Thursday, September 7, 2023

My Grandmother's Journals: September, 1998

Age 12, recital at her orphanage in 1928
Welcome to the world of a frugal, persnickety and extremely independent woman in her 80s: Every day
 my grandmother wrote down when she woke, what she had for breakfast, any movie she went to see, any mail and calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before bed.
In 1998, she turned 83 while living alone in a mobile home park in Santa Cruz, Calif. I never perceived her as lonely, though I never knew her to live with another person or even a pet after she raised my mother on her own in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s. (I wrote more about her life in this post.) 

In Santa Cruz, She lived close to the famous surfing spot Pleasure Point, and nearly every day she walked to those cliffs to watch the ocean and anyone surfing it. 
When she died at 97 in 2013, I took her ashes to those waves with one of her friends, and we each dropped some ashes at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a surfer emerged from the water where I stood. 

That was cool. 

In September of 1998, my grandmother turned 83, was closely following the coverage of the Starr Report on then-president Bill Clinton (a man whose financial policies she liked because they helped her bank account grow), and preparing to take me to New York City with her.

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 1998
Awake 7:30, tennis 8 a.m.
Graf won, many unforced errors in second set.
Drug Emporium: BP, TV Guide, trail mix.
To Logo’s with books. Did not take “Reflected Glory.”
Home. Hot!

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1998
Awake 7:30. Watered lawn.
U.S. Open. Graf won, Seles won. Serena won, Chang won.
To Penney’s sale, no good. Ate burrito.
To Gottschalks, got beige 3/4 raincoat.
Home, news. Rain cancelled tennis.
TV: A bit of Geraldo, Law & Order.

Friday, Sept. 4, 1998
Awake 4, radio 5. 
Tea, read papers. Tennis at 8.
Breakfast at Kmart.
10, TV again: Graf, Seles won.
TV: A&E, LA Detectives. Serena Williams lost.
Took melatonin at 1:30, felt effects until noon.

Saturday, Sept. 5, 1998
Tennis til 1 p.m.
Venus won, opponent had sore back.
Kmart for ice cream. Very hot today.
Read a bit. 
TV: Taped Planet of the Apes, plus four sequels: Beneath, Escape, Conquest, Battle for.
No sleep til 1 a.m.

Monday, Sept. 7, 1998
Rain, 2 hrs, 5 min.
Up 7:30 Walked cliff.
Drug Emporium for BP, got trail mix.
Tennis, rain delay. Venus won, Sampras won.
Agassi vs Karl Kucera. KK repeatedly threw ball up, annoyed Agassi.
Watched ape movies til 11:30. Slept to 5 am!

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 1998
Tennis: Agassi lost, Seles lost.
To Drug Emporium: BP, got TV Guide.
Home, wrote Mina, two pages.
Some tennis, read papers.
No TV til 10 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 9, 1998
Cloudy, cold. Bits of rain in night.
Tennis: Davenport won, rain delay. Venus won. Sampras won.
Finished watching apes (Escape).
TV: X-Files, 1/2 hour.
News, bed. Good sleep.

Thursday, Sept. 10, 1998
Awake 6:45. Usual. Paid IRS.
News: Starr report sent yesterday, much made of it. To go on Internet.
Walked on cliff, talked to 90-year-old (in May). Lived in Oakland, family from Italy, near Pisa.
To Longs for BP, Xerox. McDonald’s for coffee.
TV: News Special on JFK, “The Dark Side of Camelot.”

Friday, Sept. 11, 1998.
Tennis cut for Clinton. CBS program cut in for “special” reading of Starr report so we missed first two sets. I called Ch. 46 to complain, they said talk to New York.
Almost every station has to say something about the report!
To show, “Rounders.” Good. 
Mail: Cards from Prudy, Linda. [It was the day before her 83rd birthday].
Tennis: Davenport over Williams. 6/4, 6/4

Saturday, Sept. 12, 1998 - Her birthday, turned 83
Up 7:15. Usual
Walked on cliff, hot.
Longs, BP OK.
Tennis: Davenport vs. Hingis, Lindsay did good!
Lunch at KFC, sandwich & coleslaw.
To show, “Slums of Beverly Hills.” Gross! 
Mail: Package from Mina, video of BBC show on Diana.

Sunday, Sept. 13, 1998
Up 8 a.m. Packed vitamins, watered lawns.
To Trader Joe’s, McDonald’s for coffee.
Home 12:30 p.m. Ironed pants.
To post office, mailed post cards to Prudy, Linda, Mina. 
TV: Some NFL, Judge Judy, Siskel & Ebert.
Discovery, Ancient Inventions, Terry Jones. Very funny. Taped more segments.

Monday, Sept. 14, 1998
Awake 5 a.m. Ate breakfast, to laundromat.
Got gas at Kmart.
Foned Ch. 11 to get ABC special, they said to call NYC. I did, ringing but funny noise, no answer. 
Football: Indians vs. 49ers, 49ers won 45 to 10.
TV: Law & Order, Bio: Christina Onasis

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 1998
Up 6:30. Shower/hair.
Drug Emporium for BP, good.
Library, read half of NY Times Magazine article re Mr. Starr.
To show,”"Saving Private Ryan.” 3 hours. Good.
TV:  About 5 minutes of Geraldo, then Morse, Law & Order.
Read papers, crossword. 

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1998
Slept good, awake 7:30. Usual breakfast.
Some reports favor Clinton, reporters give excuses!
Worked on bush clippings. Talked to manager re Larry. Gave her typed info.
Called library to renew books.
Called SF MOMA: Thursday is half-price, first Tuesday of every month is free.
TV: Jim Lehrer, “The Gods Must be Crazy.” 

Thursday, Sept. 17, 1998
Awake 2-4-8. Usual breakfast, chores.
Watered lawn, finished bagging clippings.
To Longs, got muffins, tuna.
Home, made tuna salad, watched news.
Packed vitamins, rested one hour.
Fixed package for Justine: Sonoma arts brochure, 401K, lecithin.
To post office, library.
Home after sundae at McDonald’s.
Friday, Sept. 18, 1998 
Awake 6:45. Heat needed. 
Usual breakfast: Cereal, no bananas. Took potassium pill.
To bank, McDonald’s.
Looked at Gottschalks, nothing.
Home 11:15 a.m. Ate, news, read papers.
Worked on blue top, made shoulder seams tighter.
Some TV: Law & Order, ran tape of Three Tenors.
Bed 11. Hot, uncomfortable. 
Saturday, Sept. 19, 1998
Awake 6:30. Ate usual.
Washed car, watered lawn. Talked to Ellie.
To Orchard, got weed killer, bark. 
To McDonald’s for coffee/donut.
To library, read T.S. Eliot memoirs, turned in. 
To Kmart for lunch, tried on jeans. Nothing.
Home. Wound clock, oiled furnace.
TV: Giants over Dodgers, 18-4. Ran Three Tenors.
Sunday, Sept. 20, 1998
Awake 5, then 7. Usual.
Kmart for breakfast, walked on cliff.
Worked in yard, sprayed weeds. Spiders in bush in back.
Read papers, charted stocks.
Football: Miami over Pittsburgh. Tried to fix blue top.
TV: Ebert & Siskel, 60 mins, X-Files.
Monday, Sept. 21, 1998
Awake 6, started taping Clinton grand jury.To be 4 hours.
Cut bush in back til 10 a.m.
Changed, to Longs, BP OK. Coffee at McDonald’s.
Cut part of bush in back, then again from 1:30 to 2:31.
Shower/hair, papers.
TV: Clinton, received standing ovation.
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1998
Up 6:30, heat. usual.
To Longs, BP good. Got Dinty Moore (3).
To library, NY Magazine gone! Put in request for it. Read Barrons, Opera.
To Kmart for lunch.
Mail: New Yorker, NYC info.
Wrote Justine, took to post office.
TV: A bit of Geraldo, Law & Order, news: Starr and Lewinsky.
Couldn’t sleep. Had milk & toast at 2 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1998
Bed til 9. Chores, walked on cliff.
To Vitamin Center, $16 for alfalfa, 550 pills. Drug Emporium has 500 for $7.44. None at Longs or Rite Aid.
Home, news, ate peaches,milk, etc.
Worked three hours on NYC info.
Tried on clothes, decided to wear black, brown change.
TV: Watched Frasier, taped A&E, Hilary & Bill Clinton.
Thursday, Sept. 24, 1998
Up 8 a.m. Viv called 9:05.
Longs, BP machine down.
To Ocean Street donut.
To Civic Center,  got tickets for Seniorama, $12 each.
To library, read Times magazine.
TV: News, Frost, “Executive Decision,” Kurt Russell.
Bed 11:30. Not good sleep!

Friday, Sept. 25, 1998
Awake 5 a.m. then 8. Chilly, read some.
Myra left vitamin bottle.
Called NY Times. After 3 calls, cost $10.75 for that mag, got entire paper. Girl suggested I read it at library.
To Drug Emporium, looking for soap.
Home 11:40. Some news, foned Myra. 
Cleaned front window! Must be years. Discarded dried flowers from previous tenant. Put Larry’s bird in their place.
To Live Oak, sat with lady from Shanghai.
Home. News, read T. S. Eliot.
Saturday, Sept. 26, 1998 
Awake 6:30. Usual breakfast. Sewed garter.
To Drug Emporium, got crackers. BP high.
To Viv’s. Was there 12:15, she not ready til 12:30. No money, I paid. 
Raining, a bit late to show. 2 hours, mostly good. [She doesn't say which movie!]
Back to Viv’s. Tea, talked til 4:45.
Home, dinner, news, balanced books.
TV: part of America’s Most Wanted.
Bed, crossword. Slept OK. Took melatonin. No REM.

Sunday, Sept. 27, 1998
Awake 7, usual breakfast. Finished crossword.
Chores, typed NYC info.
Mina called, long talk.
To Ocean Street donut. 
Got flu shot.
Football: Raiders 13, Dallas 12; 49ers  vs  Atlanta,  31-20. Denver over Redskins, Chiefs over Eagles.
TV: News, Siskel & Ebert, cannot get Ch. 54.
Monday, Sept. 28, 1998 
Call re bus to Manhattan.
Awake 6, usual breakfast.
Library, returned 3 books.
Home, meeting with manager: shed, can paint or remove at park’s expense; can wash car in space. Forgot to ask about fertilizing.
Ate at KFC, Ocean Street donut before library.
Home, sewed blue top and watched Bio on Gene Hackman.
TV: Geraldo had Joe Degeneres, Alan Dershowitz, got into argument, Joe called Alan a liar. Very angry.
Taped opera, Samson & Delilah.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 1998
Slept heavy. Flu shot?
Up 6, ate usual. Refrig empty.
Called hotel, packed case.
To bank, put Viv’s check in, $12.
To McDonald’s at mall. Lily there. Had growth removed. Heavier, moves slower! Glad to see her. To Laughlin in November.
Wrote Justine. Got ice cream!
To Live Oak, Viv and I disagreed about Aptos.
TV: Morse, repeat. 
Bed 9:30. Still tired!

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 1998
Fair sleep. Awake 6, heat needed.
Usual breakfast, Jacks. Chores.
Drug Emporium for paper, Ocean Street donut.
To library, research for Mina.
Took ride to Aptos, Rancho Del Mar, “Aptos Village.” Some stores still there.
Home, ate. Some TV. Taped: Eastwood Jazz at Carnegie Hall. 5 hours.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Best thing I ever found in someone’s bathroom? A guestbook.

The first time I visited my father-in-law’s house, I found something surprising in his bathroom: A guestbook.

And I loved the idea of asking people to sign in while using the toilet so much that I soon bought a guestbook for my bathroom.

That was cool

Because over the next 25 years, that silly book collected some great memories for me, taking snapshots of people that a camera can’t capture. 

Photographs are great for recording faces, but if you want to record someone’s personality, ask them to write something. And if you want a real picture of someone's personality, I say have them write in the bathroom, where things are already getting real.

“Thank God I used it before Chris!” one family member wrote to tease another about the smells he leaves behind, while a Texan I knew in Washington State wrote proudly about his work on the toilet: “Had to vacate some Texas waste, hoping to give your house a distinctive Texas feel.”

And how did my father-in-law first decide to put his guestbook in the bathroom?

“I thought having someone sign a book that sat on a table was too much of a cliché, and that they would probably sign it on their own if they saw it while they sat on the toilet,” said Ruben, recalling that his wife at the time told him, “That’s stupid. No one’s going to sign it."

But he did put it in the bathroom and people did sign it, though not always in the ways Ruben would have liked.

“I wanted it to be in chronological order, but my sister once signed a page well out of order,” he said, recalling with even more consternation a time when one of the neighborhood kids signed his name as Clark Cable. “I told my son, tell him to get it right — it’s Gable!”

Ruben had used a standard guestbook not intended for the bathroom, but I found one online that was: Called “The Bathroom Guest Book,” it features fun facts called “privia,” and boxes for you to check off the tasks you accomplished.

I’m a bit embarrassed now to see how many of the entries were written by me — describing visits I made, my cat made, and one made by the only guest I recall flat-out refusing to leave his signature — and how many guests wrote that they only signed the book under duress. 

But I’m grateful for every entry, and most make me smile. Especially the one written by a longtime friend who was visiting me in Seattle with her first child.

“Great Play-doh,” Mechele wrote on behalf of her three-year-old son, who is now 23 and recently graduated from UCLA. But whenever I read that entry, I see the toddler we took to the Seattle Aquarium who waved at a scuba diver in one of the exhibits and was so excited when the man waved back that long afterward he would ask his mom, “When are we going back to Seattle see my diver again?!”

What I’m most grateful for though, are the entries that are a bit sad, written by people who are no longer in my life: One person died, others drifted away, and others will no longer speak to me. But I will always have their words in my book, and only wish now that I didn’t pack the book away for so many years when we left Seattle to return to California, because there are far too many signatures from loved ones and friends I missed.

So I’m glad I finally took the book out again this month and started collecting memories near the toilet once more, even though I had to convince half my guests to sign it.

Of the four recent visitors, the two women happily signed the book without being asked, while the two men had to be prodded. But I don’t care if signatures are voluntary; in fact, one of those reluctant signatures is my new favorite entry.

“I got caught in a white lie,” wrote one family member, because when told me he hadn’t noticed the book before being asked to sign it I said, “Oh, is that why I found your sunglasses in it?!”

So now that I have another entry to make me smile, I plan to never pack that book away again.

Friday, August 4, 2023

My Grandmother's Journals: August, 1998

Grandma in China in 1988.
Welcome to the daily life of a frugal, persnickety, and extremely independent woman in her 80s: Every day
 my grandmother wrote down when she woke, what she had for breakfast, any movie she went to see, any mail and calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before bed.
In 1998, she turned 83 while living alone in a mobile home park in Santa Cruz, Calif., but I wouldn't describe her as lonely. In fact, I never knew her to live with another person or even a pet after she raised my mother as a single mother in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s. (I wrote more about her life in this post.) 

She lived close to the famous surfing spot Pleasure Point, and nearly every day she walked to those cliffs to watch the ocean and anyone surfing it. 
When she died at 97 in 2013, I took her ashes to those waves with one of her friends, and we each dropped some ashes at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a surfer emerged from the water where I stood. 

That was cool. 

In August of 1998, my grandmother tried Apple Jacks and quickly went back to Corn Flakes, was admiring the new stairs her next-door neighbor had built for him, and learned her cholesterol was far too high – from eating too much fast food, no doubt!

Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998
Awake 8:30. Usual.
Walked on East Cliff. Still foggy.
To Longs. Woman did not know how to work BP machine.
To Rite Aid, no single blades.
41st donut. No crumb or plain.
Orchard had blades.
Tennis 1 p.m. “Mercedes Benz.”
Bed, read a bit.
Sunday, Aug. 2, 1998
Up 7:30. Breakfast, shower/hair.
Longs, BP. Got stamps, more pads.
To bank for balance.
To show, “Smoke Signals.” Liked it.
Home, fixed lunch. Justine called, said she on way down.
J arrived 2:30 p.m., talked. To show again.
Bit later, she got pissed at Pizza My Heart. Left about 6:30 p.m.
TV: Tennis, Dateline: Surfers at Waimea, Mavericks. 50 foot waves. Mark Foo died.
Monday, Aug. 3, 1998
Social Security paid on 2nd?
Awake early, slept good.
Usual breakfast, called for 401K brochure.
Drug Emporium BP, Trader Joe’s, food.
41st donut.
Home, tennis. Very hot. 
Worked on pictures, also slides in bottom  drawer, most of day.  
Cooled off at six, breeze.
TV: AMC, The 5 Million Year Earth.

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 1998
Slept 11:30 to 4:30 a.m. 5 hours! 
Ate Apple Jacks. Not as good as flakes.
Sorted purses in box. Put airplane pullover in small bag. 
Longs, BP good.
Coffee at mall. Drug Emporium for TV Guide.
Home, workers in street. Fix drain or gutter?
Mail: Bill from Sears, State Farm.
Stayed in all day. Did nothing. Papers, etc.

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 1998
Awake 6:45, up 8.
Worked in yard til 9:10. Dumped pansies, heat too much.
Kmart: Ate breakfast, bought petunias.
Home, put flowers in pot, cleaned top of cabinet.
12 p.m. news. Wrote Carla, Justine (sent article).
To Live Oak. Vivienne there, she moved to my table. She went to lecture at Capitola Book by Peter Coyote, he signed her book. 
Home, read papers.
TV: News, Patriot Games.

Thursday, Aug. 6, 1998
Not good sleep. Usual breakfast.
Rite-Aid for trail mix, McDonald’s for coffee.
To show, “Parent Trap.” Sorta good.
To Wendy’s, children. Sitters?
TV: Geraldo, Law & Order, Morse. Taped “Breach of Conduct,” Peter Coyote.
Bed, better sleep.
Friday, Aug. 7, 1998
Awake 8:30. Usual.
Walked on cliff, then Longs. Got three boxes of Corn Flakes.
Home. Some washing, ironing, some tennis.
Ran tape of “Breach of Conduct.” 
Mail: Brochure from government: “Consumer Info.”
TV: News, Poirot, Midsomer Murders.
Slept deep 11:45 to 12:30, not good sleep after.

Saturday, Aug. 8, 1998
To Longs, more Corn Flakes, fanny pack.
Walked on cliff.
Home noon but tennis delayed by auto race.
Ironed, watched TV: News, part of “Sunset Grill,” part of “The Shadow.”

Sunday, Aug. 9, 1998
Watered, fertilized lawn.
To show, “Cousin Bette.” Not great. Many outdoor shots at Musee Carnavalet.
Home, lunch. Worked on Larry’s pictures til 6 p.m.
TV: 60 Minutes, Toni Morrison; Siskel & Ebert, X-Files.
Monday, Aug. 10, 1998 
Awakened 5:15 by noise. Heavy equipment being delivered?
Longs, Xerox, BP. Good.
Coffee McDonald’s.
Slipped on rocks at upper end of 41st, fell on right knee. Tore jeans, skinned knee but not too bad.
Mail: Letter from Mina, check from State Farm.
TV: News, Rivera, Three Tenors.

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 1998
Slept good. Rib pain not a factor.
To bank, deposited $23.20 from State Farm.
Drug Emporium, BP and TV Guide.
Hot, then breeze up. Side hurts, leaving knee to air.
TV: Old Morse on A&E 
No sleep til 3 a.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 12, 1998
Wakened at 7:10 a.m. 5.4 quake near Hollister, some damage in grocery stores.
Longs for BP, calcium.
Albertsons for lettuce, peaches, bread.
Wrote Prudy and Mimi. Took to post office.
Mail: Visa bill, books from Mina, letter with article.

Thursday, Aug, 13, 1998
Slept good. Took 1 mg melatonin and aspirin. Ribs hurt in a.m.
Awake 8:15. Usual breakfast. Listened to Ronn.
Drug Emporium, BP. Got diuretics and Iodine.
To mall, coffee.
To show, “Ever After.” Good.
Watched news, read papers. Put electric pad on ribs, seems to help. Put iodine solution on knee.
TV: Frost, new one to me. Law & Order also.
Friday, Aug. 14, 1998
To Sears, got bra. 38C.
To Drug Emporium, BP. Two times.
To show, “The Avengers.” Not great. “Fantasy.”
Highway traffic terrible.
Mail: New Yorker.
TV: Golf, news, “The Usual Suspects.” Good!!

Saturday, Aug. 15, 1998
Awake 7. Usual.
Washed car, watered lawn, walked on cliff.
Fog, chilly. Not crowded.
Talked to Ellie. Freda to Maine, family reunion.
Home, golf and tennis.
Write Mina.
Papers, golf and news.  

Sunday, Aug. 16, 1998
Awake 7, but still feel need to rest??
To Drug Emporium, BP, cookies, trail mix.
Looked for new donut place, car wouldn’t start. Young man — surfer? — in red pick-up suggested it was the alternator.
Tennis: Davenport over Hingis.
Few small chores.

Monday, Aug. 17, 1998
Changed bed. Shower/hair.
Longs. BP, more Corn Flakes.
News, lunch, wrote letter re: George.
To Longs for Xerox. Got ice cream!
TV: Clinton speech, Geraldo. Had Alan Dershowitz, shaved his mustache, wasn’t polite!!
TV: Law & Order, Penn and Teller.
Got clothes ready for wash.

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 1998
To laundry, only one person there.
Looked for new donut spot. 
Home, Ronn Owens on C-Span. Watched 9-10.
Wrote letter re: George to Mary.
To show, “Negotiators.” Good.
TV: Morse, X-Files. Bed.
Yes, melatonin.

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 1998
Up 9, awake 7:20. Usual breakfast.
Drug Emporium, BP, TV Guide, etc. 
Looked for knit cap at Gott’s, Penney’s, Kmart. Got two at Ross, also a jacket.
Ate lunch at Kmart. Woman sat with me. Nice, lives on Soquel Road.
Dinner Live Oak. Sat with Vivian, we swapped fone numbers in case of movie.
TV: Geraldo, Gov. Cuomo; some Discovery; Sherlock Holmes.
Bed 9:30. Crossword, etc.
Sleep 10:30. No melatonin.

Thursday, Aug. 20, 1998
Awake 5, back to sleep. Then groggy, some dizziness.
Drug Emporium, BP, paper towels,
Donut/coffee on Ocean Street. Library closed!
Home, learned of bombing in Sudan.
Balanced fone bill, charged 51 cents for late charge. Called, still investigating.
TV: Law & Order, Touch of Frost.

Friday, Aug. 21, 1998
Up 6:45. Watered lawn, put fertilizer on some of it.
Breakfast, usual.
Talked to Lois and Oscar, to mall for coffee.
To library, checked Cisco, got a book by Iris Murdoch.
Wrote Mina and Dianne Feinstein.
Cleaned out basket. 
Bed 8:30, slept 2 hours, then read.
Saturday, Aug. 22, 1998
Usual breakfast. Vacuumed.
Some yard work, talked to Ellie. 
To Kmart, got lawn fertilizer. Ate lunch.
Home, tennis. Agassi won.
TV: USA movies, Black Rain and Dead Again; Charlie Chan, news.

Sunday, Aug. 23, 1998
Usual. Typed up 1997 trip.
Tennis, football: 49ers vs. Miami 
To Kmart for gas, lunch. Ate carrot cake and ice cream!
TV: 60 Minutes, old segment. Terrorist serving 1,117-year sentence.
Bed early. Read Murdoch.
Monday, Aug. 24, 1998
Awake 8:30. Usual. Got paper.
Ate burrito at Carl’s. !Cholesterol!
To Sears, paid bill. Check to H for $510.
Mailed plastic bag from Liverpool to Mina.
Phil made new steps for Larry.
Read book, some TV: X-Files.
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1998
Read Jackson’s Dilemma until 2 a.m.
Up 10 a.m. but weak, motor skills uncertain.
Put heat on, took antihistamine.
Ate usual breakfast 11 a.m. Some better.
BP higher.
Drug Emporium, got antihistamine, TV Guide.
Talked to neighbors.
Bed early
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 1997
Up 7 a.m.Feel  better.
Phil made two stairs for Larry. Very nice, with hiding place underneath.
Taped AMC, three “Paris Shows.”
Read, watched PBS, Islands.
Bed, sleep tea, aspirin, milk, toast, melatonin. Sleep finally 2 a.m.

Thursday, Aug. 27, 1998
Up 8. Usual breakfast. Fog.
Longs, BP still high. 155/82. Got maxi-pads and pineapple.
To library and bank.
Home, called bank, balanced OK.
Mail: Letters from Prudy and Myra.
Ran tape, “Paris Sizzles.”
TV: Frost, Law & order.

Friday, Aug. 28, 1998
Cholesterol test.
Very little sleep??
Up 8:15. Usual breakfast, chores. Out at 10.
Drug Emporium for BP, trail mix and crackers.
Longs for test, not good. He said to get an exam, cholesterol too high.
Kmart for lunch after walk on cliff.
Mail: Card from Haydee, bank statements.
Balanced statements, fone still has not been paid.
Watered lawn. Nice weather.

Saturday, Aug. 29, 1998
Up 8:15, rested til 9.
Usual breakfast.
Longs, BP and Xerox. BP high, 160.
To Drug Emporium, BP 140.
To show, “Pi.” Black and white, very unusual.
Home, read papers, finished tape of Doris Day.
Watched part of “So this is Paris,” with Tony Curtis.
Took lots of sub lingual melatonin, slept good!

Sunday, Aug. 30, 1998
Up 8. Usual breakfast.
Wrote to Haydee, Dianne Feinstein, with copy to White House.
Watched golf, ironed t-shirts.
To Longs to copy letters, lost 2nd sheet of H’s.
Back to Longs with Larry, got ice cream bar.
TV: Siskel & Ebert, 60 Minutes, X-Files.

Monday, Aug. 31, 1998
Awakened 6. Alarm set.
Read papers. Shower/hair.
Kmart, BP, lunch. Got 3 Dinty Moores.
Home, worked on cruise pictures until 4.
Tennis: Seles and Agassi won.
TV: Poirot, bio of Prince Phillip.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Why I tipped the guy who sold me coffee. And am so glad I did.

As usual, the last time I went to my favorite local coffee joint, a pastry caught my eye.

Before buying it though, I had an important question: “The scones that say strawberry-orange — does that mean they are strawberry or orange, or strawberry and orange?”

The man behind the counter chuckled and said, “I think they are all strawberry and orange.”

Sold. And when it came time to pay, his friendly chuckle inspired a response from me that wasn’t usual: Adding a tip for counter service.

That was cool. Because soon I was very grateful I hadn’t been my usual stingy self — when I tried to leave, I found a car parked directly behind mine.

“Are you sure they’re blocking you? Maybe you can still get around them,” said another man behind the counter when I reported my problem.

“No, they are parked directly behind me, I can’t get out,” I said, and the man who sold me the scone then approached the tables to ask who owned the car blocking mine.

"That’s me,” said a young man sheepishly. “There was nowhere else to park.”

After a brief pause he added, “My bad,” then hurried out the door to move his vehicle.

I thanked the employee and left, feeling very grateful for his help, but even more grateful that I had given him a tip earlier.

Let me be clear: I don’t think he helped me because I tipped him; I think he’s a naturally friendly dude who would have helped regardless. I’m saying I’m glad that his friendliness dissolved my cheapness, saving me from spending the rest of the day kicking myself for being such a scrooge.

He also very likely saved me from something worse: An embarrassing scene that would have shamed me a lot longer than my guilt. Since I doubt the guy parked behind me would have moved so promptly if it were just me asking, I likely would have lashed out in frustration, so I’m glad the calm guy behind the counter did the asking for me.

I’m even grateful for that screen prompting me to tip. I know many people find them annoying, but they’re good for people like me who often find themselves unprepared to tip even when we want to.

Like the time in high school when my friend and I went out for burgers and didn’t have enough money to leave the waitress a proper tip. Yet, when I left my sunglasses on the table, she still came running out after us to give me them, showing no sign of bitterness about our stinginess.

I can still see her handing over my glasses, and can still feel the guilt about the handful of coins we left on the table for her. But now I don’t feel guilty about not tipping the friendly guy who sold me a strawberry-orange scone, and that is worth every extra penny.

Photo caption: The pastry case at Black Oak Coffee Roasters in Ukiah.

Friday, July 7, 2023

My Grandmother's Journals: July, 1998

In tiny notebooks, my grandmother wrote each day when she woke, where she ate breakfast, any movie she went to see, any mail and calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before bed.
In 1998 she was 82 and living alone in a mobile home park in Santa Cruz, Calif., but I wouldn't describe her as lonely. She was an extremely independent, frugal and persnickety woman whom I never knew to live with another person or even a pet after she raised my mother as a single mother in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s. (I wrote more about her life in this post.) 

She lived close to the famous surfing spot Pleasure Point, and nearly every day she walked to those cliffs to watch the ocean and anyone surfing it. 
When she died at 97 in 2013, I took her ashes to those waves with one of her friends, and we each dropped some ashes at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a surfer emerged from the water where I stood. 

That was cool. 

In July of 1998, my grandmother was watching lots of tennis and golf while preparing for her next big trip: Taking me to New York in October for my first visit there.

Wednesday, July 1, 1998
Up 7:30. Usual.
Tennis: Williams lost. Slipped, had bad calls. Very mad.
To library, 1 hour. Parking meter broken.
Home, working on ironing shirts, pants for summer wear.
Ate dinner, news.
Mina called, got mints. Talked of tennis, opossums, NY.
Put summer clothes in closet. Too many clothes.
Watered lawn. Myra brought some strawberries.

Thursday, July 2, 1998
Treasure Island, police trying to capture man wanted for murder in Texas.
Walked on cliff. Foggy.
Drug Emporium for BP, then coffee/donut.
Home, tennis. Wrote Prudy.
Mailed Sunset magazine + letter to Prudy.
Mail: Letter from Carla.

Friday, July 3, 1998
Up 7:10. Usual.
Washed white slacks.To Drug Emporium for paper.
Home all afternoon, tennis.
TV: News, Frasier, “Best Seller.” Brian Dennehy. Tense, much killing.

Saturday, July 4, 1998
Up 6 a.m. for women’s tennis. Couldn’t watch!
To Drug Emporium, got paper, candy, trail mix.
Waked on cliff.
Took clothes to Salvation Army.
To show, “Out of Sight.” Enjoyed, some laughs.
TV: Live at Lincoln Center, Shirley Horn, blues singer. She was high?
News: Shooting at Alameda?
Sunday, July 5, 1998
Awake 7:30. Tennis.
To town, coffee at Peet’s. 
Library, Crown Books.
Home 4 p.m., Burger King.
TV: “Midsomer Murders.”
Tired but couldn’t sleep. Up for Melatonin. 
Monday, July 6, 1998
Up 8:30. Usual.
Wrote Justine.
To post office.
Letter from Claudine, Paris.
Bought Justine’s ticket. [She took me to New York that October.]
Tuesday, July 7, 1998
Called Mina. Talked long, tennis.
Bank, got stock certificate.
Longs, Xerox out. BP.
Drug Emporium, BP 137. Longs 118?
To Kinko’s, pix of phonebook, Fodor’s NY. Sent map to Justine.
Home, ESPN, soccer. Brazil won on penalty kicks.
BP at Live Oak, another number, two different. Bought raffle tickets.
TV: Part of “E” Janis Joplin.
Wednesday, July 8, 1998
Awake 6:30. Shower, hair.
Dentist 10 a.m. Just cleaning and exam, $89.
Kmart 11:30, hot turkey sand.
Home, soccer.
Picked up prize at Live Oak! Red, white and blue afghan.
TV: Part of Diagnosis Murder. 10 news, also 11 news.
Bed, slept good with new afghan, not too heavy. But right leg not good in a.m.

Thursday, July 9, 1998
Awake 7. Usual breakfast. Walked on cliff.
To Kmart, BP, paper. Bought Dinty Moore dinners.
Home: Got stuff out of shed for thrift store. 2 hours.
Mail: Check from U.S. West.
To bank, put check in.
Got Lotto ticket.
TV: “Fifth Element.” Maybe I saw it? [Yes, she did!]
Friday, July 10, 1998
Up 8, usual. To Longs, returned video.
To library from 10:30 to 12.
Home, called Justine two times.
To Live Oak after buying “White-out” at Palace.
Home, 5 p.m. news. O.J. appealing civil case.
Read papers, raked, watered.

Saturday, July 11, 1998
Awake 6. Packed vitamins.
First real sunny, then fog.
Mailed two books  to Mina.
To Drug Emporium for BP.
To library, looked up Newton Hotel in NY.
Got gasoline.
Mail: Letter from Prudy, Visa bill, package from NYC.

Sunday, July 12, 1998
Up 7 a.m. Usual, left 8:45.
Stopped at Burger King in Union City. In Oakland about 11.
Two blocks to museum.
Justine arrived 1 p.m. Ate.
Missed Gold Rush, got two free passes.
Left 4:30,got train immediately.
Drove 115 miles, $2.65 fee on BART.
Home 6:30.
TV: Siskel & Ebert, CNN, France won soccer.

Monday, July 13, 1998
Awake 5:30. Forgot to set alarm.
Called Wolcatt hotel, two beds, no coffee.
Made reservation at Newton, six nights, gave Visa for confirmation.
To mall, coffee and 1/2 muffin.
To show, “Madeline.” Fair, good audience.
TV: Last show of Sybil, Maryann broke.

Tuesday, July 14, 1998
Up 8, usual. To Longs for paper, BP.
Got magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and mailed to Prudy.
To Logo’s, only took 1 book. Not Jane Austen’s letters, I’ll  keep them for a while.
Tried to take antenna off, could not get screw out.
Wrote to Prudy and Justine.
TV: Inside Story: LA Coroner, Morse, Law & Order, Frasier.
Read papers, did crossword.
Wednesday, July 15, 1998
To post office, mailed letters. 
Drug Emporium: BP, TV Guide.
To Orchard, got liquid wrench. Worked on antenna, not able to get one screw out.
To Live Oak, danced with Mickey from Florida.
Hot. Ran video.
Bed at 9. Slept good.

Thursday, July 16, 1998
Awake 6:30, watered lawn. First tea.
Returned video to library.
Drug Emporium for BP, to bank for balance.
To Kmart for breakfast and BP again. Got Dinty Moore.
Home, balanced books. Ate pasta from last night.
Not too hot here today.
Wrote Mina, talked to Ellie. 
Larry tried to get antenna off, could not see screw.
Walked on cliff.

Friday, July 17, 1998
Awake 6, then 8:50! Foggy.
Crossword and paper, ready about 11
Longs, BP way up! 162.
To library. Moved car, to Catalyst. 
Ate, listened to “Wally and his swing band.” Not great, he off-key.
Left at 5:15, to Kinkos, more pix of Fodor’s.
TV: News, all reruns.
Saturday, July 18, 1998
Awake 6. Usual. 
Walked East Cliff. Two men said “hello” and one woman.
BP at Drug Emporium, high. Yesterday’s soup?
Longs, BP, also high. Xerox of Fodor’s, due at library Thursday. Foned and renewed it.
TV: Taped “My Fair Lady” while I watched “The Enforcer.” Eastwood.
Monday, July 20, 1998
Awake 6:30, up 7:15. 
Watered, fertilized lawn.
Called hotel.
Longs, BP, food.
Walked on cliff. 
Read papers, more Fodor’s. 
Some TV, sewed garter belt!
Tuesday, July 21, 1998 
Up 7:30. Usual.
Changed sheets.
Walked on cliff.
Drug Emporium for BP, TV Guide.
Coffee at McDonald’s.
Checked gas station, busy.
Phoned MTA, NYC. Typed up info.
Started letter to Justine.
To Live Oak. Forgot to sign up. Did for tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 22, 1998
Good sleep. Up 9:30.
To laundromat, Kmart for breakfast.
Checked air in tires at Shell. Front low.
Back to Kmart for gas.
Home, wrote letter to Mina.
Called TCI, no free August. Very mad.
To Live Oak, sat with married couple talking computers. Talked about Gigi. Also man who was dancer, 85 now. Goes to Catalyst on Fridays.

Thursday, July 23, 1998
Walked on cliff.
Drug Emporium. BP, trail mix.
To Sears. Paid bill, got two packages typewriter ribbons.
Longs. Got tissues, Men in Black video.
To 41st for donut/coffee. Talked to man from Goodwill.
Home. Ate coleslaw, washed beige sweater.
Ran MIB, took it back to Longs.
Ate, read papers, fell asleep. No breeze.
TV: Morse, POV: The Vanishing Line.

Friday, July 24, 1998
Up at 9. Usual.
Worked on photos from Larry [her brother] until noon.
To Drug Emporium for BP.
To town, donut/coffee.
To show, “Henry Fool.” Good, but not sure of ending. 2 hrs, 7 mins.
Fog until noon, sun after.
Mail: Letters from Mina, Prudy, B/A insurance.

Saturday, July 25, 1998
Awake 7:30. Usual. Cut grass around stones.
Shower, washed hair. Cut back and sides.
Ready about 12:30.
To San Carlos, 2nd St. Market. Tea now $2.99, was $1.25. Some with 20 packets $2.19.
To Nordstrom for new card, then ate at BK.
TV: Bravo, Jigsaw Man.

Sunday, July 26, 1998
Awake 7:30. Usual, new tea.
Packaged 16 vitamins. 
Finished crossword.
To 41st donut/coffee. Her sister was in Japan.
Home, tennis. Called Mina, long talk.
To Kmart, got Dinty Moore.
TV: “Silent Witness,” then “The Politician’s Wife.”
Forgot to put trash out til 2:30 a.m. Larry forgot completely.

Monday, July 27, 1998
Awake 7, rested til 8.
Drug Emporium, BP, paper.
Library, read House & Garden, also Newsweek re Rudolph.
Mail: Bill, card from Prudy, card from Mina.
Dinner at Live Oak, talked to Vivian. Her youngest, 31, bought a BMW for $24,000. Works for Cisco in San Jose.
TV: Geraldo, Napoleon bio.
Worked on tea purchases til 9 p.m.
Bed, crossword, news.

Tuesday, July 28, 1998
Awake 7:15, up 8. Usual breakfast.
Watered lawn, fertilized plants, washed car mats.
Worked 9:30 to 11.
11:30 news re Lewinsky deal for immunity.
To show, “Mask of Zorro.” 2 hrs. Good sword play, stunts, special effects.
To KFC for sandwich.
Mail: Ads.
TV: Geraldo, Morse and Diagnosis Murder, everything repeats.

Wednesday, July 29, 1998
Slept 4-8. Usual breakfast.
To Albertsons for bananas.
Drug Emporium for BP and TV Guide.
Coffee at 41st.
Home at 11, worked all time on Larry’s pictures. Got a lot done. Now to write index.
4 p.m. news and read paper.
TV: Some X-Files, part of Robin and Seven Hoods.

Thursday, July 30, 1998
Usual breakfast. Worked in yard 11-12.
Cut “rabbit ears” and holly bush.
Dressed, to Rite-Aid. Got “nighttime” pads, trail mix, teeth cleaner.
To library, got video, "Eat Smart."
Checked Crown Books, filed for Chapter 11.
Home, ate here.

Friday, July 31, 1998
Pay rent.
Up 8:30. Breakfast, yard work.
To Longs, got cereal.
Kmart, gas, sandwich.
Home 12:45 p.m. Made two NYC calls.
Watched “Eat Smart.”
To Albertsons for milk.
TV: “To Die For.” Gross.
Bed, then awake 2:30 for milk, toast.