
Frank and Maxwell

Frank is an excellent, creative cook

Our son, Chris, owns Frank's intricate horticultural study.

Self portrait

I have one brother. He's four years younger than I and lives in Santa Barbara. He was hip before it was hip to be hip and he still outdistances me in the area of being avant-garde. His life has been full of wine, beautiful women and music. His travels have been unusually interesting. He  hosts a radio program which I can't quite seem to access, but I know beyond doubt that it is innovative.  He once had a one-man-show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Maxwell, a West Highland Terrier, is his constant companion.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


You all know this man:

Last January, Mr. Bob collided with a car waiting to make a left hand turn and the policeman who witnessed the event, confiscated Mr. Bob's license. Previous to that fateful evening, Mr. Bob had a flawless driving record. His four year old van had none of the dents and scratches that often begin to appear on an older person's vehicle. In the ensuing ten months, as Mr. Bob attempted to regain his license, he visited the DMV, his primary doctor, a neurologist, an orthopedic surgeon, weathered several MRIs, saw a back doctor and a physical therapy group, and was no closer to getting his license back than he'd been on February 1. At long last he was put in touch with Glendale Adventist Hospital's Driver Rehabilitation Program where he's undergone an evaluation, and is now working toward getting a Learner's Permit and eventually a road test. Meanwhile he's going for physical therapy twice a week, learning strengthening exercises for a weak leg and ankle.

Now, meet our long-time friend, Roger 
For some time, Roger's been battling cancer and undergoing rigorous chemotherapy sessions. In September as chemo was being administered, a mysterious complication took place, putting him immediately into the hospital. Chills, high fever, uncontrollable coughing, eventual sedation lasting nearly a month, give or take a few days, seven perplexed doctors, massive doses of antibiotics and more medical wrinkled brows. Best that can be said now is that it was some sort of unnamed pneumonia. Somewhere in that time Roger suffered a stroke. His speech and creative thinking has returned 100%, but he's needing to learn to walk all over again. Recently he was transferred from Verdugo Hills Hospital, close to his home down to Glendale Adventist Hospital and wonder of wonders, he and Mr. Bob are undergoing therapy in the same room at the same time. 
What are the chances of that happening?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


While wondering if I've taken on too much with the resumption of this daily web log, I had an idea which may or may not be a good one. For a long time I've gathered photos into a folder to be considered for blog illustration. Many of them have never been used. What if, on days when there's nothing manorial to report, I took a picture a day and said a few words about it? I don't want to get into a habit of living in bygone days, but some of what happened is worth revisiting once in a while. So...........

It wasn't quite the gypsy wagon I'd yearned for, but it was a self-contained little house on wheels. I was ecstatic at thoughts of the possibilities it offered. Mr. Bob was thrilled at the idea of having his bathroom with him at all times. Over the few years we owned it, we traveled as far as Newport Dunes and Canyon Country and Bakersfield and we spent a freezing cold night in an RV park on the Central Coast. With friends we traveled up Hwy. 395 to the Carson River Valley. Once we even managed to get as far as Northern California. My memories of it are good ones. I especially liked exploring the tiny stores in campgrounds and fantasized about being a buyer for those retail outlets.  We had the motorhome long enough to widen the driveway at considerable expense. In those days we were busy with the bookstore and as the vehicle sat, unused in the new expanse of concrete, I had dreams of turning it into my little art studio......a place to get away from it all, but before that came to pass, we sold it.
When you ask him these days why we let it go, Mr. Bob contends that it was too difficult to pull it into the driveway with my inadequate walkie-talkie instructions.

                                            Driveway sans motorhome

Monday, November 15, 2010


Usually if you observed that your neighbors were WASPs, it would mean that you thought they were white, Anglo Saxon Protestants. In our situation, the word refers to real insects.

For a while it was a novelty to watch the wasps working on their geometrically constructed nest on the other side of the glass in our living room window. Back and forth they'd fly between the nest and a drain on the overhang. Activity seemed more concentrated in the afternoons, probably when the sun had peaked to the other side of our high-rise. Often it was more entertaining to watch than what was on TV.

Twice during the last few days, a wasp managed to squeeze between the screen and the window frame. As I watched with pounding heart, Mr. Bob managed to get it back out by loosening the screen. Possibly I'm being paranoid, but it seemed to me that the colony had decided it was imperative to gain entrance to the inside of the building through our living quarters.

I had a friend once who, when she'd experienced the last straw would say, "Well, THAT rips the rag off the bush!!!" which is exactly how we felt when Mr. Bob found a wasp crawling on the carpet between our two rooms. He stepped on it (forgive him, God and Albert Schweitzer) but wasps don't die easily. A battle ensued before Mr. Bob won. At my insistence, maintenance was called. Mr. Bob, in his excitement, managed to drop a large window screen down four stories without injuring a resident below and there followed a blurred scene involving a ladder, two men, a spray can of hornet poison and Mr. Bob quivering with the exhilaration that all males in our family experience at times of crisis. I fled to the end of the hall until the exterminators carrying their ladder rang for the elevator. Only then did I return.

I'm not sure the proper procedure was followed. There is still some wasp activity today.

"When you are in politics you are in a wasp's nest with a short shirt-tail, as the saying is."
                                                                                        ~Mark Twain


My learning curve has a very big arch. I've no idea what that actually means, but I mean for it to indicate that I don't learn easily. Just ask either one of my sons how well I learn computer stuff.

I'm not sure why I couldn't get more cruise pictures posted yesterday before giving up and publishing prematurely. There's not a great lot more to say about our trip other than that Mr. Bob and I stayed on board and let Tim do any exploring that was to be done at the three ports. He stayed on the ship at Mazatlan, but ventured out in Puerta Vallarta and Cabo san Lucas. Mr. Bob and I are hesitant to take scheduled tours ever since years ago when a float plane ran out of gas and sank in the water while we were docked at an Alaskan port. Our departure was delayed while there was a search for bodies. When we did sail, it was with three fewer passengers less than expected.

That has nothing whatsoever to do with our Mexican cruise, but we stayed aboard and looked out the windows. My memory of cruising to Mexico in 1973 includes disembarking amidst a crush of beggars and taxicabs, neither of which I knew what to do about. That's all changed in these modern times.  Now shuttles take passengers back and forth between the ships and the town. 

I enjoyed watching people return to the Mother Ship, most of them carrying bags of purchases. I wondered what they contained, but needed to use my imagination for there was no way of knowing what tempted people to part with their pesos. As I planned this trip, I had every intention of buying Mr. Bob a guayabera, also known as a Mexican wedding shirt, but it will need to wait until our next trip to Olvera Street. Much as I love to shop, bargaining is not among my talents and I'm pretty sure that in Mexico negotiating a price is part of the game.

In Puerta Vallarta, we watched and watched in the afternoon from our window high on the ship for Tim to return from town. Departure time drew closer and closer ....... 20 minutes to go, 15, 10.......if I were a nail biter, I'd have chewed........5 minutes, still no sight of him. After we pulled away from the dock, I went to our cabin, sat myself down, and commanded my mother-self to become tranquil. Breath deeply........all is well........it's not the end of the world. Shortly, Tim popped his smiling head in the door...........it was one of those moments when one doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. He'd been back on board for 2 hours.....long before we'd started to watch for him. Damn! 

I told myself ahead of the trip that I was NOT going to be the sort of mother that Marie was on "Everybody Loves Raymond" or George's mother on "Seinfeld". It seems I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure I'm not that deplorable example of a maternal figure and then it sometimes turns out that, like it or not, I am exactly that. No amount of self-talk produced restful sleep the second night out when Tim sallied forth to take part in some night life. I was aware that he was still out when I awakened at 1:30, but it wasn't anything to cause concern. But as the wee hours of the morning got wee--er, my imagination started to soar and it spun such scenes of possibility that my sleep came in ragged patches by the time he rolled in at 6:30 a.m. Before my thoughts were made audible, he sprawled across the foot of our bed and regaled me with tales of the night that made me understand where the time had gone. He had had the time of his life and how lucky I was that he chose to share it with us.

 Did you notice that I hadn't mentioned food? One reader accused me of ususally having food as my main subject and that isn't far from the truth. I mustn't disappoint  Mr. Jim who eats to live rather than the other way around, so I'll close with two photos, one of a dinner entrĂ©e and another of the Captain's Farewell Buffet. 

If the above paragraph is underlined, as it appears on my screen, I don't know why it's that way. Another of the mysteries of working on a computer. There's no one to ask, so we'll go along with it.

The best part of returning from this trip was not having to go out in the garden, a place I really do miss, to see if our absence had created a tangled mess or worse yet, what plants had died while we were gone. And we didn't have to drive to the post office to collect our mail.

We had a fine time and even persnickety Tim had nothing but good to say about the trip. It was fun.