Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sweet, silly and sexy notes my husband left me with dinner: "Make a salad!”

When we were living in Seattle and my husband had gone back to school, there were many days when we hardly saw each other. In the morning he headed off to classes and I hopped on a ferry to my job across Puget Sound. By the time I got home at night my husband was gone again to his job, but not before leaving me dinner and a note with a funny drawing.

That was cool.

Even cooler? I recently found a stack of those notes I saved. I find them all funny and endearing, but did edit a bad word out of the first one. I also need to warn sensitive readers about the sexually-suggestive placement of a vegetable in the last one.

*Bad word censored
1. The anti-soup man. 

I don't know why he didn't want me to make soup. I think he might have been referring to how I liked to build my dinner around instant ramen, which is usually packed with sodium and little nutrients.

2. The Soup Soy Nazi

Why didn't he want me to eat soy? I don't know...

(For those who aren't fans of the TV show Seinfeld, this is a reference to a stern character who sold delicious soups only to those who complied with his exacting demands.)

3. Singing Socks Lady

This is supposed to be me, in my "hanging around the house" outfit, singing about pesto. I think I'm wearing the boxer shorts I had with cats on them. I don't think this drawing looks like me at all, but he's right about his pesto. It's delicious.

4. Eat your greens!

I'm confused. Now I can eat soup? 

And finally, sensitive readers, avert your eyes. 

Everyone else, I give you:

5. Corn Cob Man

Sunday, August 15, 2021

My mother helped protect Snowy Plovers. And one morning, she let me hold one.

Original drawing by Dell Linney

My mother loved birds. Especially the scrappy Snowy Plover, which nearly disappeared from California beaches due to human invasion. When some of the small shorebirds were found surviving on a secluded Santa Cruz County beach decades ago, my mother spent most weekends helping protect them.

That was cool. 

I  didn't always think it was cool. As a kid I hated getting dragged out of bed before dawn to drive an hour to Wilder Ranch, then walk several miles under bridges and through crops just to get to the sand that usually never had a Plover on it by the time I got there. So I always had to be bribed with a donut at Ferrell's afterward. But one morning I got an even better reward: After finding a nest, my mother gathered up the mother to be banded. And let me hold her.

That was super cool.

Beth Hamel photo.

After learning from a local biologist how to safely trap and band the birds, my mother worked for several years on the Snowy Plover Survey, which had volunteers like her counting birds, monitoring nests and tracking human disturbance.

To catch the bird after spotting her nest, my mother laid out three long pieces of what looked like thick chicken wire with very small holes. On each piece, she had tied dozens of little fishing line lassos. 

With the traps forming a triangle around the nest, we hid behind a dune. When the bird came back and walked over the traps to its nest, one of the lassos caught its leg. The bird panicked, hopping and tugging at the line until my mother gently scooped it up and cut the line. 

Then she held out the bird to me. “Here, you can hold her. Be very gentle.” I wrapped my hands around the bird’s squirming body, trying not to squeeze her too hard or let her go. I was surprised at how warm she felt, and how fast her heart was beating.

We put the bird head first into a tube to secure her, then my mother hooked a scale onto her leg. After recording the weight and length, she prepared for the trickiest part — putting on the band. While the bird waited in the tube, her mother chose the proper color and readied the tiny bracelet in her pliers. She steadied the bird’s leg, then quickly snapped the band in place.
Two minutes later, we released the bird and she hopped off, shaking her leg to try and kick off the band. “Let’s go,” my mother said. “She’ll never go back to the nest with us here.”  


A few years later my mother died on a trip to see a very rare bird spotted a few hours south of us. As a family we decided to cremate her, then scatter her ashes with the birds she loved, after getting permission to leave her remains on a state beach.

The ranger and me on Wilder State Beach.
We also needed a park ranger to escort us to the sand, and at first I resented having this stranger joining all her loved ones as we said goodbye. But when I realized I had carried the box of ashes all the way to the beach with no way to open it, I became very grateful for the ranger because he had a knife to cut both the cardboard and the thick plastic bag for me.

A few years later I got a job with the California State Parks, where I worked with a ranger who used to patrol Wilder Ranch. She remembered having to ask my father to leave the park after closing more than once. “He showed me the permit you guys had gotten for her ashes,” she said. “He seemed to be having a hard time letting go.”

“I lost my best friend,” he said of my mother, who died on their 20th wedding anniversary. But luckily, knowing she would be going birding on their actual anniversary, they had gone away to celebrate the weekend before.

So when my father died nearly 30 years after my mother in 2014, I had his ashes brought back to California from Indiana so I could leave him at her beach as well. We never talked about it, but I knew that was where he wanted to be.

My parents on their wedding day.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

My Grandmother's Journals: August, 1996

Grandma with my cat DiMaggio, who lived 20 years.
In tiny notebooks, my grandmother wrote down each day what time she woke up, where she ate breakfast, any movie she went to see, what mail and phone calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before bed.

In 1996, she was 80-years-old 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 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 home was the famous surfing spot called Pleasure Point, and she loved walking to the ocean and watching the surfers. When she died at 97 in 2013, I took her ashes to those waves with a friend of hers and we each dropped some at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a surfer emerged from the water where I stood.

That was cool. 
August of 1996 was not too exciting for grandma, though there was the Olympics and the U.S. Open to watch, plus a lot of lawn watering and fertilizing for her to do,She was also having trouble sleeping, and began trying Melatonin as a remedy.

Thursday, Aug. 1, 1996
Up 9ish. To McDonald's.
Put car in for oil. Home 11 a.m.
Mail: Garbage bill, letter from Justine. Paid garbage bill.
Washed hair, took basin bath.
Got car at 3:30 p.m., news.
Thought I lost data on car, walked back. It was here on couch. 
Called Mina, she is better. Drinking water and walking, taking vitamins.
TV: Some Olympics.
Friday, Aug. 2, 1996 
Up 8:45. Watered lawn. Donut & coffee at corner.
To courthouse, no maps of Capitola. 
To library, man at reference desk copied map.
To show, "Pinocchio." (Not even, bad editing?)
News, Olympics. Bob Costas very good, low-key but humorous.  
Synchronized swimmers, USA won gold.
Some Atlanta vs. Dodgers, 3-2. Atlanta pitcher hurt.
Saturday, Aug. 3, 1996
Up 8:30. Watered all lawns. 
To corner, all Mercury News gone. Yesterday also!
Trader Joe's, got bananas and cereal. 
Home, filing, Olympics. Tennis delayed by rain!
Agassi did very well.
Bed after news, no sleep. Up for P&P on PBS at 12 a.m.

Sunday, Aug. 4, 1996
Slept 3 to 7. Up almost 10.
To corner, talked to owner re French wife who wants him to work.
Home 12. Washed some clothes. 
Dodgers lost 4-6 to Atlanta.
Working on knitting, 4 errors, to unravel.
TV: Murder She Wrote, news: Cockpit found, pilot still strapped in seat!

Monday, Aug. 5, 1996
Up 9. Watered all lawns. 
Breakfast McDonald's. Albertsons, T.V.Guide 5 cents off.
Home, tennis. Rested, ran tape of "Savage Skies."
Walked 6 to 6:30.
Called for SFO times, changed.
TV: Law & Order, bed, no sleep until 1 a.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 6, 1996
Up 9ish. Breakfast at Metro. "Seal Rock." Bakery.
Library, read some of Britain history. 
"Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," 1759-79.
Robert Burns, Scotch, also Loch Lomond. (You take high road, I'll take low.)
Home after blood pressure. Got prunes, sour.
Rested, watered lawns.
TV: Law & Order, Frasier, news, taped POV PBS re Street Cars.
Bed, not good sleep.
Thursday, Aug. 8, 1996 
Up 9. Breakfast Kmart. Pancakes!! Too much.
Post Office, OSH, got duct tape, alyssum.
Tennis, Courier vs. Ferrier, 6/7, 7/6.
To Live Oak for dinner, talked to a resident of Shoreline. Earl? fainted at Live Oak.
Thought I lost tape of "Cracker."
Not good sleep again.
Friday, Aug. 9, 1996
Up 9:30,watered lawn. To be hot today!
Put plant food on. Tennis, Agassi. Next Muster.
To Longs, got tuna, melatonin for sleep. 
Home, ran "Cracker."
Walked on East Cliff 6 to 6:50. Read papers.
TV: Law & Order, X-Files repeat with aliens/Japanese.
Quake 2 a.m. Slept 3 to 8:30.
Saturday, Aug. 10, 1996
To corner, home 10:40. Planted alyssum.
Got yarn and needles ready. Washed pants and sox.
Wrote Justine. Tennis late, car race. 
Agassi vs. Muster, 6/4, 6/1. A. at his best, ran Muster, drop shots. Muster many double faults.
Dodgers/Cincinnati, 7/5 when I went to store.
Power failure 4:30 to 6:20. Justine foned. Outage there, too.
49ers vs. San Diego, 16-23.
Sunday, Aug. 11, 1996
To corner, took French book. Rebo very busy. Spoke with Lois (#8?)
Walked East Cliff. Home after Albertsons.
Many police there checking pick-up truck with household items. 
Home, read. Tennis, Agassi vs. Chang. 7/6 (7/4) 6/4. Chang had leg problems, off a long match yesterday. He tired. Seles over Sanchez. 
Watered lawn, Larry out also. No fog.
Read P&P.

Monday, Aug. 12, 1996
No melatonin. Slept OK.
To corner, paid .15 for woman who wanted water! .60 bottle. Couldn't reach it!
Walked on East Cliff to mall. Dalton's, bought two books.
News, read P&P. Reading in bed, heard running in alley near Larry, 12:15.
(Later Larry heard also).

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 1996
Sleep after 1 a.m. Up 8:30. 
To corner. Talked to man with allergies, then Watsonville man. Wife will undergo operation.
Hot, remained indoors. Talked to Larry 4:45 p.m. He heard, saw my light.
Talked to neighbor Ellie first while raking lawn.
Caught up on papers. TV: A&E Mystery.
Bed. Finished P&P

Wednesday, Aug. 14, 1996
Up 8:30. To Louden for BP after shower, etc. BP good.
To county building: No Amber Brown listed as dead.
To Thrifty, got Head & Shoulders, 1 pair plum  & 1  pair black shoes. Both 9's!
Home, lunch. Sore throat!
Papers, wrote Mina. Watered lawn.
Taped recap of O.J. Trial. Mike Wallace narrated.
Ran P&P til 10:48. Took 1 aspirin.
Thursday, Aug. 15, 1996
Up 9. To laundromat. Ate there, then to coffee.
Rebo up at 2:15 a.m. Work at 3.
Hot. To show, "Walking and Talking." I didn't like it!
Home, read, ate. TV: Mystery, Final Curtain, repeat.
Bed. Not good sleep. 

Friday, Aug. 16, 1996
Awake 8:30, up 9:30. Walked on East Cliff. To donut, coffee. 
Monica threw away the last of my donut, insisted on giving me another. (Sprinkle).
To Gottschalk's, got 2 items on sale: 1 black t-shirt, 1 acrylic sweater., teal/blue & beige.
Looked for coffee grinder, not at Gotts'.
Home, wrote Justine and McCoys.
Some P&P tape, X-Files. 20/20, expecting report on airline food, not on 20/20.
Took melatonin.

Saturday, Aug. 17, 1996
Foned Cypress. Closed Sat. 
Breakfast donut, corner. Very busy! Talked re Cambodia, gorilla in zoo.
Checked on bank balance, sum of $171.88 not posted?
Need to go to library, got 800 number to call. Looked up words ending in gry.
To show, "Emma." Neat, good scenes. Almost heard everyone.
Ate here, read. Finished P&P.

Sunday, Aug. 18, 1996
Up 9:30. Tired. Air still. No Zing.
Walked cliff 20 mins to donut, coffee. Talked lots. 
Read papers, etc. Some 49ers, terrible!
Read Beatrice Wood's auto bio. Interesting.
Some 60 mins. Watered lawn 6 p.m.
Wrote Mina.

Monday, Aug. 19, 1996
Called SW Bell re check, referred to Bank of NY. Phillip, very nice.
Called BofA, need checks.
Ate Kmart. To San Jose, Cypress Senior Center. Took yarn, books, needles.
Bought Lotto. To Nordstrom, just looked. Hot.
Home via Albertsons. Got watermelon. Delicious.
Taped PBS, read Bea Wood.

Tuesday, Aug. 20, 1996
Up 9 a.m. Dozed some. Donut/coffee. Talked to Rebo, slow.
"Clayton" is man with granddaughter.
Must check brakes. Did, seems okay.
Washed clothes, ironed, lunch.
To show, "Celestial Clockwork." Fun.
Got cardboard pix of Bea Wood's drawings.
OSH, paint brush. Met woman from La Defense. Talked a bit, shook hands.
Home. News, A&E Silent Witness, Frasier, rerun.
Bed 9:30, no sleep. Finally 10:30 took melatonin.

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 1996
Breakfast at corner. Asked re electric of man w/white beard.
To OSH, got gloves, paint thinner, plant (lamb's ears.)
Bank. H has not cashed check!
Rested a bit, wrote Justine, read papers.
Prepared wood for paint, scraped paint off.
Watered lawn. Neighbors had deck put up. Nice job. Blisters on wood.
Clara barbecue.  Shower/hair.
TV: Law & Order. Bed, read Austen.
Mail: Mina returned tape.
Thursday, Aug. 22, 1996
Awake 7:45, up 8:45. To Post Office, mailed Justine's letter.  
To donut/coffee. To OSH, got spray primer.
Worked on “door,” 2 layers of primer.
Mail: Letter from Prudy, 7 pages. She had operation, got cat. Black kitten.
To Kmart, got cookies, Rose. Ran P&P.
Painted blue in afternoon, again tomorrow afternoon. 
Tried Justine, no one home. 4 rings.
TV: Part of  “Two Mules for Sister Sarah,” Law & Order.
Read paper. Bed 10:30.
Friday, Aug. 23, 1996
Up 8:45. To Lyon’s. Lilly there, talked. 
To bookstore, Mrs. Pollifax. 
Back to Lyon's, paid waitress $1.
Albertson's, fruit and milk. Ran P&P one hour.
Law &  Order, some 49ers. Not good.
X-Files, alligators. 
Bed, read. No sleep. Some melatonin, too much.
Put part back on side.

Saturday, Aug. 24, 1996
Up 9:15. Washed car, watered lawn. To corner.
Longs, asked about melatonin! To Gottschalk's.
Called Justine, talked long. Send her money in Sept. Start 23rd.
Tiger Woods won semi-finals, Dodgers won over Mets, 7-5.
Back to Gottschalk's, got luggage. Got Lotto.
Home, watched part of Aida, 1989, Placido Domingo.
Sunday, Aug. 25, 1996 
Breakfast McDonald's. Walked, Gottschalk's, home.
Lunch, golf. Tiger won but was behind until 38th hole, just eked out. Steve last!
Ran last of P&P, new P&P taped until 7 p.m. 
Ran 1940 P&P 8:30 to 10:30, then ran credits.
Bed. Very sleepy until in bed, then awake!
Wrote Justine, put newspaper clippings in.

Monday, Aug. 26, 1996
Pay State Farm. To Post Office, mailed two letters.
Croissant at corner. Home, tennis.
To Trader Joe's, Drug Emporium.
Called Live Oak, got menu. Read some Pollifax.
To dinner at Live Oak, talked to Fran, Ken, Edith, Dot.
Tennis, Agassi won.
Taped P&P, one goof. 
Read "The Unexpected  Mrs. Pollifax" until 3 a.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 1996
Awake 8 a.m., 5 hours. Up 9 a.m.
Tennis, Sampras, Lindsay Davenport won.
Shower/hair. Lethargic because of no sleep. 
Walked on East Cliff. To Longs for Zinc, vitamins. 
Home, lunch. Ate lots.
Tennis, Mary C. wanted to go to Marie Callender's. No!
Taped P&P. Bed 9:45, slept good.
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 1996
Watered lawn, fertilized flowers. To laundromat.
To Louden, forgot no BP. 
Home 11:30. Talked a bit to neighbors. She asked about trip, told her.
Wrote three letters: Sy, Mimi and Y. To Post Office
Home 2:40. Read papers until 4:30.
Tennis. Chang defeated opponent who played very bad. 
Law & Order rerun. Bed, slept good.

Thursday, Aug. 29, 1996
Awake 7:45, up 8:30. Ironed. Tennis.
Agassi won. I left after 1 1/2  sets to Scotts Valley. 
Looked at Gottschalk's, Kmart, 7/11, got crackers.
To show, "Tin Cup." Good. Fun!
Albertsons, Longs, got Tagamet. 
Home 4:30. Tennis, read  papers. 
Breaking story: Richard (Dick) Morris. 

Friday, Aug. 30, 1996
Rent tomorrow. Up 8:30. Watered lawn, fertilized.
Walked on East Cliff. Beautiful, surf's up. 
Breakfast at corner. "Ellie" gave her 5-gal white. Told to move shed.
Tennis: Sampras almost lost to Novak.
Mail: VAL ticket. Wrong address, had 24, not 25.
Saturday, Aug. 31, 1996
Rent. Up 8. Breakfast corner. Talked to man with dog.
Tennis til 2. To Gottschalk's, got sweater. T-shirt! 
Back to tennis, Agassi won.
Washed windows on east, readpapers.
Bed early. Read. Not good sleep.