Monday, January 31, 2011


Meet Mickey

And this is Nadine
We met them when they moved to the Manor last November. We resonated.......isn't it funny how there can be perfectly nice and interesting people in your life, but once in a while an honest-to-goodness and lovely chord is struck that is a little different than most of the associations that have come about? 'Twas so with these new residents. 

Some people at the Manor arrange to sit together for meals. We, and Nadine and Mickey agree, like to sit at different tables in order to get to know people. We're perfectly happy to go where the hostess directs us. By chance, we sometimes get to sit together and the delight seems to be mutual.

Mickey is an unrelenting tease, or at least I hope he was feigning boredom in this picture.

Tomorrow will mark their 70th wedding anniversary.
I ask you. Isn't that awesome?

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Tim once said, "I'm just an agoraphobic on the go." and I feel that way sometimes. I can always talk myself out of going somewhere on my own. Nadine voiced the desire to go hear an author speak last Friday and later she decided to stay home. If I'm thinking of driving to North Carolina, I'd jolly well better start practicing; I talked her back into the idea of going and off we went. Neither of our husbands seemed interested. We were two women on the loose.

The speech was scheduled at a regular Kiwanis Club meeting which
is held in the Elks Club. Nadine and I both were familiar with the location, or so we thought, but it took us twice around the block before we found it. Either the building was remodeled drastically or it was a new building.

I'm not a clubbish sort, so it was quite a new experience to behold the camaraderie displayed at a Kiwanis meeting, but enjoyable to watch. Lots and lots of people were in attendance and a variety of ages. We ate from the buffet and listened to announcements, singing and joke telling and then Father Gregory Boyle was introduced.

As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles, Father Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. He founded Homeboy Industries, a part of which is Homegirl Cafe. I urge you to follow the link. (click on "Homegirl Cafe") Father Boyle told us the story of the time that Diane Keaton, for unbeknownst reasons, came to the restaurant and the girl who waited on her, said, "I've seen you before.....where have I seen you?" The actress modestly replied that she had the kind of face that looks familiar. The waitress continued to search her mind and finally said, "I know!!! You and I served time together!"

His other stories were moving......25 years ago he buried the first murdered gang member. This week, there are arrangements to bury the 174th. Heart rending stories...........tear jerking altering inspiration. The 2 young men who came along with him to carry the books and be generally helpful came from rival gangs. Working at Homeboy Industries together made things different.

Nadine bought a copy of "Tattoos on the Heart" for the Manor Library. I bought my own copy. It promises to be a fascinating read.

If the opportunity arises, I recommend you find a way to hear this remarkable man. Or, you can always search out his book.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


My artist brother sent me this link, saying "Finally, an ad one can love".

I agree, but only wish I were fond of the product

Friday, January 28, 2011


Just received a notice that our public library books are due next Monday. Upon hearing that, Mr. Bob picked up his current reading.

It's about rogue waves, some of which take days to reach shore, giving really serious, avid surfers time to book a ticket and fly to wherever this is happening, getting there in time to catch the 100 foot wave. Since he told me some of what he's read, I've seen on television waves that are 30 feet high, and I can't even imagine one 3 times that large. "The Wave" by Susan Casey, in case your interest is piqued.

My choice, although I'm not at all a history buff, is this one:

"The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan. It's a highly readable book about the Dust Bowl years and the people who chose to stay rather than to migrate elsewhere.  It brings to mind a couple of other books I've read on the subject.

If you've somehow missed "Grapes of Wrath", I highly recommend it. After we discussed it in our book group at the shop, one man felt it should be required reading for any new arrivals to California.  In our travels through the San Joaquin Valley, there have been signs of the influence of people who moved here during those years. Country music, for one thing (Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and what is known as "The Bakersfield Sound".  It's now a staple on breakfast menus, but I remember when biscuits and gravy struck us as a novelty in that area. Until the last few years, there was a restaurant, visible from the highway when we went over the Ridge Route...........called OKIE GIRL. The owners parents had come from Oklahoma and she was right proud of it

Here are some of the jackets I've pulled up that portray the trek to California:

The other book was a Newbery Medal winner, "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse. Although written as a book for young people, it's a highly fascinating read. Written in prose poetry, it chronicles the people who chose to stay in the states affected by this environmental disaster.

We hope you'll care to share what book you're reading. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Yes, those were large servings of Mexican food I showed you yesterday. So I thought I'd address that and show you a couple of other photos.

El Sol is not a fancy restaurant by any stretch of the imagination. You can see that by this shot of Ana working in the kitchen:

And there's no reason in the world to share the next one with you. It's of poor quality, no doubt I had the wrong setting on the camera, but there's something about it that I like.

On flickr, I think I titled it "Cowboys' Christmas". 

And in regard to portion control, the reason why I now order what is listed as "Carnitas Only" on the menu (hold the rice, please, Manuel):

is because over the past months I've done way too much of this:

We have a mandate that we don't photograph people while they are eating. Someone broke the rule. I wonder who? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We are lucky to live in Southern California where Mexican food is plentiful. In the past, when we traveled, that's what I missed most of all while we were gone. In our area, there are lots of restaurants that serve Mexican food......Joselito's, El Charro, Acapulco, Mijares, El Cholo to name only a few. Our favorite of all, El Sol, is owned by Manuel and his wife, Ana. We became acquainted with Manuel during the 20 years he waited tables at Joselito's. At least 10 years ago he and Ana bought their own restaurant  and have built it into one of the busiest eating places in town. Ana cooks, Manuel not only helps in the kitchen, but is one of the finest hosts we've chanced to know.  

He befriends all of his customers who are greeted with a warm handshake (years ago, I had to teach him how to shake without crushing the bones of older, fragile women. He learned well).

Once, as we left El Sol after a sumptuous meal, Manuel, who always sees us to the door and sometimes all the way out to the car, where he opened the door for me, saying, "See you tomorrow, Juanita". And I replied, "Oh, Manuel, I doubt it. I can't eat Mexican food ALL the time." And his retort was, "I do".       

Not every Tuesday, but once or twice a month we have Taco Tuesdays at the Manor. It's not quite the real thing, but it's very good, especially if I remember to take down our bottle of Tapatio hot sauce. Mr. Bob doesn't require it except for a silly picture.
Do you have a good Mexican restaurant in your neck of the woods?                             

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Are all of you familiar with the main character in James Thurber's "Secret Life of Walter Mitty"? To borrow from a description I found online,

'Walter Mitty was a meek, unassuming accountant who would daydream that he led an exciting, heroic life in order to escape his humdrum existence. In Thurber's 2000-word story, which takes place over a single day, we first meet the henpecked Mr Mitty as he is driving his wife to town for a shopping trip, while dreaming that he is a Navy pilot flying through the worst storms in 20 years."

I do a lot of Walter Mittying myself and my current episode involves the idea of driving to North Carolina. 

Mind you, the 12 months since I've needed to resume driving have been fraught with criticism from my otherwise saintly husband. Rarely do we leave the Manor to go out on a jaunt without major directions and fault-finding issuing from the passenger seat, sometimes twice before we're 2 minutes from home. I'll be the first to admit that my driving doesn't begin to measure up to Mr. Bob's expertise. He was a driver that even men were comfortable having in the driver's seat. Excellent in every way until  the evening of Jan. 30, 2010 when he bumped into the back of an SUV, which resulted in having his driver license confiscated by a policeman who had witnessed the whole incident.

We've limped along for a year with me doing the driving, mostly taking the car to get to doctors' appointments, Trader Joe's and the occasional restaurant; nowhere very far. I really haven't gone beyond Glendale's boundaries. You see, I'm one of those people who chooses not to drive freeways and the few times in the distant past when I drove at higher speed on the highways, my palms sweat to the point that it was difficult to keep them on the wheel. 

For a year, each little trip with me at the controls would have provided blog material that to outsiders probably would have been highly entertaining. I resisted writing about it lest it fall under the heading of airing our dirty laundry, as the saying goes. The stories would not be pretty.

I only mention it now because I've been caught up in the Walter Mitty Syndrome. 

After hearing Huell Howser speak of the wisdom of doing what we want to do, regardless of our age, there arrived in the mail a thick catalogue of programs offered by Road ScholarThat's the new name for what, since 1975 had been  known as Elderhostel. They offer over 8,000 educational programs throughout the United States and foreign countries.

Programs are rated by Activity Level, from 1 to 7. I thumbed through the thickness of the catalogue, looking for 1s and found this..........

I've long been intrigued by the culture of Appalachia. Why not follow through on this? What if I drove to North Carolina? On back roads and stopping every time I saw something interesting, it would surely take me 2 months to drive 2,541 miles and just as long coming back. Could I do it? Would our marriage survive with Mr. Bob as the passenger and me at the wheel? Who knows? You must admit, it's an interesting thing to contemplate.

As my mother used to say, "We shall see what we shall see". Stay tuned.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I promise, this won't be a regular feature, but enough minor stuff happened last week with accompanying pictures that it's the subject for today.

It was time for the car to be serviced which means sitting in a dreary waiting room for hours upon end. This time I didn't initiate conversation with any of the waiting men. At the end of 2 1/2 hours, new brakes had been put on our car and as we went to pay and collect the car, I said to this man, "Goodbye and good luck" and he said, "It's taking hours to get a lightbulb".
Our Manor shop is open on Tuesday and Saturday, from 9:30 until 11. There we can purchase supplies and snacks and greeting cards. The basket on the end of the table contains the Alaska pins our kids brought to distribute to residents and staff. Problem was,  when they were offered, many folks declined, not needing one more thing to clutter their lives.

One of the women at the Manor heads up a chapter of the Crones which meets once a month. We've gotten the okay for Mr. Bob to attend the meeting next month long enough to take a group picture. He can be known as a "Crony", temporarily.

We went to the Glendale Galleria for a computer lesson at the Apple Store. I usually always admire their window displays. This one shows some of the applications available. Among the ones I have and use are the Huffington Post, CBS Sunday Morning, New York Times, Today Show, Rachel Maddow, a flashlight and numerous others. That's Mr. Bob on the outside, looking in. Below, a passer-by checks out the other display window, which features a hot air balloon carrying a laptop through the air.

And that's pretty much it for the week's activities. One more thing: Lisa, upon reading the entry, TMI, the other day, asked for a photo of my Valentine poinsettia technique. I only cut 1 bract to show the heart shape because this plant is going to be long gone by Feb. 14, but it gives you a general idea.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Where did you come from, baby dear?

Out of the Everywhere and into here.
~George MacDonald, 

"At the Back of the North Wind"

Mr. Bob and I are great-grandparents with little chance of ever seeing our granddaughter, Asher. For one thing, she resides in Alaska and for another, the mother and father are estranged and although our grandson, Ryan, is trying to gain custody, it seems  that the courts usually favor the child being with the mother. For most of her first year, pictures were coming through and we had to be content to marvel and ooh and aah from afar.

Have you noticed how events seem to come in clusters? All of a sudden we get a rash of wedding announcements or more somber, we have a lot of funerals and memorials to attend in quick succession. It seems to be that way currently with babies in our world. Two of the servers in the dining room at the Manor took maternity leave and I've met one of the little ones. Wyatt came to visit and his Mama asked, "Would you like to hold him?" 

Well, yes, indeed I would. What a pleasure it is to hold a baby close, feeling the heft and warmth of a new little being and marveling at what lies ahead......all the opportunities and discoveries and wonders to come. What a privilege it was the day he came to visit.

Isabel came to see the residents one day, also. There's no question but that people our age revel in being around new life. Our own babies were born with no hair whatsoever, so it's a treat to see babies who only have to work on growing teeth, never mind getting hair to emerge.

Remember a while back when I posted this photo of new grandparents? We were lucky enough to meet young William James last Friday. He slept right through our meeting, reminding me that somewhere long ago I read the statement that there was never a child so wonderful that his mother wasn't happy to see him asleep. Here is little William, another miracle of the Universe:

"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."  ~Carl Sandburg

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The season isn't even right for this entry, but if you stick with us, you'll learn more about poinsettias than you either wanted or needed to know.

I was inspired by seeing this group of plants about to be put out to pasture or whatever in the world gets done with poinsettias after the holiday. One year when I had the store I took the time to cut each bract (what we think of as petals, only they aren't) into a heart shape, thereby creating a Valentine plant. We in retail dash from one holiday to another and Valentine's Day comes next.

And then, right around the corner from the Manor parking lot, I spied this which used to be a common sight in Southern California before the Birds of Paradise took over the title of the ubiquitous plant of the area.

Our own potted plant which Nadine gave us ahead of Christmas, is ending its life in an unusual manner. It's dropping one leaf at a time, one bract at a time, but as long as it holds on, I'm going to leave our little cheerful wooden sign leaning against the pot.

Actually, it may end up being a Valentine's Day plant.

We visited the nursery in Encinitas which produces many of the world's poinsettia plants. It was mind boggling. Mr. Bob and I were too busy deciding which plant to buy to take time to sit on the poinsettia throne, but I snapped a picture of it when 2 of the ladies on our outing took advantage of the opportunity.

Nearly everyone buys such a plant for himself during December. Even the carwash (above) and most of the households of my acquaintance. I used them in quantity in the store and used to fret a bit lest a child ingest part of a plant but of late we're told that poinsettias are not poisonous. Whew!

I had Mr. Bob dig out our copy of a Leo Politi book entitled "The Poinsettia". He's so good natured when I ask that sort of thing of him. It was not an easy task and he did it with no complaint whatsoever. I'd have said, "You want me to do WHAT?" He's a far better person than I am.

 The book chronicles many of the holiday celebrations that take place in and around Los Angeles. To think we purchased this book 40 years ago when it seems just yesterday. That's the sort of thing you hear a lot at the Manor as we oldsters wonder where in the world the time has gone. It's a reminder to make the most of each and every day.

If you progressed this far, you're a trooper. Many thanks.