Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let the holiday movie-going begin!!

I know they do it on purpose, release a ton of good movies you want to see during the holidays, but I enjoy it every year anyway - even if they are manipulating us!!

Mom and Donna came out, and we took Marjorie with us. The theater was packed - I can't remember the last time I went to a sold-out movie.

It was a good film - worth watching. And we saw lots of previews of movies that look pretty good too - although we all know how sometimes the trailers have the best parts of the movies and you don't really need to see the show.

This show inspired the full crowd in the theater to applaud when it ended!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!!

I trust you all took note of the early dark today - the longest night of the year - hence the shortest day of the year.

At least that means from now on the days will be getting longer!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thougts on a wedding day

Twenty-one years ago today Bonny and Bruce were married in the Los Angeles Temple. Their courtship and engagement had caught Harry and me somewhat unawares. The day they came down the hall dressed in thrift store wedding finery and carrying a sign that they were engaged took us by surprise. Harry came into the kitchen and said, "I'm not sure I'm ready for this." (But then I recalled Bonny's middle school promotion dance - he hadn't been ready then either to see how many boys wanted Bonny's attention!!)

That morning, early, Helen called with the news that Pop was having a very bad day already - and so they would not be at the wedding. My parents were on a temple mission in Colorado, so they would not be there. It cast a bit of a pall on things, but not for long. We were caught up in all the flurry and hustle and bustle of "getting to the church on time" and soon found ourselves hurrying in.

The wedding was beautiful. Many friends and family members were there in the temple and outside the temple too. We went to Orange County for a wedding brunch that Jinny hosted. It was great - lots of good food and good conversation.

Bonny and Bruce soon left for their honeymoon at Hotel Del Coronado - when I saw them put a cooler in the back of Bruce's old Mercedes - they were bringing their own food - Hotel Del was not cheap - I thought, "These guys know how to have a great life!"

As we drove home, a day that had started out clear and sunny became gray and foggy. Harry and I were a bit introspective, thinking about our parents not being there with us for this special time. Later my mom called and said that she felt that she had been more "present" for Bonny's wedding than if she had been there. She said all day long, as the brides came into the Denver Temple, she thought, "Someone is taking care of Bonny today, just like I am taking care of this young woman." And she concluded by saying that she had felt close to Bonny all day long.

I was glad there was no reception that night. Glad that we had a week more to prepare for that aspect of the wedding festivities. Bonny and Bruce had been pretty definite about what they did and did not want, but I was hoping that after the wedding itself, they wouldn't really care so much about those details. We did all roll up our collective sleeves and get to work however!

Pop perked up and was able to attend the reception a week later. Christmas happened in spite of Hannah's worries that somehow we'd missed it. Noah got over being miffed that the "party" we'd talked about so long was a dinner with salad and soup. And Bonny and Bruce returned from their honeymoon declaring that everything was just perfect for the reception.

Time always puts a better perspective on things.

Happy Anniversary to a couple of our favorite people!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When you have time to read LAEXTRA -

LAEXTRA is what used to be the 2nd section of the LA Times. For awhile it was called "California" and "San Gabriel Valley." Anyway, it contains the obituaries - which I frequently peruse. I often find items of interest. This last week, I found three items of interest.

The first item was a rather long column obit on Frances Curran. Turns out it was the same Frances Curran Alice and I used to babysit for. She hired us for every Saturday night - she said she'd go out regardless - and go out she did - every Saturday night!! It was great to have guaranteed income.

She had 6 children - 5 girls and one boy. Each girl's name began with Mary, but only the first daughter was called Mary Jeanne. The rest just went by their second name - and all those started with a J. Her last child was a boy - named Tom!

The summer of 1960, she worked at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles when John Kennedy was nominated. I babysat for her that week. She'd go out each day dressed in red, white, and blue - with a straw boater to match!! In retrospect, it seems pretty amazing that a young mother with 6 small children took off for a week to root for John Kennedy - she was definitely before her time!

Upon reflection, it seems like babysitting for 6 kids - who were all quite close in age - might have been a lot of work, but I mostly have fond memories of babysitting there. She must have trained them all well!

Many years ago, I noticed the name Curran in the LA Times sports pages. The husband of a good friend of mine was a sports writer there, so I asked him about the byline. Turns out the young woman was an intern - he asked her about her family and lo and behold it was the same Joanna Curran I had babysat. So we met for breakfast and had a good time hashing over the changes the years had brought.

Why is it so nice to re-connect with the past - and the people we knew then?

The second item was about the death of Carlos Moorhead - a state assemblyman who represented the part of the San Fernando Valley that we lived in. When I was in high school, we had to write a letter to our assemblyman - so I wrote one lamenting the lack of enough trash cans on Chatsworth. Lo and behold Mr. Moorhead wrote me back - and said my suggestion was a good one - and so more trash cans were provided!

I've been an activist for a long time!!

The third item was an obit on Judy Lewis - the "illegitimate" daughter of Loretta Young and Clark Gable. I suppose there are lots of "illegitimate" children of famous people out there, but this story seemed especially poignant. (I put the word in quotes because I don't think children are "illegitmate" - sounds so pejorative. I think mostly their parents are illegitimate - no quotation marks needed!)
Clark Gable and Judy Lewis

Apparently Clark Gable and Loretta Young were working on the set of Call of the Wild when the assignation and subsequent pregnancy occurred. Ms. Young went to Europe and returned to give birth in a secret house in Venice, California. She then placed the baby in an orphanage and then 18 months later made a big show of "adopting" her!

Loretta Young and Clark Gable in Call of the Wild.

When Judy Lewis was 15, Clark Gable came to visit - the story recounted that she later wrote in her autobiography that, "he bent down and, cupping my face in his two big hands, kissed me lightly on the forehead." That was the only meeting she had with him - and he did not acknowledge her as his daughter. Her own mother did not acknowledge it to her until she was a young adult. Judy Lewis said, when she wrote her memoir, Uncommon Knowledge, "I had to write this book. I don't think anyone knows what it's like not to be acknowledged by your own parents."

What was really poignant to me though was the statement at the end. The article concluded that she said that whenever she watched Gable's loving scenes with his on-screen daughter in Gone With the Wind, she cried. "It's very sad to me," she told the London Telegraph in 2002, "because he's so dear with her. I pretend it's me."

Since I'm a big GWTW fan - and the novel emphasizes how much Rhett Butler loved his daughter - and in fact all of Scarlett's children - it is easy to see how this woman could feel saddened each time she saw the film and thought about her own situation.

It's a lot of drama, I know, but it was touching to me. I work with kids - and many of them are not acknowledged by both parents. I often have students who do not know their biological fathers - some of them are pretty cavalier about it - which is even sadder.

What a world we live in!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

When will it end??

We have been living in a "construction zone" for a while now - since mid-August.

It is getting mighty old. I was complaining Monday night - wasn't blaming Harry - although I think it felt that way. I was just cursing fate I think!!

This is the current configuration - a piano in the kitchen!! The recent power outage didn't help matters any. The living room floor and the hallway got its final coat of varnish.

Hope I don't forget how to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies!! Won't be baking for Christmas I suspect.

(Harry said we could make jam on the propane stove - and he'd help. We'll see.)

We are making progress - making choices - compromising a great deal.

When it's done, say you like it - even if you don't. I don't want to hear about it if you don't!!

Pearl Harbor Day Remembered

I was not around for Pearl Harbor, but I heard it talked about all my life growing up. When I ask students about it, most of them don't know what it means. The year the movie about it came out, the kids seemed to know about it - but memories are short with the young.

I read the novel Bat 6 with my students one year. The understanding of the story really depends on an understanding of the significance of Pearl Harbor - it usually takes a lot of telling for me to get them up to speed.

My mom always said, "We were driving home from Judy's blessing and we heard President Roosevelt on the radio."

For my generation, if you say "What were you doing when Kennedy was assassinated?" everyone can tell you where they were and what they were doing.

I guess it's 9/11 for the present generation.

Hopefully there won't be too many more catastrophes that need to be remembered!!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!"

So, I was reflecting on the recent power outage that we lived through - and Harry and Dawn are still living through - and I was thinking that we were able to cover most of our bases - Dad brought in the propane stove - he even figured out how to make toast with the cast iron skillet. And I could boil water for tepid baths - but baths nonetheless. (Dad did cold showers - not my forte!!)

I figured I could do laundromats if it came to that - but if it was a situation where the whole town was without power, we did have running water, so we could have washed by hand if we ran low. (We do all have lots of clothes - probably more than we need!!)

Of course, we had candles, flashlights, even a hand-crank flashlight. Someone told us about taking the solar lamps people have in their yards and bringing them in at night to light up your house.

We are fortunate to live in a temperate climate, so even though the house was a chilly 59 degrees, that is not unbearable with a sweatshirt or two. And our down comforters did the job - especially when we added a warm quilt on top.

We could play board games - but Dad and I opted to charge my portable DVD player in the truck and we snuggled up in bed to watch movies. It was fun.

My friend has a hand-crack cell-phone charger - another handy item for the emergency preparedness closet. And if you have a car charger for your smart phone, you can even keep up on Facebook - as long as you can get internet access.

But I was wondering about hand-crank hair dryers. I could figure out how to wash my hair - and I don't have so much hair that it wouldn't air dry. They do make propane curling irons too.j But my hair really depends on blow drying to look the way I want it to look.

So I joked about a hand-crank hair dryer. Then I googled "battery-powered hair dryers." They do exist - but they have to be plugged into a car outlet. And the car has to be running. The Q/A section explained that hair dryers require too much power to make them truly battery powered. But I'm thinking one attached to a running car is a solution anyway.

And they are cheap. So I may experiment!

If not, as long as there are towns that have power, there may a beauty salon open where you can go get your hair dried!!

Long hair may be the answer though - but that's a little extreme.

I'm going to hope the next big windstorm waits a decade or two to return!!