Thursday, March 2, 2023

Driving with Nancy: How a raccoon helped me push through an avalanche of anxiety

Nancy the raccoon soothing our new kitten.
I used to drive with a raccoon belted into the middle of my pick-up truck seat. One day when a co-worker jumped in to cover a breaking news assignment, I waited with embarrassment as he took in the odd seatmate I forgot to move. But he just smiled like it was perfectly normal to have a plush toy next to him and said, “Oh, good. Mr. Racoon has his seatbelt on.”

That was cool.

Twenty years later, his response still makes me smile. And I was thinking of that raccoon this winter because the pummeling storms we’re getting in California reminded me of Rocky, the first car raccoon in my family.

My mother started the raccoon tradition in 1983 when she bought a used Honda station wagon, which she was only able to afford because it had been salvaged from a mudslide in Santa Cruz County earlier that year. Mostly the car still ran OK, except for an electrical short that could suddenly kill the engine and strand us anywhere, at any time. But about 15 minutes after dying on the freeway, it would start up again like nothing happened.

Soon after my mother got the car, she found a large toy raccoon stuck in the mud while out birding. She took it home for a good scrubbing, named it Rocky after the main character in a Beatles song, then put him back in her car so the two flood survivors could keep each other company.
And yes, that was cool, too. Even teen me thought so.

I got my own car raccoon many years later from a friend who bought the super soft toy
 in a surge of pregnancy hormones. Since it reminded me of my mother’s raccoon, I named it Nancy, the girl Rocky fancied in the song, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with her.
Until I moved to Washington State, where I found myself battling a new and near-crippling anxiety on my commute. Driving has always stirred deep dread for me, but my years in Seattle created an avalanche of fears — 9/11, the return of my husband and roads covered in snow — that nearly buried me.
It’s crazy I tried driving at all, really, given that my mother was killed in a car crash right before I started Driver’s Ed in high school. I nearly passed out in class after the first “Hamburger Highway” film, which was full of real and faked crash footage meant to show teens how dangerous driving can be. When I finally worked up the courage to tell my teacher how vividly I had already learned that lesson, the gruff coach softened and let me sit in the library for the rest of the graphic films.
And while I was very nervous behind the wheel at first, like most teens I soon fell in love with the freedom and control driving gave me. And for nearly 20 years, my mother’s crash seemed to only make me a far more cautious driver than nearly everyone I knew. 
Until Sept. 11, 2001. Before that day, I was voraciously exploring my new city, even happily driving hours with friends to the coast to go clamming or into the mountains to go skiing. But after 9/11, I not only didn't want to drive, I didn't want to leave my house for anything but work and food.

I remember watching a plane fly into a New York City skyscraper from my futon couch 3,000 miles away and feeling all the scaffolding I built after my mother’s crash tumble down with the buildings on the screen, which reminded me that my life could shatter again at any moment.

And the anxiety only intensified when my husband joined me in Seattle soon after, because then I had two people to worry about never coming home again whenever they drove away.
Then the anxiety became an avalanche when I got a new job with a very long and complicated commute: 90 minutes, with half of that on water. It seems crazy that I even considered trying that commute, but the job was finally a full-time reporter position at a newspaper, so I never considered not trying it.
I loved the work immediately, and though I was losing money every month paying the ferry fares at first, I even came to love that commute. After braving city traffic to reach the dock, I was free to read the paper, drink coffee and eat breakfast, or just watch the water and the mountains gliding past. I still smile thinking of those relaxing journeys, especially the cat naps I took on the commute home, which were crazy cool.
Then came the snow. After one morning when I couldn’t reach the ferry dock because the roads were ice rinks, I obsessively read the weather forecast before my drives for any sign of white precipitation, carefully noting when the temperature would drop below freezing.

But no forecast is perfect, as we all learned one Monday night: My husband was watching the football game held in Seattle, realizing as the announcers remarked on the “unexpected snowstorm” turning the city white that, “Oh, crap — Justine is driving home in this!”

Well, almost home. I white-knuckled the drive through downtown and into our neighborhood, but only managed to fish-tail about halfway up the last hill before pulling over in a panic and walking to ask my husband to finish the drive.

After that night, we put concrete blocks into the back of the truck for stability, and I put Nancy in the cab next to me for support, since she reminded me of Rocky, and Rocky reminded me of my mother.

And Nancy was a great help. Not just with the snow, but for the times I worked too late to take the ferry home and had to drive around the water at night, crossing a busy bridge and braving hectic Tacoma traffic on the mammoth I-5, which was the exact opposite of taking a peaceful nap on the placid waters of the Puget Sound.

But whenever I got anxious, I’d give Nancy a pat, and feel my mother patting my leg, the soothing touch she’d give me whenever I sucked in my breath while she was driving. And Nancy and I, we always made it home safe.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

My Grandmother's Journals: March, 1998

I have a bag of small notebooks my grandmother recorded her days in: When she woke, what she ate, 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 the 1940s and 50s in Los Angeles, Calif. (I wrote more about her life in an earlier post.) 
The photo at right shows my grandmother and mother in the late 1940s in LA. I don't know anything about that stroller, but I do know that dog wasn't theirs!
My grandmother loved the ocean, and lived close to the famous surfing spot Pleasure Point. Nearly every day she walked to the cliffs above the ocean, checking out the waves and seeing if anyone was surfing. 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. 

Sunday, March 1, 1998
Took melatonin tablet (1 mg) last night, slept OK.
Awake 6:30, back til 8:30. Usual breakfast.
CBS 9 a.m., "Face the Nation." Arnold Specter feels Starr is going too far.
Tennis 10 a.m. Sampras won, some great shots.
Walked to mall, bank, home.
Worked on pix.
TV: 60 Mins, "Women in White."

Monday, March 2, 1998
Awake 4:30, up 7:30. Usual breakfast.
To Drug Emporium.
To county building, looked for clue to street. Got two deeds, no easement mentioned.
Home, called Justine. She can’t come, having M&M for dinner.
Fixed tuna.
Mail:Letter from Mina, had to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis. Lab tech broke a vial containing Mina’s blood.
TV: News, Frasier, A&E “Egypt Discoveries.”

Tuesday, March  3, 1998
Awake 6:30. Usual breakfast. Chores.
Dillon called. Tomorrow, 11 a.m.
Put tax records in shed.
To Drug Emporium, got TV Guide, osteo-bio.
Walked cliff, nice weather.
Ate BK, chicken san.
Home, worked on fotos.
TV: News, Frasier, X-Files.
Bed 9, no sleep. Read papers.
Friday, March 20, 1998
Awake early, 5:30.
Worked cutting up the Jasmine, then pulled some weeds from 9 to 10 a.m.
OSH: Checked in nursery for Carmel Creeper. Only 5 gal cans there. $16.99
Home, lunch. 
Put “umbrella” plant outside, moved “snake” plants around.
Repotted Christmas cactus.
Wrote girls.

Saturday, March 21, 1998
Awake 7. Tea, etc.
Drug Emporium, BP.
Post Office, mailed letter to girls, Andra.
Looked for typewriter ribbons, too high. 
To Sears, got ribbons and correction tape. Also brown tights.
To Scotts Valley, ice cream!
To show, “Primary Colors.”
Home, some TV, read papers.
Called Mina, talked to Larry.

Sunday, March 22, 1998
Slept good, two Melatonin pills.
After tea, worked in yard. Got leaves cleaned up. pulled some weeds.
Talked to Ellie, she in pain. To emergency, nerve.
Fertilized plants.
Golf: Ernie is big! 220 lbs.
To Nob Hill, very busy.
To Longs, BP out.
Home 4 p.m. Ate yogurt, potato.
TV: Moguls of Hollywood, good. Titanic, X-Files.

Monday, March 23, 1998
Awake 6. Tea, etc.
Drug Emporium for BP.
To Kmart 10:30 for breakfast. Got plant and steer manure. $.89
Looking for oil SAE20: Kmart, Sears, Thrifty, Albertsons, Longs and Lucky.
Finally found man who gave answers: Can use 3 in one, or 30. But no-detergent, The detergent can spark a fire!
Put fertilizer on all parts of lawn, grass cut. Rained softly.
Oscars tonite.

Tuesday, March 24, 1998
Awake 7. Tea, etc.
Correction tape wrong.
To Drug Emporium. BP, TV Guide, card for Justine, cough drops.
41st for donut/coffee.
To Palace Stationery. No correction tape?
Back to Sears, got tape.
To Travel Agency re Tahiti.
To Carol's, returned book.
Broke rear right light, backed into garbage at harbor parking.
TV: News, Frasier.
Bed 10:30. Good sleep.

Wednesday, March 25, 1998
Awake 7, up 8. Tea, etc.
To Sew, Sew Maria’s. Got blouse, pink.
Walked on cliff. Talked to polite man, called me “ma'am.”
To Drug Emporium, got paper. Told girl about string.
To McDonald’s, coffee.
Home, sewed nightgown neck. 
TV: Frasier, Cybill.
Bed 9:30, crossword.

Thursday, March 26, 1998
Awake 6, slept til 9:15.
Tea, cereal.
10 a.m., ESPN. Venus Williams over Martina Hingis.
Hingis took toilet break after 2nd set, was “boo'd” after.
To Scott’s Valley, Doctors on Duty, paid $8.07 for flu shot. 
To show, “Man in Iron Mask.” They cut Depardieu “frontal nude.”
Mail: Got check, $14,038.70.
TV: Frasier, Mystery. 

Friday, March 27, 1998
Up 7, tea, cereal. Bank 9. Deposited check.
Home, tennis.
To Kmart, lunch. Turkey dinner.
To library, looked up capital gain stock dividend/splits.
To Wherehouse, got 2 videos. ($1.50). Already saw them.

Saturday, March 28, 1998
Awake 7. Heat, tea, etc.
To Safeway, no cereal sale.
To Nob Hill, got their corn flakes.
Home,  called Mina.
Tennis: Venus over Anna Kournakova, very good. Both tired from yesterday.
Few chores, then 41st coffee/donut.
To show, “Love and Death on Long Island.” Great!
Mail: Note from Justine. She and Karen are talking of going to Paris.
Tuesday, March 31, 1998
Awake 4:45, again 8:15. 
Chores. Raining. 
Mailed “Mosaic of Memories” to Gary and Joan, also mailed letter card to Mimi.
Kmart, no TV Guides yet.
41st, coffee/donut.
Albertsons, home.
Mail: Letter from Stimson.
Rained most of night.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wish list at 25: "To have a reliable car. To get a good job. To be independent. To have space to dance."

At age 25, I wrote a list of wishes for my future. Feeling adrift and anxious because I had just graduated college and needed a job, I hoped to calm and focus myself by writing down what I wanted to have in my life. 

Which must have helped, because when I discovered that list recently, 52-year-old me was amazed to see I have fulfilled all of the professional and personal wishes 25-year-old me had.

That was cool.

But what's even more remarkable to me is what I did NOT wish for: To get married and have kids. Younger me wanted a good car and a good job without a long commute, wanted an interesting and fulfilling job alongside good people, then to find one good person to "love who loves me." But I did not wish for a husband and kids. So I didn't get them.

At least not the kids. I did get married, and my husband and I did try to get pregnant, but after many frustrating years it became clear we could not create a child.  And while overall we have accepted, and are mostly even relieved by, the fact that we couldn't, we both have some lingering deep sorrow about not having children to share our lives with. 

So reading that list I made long ago gave me just what I needed: Both to be reminded of how much I have actually accomplished, and that I still have one more wish to focus on. Which, funny enough, is the very first thing younger me had on her list: To live by the ocean.

And hopefully, it won't take another 25 years to finally cross everything off that list!

Here's the list I wrote in February of 1996:

1. To live by the ocean.

2. To live within walking distance of most necessities.

3. Not to have to commute.

4. To have space to dance.

5. To have a vegetable garden.

6. To be able to draw/paint/do ceramics.

7. To be independent. 

8. To have savings.

9. To work with good people I like.

10. To have a fulfilling, rewarding career.

11. To be healthy.

12. To have a fun, reliable car.

13. To see trees/mountains/birds/the ocean from my windows, either breakfast and/or bedroom.

14. To have people to share my life with.

15. To be living with someone whom I love who loves me; someone who is happy being with me and I'm happy being with them.

16. To see my father again? (More on that entry)

17. To graduate.

18. To get a good job.

19. To be a happy, vibrant, independent, successful person.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

My Grandmother's Journals: February, 1998

With her grandfather on Treasure Island in 1939.
I’m a bit obsessed with the dairies my grandmother kept: When she woke, what she ate, the movie she went to see, any mail and calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before bed.
I find the details of her days fascinating, not only because I’m curious about the minutia of most people’s lives, but because the journals I only discovered after her death finally let me feel close to a woman I could not connect with when she was alive.

For most of the years she kept her journals, she lived 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. (I wrote more about her life in an earlier post.) 
Close to her mobile home was the famous surfing spot called Pleasure Point, and nearly every day she walked to the cliffs above the ocean to watch the waves and surfers. So 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 February of 1998, my grandmother was not traveling, just dutifully typing letters to all her pen pals, many of whom she met abroad, staying current with the news and sports, and dutifully heading to Trader Joe's to buy me gingko biloba!

Sunday, February 1, 1998
Awake 7, Tea, etc. Crossword.
Raining hard.
Called Justine. Raining hard there, no driving.
Talked of her father and of meeting in San Jose, museum.
To Aptos for show, “Wag the Dog.” Late, will rent it. 
To Safeway, electricity out. 
To Albertsons, they said not to club (cashier).
Home, paid rent. 
TV: Last of Reckless, taped Jazz program.
Couldn’t sleep til 3 a.m.
Monday, Feb. 2, 1998
Awake 9:30, Tea, etc.
Dressed and to Drug Emporium for paper, BP. Got TV Guide.
Raining hard.
Mail: Credit Union, bill for waste allowance.
Rained almost all night, plastic wind shield blown off. Rivers rising.
Called Justine. She looks at Napa River, from 2' across to 10' across. 
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1998
Awake 7:45 a.m. Tea, etc. 
Many roads closed, power outages. Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Jose considered emergency areas. Hwy 101 closed south of Salinas.
Carport at No. 1, Bebe's, blown down (part way), worker finished it. 
Her roof blew away (part way) last year.
Paid Gottschalk's, to Post Office for stamps.
To Kmart, got shirt for Lutz. Got shirt for me at Gottschalk’s.
TV: “Silent Witness.”
Wednesday, Feb. 4, 1998
Awake 5 a.m., back to sleep until 9:30. Chores.
Drug Emporium, BP, got “Relaxing tea.”
Post office, mailed package to Lutz.
Walked cliff. 
Got coffee/donut. Showed pictures of Bali.
Mail: Check from State Farm, insurance card.
To bank to deposit check.
Mr. Sanchez came over, cut bush.
Took Larry to doctor. 
Some TV. To bed, tired.
Up 1 a.m, washed some items.

Thursday, Feb. 5, 1998
Slept 4-9, good! Ready 10:30.
Trip to Capitola Beach. Wind bad!
To library, looked for table. Nothing. Finished “The God Hustlers.”
Ate at Burger King.
Mid-County does not want stockings.
Home, readied tapes for Mina; Science Odysessy.
Some TV. Frasier, two segments. 
Caught up with papers. Bed late.
Friday, Feb. 6, 1998
Up Late. Radio: Ronn on Clinton again. Bad joke day.
Wrote to Andra/Lutz, wrapped videos for Mina.
Wrote Mina, note to Justine
Donut/coffee at 41st. To Longs, copied letters.
To Post Office. Home 3:30.
TV: News, Frasier, Law & Order, Ted Koppel: Blair/Clinton.
Saturday, Feb. 7, 1998
Awake 7:56. News, tea, etc.
To post office 9:45. Mailed letters to Mina, Justine.
Looked at Capitola Beach. Disaster. Police tape at edge of sidewalk.
Home, read papers. Wind wild.
Fire engines 1:30. Trees?
TV: Placido Domingo, Met production, 1984.
Taped: Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives.”
Watched: Ghost, Strangers in Good Company. (Good).
Ran “Husbands,” sewed.
Sunday, Feb. 8, 1998
Tea, raining hard.
Ran tape of In Good Company, 1/2 hour.
To cliff, to sea. Watched a bit. New construction looks good.
Instead of a show, home. Raining.
Put out garbage, had mail. Letter from Masonic home.
Read some letters. Pauline died, family asking for pix.
Olympics: Watched skating, snowboarding. 
Monday, Feb. 9, 1998
Awake finally 9 a.m.
Chores. Tea,  etc.
Drug Emporium: BP OK. Got TV Guide, cookies.
To show, “Replacement Killers.” Lots of digital TV scenes.
Mail from Mina, Northern Trust.
Worked on pix, Pauline.
TV: X-Files, news. Still houses full of mud.
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1998
No sleep til 4 a.m. Awake 9:45. Usual.
Longs: BP, pix, cans of food, paper towels.
Gas at Beacons, 1.289/gallon.
Ross, got black ? JC Penney, got silver mylar table cover.
Home 3:15 p.m. News, mended pants, buttonhole.
Worked on gathering info for Pauline’s relatives.
Ran part of Jazz tape, watched “Bad Boys,” Will Smith, Martin Lawrence as plain clothes detectives; some funny, some dumb.
Bed. Melatonin, slept good.
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 1998
Up 9. Tea, etc.
Donut and coffee at 41st.
Stationery store, got paper clips, round fasteners.
Walked on cliff. Beautiful weather.
Mail: Long letter from Mina.
TV: Soul Man, Frasier, some Olympics. Skiing. Picabo Street got gold. Also man from Tiburon.
Thursday, Feb. 12, 1998
Up 7:30. Tea, etc.
Packed vitamins, 10 bags. 
Some chores.
McDonald’s for coffee.
To Longs for pix.
Library, 250 cars crash in Italy.
To Wendy’s for lunch. Got salad.
Mail: Letter from Carla.
TV: Jim Lehrer hour. Olympics.
Friday, Feb. 13, 1998
Couldn't sleep. 8:30, Larry out hammering.
Sunny today. Out 10:30.
Donut, coffee, paper, BP.
Bank, deposited in Justine’s account.
Home, wrote to both girls.
To show, “Afterglow.” Julie Christie, Nick Nolte. Good.
TV: Olympics, some reruns, Frasier.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 1998
Awake 8:30. Tea, etc. Out 10:30.
Drug Emporium, BP OK.
Read paper in car. Raining hard.
Burger King, home.
Tennis: Sampras won, replayed Agassi. Good tennis.
Papers, news. Worked on federal taxes. Must do cap gains.
Olympics: Men's skating. Todd fell.

Sunday, Feb. 15, 1998
Up 7:30. Tea, etc.
To show, “The Apostle.” Well done. 2 hours, 10 mins.
Home 2 p.m. Tennis match.
Dinner here, called Mina. She called back, talked long.
TV: News, ran end of “A Little Romance.”
Joan McCoy called to see if I’m OK.
Monday, Feb. 16, 1998
Awake 7:30. Not much sleep. Listened to “Leaves of Grass” cassette.
Rain let up a bit.
To Longs, Xerox broken. Got muffins.
To Kmart for lunch. Raining hard.
Home, read paper, wrote letter to Prudy.
Called Justine 3:30 p.m.
TV: Olympics, ice dancing. Russia 1-2, France 3. Ist coach had gorgeous sable coat. Where does money come from?
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 1998
Awake 6:30, up 7:30. To laundromat 9:15.
Coffee and donut at 41st. 
No rain, then real rain. Caught in rain, got pants and sox wet! Hope no cold!
Finished and mailed letter to Mimi.
Olympics, women's hockey won gold. Nikki Stone, gold in aerials.
Radio: Strong Clinton speech at Pentagon, Ronn agrees.
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 1998
Awake 6:30. Tea, etc. Sun out.
To Trader Joe's, Drug Emporium, BP; Longs, Albertsons.
Walked on cliff, lovely day.
Home, Oscar and Lois walked by with Lois' sister. Lois in therapy.
Mail from Justine, she needs gingko.
To TJ's, got two gingko & echinacea. 
TV: Olympics.
Foned Dillon.
Thursday, Feb. 19, 1998
Awake 6:30, some news. Dillon called.
Dressed 9 a.m. To post office, mailed GB & E to Justine.
Breakfast Kmart.
To library, returned Leaves of Grass. 
Home, news. FBI arrested two men in Law Vegas with white substance. "Media" reports allege anthrax.
Wrote Sy and Stimson. 
Left message on Justine's machine.
TV: Frasier, X-Files.
Read French.
Friday, Feb. 20, 1998
Up 7. Tea, etc. Expected Dillon, no. Waited til 10.
Walked on cliff. Mary there.
Got donut and coffee.
Talked to Ellie, was ill. Goes to VA Wed for tests.
Home. News, ate some veggies.
To show, “Zero Effect.” Crowded! Funny, clever.
Home 5 p.m. News, ate tuna steak, Betty Crocker potatoes.
Mina called. Chatted a bit re Kwan/Lipinski.
Bed after Olympics.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 1998
Awake 8:30. Chores.
Drug Emporium for paper.
41st for donut/coffee. Thorton died.
Home. Finished fed taxes, read paper.
Justine called. Received vitamins.
TV: Taped some skating, watched “Clear and Present Danger.”
Bed 12:30, no sleep til 2 a.m. 

Sunday, Feb. 22, 1998
Tea, etc. Chores, shower/hair.
Announced on CNN that Saddam agreed to inspection.
Mall: Paid JC. Penney, bought book.
Ate at Burger King. Got two videos at Wherehouse.
Home 3 p.m. Ran “Jade,” part of others.
Part One of Oprah Winfrey presents, “The Wedding.”

Monday, Feb. 23, 1998
Up 8:30. Tea, etc. Some slack in rain.
Returned videos, mailed state tax forms, got paper.
To Lucky, then library. 
To Longs for Xerox, paper jammed.
Home, Frasier. Some “sleeping.”

Tuesday. Feb. 24, 1998
Dinner Live Oak, Bingo.
up 7:30. Tea, etc. Drug Emporium.
Walked on cliff.
Coffee at 41st.
Home, wrote to Mina. Some work in garden.
Read some.
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 1998
Up 7:30. Tea, etc.
Drug Emporium, got some vitamins.
Gasoline, Trader Joe's. Coffee at mall.
Mail: Received card from Andra. Lutz got shirts.
Talked to Ellie, told Myra.
Wrote Justine about Dr. Edell.
To post office. Cold.
Some TV. Frasier, Dharma & Gregg. Ronn (Owens) said was his favorite. I thought no. Tries too hard?
Finished papers.
Bed to read Elliot R's book, got sidetracked to Leonardo Da Vinci.
Thursday, Feb. 26. 1998
Awake 7:30. Tea, etc. Ready by 9:15.
To Safeway. Bath tissue, bananas, potatoes.
Got paper at Kmart, also cough drops. 
Walked on cliff. Beautiful day.
Mail: Bank statement. Balanced OK.
TV: Frasier, PBS Mystery "The Ice House." Good.
Bed, finished book. Good sleep.
Friday, Feb. 27, 1998
Awake 6:30. Ready 9:15.
Longs: BP, paper, pears.
Coffee at mall. 
Home 11:15. Papers, rested.
Kmart for lunch.
Albertsons: Cereal, soy milk up 10 cents.
Mail: Letter from Joan. 
Crossword, papers.
TV: “Stargate.”
Slept deep, funny dreams. 
Saturday, Feb. 28, 1998
Awake 6:30. Usual tea, read a bit.
Longs, xeroxed Visa bill. 
Library, little work. Man there!
To show, "Dark City." Not great, but good special effects.
Home 3:30, dined.
Tennis, Sampras won.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

What’s better than buying a new jigsaw puzzle? NOT buying a new puzzle!

I recently discovered that a town near me hosts a jigsaw puzzle exchange: During weekend flea markets, volunteers at the community center set up a table where people can donate a puzzle, then take a different one home. So I decided to drop off two puzzles I've completed, and picked up two new ones to enjoy.
That was cool.
For so many reasons: It’s cool to not throw away perfectly good things that other people might want; cool to get perfectly good things for free because others don’t want them, and cool to know that there are other people nearby who enjoy the same hobbies as you.

But perhaps coolest of all? In the first puzzle box from the exchange I opened, I found something I had never encountered before: All the end pieces were in a separate bag, saving me the tedious task of plucking them all out before I could begin the real puzzling.

My husband felt that having all that done for you already was akin to cheating, and one of the avid puzzlers who started the exchange agreed, describing that practice as “just wrong!” But I quite liked it. And now I want every puzzle I start to be separated like this:

Saturday, January 7, 2023

My Grandmother's Journals: January, 1998

I have a bag of small notebooks my grandmother recorded details of her daily life in: When she woke, what she ate, 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. (I wrote more about her life in an earlier post.) 
The photo at left shows her in 1940, age 25, with her lifelong friend Mina, at right. The women met as orphans being raised in a Masonic Home in Covina, Calif.
Close to her home was the famous surfing spot called Pleasure Point. Nearly every day she walked to the cliffs above the ocean, checking out the waves and seeing if anyone was surfing. 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 January of 1998, my grandmother was watching football and tennis, calling her friend Mina to talk about tennis and ice skating, carefully following the latest scandal involving President Bill Clinton, and working her way through Siskel & Ebert's list of the best films of 1997.
Thursday, Jan. 1, 1998
Awake 8, tea. 9:15, Burger King and paper.
Longs, got envelopes to mail article to Mina.
Straightened rooms.
To show, "Jackie Brown." Very good. 21/2 hours. non-stop. 
Made tuna salad, some TV.
Channel 54, ocean film. Diagnosis Murder.
Saturday, Jan. 3, 1998
Awake 7. Usual.
Called credit union for interest.
To longs, BP high.
Kmart, ate lunch. Bought hat.
To Gottschalk's, got 3 pair pants!
Home 4 p.m. Put lights in packages.
Rented video: Paris, Texas. Sad.
TV: Frasier, X-Files, news. 
Bed, read a bit.
Woke in night with gas.

Sunday, Jan. 4, 1998
Awake 5 a.m., then 8:30. Stomach not happy.
Football: Green Bay 21, Tampa 7. well-played.
Finally got the gas out. Was deep.
Dressed about 11 a.m. Ginger tea.
To Safeway, got favorite frozen dinner, milk.
Ate at Kmart. 
Home. Football, news, soup and toast.
Siskel & Ebert, 10 best films: 
Siskel: Ice Storm, LA Confidential, Wag the Dog, In The Company of Men, Eve's Bayou, Full Monty, Sweet Hereafter, Jackie Brown, As Good As It Gets. 
Ebert: Eve's Bayou, Sweet Hereafter, Boogie Nights, Jackie Brown, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, LA Confidential, In The Company of Men, Titanic, Wag the Dog, Maborosi.
TV: Started X-Files, turned off. Read.

Monday, Jan. 5, 1998
Slept good.
Longs, BP out. Got TV Guide, fruit.
Library. To Ferrell's, donut and coffee.
Home. Tea, eye pads.
Mail: Letters from Mina and Andra.
Some TV. Tired.
Cleaned spot on carpet.
Sonny Bono killed skiing in Tahoe, hit a tree.
Michael Kennedy also killed last Wed. Same.
Tuesday, Jan. 6, 1998
Tea, etc. Read paper. Up 9:30.
Wrote to Dorothy. Sent back the $10.
Sent Xmas card to Gilroy.
To Burger King, fish san.
To Ross, got dress and hose for Andra.
Home, some TV. Silent Witness.
Lunar Prospector to arrive Sunday.
Wednesday, Jan. 7, 1998
Cold in a.m. Awake 6, radio til 8.
Tea, cereal. Washed sox.
Chores, left 11 a.m.
Drug Emporium. BP (127/77), got candy. 
Stopped by Erik's at 1:30. Busy, left.
Home, ate here.
Mail: Mina, Stanford arthritis program. Returned, asked to be taken off.
Read papers, news.
TV: Frasier, part of Dharma and Greg, Forensic Detective on Discovery.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 1998
Awake 6, up 8:30.
Drug Emporium for BP.
To laundromat, then Kmart for lunch. Got cookies!
Home 1:30.
Mail: Letters from Justine, Medicare, Schwab, Andra. Living at same place, trying to get cat.
Talked to Larry, ironed.
Watched skating, Mystery, second part of "I am Guilty."
Crossword, read papers.
Friday, Jan. 9, 1998
Up 9. Chores, wrapped package for Andra.
To post office, mailed package. (8.40) Registered, upped to 13.25.
Home, watched golf, ate, read papers.
Rain hard about 3 p.m.
Mail: All throwaways.
TV: Report that Ted Kaczynski tried to hang himself; watched some Geraldo, Frasier.
Figure skating: Women's short, men's long.
Saturday, Jan. 10, 1998
Awake 6. Shower/hair, ready to leave 11.
Cold, car won't start. Idles badly.
Harry at 395 Front. Man kept kicking seats. Gross.
Golf. Mickelson 14 after today, Tiger 8.
Ate BK, chicken sandwich.
Put contact on back door, marble. 
TV: News, skating. Ladies long.

Sunday, Jan. 11, 1998
Lunar Prospector arrives.
Football: Denver 23, Steelers 21; Green Bay 23, 49ers 10.
Chores, breakfast.
Got paper, donut/coffee, bank for balance.
Walked on cliff. Chilly. Small waves, but long rides.
Took Larry to Albertsons.
Called Prudy, she OK. 
Called Justine, left message.
Finished contact paper on door.
TV: News, Siskel & Ebert. Recommend Kline for "Ice Storm."
Taped PBS, Scientific Odyssey.
No sleep til 2:30 a.m.
Monday, Jan. 12, 1998
Wrote two letters, Andra and Justine. 
Worked on taxes.
To Drug Emporium for BP.
Longs, got TV Guide. Xerox out.
To Soquel PO for Xerox.
TV: News, Frasier.
Carole called. Magazine, daughter disappeared. 
Watched tape of Odyssey, finished taxes.
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1998
Not good sleep.
Up 9, chores. Breakfast, some wash.
To Longs, Lois there. Hip to be operated on 22nd. Ellie there also, coffee.
McDonald’s being redone.
Home, called travel agency.
Justine called, 6:30 p.m. Plan to meet 26th. She moves next Monday. 
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 1998
Car tune-up, 10 a.m.
Tea, cereal. Got paper.
To Goodyear 9:50. Walked home.
Read papers, called Goodyear 12 p.m., car ready. $50.95.
To library. SF Chron, "Pink calendar."
Home, ran Odyessy tape.
Bed 11:30. Slept good.
Thursday, Jan. 15, 1998
Tea, etc. Read a bit, ready by 10:30. 
41st donut/coffee. To mall, looked for locket.
To show, "Good Will Hunting."
Home, dinner, mail.
Radio, interview of O.J.
TV: News, Frasier, Law & Order, X-Files, reruns.
Taped last of Odyssey. Had to use new tape for last 1/2 hour.

Friday, Jan. 16, 1998
Fair sleep. Up 8:30. Tea, etc. 
Larry needed ice pack. Also looked up number in fone book.
To post office, mailed letter to Justine.
To Longs. Got another box of mashed potatoes, candy.
Wherehouse, got "English Patient."
No mail.
Ran video, taped Vikings in America.

Saturday, Jan. 17. 1998
Awake 8:30. Out by 10.
Drug Emporium. BP, envelopes, paper towels.
Ate breakfast at Old Theatre Cafe. Good.
To library til 2 p.m.
Home, ran English Patient again. Took to Wherehouse.
Walked on cliff.
To mall, got McDonald's sundae.
Dinner: Liver.
TV: X-Files, List of Adrian Messenger, old movie. Kirk Douglas, George C. Scott, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra in cameo.

Sunday, Jan. 18, 1998
Up 8:30. Tea, etc. Shower/hair.
To show, "The Sweet hereafter." Good. Secrets, children caught in bus.
Home. Rain, wind, bad.
Changed clothes.
TV: A&E, good show about Egypt.
Called Mina, she OK.
TV: News, Golden Globes.
Monday, Jan. 19, 1998
Raining most of night, til 10:30 a.m.
Called bank, balanced OK.
To Kmart, lunch. To bank.
John Mark called. Al's wife moved in. Al woke one nite disoriented, went to hospital. Didn't want to go home.
TV: X-Files, Discovery re El Nino. Taped A Mid-Wife Tale.
Tuesday, Jan. 20, 1998
Tea. ESPN, tennis. Mary Pierce, neat costume.
To mall. "Ma Vie en Rose" starts 5:20, so no go.
Mail: Letter from Mina, letter from Justine with copies of Lone letter. [Lone is my father’s sister in Denmark].
Called Mina re costume of Mary Pierce, also Ole, etc.
TV: Frasier, taped two NOVAs.
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1998
Up 9:15. Tea, etc. 
Tennis, Sampras won.
Walked on cliff.
Gas station at Kmart, having new tanks?
Home, wrote Mimi. No mailing it. Keep until sorted clippings, etc. New allegations re Clinton.
TV: News, Frasier.
Read papers, ate cookies.
Thursday, Jan. 22, 1998
Radio full of  “new charges” against Clinton. The highest number of callers were for Clinton.
Finally slept 5 a.m. til 9:45.
Tennis, Agassi won, four sets. 6/5, 6/5, 2/6, 7/5.
Drug Emporium for BP.
Albertsons, bank, Trader Joe's.
To show, “Star Kid.” Fun. Si Fi.
TV: Most about Clinton. Finally the news is tracking this girl. She was “stalking” the president.
Had tea for sleep and did.
Friday, Jan. 23, 1998
To Drug Emporium. Got Osteo-Bio? Recommended for cartilege.
Penneys, got velvet pants, blue top. (Have 2 already!)
Ate chicken at Burger King.
Called Gottschalk’s. Refund going out now!
Called for a dentist. Want personal info!
Some chores.
TV: News, etc. Reruns only.
Saturday, Jan. 24, 1998
8 a.m. Lawn mowers woke me.
Drug Emporium. More herbs.
To Logo’s, got Japanese art book.
To show, “Ma Vie en Rose.” Nice colors, but fanciful. Some phrases I got.
To McDonald’s, chicken.
To library. Checked on CULTS, calendars. Got a book.
TV: Taped bio on Clinton, movie Rebecca. 
Sunday, Jan. 25, 1998
Slept 12:20 to 6:30. Tea, etc. Shower/hair.
Called Carla, talked long.
Walked on cliff. Nice day, waves small.
Reading “The God Hustlers” by Mary H. Webb.
Saw Myra put out Larry’s garbage??
“Super Bowl” 3 to 7 p.m. Denver won! Favre goofed at end. With 1:34 left he threw in crowd.
TV: Masterpiece.
Monday, Jan. 26, 1998
Slept 12 to 8:30! Good, neck hurt. Pillow.
Laundromat about 9:30. Very few there.
Home, called Greyhound.
Worked on closet for hose, underwear, gowns.
Called dentist, wrote check for Master Card.
Talked to Myra, Larry in hospital. Depression.
TV: Discovery (rerun), X-Files, Diagnosis Murder.

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1998
11:15 dentist.
Up 7:30. Tea, etc.
Longs, BP.
To Gottschalk’s to check on ”bonus.” Can’t use on current charges. Mailed letter to them.
To dentist. 2 x-rays, $48 + exam.
To show, “Fallen.”
Clinton State of the Union, speech accepted well. Drama teacher on TV, affair 92-97.
Wednesday, Jan. 28, 1998
Took Valerian, good sleep.
Radio: Ronn analyzes Clinton speech.
Tennis, Hingis won.
Lunch at Kmart. Checked for gift for Lutz. ”Greg Norman.”
To hospital, no dice visiting Larry.
Home, tired, Effects of Valerian root?
Left message with Sanchez. He returned call. $25 to remove jasmine!
Usual TV: Frasier, 1st. Daphne just hired, first time seen by Niles.
Sleep tea, then melatonin.
Thursday, Jan. 29, 1998
Radio: Ronn, one caller thanked him for "a break from Clinton."
Did some typing of cult info from library.
Walked on East Cliff. Waves strong, high tide. One surfer.
To town. Greyhound for times, library for Santa Rosa Transit.
Myra was visiting Larry. I gave him a small magnifying glass, the white one.
To See’s!
Mail: Letter from Stimson, Prudy, Mina, bank statements.

Friday, Jan. 30, 1998
Awake 7. Tea, etc. Ronn back on Clinton.
Foned Gott's re lost bonus.
Mail: State Farm auto, $150.28, check for "cash back," $4.50, Schwab report.
Bought shirt for Lutz, beige one for me.
Forgot tennis at 6:30.
Called county re drain.
Bed early.

Saturday, Jan. 31, 1998
Rained in nite.
Awake 7. Tea, etc. Chores. 
9 a.m. to Trader Joe's. Checked drain.
Home. Ellie said detective here yesterday, young man hid in closet of 85-year-old woman here. To be charged with sexual assault, masturbated.
Balanced checkbook, over by $300.
Wrote letter to Carla, more items to Mimi.
Lunch, read papers.
Sanchez came by, looked at bush. Will look at pipes.
Watched KLUTE.
Mail: Ad for tours.