Sunday, January 22, 2023

A House is a Hole…

There is an old saying that a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. The same can be said about a house: it’s a hole in the ground where you pour money. Since Friday the 13th, we have been pouring lots!

When I broke my leg, we noticed that the toilet in our bathroom seemed to be leaking a little bit. We stuffed a towel around the bottom to catch the moisture and changed it out a couple of times a week.

When my daughter left after the first of the year, we also noticed that the one in the guest bathroom was starting to make strange noises every time it was flushed.

Time to call out the plumber.

He arrived on Friday morning, and by the afternoon, he had completely rebuilt both of them. No more leaks, and the guest one had a completely new flush mechanism. Not cheap, but at least both were working well. (And they were nearly twenty-five years old, so a refresh was not unwarranted.)

Then, on Saturday evening, the 14th, we were watching a TV show and heard a giant CRACK, sort of like a huge blast of thunder next to the house.

Larry looked at me. “Was that on TV?”

“I don’t think so.”

We looked out in the yard, and one of our large pine trees had come down. The roots had given way with all the recent rain.

I have hated the tree ever since it showed up as a volunteer a number of years ago. I asked Larry many times to remove it, but he liked it and wouldn’t get rid of it. I actually feared exactly what happened—or worse. And the pine needles were clogging up the motors and filters on the waterfall. Larry dutifully cleaned them out periodically, but he refused to do anything about the tree.

We live at the top of a hill. The very top was cut away when they built our house in the late 1970s, and the material removed was used for fill for the houses across the street. They have topsoil. We do not. We are on bedrock (good for earthquakes, but not so hot for growing things).

Plants don’t do very well in the yard because there is nowhere for the roots to take hold. I have been afraid that one of the trees would come crashing down on the house. They were getting tall (about 35 feet each—and there were three of them).

The good news:

  • ·         It mostly missed the house and fell into the back yard
  • ·         The only collateral damage was to a couple of irrigation water pipes and outside lights
  • ·         The gutter was bent but not so badly that it has to be replaced.

We called a local tree service, and they sent a couple of guys out right away. They cut up the big branches and stacked them in the front yard, promising to return early on Sunday morning (at 7:30 a.m.).

They arrived right on time, as promised, with a huge truck and a wood chipper, and began cutting up the debris. We also asked them to cut back the other two large pines, trim the jacarandas, and shape the Japanese maple. (These projects were years overdue.)

It took nearly six hours, but by the afternoon, their truck was full of tree trimmings, and the work was completed. We were very fortunate, even though it was a very expensive job. At least no damage was done to our house!

Several thousand dollars later, the big tree is gone, and the others are now trimmed down to a reasonable size.

I still hope the rest of 2023 will improve…

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Year Without Christmas

The Grinch struck our house. 2022 was not my best year—at least not the end of it. We missed Christmas altogether, and for a Christmas junkie, it wasn’t much fun.

I broke my leg three days before Thanksgiving, so we missed celebrating the holiday with the family. (For the first ten days, I was confined to my bedroom upstairs, and could go nowhere.)

Larry cooked a nice dinner and we ate together on a TV tray next to the bed, but it wasn’t the same. My brother- and sister-in-love brought us turkey soup made from the carcass as well as rolls and dessert a couple of days later. Delicious, but the best part was seeing them, if only for a short time.

I finally got to see the orthopedic surgeon, and had the much-hated splint removed and the cast put on. No surgery required. Thank God! Things got a bit easier at this point, but Larry was still caring for me. No time to even think about Christmas decorations.

Kim was supposed to arrive on the 16th to stay through January 1, so I had hoped she might put up a few decorations and bake some cookies. However, she arrived with a cold. We tried to keep our distance, but…

Of course, we both caught it. (NOT Covid, just a garden variety cold, but this one hung on for nearly a month.)

No tree. No stockings. No cookies. Few gifts, and then only the ones I had gotten before the broken leg. Most of the kids in the family are getting too old for gifts anyway, so I have taken to giving each family a check. (I’d rather shop, but I fear those days are over.)

We had already gotten Kim a ticket for Disneyland, so on the 18th, we all went. We took the wheelchair, and Larry and Kim pushed me around. She got to go on the rides she especially wanted to enjoy. By the end of the day, they were both very tired.

We went to church on Christmas Eve so Kim could see some of her friends. Lovely service, but it felt as though something was definitely missing.

The rest of the time was very quiet. Kim borrowed our car so she could go to some of the places she has missed, and we ate at her list of favorite restaurants.

We all went to bed early on New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day, we took Kim back to the airport. Then we came home to rest and try to get over our colds.

We have both been feeling better the past couple of days, but the house remained in fall mode until last week.

Hoping for a real Christmas for 2023. Hope your holidays were a bit more festive than ours.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

And Then I Did This…

 We decided to renew our Disneyland annual passes because we could. They had already announced that they will no longer offer passes for next year, and we have really enjoyed ours. Besides, we had some extra required withdrawal funds from our retirement accounts available.

We really love the Disney parks, and we live within half an hour of the Anaheim resort. (Both of us were there during the first year when we were kids.) Last year, we made sure to go at least twice a month in order to justify the price. (They are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive.)

Besides, whenever we go, we always put in 10,000 to 13,000 steps. Much more fun than going to the gym.

For the past year or so, I have also been walking the marina with my friend, Cathy a couple of times a week (about 3-1/2 miles to cover the whole thing). I have been enjoying these early morning walks. We talk, see people we know, and the time goes quickly. Sometimes Larry joins us.

On the 21st of November, we made our usual trek to Disneyland. We were having a great time. We arrived at park opening and had already put in about 3-1/2 hours—and over 8,000 steps.

We had planned to see the new Lion King show in the Fantasyland Theater, eat lunch, and then head home. We took the train around to the Toontown station opposite the theater.

We started to get off. Larry went down the stairs first. (We have gotten on and off the train hundreds of times—literally.) I started to step down, and my foot slipped. I was still on the top on the floor of the car.

You need to understand that there are two different kinds of train cars. One has the seats facing the front. The stairs on those cars have handrails all the way to the bottom. The other cars have the seats facing the outside. These have no handrails. The floor of the car is about 3-1/2 to 4-feet off the platform.

Of course, we were on the latter kind of car.

I tried to catch the lower step as I felt my right foot slip. Didn’t make it.

My left foot landed hard on the cement platform at the bottom and folded under me. Then my head hit the ground. I heard it.

Fortunately, I never lost consciousness. I was certain I had done some damage to my left ankle right away. It hurt.

Being Disney, people swarmed around immediately. They actually emptied the train and stopped it from running until I was taken care of. Security was called and arrived quickly.

They asked if I wanted them to call an ambulance. Uh…no thanks.

A nurse with a wheelchair arrived and did an assessment. (My eyes were dilating and I was making sense—and joking.)

He and Larry got me into the chair. He had brought a couple of ice packs and put one on the ankle and another on my head. Then they pushed me to the infirmary. (Did you know they had one? Actually, I did.) We talked and joked all the way.

They said I should have a CAT scan since I hit my head, and even I recognized that I needed to have my ankle x-rayed.

I wanted to go to a hospital closer to home—just in case I might need to stay.

They sent Larry to get the car from the parking lot while the nurse (Tom) brought me fresh ice packs. I was actually pretty comfortable. A knot rose on the back of my head, and the ankle started to swell and hurt.

Larry drove the car to the special waiting area at the front of the park. He called me, and Tom pushed me out to the car. They helped me get in, and then we drove down to Mission Hospital. I knew (from having broken my wrist in 2019) that Urgent Care didn’t have a CAT scan machine, so the ER at the hospital made the most sense.

There was a wheelchair outside the ER, so Larry grabbed it to get me inside.

I was checked in fairly quickly. When they noted I was taking a blood thinner, they decided I should be seen in the trauma area. So, off we headed.

I was taken care of by two nurses. (Dale was one, and I never got the name of the other one.) Carrie took all my vitals. We talked about how I could easily remember her name since it is the same as my niece. (I said I always called her “Care Bear”, even though the stuffed ones came about a few years after she was born. Carrie at the hospital said she had been called the same thing.)

Then, I was taken to have the CAT scan. It wasn’t too bad—except getting on the table.

They brought me back to the trauma area and settled me in a bed. I was surprised when they brought in a portable x-ray machine to get the x-rays. I was also surprised when they took a chest x-ray as well as one of my pelvis before getting four different ones of the ankle.

Then we waited…and waited…and waited.

Three hours later, they told me they were having a problem with their blue-ray and wi-fi. They couldn’t send the x-rays to the orthopedist, but they were working on it. They said the files were in the machine, but they couldn’t transmit them.

I asked why they hadn’t pulled them off with a flash drive and taken them to the doctor, who was in the hospital. No one had an answer.

They finally brought in another machine. They took another chest x-ray and three more shots of my ankle. Then the technician (the same one who had taken the first ones) pulled a flash drive from the machine and scurried off. I laughed.

I could see a computer screen about twenty feet from where I lay. A few minutes later, I saw images appear. Catherine, who had been trying to make me comfortable (bringing warm blankets, etc.) sat down to look at them. I knew they were mine from the obvious swelling around the ankle and the angles.

Not long afterward, Dale appeared to tell me they had finally gotten the files read. “Your head is fine. So is your chest.” (I could have told him this.)

“I saw my ankle.”

“You saw the break?”

“No. It was too far away, but I knew they were my x-rays.”

“Well, you have a fracture of the fibula.”

Thank God, it wasn’t the ankle joint itself!

Catherine finally put on a splint—the same awful kind they had put on my wrist. I hated that one, and I hated this one even more.

Once it was set up, they said I could go home. I was more than ready!

We had each only eaten a small red velvet cupcake around nine-thirty. We only ate those because we had decided to see the show at noon and then eat a late lunch afterward.

It was now nearing seven in the evening. We had been up since six a.m. and had spent over six hours at the hospital.

We drove through a drive-in and picked up sandwiches for dinner. We were starving!

When we arrived home, we had another challenge. We have a two-story house with no bedrooms downstairs and only a half bath. I needed to get to bed, so I had to find a way to get upstairs. Larry pulled, pushed, and dragged me upstairs. Once we reached the landing, I crawled into the bedroom. Getting into bed proved another challenge, but we made it.

We finally ate our dinner in the bedroom. I ate half, and Larry ate all of his.

At the hospital, they’d offered me a boot. Un…no. I had one when I sprained my ankle at the same time I broke my wrist. It was uncomfortable, and I felt as though I was off balance and falling down every time I tried to step. (The bottom was curved and about 2” off the ground. It was also slick.) So, they gave me crutches. I warned them I didn’t have enough upper body strength to use them, but we brought them home. Unfortunately, I was right…

The next day, our friend who had borrowed my mom’s walker brought it back. At least I could push down on the walker and hop. It allowed me to get around. Not easily, but at least I could move. A little.

The toilet proved to be the biggest challenge. To get there, I had to cross our (large) bedroom, go through the (large) dressing room, get through the (narrow) door, and then sit on the (low) toilet. Unfortunately, the bathroom door opened over the front of the toilet. Works fine most of the time, but I now had to get the walker into the room with me and figure out how to get around the door. (The next day, Larry removed it.)

The issue was then how to get up from the toilet using only one foot. We have a towel rack next to the toilet. Unfortunately, it is more decorative than functional. It can’t be used as a grab bar.

Thank goodness for Feldenkrais training! At least I could figure out how to get my weight balanced, but it wasn’t easy! And the more often I did it, the harder it became.

After he removed the door, Larry rented a wheelchair. BIG HELP!

I could actually sit in the chair, wheel myself, and push with my good foot. Much simpler.

But the issue of getting off the toilet continued.

The day after the accident, I called the orthopedic surgeon. This was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The earliest appointment I could get was the Wednesday AFTER Thanksgiving. (I presume he was booked up and was taking at least the entire weekend off, just like everyone else.) SIGH. This meant dealing with the heavy, uncomfortable splint, wheelchair, and low toilet for nine days.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Larry was in the office working. I was feeling over-confident. I got to the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and took care of my business. Then I tried to stand up…

As I nearly got up and onto the seat, the wheelchair rolled backward, and I landed on the floor.

I lost it. I still had over three days before I could see the doctor, and I couldn’t even get to the bathroom by myself. Larry had told me not to try to do it by myself, but I was feeling guilty for being so demanding. (He didn’t see it that way, thank God!)

So, I acquired a few more bruises but no more damage to other bones or joints.

The next day, we got a 2” padded extension for the toilet seat. This brought it up nearly to the same height as the seat on the wheelchair. Getting off became a bit easier.

Wednesday finally arrived, and I went to see the doctor. He cut off the awful splint. My leg felt much better without the darn thing. The foot was still a bit swollen and had turned a lovely shade of Shrek green.

He took a couple new x-rays. The break is healing nicely, and I hadn’t done any additional damage. Thank God.

He quickly put on a cast—much smaller and lighter than the hated splint. I got to choose the color. I picked purple. Once it set up, he said I could walk on it a bit. Of course, he warned me not to overdo it. (I suspect he intuited I probably would if not warned.)

So now, I am getting around on this beautiful foot.

I am back to using the walker here at home.

Kim arrives on the 16th, and I look forward to having her here. We got her a Disneyland ticket for the 18th, and we’ll go. But we will take the wheelchair since it should be a lot easier.

And, no, I haven’t gotten tired of Disneyland.

Friday, November 4, 2022

My Favorite Go-to Recipe

 My niece, Carrie, has been posting her favorite recipes. I tried a couple of them, and they are easy and delicious!

Whenever I can’t think of anything else to fix, I always turn to a frittata.

The first time I ate this dish was in the late 1970s at Longhi’s restaurant in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.

This was a favorite place where we always ate breakfast when we were in Lahaina. Bob Longhi started the restaurant on Front Street a couple of years before our first visit in 1978. He took verbal orders himself, and there was no written menu.

Bob came to the table and told us what he was making that day. He generally offered a couple of choices for breakfast, including eggs benedict and his huge, yummy cinnamon rolls. (We usually ordered one to split.)

One morning, he offered a spinach/cheese frittata. Since I had never had one, I asked him what it was.

Bob was never one to answer a question directly. (Actually, he was often a bit surly—but funny.) “Just order it. You’ll like it.” (He always sounded short and impatient.)

I decided to try it. I figured Larry would eat it if I didn’t like it, and I’d at least have half a cinnamon roll…

Then I ordered tea.

“You want what?”

“Hot tea.”

Bob shook his head. “You mean you want me to go across the street to the gas station and run the water in the restroom until it’s hot, then carry it all the way back here, just so you can have hot tea?”

By this time, of course, I was laughing. “Uh…yes.”

He harrumphed and left the table.

Of course, the frittata was delicious, and the tea bag came with a pot of steaming hot water.

Bob’s dog was always present inside the restaurant. He usually wore a red cotton bandana. He lay in a corner and never bothered anyone.

Bob never wore shoes.

For years, we always went to Longhi’s in Lahaina for breakfast whenever we stayed there. I don’t remember if we ever ordered frittata again, but after tasting it there the first time, I started making it often.

One year we entered the restaurant, with its distinctive black-and-white checked floor to find the dog missing.

When I asked where he was, Bob answered, “He retired upcountry.” However, a painting of the dog graced one wall. It was still there the last time we ate there.

When we attended the Maui Writers Conference in Kihei in 2005 and 2006, we ate at their location in the Kihei Mall. And yes, we ordered a cinnamon roll. They were as good as we remembered.

We were sad when we learned that Bob had died in 2012.

For a couple of years, we stayed at a condo owned by a friend of our friend, Bob Schwenck, in Kaanapali. We never got to Longhi’s for breakfast, but on one of our last evenings, we ate dinner upstairs at Longhi’s in Lahaina and watched the sunset. Bob painted a picture of the gorgeous view.

I just read that the Lahaina location is now closed, but there are two others still on Maui. We’ll have to try them out when we get back there

Easy Frittata

I made one of these whenever I have leftover meat and veggies.

1.    Chop leftover meat and veggies

2.    Chop sweet peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and other fresh veggies (These are my basics)

3.    Cook all the ingredients until tender in oil in a medium skillet.

4.    Mix 4-8 eggs with a little milk or cream. (I use my immersion blender.)

5.    Pour egg mixture over the other cooked ingredients

6.    Top with shredded cheese. (There is never too much for my taste!)

Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. OR place in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Cook until cheese is melted and eggs are set.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Good for breakfast or brunch. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated for another meal if there is any left.

Every time I make this dish I remember the first time I tried it, and remembering always makes me smile.

Friday, October 28, 2022

I Don’t Like Halloween

 Please don’t hate me, but I don’t like Halloween. I never did. I don’t like to be scared. I don’t enjoy masks and costumes. And I really don’t like clowns!

I love Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. But Halloween is different. It is intended to frighten.

When I was little, my mom made all of my costumes.

The first one was when I was twenty-six months old. My grandfather had just passed away, so she and my grandmother pinned a sheet around my neck. I think I look frightened in the photo.

One of my favorites was Little Bo Peep. I adored that one. It was pretty, and I got to carry my stuffed lamb. The “staff” was made from my great-grandfather’s cane, wrapped in crepe paper.

Another year, Mom took an old wine velvet dress of hers and made it into a princess costume. My dad painted a pair of my shoes in gold and made me a crown. I rather liked it.

When I got to grammar school, Mom made us several different simple costumes. One I remember was a graduate. She used a cotton blouse for a robe and made a “mortarboard” from cardboard and crepe paper.

I often forget how creative Mom was.

We always had a carnival at school, and they were fun. They weren’t meant to be scary. They featured games and contests. I remember the dunking machine. The older boys all wanted to sit on the seat so other boys (nearly all of those who tried to dunk them were also boys) could throw a baseball at a lever. If they hit it hard enough, the person on the seat would fall off into a tank of water.

A teacher or other staff member would take a turn during the day. Whoever the “mystery guest” was that year was the favorite target. I especially remember when the principal took a turn. He was a real surprise since he always seemed very formal and proper.

When Kim was little, I made her costumes as well.

The Halloween she was one, I made her an angel outfit. Her friend, Matt, who was a month younger, was dressed as a devil. He carried a pitchfork. Kim carried her halo, which she refused to wear.

A couple of years later, she was a bride. Once again, I fashioned her costume—this time from a set of curtains.

Next, she was a witch. (The hat and wig reappeared several more times in later years.)

When the TV show Isis was popular, Kim and her best friend, Cheryl wanted to be the superhero. So, Cheryl’s mom and I made the girls these outfits.

Later on, she and her work team were dalmatians. They wore hooded white one-piece pajamas, painted with black spots. These were really cute.

Okay, so I enjoy the cute and pretty costumes. I just don’t appreciate the scary ones.

Oh, and I do miss seeing the kids in their costumes. Most parents don’t let their little ones go from door to door anymore. Churches now have trunk-or-treat events. And many malls have trick-or-treating. I can totally understand parents’ reluctance to have their children visit neighbors, who may well be strangers. We have very few kids in our neighborhood. But I miss seeing the little ones.

Once Halloween is over, I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ll start playing holiday music next week!

Friday, October 7, 2022

Is Aging a Crime?

 Today, my friend and fellow writer, Janet Greger (J. L. Greger) is my guest writing about aging. Lorna

Sometimes those of us over fifty feel like it’s a crime to look our age. Characters (at least positive ones) in movies, TV shows, and ads are all young, fit, and beautiful.

 One result of this hype is sales of anti-aging products have soared worldwide. Sales of these products in the U.S. alone is estimated to be about $12 billion annually.

 Not surprisingly, mislabeling and false claims for these products are also rampant. That is criminal.

One of the products being widely advertised now is BOTOX. Injections of botulinum toxin drugs, like BOTOX are effective in reducing the signs of aging (i.e. reducing crow’s feet around the eyes, laugh lines, and wrinkles on the brow). However, many doubt the wisdom of—but not the profits from—BOTOX parties. At these events, women receive injections of botulinum toxin at multiple sites in a party environment in someone’s home with plenty of food and alcohol. Nevada has now banned these at-home parties. Many states require that injections at these parties be made by a physician or nurse. However, basic safety requirements are difficult to maintain at these events.

 In the U.S., the FDA is the chief agency monitoring the safety of cosmetic products and assessing the veracity of the claims. Most Americans don’t realize the FDA can not only fine but also incarcerate manufacturers and spa/store owners who knowingly produce, advertise and sell dangerous or mislabeled items.

 The current situation could be described this way: those who try to make the public believe it is a crime to look old are sometimes committing crimes themselves. This is a basic premise in my new mystery.

In FAIR COMPROMISES, twenty residents in New Mexico come into clinics and doctors’ offices complaining of double or blurred vision, sagging eyelids, and headaches the day after a political rally. Public health workers quickly hypothesize the cause was botulism toxin in improperly home canned food served at the rally. Unfortunately, one individual’s symptoms are much more severe. If her muscle paralysis continues unchecked, she will die. New Mexico health officials contact the FBI because this patient is a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and they fear she may have been targeted.

 The mystery turns from being the analysis of a severe food safety breach to the investigation of a diabolical murder attempt using “cosmetic” botulism toxin when scientist Sara Almquist, with the help of a talented FBI lab crew, discovers a more sinister source of the toxin at a spa in Santa Fe. FDA officials then help the FBI solve this case and seek justice for the victims.

FAIR COMPROMISES has a message: It’s not a crime to show your age, and the relentless search for youthful beauty can be dangerous.

 Now you’re ready for some fun. Read FAIR COMPROMISES and see what happens to a politician who tried too hard to look young.

Sara Almquist and her FBI colleagues rush to find who endangered the lives of a hundreds at a political rally by poisoning the food with botulism toxin. The poisoners’ target was a woman candidate for the U.S. Senate; the rest were just collateral damage. As these agents track clues from a veterans’ hall in Clovis to health spas of Santa Fe, they must make a multitude of personal and professional (perhaps too many) compromises.


J.L. Greger is a scientist turned novelist. She includes science and international travel in her award-winning mysteries and thrillers: The Flu Is Coming, Games for Couples; Dirty Holy Water, Fair Compromises, and seven others.

Friday, September 30, 2022

My Grandparents’ House

My grandparents, David and Mary Ann "Minnie" Methven, purchased the house at 423 Westbourne Dr. in West Hollywood, California in 1929. They moved from the house at 4125 Hammell St. in East Los Angeles, California.

My grandfather built the first house by himself when the family moved to California in 1919. He did everything except the plumbing because his brother-in-law was a plumber. The house is still standing all these years later, although it has been remodeled to such an extent that the original house is no longer recognizable. (I could not find a good photo of it.) Mother and I used to drive by it once in a while just to see if it still existed.

The new house in West Hollywood was much larger than the old house. The family now had three daughters and needed more space.

The story I was told was that the builder had intended to live there himself, but he had to move to another state. Grandpa heard about it from a friend and purchased it.

I have this small painting of the house. Grandma told me that during the Great Depression, itinerant artists went from house-to-house volunteering to paint them for a very small amount of money. The actual painting is about the size of a postcard. It is done on a thin piece of wood and is signed “O.J. Russert” and dated ’33.

Until her death, Grandma hung it next to the front door.

At the time I was born in 1946, my parents lived in the “little house,” an ADU behind the “big house.” My grandfather built the “little house” originally when his father came to live with them. Great-grandpa later moved to the third bedroom in the main house, and my older aunt and uncle, Gordon and Muriel Collin, moved into the “little house.”

It was originally just one room with a Murphy bed with a half bath (toilet and sink) attached. It never had a shower or tub.

When my aunt and uncle moved out, my mother moved in. She lived there when my dad was in the military in WWII. They were married on October 27, 1942 at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather at Forest Lawn Memorial Park when Dad was home on leave, and their reception was held at the house.

Dad and Grandpa added a lovely, large, sunny kitchen and breakfast nook on to the “little house.” My parents still had to go to the “big house” for showers and baths, but it was a cozy place to live.

After over four years in the US Army, Dad was discharged. He first reported on April 21, 1941 and served through November 24, 1945. Since Dad passed away at thirty-seven years of age, the loss of these four-and-a-half years was significant.

My earliest memories are as a baby waking up in my crib, which was shoved against one wall of the living room/bedroom. Mom and Dad were in the kitchen with the lights on entertaining friends. Smoke arose around them (Dad smoked) as they talked. I knew I was supposed to be asleep, and I tried to be as still as possible.

I remember the yellow kitchen with its sheer curtains. These are happy memories of a time when I was safe and cared for.

Every day, when Grandpa came home from work, he walked by the “big house” and tapped on the kitchen window so Grandma would know he had arrived. However, his first stop was the “little house” to see me. He carried me around and talked to me. Sometimes, he took me to the “big house” and pointed out objects: door, table, picture, window, etc. Because of this, I had a 52-word vocabulary at one year old. (Mom wrote all of them in my baby book because she was sure no one would believe her.)

When I was a bit older, Grandpa read to me. Although space was at a premium, the bottom drawer of the dresser was filled with books. Grandma and Grandpa and my parents bought me lots of Little Golden Books. Some of my favorites are still published. I wore out quite a few. It was through Grandpa that I learned to love reading.

Dad and Grandpa loved working together on “projects.” Grandpa adored Christmas. He and Dad built lots of decorations from wood and many “found” items.

They built a whole village of “tiny houses,” most of which were based on real structures. They created a village on the front lawn, surrounded by a miniature picket fence, and covered in Ivory Snow (washing machine soap flakes). They formed street lights from tin cans and wired them to illuminate the “village.”

Later on, they added a Santa on the roof, two large reindeers, and a sleigh full of presents. In this photo, a few of the “tiny houses” are along the wall.

Dad and Grandpa both worked at the Broadway Department Store in downtown L.A. They obtained the reindeer—previously used in a window display—when the store discarded them. After my family moved to Alhambra in 1948, the deer came with us.

Grandpa died of a heart attack at the Broadway at closing time on October 27, 1948. He was just fifty-five years old. I was twenty-six months old, but I still remember him. And I remember the night he died.

I have a memory of standing at the screen door of the “little house” waiting for of his footfalls on the driveway and the sound of his voice. They never came.

Unfortunately, most of the “tiny houses” were lost in a fire in Grandma’s garage a couple of years after Grandpa died.

Ironically, my father also died of a heart attack in the Broadway on February 16, 1954 at opening time. He was only thirty-seven years old.

My grandmother passed away on the 26th of March in 1969, while we were on the road driving to Illinois, where Larry had a job. When we called to let our parents know we had arrived, we learned that they had just attended her funeral. The house was sold a year later, before we returned to California.

I am grateful to have these photos of my grandparents’ home since it was the site of many lovely memories.

Friday, September 23, 2022

57 Years – And Counting

 On September 4, 1965, Larry and I said, “I do.” How can it be that long ago?

Last year, to celebrate my August 24 birthday and our 56th anniversary, we spent wo nights and three days at the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. We LOVED it!

Because we had enjoyed our time back at the parks so much, we decided to get annual passes again. We had them for years, but when the prices went crazy, we gave them up. Going back made us realize how much we had missed spending time there.

Because the passes are SO outrageously expensive, we decided to go at least every two weeks to make them worthwhile. We call it “theme park aerobics,” and we put in 10,000-18,000 steps each time.

With the horrible heat wave this year, we decided to go again for our anniversary.

We arrived on the 4th, our actual anniversary. We did not have park reservations for the day, and it was the actual Labor Day Monday, so we just checked into the hotel, enjoyed the cool air, and rested in the afternoon.

Last year, Larry decided to add the concierge service on to the cost of the hotel. (It’s only money…) We decided to do it again this time. We figured we actually saved money because this includes food service most of the day and night in the Veranda Room. We ate all our meals there during our stay and avoided the insane prices at the resort restaurants.

Our first night, we went to the Veranda and sat outside. From there, we could see the nighttime fireworks from Disneyland. They also piped in the accompaniment music. We met several other Disney fanatics and had a great time.

A perk of staying at one for the resort hotels is early entry to Disneyland. It used to be an hour, but now it is only half an hour. Still… They also limit early entry to about a dozen rides in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, but heck, we love avoiding the crowds.

First day in Disneyland

We went in early on Tuesday morning-before the heat set in. We rode on about seven rides, and got back to the hotel before 10:00 a.m. We rode the monorail back to Downtown Disney. The hotel entrance isn’t far from the monorail station.

We had gotten coffee before we left, but when we came back, we ate breakfast in the Veranda Room. Then we went back to our room, cooled off, and worked a bit on the computer.

Late in the afternoon, we went into California Adventure and rode Soarin’ Over the World (our favorite ride in this park). We had never gone on Grizzly River Run—the river raft ride—because I have never wanted to spend the rest of the day in wet clothing. However, this was the perfect time to do it!

While we waited in line, we met a couple of young men from San Diego. One was a surfer, so he and Larry talked surfing. They also love theme parks, so we entertained them with stories about building Universal Studios Japan. What a nice way to pass the time!

We took the ride—and got soaked―but it was so hot, the cold water felt good. Then we went back to the hotel and showered. I washed my hair and changed clothes. Later, we went back to the Veranda for their afternoon hot hors d’oeuvres. Just perfect!

The next morning, we again took advantage of the early entry. The Haunted Mansion had just been changed to the Nightmare Before Christmas theming. While in line, a young man spotted Larry’s surfing Mickey Hawaiian shirt. He offered $100 for it. However, it is one of Larry’s favorites, so no sale. So much fun.

Before we left, we took a selfie in front of the castle. Fortunately, a nice family volunteered to take our picture. This one was better.

We ate lunch (tea) and then packed and checked out.

The three days and two nights away from the unbearable heat at home really helped!

Not a bad way to celebrate!

Friday, September 9, 2022

99 Years – And Counting


Growing up, Aunt Evie was my very favorite relative. She was the youngest of three girls. My mother was in the middle. Evie was six years younger than Mom and seven years younger than Aunt Muriel.

Mom and Muriel were raised as proper Victorian children—to be seen and not heard. They had to behave, and Grandma was very strict.

Mom, Evelyn, Muriel

Evelyn on the other hand, was quite spoiled, both by her parents and her older sisters.

She was tiny and cute and was of a different generation than her sisters. She was twenty-three years old when I was born. She and her husband, Uncle Frank, were the fun relatives.

When I was in my early teens, they hired me to babysit their kids. The twins, Karen and Kathy, were only three years younger, but they wanted to be sure they weren’t alone in the house when they went out for their Friday night “Date Nights.”

I have always believed they also wanted to give me some extra spending money, and this was the only way my mother would have allowed it. In addition, they recommended me to their neighbors, and I babysat for quite a few children on their street. Another reason they were important to me.

They conspired with my cousin, David, to plan a surprise party for my fifteenth birthday. David, who was a year older, brought all his friends—several of whom were guys. They also invited my girlfriends. The party was held at their home around and in their pool. Uncle Frank barbequed. This is a very special memory.

Not long afterward, they moved to the bay area. The first Thanksgiving week after they moved, my younger cousin, Eileen, and I took the train to visit them. While Eileen and the twins played, Aunt Evie helped me to make two wool dresses—one for me and the other for my mother’s Christmas gift. Since Evie was a fabulous seamstress, the dresses turned out perfectly. (This dress was one of the few garments I ever made for myself that I actually wore. In fact, I wore mine out as did my mother.)

After I was married, we tried to visit Evie and Frank at least once a year. When she knew we were coming, Evelyn always tried to find a new and fun place to share with us.

Although I was not fond of seafood, we always went to Berkeley to Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto (now closed). They had halibut Florentine, and it was delicious!

My very favorite place was Allied Arts in Menlo Park. This place benefits the children’s hospital at Stanford, and their restaurant was always a delight. I often bought gifts when we visited the little artisan shops on the property.

For several years, Evie was a docent at Filoli, the former home of the Matson family. We visited several times, and once she took us on a private tour.

We often drove over to Sausalito for brunch at the Alta Mira Hotel (now closed). I have many happy memories of this place, including taking our “kids” Silvia and Kazue there.

Aunt Evie suffered a stroke in 2011. It left her with some speech and balance issues, but her mind remained sharp. I created this video to celebrate their 72 years of marriage. They loved to dance, and I think it kept them both young. 

70th Anniversary

Aunt Evie and Uncle Frank were married for over 73 years when Uncle Frank died in 2016. My cousin, Karen had planned to move them to her home because their split-level home had become too much for them to manage. After Uncle Frank died, Evie moved in with Karen.

I created this video for Uncle Frank’s memorial service. 

On August 28 of this year, Aunt Evie turned ninety-nine. We decided to visit her. Karen has now moved to Reno, NV. So, we drove the Tesla there and spent a few days. What a wonderful trip!

We first spent a day with Karen and Evie going over several books of family photos. I may be the only one left who could identify who they were! What fun to see all the familiar faces.

Karen’s home is like a museum of my childhood memoriesjam packed with Evie and Frank and Grandma’s things. So nice to see them all again.

The next day, we took our great-niece (who also lives in Reno) out for lunch. Since I had told her all about Aunt Evie, I wanted them to meet. Both Evie and Karen were very impressed with this young lady. (Of course, we are biased, but we think she is truly special.)

The next day, we picked up Evie and Karen and took them to Sheels in Sparks for lunch. Afterward, we went to the indoor Ferris wheel. Aunt Evie LOVES Ferris wheels! Karen won’t go on it with her, but Larry and I both bought tickets. I went with her first, and she was like a little kid. On the last revolution, the car stopped at the top. She gave a fist pump and laughed. Larry changed places with me, and again, the car stopped at the top. She was thrilled! Of course, we had to have ice cream before we went back to Karen’s house.

We returned home with great memories of my precious aunt to add to those we had accumulated through the years.

For her actual birthday, Karen continued with the Ferris wheel theme.

August 28, 2022

I can’t finish without mentioning Karen once more. She is one of the most loving, giving, generous people I know. She takes exceptionally good care of her mother. Both in her former home in California and in her current home, she has given Aunt Evelyn the master suite so all of her familiar furniture fits. Karen is constantly thinking of things for her mother to do to keep her engaged and interested. Her twin sister, Kathy still lives in California, but she visits whenever possible.

Karen’s daughter, Heather, and the grandchildren live around the corner and spend quite a bit of time with Karen and Evelyn. I can’t imagine a lovelier way to live at her age! Many thanks to Karen for loving your mom, my very favorite relative.