Monday, March 21, 2022

Before Google we had big books called encylopedias. And I carried one to school once to show my teacher I was right about bears.

In the Third Grade I got a quiz back with one answer marked wrong. I could have just accepted the solid 90-percent I earned, but I knew all my answers were correct. When I told this to my teacher and she wouldn't change my grade, my mother sent me to school the next day with our huge animal encyclopedia to prove I was right.

That was cool.

We had been learning that animals who primarily eat plants are called herbivores, those who primarily eat other animals are carnivores, and those who eat a lot of both are considered “omnivores.”

After these lessons we had a quiz that asked 10 questions, including which of these categories bears were in. I had known for years what bears eat because my mother took us camping every summer in Yosemite National Park, where the Rangers constantly warned us to never leave anything edible in our tents since bears loved all the same snacks we did, even candy. So I circled “omnivores” for bears.

But my teacher marked that answer wrong, giving me only 9 points out of 10. When I told her that I should have gotten them all right because bears were, in fact, omnivores, she showed me her answer key, which identified bears as carnivores.

When I told my mother what happened, she was livid. And had me to take our huge animal encyclopedia to school the next day to show my teacher that bears were, in fact, omnivores.

So I carried that bulky book all the way to class and up to my teacher’s desk. She read the page, smiled, and corrected my score to a perfect 10 out of 10.

I remember feeling proud of myself and my newly earned 100-percent as I walked back to my desk, but even more proud of my mother. Proud of how smart she was, and proud that she cared just as much about my schoolwork as I did. 

Photos by Denise Mandeville
Of course, I felt a little less proud of earning my one missed point that afternoon as I walked that heavy book the mile back home, but I still loved my mother for having me take it to class, creating one of my favorite memories of both her and of elementary school.

A note on the photos for this post: They were taken by my friend Denise, who asked one of her granddaughters to pose for them with the big animal encyclopedia her father grew up with. Her granddaughter is about the age I was at the time, and has the same color hair I did, so she was the perfect model, and I am very grateful for their help.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

Poem: The Cat in My Lap

I had only five minutes more of electricity 

But the cat wanted a lap, you see.

So I didn’t dash about

Using all the power I could before it went out.

No, I just sat,

With the cat 

In my lap.

Justine Frederiksen, channeling Dr. Seuss 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Poem: The Tall Ones

I visit the tall ones to feel small.

To hear them laugh at my problems.

And hand them to the sky.

- Justine Frederiksen 

Photo by Nathan DeHart

Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Bird Club: Chapter Three

Illustration conceived and drawn by Dell Linney

Chapter Two

A donut was enough for Wilder, which was only an hour or two of walking and visiting the ocean. But it was not enough for a birding trip, which was a whole day of long, boring car rides and long, boring walks that usually ended without anyone seeing the bird they were looking for. For those, her mother had to promise at least a cheeseburger and fries. Maybe even a sundae.

“And you have to give me a ride to work later,” April said as she pulled out her clothes. 
April never liked taking the bus to her job at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but it was especially bad on Sundays, when all the flea market goers crowded on. She could never make the whole trip without someone sitting next to her. 

Evelyn agreed to drop April off, then got up to leave, since both of her daughters were too shy to undress in front of her. This frustrated Evelyn, who used to know every inch of these people she made, so much that she would “accidentally” come into the bathroom while they showered.

“Be sure and bring a sweatshirt. It’s pretty foggy,” Evelyn told April, who did not begin dressing until she felt the stairs shaking.

Once they were walking to the beach, April was glad she came. She loves the ocean and loves how relaxed her mother is when walking. Not rushing to get ready for work, buried in a bird book or telling April what to do. When they are outside walking, they can just talk.

“Are we still going to the Japanese Gardens Saturday?” April asks. 
“Yes,” her mother says, sighing but smiling, happy that April is eager to go somewhere with her instead of having to be dragged. “Did you remember to ask for the day off work?”
“Yes,” April says, mimicking her mother’s sighing tone, and they both laugh.

They walk in silence until they reach the bay tree near the train tracks, and Evelyn tells her to pick a few leaves so she can make spaghetti for dinner.
“OK,” April says eagerly, grabbing a handful of the fragrant leaves and pressing them to her nose, thinking only of the eating part, not of her bursting stomach afterward. 
Then she tucks the leaves in her pocket and runs to catch up with her mother.
“Think we’ll get to band one today?” she asks.

April only got to band a plover once, but remembers every second of it. 
That day her mother had found a nest, so she prepared to catch the mom. She 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, April and Evelyn 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 Evelyn picked it up and cut the line.
“Here, you can hold her. Be very gentle.”
April wrapped her hands around the bird’s squirming body, trying not to squeeze too hard and hurt her, or too soft and let her go. She was surprised at how warm the bird felt under its feathers and how fast its heart was beating.
Together, they put the bird head first into a tube to secure her, then her mother hung a scale from her legs to weigh her. 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, they released the bird and she hopped off, shaking her leg to try and kick off the band.
“Let’s go,” Evelyn said. “She’ll never go back to the nest with us here.”  

April wouldn’t have to be bribed to go to Wilder if she knew they would be banding a bird every time, but it only happened once. This morning was like all the others: walking and waiting, waiting and walking. 
But wait, the donut!

Inside the shop, April heads straight to the glass cases displaying the donuts, careful to not get too close to the cash register so the clerk won’t talk to her. She inspects each row to make sure there are no new donuts to consider, which makes her anxious. She doesn’t want to miss out on something tasty, but she also hates being disappointed by trying something she won’t like. 

Like the time she fell for the jelly donut. Seeing one with no hole, she thought it would have more cake than the others. But as soon as she bit into it she realized it was a fruit pie donut. Yuck.

Or the time she chose one of the long bars of glazed cake with all the glistening frosting that look like they give you the most donut. And maybe they do, but after a few bites of the maple bar April got sick from the frosting, just like when she had finally gotten to try cotton candy at the fair. 
For years she had watched kids fill their mouths with those fluffy handfuls of pink and blue and imagined they tasted like creamy clouds of whipped cream. But they didn’t. 
As soon as cotton candy touched your tongue, it evaporated. It was like eating air; air that immediately made everything sticky. And then all the sugar made her dizzy and gave her a stomachache. Just like the maple bar. 

So now she just looks at all the other donuts before choosing a crumb cake: a dense, moist donut sprinkled with nutty, cinnamon-flavored crumbs that keeps her stomach happy. 
And she sat happily in the donut afterglow until she discovered why her mother dragged her to the beach.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

My Grandmother's Journals: March, 1997

My grandmother, 15, with her mother and brother.
In tiny notebooks, my grandmother wrote down each day when she woke, where she ate breakfast, any movie she went to see, noted any mail and calls, then what she 
read and watched on TV before bed.
The photo at right shows her at 15, attending her brother's high school graduation photo with their mother in 1930. The siblings had spent the past 10 years at a Masonic Home in Covina, Calif., and my grandmother never forgave her mother for putting her children in an orphanage after their father died of the Spanish Flu in 1918. And I think her body language in this photo makes that clear.

In 1997, my grandmother turned 82 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. 
Pleasure Point in 1997. Photo by my grandmother.
In March of 1997 she was struggling with allergies, fixing her car, and constantly tracking her blood pressure. Also, she was closely following my move to Napa when I landed my first newspaper job after graduating college.

Saturday, March 1, 1997
Allergy in a.m. Sneezed 10 times.
Up 9:15. To corner, tea.
Drug Emporium, BP machine off, plug out. To Kmart for BP.
Home, golf. Tiger Woods 1, Nick Faldo 10.
Ate here.
Ice skating. Wrote girls checks.

Sunday, March 2,1997
Rained in night. To corner, Lee there.
Golf, Tiger 3rd at finish, Faldo 12. 
Walked on cliffs.
Put in gutters in driveways.
To Kmart, got pot for new rose.
Worked on 1996 trip expenses.
TV: 60 Minutes, Placido Domingo.
Monday, March 3, 1997
To bank, deposit for Justine.
To corner, talked to a woman who travels in Mexico by bus. Also went to Australia, New Zealand.
To Gottschalk’s, paid bill
Garden work, dug up rose, leaves.
Helped Larry, garbage not picked up.

Tuesday, March 4, 1997
To corner for tea. 
Wrote Justine, sent $20 for celebration! [That I passed my drug test and was hired?!]
Walked on East Cliff, almost finished the road.
To Kmart, BP 137/64.
To Wendy's, got chicken  sandwich. Also gas at American, 7.28 gal.
Home 4 p.m., no mail but adverts.
Wednesday, March 5, 1997
Dentist 1 p.m.
To Penney’s, checked for garter belt. Gottschalk's, got sweatshirt.
To dentist, cleaning. 
Home, fixed tuna.
To show, “Empire Strikes Back.”
To library, got map of Mexico. Checked bytes: kilobits.
Home after Albertsons.
Thursday, March 6, 1997
Up 2 a.m.  for milk, Melatonin. Up 4, then 8.
Breakfast Kmart, BP: 164/78. After, 124/61.
Called Mina 10 a.m. Mailed book to her.
Walked Capitola, got two logs driftwood.
Friday, March 7, 1997
To mall, no example for my fanny pack.
Library, read PC manual, Newsweek, looking up Ringing in Ears.
To live oak for dinner, bought two: fish, chicken.
Home, weed/feed lawn!!
TV: “Wedding Banquet.”
Slept good after 2 til 4.

Saturday, March 8, 1997
Up 8:15. Cold.
BP at Drug Emporium, got tissues and water.
To show, “Marvin's Room.” From a play. Streep, Keaton. Good.
Library, trying to figure Consumer Price Index. 
Called Prudy. Hugh kidney out. Think all OK.
Also called Justine, left message. She returned call.

Sunday, March 9, 1997
Up 9:15. To Vibol’s. Lois and husband. They to Vegas.
Walked to cliff.
To Sears and Radio Shack.
Justine called, be up tomorrow.
TV: X-Files. Up til 2, slept 3 to 7.

Monday, March 10, 1997
Justine called 8:33 a.m. Be here in 3 hours.
To corner. Home, vacuumed, swept after lawn cut.
Justine here, met friend for lunch.
After we to Sears, got TV. Magnovox, $225.65.
To Starbucks.
TV: Morse Mystery.
Two quakes, near Daly City.

Tuesday, March 11, 1997
Up 8:30. No allergy pills.
To Post Office, mailed  Gingko to Justine.
Ate Kmart, BP. Got TV Guide.
To Trader Joe’s and Albertsons.
TV: Morse, Frasier. 
Bed early, up 3 times.
Sandy, Mary’s friend, called.
Wednesday, March 12, 1997
Up 9. To Louden, BP: 168/92.
To car wash, 2 tokens to clean, 4 to wash. $1 for 2 tokens, 4 mins.
To Kmart, BP 159/84
Cleaned car, read, wrote Mina.
To cliff, walked 1 mile.
Bed early, no sleep til 11:30.

Thursday, March 13, 1997
Breakfast here.
To dentist, three gumline fillings with plastic, bone-colored. $109 each! Less 10%, 294.
First to Vibol’s for apple juice, donut.
To longs, checked out Dean Edell glasses. Run from $8 to 15.
Walked at cliff, home 5 p.m. 
Washed green t-shirt.
News, crossword, no TV. 
Bed but no sleep til 11:30. Took hot milk and Melatonin.
Friday, March 14, 1997
Awake 6, up 7. Worked in yard. Seed, fertilizer, watered.
Put $300 in Justine's account. She has apartment with woman who has room to rent.
Mail: Card from Mina.
To Beverly’s for thread!
Woman in 4 called 911, she called as she fell, then ambulance took her.
To Live Oak for dinner. Man who walks had an aneurysm. Passed a few days ago.
TV: Exorcist, news.

Saturday, March 15, 1997
Up 7:30. Checked brake fluid. Put some oil in.
To corner for tea. Big John in for coffee with another hat. Grey beret type, rakish!
Home, watched tennis. Venus Williams  - Lindsay Davenport won.
Justine called 3:30 p.m. Met her and Karen at Soledad McDonald’s!
Home 7:30. Bed early.
Sunday, March 16, 1997
Up 8:30. Showered, washed hair.
To corner, had coffee.
Called Charles/Dolly re fire trucks. One was to Japanese lady, other was false alarm.
To cliff, walked 12:10 - 12:30.
To Aptos, checked Gottschalk’s for blue pants.
To show, “Lost Highway.” Patricia Arquette, David Lynch (Blue Velvet).
TV: X-Files, tried to tape Misty, didn’t work. 

Monday,  March 17, 1997
Breakfast Vibol’s. 
Hot, too warm. Collapsed til 2 p.m.
Mail: Got Wall Street Journal for Craig on Linden Street.
To show, “Return of the Jedi.” 2 1/2 hours.
Found Linden Street, delivered paper.
Justine called 2 times, 3:10, 5:15. Found a place, moving things.
Watched Mystery.

Tuesday, March 18, 1997
Up 8. To corner. Talked to Clayton re VCR, taping,  etc.
Longs: bath tissue, TV Guide. 
Albertsons: Milk, towels, bananas.
Wrote to Justine, Mina. 
To Live Oak, BP good.
Wednesday, March 19, 1997
Up 7:30, etc. To corner 9ish.
To Goodyear, oil change. Need transmission cleaned. Hole in pipe.
To mall, blue shoes. Got “butterflies” for heels.
To Radio Shack, no help.
Home, lunch, worked on RF Bypass, 1 1/2 hour.
Installer came, took 15 mins. 
News, tired. To library, renewed book.
Hot, very tired. To bed 7:30.

Thursday, March 20, 1997
Up 9. Walked on cliff.
Home, news. Various chores. Ironed silver negligee.
Paid Mervyn’s, Penney’s.
Mail: Adverts.
Skating: Pairs and men’s. Elvis Stojko, quad + triple, plus 7 more triples. Most pairs fell, as did Eldridge. Urmanov had pulled groin muscle, dropped out.

Friday, March 21, 1997
Warm. PG&E rates go up.
No view of comet, cloudy.
To corner, Vibol gave man $15 for trousers.
Wrote three letters, to Post Office.
To Kmart, got small can of hair spray, trail mix.
Home, Liver, some French.
Ate at Live Oak. Sat with 3 women, Big John in hospital.
Saturday,  March 22, 1997
Some good sleep, noise in ear abetting.
Walked 1/2 hour. To corner. 
Worked in yard, cut jasmine 1 hour.
1 p.m. golf.
Letter from Mina.
Watched “Cracked Mirror,” Rock Hudson, Kim Novak.
Figure skating. Tara 1st, Kwan 2nd, Lu Chen gracious.
Sunday, March 23, 1997
Up 8:30. Washed underwear.
To corner, Oscar came in.
Walked on cliff.
Home, vacuumed. Dusted windows, cobwebs.
To Mervyn’s, got shoes, like loafers.  No diuretics.
To McDonald's, got chicken sandwich.
TV: Bio Judy Garland.
Called Mina, talked about ice skating.
Bed. Slept 1-3-7.
Monday, March 24, 1997
Up 9:15. Walked.
To Drug Emporium, BP.
To Kmart, got TV Guide, gingko, lecithin, trail mix.
Talked to lady. Big John in hospital, pneumonia. 
Got sewing machine out.
Tuesday, March 25, 1997
Up 8:45. Ronn Owens, bashed the Oscars.
Foggy. Car ignition skips.
Walked after BP check at Kmart .
Put carb cleaner in, checked ignition. Tightened screw under steering wheel. Need transmission fluid changed?
Next-door neighbors will sell, asking $27,900.
To Longs, got envelopes.
TV: Home Improvement, Spin City.

Wednesday, March 26, 1997
Took car to Goodyear. about $97.
To McDonald’s. Checked at OSH, cactus is aloe.
Car ready 11:15, $77.25. Can’t get to ignition, figure amount of repair $4,000+
To Live Oak, heavy dinner. Easter. Good turnout. Gave dessert to Emilio, small weight lifter.
TV: News, La Boheme.

Thursday, March 27, 1997
To Toyota 7:20 a.m.
Walked to Burger King, got biscuit, coffee.
Back to Toyota, waited til 10:10. (Heard John say it was ready at 9.)
Home, rested, sewed 1st curtain.
To thrift shop, sold upright, $20. Gave them silver negligee.
News: Mass suicide, 21 women, 18 men. Applesauce,  vodka, plastic bags, phenobarbital.
Friday, March 28, 1997
Not great sleep. Showered, washed hair.
Walked from 9:15 to 9:45.
Ronn discovering “Heaven's Gate.”
Call from Toyota, part in. Went up, wrong part! Re-ordered pipe. $74, about 60 to install.
Tennis, Sampras lost.
Worked on curtains, wrote Justine.
BP at Kmart, pix at Longs.
TV: Some Boheme, Benny Goodman.

Saturday, March 29, 1997
Slept fair. Up 8:15. Some chores.
To Vibol’s, Clayton there. Told him about yesterday.
Home. Golf, tennis. 
Worked on curtains, ate salad.
To Longs, got bathroom tissue. To Drug Emporium, BP, three different.
Trader Joe’s, donated 1 cent to girls.
Finished curtains!! Before Midnight.  
Bed, crossword.
Monday, March 31, 1997
Rent tomorrow.
Got sheets, etc, to laundromat, then to Vibol's.
Walked on cliff. Marine Mammal Center there to pick up 2 baby elephant seals. Woman said they migrate from Año Nuevo, get lost in tidepools.
To Drug Emporium for BP.
TV: News, Poirot, Marple, Law & Order, checked La Boheme.