Monday, November 30, 2009

Finger Paintin

well it won't make the cover of the New Yorker, but I drew this with my finger on my phone while I was visiting my mother last week and it expresses what the visit was like.

What came to mind about it most was this- imagine the span of a lifetime as a dirty windshield. Think of the worn wipers going back and forth, getting stuck in a certain spot each time. That's what it's like for my mother right now. All different parts of her life are recurring, but the place where she gets stuck the most is in Princeton, where my brother is rowing in a race (40 years ago) and she can't get to the race in time. Or she can't get the paper where the race is written up.

When I'd see her first thing in the morning she'd be pretty lucid, but then the little cups of pills which I guess she needs for all kinds of reasons, would start jamming her mind. Her eyesight is poor now too so that makes it easier for her to imagine these other places and times. Another recurrent theme was that we were on a not very nice ocean liner, and when were we going to reach land?

I was glad for the lucid moments but it also makes it even harder dealing with the dementia, because Ithink I can just straighten her out by explaining a few things.

Thanksgiving Day was great, but the buildup was really rough going, especially since we never reached land.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

10 Little Indians

My brother had planned a big family Thanksgiving especially for my mother. That was the reason I booked my flight. There were going to be 15 of us. All my mother's great grandchildren and some of her grandkids too. I was going to drive my mother to the feast. Then my mother broke her hip and couldn't leave her premises. 14.

Then just two days before the big day his daughter had to have repair surgery after lots of other surgeries and couldn't move or bend over. 9. Then his daughter in law who's pregnant was rushed to the hospital with a kidney stone and other complications in Boston. His son the great cook was going to help my brother cook. Now we were 6 and the expert had dropped out. My brother had never cooked a full dinner before but was determined to do it.

Dinner was set for 2:00. At ten of 2 my nephew called and said he was just leaving his house. He was an hour plus away. We were fuming and, uh, 3. The turkey was already cooked. I made the spinach salad with goat cheese pine nuts and apple per instrux. I also made the gravy.

It was a magnificent feast. Mussels mirepoix, turkey and gravy, spinach salad, cornbread stuffing, butternut squash with morel cherries, green beans with sauteed almonds, lively cranberry orange vodka relish, sweet potatoes with pecan crunch top, mashed potatoes with gorgonzola cheese... He made all this from SCRATCH without a RECIPE!!!

He wasn't even sure his single oven would work! His girlfriend was about to faint it was so good and so unexpected. Everyone had seconds, some had thirds. How had my brother gone all those years and never cooked a meal?

These are cel phone pictures. I think my the niece in this picture may have put her sticky finger on the phone lens and thus we're all spared wrinkles.

I'll tell about my mother in another post.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

quote of the day

MOM: You don't get a real feeling for the trip just from talking to a waffle.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heading Out

I'm going to visit my mother Monday-Friday. She's been failing ever since her hip surgery. Although physically she's recovering, her mind got jammed I guess from the anesthesia. She's living in an alternate world- I can't imagine what this visit will be like. Or rather, I think I can...

Rooster Elle has been improving after a week on his meds. With birds you never know what the health outcome will be because they hide symptoms, but I had him back with the girls today in the sunshine and all were getting along and hanging together. Chickens can really turn on a sick bird, so I guess they were putting a vote in for the guy. I certainly am.

I was told Ira Glass did a radio show on chickens this weekend. Anyone hear it? And the New Yorker ran an article on raising them a month or so ago. Odd.

My new phone has all kinds of features so who knows, maybe I'll post next week.

Hope you have a happy and safe holiday, and whoever is cooking doesn't decide to experiment too much on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ode to the new phone

Let's see if this works.

Monday, November 16, 2009

on to the garage

Poor Elle, my 8 year old rooster. The house sitter gets an F. Just got back from the vet, a $250 bill and he may or may not make it. I declined the x rays. Diagnosis was lack of food, general neglect. EEK!

He was looking poorly yesterday so we moved his overnight hutch back in the garage and put a heat lamp on it. But first we gave the unexpected resident, seen above, a ride in a box to wilder country. I was looking closely and nervously at the head shape- diamond or not diamond? till I saw the little legs emerge in the straw. A very large lizard. I thought it was unlikely there would be a rattlesn. in the garage but in L.A. anything's possible.

Our neighborhood is going downhill, and it's not because we live here. Honest! During the "you've got the green light"free finance era houses were bought by unknown neighbors who then rented individual rooms to families.

The house catty corner to us seemed especially suspect for several years. We thought it might be a drug drop off house. The people didn't live there, they just came there for short periods every couple of days. They would never speak to anyone in the neighborhood. They built up the fences so they were as high as you can go. Now that house is in foreclosure, and we went to the open house yesterday.

Creepy extraordinaire, especially the closet right by the sliding doors to the pool. It was only big enough for a person to stand in, and it was sound proofed, all four walls, ceiling and floor, with foam shaped like an egg carton. Okay, so what was that for?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Governors Awards 2009

Roger Corman being toasted by Ron Howard. There were many toasts all night- something new they were trying. whew *****

Last night was the big Hollywood party at the Kodak Theatre. Since I don't have a point and shoot mini camera, I thought the cel phone would serve the trick for taking pictures. But it doesn't have flash, and half the time I forgot to click save anyway. My two pictures weren't worth posting. I found the one above on line. I was sitting right behind the woman on the right with the helmet hair.

It was an outstanding evening, written up in the L.A. Times. The food, catered by Wolfgang himself, was choice, particularly the appetizers "passed by butlers". These included tiny crabcakes, slices of Kobe beef with horseradish sauce served on a potato slice, teenser duck rolls tied with some kind of vegetable string, tuna in a cookie like cone (all these minitature) and champagne provided by Moet and Chandon.

We got there exceptionally early- fine with me-I got to sample all the appetizers. Others were letting the fancy trays pass by but I considered it a special opportunity to eat as much as I could. Besides, I got food poisoning at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant once. I had to prove him wrong. Once the crowd got roaring there wasn't much to be had. I saw Morgan Freeman sitting on the couch I'd just gotten up from. I saw Lauren Bacall pass right by looking beautiful. A woman I know asked me to hold her shawl which looked like a bathroom rug. I made a point of finding her again so I didn't have to take it into dinner with me.

We sat at the table just behind Roger Corman. Here's my take on the evening:

The lively speakers were Quentin Tarantino, Jonathan Demme, Roger Corman, Lauren Bacall, and Gordon Willis. Willis (who shot the Godfather movies), said, "Every time I worked with a beautiful actress I think she was worried I'd make her look like Marlon Brando. I just want them all to know they don't have to worry anymore."

Looking great at the awards were Roger Corman & family, Lauren Bacall, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson (no girl friend, no sunglasses, big smiles)

Lookin like a zombie: Peter Bogdanovich.
Most pompous speaker (no surprise) : Tom Hanks.

Angleica Huston presented the award to Lauren Bacall. They had family ties that went way back. Holding her Oscar, Ms. Bacall said that she was just happy to have a "two legged man" to bring home with her.

Tied for most boring speakers: Mr. and Mrs. Warren Beatty.

At the end of this SIX HOUR affair, they gave the Irving Thalberg award to John Calley who was too ill to attend. In the process they brought up all the previous award winners including Walter Mirisch, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Saul Zaentz, Norman Jewison, Warren Beatty and Dino de Larentiis. All of them have white hair and gray beards and are about the same size, except for Beatty. Looked like Snow White and the seven dwarves!

Dessert, for those who like to know these things, was "Chocolate Tear Drop filled with White Chocolate Mousse and Fresh Cherries." (though they were actually raspberries.) Very tasty!

Oh, and as for my outfit etc. I got my makeup done for the first time ever. Geez it took a long time. Do women spend 45 minutes every day to do themselves?

Here's the before picture:

I was sitting in a high chair with my eyes closed. When the makeup artist said, "Now open" I got confused and opened my mouth- halfway thinking I was at the dentist. I could tell she thought I was a nut. She asked me what I was wearing, and I said, "It's vintage." She said, "It's SPINACH?" okay so who's the nut here!

always looking my best out by the trash cans!

looks like I just sucked on one of those lemons on the ground. My stockings were navy and silver sparkly herringbone.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mean Malls

We're going to a black tie event on Saturday night. It's an Academy Award event honoring, among others, Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall. Government issued id required at the door. And don't wear orange.

I really didn't have anything to wear, so I set off looking for a formal gown. I've experienced a lot more of mall life in the last three days than I'd ever want to otherwise.

Things I learned along the way:
  • In spite of Michelle Obama, department stores are still pushing the Betty Ford look in formal wear: big bows and bigger collars.
  • If the dresses don't look like Betty Ford wore them, they look like 1940's swimsuits with big skirts and glitter. The lampshade look is everywhere.
  • Another option is a dress with one strap only, ala Tarzan.
  • Every single dress I saw was made in China, every one.
  • Don't imagine the dresses you see online will be in the stores. Too much of a risk that they won't sell.
  • There are no velvet dresses to be had. Maybe they forgot how to make velvet in China.
  • Nearly everyone working or shopping at malls in the middle of the day has a middle eastern accent.
  • Formal wear is freaking UGLY!
The stores I went to: Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, and a small dress shop with barracuda style sales women. This was NO FUN!

Getting desperate, I ordered a dress from the Neiman Marcus catalog, sent overnight, and when I tried it on all that was missing was the pink bunny slippers. A combo design of nightgown and mummy outfit, with wrapping bands all around the top that added to its ugliness.

Ah but I was inspired. I remembered I had a velvet dress from the 1920's. I haven't worn it in 20 years myself. Pulled it out of the costume trunk, tried it on, miracle it still fit. Now I am mall free! You don't tell people you pulled it out of the costume trunk, you just say it's vintage, right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who's in the Kitchen?

Weird to come upon a picture like this in Facebook. Hey, that's our kitchen! But we weren't there in October. Oh. It's the woman who house sat for us. Cute costume and makeup!

I admit, I was Facebook snooping, because we haven't been entirely happy with the way she took care of things. That's how I came upon it. Nuff said.

But Facebookers beware. We all leave quite a trail. That's one of the reasons I like Twitter better because it seems less like a mining exercise and less about the individual. What Twitter is about is still bewildering, but maybe it's their trending topics.

On to meat loaf. I made a very tasty turkey meatloaf last night riffing off of a couple of recipes. Vegetarians, be glad your hands weren't in the bowl. I'm posting it so I'll remember about it next time.

A pound of ground turkey, some dried bread crumbs, chopped onion, chopped celery, chopped garlic. An egg, some oregano. A chopped chipotle chili from a can with adobo sauce is what gives it flavor. Mix all together, put in loaf pan. Then mix a small can of tomato sauce with just a little of that adobo sauce, pour that on the top. Bake at 350 for an hour. Let set up for 15 minutes out of the oven. It stayed really moist, perhaps because the sauce sealed it.

I still am on a buzz from the Breeders Cup last weekend, and Zenyatta's amazing win.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Here she comes the Queen of England- no wait, it's prancing princess ZENYATTA! Her trainer next to her.

Many wonderful hand made posters. Women were declaring this horse as their horse.

There goes Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird above, with Calvin Borel.

Doin the Chanel thing. I need a suit like this.

doin the Diane Arbus thing. This going to the chapel gal was alone the whole day, even at the very end when I was waiting with her to see jockey Mike Smith walk back to the jockeys' room.

Hey, where'd you get your poster?

Below are my twitter posts when I got back from Santa Anita yesterday, where Zenyatta won the Breeders Cup Classic racing against the very best horses in the world. Female beat all the males, unheard of, bigger, better even than Rachel Alexandra's victories this year. I really enjoy my twitter life! My posts:

Most exciting racing day EVER! HISTORY IS MADE!

Squeezed in the basic crowd all day& squished at rail into saddle area. When Z headed to saddle area shout outs SHE'S COMING! Like Q of E!

The dance she did as she passed the screaming squeezed masses is something I'll never forget.

The start of the race was so CRAZY with Zenyatta doing her dressage wiggles on way to the gate...

Then she didn't want to go in the gate, then she came out the open front end, and then QUALITY ROAD oops

Everytime QR kicked out or bucked the crowd roared like it was a prizefight.

When QR scratched (we could hear the phone ring like it was on stage) , the crowd roared. The excitement was so intense.

(since my twitter pals all had seen the race one way or other I didn't describe it- astonishing victory by this great big filly)

and the smile on Mario Espinoza, Zenyatta's groom, as he led her back thru the tunnel, I'll also never forget.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Breeders Cup Day 1

wow how cute are these girls? That's me on the right.

No wait, I guess this is me. oh well.

Wish I could look more mysterious, like she does. I found if you say to folks, "You look so cute- may I take your picture?" you get the shot. Single people take notice.

This guy brought his lucky bear.

The guy below trained this year's Kentucky Derby winner. Lots of cute girls around him. He's no longer on crutches, and looked much jollier than his (snarly) press presentation last May.

The horse below is Mr. Hot Stuff. He didn't win, but he almost did, and he deserves his name, don't ya think?

I had so much fun I can barely control myself, and it wasn't just because I made some dough.

The Breeders Cup races run for two days at Santa Anita. I purchased two special Tweeters Event tickets for Jon and me. It seemed incredible that for $25 we'd get reserve seats, gifts, entertainment and a full and delicious lunch but it was that good. Plus got to meet online racing bud Kevin Stafford (remember the Rachel Alexandra contest?) and Julie the sweetheart.

Going back tomorrow and hope to see more of the buds, but the crowd is going to be a nightmare. Insane that I didn't get pictures of the buds, but I was so excited I was practically foaming.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

On the Road Again

We're leaving in the morning, heading back to California. It will take two days, and we're planning on staying in Flagstaff tomorrow night, an old railroad town that still has some charm.

Molly spent the day hovering around the car. The Chows used to lie right in front of it when they got a whiff of suitcase action. At least she has the sense to lie behind it! Dogs get freaked out when suitcases get put into action.