Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nice Day With Dotter*

Turned out to be a very enjoyable day. Early on, I texted Ellen to see if her cold was any better and she wrote back asking if I'd like to go to lunch after she showered. Well, sure, and we did. We went to Two Trees Restaurant, where neither of us had been before. It's just a little luncheonette, but served beer, which always blows my mind (you can take the girl out of Jersey--etc.). I had a patty melt and a Corona and incredibly, it was served with a lemon wedge. I asked for lime and the cheery server said they had none. This is the second time this scenario played since I've been here; I always want to say, "This is California and you don't have limes?" However, it was no big deal and they gave me frosted glass, so all was forgiven.
After, we went back to Ellen's and did a few housekeepy things. We speculated whether my antique table would fit anywhere in her house. After a lot of back and forth, we reluctantly--well, I was reluctant--decided it wasn't feasible. Now the damn table, which I thought would be snapped up by a dealer for three or four thou is starting to seem like an albatross--or at least, a seagull--around my neck. Must deal with it soon. In the meantime, I listed it on Craigslist for $1500 or b.o.
We went to Wal-Mart and El shopped for this and that while I got several things I've been wanting, including a timer (can barely hear the one on the stove). Went back to El's and we made a date to meet at the Nail Spa to get pedicures today. Will meet at 2:00, so I can be all spiffy for my colonoscopy on Tuesday. (AAGH! Let me erase that from my mind!)
*That's California-ese for female offspring.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seminar, a New Friend, and Hell

Interesting day. I attended a Ventura Council on Aging seminar, which featured various disaster people advising on what to do in emergencies--such as floods from El Nino, crime, and car accidents. An doctor from a hospital emergency room spoke, as well as reps from the fire and police departments, and so on. It was mildly interesting and I got a lot of free pens, but the real draw was when I saw a free barbecue lunch would be provided by Kiwanis after. That was mediocre, but what was worth the day was meeting a new friend, Diana N.
Diana is a psychologist and had her own practice until last month, when she semi-retired; she now works sporadically for the courts. She's probably at least ten--maybe more--years younger than I am and lives not far from Ellen in east Ventura. She suffers from an eye problem, having lost vision in one eye; the other is in jeopardy, but she still can drive. I happened to sit next to her, we introduced ourselves, and hit it off immediately. We ate together, then sat and talked for more than an hour. Originally from upstate New York, she's been divorced for 17 years and has two daughters who live in San Jose and Las Vegas, one married, no grandchildren. We exchanged contact information and agreed that I'd call/e-mail her after my procedure on Tuesday.
On a whim, I looked up my play Hell On Wheels, and submitted that also to the outfit collecting them. I modified it slightly--when we staged it in the library, I had written in a part for Aline, making her a kind of receptionist for the devil. But these plays can have no more than five characters, and she made six, so out that part went.
Can't believe I just got up at almost 8:00. I've been feeling good lately, though, so guess I guess I just reverted to slug-a-bed mode.

Friday, January 29, 2016


I've again been confirmed in my belief that if you try for things, even if it's clearly stated or written that you can't have them, you often can. As I've mentioned before, I figure my efforts work about eighty percent of the time. Yesterday, getting around to yet more financial stuff, I called NJR Services to arrange a service contract for the furnace, water heater, and air conditioner at my house. I found it costs $293 annually, but $263 for senior citizens. Okay, I appreciated the discount--
-- except that when I called to get it, I was told they didn't extend it to the owner if he/she didn't live in the house. I argued that my tenant is also over 65, but they didn't care. So when I signed up, they asked for comments and I told them I was annoyed I couldn't get the senior discount--what I actually wrote was that that policy stinks. Well, darned if a rep didn't call me ten minutes later to say his supervisor said to extend the discount to me. I guess it's kind of a game for me and it also results in saving some dough.
Also called Southern Cal Gas to ask about an outrageous bill of $87; good grief, it hasn't been that cold! In this case, though, I knew in my heart I wouldn't get no satisfaction, and I didn't. They gave me all kinds of gobbledygook to justify and the hell with it, I'll just pay it.
Stopped at Kohl's to check out bedding sets they'll have on sale today. It took forever to find somebody to show me which ones they were and when I saw them--horrible yellow, grey, and black that look as if Godzilla threw up on them--I went elsewhere. Got a subtle, kind of lavender spread, plus bedskirt and shams. These were inexpensive--good, I didn't want to spend too much, as I'm mulling over the possibility of a single bed to give me more space in the bedroom. Right now, I have a double.
My other business call was to the water works in Little Egg. They still send me the bill, then I send it to Eileen, but they had my old Ventura address. They wouldn't take the new address over the phone--had to send them a letter, but that's no problem and a real live person actually answered the phone.
Got a nice e-mail from niece Carolyn, just to say hello. Once I get this damned colonoscopy over with, I'll give her a call and we'll meet up.
Came across a five-minute play submission form for some outfit somewhere and submitted my comedy, If Guys Were Gals. We did this at the Tuckerton Seaport Festival, with Frank-Next-Door and Dave Somers as he two characters. I'm not sure if I have any others that short, but I'll look and see and maybe submit them, too.
Got a call from Nancy, who just saw her retina specialist; besides the hemoglobin thing, she has a problem with one eye. I had invited her to the Beach Cities Neighbors and Newcomers breakfast next Wednesday, but she has a doctor's appointment then. We had a long, friendly talk.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

This And That

Lots of running around doing this and that. Did wash, went to the market, and so on. I stopped into the place where I'll get my--ugh!--colonoscopy on Tuesday. Just wanted to take the edge off the "unknown" of it. Receptionists seemed pleasant enough.
I was determined to make caramelized onions, so got directions from my usual source: the Internet. It's not that simple, believe it or not, but I think I did all right. Covered them tightly and put them in the fridge, along with stir-fried mushrooms. Think I'll make spaghetti sauce with them for dinner tonight.
Got a Skype call from growing-by-leaps-and-bounds Tokyo Boy and his Dad. He now chatters away constantly, but mostly in Japanese, so Daddy translates. He also speaks English, but probably not as much. I was informed that he has an interview next month for pre-nursery school. Kiddies are eligible at two years and seven months and it's only one day a week for the first year, then longer.
While I was enjoying my grandson, Betty called. I called her back after and she said she and friends had been at the Crab Trap and one of the girls introduced her son. Betty said he immediately asked,
"How's Rosemary?"
Well, it was Dave Somers, with whom I've performed several times; I also directed him in If Guys Were Gals, one of my own one-act plays that we did at the Tuckerton Seaport. Dave and I became very friendly and I considered him a contemporary--it was somewhat of a shock to realize he's younger than three of my children. I knew his mother had graduated from HSHS--maybe a year or two after us. Can't remember her name; could it be Marguerite Something?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Well, I didn't get my license yet--it was more complicated than I thought. Went at the appointed time of 8:20 and was served almost immediately. However, I was asked for identification and a drivers' license from elsewhere won't cut it; need a birth certificate or passport. Darn. I drove home and got my passport, ate breakfast, and was pleased to see I could get a 9:30 appointment. Got there, showed I.D., filled out a long paper, got my picture taken (it's horrible), then was directed to a bank of computers for the test.
What test? I didn't realize I had to take a test, so told the clerk I didn't have a book or anything. She gave me one and said I could come back any day and any time before 4:00 to take the test. Went over it when I got home; damn, it's pretty long; how can I ever remember it all? However, I took the two sample tests provided, a total of twenty questions, and got all but one right. They were multiple choice, so maybe it won't be as difficult as I feared. I might go back today and hazard it. I assume I'll have to take a road test, too. Guess they don't trust the state of New Jersey, hey?
Incidentally, I asked one of the employees how long after you move here you're supposed to get a California license. Ten days. Oh-h-h. Well, I've been here ten days--plus six months.
Got a welcome call from my friend in New Mexico and we had a good talk. They're going to be traveling in the summer, east and south, I think, so I don't know when I'll be able to get to their place. I hope before the year is out.
Went to Winco for supplies, including a lovely pint and a half of blueberries.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back and Forth

When I took my bathroom rugs to the laundry place, I saw the gardeners planting begonias around the complex and I was thrilled. I know they're hardy--the begonias and, I hope, the gardeners, too--but it's January--wowee!
After my morning labors, I thought I'd go over to the Senior Center for their three-dollar lunch (five if you're under 70). It's about fifteen miles away and I was chagrined to find it was sold out when I got there. Oh, well, it was a beautiful day and a nice ride. I dropped my audio book off at the library and starting listening to a personal and political bio of Henry Kissinger. Strikes me he's right up there at the head of all the other war criminals. Of course, he's still polluting the world--figuratively, if not literally--at the age of 93.
Got home and made myself an old-fashioned, calorie-laden lunch: grilled cheese and tomato on white bread, tomato soup, and a glass of milk. I almost never drink milk, although I like it; just happened to have bought some the other day. My mother used to serve us lunch with just those components. It was so darn good, but once in a year or so is enough for me.
Cleaned both the bathroom and the kitchen floors, first with the dry Swiffer, then the wet. and tidied up the rest of both rooms. Moved around some of the things in my closet and discovered I have two long empty shelves. Happy day--think I'll use them to store bath towels.
Went on-line to change my address on the Social Security site. Incredibly, I hit roadblocks--I won't even bother to describe them--so I called. Got a recording to which I "spoke" for about ten minutes. When I finally made clear what I wanted, I was told the wait time was one hour! I thought it must be a mistake and hung on for fifteen minutes, but the hell with that stuff. I jumped up, got in the car, and drove the half-mile or so to the Ventura S.S. office. You take a number when you come in and I had to wait only about ten minutes. Got a pleasant young man who changed my address, then set me up with a new S.S. account on-line. Okey-dokey.
Got home and made a big salad; had some at 4:30, just because it looked good. One advantage of living alone is you can just decide to have dinner in the afternoon or at midnight or not at all.
Impulsively went on-line to Ventura motor vehicle. I tried making an appointment and was surprised to be assigned one at 8:20 this morning, so I'll finally, I hope, get my California license in about an hour from now.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quite a Bit

I got quite a bit done I had been putting off because I didn't feel like doing it. Spent time gathering and categorizing income tax material; I want to look for an accountant soon. Measured my closet door opening and started looking on-line for a covering for it. I liked Nancy's shoji (Japanese) screen, but I don't think I want something I have to move that way. Maybe I'll go with a rod and curtain--we'll see.
Went to Target and got a Swiffer and to WinCo for the wet things you use in it. I want to wash the bathroom rugs and clean the rest of the bathroom today.
Betty and I texted back and forth and that's okay, but I sometimes think, "What if people could only text for years, then suddenly, somebody invented the voice telephone? Wouldn't everybody think it was marvelous that you didn't have to laboriously type words in, but could just talk back and forth, like a real conversation?"
The fact is, though, that Betty didn't have to type it in; she was practicing voice to text, the same convenience all my kids have. Yes, yes, eventually, I'll get a smart phone, but I'm not interested in doing it yet. Funnily, the first message she sent had my last name as "Malloy," instead of the correct "Molloy." She insisted it wasn't misspelled on her end, but surely it wouldn't be different. Oh, well...
I was incensed to get a reply from Cindy, the proprietor of the antique Melange. I had stopped to ask if I could send her a picture of my antique table and see if she could estimate its worth. She said about $300! Damn, I can't believe it--I think it's worth at least three thou. My Aunt Clare's mother brought it over from Ireland 120 years ago and it has a gate leg and carvings. Of course, something is worth only what somebody will pay you for it, I guess. Well, I'll mull over whether to keep it or what.
Called Ellen to see how she was feeling. She and Greg were just coming from dinner at The Curry Leaf in Camarillo and we chatted for a bit. The cold is hanging on, but she's okay.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Neat Day

What a neat day. I had no problem driving to Oakview and got to Nancy's about 10:00. She introduced me to her son, Richard, and showed me around her tiny place. I knew Richard had converted his garage for her and I expected--well, a bare bones kind a thing. It's anything but. Nancy likes to cook and bake and Richard installed a full kitchen, which probably takes up about a third of the total space. The appliances are all new and the counter tops granite. He even fashioned spice racks set into the wall, put in a double sink, and a fair amount of storage. A small table is at one end and can be opened out to seat four. Next to that is the--well, I guess living room, although it contains only a leather sofa and table with a television screen, but along one wall, Richard put in a floor to ceiling bookcase and that opens it up considerably. Behind that is Nancy's bedroom/bath, which contains a single bed, a very small sink and a toilet behind a partition. We laughed at the fact that her "closet"--really just an alcove with a folding screen in front--is actually a little smaller than mine. It's decorated with some of Nancy's art--she does mostly water paints--and I was blown away at how good they are. I think she's very talented.
There's no shower inside, but there's actually is one, fully enclosed with cedar outside next to the hot tub It's just a few steps from Nancy's door and she can bathe there or at the main house. That's a wonderful, quintessentially California mission-style adobe house, built in 1929, where Richard and his wife, Erin, live. I was taken in to see that, too, and Richard is doing a fabulous job in upgrading it.
Richard himself is a terrific guy. Considering Nancy doesn't even top five feet, it's funny that he's six foot three. He's very outgoing, warm, articulate, and obviously intelligent--so engaging. He owns a silk screen business in Ojai and seems to be doing pretty well. The property is quite large--I'd say half an acre--and he's planning to add lots of other amenities to it.
After, Nancy and I drove the few miles to the Ojai Beverage Company restaurant and met the other Beach Cities Golden Girls, about fifteen of them. The menu looked yummy and, of course, there was a huge selection of beer and wine. I had one with a German name, but not a dark beer--very good.
It took forever for our orders to be taken, then twice forever to actually get the food. They had only one server for all of us--and the rest of the many lunch-goers--and the kitchen seems to have been on strike, considering the time it took. They wouldn't do separate checks, so poor Cheryl, who organized the group, spent at least a half hour trying to sort everybody's orders and charges out. There's no reason in the world why a patron should have to do that and she probably should have refused.
Nevertheless, it was great fun talking and laughing with women I'm now getting to know from before (three of us are also in the widder group). We were there for three hours and had a ball.
When I got back to Ventura, I stopped at the library, as I had promised the branch manager, Lori, I would donate the Ma Duncan* book there once I read it. I did read it, gave it to her and she was very appreciative.
After dinner, I called Betty to see if they had floated away, but she said it didn't flood as much as had been predicted. Called my former neighbor, Susan, to see what Little Egg got; she said only about four inches and they didn't have much problem. I know others got more--my friend, Jim Z., who lives in the middle of Jersey--got two feet, five inches--wow!
Anyway, I'm happy to be here, where it got to 68 degrees and the sun shone down on me.
*Elizabeth Duncan was the last woman executed in California. She had hired two men to kill her pregnant daughter-in-law because she didn't want to "lose" her son. The son, an attorney, is still practicing law in L.A.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Bustled around like crazy yesterday. Stripped the bed, re-made, took sheets and more to laundry, filled my medication trays (seven of them), got gas, and went to Wal-Mart for the OTC sleep aid I've been using for ten years. I oiled and seasoned the several pounds of chicken thighs I bought the other day and roasted all of them. Had two for lunch--so yummy good!--saved two for dinner (no, I don't mind having the same for both meals occasionally), and froze the rest. I'll just have to thaw, then pop them in the oven when the mood hits me.
Sent messages to my children about the furnace thing, but I'm sanguine about it. As my NM daughter commented, if you own a house, you have to expect repairs, and that's true. Plus, if I had been still living there, the cost would just go up in smoke. As it is, I can take it off my income tax. I'm just glad the guy came to fix it before the Storm of the Century; otherwise, Eileen might have frozen.
Called my former neighbor, Roman, and he told me about the warranty thing, which sounds good. I'll call NJR Home Service on Monday.
My pal--I cherish a letter he sent me when he was in jail--John Kiriakou, the whistleblower, was the subject of a documentary on Spike. I don't get Spike, but John mentioned on Facebook he was well treated by two people he knows and he'd like to punch Ronald Kessler in the face. I looked the guy up; he seems to be a neoconservative and has written a lot of books, several about the secret service. Went to the library to try to get the newest one, about guarding presidential families. Of course, they didn't have it (they don't seem to have anything published after 1914), but I got an earlier one of his with a secret service theme. I did look up the new one on Amazon and dipped into it. Hmm...Hillary is portrayed as a ravin' bitch (she always struck me that way), she has the horniest husband in the universe, and Biden likes to swim in the nude, even though it embarrasses some of the female guards.
Those items can all be filed under "I didn't need to know."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bowels and Furnace

Do Californians have better bowels?
Apparently. Stewed prunes seem a mystery to them.
I went to three different supermarkets trying to buy stewed prunes (my innards are still a bit iffy) and couldn't find them. What's more, the clerks not only had no idea where they were, they didn't even know what they were. I finally found them at Vons after several people tried to help. They were on the top shelf, inaccessible to just over five foot me, and shoved back so you couldn't see them, anyway. I bought two jars, just in case there's a run on them.
Other than that, I went to the library and to WinCo for other stuff, plus looked around town at furniture. I guess I've come to the conclusion the sofa I favored is just too big and would overpower the space. Will look for more something more scaled-down. Went to Kohl's to look at bedclothes; nothing thrilled me and I may just put together a bed skirt and spread.
Talked to my friend, Nancy. She and I will go to the Ojai Beverage Company for the Beach Cities Golden Girls lunch on Saturday. I'll stop at her place first, as I'd like to see it.
Called Betty to see if the snow had started. No, but of course, it's going to be bigger than World War 3, with the boob tube filled 24 hours a day with it. Contemplating that annoyance, I am thrilled and overjoyed I made the move west.
I was settled in for the evening about 7:30 when I got a call from my tenant. "Did you get my text?" Uh-oh. I'm still not adept at texting and what's more, when I'm home, my cell phone is usually in the kitchen or my purse. I just assume people will call on the landline. So I didn't see her text, which she had sent hours before. The furnace wasn't going on. Anyway, I didn't have much choice but t have her call the emergency person. When I got up this morning, I had a text telling me the cost: $577. Boy, is that a blow, but--especially in light of the blizzard that's supposed to descend in that area today--I can't do anything but swallow it; Eileen will take it off her rent payment. I'm going to call former neighbor, Roman K., shortly, as Eileen mentioned something about a contract he has.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Feeling Better

I'm relieved to say I'm feeling considerably better. Tuesday, I spent a lot of time on things that didn't get me moving much, but yesterday, I was much more energetic.
Margaret came at 9:00 and was delighted to take the bench away. I'm glad she'll get use out of it and now it's out of my hair Spent the rest of the morning going through piles of papers, notes, and bills, and filing, adding to income tax info, and/or throwing away. Then I drove into town, parked on Santa Clara, and walked to several stores. I browsed around The Coalition Thrift Store and another across the street--didn't buy anything, as I don't need anything--and spent some time in a florist shop. I want to get some cacti and succulents, but think I'll wait until other things are settled.
Went to the furniture store where we had seen the sofa I might buy. I'm torn. I like it, but is it going to just overpower the room? I did measure and yes, it will fit, but I wonder if I should just settle for a love seat or a more scaled-down sofa. Dunno and haven't made a decision yet.
Stopped at an antique shop and talked to the proprietor about my table. She asked me to send her picture and I will, but I suspect she won't offer much, if she bites at all.
Drove to The Goodwill Thrift--who knows why, as I don't really want to bring anything else in. However, I browsed around. Went next door to Ralph's for oranges and stewed prunes. The first they had, the second didn't. Incredible; it's supposed to be a regular supermarket.
However, I came home a bit before 5:00 and was pleased to see it was still light out. Zapped myself a mediocre frozen dinner--chicken something or other--because I didn't feel like cooking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chores Day

Chore day. It was first cloudy, then it rained, very gently, but it was wet. Took my clothes over in between the drops and managed to wash, dry, and fold without problem. I moved the gateleg of my large, heavy antique table, making it half as deep, then moved some other things and put it against the back wall. Frees up a lot of space.
I reluctantly put my blonde wood bench on CraigsList in the free section, adding a picture. It couldn't have been a half hour later I got the first call. It was from a pleasant young woman named Margaret and she was going to come get it a 4:00. However, it was still raining and she called to see if she could come this morning--sure, good idea. Almost immediately after Margaret did, four more people called about the bench. I had to tell them it was taken, then I just removed it from the list. It's ironic: I had had the bench for sale on Craigslist for--I think, thirty bucks or so, with no takers. Should have put it u p for free to begin with, as I have no place for it at all.
I looked up the "advice on breaking into acting" letter I had sent John D., Fred H., and several others who asked me to send them information on "how to do it." Of course, it's very obvious what you can do if you just think a bit, starting with readings, then finding out what little theatre groups are in your area. I modified a lot of it to suit Pam and Chuck, and I'll send it off. Won't hurt and may help.
Did a lot of other boring stuff. At 4:30, it occurred to me I hadn't been out all day except to the laundry place. Took a drive though it was still raining just to clear my head (and it works for me). I've always disliked staying in all day, here or in Jersey or wherever. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I didn't learn to drive until I was 45 and it's still a tiny bit of a thrill for me. Imagine, I can get in a car and go anywhere I please--yahoo!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Widder Dinner and Acting

A neat day. Went to Penney's at noon to get my hair colored. The young woman who did it is named Kaitlyn (fanciful spelling of a fanciful name), a beautiful girl and so cheery and kind I loved talking to her. Tattoos on her arm, something like Shirley Temple curls, and such a pretty, open face. Is from Idaho (that alone seems exotic in the extreme), lives in Ojai with her boyfriend and they're vegetarians and pacifists--yay! I love to see young people who aren't gaga over the war machine.
I decided against the complicated procedure to lighten the color (although I still had the whole head done), so just had her cover the grey and the rest of the head with the same color. It looks pretty good, actually.
From there, I went upstairs and bought flannel pajamas--ha, I had given or thrown away three in Jersey; didn't realize I'd want them here. All they had--get this--were Batman-themed, so I bought them. They happened to be on sale and I don't give a damn what they look like, as long as they keep me warm.
Went from there directly to Jessica Nails and Spa and used the gift card Ellen had given me. It was fearfully crowded--I had forgotten it was a holiday--so I waited twenty minutes, but got them done. It was raining--gently--most of the day, but I paid no attention.
Got home in time to wash, make up, and dress, then set out for the widders' dinner. I hadn't gotten out of the complex when my cell rang. It was my brother, Jim, who wanted to tell me he was re-reading my Uncle Frank's memoirs, which I had re-typed and (slightly--it didn't need much) edited. I pulled over and we had a good talk. I love him so much.
After we hung up, I continued on to Yolanda's to find Nancy already there, along with others. This is such a good, congenial group, all of us in various stages of widowhood. Enjoyed good talk and laughs, along with my Mexican Something-or-Other (I just ordered what Nancy had). The excitement of the evening came when Chuck and Pam announced their engagement.
Wow! Her husband died in April, just nine months ago, and his wife less than two years ago. I'd say they're both in their upper fifties; he has children, she doesn't. Hope they aren't being hasty.
After dinner, Pam, who was sitting with Chuck at the other end of the table, came down to sit in back of me, as she wanted to talk about her desire to break into acting. She's very much interested in attending if I can get an acting class off the ground--actually, I know a number of people who are--but I don't know when that will happen. We had a long chat and I gave her some idea; if I can find her e-mail address, I'll send her the advice I've been asked by others. When we were leaving, I stopped to congratulate the engaged couple and they told me Chuck would like to act, too. Pam said he has a wonderful bass voice. (Acting groups always have a dearth of men, so that's all to the good.) I promised I'd give them some tips and pointers on trying to break in and send her the sheet I worked up for others who have asked the same.
Pam is a sweetheart and I like Chuck, too, but that incident reminds me of a story about Mozart (I'm NOT comparing myself to Mozart) I added here six years ago. I found it in a blog 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 ask somebody for the formula to accomplish art or anything else. I'm not suggesting Pam shouldn't have asked me about acting--it's good to get as much info as possible, I guess. But if she now waits for others to direct her next step, it's not going to happen. Just for a very first baby-step, I'm going to suggest that she and Chuck go on-line, print out some two-person scripts (there are dozens of them, free of charge) and act them out. After that--there are plenty of other ways to prepare--but they have to do them.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fun Day

My friend, Nancy, called early and we had a long talk, mostly about the various problems connected with health care. I can't understand why her supplemental insurance is refusing to pay for the infusions her hematologist prescribed; her cost would be a hefty two fifty a month more--whew! We'll see each other at the Widder dinner tonight and at the Golden Girls lunch in Ojai on February 7.
Overall, it was very much a fun day. El came over about 1:0 and we measured the (minimal) space for my sofa. She did a few other things for me, then we went out to look for a sofa. At the first place we visited, only a few miles away, we found what I think I favor. It's a floor model, charcoal gray, not a sleep sofa, but that probably wouldn't have room to open up, anyway. It's long enough for me to stretch out on and if I should have overnight company, I'd probably sleep on it and give the guest my bedroom. Charcoal wasn't my first choice for color, but come to think of it, I plan to have my black-framed, b/w pictures hung over the sofa and that would go very nicely. It comes with two large off-white and black/grey pillows, which I'd probably use elsewhere in favor of others. We had other places to look, so left there and drove to Oxnard.
But first things first: We went to The Olive Garden where we had a yummy and leisurely lunch (me shrimp and a Shock Top), courtesy of a gift card I had gotten for Christmas. After that, we went to another furniture store, but saw nothing I'd want to buy. Back at my place, we measured again and I think I'm probably going to get the one from the first place. We moved a few chairs around, then El and I parted after an afternoon of fun excursions together.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

No Note

Not a lot to note. Did a few things around the house and went to the store for various. I actually did take a two-hour nap after lunch; felt more lively when I got up. Took a drive late in the day, just for relaxation; I still love to go up in the hills and look down the valley to the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands.
Things perked up later when Ellen called. Greg's mother is much better and back home. El and I made plans for today, a truncated version of what we had planned last Sunday.
Got a very welcome Skype call from Tokyo, where son and his son, Mr. K., were in a car at a gas station. (You have to pump your own there, too!) Mr. K. was not terribly interested, but said "Hi" and later, "Bye" during the short cyber-visit.
After that, I was pleased to get a call from my friend in New Mexico. They've been having snow, she said, but I guess not in the abundance you get elsewhere.
So I heard from three of my four children. The other I kind of "heard from" indirectly, as my tenant keeps getting mail for him and his wife, although I've told him many times to change the address. Well, you just have to keep repeating things for errant children, I guess.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I HATE malls and almost never frequent them, but I saw an ad for a nice-looking sofa at Penney's--on sale, of course--and went over to Pacific View Mall early.
When I got there, I was informed they don't carry furniture in Ventura. The nearest Penney's that does is in Upper Japip or somewhere, I guess. Went to Macy's to look at comforter sets. Everything I saw was either brown or shades thereof--my least favorite color--or so garish they would give me nightmares.
What I did find, however, was something I've been looking for for years: a light--in weight--wallet. I often just take my wallet into a store without my big purse and the one I have contributes to the weight of the purse. What I bought (on sale, too, plus couponed) is one of the few cloth ones I've found and very light. True, the fabric is hideous--hot pink with gold circles superinposed--but it was the only one they had and if it lightens my burden, that's okay. Later, I took the old wallet out and put it with the new on the kitchen table so I could exchange the contents.
As I was leaving Penney's, I noticed their hair salon and impulsively made an appointment for color for Monday. Think I'll get my nails done then, too, then I'll be all pretty and perky for the Widders' dinner.
When I got home, I continued bookcase arranging and moved around a few other things. After. I drove to the faraway Ralph's for bread. Got there, went in, and found I had forgotten to switch the contents of my wallet and had left both on the table, so had no money, no credit cards, and no license. I immediately drove home, positive I'd be involved in some kind of horrible accident and, if I survived, would be dropped in the slammer for the rest of my--.
Over-dramatic Mimi? Guilty, yer honor!
Got the wallet, went to Vons and got my stuff, and all was okay.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meatballs and Aunt Maggie

I wish I could persuade myself otherwise, but the fact is, I don't really feel up to par. Every once in a while, I want to lie down, but I don't think it's healthy for me to give in to that urge. The funny thing is, I've been sleeping through the night--my usual getting-up time is now 7:30--which is all to the good, but I still don't think I'm as energetic as I used to be.
I ran the coffee maker through with just vinegar one time, then plain water four times. (I use vinegar for lots of cleaning items, thanks to Heloise.) Did a bit more closet-purging and other chores.
I had a yen for pasta and meatballs, so went out and got rotini* and ground beef. (The first commandment: Thou shalt not buy commercially made meatballs.) Added eggs, bread crumbs, and salt to the meat, rolled and browned them and set them to simmering in a pot of spaghetti sauce. Darn, they were so good, I skipped the pasta and just had several of the meatballs for dinner.
Aside from that, I did a lot of stuff on the computer, including throwing myself on the mercy of Groupon. I asked if they'd refund the forty bucks I spent for my granddaughters to go to Sky-High Sports; when we got there, I found we came on a black-out day, so Mike paid it and I was stuck. They may very well not do it, but I always try--and I'd say I succeed about eighty percent of the time.
Took a drive up on Foothill Road and found myself in Saticoy, so stopped at the library branch there; I was surprised to see you can borrow laptops. I was just about to browse some books when the library aide announced she had to close because there was no plumbing available.
Oh, well, it was close to 5:00 by then, anyway, so I went home.
Got a message from Nancy, asking if I was going to the Widders Dinner on Monday. I had intended to ask her the same, so we both are; I'll be happy to see her there. I also asked if she'd might be able to join me at the Golden Girls lunch on the twenty-third in Ojai, as she lives in Oak View nearby. If not, I think I'll skip that one.
*Spellcheck doesn't recognize the word and wants me to substitute "rotten." Reminds me of my sainted Aunt Maggie, an Irish lass born and bred. Throughout her long life, Italian specialties and their spelling--I'm assuming here--remained a mystery to her. But what's your excuse, Spellcheck?!?

Thursday, January 14, 2016


I consider myself a pretty optimistic person, generally speaking. I get weary of the "bad things usually happen" crowd and "danger is around every corner" alarmists; unfortunately, those in my own age bracket often seem to fall into these categories.
However, when it comes to my health, all bets are off. When Dr. J. sent me to a pulmonologist for what she called "an abnormal chest x-ray," I was sure it was--oh, of course, the absolute worst. I could hear it now: "large mass," "inoperable," "get your affairs in order" (do they actually say that?). Luckily, I was able to get an appointment the day after I asked for one and that was yesterday.
No problem! I have a hiatal hernia which, according to Doc A., isn't usually treated unless it causes symptoms and mine never has. So good, good, good. Doc does want to have me get another x-ray after my colonoscopy, then see him after. Happily, the x-ray place is in the same building, so I'll go there, have it done, then go right to Dr. A.
Besides, I liked the guy. When he heard I was from Jersey, he said he had interviewed for an internship (or something) at Atlanticare in Galloway. He was also familiar with Point Pleasant and other Jersey towns. Nice guy.
Got home and took a load to the laundry place and eventually, got all that done. Zipped over to Ralph's to get Gatorade, which I was advised to drink to replace electrodes or something (don't remember if the doc told me that or I saw it on the Internet), then to various stores for this and that.
Betty called to say she had met "the Misery Girls" for lunch in Philly. Judging by the pictures on Facebook, I thought she called them that because they looked so glum and dreary, but no--it's because they all graduated from Miseracordia with her.
I texted Ellen and she replied that Greg's mother was released from the hospital today. Hope she's okay now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Here and There

Showered and washed my hair, which I like to do before getting a cut.
First went to the pulmonary doctor's office to get the prelims done and make an appointment. I like to have them take my insurance info and so on, plus get a gander at the setup, before I actually go. Conveniently, it's in the same building--right across from the hospital--the colonoscopy place is and, as it turned out, there happened to be an opening for 9:30 today, so I took it.
Went from there to Great Clips, as I had a coupon for a ten buck haircut. Hmm...I've complained before that nobody does my hair the way I want it--could it be because I go cheap? (Don't answer that!) I couldn't stand the length and the color I had. I had planned to go elsewhere (Great Clips only cuts) for color, but may not. I got acquainted with the stylist, Min (born in a southeastern province of China, in this country 20 years, married to a Caucasian, no children, will be 50 in August; yes, I like to chat with people I have contact with) and darned if she didn't do a nice job on the cut. I may just keep it as is--medium brown, with about two inches of white at the roots mixed in--for a time. Sounds gruesome, but actually looks rather jaunty.
Took my pajamas back to exchange for a smaller size and finally bought some Gatorade.
My tenant, Eileen, e-mailed to ask if she could replace my mailbox; said her son-in-law would do it free. I wasn't sure if she meant she'd pay for the box and first wrote back asking her to let me know how much it could cost. It then occurred to me she probably was saying she'd buy it herself, so I wrote again and said sure, do it. Actually, I'd be glad to pay for it, anyway.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chores and The Omen

I had deferred a lot of everyday shopping and chores and that's mainly what I did yesterday. Bought an inside broom--I don't want to use the same for in and out--and flannel pajamas. Ha, I had donated or discarded the three pair of flannels I had in Jersey, never realizing I'd be more comfortable sleeping with them. Those I bought are too big, though, so I have to exchange them.
Stopped at Primary Medical and called the pulmonary office, but this damn stuff isn't resolved yet. I wrote out a chronicle of it, but won't add it here--too boring.
Cooked myself up a delicious pork loin, along with roasted potatoes; had that an applesauce for dinner--so good.
El called to tell me Rory had pneumonia, but is much improved. She may go home today or, possibly, tomorrow. That's good news; I asked her to ask Greg to give her my regards.
Still reading the bio of Gregory Peck, which is really absorbing. That prompted me to look on YouTube to see what I could find of his movies. There are lots of them and I hit on The Omen. Watched about half of it, but it scared the hell out of me, so I may skip the rest.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Some Day

It turned out to be an interesting day, to say the least.
Ellen and I had planned to look for a sofa--preferably, a sleep sofa--for my living room, do a few other chores, then go to The Olive Garden for dinner.
However, when El came, she said Greg's brother, Frank,* had called her from Minnesota, asking if she'd try to contact their mother, Rory, who was sick with the same malady (my husband used to call it "the trots") I had. Her landline had been busy for hours and she wasn't answering her cell. El couldn't get through either and, of course, we immediately agreed we should go up to Santa Barbara to see if there was a problem.
It takes about forty-five minutes to get there and while we were on our way, Frank called again to say Rory's neighbor, Carmen**, had taken Rory to Cottage Hospital*** and would we meet them there. We did, and found Rory in a wheelchair in pajamas and robe--pale, but coherent--and Carmen in the emergency room. We thanked C. for her help and she left.
Rory had already been evaluated, of course, and while we waited--a bit more than two hours--I reflected how medicine has changed. When I was a girl; in fact, even when I was thirty years away from being a girl--if you got sick, you called your doctor and if it was warranted, he or she admitted you to the hospital. The emergency room was for sorry indigents and accident victims bleeding from the head. Well, those days are gone, that's a cinch.
Anyway--or "anyways," as my friend Joan W. (RIP) used to say--the upshot was that Rory was taken to a room, hooked up to wires, given a chest x-ray and so on, generally experiencing what I did last month at Ventura Memorial. Throughout the day, Ellen had been in frequent touch with Frank and also with Greg, who left work early to meet us at the hospital. Rory seems to have a variety of problems, including some heart involvement, and she was admitted as a patient.
While Greg stayed until she got to a room, El and I left--in a pouring rain--and went back to Rory's condo, which she said was "a mess." It was, but not quite as bad as I had feared and we cleaned up as best we could. El loaded and ran the dishwasher, fed Hershel and took him out to relieve himself, plus eliminated his "relief"on the living room floor. I cleaned up a much as possible the main bath, which was icky, all right. Rory's soiled bedclothes were rolled up on the floor, as was a pretty, multi-colored "straw" rug. The bathtub had a soiled towel in it and there was other evidence somebody had been uncontrollably ill here. Rory had told us to throw all of it away and we did. We didn't have too many trash bags, but we managed to get most into what we had.
Greg came in after seeing his mother comfortably in her room and we all went to The Natural Cafe for a late dinner. He went back to the hospital after and El took me home. Got in about 8:30 and watched Forensic Files for an hour before turning in and sleeping like a log all night.
*Frank is an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic.
** Because Carmen is a caregiver, I was somewhat puzzled that she could afford to live in a condo identical to Rory's next door. I discovered that for many years, she had cared for the owner, an elderly woman with no relatives, and had been left the condo in her will. Greg said that wasn't too unusual in Santa Barbara and that Carmen had been mentioned in other wills, also. I think that's very nice, but Ellen was incensed that the old lady didn't endow an animal shelter, instead. (I THINK she was joking.)
*** Cottage Hospital is about as far from a "cottage" as you can get. It's huge, brand new, built in a quintessentially California (whitewash, adobe roof, oak, wrought-iron) style, and when you walk in the front entrance, you'd swear you were in a five-star hotel.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Did some chores and household stuff early on, then went to Primary Medical. (Dr. J. had told me she was referring me to a pulmonolgist, but there was nothing in the visitation summary I was given to indicate who or where. I had called the office and was called back with the number, but didn't have anything in writing like a referral or explanation for the doctor.)
I guess on Saturday Primary Medical doesn't have a full staff, as there was only one doctor and two staff members that I could see. (I hadn't realized they were open on Saturday at all.) Talked to one and she looked up on the computer, but didn't see any indication of it at all. I had already complained--mildly--to Dr. J. about the iron supplement fiasco, but this is worse. Upshot was, I was told the name of Dr. J.'s "medical assistant" (that sure as hell ain't the same as "physician's assistant," as I've had in Jersey; probably means she has a high school equivalency and can hand out paper.) Anyway, I won't call, I'll go back in tomorrow.
Went to Trader Joe's and Ralph's (supermarket); latter seems to be getting more expensive all the time. Got a card for my darling first grandson, who was 34 on Thursday, put a check in, and sent it off. Brought five used ink cartridges to Staples and will get some kind of cockamamie e-mail discount on future purchases.
Spent a lot of time continuing my research on a sleeper sofa, for which I don't want to pay an arm and a leg, but which must be reasonably compact enough to fit on a certain wall. Ellen called and we made a date to look at such furniture today. She also said she'd help me measure more accurately--that'll be good, but so will just seeing her.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Quest and Service

Didn't get up in time to get to Quest early, but decided to take a chance I could get in when I arrived about 8:00. It was jammed--I found out later the Loma Vista Quest had been flooded out, so more came to Ventura. Had to wait almost an hour, but I got it done. (It's so much better when you don't have to fast.)
Just a bunch of running around here and there went on after there. There wasn't much of interest except for an e-mail from my erstwhile Singapore son, who asked me to get him fifty bucks worth of Powerball lottery tickets, as he'd like to have an extra 800 million in his wallet. I got them and fervently hope that's the last time he sends me on such a fool's errand.
Betty called; nothing much of interest down there, either. I was amused to hear she bought lottery tickets, too, but accidentally, only for the 61 million or something in the regular lottery. She's annoyed with herself that she didn't get the Powerball one. Well, of course, who wants a piddling 61 mil?
Went to Staples for printer ink and was surprised to realize it wasn't nearly as well-stocked as the one I frequented in Jersey; the staff didn't seem as knowledgeable, either. I already had new black cartridges, thick and thin, but they didn't have the color only ones in, so I had to spend extra and get one I didn't need. The young man--very young--I consulted seemed blank when I explained--I had to go into great detail.
As a matter of fact, I hate to generalize with blanket condemnations, but this kind of thing seems somewhat prevalent here. From the fact that I have yet to find a hairdresser to do my hair the way I ask, to my dealings with the seemingly scatter-shot medical world, to the blank stares I sometimes get when I ask a simple question at the supermarket, to my "go here, go there" experience at CVS--is there a pattern?
Greg remarked that possibly, the east has more of a tradition of intellectualism than here, so events and practices are expected to be on a more competent level. Sounds horribly snobbish, but could there be a grain of truth there? Dunno, but I'm going to consciously try to find examples that refute the idea.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Lots Done

Got a lot done that I had neglected during the happy holidays. Swept and cleaned the kitchen, changed my sheets, put Christmas stuff away, arranged part of the closet (not finished yet), took my laundry to the wash place, and got more of the bookcase contents moved. There's still a lot I want to do, but I don't like to spend an entire day on chores, so quit about 2:00.
Went to Quest, thinking I'd get in after a short wait, although I didn't have an appointment. Nope; I was told they close at 3:00. Asked if I could make an appointment for today, but they were booked a week or more ahead and I'm anxious to get this done sooner as I may be starting to feel fatigued again. I don't have to fast this time, so maybe I'll take her suggestion to come about 6:00 today and maybe I'll be able to get in before too long.
CVS is in the same shopping center, so I went there to get my horrible stuff I have to take for the colonoscopy. However, the pharmacist said if I went on line, I could get a coupon for a "hefty" amount off. How much was it without? More than a hundred bucks.
God damn these bloodsucker pharmaceutical companies! I wish there was a hell so they could burn in it. I can afford this, with or without a coupon, but what about those who can't? Or who don't have access to a computer? Or don't know there are such coupons? It makes me sick.
I got home and looked up the coupon, which allows a substantial thirty percent off, but darn, I need ink in the printer, so will get that first. This isn't urgent, as the procedure isn't until the second, but I'd like to have all my ducks in a row early.
Stopped at Ralph's on the way home and got apples, cheese, oatmeal, and a Pepto-Bismo knockoff. Stir-fried garlic and onions, added ground beef and cheese, and that was delish.
I must call the doctor's office today, as she said she was giving me the name of a pulmonologist, but if so, I can't find it in my papers.
Texted my friend to see where they were and she called right back. They had to drive through the heavy rain, but I hope it will be clearer here on in.
My Tiny Tot in Tokyo (well, he's not so tiny anymore: two years, almost four months) found very amusing the fact that Mommy went into a store and Rolly, the dog, who was supposed to stay outside, somehow got in. She apologized to all and took him out immediately and that was the end of it.
But not for Mr. K. According to Daddy, K. has repeated this story 30 or 40 times, at the top of his lungs and with giggles and full-belly laughs. He thinks it's the funniest thing there ever was. My daughter-in-law videotaped and put on the Google account K. recounting the story at the dinner table. He had the adults in stitches, too, and I laugh out loud when I see it.
I just find it so interesting that a child that age doesn't realize that humor of this kind usually relies very much on the element of surprise. Something is funny the first time you hear it and maybe a bit amusing the second, but it doesn't continue to be if you hear it over and over. But to K., it's just as funny now as when it happened.

Thursday, January 07, 2016


Water came down from the sky yesterday and caused great consternation throughout the land! Well, this land, anyway.
Had my doctor's appointment at 2:15; she wants me to get another blood test--hemo was down to 9 with the last one--and go to a pulmonologist. It seems the x-rays indicate my lungs aren't fully expanding. Damn, I thought I was finished with that branch of medicine after Pat died.
It had starting raining--lightly--in the morning, and when I went from the doctor's to the supermarket, it was just dripping a bit. I didn't even take my umbrella, but when I was about to come out--with a full cart--it was coming down in sheets and buckets. The wind was so fierce, the palm tree tops were violently whipping back and forth, with fronds flying off them. I double-bagged my purchases, waited a few minutes, then made a run for it. Got thoroughly soaked, but it was actually kind of fun.
I had bought all kinds of food recommended for a certain inner ailment--bananas, potatoes, cheese, yogurt--that I like but, for some reason, rarely buy. Had a banana and baked potato for dinner and greatly enjoyed it. Stayed in for the rest of the soggy day.
My brother, Jim, called; he and Therese have moved to a two-bed, two-bath apartment in Arlington. They had been in a senior living place, but were incensed when the rent went up by about a thou a month. Besides, they're not infirm (Jim will be ninety next month, Therese is 86 or so) and, for some reason, they found it depressing that they lived with others who used walkers and canes. The topper was that there were no stoves in the one-bed, one-bath place (for insurance reasons, presumably) and Therese likes to cook.
Like me, they moved late in life, found it wasn't to their tastes, and moved again to a place that was. Damn, I was born into an intrepid family and I'm proud to be part of it.
While I was about to get off the phone with Kohl's (finally got around to changing my address), El skyped me. That was a pleasant surprise, as she usually calls. She said her class of third-graders were excited and thrilled about the rain (these California kids!), but the electricity went out and she had to keep them occupied for an hour or so without electrical support. Gad, that would be daunting for anybody. It came back on, but school was dismissed early.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Fun Day With Some of my Favorites

I woke up with an indelicate gastrointestinal problem, on which I don't want to elaborate. I also felt tired, an ominous situation. I know my friend and her husband were coming about 1:00 and I actually napped on and off until about noon. By the time they got here, I was up and dressed and feeling considerably better.
They took my new bookcase out of the carton and set it up--looks great in the bedroom and I'm going to be happy to arrange it today with books and other items. Finally, it rained, but only for part of the day and just mildly; we didn't even need umbrellas.*
We then went to the Ventura Courthouse, an historic and quite beautiful building. Toured it for an hour or so, then went to the beach. The ocean was pretty wild--for California--what with the rain and wind, was interesting to see, but far from the crashing waves you see during a storm in the Atlantic.*
I had a doctor's appointment at 4:00 (consultation for my coming colonoscopy) and my friend went with me. After talking to the doctor, we set February 2 as the date for the damn thing.
After, my friend texted Ellen to ask her to come for dinner. Friend had brought a good rice dish and added stir-fried broccoli. El and Greg came over and the five of us had a grand time at my first dinner party. Okay, it wasn't exactly my dinner party--my friend did all the work--but it was at my place.
We talked and laughed and had a ball. Gregg insisted on going out to get ice cream and cookies for dessert, and we all enjoyed that, too. We sat for a time in the living room talking, then it was time for my girls to say goodbye. How I'll miss our friend and her husband, but I hope to visit them in New Mexico during 2016. I'm so grateful I have Ellen nearby.
* The big, dramatic headline in The Ventura Star today is "City Survives Wave."

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Widder Lunch and So On

Picked up Joyce for lunch with the Widder Group (it's really called "Soaring Spirits," but I think that's lame) at Yolanda's, of course. I had liked Paula's beef quesadillas, which she had made us when we were there, so I ordered that. These weren't as good as hers, but still tasty.
There were ten or twelve attendees, including Chuck; I told him my daughter and I had been over in Ojai on Christmas (where he was serving lunch to the "houseless," as he calls them, with his fundamentalist Christian group). He said I should have let him know, but I didn't want to interfere.
Nancy came in and we made space for her near us; she, Joyce, and I have really bonded. Anther member, Pam, and I got to talking and I learned she has pernicious anemia because her body doesn't process B12. I was very interested, as her symptoms were like mine: extreme fatigue, breathlessness, and a low hemoglobin count. She gets some kind of shot or medication periodically.
After a leisurely time, we said goodbye and I took Joyce home. She lives in a large house, alone, now that her husband is gone, and it must be worth a bundle. She had her knee replaced six weeks ago and is disturbed because she isn't healing as quickly as she'd like.
After that, I took my table pad to Fabrictown USA, thinking they had a big cutter and might cut it for me. However, they don't. The woman was very nice and gave me cards of people who sew. I took down a few phone numbers, but think I'll try doing it myself. Drove to the thrift store and picked up three attractive plant containers for the plants at bought at the Bontanic Gardens. Total cost--$4.40.
Stopped at the bank to get a check registry. I want to start 2016 with a new one. Got a card from Joan (Millen) Hardman, who asked if I'd text her my phone number. Dunno if I really want to tag up with her again.
I was delighted to find a big box at my door; it's the folding bookcase I ordered--can't wait to see it set up. My friend and/or her husband will do it for me. She called to say they'll come over today. They're leaving tomorrow--sob!--so the holiday will be officially over. Wouldn't you know, it's raining and they'll have to drive that huge RV back to New Mexico in it.
I have an appointment with the colonoscopy doctor late this afternoon and with my regular doctor tomorrow.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Bouncy Place

It was a bouncy, flippy, floppy day with Vivian, Violet, and cousin Claire. Mike and the girls picked me up about 11:00 and we zipped off to Camarillo. I presented the receipt for the sessions I got V. and V. for Christmas and--was informed that the fine print said yesterday was a black out day. Darn! But Mike paid for all three and the guy at the desk said Groupon would probably refund my forty bucks.
We stayed until about 2:00, when the girls were flipped out, then went to The Curry Leaf in the same town. This is the Indian restaurant owned by Gregg's friend, but I heard later he was ill. There was only one person hosting, taking orders, serving, clearing up, and boy, was he harried. The place was pretty crowded and it took some time for the food, although what Mike ordered for us was very good.
Leaving there, we drove back to my place where I commiserated about having to leave them; they're taking off for San Francisco this morning. Mike diffidently suggested I could go back up to Montecito with them, then take the train back from Santa Barbara and Ellen could pick me up. I agreed--maybe too impulsively, but went.
We just stayed at the rented house for a half hour or so, then I said I'd go to niece Carolyn's when they took Claire home and I did. I knew she'd have no problem taking me to the station and I had a nice visit with her, Dana, Finn, and Claire. Mike and Paula had given them a lot of food they hadn't used and they made pizza. I was full from lunch and Carolyn made me delicious yogurt and fruit. Train left at 6:58 and Carolyn took me to the station. I had called, then texted El asking her to pick me up--it was scheduled to take only 389 minutes and she agreed. Got to the station, bought my ticket, got on the train, settled into a seat, and we got going.
About eight minutes later, we stopped and it was announced that we had to wait for a north-bound train to pass. (I can never understand this; they don't run on the same track, do they?) And we waited...and waited...and waited. El and I kept texting back and forth. I was mindful that she goes back to work today and had a lot to do to prepare--hated to pull her away from it. The upshot was we were delayed FORTY MINUTES, so it took just about twice as long to get to Ventura as it should have. But okay, it finally did, El was there to pick we up, we whizzed home, and I got in before 9:00.
Got messages from New-Friend-Nancy and Just-As-New-Joyce and we three will go to the Widders Luncheon today. I'll pick J. up, as she recently had knee surgery.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens

Ellen and Greg picked me up at 1:00, then we drove to Santa Barbara. We dropped Greg at his mother's, where he wanted to do some chores to prepare for her arrival home today. (He and El will pick her up at LAX.) El and I went on to the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, where we met my friend and her husband, Mike.
I had been there before, but not for years, and we all enjoyed it. The Gardens displays only foliage native to California and even so. there's an immense variety. Mike is an amateur botanist and pointed out a number of interesting details and characteristics of the plants. There was a romantic note, too: Ellen told us she and Greg had their first date here.
The place is very California primitive with lots of rocks and boulders, dirt paths, and benches made of huge slabs of redwood. What is isn't is flat. It winds up and down--gently, but I got winded and had to sit down a few times and here and there and wait for them to come back from the more challenging inclines. Generally, though, I managed well.
There's a gift shop which we checked out when we got back to the starting point. El bought a pretty scarf as a Christmas gift for Greg's mother and I went to the nursery section and bought three pretty plants for myself. I'll keep them inside at first and later, with warmer weather, hope to have them thrive on the patio.
We left about 4:00 and El and I said goodbye to the other two. She and I went back to Greg's mothers, chatted for a bit, then left for dinner (Greg had already eaten). El took up to a place in the center of town called The Natural Cafe and I had good salmon (wild-caught). After, we picked up Greg and went to Chaucer's Book Store for an hour or more, just reading and looking through the stacks. Ellen bought a book and Greg will order some through Amazon. Cheap me will request that the library get Chris Hedges' latest, The Wages of Rebellion.
Didn't get home until well after nine after another strenuous, but so very enjoyable day.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

New Year's Day

Ellen and Greg and my friend and her husband went to Ojai, and I spent the day with Betty. Drove to Santa Barbara on the 101 with no problem, picked her up at Carolyn's, and we went to Maxes for lunch. Food okay, prices high. Talked a lot and went back to Carolyn's for a bit. Drove home and got in about 4:30.

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's Eve

I had plenty of time in the daytime hours to attend to things neglected. Did a wash, put the Christmas decorations away (what paltry few there were), drove into town to the library, went to WinCo for liver and spinach (good for my iron count), and stopped at the Royal Bakery, as I said I'd bring dessert for the NY Eve Party.
I chose a stunningly beautiful--really--sponge cake, covered in marzipan and depicting a pink flower on a green field, all surrounded by a white border. I had first chosen a dark chocolate cake, but changed my mind, as I thought the flower seemed to promise of spring, hopeless romantic that I am. I can guess why this outfit is called "Royal"--the cake cost a king's ransom. I seriously thought I had heard wrong, but oh, it was so beautiful, I had to get it--and those at the party were wowed, so I guess it was worth it.
Ellen and Greg picked me up, but we didn't arrive until close to 7:00, and missed Carolyn and Dana, who had stopped in before going to another gathering. So the group consisted of Mike and Paula, of course, plus V. and V., my friend and her husband, Betty, and the three of us.
Paula had prepared another superb dinner, featuring rack of lamb, roasted vegetables, shrimp in butter sauce, enchiladas, and various other dishes. Of course, there was wine, soft drinks, iced tea, and Ellen's contribution, the makings for Margaritas. I hadn't had lamb for years and this was incredibly delicious. We had a fine time and wonder of wonders, Mike and both his sisters (my sometimes careless children) had all remembered to bring the Santa Claus card sent by their big brother in Tokyo and made by beautiful and talented Natsue. Each had in it a folded note with a few words; put together, they read "We the merriest...of Christmases with...(almost) all together." All were signed by P., N., and little K.'s scribble--what a beautiful sentiment and how I wish it actually could have been all of us, but some day...
We ate, talked, laughed, played some silly games and about 10:30 pm, called it a night. We didn't stay for the turn of the year? Why, no, why should we? None of us are stay-up-laters and we were glad to just wish each other a good new year and go home to bed. I don't know how many times over the years I've been at parties and gatherings and felt obligated to ring the new year in, no matter how bedraggled I felt. I'll no longer do that and I'm glad of it. Got in about 11:00, relaxed and happy, and slept the sleep of the--well, I don't know how "just" I am, but the sleep of the contented, I guess.