Saturday, December 27, 2008


We lived dangerously this weekend. We chanced going to the mountains without chains. It's frustrating that Saturns are not made for chains. Or is it that chains are not made for Saturns? Anyway Saturn has it's own idea snow travel... spider spikes. Problem is, there was not a spider spike to be found in the entire bay area. We had promised Little J a trip to the snow so we had to come up with a solution. We drove to Placerville which just happens to be where the snow began and had son pick us up to drive into the snow country. I gambled figuring I'd just fork over money for chains for his car if we really had to. We got lucky. We made it to Sly Park on plowed roads. Son got the dirty car and a free lunch. Little J got his first opportunity ever to play in the snow. Grandma just had to buy lunch. Grandpa got to gamble. Everyone is happy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just a Little Christmas

It might just be possible that my niece has more Christmas decorations than Big Bro has corkscrews. 23 trees worth and more. Everywhere. Inside and Outside. Even in the bathrooms. But that's not all. Check it out here. We were all in awe. Little J's comments sums it up well, "This is the best party ever."
Santa was there too. Little J checked the list. Twice. Nope, his name is not on it. Yet. He seems to be a bit concerned. Last night he asked if he could go to bed extra early. This just might work in my favor.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Winning Ticket

Little I seems to have found the winning ticket.

Santa Claus or Father Christmas?

Little J is covering all bases this year. In English tradition he wrote out his wish list and placed it in the fireplace so Father Christmas can read the smoke. Just in case that didn't work, he went for the traditional mailing to the North Pole.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Xmas Deflation

The holiday economy in this household is under drastic reconstruction...

Fortunately Little J is amused by the little things in life, and since he has never been to the snow (shame on me), he was in awe at the local weekend snow park...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Future Presidents

Hubby was overjoyed at finding these posters today. For years he has insisted he would fly a flag if there's ever another Democrat President so I guess we'll be out shopping soon. Meanwhile, Little J thinks he might be a good fit in that big white house. He's pondering whether he should run in another 30 years or so...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Where is MZ?

MZ refuses to cook...

but she thought she might try modeling for one of those "calendars"...
But the locals caught her in the act and quickly covered her assets...

and threw her in the clink...

Will she ever return?????

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Seeing More Red

Oh geeze... I'm gonna have to get out my knitting needles again... Look at this

Monday, October 20, 2008


While in Savannah I had the opportunity to take one of the many famous ghost tours. Supposedly Savannah is the most haunted place and our tour guide told us to just keep taking pictures into the dark, don't delete anything, and once you load them on your computer you will see them. Voila... here is my photo taken straight into the dark of night graveyard... see those fuzzy "orbs". Our tour guide insists those are the ghosts. Wanting to investigate a bit further, I asked the only expert I know who happens to live in our house and claims there is a ghost in residence under his bed. Little J says, "no way, gramma... those are NOT ghosts."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


A while back I started attending a church in Oakland; the main purpose at that time was to find a place where Little J would feel comfortable. This is a place that celebrates in it's diversity so the fit seemed perfect. An added bonus is that I really like the preacher.

Recently I made the decision to join the church. Right about the same time, the preacher announced that he would be leaving to go to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, MI. It is a good opportunity for him and I do wish him well but admit I feel a great deal of personal sadness.

But, I just couldn't stop thinking about how there must be some kind of connection here. So, I looked through my old photos and here it is. Me, age 3, July 6th, 1952 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

(BTW...The guy kind of half into the photo on the right... that's big Bro)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Perfect Scale

A few weeks ago there was this ice cream party idea. Five of us got together and enjoyed a potluck of home made ice cream, hot fudge sauce, real whipped cream, fresh nuts, bananas - all topped off with the traditional marachino cherry. That was on a Friday.

The following Thursday, I decided it was time to fess up at weight watchers. It had been nearly 3 years since I dared to enter the door because I knew I would have to pay. Even life time members slip up once in a while and it was time for this one to pay the duty. Funny thing though, 3 out of 5 of us seemed to show up that week. With a little luck and a few less weekends like this past one, I might get a free ride again in a few weeks.

But this weekend I blew it. I went away to Tahoe with 10 other women. We ate, cruised, ate, ziplined down the mountain, ate, shopped, ate, played slots, ate, partied, and ate some more. Before we went on the zipline we were required to weigh in. If only weight watchers used these guiltless scales...

Monday, September 01, 2008

With Friends Like These

Once again we took an adventure to the Western Railway Museum. In the streetcar we traveled on today, this is one of the old ad posters. Not appropriate today but who knew back then about the devastating consequences that come with each strike...

Friday, August 29, 2008

3 X Minus 10, 1 Ten

Cost $37.50 to get in plus $9.75 for popcorn and red vines. The 3 adults who accompanied Little J to this movie, squirmed in their seats, had to be excused to go potty, snoozed, and couldn't wait to get out of the theatre. Little J loved it. Maybe the big people just didn't get it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School

I never thought I'd be doing this one again... taking a child to his first day of Kindergarten. Little J was a bit hesitant in the new surroundings but exhibited an amazing surge of energy the moment he saw his friend from the summer program. Mrs. T must have known they are good buddies... she assigned them tables at opposite ends of the room.

So here we are back in the same room where Little J's uncle went to Kindergarten 28 years ago. (Just remembered - Little J's daddy went to a different school so they could accommodate our schedule). Funny thing is, some things never change. We stood in long lines and went through the same registration process and filled out the same emergency forms. We went to the same new parent orientation yesterday. The room is the same and they still want a most generous donation plus volunteerism. Sorry but for me it's "just say no" to PTA duties. Been there. Done that. I'm too old. And I'm so looking forward to Back to School night. Oh geeze, perhaps grandma needs an attitude adjustment.

The dinner discussion: Little J likes his school, just as much as the summer daycare. So far, so good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Last Pizza

12 more days and Pinky's Pizza is closing. This might be Little J's last bite. And it might be Grandpa's last chance to play the lottery here.

Bargin' In

Times are getting tough out here in foreclosure country. Monetary decisions get to the point that at times it's a choice between a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk. Considering we had no change of luck on 08/08/08 and it's unlikely that we will win the lottery, we are curious as to what life would bring on the right coast. Surely these people wouldn't mind if we pull the Marge Barge up to their dock for a bit. Right Big Bro?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lucky 8s

For some it may be their lucky day and Chris is ready to pay them off. My turn to brag: Looky here... my son is in the news, page 3! He loves his job.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

National Underwear Day

I'm so sad. I'm not in New York. I don't get to watch this . OK, the video is, well, shall we say... interesting? I'm old, not trendy. Recently, at a red hat convention, one thing led to another and we ended up having a lively after-dinner discussion equivalent to the old boxer or brief kind of thing. I'll let you in on a secret. Here's what's in our drawers...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kids Eye View

Little J and are fortunate to take a trip to Stinson Beach this weekend. Stinson is a place that is kind of hit or miss weatherwise and we were lucky to be greeted by warm sunshine and a gentle breeze, perfect high seventies beach weather. Little J enjoyed the surf and built sandcastles and tunnels. We had delicious servings of Fish and Chips for me and and Chicken Strips and Chips for Little J, complete with live jazz at the Parkside Cafe.

On the way home this morning we stopped off in Mill Valley at Mama's Royal Cafe to listen to Caroline at the piano. It's kind of a funky place that I have written about before. Little J was getting a bit anxious about getting home so I turned him loose with my camera. Got an interesting assortment of 30 or so pictures: this one intrigues Little J the most. He seems to think it has something to do with Sponge Bob but Little J's biggest question is... who gets to sit upside down and eat off the ceiling?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Demolishing the Worst Year

At 13 I thought it was the worst year of my life when my family moved from the comfort of a small Michigan town to Birmingham. It was traumatic enough to have this happen mid-year of 8th grade but arriving with the curse of multiple chicken pox scars nearly scarred me for the rest of my life. I endured the cruel and blatant remarks of pubescent teenage boys. I survived chorus tryouts in front of 30 new-to-me classmates and being sent down to the music study room since I couldn't carry a tune. I hid behind the navy shorts and white gym shirt, humiliated as the last to be chosen for any team. I learned that if I told the gym teacher that it was "that time of the month" that I could skip swim class and leave the ugly black tank suit hanging in the locker room... that is until Mom got a note from the school expressing concern over the frequency of these periods. I escaped the clasps of the class bully when she taunted me the day I wore my badgeless green girl scout uniform to school. I had one friend but as much as we were best friends, due to some kind of misunderstanding, we became worst enemies and I'll probably never know why (are you still around Mary? - maybe I owe you an apology? Fill me in please).

Anyway, I missed the chance to drive by the old school when I was in Michigan last week. According to the Detroit Free Press, "It's all over for Birmingham's old Barnum School... City Commission voted 6-1 to knock down all of the original 1912 schoolhouse..." OK, maybe that's sad. I wish I could have been there to throw the first rock. Oops, sorry. But somehow the mental image of that first wrecking ball smashing all those bad memories to smithereens rings bittersweet.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Paper Journals

My relationship to journals has always be kind of an on again/off again process from the small five year locking diary during the teen years to computer driven entries of the present. Last week when I journeyed to Michigan, I didn't take my computer. It just didn't seem worth the trouble to lug it around 3 airplane hops each direction especially with my Treo that works fine for email and blogging purposes while traveling. I figured I wouldn't have a lot of time to write memoirs on this trip anyway.

The second day into the trip, giving into a bit of nostalgia, I got that old yearning to keep a travel log. I found these "Write it Down" journals in the museum store in Frankenmuth. Thinking I would write, but not wanting to feel compelled to writing a "book" about this trip, I purchased a mini blank journal. It is a good size (3" x 5 1/2") to carry around for quick notes but got to be a bit of a wrist breaker when my first entry exceeded 20 pages of very fine print between the 3/16" lines. I do appreciate quality of the journal with it's substantial cardboard cover and smooth pages. I managed to fill up 3/4 of the pages during the week and plan to finish it up with perhaps a "Bucket List" of things to do next time I'm in the area as well as thoughts that keep popping in my head that I just know I forgot to write down.

And now, since I have gotten into the habit of "writing" instead of typing, I just had to order another full sized one. When I went online to the Journals Unlimited website, I discovered that it is a Michigan company. I think I have seen the journals in stores around here but somehow purchasing this one little journal in Michigan, not far from where it originated, makes it that much more special.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Old Neighborhoods

I had a chance to explore the old neighborhood where I spent my high school years. Was interesting to find our house with a for sale sign in front of it. Since I was just dying of curiosity I did the natural thing and put in a call to Sue, the realtor, to find out the asking price. Judging from the pictures on the flyer and also looking at the exterior, it seemed like it was pretty much as it was when we lived there, except for the new front door. When Sue called back she was curious as to why someone from California would be interested in a Michigan residence; her thoughts that it would be a bit of a backwards kind of deal. Anyway $175K was the original asking price. Current listing is $159K. I told her I'd offer nothing more than the $18K that Dad paid for the place in 1964. Sue told me she needed to take another call.

I considered if this might be an interesting move to make. Then we turned the corner and saw the Salvation Army and check cashing place next to the spot where we used to catch the school bus. Then I heard about the shooting that happened just down the street the previous weekend. I remember when Dad finished off the basement, paneling the walls with doors that he bargained for on the lumber lot, fixing it up as a place to escape the heat in the summer and burrow into in the winter. (At least he didn't do the ceiling in egg cartons like the previous residence). Could be a good safe hibernating place. Naw, I think I'll pass.

Enlightened Explorations

While Grandma was out exploring Mackinac Island, Grandpa and Little J had their own expedition. Somewhere in the lower Sierras they found an old railroad tunnel. I knew they were off to this adventure and suggested they might want to take along my old digital camera but since Grandpa would never have figured out how to charge the thing, he ended up purchasing one of those old fashioned disposable film type cameras. They brought back an interesting assortment of photos. This one has a special glow about it. Grandpa thinks it's the most artistic photo he has ever taken. Maybe it is. He was so proud of this accomplishment that he had it blown up into a shiny 8 X 10. I'm surprised I didn't find it poster sized hanging above the fireplace.
Little J was impressed by the abandoned tunnel but not so impressed as he was by the Circus Circus Casino arcade in Reno. He came home with his most prized possession, a Lava Lamp. Say what? Did someone clean out their abandoned '60s warehouse? And it cost Grandpa how many quarters?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where Am I

I may have died and gone to heaven. Somewhere in Time I just knew I'd come here again but I never imagined that I would really be here sitting in the rocker on the longest ever porch overlooking the beautiful straits on a wonderfully sun filled day. Oops got to go. My horse drawn carriage has arrived.

Monday, July 07, 2008

There really is...

...a tooth fairy. Little J received this in the mail today, further proof that the tooth fairy exists. The amazing thing about it is that she (he?) bestows these rewards via snail mail, understandable considering the cost of gas these days. Grandma is a bit curious about the 500% inflation rate over what was physically left under Little J's pillow a couple nights ago. Little J understands this generosity only comes with the first tooth, promises to patiently wait for the rest of the teeth fall out as nature intended, and thanks the REAL Tooth Fairy for remembering him.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wannabe Rosie

Yesterday 15 red hatters visited the Rosie the Riveter exhibit in Richmond.

It was especially exciting since one of our own red hatters happened to be a "real Rosie". And then there was me... just pretending to be a 2 handed Rosie...

Happy 4th of July

After a week of Little J's, "when's my cousin coming?", it finally happened. The cousins had a playful afternoon on the 4th. Someone forgot to tell Little J to wear his red, white and blue.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tooth Fairy Reminder

We should have known better. The tooth was hanging by a thread but we were in denial. Little J is only 5. Five year olds don't lose their baby teeth. A couple days ago Little was brushing his teeth and suddenly he screamed out bloody murder, came running out of the bathroom, blood dripping down his PJ top. Our first reaction was that he fell off his little tiger bench and hit the sink top. Once he calmed down we realized he was missing the tooth. Gone. Poof. No where to be seen. We checked the sink. The floor. And everything in between. No tooth.

Now that shouldn't have been much of a catastrophe considering that two days before, Little J ascertained that there is no such thing as a tooth fairy and his plan was to throw the thing away when it came out. After a bit of persuasion, with a monetary influence, he finally figured out it could be quite a lucrative event to "sell" all 20 baby teeth. And so there came a new agenda.

It turned out to be quite a struggle to get Little J settled down for bed with no tooth to put under his pillow. I assured him that the tooth fairy was probably aware of the incident and would make good her reputation. Here's the problem: Grandma went to bed and forgot all about it.

When Little J awoke to find no money, he informed Grandma that he was right after all. Fortunately Grandma didn't have to think much to come up with the appropriate response, "Well JJ I think you must stay in your own bed all night or the tooth fairy can't find you."
The problem didn't stop there: Grandma stayed out late last night and forgot the tooth fairy duty once again. And, wouldn't you know it, Little J slept in his own bed all night. Grandma might as well have stayed out all night. After some discussion at the dinner table, we came to the conclusion that since there was no actual tooth to be found, it might be a good idea to write a note to the tooth fairy. Little J agreed that was a good idea.

The problem didn't stop there: Little J is tucked in bed. He forgot to write the note. Grandma forgot to remind him. So what now... do I put the money under the pillow anyway? By the way, how much is a tooth worth these days? (The smile is priceless)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

From 3 to 2

Little J graduated from his preschool type daycare recently and began a "summer camp" program at the school he will be attending this fall. It's our hopes that it eases his way into Kindergarten with a bit of a head start in the new territory. Problem is, he now hangs out with the big kids and thinks he can do everything they do. Fridays are bike riding days and obviously it would have been tragic to send him off to summer camp on three wheels. So here he is ready to graduate to two wheels. It's going to be an ambitious week to get rid of those training wheels by Friday.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beaches and Swings

Oh poor us. We spent the weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. My boss is such a kind and generous person he let us stay in his little get-a-way place (which happens to be bigger than my every-day place). We had two perfect weather beach days. Anyone who knows anything about Carmel-by-the-Sea knows what good luck that is. There was one small thunderstorm, maybe 5 minutes long, just enough to help put out the fires that happened in the area.

Little J wants to move in with the boss. For these things especially...

The Swing ....

The Beach

Stop to Smell The Roses

In the early 1970's Dad started a Rose Garden at the Community Church of Monterey Peninsula. He moved on to many other churches and left roses here and there. Here's a photo from the Annual May Rose Garden tea in 1994. Dad always liked to visit his old gardens. I am sure he would be pleased to see that today the garden at CCMP still thrives, almost 40 years later. I'm betting this just a small sample of a Dad's rose legacy.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mission Blue

It's been a year since my dear friend passed away. Her daughter and I spent the day doing all her favorite things... we started off with the Big Duchess of teas, played every Flambeau tune that's ever been recorded, visited her old neighborhood, climbed to the top of the city on our windy mission, and finished off with chili dogs and hot fudge sundaes at Fentons.

A day of memories, mixed emotions and final goodbyes to a dear dear friend and mother. We miss ya, Micky. You're free to fly with the butterflies now.

"Come to the quiet place where your soul is refreshed, your mind is soothed and your heart is restored. Linger with Him and He will give you peace. "

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reviving Uptown... and others

Once in a while the preacher's kid syndrome emerges in mysterious ways and I post an entry that might seem to be a bit sacrilegious (not to be confused with sacreligious or sacrilicious as defined at I figure Dad always had a good sense of humor, including when it came to his profession, so my minor little quirks aren't meant to be offensive to anyone. In the interest of being an equal opportunity blog, it's time to balance out these little indiscretions...
A few months ago I decided it would be appropriate for Little J to experience a bit of religious education. I have to admit that part of this decision could be based on the guilt that comes from taking my own children to church only a couple of times in their entire upbringing. I further admit that those infrequent visits came about only because we often visited Dad and occasionally those visits happened on a weekend. Church attendance was a mandatory event within that territory if we wanted to please Grandpa.

Over the last few years Lil' sis and I did our 2 step church routine, attending Christmas and Easter services at several churches in the area. When I looked back at those visits, I figured First Presbyterian Church of Oakland would be a good fit for Little J, mostly because of the wide diversity of the congregation. What I have since discovered is that it is a good fit for me also.

In hopes of connecting with the revitalized neighborhood that surrounds this church, especially the 20-40 year old generation, Rev. Stokes has started a new weblog, Reviving Uptown. I'm hoping he experiences a huge success in these efforts.

Save my seat next Sunday, sort of halfway down the aisle, on the left side please.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Belated Birthday Tribute

I didn't forget Mom's birthday yesterday. I knew it was the day, acknowledged it in my own way, but neglected to pay any tribute blogwise. Lil Sis took care of it and I snagged the 1921 photo off her blog. Mom would have been 87 but sadly died at age 52.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wutz an Epert?

Halfway through my morning newspaper (yes I still read paper print... what can I say it is a 50 year habit... plus sometimes my only exercise is that daily trek down the long steep driveway to retrieve the local paper), I knew I hadn't had enough coffee. So I refilled my favorite mug and went back to check the fine print. Yep, I really had read it right. There it was, in the headline, in bold print, clear as day: "Eperts". Now, I know all about E-mail but what the heck is an Epert? Could it it be another one of those "E"ventions, perhaps something or someone trim, stylish, bold and maybe a bit saucy? I did read the article and in my opinion, the answer to the first question in the headline is a definite "No"...TMI (you do know what that stands for, right?).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gold Panning

On the way out of town after the KarflukiFest we stopped to check out some gold panning and found this little nugget.
We also found the perfect babysitter.


Most people went to the KarflukiFest for the Tempest Celtic Rock birthday celebration. We went to see Tom Rigney & Flambeau. It was the best performance, proven in my humble opinion by the number of dancers in front of the stage. Interesting enough Tempest did the opening act for the Sundogs years ago and guess who was in the Sundogs. Yep, Mr. Rigney. A special bonus for this beautiful day, I happened to drag Lil Sister to the Karfluki Fest. Wouldn't you know, she purchased two raffle tickets and won the grand prize... a Fender steel string guitar signed by all the artists of the day. Way cool for her. Now she just has to learn to play it.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Who Says I Can't Grow Anything

I've spent most of my early spring pulling out blackberry bushes from the area above my house. They grow rampant and hadn't been trimmed in years. I finished the job barely 3 weeks ago and now see the remaining shoots have already sprouted up taller than the corn that Little J planted in their place. The deer ate the tomato plants that hubby put in. Even the pumpkins didn't sprout. I have a feeling the spindly little carrots will disappear too. OK, so I give up. I'm going to let the yard to it's natural thing. Even if 90% of the hillside is this...Yep, that is my fine crop of none other than Poison Oak. Itch itch itch.

Mating Calls

Such a commotion up on the rooftop today, on my day that I work at home. At first I thought it must be raccoon mating season. There was such a ruckus. Plus what I thought were the unmistakable raccoon mating calls. Three times I went out to check. Three times I did not catch any wildlife action. Was wondering if it was my imagination. But, the cats were acting kind of squirrelish, running back and forth from the front door to the back door, howling like cats in heat. They obviously were confused too. Finally, I caught this little critter out in the driveway with the basketball... 2 points for not dunking it down the chimney.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I've Been Google-ized

Big Brother let me know that someone can google your address and they might just come up with a picture of your house. Or not. I had to google my neighbors address to get my house. Hmmmmm... perhaps the neighbors would like to send their landscaper over our way so they don't have such a bad public image.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Then and Now Bidwell

The Old Sacramento Northern Railway happens to be less than a block from my house. For the last 30 some years the area in my neighborhood has been transformed into a bike trail. Here's a snapshot of what used to run on the track.Unfortunately this car is now buried in the middle of a carbarn at the Western Railway Museum, much in need of restoration...
Spring is here and wildflowers are in abundance. It's a great time to take a trip to the junction. For a bit of inspiration visit their website.