Thursday, December 31, 2009

It rained yesterday, a situation that seems to throw Californians into a tizzy. However, we braved the light drizzle and drove about 40 miles to Santa Clarita, to tour the home/museum of silent film western star, William S. Hart.
The house is at the top of a high hill and we got there by going up a winding trail. The place still has buffalos and we saw two of them grazing.
Hart was an animal lover and there's a dog graveyard, as well as a memorial and grave for his favorite horse. This is the kind of thing I enjoy a lot--don't ask me why--old-time movie stars and California history.
After, we went to Ellen's shoe store, which is going out of business, and she bought three pair at half price. We then went to George's Bistro for lunch and, as it was still raining, rented movies--"The Talented Mr. Ripley" for me and "Julia and Julie" for her--and Ellen made a delicious lentil/vegetable soup, which we had for dinner. Low-key, but still a nice day.
NOTE: I was sorry to hear from director Tara that she has to cast "Steel Magnolias" before I get back, so I can't audition for a part. She asked if I'd act as understudy for the two "older women" parts, which I want to do IF that means simply covering the parts during rehearsals during an absence, which I think it does. I don't want to have to memorize just on the assumption I could be needed if somebody gets hit by a truck or something. I'm pretty sure that's not what would be required,though.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Busy, productive, and a great fun day. Mike called on the web cam in the morning and we got to see Vivian and Violet in LaJolla. I was surprised to see a large Christmas tree and other decorations in the house they're renting. In code, Mike told us they were going to Disneyland--it was a surprise.
We spent the afternoon at Ellen's school, where we prepared for the next term, starting January 11. We took down the 2009 material and added 2010 stuff (yoicks, can 2010 really be coming up so soon?); erased and replaced "whiteboard" information; sharpened pencils, copied papers, and so on. Ellen wrote her lesson plan on the computer, copied a lot of material, worked out math problems, and did the multitude of other chores every teacher knows. I helped in various small ways and enjoyed doing it. We had brought sandwiches and took a break long enough to sit out in the warm sun and have lunch. The setting is lovely, with vegetable fields all around, lush foliage heavy with flowers, and the gracious green foothills in the background.
When we finished, we decided to go see "Up In The Air." Went to the theatre, but found we had missed an earlier showing, so bought tickets for 5:00. Went to Trader Joe's, a terrific whole foods/supermarket and got supplies. I bought a bottle of "Two Buck Chuck" White Zin, an incredible $2 a bottle bargain--no wonder there are so many alcoholics in California--then we went home and had a bite before going back for the movie. Boy, I loved it. I thought it was so funny and subtle, but bittersweet, too.
Got home about 8:00, then Ellen went to the store. She got me egg nog, which I put a stick in (Mike had left us a half bottle of rum), then went happily to bed and slept like a--yes, a log.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spent yesterday running a multitude of errands, doing wash, and buying groceries. It was warm and sunny and we enjoyed downtown Ventura, then just vegged out. I confess I snoozed on the couch while Ellen prepared dinner. Discussed whether to attend the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, but probably won't. We want to go back to the Getty Museum and other places in and around L.A., but have plenty of time. Today, we'll go into Ellen's school and I'll assist in setting up her classroom for next semester.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hey, we've been having so much fun and doing so much, I've had no chance to get back on this thing. Won't go into detail--too much to tell--but will mention a few highlights:
Had a glorious, child-filled Christmas. We adults were all up to see Vivian and Violet open their presents, and what fun that was. Vivi's favorite was a Barbie guitar. Because she's preparing for a career as a rock star, it's essential equipment, and boy, is it loud. Of course, Vivi is pretty loud herself, full of exuberance and 5-year-old assurance that all good things will come to her in life. May it be so. Violet repeated her appreciative comment of "Ba-ba" several times and loved playing with her new toys. Had the leftover turkey and ham for various meals; it was a good idea to have the big meal on Christmas Eve, and relax a bit more on The Day. In the afternoon, I know we went somewhere, but just can't remember if it was into Truckee or if that was another day. Anyway, loved it. We dismantled the tree in the evening, and got everything packed up. Mike sent most of the snow gear back to Singapore, as they were headed to San Diego to visit Paula's father.
El and I left about noon. It was enthralling to be in the deep snow of the Sierra Nevada mountains--the high Sierras*--for days and then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, back into mild weather. We got to brother Frank's in the late afternoon and had a great time visiting. Their daughters, Maureen and Francine, came over to see us, along with M.'s two little ones, and one of Francine's three boys. What a nice visit we had! Colleen Marybeth made pizza, of all things, for dinner, and we also had her fabulous soda bread, made from scratch, of course. Talked and talked, enjoyed some Chardonnay with MB, then turned in and slept like a log. After a big breakfast, we left about 9:00 am, with thanks to a dear brother and SIL whom we're always glad to see.
Made good time down from Alameda in the San Francisco area, then Ellen pointed out that we weren't far from Hearst Castle, so why didn't we go? Great idea, and we did!
I've been there several times before, but never get tired of it. As ever, it was enthralling to see the place where the rich--the really, really, incredibly rich--frolicked. I'm not saying I think it's right or fair or good that some have so much, while others have so little, but I love the place and want to move in.
It was after five before we left and we had the long ride home, but it went okay. We stopped at Andersen's for their famous pea soup, which I enjoyed, although the service was mediocre. Got back to El's after 10:00, and am so glad to be here, relaxed and happy, continuing a fabulous vacation, lucky me.
Don't know when I'll get back to this--so much going on and it's so absorbing and I'm having so much fun, I may just play hooky and neglect the damn blog again. Will play it by ear.
*The high Sierras! How romantic and mysterious and fascinating those words are. I didn't attempt to describe the soaring beauty of those snow-covered mountains around Truckee and Lake Tahoe because I don't have the skill. Nobody does--they just have to be seen.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last night, the Christmas tree suddenly fell over. Not sure why, as no one was near it, but we righted it, swept up the smashed balls, and reattached the ornaments. Mike tied it up, so it won't happen again. Later, we put on the top the angel which has graced our Christmas tree for a full half-century. She's now only a ceramic head, with an improvised body of a cardboard tube and one of my silk scarves, but she's up there, having traveled all the way from Jersey, and she looks great.
The sleigh ride was just wonderful. Our driver was Katie, a Lake Tahoe native and expert skier, and our horse was Chance, who can pull two and a half times his weight and has been hauling sleigh-riders for 15 years.
It was great fun. Vivian rode in the front with Katie and the rest of us in the back with thick blankets over us. It was a very cold, but beautiful day--blue skies with hardly a cloud in it and brilliant sunshine. We stopped and got hot chocolate first, then piled in the sleigh and were transported around a flat area, singing "Jingle Bells" and lots of other holiday favorites. It was one of the most fun times of all.
We then went home and Paula put in a luscious turkey breast and a big, spiral-sliced ham. We left those to cook and Vicky stayed in with napping Viole while the rest of us went to the Donner museum. It's only a few miles away and commemorates the tragic story of the participants who were forced-to-cannibalize their fellow travelers during the harsh winter.
Went home to a delicious dinner and roaring fires. It's Christmas Eve and we're ready for Santa!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First time I've been able to get on the computer, and this will be short. Ellen and I stayed over in Sacramento, then arrived in Lake Tahoe yesterday at noon. The house Mike rented is gorgeous, very large, with three fireplaces, made mostly of wood and stone, beautifully furnished in the craftsman style, and with all kinds of luxury touches. The setting is, of course, overwhelming, considering the tons of snow, the mountains, and the trees.
Had a terrific time yesterday making cookies, then making pretend cookies as decorations for the Christmas tree, then decorating the tree--all with the active participation of Mike, Paula, Vickie, and Vivian, and the interested gaze of one-year-old Violet.
Today, we all went into town--Truckee, that is--and roamed the shops. It's something like a New Hope North, with lots of little cutesy merchandise, in this case, heavily north woods/timber wolf type. Came home for lunch--Paula made pizza NOT from a box--and we then went to Squaw Valley for a dog sled ride.
Ye-s-s, a dog sled ride. Mike conceived the notion that it would be fun and we went along. We left Violet with nanny Vickie--it's good to have a nanny--and took Vivian. Unfortunately, the dogs were already booked, so we couldn't go. However, there was a skating rink there, under the towering mountains and huge pines--and Mike took Vivi ice skating there.
Now, this five-year-old had never been on ice skates before and wow, is she a natural. She fell down a lot, of course, but she persisted and made it across and around the rink innumerable times. It was fun for the rest of us, too, watching them and taking pictures.
Tomorrow, all seven of us will go to the same place for a horse-drawn sleigh ride on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Well, today's the day--my actual (UGH!) birthday. I got e-cards from dear friends Lynne C. and Pat and Rich R., as well as neighbors, Judy and Roman. Also received birthday wishes from lots of family and friends on Facebook.
I'm not too happy to have arrived at the advanced age of 57 (oh, geez, what a lie; I'd LOVE to be 57!) or rather, at my present stage of decrepitude, but at least I'm healthy and in fairly good shape.
Yesterday, Mike picked up our little house guest, Vivian, and they all left for Tahoe. Ellen and I then we prepared for the trip, on which we'll embark this morning. Did wash, went to stores, and packed. El made me an excellent dinner of pasta and meatballs and I went to bed early. Had a curious dream about my good friend, Elaine M., who died 6 years ago. Won't describe it--there's nothing more boring than other people's dreams, unless it's a description of the T.V. show they saw last night--but I felt a slight melancholy when I woke up.
Called brother Frank in Alameda and we'll stop there on our way back home. Mike called Ellen after I went to bed and said snow "showers" were expected, so we'll stop overnight on our way. Heard from A. via e-mail--they had 18 inches of snow in Jersey, for heaven's sake, so we have nothing on them! I understand that Virginia, where my brother Jim lives, had the most snow recorded there--not sure how much.
At 7:10 am, Frank and Marybeth called to sing me the happy birthday song. Got birthday wishes from A., too, and lots of others.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Had a great, wonderful birthday party yesterday, thanks to Ellen! Mike, Paula, Vivian, Violet, and Vickie came first, followed by my twin Betty, and her Carolyn, Dana, Finn, and Claire. A little later, Betty's son, Steve, his wife Robyn, and their Dexter blew in from Pasadena, and we were all there.
What a ball we had. The five children ranged in age from Finn, at 8 1/2 to little Violet, 17 months, and they loved playing together, scattering toys from one end of the house to another. We adults chatted, drank beer, and talked and laughed for an hour or so, then had lunch. Ellen had gotten a sandwich tray and the others contributed light and dark beer, Mediteranian potato salad, and bow-tie pasta. Ellen then unveiled a big, scrumptious cake with whipped cream icing and lacy chocolate decorations and a white chocolate banner that spelled out "Happy Birthday, Mimi (my childhood nickname) and Betty" in dark chocolate.
It was then present-opening time and what wonderful ones. I got a kind of short poncho (which I kept me nice and warm later in the evening), a scarf that can be worn in several different ways, a traveling bag, several books, and two pairs of slippers, along with a puffy robe (thanks, Ellen!), and lots of other great gifts.
After that, most of us took the children next door to a small playground, where they ran, jumped, and shrieked to their hearts' content. When we came back in, Patrick and Natsue were on the web cam talking to Ellen and Betty, and I was happy to see them.
The company left about 5:00, aside from little Vivian, who stayed over. What a time we had with her! We went to the "Boat Festival of Lights" at the Ventura Seaport and saw dozens of small boats, all bedecked with sparkling lights and happy music. The place was thronged with people and there was a traveling carnival; we let Vivian take a rider on a "space ship," then went to a Korean resturant for dinner. This proved to be an annoying interlude, as every aspect of the service was so slow, but there's no sense in recounting it. Enough to say that Ellen asked for a discount and they gave us 30% off.
After watching the rest of the boats go back and enjoying a fireworks display, we went home where Ellen gave Vivian a bath and we got her to bed. Soon after, I turned in--exhausted, but so happy and grateful for a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

While El was a school yesterday--her last day before the Christmas break--I cleaned up her patio. When she got home, we worked on it together and it looks so nice. It was a wonderful, sunny day--72 degrees--and I enjoyed it, especially after learning about the blizzard expected on the east coast. Later, we went to her school district staff party at the Oxnard home of the principal of the other school. It was a lot of fun meeting and chatting with her colleagues and we both had a good time.
My cold had been improving, but unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a bad sore throat. It feels as if it's swollen and hurts everytime I swallow. Darn! Today, Mike and his family and Betty and her family are coming over to celebrate our birthday--well, I hope it improves.

Friday, December 18, 2009

After I got back to Ventura yesterday, I more or less vegged out until Ellen got home: lay on the couch and read. We decided--surprise!--to go out to eat, so went to Marie Callender's for a mediocre dinner and good, good talk. Stopped at stores to stock up on supplies and order a sandwich tray for the birthday party on Saturday, then went home. I felt wonderful after a shower and we watched an old "Twilight Zone" with Orson Bean and Henry Jones, two actors who used to work all the time. Mike called to discuss plans for the party; he said Vivian can stay overnight with us then. I went happily to bed and slept well, although my cold is still active.
Now here's a funny--and intriguing--happenstance: I got up a little later than usual a short time ago at 6:30 and as I was about to go downstairs, my cell phone rang. It was Mary Ellen M., one of my acting company buddies, thinking I was still in Jersey, where it would be 9:30 am. She was calling to ask why I hadn't auditioned for "Steel Magnolias" the other day. Of course, I was already here, so couldn't, but she urged me to contact the director, Tara, to tell her I'm interested. I definitely am and asked ME to give me Tara's number and she will.
Hmm...now I'm hoping this isn't simply ME's idea. I had e-mailed Tara to tell her I'd be gone from December 13, so couldn't be at the open board meeting. I assume she'd gotten the message and would surmise I couldn't audition either, but I don't know that for sure. AND, more important, I don't know if it would be bold and presumptous of me to do this, either. Mulling it over...mulling it over...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good fun yesterday: After Ellen went to school,sister Betty picked me up and drove me back to Santa Barbara. We spent most of the day at Mike's SB "cottage" and the kids' park, along with Carolyn and her Finn, 8, and Claire, 3 and, of course, Vivian and Violet. I stayed over at Betty's and we had a great sisterly time together, enjoying Chinese at a restaurant full of red, gold, lavish drapes, and high prices. It looked like what I think of as a brothel, but having never seen one, I may be wrong.
Only drawback was that I've caught the cold that both Ellen and Paula have; have a bad sore throat. Decided I won't go to Finn's holiday show tonight and I'm pretty sure Ellen won't want to, either. She probably has had enough of elementary school.
Today, I left Betty at her place to do some paperwork and met Mike and entourage in SB business district. We had a fine time strolling on a beautiful sunny day in this stunningly beautiful city. Paula bought some clothes for the little girls and I got a new memory card for my camera. We then parted and Betty picked me up. We had lunch at a terrific place called "Harry's," then she drove me home and here I am, waiting for Ellen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ellen left for work and Mike picked me up at 9:00 and took me to Santa Barbara to their "cottage." I's large and very attractive, with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a hot tub, and exotic plantings all around. Beautifully decorated, it has two fireplaces and a well-designed kitchen, with all mod cons, as the classified used to say.
As soon as I walked in, that human dynamo, 5-year-old Vivian, threw herself in my arms shouting, "Nana, my Nana!" What energy and what a personality--Vivian is so active and talkative and creative and fun! I'm always charmed by the fact that she has a distinctive accent--hard to place, but it seems to be a kind of British/Indian hybrid.
After we chatted for a time, Mike and Paula went to the supermarket and I chatted with nanny Vicky and got acquainted with "the other one," my younger adorable granddaughter. What a little doll. Violet is 17 months old and I think may have a more sedate personality than her big sister. I was surprised that she talks as well as she does: One by one, she handled me some little tiles she had been playing with and I said "thank you." Each time, she responded with the same phrase--a little garbled, but clearly "you're welcome."
We had lunch, then Mike, Vivian, and I went to the park, where V. ran off some--but certainly not all--of her excess energy. We then drove to Ellen's and all had a snack, then to E.'s school for the holiday recital.
We spent the first half hour in E.'s third-grade classroom and enjoyed being introduced to her students. We then saw the recital, which was very similar to those in which my own children participated. Went after to a Mexican restaurant for a late dinner. I had a lobster burrito and a Corona with lime--yum!
Home then and I soon went to bed. My arms have improved a lot and not longer itch, but are still slightly swollen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yo mama! Having a fine time in the Land of the Locusts. A. took me to Philly in the driving rain. Flight was okay--I had my drugs, also managed to enjoy a beer on the plane. My darling d., Ellen, met me at LAX and took me to dinner at a vegetarian restaurant (this time I had Belgian beer). Got to El's place without incident, and I slept like a log.
Ellen's place looks great. She got new furniture and carpeting, and fresh paint since I was here last and boy, is it attractive.
El went to work and I took the bus to the shopping center. Called Betty from the Barnes & Noble and she drove over to meet me. We went shopping, then to lunch at Marie Callender's. She then dropped me off and I hung around until Ellen got home. Went to Powerful Pasta (or whatever it's called) and I had angel hair with oil and garlic, and--oh, all right, another beer. I'm always astounded at the number of places that sell booze in California--drug stores, supermarkets, the corner grocery, and, for all I know, kiddie lemonade stands.
Mike called while we were having dinner. He and entourage got into Santa Barbara about 3:00 and he'll call me today about 10:00 to make plans.
The only thing not such wonderful fun is the fact that I suddenly developed an almost unbearable itching in both hands extending halfway up to my elbows. I scratched furiously and now both areas are very noticably swollen and inflamed-. Ellen took me to an urgent care facility, but they wouldn't take my insurance. We were directed to a clinic in Oxnard which, accordng to the receptionist at the first place, will take it. Drove over there, but couldn't find the place and I decided I'd skip it and see what happens. The itching stopped finally stopped or at least, lessened considerably, and I slept well. However, the areas are still just as swollen, red, and tender. Will wait and see if the mysterious malady improves.
Maybe I'm just allergic to so much fun?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today's the day--yay!
Spent most of yesterday washing and packing. P. and N. called in the morning and were expecting to see the Singapore contingent today. Frank helped me carry the porch furniture into the garage and I ran some last minute errands. A. called to invite me up to decorate their tree and for dinner and I happily accepted. Got there about 4:00 as they were cutting and chopping trees, "chipping" them, and clearing out brush from their large backyard.
As it turned out, A. hadn't gotten the decorations down yet--just as well, as I didn't want to be out too late, although I was sorry I didnt' get to see the little boys. We had a wonderful dinner of puttenesco (I'm sure that's mispelled, but I bet Blogspot doesn't know it, either). A. sauteed shrimp, onions, capers, and diced tomatoes for the sauce, poured it over pasta, and it was delcious. Got home by 7:30 and went to bed even earlier than usual.
Caliornia, here I come!
JUST AN ASIDE: This from a good blog I just discovered called "The Regressive":
"An adolescent asked Mozart how to compose symphonies. Mozart said that because the lad was so young, perhaps he should begin composing ballads. "But," the young man objected, "you wrote symphonies when you were only 10 years old." Mozart replied: "But I didn't have to ask how."
That story may be apocryphal, but it's truer than true. It contains within it the idea, all too prevalent today, it seems, that you can just find some formula to accomplish art or anything else. But so often, you can't--the genius is there or not there and it can't be faked.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Busy day yesterday, which included much fun and some sadness. Barb H., her sister, Pat G., and yet another Pat--H.--and I went to lunch at Debra's Dream Cafe in the Tuckerton Emporium, then to the Tuckerton Christmas Tour, as we've done for the past several years. Susan and her daughter and granddaughter joined us for lunch, but skipped the tour.
We had a great time, as we always do, and the tour included houses decorated in various ways. One featured copious amounts of purple and silver--pretty, but you'd swear you were in Macy's window--another a Victorian theme. In that one, the homeowner had in her bedroom a mannekin wearing the woman's own Victorian-style wedding gown. We were taken aback to learn she kept it there all the time--bizarre! (And scary, if you ask me.) Some houses seemed very much over-decorated--guess I go for the more subtle--but they were all fun to see.
Got home about 4:30 and I immediately changed, then walked around the corner to Mary Ann Van O.'s. I had just been told that her Bart had died Thursday; he had had COPD, as Pat did, and had been on hospice. We hugged and cried, then talked quietly. Her daughter, SIL, and three grandchildren were there and Mary Ann insisted I stay for dinner, which I did. Neighbors had brought over salad and pasta, and with Italian bread and a nice wine, we had a good dinner.
Today, I have a slew of errands and chores to do, as tomorrow's the big day. Can't wait to see Ellen, Mike, and the rest of them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Doris H., who lives a block from me, took me to lunch yesterday. She has COPD and I was pleased to give her those of Pat's medication that she could use. Being with someone with a portable oxygen machine was all too familiar with me. However, she's much less infirm than Pat was at the end--could walk fairly briskly into the restaurant and so on. Had a nice time. I took half my Caesar salad home for dinner, then prepared to go to EuroColor for my hair. Got color and a trim. Gave my hairdresser (geez, that sounds like, "my valet" or "my maid"!), Eileen, a card with cash. I never thought I'd see the day I'd spend so much on my hair, but it looks so good, it's worth it. Eileen, who was a makeup artist for actors, told me about "Sherlock Holmes Week" in Cape May and asked if I might like to go with her. This isn't until March and I accepted with enthusiasm. I'll see her professionally before then, anyway.
Going on the Tuckerton Christmas Tour today with Barb H., Pat G., and Susan.
WIDER: The admirable Justin Raimondo, in "The Afghan Experiment" on Anti-War.Com writes that, in view of Obama's "Peace" Prize, we've been knocked into an "alternate universe":
"According to my theory – which I think has since been proved many times over – the sheer force of those planes ploughing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon knocked the very structure of the space-time continuum off-kilter. This momentous shift plunged us into an alternate universe – Bizarro World – where up is down, war is peace, and soldiers deployed in the service of "regional peacekeeping" – such as Obama’s Afghan escalation – are "wagers of peace," as the President put it in his Nobel speech."
Yes, indeed--and see my entry of December 8 below on "General Edgeways" remarks in "It Can't Happen Here," which include:
"For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest--not for jealousy--not for war--but for peace...."
Bizarro World is right, Justin.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a terrific, wonderful evening! Susan had invited me to dinner a few weeks ago, and asked me to come at 6:30. The thought crossed my mind at the time that it seemed a little late--in this community, that is--but I mentally shrugged and got there promptly at that time. I could see through the window that the other guests seemed to be there already and when I walked in--
SURPRISE! It was a birthday party for me! Since I'll be in California on the twenty-first, Susan had arranged the party in my honor for last night and, oh, it was delightful from beginning to end. My dearest friends on the street were there: the hosts, Susan and Walter, Dennis and Leslie, and the two Barbara's with their Frank and Ray. Judy and Roman were there, too, along with Anne Mary, whom I was happy to see.
After plenty of wine and delicious appetizers, dinner was served buffet style and oh, was it good. I was told to sit in the place of honor at the head of the table, the chair bedecked with three birthday balloons. Dinner was scrumptious and included ham, double-stuffed sweet potatoes, string bean casserole, potato salad, rolls, and other sides. For dessert, there was a beautiful cake--"Happy Birthday, Rosemary"--and everybody sang the birthday song. In addition, Barbara brought two "fluffs"--pumpkin and pineapple--and somebody had made a key lime pie.
After that? Presents! I got a necklace, a pair of Alpine gloves, a Scrabble dictionary, a gift card for Borders, and from the D.'s, a large bottle of White Zin and several packets of popcorn--yay!
Well, it was just a wonderful evening. Didn't break up until almost 11:00, when everybody went happily home--across the street or two doors down for all of us. How lucky, how very lucky I am to have landed here. It's almost impossible to believe I didn't know any of these people, now so dear to me, just 7 years ago. And, in addition, of course, I've been favored with the best family imaginable.
All those I love and cherish are related to me, either by blood or by warm fellow feeling--and I couldn't be happier about it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Had a good time at the Scrabble group, which was at Julie's. Other than that, wrapped a few more presents and got into my pre-trip mode: sheer terror. Have a doctor's appointment today to discuss my blood pressure and will ask her for a new prescription for Antivan. I actually have some leftover pills--one vial is from eight years ago, but so what?--but want to be sure it's "active" or whatever. Tonight is Susan's dinner party and after that, I'd better get serious about packing for California.
WIDER: Here's a bit a Chris Floyd's latest in his "Empire Burlesque" blog:
"...only an idiot could actually believe (the rationales for U.S. agression). And while our leaders may be moral nullities, they are not idiots. Therefore it is clear beyond all doubt and argument that the stated purposes for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are deliberate, knowing, well-considered lies. Thus all the earnest debates and commentaries on the relative efficacy of various policies aimed at achieving these completely specious goals are pointless. In the end, such diversionary "debates" only serve the causes of war, domination, profiteering and elite power that are, in the end, the only true goals of these campaigns."
Well said, as all Chris' posts are. Best to read the whole entry, though, as there's much more:
http://www.chris-floyd.com/

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Got the car inspected, then went to Target and got a few more gifts. Spent most of the rest of the day packing and trying to decide what else I have to do to get ready for my trip. Scrabble group today.
WIDER: I've been reading "They Thought They Were Free," a fascinating book by Martin Mayer, first published in the early fifties. It's about the rise of Nazism in Germany and is eerily similar to what's going on in the U.S. now. (Oh,I know about Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here"--but, of course, it can. I want to read that next.) Mayer interviews a group of "little men," not the movers and shakers who brought about war and genocide, but ordinary citizens. Their lack of understanding of the true nature of their government (and, notably, of Hitler) and their acceptance of its horrors are mirrored, I'm afraid, in our own society today. Will write on this after I finish the book.
Speaking of "It Can't Happen Here," I just looked that up. On the second or third page, there's a speech by a "General Edgeways" that, incredibly, includes language so similar to Obama's recent "escalation speech," you'd swear Lewis came back from the grave. Here's an excerpt:
". . for these United States, alone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest. Our highest ambition is to be darned well let alone!...But, as I explained to you, we must be prepared to defend our shores against all the alien gangs of international racketeers that call themselves 'governments,' and that with such feverish envy are always eyeing our inexhaustible mines, our towering forests, our titanic and luxurious cities, our fair and far-flung fields...For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest--not for jealousy--not for war--but for peace...."
Got it, general: War is peace! New boss just like the old boss....

Monday, December 07, 2009

Went to the cemetery, then back to Macy's to bring one of my purchases back. Aside from that, was pleased with myself by finally shaping up and getting some presents wrapped, as well as turning my attention to some financial stuff. Adorable Vivian called on Skype, but something's wrong with it and it kept going off after about 30 seconds. Same thing happened when Ellen tried last night. We finally just talked on the phone. Want to get the car inspected today.
WIDER: Well, this is just incredibe! It seems there is no firm timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan! Hard to believe that our Dear Leader would--well, mislead us, but maybe this will clarify:
http://news.antiwar.com/2009/12/06/officials-downplay-insincere-2011-afghan-timetable/

Sunday, December 06, 2009

It rained all day--bummer. Went to Boscov's and got some Christmas presents. Other than that, not much. Maybe I'll add to this later--.
WIDER: On Anti-War.com, William Lind writes about a new bumper sticker: O=W. It's catching on rapidly, especially among true conservatives, and no wonder. He goes on to observe that O.'s surrender to the military that now seems to rule us "...should not come as a surprise. America is now a one-party state. The one party is the Establishment party, which is also the war party. Unless you are willing to cheer permanent war for permanent peace, you cannot be a member of the Establishment."
So true. And there seems to be a general, overall feeling of helplessness when it comes to trying to combat the murderous ways of our rulers. They do not listen to the people. They make noises in protest at this latest escalation, but they will vote--oh, so reluctantly and with bowed heads--to fund it. They can do this with impunity because they will say they must, as otherwise they are leaving the beloved troops with no protection from the enemy, throwing them to the wolves, so to speak. There isn't a politician alive who won't weep tears of love and pride at the belovedness of the troops and how they're in harm's way and how it isn't their fault they were suddenly whisked away to kill people in other countries, so therefore it's the politician's patriotic duty to fund the carnage.
Ho-hum, what else is new?
WIDER # 2: What else is new (to me, that is) is a web site Arthur Silber mentioned--Reclusive Leftist--by "Violet Socks" and it's hot. Violet talks about the staging of presidental performances, including O.'s recent show re the escalation:
--Why do we still go through this pretense of voting? We should just hold auditions. The government is the same; the foreign policy is the same. The military-industrial complex trundles along as ever, forging the path of Empire. The only difference is who’s on TV. Flight suit or sober business attire? Weighty tomes or fresh-faced cadets?--
Boy, is she cynical. And right on the money.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Went to Macy's and picked up some Christmas presents. Stopped at Santori's after to stock up on veggies. Drove to Wal-Mart to exchanged one CD player for another. Finished "The Lovely Bones" and started reading Augustan Burroughs' "Possible Side Effects." It's a lousy book, but I'm on a Burroughs kick, having just finished "Running With Scissors," which I've read before.
It felt like a busy day, but I'll be darned if I got much accomplished. However, I guess I don't have to "accomplish" anything, so that's okay.
LATER: Back from Weight Watchers and I'm afraid my inexorable gain is continuing. I'm up .6, so am at 143.2, with a total weight loss of 56.4 pounds. I attribute that to this weeks' two dinner parties--mine and the L.'s--although I may be kidding myself. What's looming ahead is almost a solid week of more dinners and lunches, then California. Gotta buckle down, buckle up, or buckle sideways to end this thing...

Friday, December 04, 2009

What a delightful party last night at the L.'s! Got there at 4:00--theirs are always early, which I appreciate--and was greeted outside by Danny S., who asked me how Pat was doing. I was surprised he didn't know and he was embarrassed when I told him Pat had died in August, but I reassured him I wasn't upset at the question. His Kate wasn't able to be there because she recently fell and broke her pelvis; she also suffers from depression.
The others arrived shortly: Barbara and Frank, Don and Noreen, Rita, and Audrey. The L.'s had again hired Joe M. (a Holy Spirit attendee himself)to play the keyboard, which he did throughout the evening. Unfortunately, the music was too loud for us to talk comfortably and we had to raise our voices. I guess nobody thought it was up to them to request he play more softly, but we managed to talk and talk anyway.
Dinner included both turkey and pork, plus butternut squash, rolls, smashed 'taters, cranberry sauce, and so on. Noreen made a scrumptious cheesecake and there was frozen tira masu, too.
After, we had fun drawing numbers and choosing the $5 gifts we had each brought. The idea is that anybody after number one can exchange what he or she has for something from a lower number. It was a lot of fun.
Everybody left shortly after 8, which suits me better (and others in my age group, I'm pretty sure) than gatherings that go on later. Got home before 9:00, relaxed for a time with another glass of wine and went happily to bed.
We started being invited to the L.'s Christmas party 7 or 8 years ago. Pat was relatively well then, and we always attended. The last three gatherings, though, he was unable to go and I went by myself. With one exception, all the others are Pat's, not my, age and it shows. They are slowing down or even, like Kate, slipping away, I think. Each year, some are gone for good (now there are three widows in the group) and several have suffered bouts of cancer or heart disease.
But last night was great fun. I always think of the L.'s party as the kick-off to the Christmas season and am glad to be included.
WIDER: Here's the bubbly truth in a nutshell:
http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/war_and_peace_20091203/

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Went to Peterson's Monuments in Egg Harbor City and told them what I want on Pat's tombstone. Come to think of it, it's my tombstone, too. I guess that should have been a melancholy task, but it wasn't. I'm anxious to have it done, as I want to plant flowers on the grave, and so on. (Why? I don't know. I only know I need to do that.) I was told it would take up to three months before it's in place. Well, no matter, I guess we have plenty of time--eternity, that is.
Other than that, I just cleaned up after the party. Got a call from Mary Ellen, saying she was sorry she missed it. I also got a note from her; wrote her an e-mail back. Called Joe and Flo, whose annual Christmas party I'm attending tonight. Offered to bring leftover cheese and crackers, plus the cranberry wine Ellen gave me and they accepted. A. came at my request to get my big suitcase from the attic; must start packing for my trip. I gave her a lot of what was left from my dinner party for her and Mike's dinner. I hate to waste food and was glad she could use it.
I woke up (at 4:45, a half hour ago) to extremely high winds. I'm glad I took the cushions off the porch and hope the wicker furniture is still there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It turned out to be a lovely evening and nice little dinner party. Unfortunately, Mary Ellen called about 3:00 to say she had a sore throat (no doubt caught from one of the pre-schoolers she teaches), so there were just five of us. That was okay, though, and everything turned out delicious. For appetizers, I had cheese and crackers, grapes, sliced avocado, mixed nuts, and a terrific "roll" of cheese and prosciutto. We sat down for dinner about 6:30. The pork tenderloin was very good and along with it, I served homemade applesauce, butternut squash, corn (to which I added sauteed mushrooms, sweet pepper, and onions), the banana bread A. had given me, mixed olives, and a few other sides. I poured the the Merlot Desi brought and can't wait to try the cranberry wine from Ellen. I made cranberry apple crisp for dessert and whipped cream with it--boy, was that good. Along with coffee, we tried the grappe--an Italian after-dinner drink Mike had brought me. After one swallow, we all agreed it was an acquired taste--read "repulsive"--but had a lot of laughs over it.
Anyway, nice evening. My company left about 9:00 and I stayed up long enough to wash the things that have to be done by hand. Still have things to complete, but generally, got it done.
It was good to entertain again, although there's no question it's a lot of work. Now I'm looking forward to California, as well as other holiday gatherings, the first at the L.'s tomorrow.
WIDER: Oh, yes, O. will send more cannon fodder to kill and be killed. And yes, the "reactions" are just as Arthur Silber predicted (see yesterday's post). He must have a crystal ball, otherwise, how could he possibly have known how the monsters who "lead" us wuuld react? Oh, just from observation, readings from past and present, and thought? Could the representatives of mass media try that combination? Could the general population?
Fat chance.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Picked up a few last-minute items at Acme and finished cleaning up. Now I just have to do the cooking for my little dinner party tonight.
I was absolutely determined not to rush the season by decorating so early for Christmas, but that resolution, like my New Year ones, I'm afraid, went by the boards. I love pointsettias and, as noted earlier, succumbed to four small ones from Shop-Rite. Well, yesterday I saw beautiful large pointsettias in my favorite brilliant red for five bucks at Acme. Could I resist? Didn't even try. The plant Mike gave Pat in early August had finally given up the ghost, so now a pointsettia is gracing the foyer.
That done, I thought it wouldn't hurt to go a little further. I removed the little girl scarecrow and pumpkins from around the tree the front, hung a Christmas wreath on the front door, and put my flickering "candles" in the windows. Thought it needed a bit more, so now my soft Santas are reclining on the wicker on the porch.
AAGH! I decorated for Chistmas! And in November! After I swore I wouldn't!
I have no character, that's all.
WIDER: You don't have to listen to the POTUS tonight. The awesome Arthur Silber, as ever, has encapsulated what O. is going to say--only O. is going to say it in several thousand words with an earnest, forthright, but thoughtful mien and a solemn nod first to the almighty. Here's the word according to Arthur:
"As I've said before about Iraq, and this is also true of Afghanistan: We. Are. Not. Leaving."
There's a lot more at his http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/, all profoundly well-thought-out, simple, and true. I wish Aruthur's writings would be taught in every classroom in the country as an antidote to the lies from our "leaders" that kids are fed from Kindergarten on.