Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Halloween Meme

1. What's the scariest movie you have ever seen?

No question at all, it was “The Exorcist”. I slept with the light on for a year and I was an adult when I saw it.

2. What was your favorite Halloween costume from childhood?

You're kidding, right? I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning. I have no recollection of ANY Halloween costume. (I am stealing my sister’s answer since I too have no memory…so sad) (Addendum: My Mom, who of course has a wonderful memory, reminded me of my favorite costume. When we lived in Taipei, there was no such thing as buying a Halloween costume. The Chinese do not celebrate Halloween. Therefore, the seamstress who made many of our clothes, made me a costume. It was a clown costume, white with large pink polka dots all over it. I had a large ruffled collar and big clown feet. I was in white face with the big red clown smile and a bright red wig. Just picture a smaller version of Clarabelle from Howdy Doody and you've got it. No doubt, that was my favorite costume. Mom should know!!)

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your fantasy costume be for this Halloween?

I know this is boring, but I’m not into Halloween costumes anymore. Guess I’m an old fart. My favorite costume of the past was when I was young and svelte and quite butch and I went as Superman, cape and all. Of course my boobs detracted a bit from the muscles “rippling across my chest”, but no costume is perfect. As to that unlimited budget? Just give me the money and I’ll add it to my cruise spending money.

4. When was the last time you went trick or treating?

Assuming taking the kids counts, it’s been at least 30 years. I’m the giver nowadays, not the receiver.

5. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

I guess “Halloween candy” doesn’t include normal candy or I would say homemade fudge. I love pralines, candy bars, hard candy, soft candy, Heath bars, caramel nuggets, Bit-a-Honey, York Peppermint Patties, etc. etc. You name it, I’ll eat it. I am truly a candy hound when I’m not on WW. But for this specific holiday, I love candy corn. Just like eating pure sugar.

6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had.

My worst nightmares always revolve around somebody I love dying. They are truly terrifying and so terribly real. I have awakened in the middle of the night and called my folks to make sure they were alright.

7. What is your Supernatural fear?

The whole “taking over your body thing”, like "The Exorcist", or “Invasion of The Bodysnatchers” is very scary to me. I’m also not too fond of the idea of an “evil” spirit. Ghosts don’t seem scary in general to me, but the idea of something supernatural being evil and being after me really gets the blood racing.

8. What is your creep-crawly fear?

Snakes. Even harmless little green snakes or “good” snakes that kill the bad things, still creep me out. Just don’t like them at all. They give me the shivers. I always worry about a rattler or a Mohave green biting one of my dogs. The dogs wouldn’t know any better and would surely attack it. There is a class in our area, for dogs, to teach them rattlesnake avoidance and I should take them so they would learn to leave it alone if, God Forbid, the situation ever comes up. I would not let them swim in a pond or a lake for that exact reason. A potential poisonous snake bite. Also, no ocean swimming, as I don’t want them to become some shark’s dinner. The swimming pool is it for these water lovers. I know I'm overprotective, but trust me, these two live better lives than lots of human children. They're not suffering from my overprotectiveness.

9. Tell us about the time you saw a ghost. Or heard something go bump in the night.

True story, I swear. I have seen a ghost and it really wasn’t that scary. Just shocking and surprising. To make a long story short, my partner and I had her Great Aunt living with us. This very old lady had no place else to go and being the good Samaritans we were, we took her in. She had led a very rough life and she had not had many happy Christmases. The holidays were approaching. She had many presents under our tree. She was so excited and could hardly wait for Christmas morning. Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve, she had a heart attack, and was taken by paramedics to the hospital. It was very bad and she died. When I returned to the house late that night, I saw her ghost standing on the stairs. It was just as clear as it could possibly be. No mistake, no imagination. She was there. We always felt she came back for her presents. We opened them and left them laying under the tree. I like to think she saw them and was happy.

10. Would you ever stay in a haunted house overnight?

Someone would have to make it worth my while to miss my very comfy bed. I don’t really believe in haunted houses so I don’t think it would bother me that much.

11. Are you a traditionalist Jack 'O' Lantern carver or do you get creative?

Very traditional. Got tired of the carving mess and now have a lovely ceramic Jack-O-Lantern on the porch on Halloween night.

12. How much do you decorate your house for Halloween?

Very little. Just the aforementioned Jack-O-Lantern. We used to go all out when the kids were little with skeletons, spider webs, pumpkins, etc. etc., but nowadays, just the pumpkin and lots of Halloween candy at the ready.

13. What do you want on your tombstone?

Birth and death dates. Other than that, I have no idea. Never thought about it.

If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. Write a Halloween Meme and let us get to know you better!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mom and Me

The last three weeks have been hectic and fun filled with my Mom here visiting. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by as she prepares to leave one week from today. We have done so many things over these weeks, been so many places, laughed so hard we cried and just thoroughly enjoyed being together.

I realize I am fairly rare. Not that many folks really enjoy spending time with a parent. I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s not a duty or a chore or a job. My Mom is one of my best friends and we truly have a blast when we’re together.

One day we went to one of our local Indian casinos to play Bingo. We went, we saw, we did not conquer. We sure tried hard but the Bingo Gods were not smiling on us. However, we also played some slot machines both before and after Bingo and I won some modest amounts. My Mom? She lost every penny she put in. She swears the machines like me!!

We have shopped till we dropped. Both of us have leg/knee issues but neither of us have any sense. We’ve hit the mall numerous times, been to Sam’s Club, seen the sights at Costco, covered the BIG Wal-mart store thoroughly and this morning we are heading for the swap meet. For two women who don’t walk so well, we are surely covering the miles. As I said, we have no sense. Although, I must admit, we have learned the advantages of the riding carts at several stores. We take turns! God forbid anything should slow us down when it comes to shopping!

I’ve run all my errands with Mom at my side. Bank, supermarket, gas station, Ford dealer, Vitamin Shoppe, Best Buy, etc. etc. etc. She just keeps hanging in there and trudging along.

We watch TV, go to the movies, read quietly, enjoy my crazy dogs, watching them swim and fetch, cook together and just generally enjoy being in the same room. This is one of those times when I so very greatly enjoy the kind of schedule I have in my work. Even though I continue to work and teach, I still have had lots of free time to spend with Mom while she’s been here. That is a blessing.

The Spouse and I leave on our cruise in just a little over three weeks and I’ve been trying on outfits and having Mom help me decide what to take. This one or that one? The gray or the black? The dressy top and pants for formal night or the dressy dress? She has a good eye for fashion and her help has been invaluable. We wanted her to go on this cruise with us and we invited her nearly a year ago at the beginning of our plans. At first she thought she might, but then, because of various health issues, she has opted not to go. We’re both sad about that as we had hoped to share this European adventure with her. We are already talking about next year’s trip and we think we may go to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Again, we are hoping Mom will go with. She is interested. Time will tell if we are lucky enough to have her coming along.

I went to WW Friday morning and discovered to my horror that I have gained 4½ pounds while Mom has been here. I can’t say I’m surprised. I love to cook and having a houseguest is the perfect excuse to make all of the things I have not been eating these last months, a reason to bake cakes and cookies and buy candy and other fattening and delicious crap. For after all, doesn’t Mom NEED all that stuff? Any excuse to eat rich foods and bake wonderful desserts sounds good to me. I have one more week of my “wild” food fling and then back to reality. WW will be there waiting when I return to the fold, I have no doubt. Meanwhile, boy that cheesecake we bought from The Cheesecake Factory sure is good!!

All this quality time with my Mother, really makes me think about the future. How many more years of these wonderful memory making visits will we have? After all, neither of us are spring chickens anymore. I’m 62 and she’s 82. As I wrote about in my last post, I recently went to a funeral where a friend had lost his mother. I know my day will come, but I can’t even imagine the horror. Losing my Dad was hard. But when the time comes for Mom? I swear, I don’t know how I will survive it.

We certainly had our trials and tribulations when I was growing up. I was a truculent, surly brat when I was a teenager and, in hindsight, I can’t imagine how she could stand to be around me. I have no idea how she tolerated my assholiness. But thankfully, she did and we have survived and arrived at this point in our lives.

I am a very lucky woman.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Big "C" Strikes Again

I went to a funeral yesterday.

The mother of a dearly beloved friend passed away this past week. The horrible, debilitating, soul sucking, life destroying disease, cancer, struck again. Almost exactly a year apart, tragedy struck our lives. The similarities between the loss of his mother and the loss of my Dad, just a short year ago, truly tore at my heart.

The close knit, large, extended family; the beloved children grieving a parent; the grandchildren grieving a much loved grandparent; the unfairness of a full, vibrant, interesting life cut short by this ghastly disease. Not that his Mom did not live a long, full life, but in this day and age, the fastest growing population in our country are those over the age of 85. Therefore, when we lose a beloved senior well before that age, it “feels” as though they have died way too soon. My Dad was only 84, so he too did not make that magic “fastest growing population” group, and it seems so unfair.

These two, my friend’s Mom and my Dad, these were people who were dearly and deeply loved, people who gave back, people who loved life and everything it had to offer them. Why did they have to go so soon?

At the service yesterday, some of the grandchildren shared love letters written between my friend’s mother and her dearly beloved husband, who had pre-deceased her by 18 years. These letters were the emotional touch that did me in. My parents met when my Mom was only 16 and my Dad was 20 and they too wrote beautiful love letters back and forth during the time when my Dad was overseas in WW2. My friend’s parents were high school sweethearts and when they were separated, the love letters they wrote were what was shared at the service. Clearly, the similarities tore at my heart.

Because my Mom is here with me now, sharing my life for a few weeks, the poignancy of my friend losing his mother, seemed even stronger than it might have otherwise been. Since Mom is here, she had the option of going with me yesterday when The Spouse and I attended the service. She opted not to go and I am so glad because the whole love letter thing? It would have knocked her for a loop. It just hits a little too close to home.

I’ve done what I can for my friend. Held him while he cried, supported him, provided comfort food for him and his family, covered his classes at school, gone to the services and given him all the empathy and sympathy and support that I have to give.

But the reality is, nothing helps. His Mom is gone. My Dad is gone. We must live with it. No matter how much it hurts.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Itinerary.........continued

I apologize to my readers for my infrequent postings. No real excuses, just busy with a houseguest (my Mom) and the business of life. I will try to do better for I know that many of the family members who read this blog are truly interested in what is going on in my life. I haven’t meant to neglect you!

As we left off on the last post, we were headed for Spain aboard the cruise ship “Splendor of The Seas”, so that’s where we’ll start today. We are docking in Malaga, Spain on the 8th day of our cruise.

As I’ve done my research on Malaga, I've decided that it sounds like it will be an extremely interesting place to visit. It is described as “a paradise in the Andalucia region of southern Spain.” Any place described as “paradise” sounds promising to me. The area has a unique culture with both Moorish and Mediterranean influences and, like Southern California, it has more than 300 days a year of perfect weather and warm sunshine. Malaga and the Costa del Sol stretch of coastline is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. I assume it must be so for good reason.

Spain is the third largest country in Europe and it receives more tourist visitors than it has population. The Spouse lived and traveled in Spain during her military years and, if she had a choice, she would live in Spain again today. However, no matter how much I love to travel, this American always wants to come home to the good ole USA. But the point is, Spain is apparently so lovely that many tourists never want to leave. I am looking forward to this particular port with great anticipation. If I end up loving Spain as much as The Spouse, I can definitely see a future vacation where we simply fly to Spain and spend our vacation time in that country alone. We shall see.

After we leave Spain, we sail to what I consider to be the most exotic and exciting destination of all. We are heading for Casablanca, Morocco. I, of course, have visions of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and piano players tickling the ivories to the tune of “Play It Again Sam”. But somehow I doubt that “Rick’s CafĂ© Americain” will be anywhere to be found. However, I do expect to find wonderful, treasure filled bazaars and flea markets and a fascinating and exotic Moroccan city whose history stretches back through the centuries of time. Time will tell what other surprises and adventures Morocco has to offer.

When we depart Morocco, we will be heading for our final destination, Lisbon, Portugal. When we arrive, we will be leaving the ship and staying at a small Portugese hotel. We made a point, both in Venice and in Lisbon, to make hotel reservations at smaller, local hotels. We have done a lot of research and we think we’ll have very nice accommodations. We don’t want to stay at places like the Marriott or the Hilton. We want to see what the city and its people are really like. We are hopeful that staying at locally owned hotels will help us to do that.

I think we have a MAJOR adventure awaiting us and we are counting down the days. We leave one month from tomorrow and we are both VERY excited. I continue to stash away spending money and I am mentally planning what outfits to take. It’s hard to think of being gone from home for almost 3 weeks and yet I only want to take one large suitcase and my backpack. I have to be VERY organized and coordinate outfits and shoes and plan clothes that are all interchangeable. On top of that, we need dressy clothes for the formal nights on shipboard, so packing for our trip is really a challenge. However, I am determined not to overpack and not to take too much. Never in my life have I been on a trip and used everything I take in my suitcase. I am hopeful that this will be the first time. I simply do not want to over burden myself by taking too much. I am an over-packer of the first magnitude and I love to take lots of “just in case” clothes when I travel. I HAVE to get that urge under control for this trip and I’m truly working on it.

I plan to post frequently while we are traveling. I’ll have my laptop and, supposedly, we’ll have Internet access while on board without any problems. Hopefully, that will be the case.

I’ll try to do better with posting regularly. Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Itinerary

As you may have noticed in the sidebar, we are on a countdown until our trip to Europe and we are starting to VERY fired up. We have 5 weeks to go, or one month and one week according to the counter. However you measure it, it’s getting close and we can hardly wait.

Several people have asked us about exactly where we are going in Europe, so I thought I’d share our itinerary with you. If any of you readers have been to these particular places please share any and all information that might be helpful. Good places to eat? To shop? Sights that we shouldn’t miss? Problems that you encountered? Etc. etc. Any and all advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.

To start off the big adventure, we fly out of L.A. at the crack of dawn on a Tuesday morning, heading for New York. When we arrive, we have a couple hours to layover and then we board a plane heading for Venice, Italy that leaves at about 6 in the evening. (just writing the words gives me a thrill of excitement!!) We will arrive in Venice about 10 AM on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we will see the sights of Venice. In case the date didn’t register, this is Thanksgiving Thursday so we will be celebrating a totally American holiday in a country that doesn’t recognize it or even take note of it. I suspect we may have pasta instead of turkey!

Then on Saturday, we board our cruise ship, The Splendor of The Seas, a Royal Caribbean vessel. We set sail in the late afternoon and the next day we dock at Dubrovnik, Croatia. This place is not necessarily a destination that I would have gone out of my way to choose, however, this is one of the places the ship goes, so we will explore a new, and heretofore unheard of, place. I’ve done some reading about Dubrovnik and it actually sounds quite interesting. The city is in the extreme south of Croatia and is known as “the pearl of the Adriatic”. It apparently has some incredibly beautiful beachfront, and although it will be wintertime, we are nonetheless looking forward to a walk on the beach. The area is known as “the Riviera”, different, I imagine, from THE Riviera, but beautiful nonetheless. It is also a very historical town having been around for hundreds of years. The Old Town section should be interesting to explore. Here is a picture of the local beachfront with some of the Old Town in the background: Has anybody been there? Details please!



Once we leave Dubrovnik, we will be heading for Santorini, Greece. This is a destination I would have chosen on its own simply because of the incredibly interesting history of the Greeks and my love of Greek food. Santorini is an island and is apparently a frequent destination of the Greek people when they are going on vacation. The villages of Santorini have been there for centuries and they are famous for their wine making, among other things. We expect to explore historical sites, strolling the cobblestone streets of a town that has been there since the 12th century. This is a volcanic island and I hope to see some incredible views of the Mediterranean from the cliff top villages, barring a foggy day. Anyone been there? Details, details please! Below is a picture of the village of Oios located on the island of Santorini.
After leaving Greece, we head for Tunis, Tunisia, yet another destination that I am unfamiliar with. However, some information gathering has again assured me that this will be an interesting place. Tunis is apparently a modern, bustling Mediterranean city with all the amenities that are implied by that term. We expect to tour the city, shop, visit historical sights and I am especially interested in exploring the Old City. It is said that since the city has been there for many, many centuries, when you step into the narrow, cobblestoned streets of the Old City, the centuries slip away and you feel that you have returned to the past. There are many shops with their treasures of brass, olive wood, leather, jewelry and antiques. We look forward to some possible Christmas shopping as well as exploring the old Mosques, ancient palaces, museums and cultural centers. The shipboard personnel tell us that we must dress very conservatively and not wear shorts or tank tops for we will be in a part of the world where women do not expose any part of their bodies. Fortunately, it will be wintertime and staying well covered should not be a problem. Below is a picture of Tunis at night. Has anyone been to Tunis? Any good info to report? Any sights that we should not miss?
At this point in our journey, I will stop. We’ll pick up again in the next post as we head for Spain! Any and all information that anyone can offer regarding our various destinations will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thoughts of The Day

Only in California…….

Do you have students who must be told, “No, you cannot submit your work in Japanese, it must be in English.”

Do you have a classroom that is half empty because of the BIG storm and TERRIBLE weather. It’s raining.

Do you have a 6-7 foot tall cement block wall fence around your property, essentially guaranteeing that you will never even know your neighbor’s name.

Are you able to hire an extremely talented gardener who keeps your lawn green, your flowers pruned and your hedges neat for $45 a month.

Do people know instantly what you mean if you say you are in “the business.” (you work in the film or TV industry)

Will you find a very average, 3 bedroom suburban home that the marketplace is valuing at ½ million dollars.

Can you go to the beach on a pleasant sunny day, dip your toes in the salty water, and then, two hours later strap on your snow skis and start down the hill.

Do you see a student on campus, stretched out in the sun in only a pair of shorts, chatting on his cell phone when Halloween is just around the corner. (Okay, maybe in Hawaii and Florida too!)

Do you turn on the news and hear about million dollar homes sliding down a hillside and into the ocean. Why in the world do people keep building houses on unstable hillsides? Do we never learn the lessons of history?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Letter To My Dumb Teenage Self

This post was written in response to the Cafemom Writing Challenge

Dear Teenage Lucy’s Mom,

Let me preface this advice to you by saying that I know you don’t want to listen. You won’t believe me and you will roll your eyes and sigh deeply because I’m insisting that you read it.

However, you DO NOT know everything there is to know in this world, even though I realize that you think you do. Try for one minute to believe that and LISTEN to what I’m telling you. This is the best advice you will EVER receive!

1. You are not imagining it. High School really is the worst time in your life. But don’t despair, it will end and life will get better. It just takes time. Be patient.

2. The world around you will not always hate who and what you are. Your day is coming. I know it’s hard to believe, but one day it will actually be kinda cool to be a lesbian.

3. Learn the meaning of the word discretion. Read it, learn it, live it. You do NOT have to flaunt who you are in everyone’s face and dare them not to like it.

4. Please believe me when I tell you that you are NOT the only person in the world who feels this way. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there in the world who were born just like you. You’ll find them.

5. Be patient with your parents. They do NOT understand. It’s not their fault. They cannot even conceive of how you feel. Be extremely patient. Nobody loves you like they do. In time, they will become your best friends. I know that’s very hard to believe now, but trust me, it will happen.

6. If, after reading this, you still insist on doing the military thing, then do it right. Don’t let all those girls going after you go to your head. There will be other times, other places, other chances. You do not have to respond to everyone who gives you the eye. This is the time to remember what you learned about that word – discretion.

7. DO NOT respond to that officer’s girlfriend. She is big trouble. Ignore her.

8. I know the word “retirement” doesn’t even compute in your young brain. But trust me. If you have to join the military, then do it right and you’ll have a paycheck for the rest of your life. Ignore all those girls! This is important, so listen!

9. In the hope that you will truly listen to me, then hear this! Skip the military thing completely and go to college. I know you can’t wait to get away from all those jerks you went to high school with, so go to college somewhere else. Not right there in the same town. Anywhere else will work fine. Major in veterinary medicine. Your love of animals can be a career.

10. Don’t break the law. Not even a little bit. I know it sounds corny, but you will learn it’s true. Do unto others as you want them to do unto you. It’s actually a pretty good rule to live your life by.

11. Study while you’re in high school. You know you are perfectly capable of getting straight A’s. You just don’t bother. Take the time. Get the grades. They will help you get into that Vet school.

12. Give your little brother that baseball glove he wanted so badly. You can get another one. He will end up being one of your best friends for the rest of your life. Indulge him while he’s little.

13. One day while you’re in high school, some guy on the stairwell will make a smart crack to you and it will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. You will punch him. Don’t ever regret it. It was one of the best things you ever did in high school. Hit him harder.

14. When you are almost 19 and living on the beach in California? Don’t sweat it. The good jobs will come, life will get better, you will be successful. That is a temporary situation. Enjoy the freedom.

15. You know that girl in high school? The first one? The one you thought you couldn’t live without? Don’t suffer over her. She’s not worth it. She turned out gay too but she’s lived her whole life in the closet being miserable. You are far too good a person to bother with the likes of her.

16. You know that other girl in high school? The cheerleader? The one you were secretly madly in love with? Well, don’t bother with her either. She turned out to be a drunk who’s been married and divorced three times. And she’s not a good mother either. You can do so much better.

17. Don’t bother with Latin in high school. The person who told you that it’s the “mother tongue” of all languages? They were full of crap. Take Spanish. It will be helpful your whole life.

18. Also, don’t bother with Algebra or Geometry. They are stupid, complicated subjects and you will NEVER use them again in your lifetime. Just make sure you are very competent at basic math. It is so not important to do equations or draw triangles when you are trying to balance your checkbook or make sure you have the correct change.

19. You know how spelling and writing is so easy for you? Well, do more of it. Write a lot. Short stories. Poems. Essays. Submit stuff to magazines. Work on becoming a writer. You have the potential. Pursue it.

20. Lastly, I know you love sports. But try not to play with such reckless abandon. Those knees you are beating up and falling on and sliding into bases with, will one day give you lots of misery. Be kind to them.