Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm Back

After a very long absence, I am able to return to my blog. Hopefully I'll have time to post something. I have been very busy with my garden friends & family on facebook, plus I have a huge new yard to get into shape. I bought a new home in September, and have had lots to do after moving out of a place where I had lived for 20 years. This house needs work, & the yard was neglected for many years. I am loving getting it cleaned of piles of debris & trying to turn it into a personal paradise. I have a long way to go before it is finished.

Friday, September 01, 2006


On my porch

Graduation Day

The day dawned bright & beautiful. Everyone was dressed for the occasion – summery dresses for North Carolina. The first part of the morning was very chilly, but after a while, we were all happy to be wearing cool clothing.

We arrived at the stadium at around 9:00 A.M., so Allie would be able to prepare for the processional. By the time we had taken our seats, the sun was starting to really beat down. Everyone was provided with paper sun shades and bottles of water.

The moment the Duke University Wind Symphony started playing and the graduates began filing down the steps in the stadium, I became all teary-eyed. I couldn’t believe my Allie was graduating, and that I was actually there witnessing this magnificent event. What a way to spend Mother’s Day!

I believe a few thousand young people graduated that day, and it was wonderful to see them massed on the field, after the very lengthy descent down the stadium steps. I had never attended a university graduation, and to me it was nearly overwhelming. We have great photos of Allie, and a video of part of the ceremony, to help us remember the beautiful and important day in her life.

After the speeches and Presentations of Candidates for Degrees, everyone left the stadium and proceeded to various locations for the actual Presentation of Diplomas. Allie received her diploma at the art museum, and we attended a reception at that location immediately afterward.

Allie was one of a small percentage of students from Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke to graduate summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. What a proud grandmother I am!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


We spent a good share of our weekend EATING. Saturday afternoon, we attended a reception on the East Campus on the lawn. This involved great food, some of which was served by Allie's co-workers from Trinity Cafe. I was putting some melon and cheese on my plate, when I heard someone say "That's Allie's Grandma!" It was Allie's close Trinity buddy and she was pointing me out to other personnel who were keeping track of the platters of food.

Allie's father arrived in the area later, and met us at a Greek Restaurant within walking distance of Allie's dorm. Allie, her grandfather, mother, and I walked there. Allie's father is Greek, Allie is half Greek, so a Greek restaurant was the order of the day. The food was good, and Allie's father treated us to dinner.

The next morning, we had to arrive at Duke early, as Graduation started in the Stadium at 9:30. Allie, of course, had to be there before that, to line up for the Procession. I will discuss this wonderful event in a separate post, as I am writing about food at this time.

After a reception following her receiving her Diploma in the Art Museum, we went to lunch at Elmo's, again a treat by her father. I ate strawberry pancakes and they were delicious. I don't remember what the other members of the party had. Allie recommended the strawberry pancakes, and that sounded good, so it was my choice - fresh strawberries and whipped cream heaped on the great flavored pancakes.

Dinner that evening was at an interesting restaurant in Durham, at an outdoor mall, a treat by Grandfather. Coral and I had pecan crusted trout - mmmmm. I have never had this, and it was a definite treat. Allie ate buffalo meatloaf. The restaurant was a Rocky Mountain Grille type of place.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Dream Come True

It is possible to watch Duke Chapel webcasts to be a part of the services and wonderful music of the Chapel Choir. It is even better, of course, to actually be in the amazing Gothic edifice, and watch the Choir processional, to have the sounds envelope you to the point of having tears in your eyes and being hardly able to breathe because you are so choked up.

The best thing of all is to be in the choir section, where you are totally surrounded by the music; the huge sound of the massive pipe organs, the swelling voices of the choir members, the brass instruments and tympanies.

I was so lucky to be able to sit with the choir during Baccalaureate, along with Coral and Allie's Grandfather. Both the AEolian & the Flentrop Organs were used for the Anthem Kyrie eleison, sung in Greek. Allie had reported that in her years in the choir she had never performed when both organs were used.

We had entered the Chapel through a side door, just like members of the Choir, and worked our way through rooms and up stairways, where Allie opened the door to the Choir and Altar area, instructing us to take our seats in a specific section set aside for a few parents and some dignitaries.

The Procession of Candidates for Degrees was very impressive, even though it was one- third of the class. We stood while they were filing in to their seats, and had a great view of them doing so.

The Choir was in the areas near the front doors where they line up for the procession. A most beautiful piece was performed while they were in that area of the Chapel, behind the pillars, a Choral Adulation sung in Church Slavonic. It made me shiver.

After the Choir reached the Altar, we had a wonderful view of Allie in her Graduation Cap & Gown while she was singing. The Seniors in the Choir wore their Caps & Gowns.

I wish the service had been longer, because the time flew by, and I knew that I would never have another chance to be with the Choir, after several years of wishful thinking. It was absolutely wonderful.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Duke at Last

I was finally at Duke, after thinking about it for four years. The great part of it was that I spent the night in Allie's apartment on campus. She was RA and had a very nice apartment just inside the front door of the building. She was very gracious and actually let me sleep in her bedroom while she slept on her very short couch.

I had a great sleep, after all that I had been through on the trains. I did not get a sleeper on any train, so I did not get as much sleep as I usually do. In the morning, Allie attended a special luncheon with a professor, and I checked out East Campus. I found Trinity Cafe by myself, in the East Campus Union. Allie worked there for a good share of her time at Duke. I had a nice lunch and chatted with her friends. Then I took a shuttle to West Campus and spent a few hours walking through the wonderful Duke Gardens. Unfortunately, I had to dodge raindrops a few times, and was unable to complete the "tour" of the whole place. There were some sections that I didn't see, but I saw some great areas, beautifully laid out, with wonderful flowers.

Eventually, I went back to Allie's dorm, and she and I went out for dinner. We walked to Elmo's, a neat place which is very popular and has great food. After that I called a cab, at her insistance, and headed for my hotel. Allie felt that I definitely should not try to get there by bus, with all of my stuff. I had reservations for the next four nights in a decent place with a kitchenette, and a couple of shopping plazas next door. There were a few places to grab a bite to eat.

I had another great night's sleep, after watching some TV, did a bit of shopping the next day, and waited for Coral and Allie's grandfather to fly in from Buffalo. They arrived in the afternoon, and after eating together, we drove to Duke, where we met Allie in front of the Chapel. She was singing in the choir for Baccalaureate that day (Friday) at 5:00. We chose not to attend at that time, and planned to go to the Saturday morning service. The graduating class was so huge that Baccalaureate was divided into three sessions.

Friday evening was spent at Coral's friends' house in Durham, where we had a very nice dinner.

On the Road Again

On the railroad, that is. May 7, I left California to travel to Duke University for Allie's Graduation. That seems so long ago, that I can hardly remember what occurred on the trip. I had allowed an extra day for missed connections, but it seemed that I might actually miss Baccalaureate on Friday (I left home on Sunday morning). The train was very late arriving in Chicago, and the train that I had to catch to DC was waiting for us. Last year Amtrak had to provide hotel rooms for passengers on two trains that night, and I was 24 hours late arriving in Florida.

The next train was one from Washington to Raleigh, and it, too, was waiting for us. We were several hours late. We never went into Union Station, but walked across the platform straight into a car on the Southbound train.

I arrived in Raleigh late, and had to get a taxi from the station to Durham. That was certainly an expensive deal, but I basically had no choice. Buses between the two cities had ceased running, and I was dealing with heavy luggage. I made a deal with a couple of guys from one company and headed to Durham. Only one of the men went in the cab, and it turned out that he had no idea where he was going, of course. I was better at figuring it out than he was, and I have never been there.

We had called Allie on the driver's cell phone to make sure she was at her apartment in the dorm, then headed out. At some point, after we were on an expressway, he called Allie again to ask her what exit we should use. It was hard to understand him, and Allie couldn't help because she has had to remain basically on campus, or nearby, as she had no car.

Then I saw a sign that I felt led to the right exit, and I found the way to her dorm.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Why I Can't Sing

I believe I mentioned a while back that I lost my singing voice after having my thyroid removed in 1961. Sometimes I thought perhaps I was just looking for something to blame, but I did totally lose my voice for months at the time and I have never been able to hit the notes right since that time. Singing was an important part of my life then – I sang to my babies. I had been in choral groups in high school. My children and grandchildren have carried on the tradition.

Today was the day of the diagnosis. I have been losing my voice for a few years, and it has been getting worse as time goes on. People have noticed that I am hoarse most of the time. Family members have mentioned it when I am on the phone. Last year I had a very difficult time reading my stories to patients at a nursing home. They couldn’t hear me, and I was unable to increase the volume. My writing “professor” told me that I obviously have a problem with my voice. I was beginning to be concerned, and the difficulty was annoying.

My heart doctor made an appointment for me to see an ear, nose, throat doctor. When I first mentioned my symptoms to the ENT doctor, he gave maybe three reasons that I would be having problems. As soon as he checked the back of my throat, he told me that my vocal chords are paralyzed on the right side and have probably been that way since my surgery in ’61. He stated that the left side would have compensated for the paralysis back then by stretching toward the right side, but as I have aged I have lost the elasticity and I am losing my voice.

One of the possibilities to cure this is surgery, but he said that he wouldn’t want to do it because I am on Coumadin, etc. I said “I don’t want you to do it, either. That is the least of my problems, so I’ll just deal with it!”

When I return from my trip east, I am to call him and he will make arrangements for me to go to Martinez for therapy. He told me the therapy would be difficult, but it should help me quite a bit. We’ll see. Therapy and I don’t do too well (knees, back). I am not very conscientious when it comes to that. I would never have made out well working out in a gym.

Sometimes when I think about the fact that I have been unable to sing for 45 years, I get upset. It makes me even more upset to realize that I was right all along about the surgery – that something had gone wrong and “someone” slipped. The doctor was telling me about a very famous opera singer many long years ago who lost her voice after thyroid surgery.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


My garden path totally disappeared during our "wetter than Seattle" winter. This is a six foot wide flower pot garden.