Wednesday, August 31, 2011


YOU ASKED FOR MORE, but are you sure that I haven't posted these before? I'm honored and just wish I could discipline myself to start a Manor sketchbook, but even when I try, sitting with a new sketchbook and my art supplies, nothing comes out of the pencil, pen or brush. I'm stuck.

This was the first thing I tried on one of our road trips and I'll admit that in spite of its simplicity, I was pleased with it. Shortly after, I began keeping travel journals when we went places. And you know the story; sketching took the place of smoking to keep my hands busy and my mind focused.

I no longer have the original for on a foolish whim, I gave it to a lady who was a master at watercolor portraits. I remember her puzzled look when I handed it to her, but it was too late to ask for it back.

I carried a sketchbook into which I pasted a quotation about sketching, something to point to if anyone peered over my shoulder.

On our trips, when we procured a motel and carried in our luggage, Mr. Bob usually flopped onto the bed for a nap and I busied myself sketching him.

My guess is that the quotation on the book may be unreadable, so here it is:
"By definition, a sketch is something 
a little less than finished, and is first 
and foremost a personal activity. 
It has to be valued for what it conveys
 to the originator rather than being judged 
by formal artistic standards.
It's rather like writing yourself
a note in your own handwriting ....
it might be unintelligible to anyone else 
but it does what you intend it to do and
that's all that matters. In the same way,
a sketch can be a reflection of
your personality, attitude and
circumstances and a visual
interpretation of your imagination.

                         -John Marsh-
                        "Sketching Street Scenes"

And if you've seen this all before, that's why I titled it as deja vu.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


PARADISE...........or so some folks say, not taking into account the cockroaches, including the flying variety or ........... well, maybe there's nothing else to detract from the Hawaiian Islands. We've traveled there four times and I'm still not altogether sure where it falls in my ratings of places to go. I do remember that one of the times I felt the greatest sense of peace was while riding across the island of Oahu, past the pineapple plantations......the wide horizon showing blue, blue skies and fluffy white clouds, with Hawaiian music playing on the car's radio. The Dole Plantation was where I learned that a little bit of salt on diced pineapple enhances the flavor. Another treasured recall involves the visit to an old, old church in Haleiwa (I think) for Sunday services and as the choir filed in, the sound of flip-flops. So the memories are good. If Trader Joe's would play Hawaiian music as background, I'd be tempted to clear the shelves into my shopping cart. It's a good thing that they don't often use that musical selection.

I've told you before about the time I sent Bob on the island tour and I stayed on the ship and sketched Lahaina from the deck.

Where I'm headed is to tell you that the other evening, the Manor had a luau and I came to the realization that I didn't have anything vaguely Hawaiian or even floral to wear. Almost all of the other residents rose to the occasion and were dressed appropriately. Even Mr. Bob had a closet full of Hawaiian shirts from which to choose. These days he's happiest when he's in the dining room interacting with other people.

After a tropical dinner full of pineapple, pork, coconut shrimp and even coconut ice cream, it was time for the entertainment. I went to our room for something, got caught up with my knitting and never went back but Mr. Bob found a seat in the main lounge and readied his camera to capture the event for the Manor Album.

The contrast between the beautiful, smooth-skinned young ladies and the wrinkled,
wizened, bent-out-of-shape oldsters is remarkable. I wonder if that's part of the reason the idea of knitting was so tempting?

Residents were called up to take part in the hula. Mr. Bob didn't volunteer for that event, but sat there and snapped and snapped some more, while four floors up, I knitted and purled up a tropical storm.

"Hawaii can be heaven and it can be hell." 
                                                                                                       Jeff Goldblum 

Monday, August 29, 2011


DID YOU KNOW that I'm a big sister? Frank was born when I was four and I still remember soon after he came to live with us, hopping down from the breakfast table and taking my last bite of chewed toast out of my mouth and popping it into his wailing maw. Isn't that downright awful, not only the act, but that I would admit it to the world?

I don't write about him a whole lot partly because he's a very private person and partly because we're not as close as some siblings manage to be. As the Fifties turned into the Sixties, he was hip before it was hip to be hip. I was still a disgusting version of Goody Two Shoes. Two very different people. I admired, even if I couldn't emulate his life style. I think, and no wonder, that he found me a bit boring and downright disgusting.

His artistic abilities showed themselves early on and I always considered him to be the one and only artist in the family. Not until I was in my late sixties did I consider putting pen to paper to see what I could draw. He's no Sunday painter. He's a fine artist who enjoyed having a one-man exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. His last career was designing posters, brochures and the like for UCSB and designing book covers. He's a clever man, no doubt about it.

Maxwell is his constant companion; a little dog with a big personality. Frank has a colorful past. At one time he was one of several artists who bought land adjacent to Mountain Drive. On his portion he built the most wonderful "hobbit house" into the side of the mountain. His taste is as monastic as mine is cluttery. This tiny house was a gem. Alas, I have no pictures of it to send you.

He now lives down in town and he writes that he's just lost 66 pounds.......envy, envy. The picture he sent last week shows him standing between 2/3 of a triptych he painted of the view he enjoyed in his Mountain Drive house.

No doubt about it, he IS the artist in the family. Oh, and by the way he and a friend have a morning radio show. It's called "Frank 'n' George". If you're interested, you can read all about it by following the link.

"Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life."
                                                                          ~Charles M. Schulz

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I KNIT. Therefore I am. But I'm not a very disciplined person and I don't plan ahead the way we're supposed to. As in life, I kind of make it up as I'm going along. In our early marriage, I used to knit Bob argyle socks. That is, until he requested that I stop, which I did, but it sort of hurt my too-tender feelings. The act of knitting, when it's going right, is soothing. In my opinion, following directions is hard. I can always interpret things in several different ways and can't determine which one is right. In the sample below, when I was doing the brown block with a stripe of orange through it, by following the instructions I increased stitches until there wasn't a circular needle in the world big enough to hold the 1,421 stitches which finally told me that I couldn't possible be doing it correctly. A call to the knit shop set me on the right track. Silly old me.

You may recall that over a year ago I began to knit a colorful wrap. It started off in a pleasing manner, but as it grew, it became less lovely and my dissatisfaction increased in direct ratio. My problem lay in choosing which color to put next to 

which. That's where a plan would have been wise. I was okay with it as it looks in this photo, but subsequent blocks did not please me. Here's the shameful part........ rather than working through my displeasure by ripping out my stitches and choosing another color, I did another "drop out" which is my usual reaction to something that falls short in my experience. And I started the project all over again with different yarn.

When we disembarked from our cruise ship last October I asked Tim to stop at a splendid yarn shop in Encinitas, just north of San Diego. I bought enough yarn to do a second wrap and that yarn was waiting in its original shopping bag against the time I might complete the first project. It was called into service early.

That's a little brighter than it actually is, but you'll get the idea that it's variegated or self striping or just call it interesting when it's knitted up.

I like the way it's progressing, but then I was pleased at this stage on the first wrap, too. Maybe someday I'll go back and tackle the original one........... that would be after I complete the fluffy afghan I started five years ago.

"Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence.  Of course, superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage."  
                  ~Elizabeth Zimmerman

 * Madame Defarge

Possessing a remorseless bloodlust, Madame Defarge embodies the chaos of the French Revolution. The initial chapters of "The Tale of Two Cities" finds her sitting quietly and knitting in the wine shop. However, her apparent passivity belies her relentless thirst for vengeance. With her stitches, she secretly knits a register of the names of the revolution’s intended victims

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I'M TAKING A DAY OFF from writing an entry and instead I'm referring you to this link.

I hope you'll find it as intriguing as I do. Signs and alphabet letters fascinate me.

How can so much be done with only 26 letters?

Friday, August 26, 2011


IT FALLS TO the offspring who lives in Hollywood to keep an eye on his elderly parents. The one in Alaska wishes she lived closer, the one in Castro Valley makes arrangements to come down when he can, but it's Tim who's "on call", so to speak. Two sides to that coin, I'm sure, but I'll have to say this.......he never makes Manor visits appear to be an inconvenience for which I'm ever grateful. Duty calls are not my idea of a good time for anyone concerned.

He's in charge of seeing that his mother gets beyond her city limits, thus preserving her sanity and it helps that our tastes are somewhat parallel in things to see and do. He sees the wisdom of driving surface streets rather than always taking the freeway. He likes food, interesting's a fault we share. He keeps a list in his head of places to go and things to see. A few weeks ago he drove us to Fullerton, with a plan to visit our favorite jazz club. He'd called ahead to be sure the Golden Eagles were playing and even made reservations for three with a real person. When the day came and we drove the hour to get there, the only ones on hand to greet us were the servers. No music scheduled. Disappointment all around until Tim remembered a nearby restaurant he'd heard about and the day was saved. 

Mr. Bob usually opts to stay at home on the Sundays Tim appears. The three of us go to the dining room for dinner together and then the father waves us goodbye, looking forward to alone time for a couple of hours. Off we go, sometimes the outing is as simple as a visit to a couple of supermarkets for supplies, other times we explore. One Sunday, driving to Pasadena, Tim turned on a residential street, saying, "I think there's a lake somewhere back here" and sure enough, we found it, hidden away.

Another time we went in search of a gelato place I'd heard about. It was a beastly hot day, their location was nearly impossible to find,  tucked back in a largely vacated mall in Altadena.  But they have a following, as evidenced by the line that became no shorter as people continued to arrive.

 They are known for their pistachio gelato, using only nuts from Italy. Did you realize that most of the pistachios we buy come from Turkey and Iran and are handled in such a way that there's a chance they are moldy? Now I've wrecked that for all of us.

Last Sunday found us going to South Pasadena in search of a shop that was on my Bucket List. That town is a treasure. The residential streets are interesting, the trees are old, there's a main street full of unusual shops and restaurants. In a word, happiness.
For four years I've mourned the closing of a store which used to offer unorthodox clothing, offbeat greeting cards and objets d'art.
Recently I discovered that four of that store's employees moved around the corner and opened their own attached stores, carrying the same sort of exceptional merchandise. That was our destination on Sunday. Our visit didn't disappoint.

Admittedly, I'd outgrown the possibility of wearing their clothing (and I'm doing something concrete about that, starting today) but the books and other merchandise offered are still several cuts above the average gift shop, enough to make my head spin and my checkbook pulsate.

I tried, I really did, not to purchase a five year diary, the idea of which seemed a bit optimistic, all things considered, but this journal had an unusual format and my will-power crumpled. Consisting of a daily question and just 4 lines in which to answer it in each of the next five years, I found it too intriguing to pass up. It's a thought provoking tome and filling four lines hardly strikes me as a daunting task, so there's a chance I'll not abandon the project prematurely.

Maybe one of these days Mr. Bob will want to go with us on one of our "explores", as Pooh would have termed what we do. At the same time that I know he relishes his quiet Sunday afternoons, it feels somehow wrong to leave him behind, even though I do realize there's a tremendous difference in our urges for that sort of diversion. For me, those outings are life-savers. Maybe they are for him, too.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
                               Mark Twain

Thursday, August 25, 2011


IT'S NO SECRET that I consider us to be battery impaired. Long ago, my frustration was great when I couldn't take more than ten minutes of movies before the battery needed recharging. The vexation continued throughout my life with anything battery operated. I don't know about Mr. Bob, but I just plain don't understand batteries.

Last week on the hottest part of a sweltering day, we went to the post office to mail Susan's birthday package to Alaska. Do you know that feeling of "There! That's done" when you've accomplished something, however small? That's what I felt as I turned the key in the ignition in preparation for the drive home. Click, then nothing. Not a sound. Deader than a doornail.

Happily, we have AAA service and a cell phone. The dispatcher asked our location, the license plate number (do you know yours? I learn ours and then don't use it before I forget again), the make of the car, the year, the color and before I hung up, I told her my hair was grey, it was hot and please hurry.

It took the predicted half hour before the mechanic arrived and God had sent us a good man. When I told him I feared it might be the starter (because, beyond the click, there was no sound), he seemed amazed that I knew there was such a part. Things are so high tech now that he could run a test and show me on a paper tape the results which said there was a dead cell in our battery. I pretended to understand and in another show of modern technology, he produced a fresh battery, the date showing it was fresh off the assembly line and I said to go ahead and install it. Romeo was his call name, he was born in Guatemala and his last job lasted six years when he was a caretaker to a man with cancer.

Problem solved.

What do you suppose it means metaphysically when one has a second battery emergency within a few days? In this situation, I was too flustered to even think to use the camera.

 I  have an electric scooter that I use only for trips to a large shopping mall. Lazy as I am, I still don't want to become dependent on it. It's lightweight, lives in the back of our van and hasn't been used in the two years we've lived at the Manor. Recently Mr. Bob charged the two batteries for it.

Day before yesterday I awakened from an afternoon nap. Mr. Bob was nowhere in sight; I presumed he had gone downstairs to the Men's Group which meets on Tuesdays. Before I'd cleared the sleep from my eyes the phone rang. It was Mr. Bob with the news that he needed to be picked up. He'd run out of battery power. With clenched teeth, I followed his directions and found him sitting at the side of the road. He'd decided to take out the power chair and ride to the nearby library to return a book. Both batteries ran out of juice, batteries that were supposed to be good for fifteen miles. No wonder I have a lack of trust.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


LITTLE GLIMPSES of goings-on at the Manor:
  • On Fridays when we gather on the patio for wine and cheese before supper, Jack Frost gets out his harmonica and plays from his very large repertoire of songs. Camp songs, Americana, cowboy tunes, he knows them all.

Couldn't resist a shot through my wine glass.

  •  This sign in the laundry room reminds me of the saying, "Can you read my lips?" or "What part of 'No' don't you understand?" I can feel the frustration in the attempt to communicate to the residents that they must store the iron upright.

  • Somehow I thought they might pull the ad in the paper after Mr. Bob lost his hair and I got all puppydog sad looking, but the ad still runs once a month in three newspapers and friends keep discovering it for the first time.

  • One of the things I most looked forward to doing at the Manor was working the ever-present jigsaw puzzle. Turned out it was not to be (a story unto itself, which I may or may not decide to tell you someday). We could work on one in our room if I'd just get my act together. It's the one place in life that I can create order out of chaos.

  • I observed this one day last week. One of the nurse's aides was performing a spontaneous hula dance during the day's entertainment and one of the residents attempted to swat her on the backside.......out of what, I'm not sure......playfulness? irk? As it happened, she didn't connect, but I love the expression.

  • Mr. Bob is on new medication.....something that helps his mood to be more mellow and coincidentally it helps one sleep at night. Well, it results in Mr. Bob sleeping on through the day. Here he's getting dressed, stopping for a nap before he gets his shirt on. True, it's hard to get angry while sleeping so I suppose one could say the medicine is working.

  • The picture below was taken when Owen last visited. He was as delighted as I upon seeing for the first time that our elevators are fitted with a bench for resting between floors.

  • At dinner, I turned to talk to Lorraine (facing) and Jeanne, both relatively new residents. Nice ladies, both. In fact, when Lorraine heard of Mr. Bob's diagnosis, she put her arms around me and offered to do our laundry, which was such a dear gesture, even though I didn't take her up on it.

  • Two weeks ago we encountered Lorraine outside of her room. She was barely recognizable following a fall. I've never seen anyone so battered and bruised, bless her heart. I have to admit that I didn't offer to do her laundry, but we did take her our DVD player and some movies to help pass the time. We've not seen her since, but word has it that she's healing.