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
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.
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
each dropped some ashes at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a
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.
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
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!
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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Up 7:30. Tea, etc.
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.
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.
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.
Mail: Ad for tours.