Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three Ducks In My Pool

There is a pair  of ducks, male and female, that comes to my pool now that it is the season. They sit on the edge of the pool or dive in and swim around, sticking close together. They are a sweet couple and have come to my pool for many years now

Today I witnessed a third duck, a male, dive into the pool from overhead. He immediately headed towards the male and female pair as they swam near the southeast corner. The female quickly took off towards the opposite end of the pool.

The newcomer male duck turned to follow her, and the male duck partner followed in rough pursuit. At this, the female duck hopped out of the water and stood on the west edge of the pool.

The male partner of the female duck kept tailing the newcomer duck. Every time the newcomer male headed toward the female duck sitting on the west edge of the pool, her male partner would swim to cut him off. The newcomer male was never given the chance to approach the female duck.

I went back to the kitchen table to finish my noshing. Suddenly I heard water splashing and duck quacking. I went to the kitchen window again to observe.

The female was again (or maybe still) standing on the west edge of the pool and the two male ducks stayed in the water. The male duck partner of the female duck always kept  himself between the female duck and the newcomer duck, which was larger.

After a while they both hopped up onto the north edge of the pool. The newcomer duck stood quietly. The male partner of the female duck would stick his head into the pool and then preen himself. The male partner was constantly moving about, sticking his beak into the water or pecking at his wings. The newcomer duck stayed its ground but stood very still and made no moves.

I am now upstairs in my office and have no idea whether the three ducks are still there, but it is interesting to note that as of last observation, the newcomer duck was not able to get near the female duck.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Lost My Pain Management Doctor

A few weeks ago I got a lumbar medial branch nerve block -- injections to lessen or eliminate pain in my lower back. I have been feeling some relief and the pain management doctor scheduled me for another bout of four injections. This was to happen on March 10, 2014, next month.

On Feb. 22 I received a letter from the Spinal and Orthopedic Center that as of Feb. 19 they were no longer at the office on Vesper Avenue but that I can go to any of six satellite offices, all of them far too far away from where I live.

I now have to find a new pain management doctor and start from Zero again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lumbar medial branch nerve block

Two days ago I went to the surgery center and had a lumbar medial branch nerve block (injections)-- sort of but not exactly like an epidural. I do seem to have a lessening of pain in my lower back today, but totally unexpected is a lack -- or great lessening of -- pain in my legs when I walk up the stairs in my house.

This first set of injections was supposed to be a test to see if they did any good; if yes, then we would continue the series. If no, then we would stop. So since I am getting SOME relief in my back from the injections, and since I am getting lots of unexpected relief in my legs, I am going to vote Yes on continuing.

In case you were interested, the pain in my back is caused by scoliosis.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mother Nature's Winter Favor

It is soon to be December 21, the Winter Solstice, when each succeeding day will be longer than the previous one. This is the one saving grace of Mother Nature. I am a sun lover and miss the daylight at 5pm outside and on June 21, in spite of the long sunshiny days, I feel a regret that from that day forward, the days will be progressively shorter. Until Dec. 21.

I probably feel this so profoundly because I was born and raised in Hawaii.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Federal Government

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.
       -Milton Friedman 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Before you know what kindness really is

I was going through some of my Sticky Notes and found a quote by Naomi Shihab Nye that still has its impact. Here it is:

Before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment, like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Don't Like Autumn

I am just going to admit it: I don't like autumn (or fall, as some call it). I don't like the cold, I am not impressed by the reddish golden brown leaves that fall to the pavement, and I am depressed by days that are dark by 4 PM. By extension, I also dislike winter, but autumn is the bearer of bad tidings, the earlier show of what is to come and become, so it gets the blame.

The other day I went outside to get the mail and there were raindrops on the driveway. Oh, so small but oh so ominous in their promise, or maybe their threat. The light in the sky was grey.

I am a sun and light lover. I live in shorts and T-shirts all summer long and whenever it is not desperately cold. The climate in Southern California is mild but autumn still has a sting. I went to bed last night for the first time wearing pajama bottoms and a warm nightgown, knowing that the change has begun and I had best be prepared.

December 21 will be a symbolically happy day because from then on the days will be getting progressively longer, though for many months, longer but also rainier, windier, and colder.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Yesterday I finished up a task which I began some weeks ago and which has been helpful in lowering the numbers of emails coming to my inbox. For a variety of reasons, I have been receiving newsletters, announcements, etc from sites I have visited, and recently I decided to do something about it.

First of all, I now never request that I be sent any kind of newsletter or notice; that cuts down a lot of mail. Second, I UNSUBSCRIBED from all of the unwanted newsletter type emails that were in my inbox. I sat down and went through all the unwanted newsletters and notices and simply dedicated some time to get it all done.

Newsletters all must have (or at least DO have) a link which will unsubscribe you. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the page and search, but if you check all of the links there, one of them will be to Unsubscribe.

Some sites make it very easy to unsubscribe. You click the link and are then taken to a page that says, "You have now been unsubscribed." Other sites require that you type in the email address to be unsubscribed. They almost always give you a chance to change your mind and continue getting their mailings.

I am not completely free of newsletter mailings, but a huge bulk of the unwanted emails has been eliminated from my inbox and what is left are the personal emails.

I will do this constantly whenever I receive a commercial email or newsletter. Since I began unsubscribing several weeks ago, my inbox has been a lot lighter and cleaner.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Writer's block and Shelly's post

Every now and then someone writes a blog post about his or her family and how close they all are. Such was the case today when I read Shelly's post, "The Trio" in her blog "La Tejana."

She describes scenes very effectively and includes details that go to the heart of her message; I am always touched by her writing, but especially when it is about family.

Maybe I am doubly affected because I cannot write such posts about familial closeness -- not because I cannot write or because I am not inclined to write about such topics, but because such experiences are very few in my family.

I have been having writer's block ever since about May of this year. Things that I experience do not inspire me to write, and things that I am inclined to write about would take several long posts and I become mentally exhausted thinking about it.

Until today when I read Shelly's post in her Blogger blog; that inspired me to write about how difficult it has become for me to write. Maybe her good example will set me free, and hopefully it will be a long lasting experience. I think I would like to write about my husband, who passed away on Valentine's Day in 2000. We'll see if I ever get beyond the stage of thinking about it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Memories of Cheyenne

My labrador retriever Cheyenne passed away last October, 2012. Most of the time things are fine and life has its way of taking over the daily agenda, but there are times when memories of my playful, sensitive charmer of a dog takes over in a wave of movies playing in my head.

Whenever I would exit my upstairs office, Cheyenne would hear me and emerge from the master bathroom, which she considered her own personal cave, and she would check to see whether or not I was going downstairs, because if I was, there would be a cookie in it for her. I would always go to the kitchen to give her a little dog biscuit which I called a cookie.

She really scared me one day when I went upstairs to the bedroom and saw her on my bed with a plastic CVS prescription pill container and a bunch of little pills scattered around it. They were the muscle relaxant pills that I had gotten to ease my lower back pain and since I had stopped taking them because they made me too drowsy, there were many left over. I had no idea if Cheyenne had taken any of the pills, or if so, how many she had taken.

In a flash I grabbed my purse and ushered Cheyenne into the car and drove her to her veterinarian. They took all the necessary precautions and kept her overnight just to be sure.

I picked her up the next day, the same innocent, observant dog, happy to see me and happy to go home again. Such is life, with the moments of fright turning into sweet memories with the passing of time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Web addresses can be violent!

URLs (web addresses) can be violent. I always  notice when some well-known person like a radio or tv personality announces his or her web address, it can sound to someone else like an invitation to violence.

I am referring to the "slash" in URLs which are followed by the person's name, such that one reads it ", slash O'Reilly" (or Hannity or ShepSmith) — as in "cut" (the person).

I often wonder whether the person announcing his web address doesn't have a silent and personal flinch when reading "slash" in front of his name. Does it give opponents an unwanted subliminal message? Does it stir up the more easily stirred up among us?

The Spanish language uses the term "diagonal" instead of "slash" and I prefer it by a longshot. "Univision punto com diagonal JorgeRamos" (

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Catastrophic Thoughts

I sometimes have catastrophic thoughts.

When people raise their wine or champagne glasses for a toast, I always think, "What if they hit the glasses too hard and the glasses break?" Am I the only person who has such useless thoughts?

When I see movies of cars being driven along narrow cliffside roads, I always think that the car
could go careening off the road and down into the  valley or ocean below.

When I drive into the four-lane tunnel on Sherman Way, I frequently think that there could be an earthquake at that very moment, covering my car in dirt and cement.

These thoughts don't prevent me from doing anything; they don't restrict my life. They just intervene intermittently into my thinking process.

Well, ok, I do admit to keeping toasts very gentle with wine or champagne glasses. Just the lightest little tap.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Phone etiquette

Telephone and cell phone etiquette has gone out the window. Yes, this is going to be about social (not business) telephone etiquette, but not what you are thinking. This is not about talking on the phone while your dinner partner is left alone to eat his or her meal.

I am talking about taking calls while you are already talking on the phone with someone. I don't like it. It is rude, inconsiderate, thoughtless, and discourteous.

There is something that I sometimes do to soothe the irritation that erupts when someone calls me  and then interrupts our conversation to take a call from someone else. I hang up. Then later if they call back I say that we got cut off. Or if there is time, I say, "Oh, you take the call and call me back later." Then I hang up gently.

I would rather that people decide with whom they are going to be speaking and then commit time to speaking with that person. If you call me on the phone, then speak with me. If your phone rings while you are speaking with me, then either let the phone ring or hang up with me and then answer the phone and speak with the other person. Don't make me wait until you decide with whom you want to speak.

I realize that there is always an emergency that could happen, but most calls are not emergencies, and it becomes disgustingly frustrating to be speaking with someone and then be  put on hold for a long time. It is just as irritating to be put on hold for a little while and then be told, "Sorry, I have to take this call."

So that is why I sometimes just gently hang up and then later, if called back, say oh dear, we got cut off. But if someone's phone rings and he or she says "Excuse me, my phone is ringing," I prefer to say, "OK, bye for now, then," and quickly and gently hang up before they can ask me to wait.

Life is too short to wait for inconsiderate people, but also, it all depends on my mood. If I am feeling particularly mellow I might sit around and wait for a little while, but not unless.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reading novels on my iTouch

I use my iPod Touch to read novels. I don't play games  on it and I don't surf the Internet or view YouTube videos. I just read. For those two or three of you who don't know what an iPod Touch is, well, it is the equivalent of the iPhone, but without the phone. Since I have the first generation iTouch, it has no camera either, but the recent ones do.

This post is to tell just how much I enjoy reading on my iTouch. At first when a friend suggested I try one, I scoffed. No way you could get me to read from such a tiny screen and turn pages so often. Then I went to his house and he showed me his wife's iTouch and I became a
believer. I went to the Apple Store in Northridge and bought me one, along with a red case.

The beauty of the iTouch is that I can take it everywhere with me —— and no, I could NOT take a Nook or a Kindle everywhere with me because I do not carry a large enough purse. The iTouch fits  in the compartment usually made for a pack of cigarettes in a purse; I love it.

Another beauty of the iTouch is that if a waitress is long in coming to my table, I pass the time reading a good novel. No such thing as tapping my fingers on the table or checking my watch. Also, because it is small, I can hold it in my left hand and a fork in my right hand; pages turn with the swipe or a tap of the thumb. I don't have to make space on the restaurant table like I would have to if I were using a Nook, Kindle, or iPad.

Reading  on the iTouch is customizable, down to the way one prefers to turn the pages, or the size or color of the fonts or the text field. The other day I went to Denny's after going to the physical therapist and read my newest downloaded novel (from Barnes and Noble), In The Woods, by Tana French. I am using the Barnes and Noble Nook eReader but there are others, like one for the Kindle, that can be downloaded for free from the App Store.

I also read my novels in bed at night, at which time I change the reading format to white words on a black field (to avoid the glare of a white page in a dark room). It is a lot easier holding the little iTouch than trying to balance a large and thick or even small and thin book  on my lap or on a pillow on my chest. And have you ever read a book and the print was too darn small for you? That never happens with the iTouch, since you can change the font size as well as style.

Another beauty of reading on the iTouch is that all of the books that I have bought are all right there; I have the option of deciding to read this book, or that book, or that other book without having to carry them all with me, say, at an airport.

If I am reading at Denny's and finish a novel, I can quickly go on to read another one. The thing that I have to do to prepare for this, is to buy a new novel when I am getting near to finishing one novel — unless I am at a place where there is free WiFi. I have WiFi at home so I can download books in bed if I want to, although I prefer to do my book shopping on my iMac and then download the novel from my iMac to my iTouch. It's easier than typing on that too-small keyboard on the iTouch. (My one big dislike. The virtual keyboard is ridiculously small and those keys are a royal pain. This is why I do not send email on my iTouch.)

If you're at the Apple Store of if you have a friend who has an iTouch and reads with an eBook app, give it a whirl — you might like it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

American English

Every time I hear someone say, "The proof is in the pudding," I sigh. Not a happy sigh, not a longing sigh, but a weary one. You and I may know it, but so many others do not. The proof is NOT in the pudding, and the correct phrase is, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." You don't know how good the pudding tastes until you eat it. You don't know how good something is until it is tested out, proven.

And how many times have you heard "myself" incorrectly used? These are not street urchins who misuse the pronoun; there are college educated folks who actually say, "Myself and Gerald Ames turned in the reports yesterday." They have forgotten their English lessons from years ago, it seems; they do not say "Gerald Ames and I..." Why? What happened to correct grammar in the United States?

I have some thoughts on why.

Why? Because very correct and precise English and heaven forbid, conversations that lilt and trip smoothly over the tongue have no value among the vast majority of people.

Because we are the country that has rejected elitism, and impeccable use of the language is one aspect of elitism.

Because we celebrate the average Joe in the street. "Myself and Cindy are going to move in together."

Because rules were made to be broken.

Because we're not snobs.

I'm going to stop now and read the new ebook that I downloaded from Barnes and Noble: In the Woods by Tana French. Her English is beautiful. Sometime soon I am going to write a post about reading all of my novels on my old first generation iPod Touch but right now I am going to finish this post. Right. Now.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Remember

Note: In my day, in Hawaii, grades 1 to 6 comprised elementary school. Grades 7 to 9 comprised intermediate school and grades 10 to 12 were high school. 

I remember ...

I remember the faint smell of something burning when I got my (very successful) Lasik surgery on my eyes in 1997.

I remember flavoring the home-popped popcorn with Kraft's Grated Parmesan Cheese and loving it at first but getting tired of it after several minutes.

I remember being very surprised and slightly nervous when a very handsome and popular boy walked across the room at an intermediate school school dance and asked me to dance with him.

I remember how quickly smelling salts brought me back to consciousness when I was on the verge of passing out on the cot in the nurse's office in elementary school.

I remember feeling bad and left-behind when my friend Marilyn began to get better grades in math than I did in fourth grade.

I remember crying and running out of the kitchen away from the dinner table when my father flippantly commented that my cooking wasn't so good. This was in my high school years.

I remember how a tough spark plug of a girl challenged me to a fight in intermediate school. She didn't even know me and we had no classes together.

I remember how sick I felt when I had my first taste of liver at the high school cafeteria.

I remember sewing about five or seven new dresses during final exam week at U.C.L.A. because I couldn't take the stress of studying any longer.

I remember how beautiful I thought Sandra Roman was in tenth grade in Hawaii.

I remember being in a sociology class in college when they announced on the P.A. system that John F. Kennedy had died from gunshot wounds in Dallas, Texas.

I remember my mother disciplining me when I was in intermediate school with hard whacks to the shoulders and back using wooden hangers.

I remember my father carrying me  on his shoulders as he waded into San Souci Beach in Hawaii.

I remember making chocolate fudge from scratch when I was in 4th grade.

I remember sharing the fudge with my friend Marilyn in 4th grade.

I remember how my husband always listened as though I were telling him the most important thing.

I'd really like to know what you remember.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sheryl a Prostitute?

I think that the woman with whom I once struck up an acquaintance could have been a prostitute.

This was either in the late 1980's or the early to middle 1990's while I was single. Now, in 2013, the details are vague and I recall several but not all.

We first met at — I think — Denny's Restaurant. I will call her Sheryl to protect her privacy although, thinking about it, she may have given me a fake name those many years ago.

Sheryl was very thin, very delicate, with long brown hair. She had the look of fragility. Her face, her arms, her legs, were all small, small boned. She had a disheveled look. It was not sexy disheveled; it was poor disheveled. Her clothes were old and had seen many washings.

I remember one time we bumped into each other at Denny's and talked for a long time. When I walked in, she was seated at a booth near the door and I found a booth farther back where it was more quiet. After talking to each other from our booths, I invited her to come and sit with me. It must have been during the summer when I was not teaching, because it was a weekday.

In the course of our conversation I asked her all the little questions that people ask of each other. What she did for a living, where she worked. Her answers to these questions were vague. She did tell me about a boyfriend, however, and went into long detail.

I noticed that throughout the time of her sitting at my booth, she kept looking back at her booth. She had not left any food there, and no drink, but she kept looking, and I might have thought that she was waiting for her food to be served. It never was.

Every time a man walked by — any kind of man — she would look up at him and try to catch his eye. It was not a casual, "Oh, who's that" look; it was an intent to connect.

I remember for some reason I had a Denny's coupon in my purse, and sensing her need, I gave it to her. Her gratitude far outweighed the value of the coupon, or at least the value that I placed on it. "Are you SURE you can do without it?" "Yes, I am. You use it."  "OH thank you SO much!"

Another incident that I remember was a rainy day at Denny's Restaurant. We had sat and talked and throughout that talk, she again focused very intently on each man who passed our booth, trying to lock eye contact with them all. We talked again about her boyfriend and again she kept her personal information vague. I still did not know what she did for a living or where she worked, or why she was out at Denny's during the workday. By this time she knew a lot about me.

We both left the restaurant and I remember asking her if I could drive her to her home, since it was raining so heavily. No, she said, that was not necessary. So that meant that she was going to stay at Denny's. She made no moves to leave the doorstep and entryway.

After that I didn't see her for a long time. Maybe a year or even two. After this long hiatus we bumped into each other at Von's Market, very near Denny's Restaurant.

Sheryl looked paler and more frail than ever. Her curly fine brown hair was untended and she had sores on her lips. She looked thinner, if that was possible. She was not carrying any groceries although she was at the entrance to the market. She appeared distracted.

We did not talk long, maybe because she was self-conscious about her lips or embarrassed at being caught just lingering at the entrance doors of Von's Market.

All of this suspicion of her being a prostitute came late for me. It was only after I was able to recall all of our conversations and revisit my observations about her that I began considering it a possibility.

I wonder about her. I have since moved and gotten married (and widowed) and I live in a different city. Where is she? What is she doing? Is she eating well? Does she have warm clothes for the cold winter? Has she survived the years? Is she still alive?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Joe Mulligan's First Time

Tue, Apr 9, 2013   10:24 PM  PST

Joe Mulligan lowered the great vastness of his body onto the doctor's leather sofa. It was his first time with this one. First time hah! Making it sound like sex. Hah! I'm gonna make this one work for his money.

So Joe Mulligan arranged his corpulent self on the grey-beige sofa and relaxed. It was Joe's usual tactic: just sit and relax and let the other poor jerk talk his face off. Dad said you learn more with your mouth shut. Daddy was right. Hah!

Joe sat there for fifty minutes while the doctor asked questions and got stiff, unsatisfactory answers. "So what did you do today before you got here, Joseph?" "Nothin' much. Had some peanuts and soda."

"How have you been feeling lately, Joseph?" "OK. How about you?"

At fifty minutes the doctor indicated that the session was over and that they would see each other again next Thursday.

Joe Mulligan is very pleased with himself as he walks out of the building. "Fifty minutes he tried to get me to talk, and I gave him nothing. The poor devil almost makes me feel sorry for him, but I gotta make him work for the $350 I pay him every time."

Tue, Apr 9, 2013   10:37 PM  PST

Monday, April 8, 2013

Are We Equal?

Walter E. Williams teaches at George Mason University and sometimes subs for Rush Limbaugh on the radio. I like his logical and rational expositions. Here is what he says about equality.

Are women equal to men? Are Jews equal to gentiles? Are blacks equal to Italians, Irish, Polish and other white people? The answer is probably a big fat no, and the pretense or assumption that we are equal -- or should be equal -- is foolhardy and creates mischief. Let’s look at it.
                    Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Female intelligence is packed much closer to the middle of the bell curve, whereas men’s intelligence has far greater variability. That means that though there are many more male geniuses, there are also many more male idiots. The latter might partially explain why more men are in jail than women.                                                                                                                        Watch any Saturday afternoon college basketball game and ask yourself the question fixated in the minds of liberals everywhere: “Does this look like America?” Among the 10 players on the court, at best there might be two white players. If you want to see the team’s white players, you must look at the bench.                                                      
A Japanese or Chinese player is close to being totally out of the picture, even on the bench. Professional basketball isn’t much better, with 80 percent of the players being black, but at least there are a couple of Chinese players. 
Professional football isn’t much better, with blacks being 65 percent. In both sports, blacks are among the highest-paid players and have the highest number of awards for excellence. Blacks who trace their ancestry to West Africa, including black Americans, hold more than 95 percent of the top times in sprinting.
            By contrast, blacks are only 2 percent of the NHL's ice hockey players. But don’t fret about black NHL underrepresentation. State underrepresentation is worse. Most U.S. professional hockey players were born in Minnesota, followed by Massachusetts. Not a single U.S. professional hockey player can boast of having been born and raised in Hawaii, Mississippi or Louisiana. Any way we cut it, there is simply no racial proportionality or diversity in professional basketball, football and hockey.
            A more emotionally charged question is whether we have equal intelligence. Take Jews, for example. They are only 3 percent of the U.S. population. Half-baked theories of racial proportionality would predict that 3 percent of U.S. Nobel laureates are Jews, but that’s way off the mark. Jews constitute a whopping 39 percent of American Nobel Prize winners. At the international level, the disparity is worse. Jews are not even 1 percent of the world’s population, but they constitute 20 percent of the world’s Nobel Prize winners.
            There are many other inequalities and disproportionalities. Asian-Americans routinely score the highest on the math portion of the SAT, whereas blacks score the lowest. Men are 50 percent of the population, and so are women; yet men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. I’m personally wondering what whoever is in charge of lightning has against men. Population statistics for South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana and Vermont show that not even 1 percent of their respective populations is black. 
By contrast, in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, blacks are overrepresented in terms of their percentages in the general population. Pima Indians of Arizona have the world's highest known diabetes rates. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as white men. Cervical cancer rates are five times higher among Vietnamese women in the U.S. than among white women.
            Soft-minded and sloppy-thinking academics, lawyers and judges harbor the silly notion that but for the fact of discrimination, we’d be proportionately distributed by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere, at any time, that proportionality is the norm anywhere on earth; however, much of our thinking, many of our laws and much of our public policy are based upon proportionality's being the norm. Maybe this vision is held because people believe that equality in fact is necessary for equality before the law. But the only requirement for equality before the law is that one is a human being.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...