Friday, October 22, 2021

Mom wouldn’t buy him a gumball machine, so boy makes one out of Legos

Harvey and his gumball machine.
Six-year-old Harvey wanted a gumball machine, but his mom didn’t want to buy it.
So the boy got out his Legos and made one instead.

That was cool.
“It took him an hour, and it worked,” mom Sarah said of the machine Harvey built. “It was simple and brilliantly done. But then he went on to redesign and make two more the next day. Then he made an egg beater.”

“He is smart in ways I have never been, and I love that so much,” she said of the boy whose father is a civil engineer, though she admitted that Harvey’s impulses can also be “irritating, because he often wants to do things he shouldn't be doing. Full of the spirit of life, he stubbornly keeps trying to get what he wants — always, selfishly himself, no apologies.”
And as exhausting as it may be to keep up with him, Sarah above all admires his inexhaustible determination to bring his wishes to life. “I am very lucky that I get to be with Harvey,” she said.

Even cooler?

Harvey was born on the day my mother died, turning what I've called "death day" for decades into his birthday. In that way, he has become my spirit animal.

See Harvey with his creation:

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Stop the car, there's a Historical Landmark!

Sign on Highway 20 in Penn Valley.
On our first road trip together, we had the “Scones Incident.”
“Could you get me a tall coffee?” my husband asked that morning outside a Starbucks in Barstow, Calif. 
But when I came back to the car, I was holding only my coffee.
“Where’s mine?” he said.
“Oh.” I held up the bag in my other hand. “I got distracted by the pastry case. There were scones!”
He shook his head and laughed.
That was cool.
Because two decades and countless miles later, I’m still getting distracted by scones, only now they are Historical Landmark signs.

“Wait, ‘World’s First Long-Distance Telephone Line?! Can we check it out, please?!” I cried while we were heading down Highway 20 near Grass Valley earlier this year. I had no idea there was such a thing in Northern California, and now I had to see it.
A bit miraculously, my husband agreed to head up Pleasant Valley Road to French Corral, the tiny town where the telephone line had been strung. But although there’s really nothing else in French Corral except a few houses and a cool, barn-like Wells Fargo building, we could not find that telephone line marker, despite driving by it twice that first day.

I figured I’d never get to see that telephone line, but on our way home from Grass Valley the next day, we passed the sign again and my husband sighed. “Do you want to try again?”
I sure did! And this time we crawled down that road once we reached French Corral, our eyes peeled, and finally I spotted the marker, barely bigger than a mailbox with no sign next to it.
But it is right next to someone's driveway, which is probably why it’s so hard to find. Maybe there used to be a sign, but whoever lives there took it down, sick of people like me looking for that “dang marker,” pictured at right.
Finding that historical landmark took two days and 40 extra miles on narrow, winding mountain roads, but I was so happy to see it, and even happier that my husband had offered to drive me there.
Because years earlier he threw a fit when I wanted to make another side trip. We had stopped at a park to pee the dog on the last leg of another road trip when I saw a short trail of Donner Party historical sites, but my husband did not want to wait for me to hike it. Granted, he had just spent the last two weeks driving us to Yellowstone National Park and back through snow and the dog’s explosive diarrhea, and he just wanted to get home. But the trail would just take another 15 minutes. And when would I be back there again?
I did walk that trail, but my husband wasn’t happy about it.
So it was that much cooler when he offered, twice, to try and find another historical site. I guess he finally has completely given into “Scones.”

Friday, October 1, 2021

My Grandmother's Journals: October, 1996

Grandma at her friend Mimi's flat in Paris, October 1996
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 turned 81 while 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. 
In October of 1996, she was planning her next trip to London and Paris alone at 81, not watching the debates between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, and still struggling to get enough sleep without taking Melatonin, though I don't know why she was resisting.

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 1996
Awake early, some housekeeping. 
Ate Rebecca's Muffins.
Checked with Greyhound, only 1 bus from airport.
To library, got another French conversation tape, read papers.
Worked on clothes, put summer clothes away.
Mail: Ads only.
Called Mina,no answer. She called back, talked long.
Fair night.

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 1996
Awake 7, up 9. Walked 30th to 36th. Muffin at corner.
"Slurry" on parking lot. Not many customers.
Worked on albums, destroyed many pix, combined 7 & 8 into one.
Orioles over Indians, Dodgers vs. Atlanta. 
Gave Larry 2 wool sweaters; Ellie needed plumber, toilet overflow.
TV: News, Star Trek. 
Good sleep.

Thursday, Oct. 3, 1996
Up 9. Shower, hair. To corner.
Kmart, got another cardboard storage box.
To show, "First Wives Club." Funny, good lines. Goldie Hawn, good at timing. 
Home, ate here! Dodgers lost again to Atlanta.
TV: Mystery, Alan Bates. Funny dialogue.
Albums 9, 10, 11, 12. Trips, cards. 
Bed 11. Up 3 & 6.
Friday, Oct. 4, 1996
Dozed. Up 9:30. Breakfast Kmart.
Home, worked on watches. To Longs, got new battery for silver watch. 
Washed some things.
Social Security announced a "glitch." In 1984 I rec'd payment of $658 retro.
TV: News, Sliders, X-Files!

Sunday, Oct. 6, 1996
Watered lawns. Dug out avocado, rose. Put rose in pot.
Muffin at corner. Warm. 
Bank, got $200. Trader Joe's.
Packed summer shirts & some blouses in new cardboard box. HOT.
49ers over Rams, 28-11.
Debate Clinton & Dole, did not watch. Watched P&P instead.

Monday, Oct. 7, 1996
Hot again. Head sore.
Called Mary Clarke, she has Caller ID.
Some work on clothes, hangers.  
Walked on cliff, no breeze.
Hard Copy had marriage certificate of JFK Jr. Showed 19th of Sept.
To bed. Hot, very uncomfortable. 99!

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 1996
Up 8. Ate here. To Longs, got TV Guide, Lotto. No single rolls of TP.
To mall, read paper. Cool there.
To Kmart, got veg soup, chocolate cake.
To show, "Bound." To market, more Lotto, milk.
Primetime, Fuhrman. He seemed stoic.
Bed, no sleep. 

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 1996
Up 8:45. A few Tsps of cereal Vita here.
To corner, coffee, etc.
Louden, BP 134.
To county building, some absentees mailed out.
To Thrift shop, left typewriter.
Braves won. Yankees won. Jeff Maier deflected ball to cause home run. 
Bed late. Took M(elatonin.) Slept good.
Thursday, Oct. 10, 1996
Awake 4, then 8:30. Loud talk.
To "Chubby's" for breakfast. By McDonald's, got salad.
Changed coolant. Baseball until 4:15.
To corner, apple juice, donut.
Taped 2nd segment of Alan Bates' "Murder One." Interesting.
Friday, Oct. 11, 1996
No sleep, up for M. To corner, talked.
To dump, took coolant. Metal oil catcher.
To Kmart, no shades. OSH has.
TV: mostly game at Baltimore, Yankees won.
Part of X-Files. Gruesome. Did not watch all. 
Ran tape of "Aristotle"on PBS, taped Barbara Walters interview with Kardashian.
Sunday, Oct. 13, 1996 
Awake 7, slept til 10. Breakfast corner. Talked to Lee.  
To Scotts Valley, had ice cream. 
To show, "Fly Away Home." To Wendy's. 
Swept patio. Talked to Mary.
Ball game, Atlanta - St. Louis.
Watched 60 Minutes, 1st segment re using homosexual blood for clotting plasma. Offering 100,000 to each hemophiliac infected.
Bed early, but awake from 1-4.

Monday, Oct. 14, 1996
Up 9. Breakfast McDonald's.
No pillbox. To Longs, got 3 - (2 free), batteries, cookies, TV Guide.
Trader Joe's, bananas, papaya, garlic, beef stew.
Home 3 p.m. Worked in yard, watered.
News, Braves vs. St. Louis. 49ers vs. Packers, tie to OT, 20-23.

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 1996
Worked on packing.
Letter from NY, finally. No account # on check. Wrote NY Bank.
BP up, because upset at NY.
Gathered items to take, repacked. Pills! 
Checked times on Metro.
Some Geraldo, Morse (old).
Watched Frasier and Caroline in the City. David Hyde Pierce on Caroline, funny.
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 1996
Cold. Breakfast at corner.
To Gottschalk's, Longs, Lotto.
Chores, mended sweater. 
Worked on report to girls, typed explanation. Took few hours, 9 pages.
To Longs, took pictures. Got envelopes.
Did not watch "debate."
Watched discussion on Genesis story, Cain vs. Abel, with Rabbi, Catholic, Atheist, three women, three men; great discussion.
Friday, Oct. 18, 1996
Laundromat. Post office, stopped mail, posted Nordstrom check.
Ate Burger King, got gasoline, comb.
Worked on packing.
To show, "Get on the Bus." Enjoyed. About 11 in audience, 1 Black. 
Home. To Mary's, gave her check.
Saturday, Oct. 19, 1996
Clean house. Call Comfort Inn.  Not great sleep.  
Up 8:30. Shower/hair. Breakfast corner. 
Mall, paid Sears. 
Longs, got Bismuth, cookies, battery for camera.
Home, reworked case, got everything in. 
TV: Some golf, Midnight Run. Taped: L'Elisir d' Amore.
Slept pretty good.

Sunday, Oct. 20, 1996
Mimi called about 9:30 to wish good trip.
To corner, talked to Lee. She likes cats, has a Himalayan.
Walked on East Cliff.
Mailed girls report of money.
Dallas vs. Atlanta, 32-28, 49ers vs. Bengals, 28-21. 
Watered and swept leaves.
Took my garbage to Larry's, told him. 
Called Inn.

Monday, Oct. 21, 1996
Reservation Comfort Inn.
7 a.m. bus to Metro Center, had toast and coffee.
Some (?) at home, took pills for it.
Shuttle to Inn, van driver did not like $1 tip!
Ate at Chef Wang's Chinese Restaurant. Good, had szechuan chicken.
Comfort Inn, Millbrae. Get Continental breakfast. 
Braves won, watched some at hotel. No CBS, had Fox, ABC, NBC.

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 1996
Slept without Melatonin til 1, took at 2, slept til 4, up 6.
Washed hair in shower.
Continental breakfast at 6:45, OK.
Got Sterling, no fee, but showed 1.50 charge.
Flight delayed. Ate sandwich at airport. Took off 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1996
No sleep. Kept hat on for warmth.
Seatmate from Las Vegas. Born in Africa, part of Ethiopia.
Bloodshed, she left in 1977, to U.S. in 1982.
Has twin girls and boy, nice.
Lunch at coffee shop. 
Got train to Cambridge-Nottingham.   
Slept. Cold, damp.
Thursday, Oct. 24, 1996
Slept til 3:30. Read Lizzie Borden.
Breakfast: juice or cornflakes; bacon; eggs, scrambled or poached; toast; coffee, tea.
Got paper, travel card.
Took Underground to Oxford, bus to Victoria. Wonderful.

Friday, Oct. 25, 1996
Woman calling "Joe" again at 11:30 last night.
Will be rainy, windy weekend. Mended hose, umbrella.
Tried to find Stan James, girl helped. (Met Stanley James on Amtrak 4/28/1994 -4/29/1994, talked all day. He stayed on train, I left at Washington, D.C.)
Got sandwich and chips. Ate at town clock.
Christian, two-year-old?, helped.
Bad night. Caffeine from tea?

Monday, Oct. 28, 1996
Train to Paris. Escalator down. 
Train on time. Seatmate is man from Martinique. 
Train arrived on time, men in station trying to get money.
Walked a bit, nice weather. 
Slept without Melatonin 9-1.

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1996
Took Melatonin, slept til 7.
Walked, made Xerox copy of letter, mailed to Stimson.
Took bus to Madeline, walked back. Poured.
Slept good, up a lot. Noisy street.

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 1996.
Grandma's friend Seymour in Paris.
Fone Sy (Seymour) and Mimi.
Look for curtains.
Walked wrong way on Rivoloi. To chapel, closed.
Ate lunch.
To hotel, tennis: Sampras, Agassi, Becker, Muster all out!