Sunday, December 26, 2004

A Gourmet Meal

Chris and Becky always present a meal to put any gourmet restaurant to shame. Chris smoked three chickens in his smaller smoker, and two salmon in his new very large smoker. The aroma and flavor alone made being there worthwhile.

Then there were mashed potatoes with a wonderful sauce, snow peas coated with a butter, sage and nut sauce, roasted tomatoes with an unusual, very tasty stuffing which included pine nuts. A log roll with toasted meringue toadstools, and a great mocha cream filling, was a Becky artistic endeavor, as was the square tart with lemon filling and red raspberries and blueberries on top. A myriad of Christmas cookies and candies was present, for a very festive holiday dinner.

This was enjoyed by Becky's family members, a friend of hers, Chris and Becky, of course, and Jim and I. Christmas in California can be great.


I neglected to mention the first course, a spectacular apple squash soup. The main ingredients were apples, butternut squash, onions and curry. After the chunks were cooked until soft, they were blended into a creamy, tangy, luscious soup.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Wired for Sound

I am in for an annoying month. Yesterday, I had to go to Martinez hospital to get a heart monitor. I'll be wearing it for a month. When I feel my heart beating irregularly, rapidly, or feel pain, I have to push a button to record it. The monitor records the whole time I have it on, anyway. After I have recorded episodes, I call a toll free number in Florida, speak to a real live person and give info on what I was feeling at the time and what I was doing, then lay the phone receiver on the desk, place the monitor in front of it and push a different button. It transmits a high pitched sound to Florida to be saved in my file for the month.

Technology - isn't it great?

Christmas Lights

I just had an interesting evening riding around in a City of San Pablo Recreation Department bus, checking out all the Christmas lights in a large area.

I walked to the Senior Center, where I was picked up by the bus. Most of the others had already been picked up at their homes, as they are a lot older than I am, have some disabilities, and don't drive. We went out to dinner first at a Mexican restaurant nearby, and after dark, we started our ride.

My brain is now full of Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Caught in the Act

I was standing in line at the box office at Century 16 when I noticed my next-door 80ish neighbor at the window in the next line. When she was done with her purchase, I asked her what movie she was going to see, and she said "I'm not going to see one right now", then left.

Today, she knocked on my door and handed me a Christmas card with four gift tickets in it.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Goodbye Friend

Today I hugged a friend good-bye and told him how much I love him. He is in the end stages of cancer and I may not see him again. I told him I have always loved him.

He is a wonderful person – fairly young – with a beautiful young wife and three children. It is hard to believe that I will never see his eyes again – such an unusual color. His children have eyes of the same color.

He is from Belize and has a great complexion and accent. The complexion has changed with his illness, and he barely resembles the person I knew, but his voice is that of my same beloved friend. I have known him since I came to California; we have sold at many flea markets together. One time, years ago, I admired a Venetian glass necklace that he was selling. He gave it to me at a later date as a gift, admonishing me to keep it for myself. I still have this necklace, and I’ll treasure it.

“I didn’t dodge the bullet, this time, old friend,” he said as we held each other.

It is hard for me to remember the things we said to each other while discussing the progression of the cancer. At first he had diabetes, then lost his kidneys and liver. He hates the morphine, because it makes him sleep and he doesn’t want to sleep. I had just been informed a few days before that he was ill. I had seen him in the distance a few weeks before that, but it was not mentioned by anyone.

I had a very difficult time keeping from totally breaking down in front of him, and also his wife, with just a few tears escaping. They are both so brave. We discussed his cancer openly, the pain he is in, its effect on the children. I don’t know if he will make it through Christmas.

(I wrote this last night after I saw him, but did not post it.)

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Well, that was fun!

I was at the Senior Center for lunch Tuesday, and ended up with no lunch. First, I watched and listened to a group of blind youth from the Center for Living perform Christmas carols and other music. They had guitars, drums and other percussion instruments, and great voices.

After they were through performing, I walked up to the lead singer and told her she had a gorgeous voice. Shortly after I sat back down at the table, I realized I was in trouble, heart-wise. My heart was racing and pounding, I was short of breath, became red in the face, and was perspiring. It wasn’t getting better, so I decided someone should call 911.

When the medics from the fire department arrived (from around the corner), one of them put his hand on my shoulder and said he could feel it right through my back. They did all their application of instruments and said they were taking me to the hospital. That was no choice on my part, I guess. Actually, it was the ambulance personal who took me there, after everything was checked out and they got some of my history.

I’ll say one thing – those fire department guys sure are cute, and oh, so friendly. Even the other ladies at the table remarked about that.

The whole thing was so much fun – yeah really. I was becoming sort of frightened. I have never had my heart beat so hard, or in such an irregular pattern. My blood pressure was way up, although I had been put on an ACE inhibitor to reduce it two weeks ago. I spent the afternoon in the ER, getting all the usual tests. Eventually my heart settled back down, and the blood pressure was low again.

I was sent to my own doctor yesterday. She stated that she made a mistake by putting me on the ACE inhibitor, and my blood pressure was very low. It had apparently become so low the day before that my heart overcompensated and started the palpitations, then the blood pressure spiked up. So now, I am off the medication and will go back to see her in two weeks. I had more blood work yesterday, and received a call today that I have to go for a blood test tomorrow. I had blood work done in the hospital Tuesday, and a full panel done at the clinic Monday, so I have been “stuck” nearly every day this week. Black and blue all over, I am.

I have wondered why I had absolutely no energy and my legs feel like rubber; now I know why. Of course, I worked quite hard last Friday through Sunday doing my second antique show in two weeks, and thought I had over-done. At least I had a halfway decent show last weekend.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Traveling across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco on a frosty morning in blues and greys with the sharp contrast of marching towers of bright red cranes in a row, to build a new bridge, reminds one of Asian Art.

I headed toward the city to do a show. The decision to sell at a three-day Cow Palace antiques and collectibles show this past weekend was not one of my better decisions. It was the same venue, different promoter, and he had no idea of how to advertise to best advantage. Attendance was slim to almost non-existent.

On Saturday, after sales consisting of a thirty-five dollar pin, a five dollar book, and two decks of cards at five dollars for the pair, I decided I really needed a pick-me-up, or an escape from reality. Yes, a visit to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair being held in another building at the Cow Palace, should be just the “ticket”.

I had not been to a Dickens Christmas Fair, ever. My sisters attend one every year in Skaneateles, New York, and love it. I do believe the San Francisco Dickens Fair is different in that it is held inside a building, rather than on the streets of a village.

I was transported to Old London Town immediately upon entering the building. Actually, this location is considered to be six buildings, with a covered hallway between each set of three. This was the area where we exhibited at our previous antique shows, but it certainly didn’t resemble the drab buildings we had used in the past. The transformation was magical.

The streets of London were a delight, with wonderful buildings of Elizabethan England; shops, pubs, tearooms, dance halls and music halls. The decorations were so festive, the music was grand, in several locations, and the period clothing that was worn by hundreds was fabulous. People were dressed as the wealthy, or the common folk from all walks of life.

I immediately checked out Mr. Fezziwig’s Dance Party, held in his warehouse on a dance floor consisting of large wood parquet squares laid over the asphalt of the building. There were holiday streamers looping from the center of the ceiling, and a small orchestra seated at the side of the ballroom. Many revelers in costume, along with a few of the audience members, totally filled the ballroom floor for every dance. They would go through their steps, all the while circling the floor in the same manner that skaters use. At the beginning of each dance, a group of callers would loudly announce the type of dance that would follow. I had a hard time walking away from this activity, as I love watching dancing.

There were groups performing music in many locations, some in pubs, some in music halls, some on the streets. There was a fine group of sailors sitting on a dock, singing and playing instruments, with local men, women, and children in period dress joining in from time to time. Many talented people were involved in the sounds of Old London. The shops were a delight, and the food booths served everything imaginable. I chose batter-fried oysters for my supper, from a fish and chips shop. After visiting each location several times, I eventually wandered back to Mr. Fezziwig’s Party. It was my favorite place. I had been standing for a while near the dance floor, in all my finery, sweats, when I was approached by a younger man in costume. He was one of the better dancers in the group.

“Would you care to join me in this dance? If you can waltz, you can do the mazurka.”

“No, I am not able to dance at this time.”

“You had a look on your face like you were just longing to dance, and wished someone would ask you.”

“I am sorry, but I have a serious heart problem, and I don’t have the stamina to dance. Thank you so much for asking me, though. I really wish I could.”

We exchanged a few more pleasantries, then he proceeded to find another partner. I spent that dance wondering if I would have been able to accept his offer without getting horribly out of breath.

Almost immediately after that dance, another very good dancer approached me.

“Would you please accompany me in this dance? It is a slow one and will be easy to follow.”

“No, I am sorry, I am not dancing at this time. Thanks so much for asking.”

I don’t know about easy to follow. It seemed quite complicated at first. I suppose after one got started, it would be easier to go with the flow.

I was very sad that I could not join in the dancing and that I could not stay longer. This is a treat that should be enjoyed for several hours. I had only been at the Fair for two hours and it was time to leave. The only consolation was that the day was nearly ended in Old London Town, and all of the revelers would also go home to bed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

More Books to Collect

Business was absolutely horrible at Cow Palace this past weekend. Apparently the promoter did not advertise, or at least not in the right places. I did all that work of setting up, going there for three days, and barely took in enough to pay the booth rent.

I did have a good weekend in other ways, however. A dealer I have known for several years (he and his wife were set up across from me at the “old” Cow Palace shows) revealed something very interesting to me the last day of the show. I was selling old cookbooks, and a couple of them were on one of the silver flatware cases.

He stated “You have my cookbooks.”

“What?” I thought he meant that I had cookbooks he was selling, in my booth, and I knew they were mine. The books were two copies of the same book, Souffle & Quiche, a Nitty Gritty book.

“I did the illustrations in the book. I did the artwork for Nitty Gritty cookbooks.”

My reply – “Wow! Will you autograph them for me, please?”

His name is Craig Torlucci, and his illustrations are great. I have had several Nitty Gritty cookbooks, which I sold on Now I have to find copies of them again, to keep for myself. I collect books written or illustrated by people I know personally, or people I have met in various places, such as Amtrak trains while traveling cross-country.

I also had a very lengthy conversation with a jewelry dealer who has become a close friend. In years past, he has purchased many very expensive pieces of designer costume jewelry from me. He also buys “real” jewelry, especially estate jewelry. He has told me in the past that he worked for Trifari, making jewelry for years. Jamey has repaired good pieces for me (soldering pins on), and refused to accept any compensation.

Somehow, in the course of our conversation the other day, Jamey revealed “My father was a very famous archaeologist. He wrote many books.”

I mentioned “My niece is majoring in archaeology, and is going to Hawaii this month on a dig.”

“If she is studying archaeology, then she will definitely use the books my father has written.”

“Oh, what is his name?”

“James Deetz, same as mine. My brother and sister are also archaeologists. My brother is on a dig at Jamestown, and my sister is at Berkeley. I also worked on digs, but after I moved to California and had worked on one dig, I gave it up, because there is nothing very old out here.”

Well, I searched on Google today, and found many entries for James Deetz. He is definitely a famous archaeologist. I read some of the links, and I plan to read many more.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

My Father

Everyone loved my father. He was a very important part of our lives, and we revere his memory to this day. I was very close to him, and my place at the table was at his side. He always made remarks about the fact that I was his firstborn.

I have many happy memories as a young girl growing up in my house, with a father such as mine. He always did many things for all of us. He built a playhouse for us girls, in the backyard under a black walnut tree. This was a substantial building, with a door and windows. Many happy hours were spent there, playing with dolls, making clothes for them, reading, drawing, working on projects, and “playing house”.

Sometime later, my grandfather won a pony at the local Firemen’s Carnival in the Town Park, and Dad moved the playhouse to another part of the yard, whereupon it became called ponyhouse. He cut another door, in the end of the house, built a ramp, and fenced in a large area of the yard for the pony. We could enter through the door in the front of the house, and take care of or play with the pony, Sparky.

It did not seem to matter to my father that he had so many children to support. He always acted like “the more the merrier”. He loved his whole family. We were so important to him. It is a good thing he had a business in the home, because he could be with us when he was not out making house calls. He was there, in the shop in the front of the house.

Dad had a radio repair business in the forties that eventually became a TV repair business. We were the first people in a very large area to have television sets, as we sold them in our shop. People came from far and wide to watch TV at night in the store. I remember my parents going in and out of the front of the house, taking care of all of the people. I don’t know if it became tiring to them, but I am not sure that I would be able to handle that in my life today.

Dad eventually built a “record room” on the side of the rooms that were the store. It was a long, narrow room, with built-in display racks, and a counter area with record players where customers could listen to records. My friends, and my cousin, used to love to come and check out the music. I am not sure how rich my father became in record sales.

It is difficult for me to remember the order in which events occurred in my young life. I used to help my Dad install TV antennas on people’s roofs, because his sons were too young at the time. I did not have a problem with climbing up ladders onto the roofs, and I always enjoyed being up there helping him. I would retrieve tools for him, and hold the antennas while he fastened them so that they would not fall.

One of the worst times of my youth was the time I came home from school and found that my father had fallen from someone’s roof. He was taken to the hospital, and was in serious condition, with a dislocated shoulder and shattered ankle. When he came home, his arm was taped to his chest, with the whole chest bound in bandage. His leg was in a cast and he was in a wheelchair for a very long time. I took care of him, while my Mom drove her car to people’s homes to pick up their TV’s and bring them back to the shop so together they would be able to repair them. She was in late pregnancy at the time with one of my brothers and this was a hardship for her. I helped with the other kids, and helped to entertain my father.

He also had another live being to entertain him and keep him company at this time, in the form of a parakeet named Perry. Perry would sit on his shoulder, and Dad would tear up bits of paper to throw for Perry to chase. Perry could say his name, and I swear he had the robins outside calling Perry also. That bird helped my father to keep his sanity, I am sure. Dad’s ankle always bothered him after that accident.

Dad accompanied me to school affairs, as my mother was busy with the youngest children. I loved having him go there with me. Sometimes these occasions were related to things in my life, and at other times, they were for the other kids. I could always count on him to be there for me. We would get dressed up and go together.

Speaking of dressing up, Dad always wore a shirt and tie, with dress pants, and a vest if it was cool weather. If he was working in the back yard or doing construction on the house additions, he wore shorts or pants, sometimes with no shirt on hot days, but to be seen in public, he had on his shirt and tie. I gave him many ties as gifts over the years, and after I was married, I made vests for him for Christmas several years in a row. He loved them, because I made them reversible, with six pockets, so he had plenty of places to carry small parts. When my dad was buried, he wore a new tan dress shirt I had given him that he had never worn. My mother was sorry later that she had him dressed in that shirt, because he always preferred a white shirt.

There is much more to the story of my father, so this is “to be continued”.