Friday, December 31, 2010


Our photos, when we were thirty years old, were nothing to write home about. Remember how we had to have the film developed and I don't know about you, but when we retrieved our prints everything we'd snapped was there in glaring duplicate.......most of it not worth the monies spent. Digital photography is a brilliant idea. While Ryan and Susan were here they snapped away and we'll share with you some of the trip through their eyes.

Never too old to learn
Mother and grown children
Enjoying California
One of the privileges of getting old
is being dropped off while the driver parks the car.
French dipped sandwiches and chili at Philippe's
Interior of Union Station in Los Angeles

The Gamble house in Pasadena, California
Rose Parade float building under the freeway bridge
The whirl of float building activity

We'll close the year by sharing with you a youtube piece that reminds us to observe and celebrate the moments of which our lives  consist. They come and then disappear so quickly that we don't always observe and appreciate them. Every little reminder helps.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


This morning, the time had come to part. If Ben Franklin's observation was correct about fish and visitors smelling after three days, we were the exception to that rule, for the visit of ten days absolutely flew by. Here are the stars of today's story:

Our youngest and our oldest and our only daughter, Susan

26 year old Justin, Susan's younger son

Ryan, soon to be 30, Susan's eldest
Ryan needed to be at the airport at 5 this morning, so we said our goodbyes last evening, just before midnight. He's a night owl, too.
We'd not seen him for a long time and who knows when we'll next be together? He's a journeyman carpenter and has the reputation of being a fine worker.....never late or sick or a laggard on the job. His boss phoned yesterday to assure himself that Ryan would be on the job next Monday. He's been missed.

Susan and Justin's flight was scheduled for 11, so we had time for breakfast together. When the luggage was stowed away and Justin and his wheelchair were situated in the car with Tim at the wheel, we lingered in the lobby, postponing the final farewell. I glanced over at Susan, and saw her dear face all crumpled in the anguish of the moment and of course water came to my own eyes. How difficult it is to let loved ones go, especially when the distance is far and visits are few and far between.

Our mother/daughter relationship has had its ups and downs and perhaps that adds a difficulty to the parting, when things have smoothed out, to let each other go. We both recovered and exchanged a hug. Sandy, covering the desk observed that not all mothers and daughters cry when they part and she found our scene particularly moving. Maybe it's just that we're wimpy. Do you s'pose?

Life hasn't been easy for Susan, raising two boys by herself in a place too far away for family to be of much physical help. This was a very special visit for us, especially at holiday time, to have the family together. We've had many years of lighting a candle at 9 on Christmas morning and thinking of each other in absentia.

The weather was unusually cold for Southern California (not for Alaskans, however), but I didn't feel right about standing at the door and merely waving goodbye to Justin, who continually reminds us how difficult goodbyes are for him, so out I went out to remind him to think happy thoughts and for the hundredth time to assure him that when the Lands End parcel arrives with an article of clothing for each of them, I'd hurry to the mailbox to forward it.

If only I knew how to place photos side by side, the way the one of the boys magically went together above. But I don't.

Now we await word that everyone has arrived safely in Anchorage where it's 24 degrees and dark as night.

It was fun. We got to know Ryan a little better, since we'd not been with him since we went north to see Justin graduate from high school........six, seven or perhaps eight years ago. He has an eye for photography which should be no surprise. He gave us permission to share some of his shots with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


"Damn!" might be more like it.

It seems that Mr. Bob's driving days are over. Hard news to take after eleven months of doing everything we could figure out to get his driver's license back. We went from doctor to doctor to doctor, until the search for answers finally culminated in enrolling in a Driver Rehabilitation Program at a local hospital where therapy and more therapy took place, trying to strengthen the offending weak ankle.  And then the disappointment of being told that the chances of regaining the right to drive were not good. It seems so odd to me that if the whole picture were recognized, it would fall to me to give up my right to navigate the roads whereas the really good driver in the family, Mr. Bob, could climb back in behind the wheel. But it is not to be.

We never took that extended road trip that was part of our plan when we moved into the Manor. One of my fantasies had been to let them know at the main desk that we'd be back in two months and placing one of those master locks on our apartment doorknob, leaving without a care in the world. No worry about accumulating mail or watering the garden.....none of those things that make a homeowner edgy at the thoughts of leaving town.

Luckily, I edited movies of many of our travels so that when the day came that we could no longer explore the backroads, we might sit back in our comfortable rockers, knitted afghans covering our knees, to watch the places we'd been. I didn't expect that day to arrive quite so soon.

We have the memories
Passing a field of oil wells
When the mustard was in bloom
past the Walt Disney Concert Hall

and Victorian houses in Alameda near Oakland
over the Ridge Route in spring when the poppies were in bloom
near Harrah's in Laughlin, NV
and hurrying back home, but that was in a different time; a different place.

We never know what's around the corner, do we?  
 Now we must think in terms of airplanes, trains, buses and taxis. 
Or of staying at home and watching those movies I made a while ago. The lesson in all this must be the reminder to enjoy the moment, appreciating what we have, the precious present at hand.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


You can't have visitors from out of state and then just sit around doing nothing, so yesterday we loaded the car with people. Mr. Bob stayed home with a digestive disability; we waved goodbye and off we went to Los Angeles, with Tim at the wheel. First stop: Philippe, the restaurant that Zagat describes as "The atmosphere is really relaxed; sort of barnyard family style dining" and then goes on to say "Large portions of fresh made and cut food."

We never vary our order at this eating establishment. A French dip pork sandwich, double dipped and cole slaw. Yum. It was its usual busy, crowded self yesterday with eight  l-o-n-g  lines at the deli counter. Susan, Justin and I found a table and didn't mind the wait. It's one of the best places in the world to watch people, drawing a crowd that includes men dressed in business suits and street people who've scraped together enough for a 10¢ cup of coffee.

I don't know when Mr. Bob and I determined that the Philippe meal should be ended with a York peppermint patty, but it continues to be part of the ritual. With that conclusion, we piled into the car again and drove across the street to let Ryan get a glimpse of Los Angeles' Union Station with its Art Deco interior.
I was eager for the kids to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Tim is less impressed than I ...... to each his own, I guess ........ if nothing else, I enjoyed seeing it again. Tim also commented on Los Angeles lacking the energetic bustle that one experiences in New York City or San Francisco. I do remember when in New York, thinking that in comparison, Los Angeles seemed like a sleepy little pueblo.

Forgetting the tourists for a minute, I marveled at the idea of residents being able to sit on their balconies high above the busy street with no more visible support than what I could see on the balustrades. I do think I'd have trouble relaxing and enjoying the view.
Another landmark bookstore is managing to carry on in these most unusual retail times. I think I visited it once, forty years ago. Now I have to figure out how to get to it again. 

"Caravan Book Store: Caravan, at Grand Avenue and Sixth Street, is a Downtown mecca for rare and used books. Established in 1954 on what was then known as Booksellers Row, Caravan is the last antiquarian bookstore in Downtown. Although the shop is virtually surrounded by towering glass and steel skyscrapers, inside is a cozy nook devoted to the books and artifacts of bygone eras. The shop's floor-to-ceiling shelves and wooden cases reveal the colorful bindings of rare books, first editions and out-of-print tomes. Every nook holds a vintage treasure and in one corner, there is an Alice in Wonderland-themed chess set complete with the Queen's men as pawns. Currently, the shop does not have Alice's Adventures in stock; its last copy (a first edition) was recently sold, said proprietor Leonard Bernstein. But, he added, the store has many other Carroll titles."

Scheduled for today............a trip to see how the Rose Parade floats are progressing. Our guests can go back to Alaska in time to watch the parade on television with a little personal experience to enrich the viewing.

Monday, December 27, 2010


'Twas the day after Christmas and Justin wanted to know where Michael Jackson was laid to rest so on the way to Tim's house we drove through Forest Lawn. I'd not thought of the place as being a tourist attraction, although I suppose that long ago it was considered such. Ryan was interested enough to jump out of the car to capture a picture of the rolling hills.

I never see a picture of David without remembering the story of the mother, seated in the front row at our local YMCA on the first night of a sex education session for junior high students, who  when the first slide was shown and it was of the statue of David, fainted dead away at the sight of .......well, you know. How embarrassing it must have been for the daughter.

Even in the days when our meanderings by car were more frequent than they are now, I loved going through Hollywood or Los Angeles and viewing the activity. My father was fond of country driving and I always prayed fervently that our Sunday drives would be through town, but no such luck.......we'd invariably go in the direction of Palmdale where my mother would wax enthusiastic about the moon playing peek-a-boo behind the mountains. Spare me.

Tim's home is warm and welcoming, especially at holiday time and it was a joy to see things that once belonged to us before the dismantling of our household........things I'd forgotten we had passed along to him. His poinsettias were robust, ("What's the secret, Tim?" "Buy them right before people are coming over.") the food delicious and he'd even made pomanders.

His electronics fascinated Ryan, but so did the ukelele.

Simple pleasures are sometimes the best, although all evidence is to the contrary. Even Owen knows how to operate the iPad and iPhone.

When it was time to return home, the heavens had opened up and the rain was pouring down, the kind of storm where the driver can't see the lines marking the traffic lanes. No complaints from Tim, though, as he and Tulip squired us back to the Manor.

'The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other."  
                                                                   ~Burton Hillis

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Chocolates from Ryan
A vest from Chris and Frances
Tooth whitening kit from Mama

Gloves from Santa
A felt sculpture of a Bedlington Terrier from Susan
Illuminated reading glasses from Santa
The gift of being together

Saturday, December 25, 2010


We send good wishes for a fine and wonderful observation 
of this holy day.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Here in Southern California it's what we call cold and it promises to be a sunny day. We hope it's a wonderful day in your world.

I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.
                                                                Fred Rogers