Friday, September 17, 2010

I Have So Missed This

I really miss writing my blog. I watch things swirl around me in my small confined world and think, "I would love to write about that", and then I sit for 30 minutes and compose master pieces in my head. One of the reasons I gave up the blog was because since I had the brain bleed and accompanying brain surgery my words don't always freely flow like they once did. Many times I have to set a thought aside and wait a bit for the desired word to suddenly pop up unbidden. If I search hard for that perfect word it will evade me for hours at a time, but if I act as if I really don't care any more and set my mind to thinking of other words and equally brilliant things the word will, of it's own accord, come popping into the middle of my "barely muddled barbiturate (pain pill) laced thoughts". I do that a bit when I am trying to relate something to my son David. I'll all of a sudden say, "There, there it is. That's the word I wanted to use when I used that other word I didn't want to use." David finds little humor in this. He has gotten a bit serious as he has aged, so as a general rule, by the time the word has shown itself he has thrown his arms in the air and walked away. I generally spend some part of each day repeating the mantra, "David, I've got the word. David, where'd you go? I know what the word is now." The grandkids? The kids handle my word flow problem differently ..... they just avoid talking to me as much as possible.

Of course, the above paragraph is tongue in cheek, but I do have a bit of a problem with some of my favorite words getting lost in the mish-mash I call my 'after surgery' brain. My doctor says part of that is that catchall thing called aging. That makes me feel a bit better (it means I don't have brain word damage). I had such a nice large variable vocabulary. I find it a bit disconcerting to have to struggle to find that perfect word for what I am trying to express. The only time I feel totally relaxed with my word flow during discussions is when I talk to my friend Scott. He turned 70 last August. He only has a fifth grade education so his vocabulary is limited, notwithstanding the passel of words that he makes up, convinced that they are alive and residing, safe and warm, in a dictionary in some library. He also does things like adding 'k's' where there should be 't's' (Example: K-Mart said by Scott becomes K-Mark). When I visit with him I can lose all kinds of words and he doesn't know the difference. I can even throw in a few 'k's' and 't's' and he thinks I am the most word proficient woman he has ever met. It makes for my only totally stress free conversations. Unless you count the hours I talk to my dog.

This has been like coming home. It has been so much fun. I guess I should make an announcement "Hey Guys, I'm Back! Did you miss me. I sure as hell missed you!"

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Memory

I read three newspapers a day. The local paper early in the morning and the larger papers when my son brings them home with him in the evening. The big boys bought our local paper a few years ago and combined it with another beach cities local. Most of the quirky writers that I loved were fired and the paper itself was made smaller and a lot less interesting, but I like to know what is happening locally so I pay for a paper that feels very like I'm reading a high school journalism project. That and a cup of John's strong coffee will wake me up every time (not necessarily with a smile).

A few weeks ago I opened the L.A. Times and came face to face with a memory. A very sweet memory that really did put a smile on my face. There on the page looking exactly as I remember him was the face of "Dr. George". It tickled me so much I turned to my son and asked, "Do you remember Dr. George?", which in turn tickled him so much he got up and came over to sit beside me to play "I Remember Grandma".

My father used to watch the news on KABC every night after dinner. My mother used to watch the weather on KABC after dinner. As John says constantly, 'we don't have real weather', but my mother became addicted to the news about tomorrows non-weather. The reason...Dr. George Fischbeck. She loved him.

The article in the Times said that he still looks the same. "the thick, black-rimmed glasses, perched atop that beak of a nose, the mustache still animated, if a bit grayer than when he left KABC in the 1990's."

"Fischbeck made an instant impression when he landed in Los Angeles in 1972 by clinging relentlessly to his lack of polish. He flapped his arms and raised his Groucho Marx eyebrows. He shuffled through hand-drawn charts, someitmes struggling to find the right one. He sometimes got so caught up in lecturing about the atmosphere that he forgot to deliver the forecast." My mother loved him!

She was so taken with him she made a special effort to be free when the news came on, which was very unusual for my mother. She always had a project of some sort going. Her usual after dinner activity involved that project until Dr. George arrived in town. One evening with Dr. George on the TV and she was hooked. All things were put aside when the news and Dr. George were on. My father used to get more of a kick out of my mother then he did with the tale of weather to come. It became a family tickle and we used to tease her about it.

Then one afternoon she and one of her friends went 'downtown' to celebate the friends bithday. They went to one of their favorte hotels, the one with the glass elevator on the outside of the building. My mother loved riding in that glass elevator and always came home with a tale or two. This particular evening she came home not only with a tale but with a sparkle in her eyes.

After lunch, while she and her friend were waiting for the elevator to arrive to the top floor a man came and stood beside her to wait too. My mother never met a stranger so she turned to say something friendly to him and 'lo and behold' there standing beside her was none other then Dr. George. My mother was never known to be speechless even when excited so she did her usual friendly Bonnie thing. She says they had a great time. She lavished him with praise and adoration and he lavished her with his quirky smile. She could almost reiterate the conversation word for word, and it was a long one, afterall they had to go all the way down the side of the building in the glass elevator.

She said they talked like old friends laughing and sharing during the ride down and when they reached the ground floor he told her how glad he was that they had met and then reached over and kissed her on the cheek.

She had so much fun the following week telling all of us that we were not allowed to kiss or touch her on her Dr. George cheek. That was the cheek reserved for the weatherman.

My mother would have loved reading that article in the Times. It tickled my son and I so much we had a lovely time remembering Grandma's Dr. George cheek. Isn't it nice to have a happy memory drop in on you unexpectedly?

Take care of yourselves, my friends. Love, Pennie/Sandra

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


We made it through.

It wasn’t fun, but we survived it with our love for one another intact and our inclination to laugh and tease undamaged. I won’t moan and cry. There are so many families that are suffering. We are blessed and we know it.

Isn’t it amazing how life can take you into a negative cycle? You think you are doing everything right and life decides to curve you into everything wrong. But you hold your breath, continue doing right, and sooner or later the cycle will break and you can start breathing again. This was the longest and hardest cycle that our family has ever had to go through, notwithstanding health matters.

We had some really hard bumps when it looked as if the stress had caused some very serious health concerns for my son. But he kept telling the doctors he wasn’t seriously ill, he was just seriously stressed. When the stress ended his good health returned. But the doctors still want to see him every Thursday for the next two months. I’m glad they do. I was seriously worried about his bodies stress reaction myself.

You will never know how much your thoughts and prayers have meant to my family and me. You have seen me through so much. I am so grateful to have all of you. Thank you from all of us.

Now on to something happier.

In the mid 90’s my son dated a woman that I’ll call M. At one point they talked of marriage, but things got complicated and the marriage talk turned to friends forever talk. I was a bit disappointed when the relationship turned to friendship, but that was their decision to make, not mine.

Sometimes the mother and the girl can forge a better relationship than the girl and the boy. She and I have developed a friendship that has only gotten stronger as the years have passed.

This past July, for my birthday, she sent me a card with a bookstore gift card in it. I called her to thank her and in doing so I told her that I had just put a book written by one of my favorite authors in my “Book Wish” notebook.

“Now I can get on the computer and order it. I’m so excited. I thought I was going to have to wait awhile before I’d be able to afford it. Thank you so much. You have really made my day. Day hell, you made my month!”

We both laughed and continued our chat about our families and kids.

I didn’t give the conversation much thought until after Christmas when I received a letter from her. She wrote, “You are the only person I know that actually writes down the books you hope to read someday in a notebook. You are the only person that I know that actually works to save the money to buy the books that you have written in that notebook. And lastly, you are the only person I know that actually buys and READS the books that you have written in that notebook. I got these for Christmas and I know that I won’t buy and read anything with anywhere near the pleasure that you will have choosing books to buy from your ’Wish’ notebook. Enjoy! Love, M.

And out fell $100.00 worth of bookstore gift cards.

You’ll never know how much joy I had going through my ‘Book Wish’ notebook and selecting the books I would buy. It was one of the greatest gifts I have been given in a long while. Is there any wonder why I love her so much?

Another Family Story -

My son and grandson did their usual weekend thing and got up at dawn and went to watch their British team play football. I took it from the bits of conversation that I overheard that it was an important game, and I knew the minute they walked into the house that it had not been a winning morning. These men were not walking they were slumping and shuffling.

My son came and sat down and said that he didn’t recognize himself. He has been into sports his whole life. He has played most of them and watched all of them, but he has never gotten so emotional about a team in his life. He said, “I actually get depressed when they lose. That’s a totally new reaction.”

So I started asking questions, trying harder to understand their love and dedication to this particular sport. He said that he got interested in British football when he started following the story of Didier Drogba. I don’t know that whole story well enough to write about it, but I do know that the two men in this house are passionately into Chelsea. They have bought shirts, jackets, and scarves on e-bay and every weekend they don their shirts and scarves and dressed for success take off for the pub that shows the games. I’ve also picked up that when a man is playing good he is ’on form’, and I’ve heard several of the songs that they sing while the team plays, and I’ve learned the name of several British breakfasts that they love; primarily a Crows Nest.

My son was so enthusiastic his best friend decided to go with him one weekend. A new fanatic fan was born. My grandson’s best friend was invited to go with them; another new fan was born.

My grandson’s best friend’s sister’s has a boyfriend that my grandson has never really cared for. The other day that boy that he doesn’t like came up to him and touched his Chelsea insignia on his shirt and said, “If I had known that you were into Chelsea we could have been friends all this time. I hear that you go to the pub to watch games every weekend. Do you think I could go with you next weekend? I love Chelsea.” My grandson came home with his head swimming.

There are several other incidents very similar that have happened when my grandson or son leaves the house with their Chelsea shirts on. I have watched this thing mushroom from just the two of them doing a father son thing into a caravan of men getting up at dawn to watch British football. It’s been fun to watch.

I also got told that no women are ever there ... None, never
The only woman is the one that serves them breakfast, but they really like her and tell some great stores about her.

Very Interesting!

My granddaughter has gotten an after school job at a local pizza shop. She is the only blonde that works there. When the owners young daughter came to the shop one afternoon she exclaimed, “Cinderella works for my daddy!”

It has been decided that my granddaughter will put on a Cinderella costume and entertain all the young ones that come into the shop for a day. For that she will receive a raise. Not bad for a girl that has only worked there for 2 weeks.

Her new job works real well for her father and brother. They love pizza. She comes home with free pizza a couple times a week, not to mention that she gets a great discount on any and all pizza that she or her family want to buy. Other than tacos, pizza is the number one taste treat in this house.

The men can gorge themselves on pizza when they come home depressed about a Chelsea loss.

I personally don’t like pizza, but I love the break from fixing dinner that her new job has given me.

Take care of yourselves friends.

Love, Pennie/Sandra

Monday, January 19, 2009


Please forgive my absense. My family has been in distress and I haven't wanted to get on here and write 'woe is me's'.

It has been one of the hardest times that I can ever remember. But then again I don't think we are unique. We are a nation of heart breaking stories at the moment. We have been going through one of those series of disasters that life hands out. It's just that I have never had so may disasters dumped on my house at one time. The lesson learned is how well one survives and the strength that is gained by that survival. I can't determine those things just yet because things haven't really settled down. It feels more like a bit of fresh air before the next hammer falls on our heads.

No need to fear. We will overcome our difficulties ... wouldn't it be great if we knew just when. My biggest problem is I am used to taking my problems and concerns to the beach and dumping them in the ocean. God and the sea are connected in my heart and head. Can you sit on the sand and watch the waves roll in and not believe in God's love. I find it impossible. The sand and sea have always helped me gain straight thinking and resolve. I cant drive anymore so getting to the beach for some solo comtemplation is impossible.

During several nights of wakeful worry I have heard my son retching in the bathroom. He feels he has the sole responsibility of everyone in the house and the stress has taken a toll on him. AND that is why I have not written .......

I hope everyone in my blog world is doing well and that life is treating you nicer. God Bless, Pennie

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Isn't it Ironic

We had a long summer this year. The heat, as we know it, stayed until the beginning of November. With the October fires, some of the worst we have had, the Santa Ana winds blowing the ash and smoke, and the 90 degree heat wave the atmosphere was anything but pleasant and the air was heavy and dark.

Los Angeles area residents were told not to use any electrical appliances, such as washing machines, vacuums, dryers, air conditioning, and to ration all water usage. Long Beach has been on a water conservation program for over a year. The city council even encourages residents to ’report your neighbor’. I haven’t seen any suggestions that we talk to a neighbor. The local paper repeatedly says, “pick up the phone and report the violator to the city.” The city wants us to send the water police knocking on our neighbor’s doors. Depending on the misuse the water police can leave a ticket with a hefty fine. It sounds like a nasty opportunity to get revenge on the neighbor with the barking dog.

I fast got overheated with the weather, the fires, and the city. When my doctor asked me how I was handling the heat I answered that all I wanted to do was get out of this chair and run around naked in my backyard. I was being plagued with heat rash. Her sympathy extended to a prescription for an ointment and an “everyone I have seen today has heat rash” and a chuckle.

November finally arrived and brought with it some welcome fall weather. I’ll admit that I’m a spoiled native Californian. We don’t have, as John says, “real weather”. But I have lived my whole life with California’s non-weather and I suffer when it deviates from it‘s normal course. We are now waiting a northern storm. It is supposed to hit tonight. We desperately need the rain, but the powers are mourning the possibilities of mudslides. As for me, I’m happy once again. I’m cold, but I can deal with cold sitting in this movable chair. I can layer the clothes and still look stylish. I can put on several pairs of socks and still look presentable. I can throw the ointment away. The cold doesn’t cover me with a rash.

There is only one little problem, John. He claims that he was doing it for me, but I have serious doubts about his motive.

“I woke up chilly this morning. I turned on the heater. I have the house all warmed up for you. Come into the kitchen. It’s much warmer in there.”

My son and grandson get up at dawn on Saturday mornings to go to an English Pub to watch British football, or what is better known here as soccer, with a group of their friends. They were just getting home as John was finishing his tale of a toasty house.

My son walked in the door and before any of us could ask who won the soccer game I heard, “Who turned on the air conditioning?" “It‘s colder then hell in here.”

It may have seemed toasty to John, but he’s from the other coast where they have snowstorms and temperatures that fall way down on the thermometer. Anything above 40 is warm to him.

He now claims that we all over-reacted. “It was just a bit of cool air. In Buffalo it gets below 0.”

Cool air! My son’s nose was covered with icicles.

This little ‘good deed’ of John’s is very ironic. We couldn’t use the air conditioning when we were in a heat wave and the air was smoky and ashy, but it gets turned on when the temperature is in the low 40’s.

My granddaughter hasn’t had her tonsils removed as of yet. She had dozens of school reasons that she couldn’t take the time to get it done this past summer. She is now so sick the doctor is trying to get the surgery set up for Christmas vacation. He says it has become an emergency thing now. We got a letter from the school that she is ahead of her class and on course to graduate so she doesn’t have any school excuses left.

I think she has finally decided that the time has arrived. She is tired of being sick all the time, my son is tired of having to run home and take her to the doctor, I am tired of being a non-Jewish grandmother that has to make chicken soup all the time, and my grandson is tired of having to run her errands.

John must be tried of her being sick too. She came out of her bedroom barely able to talk to ask, “who decided to turn on the air conditioning?” “The vent is right over my bed and I was freezing with that icy air blowing on me.”

Merry Christmas from John.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Stirred Pot

The phone rang at 9:00 a.m. just as I knew it would. I was trying to get the turkey in the oven before Scott called. He’s accustomed to doing the cooking himself and he is very, very particular about how, and for how long things should be prepared and readied for eating. But, and it’s a very big but, he has a gentle, giving heart and I knew that he would feel he should volunteer to help me in the kitchen. And he did!

It wasn’t cast in stone, but I had told everyone that dinner would be served sometime around 2:00 p.m. My family likes to eat early so they will have enough time to recover from the meal and eat again before they head to bed sated and satisfied. If truth be told, my grandson ate three times before he finally gave it up and groaned his way to his bedroom. This family of mine ‘loves’ turkey.

Scott generally spends the day with his daughter and her family, but she had been dealing with family illness all week and needed a day of rest and so it was decided. Scott would take us up on the invitation we issue every year. Our little group was very pleased.

He arrived about an hour after the phone call and instantly grabbed a spoon and started stirring whatever it was that I had on the stove. As we worked and chatted the idle members of the crew drifted through the kitchen inhaling aromas and complaining of eminent starvation. It was a fun way to cook a fancy meal for a special day.

My granddaughter believes that holiday meals absolutely have to have a blueberry pie. No one had made or even ordered one for her. Drama was building! How could we have done such a dastardly thing as to forget HER pie? About that time my son announced that he had to go out for a bit and she immediately had a brilliant solution to her pie problem. She would help him with whatever he had to do and he would help her find a blueberry pie-selling vendor. He didn’t look particularly excited, but she certainly did. The drama had turned to hope.

When they returned she walked into the house with a pie box in her hands and a smile on her face. Her father walked into the house with a sober face and something on his mind, until he saw Scott at the stove. Then he laughed so loud you could have heard it next door. “Well Scott, you finally found someone that would let you stir a pot on the stove. Good for you!” Then Scott and I joined in his laughter. To everyone else that didn’t understand our laughter we told this little story.

As I’ve told you before Scott is programmed to do the cooking. God bless him, he can’t see a pot on the stove or a human in the kitchen without grabbing a spoon or an oven door and making himself a part of the what is going on.

As I’ve also told you before, my mother was a fantastic cook. She never used a recipe or a measuring tool. She just knew what went with what and how much. The magic she performed in the kitchen is legendary. She had one rule set in concrete. Never touch anything in her kitchen when she was cooking unless you were invited, and she rarely invited.

We had warned Scott, we had cautioned him because we knew how he was when there was a meal being prepared; “Stay out of mom’s kitchen.” He had thrown caution to the wind once or twice before and been nicely told to disappear. My son and I would laugh and Scott would shrug his shoulders and drop whatever he had in his hand and head out the nearest exit real quickly. It got to be a giggle moment between the three of us.

Until! Mom was busy in the kitchen preparing one of her wonderful meals when we walked in the front door. My son and I knew better, we stopped walking short of the kitchen, but not Scott. Just like he had never been warned his legs kept moving. They walked him straight into the kitchen. He greeted my mother, walked over to the big spoon, grabbed it and instantly started stirring the pot on the stove. My son and I looked at one another. Scott was either very brave or very slow. He had just walked straight into the mouth of the lion. My mother turned to look at him. She watched him for half a minute and then the woman that I had never heard utter a four letter word in my life grabbed her wooden spoon, raised it into the air and said, “Will you get the hell out of my kitchen?” Scott had never heard her utter anything like that before either. He looked like a trapped mouse for a minute while he frantically tried to find the quickest route out.

My son was shocked that Scott had taken it upon himself to touch grandma’s simmering pot, and shocked that his grandmother seemed to be simmering too; “I‘ve never heard grandma use language like that." I was shocked because my mother was never intentionally cruel; “I tried to warn you Scott.” Scott was shocked because in his eagerness and naivety he truly believed; “I was only trying to help.”

It was my quiet father, with a sweet smile on his face that brought all of us back to sanity. He understood and wasn‘t particularly shocked. He had been married to her since he was in his early 20’s. He put his arm around Scott, calmed any hurt feelings, and reminded us all that that one little four-letter word was miniscule compared to the wonder of the feast that she would put on the table. That put the smile back on all our faces.

It was that little story that my son told his children. Now that I am a cooking grandmother I can understand my mother’s slip. She hadn’t intended to be cruel. She had intended to stress the importance of her words. Scott never again entered my mother’s kitchen when she was cooking. It was a lesson hard learned, but it was a memory that brought laughter to all our throats while Scott stirred the pot that was simmering on the stove and said, “I was only trying to help.”

And when the meal was served and we all sat at the table and held hands as my grandson gave the blessing I started to cry and said, “Dear God, please tell my mother how very much we miss her wonderful cooking. I’m not even up to standing in her shadow. None of us has eaten a piece of apple pie since she left us and I let Scott stir a pot on the stove.”

We had a wonderful day. I hope you did too.

This is not the memory that I had intended to share with you, but when I sat down here it just came tumbling out. My mother wasn’t perfect, but she was my best friend. I miss her so very much.

Happy Holidays, Pennie/Sandra

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm Thankful It Wasn't Me

If things don't start improving I'm gonna become paranoid and think Blogger doesn't want me and my words. This is the second time that I have tried to write this memory and couldn't. I tried all day to be able to write a Thanksgiving entry. Nothing I did worked. I decided I didn't know HOW to write an entry in Blogger, but that didn't make a lot of sense. I had done it once before, albeit with soot and ash falling all over me but I was successful. I know very little about this new world and how to function in it, but I did manage to get my words printed.

The problem turned out to be a broken keyboard not a broken Pennie, which pleased me no end. But the day has disappeared and I have to go fix dinner for the gang which does not please me no end. I no longer have the time to write the entry that was swirling around in my head. Aw well, there'll be another day .......

I wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and thank Lynn for giving me the Marie Antoinette Award. Lynn really honored me. I haven't been around much lately and I feel a bit isolated with my ignorance of the workings of Blogger. How very lovely to open an e-mail and read that she had chosen me as one of the journals to receive the award. What a wonderful boost that gave me Lynn, thank you so very much.

I don't know exactly how to put the logo and link on my blog, but tomorrow when everyone else is napping off their full bellies I will try to sneak down here and learn. I would have done it today if circumstances had allowed.

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow. We are just going to have a quiet family day. I love those days!

Love, Pennie/Sandra