Friday, December 29, 2006

Knott's Berry Farm
Where do you go with a group that isn't too far? Yesterday, Don drove Dana, Kal, Alan and me to Knott's Berry Farm. It is a western-style theme park at this time. There are also Peanuts cartoon characters. It is on Beach Boulevard off Interstate 5 and so easy to find.

Kal just turned 12 and Alan is about to turn 15. Dana is our elder adult daughter, Kal's mom. Don and I are edging toward senior citizen status. Don doesn't really like rides but isn't afraid to go on them. He went on one roller coaster with Kal. Alan is losing his taste for wild rides. He did go on the scrambler with Kal and Dana and the bumper cars.

I really don't enjoy most rides. There are some at Disneyland I will go on but at Knott's Berry Farm I didn't see any except for the steam engine train which we all went on. For those of us who actually rode trains back in the day when they were pulled by steam engines, it was nostalgic. However, the Canadian Pacific Railway cars I rode on were the more luxurious kind compared with the ones on this short train. Just the same, it was fun for me.

The park is clean and has both kiosk and sit down restaurants. We went to the on- site Johnny Rockets which had a long wait. I waited, mostly, while the others went on more rides. Now we have cell phones to summon people who have wandered away.

The best thing we all did together in the park was the Native Indian magic show. It was held in a longhouse that is modeled after those in British Columbia. Apparently, the natives at Alert Bay, British Columbia, were the main consultants, although local native tribes had some input into the pre-show discussion. If you happen to have read I Heard The Owl Call My Name, it is a little bit like that book. The show is extremely well done and not at all scary. It is a native re-telling which I found life-affirming.

It was a cool day and I became chilled once the sun went down, despite having on three layers of tops. Dana bought a padded jacket for each of us. It made the evening bearable. She and Kal went on the roller coaster which is like a boomerang. It took around an hour to wait. The drop of the roller coaster takes three seconds. Kal said that going backwards on that roller coaster was the most fun of the day for him.

Traffic going home was not as bad as going down since we had no slow downs. The speed through three counties, mainly through downtown Los Angeles, was hairy for me. If you aren't afraid of high speed driving on our freeways, it might be thrilling for you. For me, it is the reason we don't go to these places at all often. Don took Alan to Knott's Berry Farm two and a half years ago while I attended a daylong conference. That isn't exactly often. Alan can wait nowadays just fine. The period of getting a disability pass for him is long past. However, there must be some at Knott's because the attendant came each time the roller coaster ride loaded while we were waiting for Dana and Kal to see if anyone had a pass.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve at Our House

Today, it is Christmas Eve everywhere that people celebrate Christmas. Our Christmas Eve is like others and not like others, probably just like yours. This morning, Dana and Kal went with us to our Sunday morning service which was announced as the family friendly service. There was lots of singing, a puppet version of the Christmas story, and then we all sang with candles in each person's hand in the darkened room. It was good to be all together for this. I am sure the boys also liked the various goodies on the table for munching after the service.

We heard from some family who have to work today. Don's brother and his partner operate a tree service in Victoria, B. C. and there are more of the winds that have been plaguing the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest of the U. S. The sodden ground has yielded many fallen branches and entire trees toppled over onto buildings and autos. They have been working hard since November. Other years have been quiet and they have got away for Christmas, either to Oregon or here to California.

After we got home from our service, Don and I took Alan to Whole Foods to pick up our fresh turkey. We like to have turkey for Christmas. It is traditional for us, even though now we live in the U. S., our Thanksgiving turkey has only been a few weeks ago. We got some other last minute groceries. Of course, they weren't the last, last minute ones. Once those were unpacked, Dana and I went to the nearest drug store. I needed to get a hair dryer for the downstairs bathroom because the one I lent Dana fried itself a few days ago. Both Dana and Cate have long, long tresses to dry. She was borrowing mine, but I wanted our guest bathroom to have one over the holidays and in the future. I also bought a few things for Don's stocking because as usual, I didn't have many little things for his stocking. He is hard to get things for at the best of times, so I made my desperation dash around the store. Undoubtedly, he must shake his head inwardly at some of the things I think of getting him for his stocking presents. And, of course, I had to buy a big bottle of Irish Cream to share.

Once we were home, Don went out with Kal to the drug store and then to hike with him in Wildwood Park to the top of the ridge. That was great for both of them. They talked about The Lord of the Rings on the way.

In the meantime, Cate arrived in her rented car. She had asked for a compact car, but ended up with a convertible sports car most men would love to drive. She wasn't thrilled. However, you know who was thrilled to pieces. Yes, it was Kal. So Don had to take Kal out to get those last, last minute groceries. Alan, Dana, Cate and I played many rounds of Apples to Apples before they reappeared. And, guess what? Cate discovered she needed batteries, or rather, some presents she was giving need batteries, so off she went, again taking Kal, to the dollar store.

Now, while she was out, Don discovered that he had not bought the movie tape he was supposed to be getting when he took Kal out. He called Cate on her cell phone and asked her to go into Vons to look for some. Nope. None there. She called and asked him if he wanted her to go to another store. He said not to. He would take some RDI stuff from last year off onto a DVD and use an old tape. Right. She's still not back as she probably ignored him and went search for the tape for her Daddy.

Don did get something in a box to serve for supper. It is most likely some kind of pizza or similar food. That's fine. The ladies are full of rum balls and don't need much to eat. Kal will eat pizza. Maybe alone. Alan doesn't eat pizza. Don doesn't , either. Alan will want to eat his corn, chicken and rice. No chicken. The turkey is taking up all the fridge space, so we already agreed with Alan he'd eat sausage for his meat instead. I'll slip him some cherry tomatoes so I won't feel guilty about the lack of various veggies in his diet. For the adults, it will be everyone for himself or herself.

After we are satisfied everyone has had supper, we will watch Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation. This is Don's favorite Christmas movie. He has already watched A Christmas Carol with Alan and I am not sure when Dana will get to watch It's a Wonderful Life. Kal has watched The Grinch already in his room. He is big enough to watch alone but not so big as not to want to see it.

The carols are playing on the stereo. Cate helpfully brought a new CD as we have listened to our selections many, many times over since Thanksgiving. We may also be singing carols, although I have warned Alan we will not be singing all the verses. Two years ago, Dana and Cate humored him and sang all the printed verses of several carols. They didn't want any temper tantrums from Alan on Christmas Eve. They were really good to him and we all lived through it. You have no idea how many verses some of those carols have until you see them in print. We would all heartily sing a verse or two, but nobody without a song sheet knew the long versions, so Dana and Cate had to sing them with Alan. True filial devotion.

Now Cate is back with Kal, so if you have read this far, I hope you are warm and dry and full of something warm or warming to drink. Send me an e-mail or respond to this blog, won't you? I'd love to hear how you are doing. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Planting Bulbs in Pots in Southern California

When we lived in Edmonton, Canada, every autumn I would add bulbs to my front yard flower display. Since we moved to California in 1985, I have planted tulip and other bulbs to bloom in our spring.

Yes, we do have seasons here. When we lived in Canada, I always wondered what out-to-lunch person put the start of winter on the shortest day of the year. Maybe the person or the committee (such decisions being made by either despots or a committee) lived here. Our winter season begins when there is a touch of frost or we can see our breath when we go out in the morning, or when it begins to rain for days and days. In the Los Angeles area, the rains are most often in January and February. Two years ago, though, they started in October and didn't let up until April. The year before that, when Cate and Jim were freezing outdoors on their April wedding day, and it had been trying to sprinkle us all with rain, the rains didn't even begin until March and lasted around six or seven weeks, through the wedding date. But I digress from spring flowers.

The annual flowers that most of North America plant in the spring are fall and wintertime flowers here. All around there have been pansies and ranunculus for months. Some people even have a few roses blooming now. That is their last bloom of the year as right after the old year ends and before the end of February, gardeners here know to cut back their rose bushes for a great springtime bloom.

Today, the shortest day of the year, is an excellent day to plant bulbs and rhizomes. Why? I have had my tulips in the bottom crisper of the fridge since September or early October. That tricks them into thinking they are chilling underground just like in the Netherlands and Canada in the autumn. Heck, I throw all my bulbs and rhizomes in together as they are sold together. I do know that they don't all need chilling. I'm just not sure which ones benefit from chilling besides tulips, and they don't seem to mind being chilled with the tulips.

It is an emergency! If I haven't planted the bulbs by now, they must go in today! The bottom crisper is needed desperately when we are putting food in the fridge for Christmas. Dana has been chilling rum balls already. I want to make rolled cookies with the boys. The dough will have to be chilled. That doesn't even mention all of the food that we ordinarily put in the fridge and need more of when we have more people here. Also, on the weekend, we will pick up the fresh turkey. He will have to have his own fridge space. We do have a small beverage fridge (a wine chiller that accommodates many non-alcoholic beverages along with a few alcoholic ones at our home), but we essentially have only one fridge for food. Hence, out with the bulbs!

I put tulips and some unidentified small bulbs in two of my pots. Note to self. You never remember what these bulbs are even if you recognized them easily when you purchased them. Write the bulb type on the plastic bag, or tick the box provided for the purpose, even if you will feel silly at the time. I promise myself, I won't remember what they are at planting time.

Some large, also unidentified bulbs went into the ground in the front garden. Also, there were identified irises, which I knew, but wonder if I would, despite decades of gardening, if they hadn't had labels. The aging brain plays nasty memory tricks, or I should say, unmemory (my new word) tricks. I find myself hopefully reciting the alphabet, still silently. I hope I never get to the point where I am reciting it out loud, but if I do, I'm sure the other oldsters will cut me some slack, knowing they do something similar, but keep it silent.

Now I just have to keep Don from "helpfully" going out and weed-whacking off the shoots along with the invading English ivy. If you ever have a new garden to plant, please, oh please have mercy on those of us who must garden after you in that space. We are forever fighting those invaders you put in to cover the swath of dirt you wanted green as soon and as cheaply as possible. I am, however, fervently glad that nobody used that barbed and tenacious asparagus fern on this property.

And so, now, my front garden needs some careful weeding and a few more annuals to cover bare spots. With some sunny days after Christmas and before the rains come, I should be able to spruce it up. Oh, and did I mention that I did have to wait until around eleven in the morning to garden in my shirt sleeves? Hope you aren't reading in a frosy or dank climate. I'm sorry if you are. Come on down!


Monday, December 18, 2006

Getting Someone Autistic to Look at You and to Understand What is Happening

One of the things that I find exasperating about Alan's autism is that things go on under his nose, so to speak. He isn't aware of them because in RDI terms, he doesn't always reference. His referencing is improving. It will get much better when we can get him to realize that it is more fun to know what is going on.

What is RDI, you may wonder? It is a kind of therapy for people with autism. If you would like to know more about it, there is a 32 page downloadable booklet on the following Web site:

The major stumbling block presently is using imperative language. We have commanded Alan through much of his life. Do this, don't do that. For a year or so, I have been using declarative language more and more. It is still really difficult for me to declare something that will get Alan to think rather than follow a command. Neuro-typical children (NT) begin watching you, and everyone around them, as infants. They see and imitate.

We are having a "do-over" with Alan. That isn't to say that we didn't do all the usual things to get him to attach to us and be aware of the people near to him. Near to him both physically and in a relationship sense: in the immediate family, extended family and close friends. That has been a huge stumbling block for me. You see, I have been a La Leche League Leader since a couple of years after my second child was born. To be a Leader, one must have breastfed and nurtured one's child or children. Don and I certainly have striven to do that. The success of our older children and their desire to be close to us as adults lets me know that we have been "attachment parents." I felt like a failure many times when Alan's autism got between us. That is, I couldn't manage to get him to realize what was happening. We have to lead him to care. We have to be more fun that the dialog that he runs in his head. We are competing with Jib Jab and every other thing he finds interesting. Somehow we have to be more interesting. By that isn't meant only more entertaining. We also need to be so important to him that he wants to follow our lead an to know what we are up to.

We do have a consultant and there are stages to guide us so that we can sense where he lacks the precise social understanding, if you will, and engage him just at the edge of his present competence. It is a tall order. We have a long journey. At the same time, we can measure progress. He is referencing us more. We are going into a two week period where there will be much going on. Many dynamic situations will occur. We are adding Dana and Kal to the family for twelve days and Cate will be here for two and a half days also. Even though Alan is sick with a new cold, we need to all find ways to keep him with us and keep him guessing. And we also need to video so we can find out how to repair the interactions. I will also attend a parent meeting tomorrow night. These always yield new suggestions and a feeling of unity in our purpose. All of us have children with autism and desire remediation so our kids can enjoy more happy and useful lives. We are giving our children scaffolding so that they can develop relationships, have interesting work that challenges them and hopefully, to live on their own when they want to and to make their own way in the world.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Alan, The Grinch

Today at the Baxter Holiday Party, Alan played The Grinch. He wore the costume his Dad wore last year. This year, some small people who had met The Grinch last year, were looking forward to seeing him again. But this year, Don had the part of The Conductor on The Polar Express. A small train pulled by a tractor made a loop around the parking lot. Kids had to go inside the party to get a ticket. Then, he would ask each one if he or she had been good this year.

For a couple of days, I have been talking with Alan that he is to play the Grinch as he was after his heart grew. He understood. I also discussed with him some topics he could talk to the children about. He could ask them if they had been good this year. He could ask what they wanted and then he started up some of his favorite conversational openers such as "Do you have any pets?" "What is your favorite food?" and thankfully, he didn't ask any adult who he or she voted for in this past election, politics being his favorite topic of all time. So, he put on all the costume except for the head/mask and we drove down to the building. We pulled into the parking lot and he pulled on the hot mask. After chatting at the train station and having his picture taken with a couple of kids, he went inside. We lingered near the tree, but we found he couldn't be too close to Santa because at least one child didn't want to see Santa and have her photo taken if she had to also see The Grinch. One adorable little red headed girl named Amber, shrieked last year when she saw The Grinch. Later, her mom took her up to my husband's office so she could see him in costume, but without the head, so she would know that it was a person in costume. This year, Amber is a year older. She has been talking about the Grinch and seeing the Grinch, now her favorite next to Santa, all year. By playing the role of the Grinch, Alan made her dream of having her photo taken with the Grinch this year come true. Alan has the Christmas spirit, don't you think?

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Keeping In Touch During the Holidays

I love to get Christmas cards. I love even the ones that are just signed. It seems that some people still want to keep in touch, despite the fact that we have moved away from so many people. Some have a printed letter in them that describes what people have been doing this year. For some people, that is all that they can manage to do to keep in touch. I read them all. Many are here already and I have a pang that they won't get mine "on time."

My own cards are finally just about done. I have written personal notes on many of them. All of them have a photo of Don, Alan and me. I like to get photos so decided to send out one this year. It isn't the best, but it does have all three of us in it and not looking goofy. There are a few more I want to write a note on. These days, I write them in Word and make them personal, to the person or persons individually. Then I add a few words handwritten and our names. I no longer write longhand to many people. My handwriting is small. Many people either don't have their glasses with them, and thus their arms aren't long enough, for far-sighted folks, or the writing is blurry for those of us who are short-sighted. Nearly everyone I write to has glasses of some sort but often they aren't on the person's face. For those people with good eyesight, it can't be any worse to read print and I hope they understand that I can use the keyboard much faster than I can write and it is always legible.

I think I will actually add some people that I don't normally send a Christmas card to. I think that they may enjoy getting a photo of us. If not, they won't have to display it, since I won't be seeing them, and they can round file it. Don and I don't have a large circle of friends and only some relatives like to send cards. We forgive those that don't, and send one to many of them anyway. Everyone is busy, or at least they like to think of themselves as busy. Busyness may keep them from writing, but hopefully we are still in their hearts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Something for Me

All week, I am teaching Alan, taking care of the house or running errands. It is unusual to be doing something for myself besides exercising. About every six weeks, I go to see my hair stylist. This is definitely something I do for myself. He cuts my hair carefully in a style I can manage by myself. He also still colors it. This summer, I experimented with going grey. I didn't like the look and put it off for awhile with his encouragement. It does take a little while to get the color and highlights into my hair. After that, though, he washes it out and then cuts and blow dries my hair. When I am done, I feel more like me again. Tonight, I brought him a Christmas gift. He gave me a hug when I gave him the gift. Then, we chatted a bit about our respective families. It is a comfortable relationship with another parent. Of course, in this busy season, he had other customers to take care of. I spent the time reading a magazine. I leafed through some home decorating mags that I don't normally see. I read some Time magazine articles. This was welcome downtime. When I was all done, I left the shop feeling good. It must be gratifying to have a job where you make people feel good.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Getting "It" All Done

This time of year, people have short tempers when they might have saved themselves the ire if they had figured out that they would have to wait a bit. I was in the line-up at the post office on Monday afternoon. Now I know from past years that any Monday in December is going to have long lines at the post office. I asked Alan to bring a book so he had something to do. Truth be told, we were out of there in half an hour. The tension in the air from frazzled customers was obvious. This happened to me last year at a UPS store, so I know it isn't only the post office.

We also have to figure in how much patience we all have for all the stops we want to make. Today we added in a couple of stops to our usual Tuesday afternoon routine which already has a lot of driving. When it came time to leave gymnastics and get a bite to eat at Inn 'N' Out, before going on to Kohl's Department store on the way home, Alan balked. He declared that he wanted to go directly home. We did, but I was resentful. After all, I had been driving him around all afternoon. However, on reflection, sitting with dh after a catch-as-catch can supper (our term for foraging in the fridge and cupboards and coming up with sustenance enough to satisfy oneself) and reading the paper together was better than cruising through the store. Yes, I would have got some items off my list and dh had planned to go with Alan to get my gift which was on sale there, it was much better to be at home with only ruffled feathers that were soon smoothed rather than an unpleasant meal Alan didn't want and his complaints throughout the shopping trip. We will get enough gifts to give and our outlook about the season will be pleasant because we gave ourselves enough time and enough slack. Put your feet up, pour yourself a warm drink, and reflect on your blessings. I am.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Feeling Cherished

I think this is the essence of love. My husband has always made me feel cherished throughout our relationship. I hope that the main thing I have given each of our children is the feeling of being cherished. I want them to know that they are deeply loved.

Some "experts" question the empathy of persons with autism. The person may seem to be self-involved. He or she may not seem to care about others. I think that even though the person may not appear affectionate, he or she does deeply love if given love.

In the case of our son, he does seem to prefer his furry family member, his dog Pepper. Pepper gets cuddled at least twice a day, albeit on a schedule. He doesn't exclaim that he loves me as often as I would like. However, he has volunteered that he loves me without prompting. I think part of my special purpose in his life is to show him he is cherished, just as it is with my other children.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Decorating Our Christmas Tree

We could have decorated our tree earlier. However, we knew that our daughter, Cate, was coming here for her birthday. In the past, traditionally, we haven't decorated until her birthday. She seemed to enjoy doing it with us.

Don has got into getting at least two dated ornaments for every year he can. He buys them on ebay. The reason we had some holes is because when Alan was small, he decided to climb the decorated Christmas tree. Many ornaments were smashed. Don really enjoys this collection. So much so, that there isn't much room left for ornaments that are not dated. We did find some room for some of the ornaments for early trees in our own marriage and some from my parents' trees.

Cate also got into decorating the banister here. You see, when we had the long banister in Walnut, she decorated it with garlands and lights the year that Dana first brought Kal to our home for Christmas. Ever since, he has talked about "Christmas up and down the stairs." The years she has done the banister decorating, they have been beautiful.

The first year in this home, we had her birthday and Christmas among the boxes. We had so many moving boxes, we made trails through them to get from room to room. This year, we are still decorating our home. We installed a new set of drapes and valance to replace the faded drapes and bought a rug for under the dining table. This is a joint project between Don and me, with him being the one to figure out most of it.

We don't have an outdoor display, at least not yet, beyond our Christmas banner and five poinsettias plants at the door. Many of our neighbors have elaborate light displays. It is rainy tonight, so we have postponed our walk in the neighborhood until tomorrow night.

I did get Don to put some rum in egg nog and I enjoyed a seasonal drink. He is watching Miracle on 34th Street while he trolls the Internet for Christmas and birthday presents for Alan. Since Alan's birthday is still within the season (it is actually the Christmas Day for Eastern Orthodox celebrants on January 6), we need to order now.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Inn of the Seventh Ray

Last night, my husband and I went to a dinner which was put on by someone in his company. It was held at The Inn of the Seventh Ray. This is an "in" restaurant in the southern California area. It was one of those places I am glad I have been but am not wanting to go back to. If someone mentions it, I can say, "Oh, yes, I've been there."

Once a date took my daughter, Catherine, there to eat. She said she saw Dick Clark there. I imagine there are often stars who dine there because it is secluded in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu.

I can't say it was a miserable experience. However, one eats outside, and in this season, in a covered tent, under a heat lamp. The food is supposed to be spectacular. I ordered risotto as a vegetarian dish. I have never had risotto that tasted like a tomato sauce and I am not at all sure it was risotto. Also, don't order "dessert in a glass." I thought I was getting a dessert that was served in a stemware. Instead, it was an alcoholic beverage and I had already stopped drinking my second glass of a lovely chardonnay because I didn't want to get tipsy. I left it on the table. We were off in a corner in a large group, so we had no opportunity to gawk and see if anyone famous was also there.

For my part, if one wants a memorable place to dine in southern California, find a restaurant which is beside the Pacific Ocean and with a huge picture window. Get a table where you can see the view. I never care what I am served there. I always love to watch the ocean and often see dolphins and seals to keep me amused, along with the pelicans and sea gulls. And don't eat outdoors and have to pretend that you feel warm enough. It is hard to be cheerful when feeling chilled.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Small Joys

I've been thinking lately about little things that give me pleasure. They certainly help me be more positive in my outlook in general.

One of the things that gives me a small thrill is painting my nails. For years, I have not had fingernails to paint. I was a nail biter until a couple of years ago. I paint my fingernails with clear polish now because I am still learning how to give myself a manicure. I can't seem to get all 10 of my fingernails looking good at the same time. I am going to pick up some Sally Hanson red polish to paint my toenails for the holidays. I read recently that Sally Hanson has taken a bunch of nasty chemicals out of their entire line. Every time I glance down when my feet are bare, I will grin.

Another little thrill this time of year is singing along to Christmas carols and winter songs. I don't have a "good" voice like Tammy, one of my on-line friends. She is lucky that she and her two kids all can sing and be in local productions and church programs. For those of us who sing flat, it is best if we sing at home. Nobody cares, though, in my own home, if I sing along, so I do. Alan likes to put carols on at lunch time and nearly every day he remembers we listen and I sing.

I own a few pieces of nice jewelry. This time of year, there is more opportunity to wear sparkly things. I like to get them out and wear them. I could use some more costume jewelry earrings, too. I find that they get lost more than I would like.

All the cards that have started to arrive are fun to look over, especially the ones with notes on them. For a change, I ordered some this year with our photo on them. They will be later than I like going out, but I am hoping that having the photo and the notes I will write, will brighten some people's day.

I will be looking for ideas from other moms who are busy this time of year to see what they suggest helps them have some fun during their day.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Our Almost Fifteen Year Old Son Learns to Shave

Night before last, Don told Alan he was going to teach him how to shave because Alan wanted to remove the scraggly mustache he had grown. Alan owns an electric razor and had tried it out but without success. Don said that the electric razor couldn't handle the "peach fuzz."

Here is how just a small bit of the dialog went between Don and Alan:

"Dad, I don't want shaving cream. I don't want it. I don't want shaving cream."

"Alan, come here. I'll just use water."

"Dad, I don't want a razor. A sharp razor. I don't want it."

"Alan, you will have a beard growing down to your knees."

"I don't want a beard. I don't want shaving cream. I don't want a razor."
"I have a tough decision to make. A beard down to my knees or a sharp razor." "OK, I'll do it."

Patient Dad sliced off the few hairs after patting a dab of shaving cream above Alan's lip. Dad says that next time he will get Alan to do the shaving now that he has accepted the shaving cream and razor.

Alan likes how he looks now. Each new process takes much protesting. However, he is able to reason out what he wants and doesn't want and what he will put up with.


Spectacular Fall Colors
Most people associate fall colors with mountainous terrain in the west or the northeast of the continent. For most people, this year's fall leaf-peeping is over. Most people do not think of southern California having a marvelous show of fall leaves. This December, however, we do have a remarkable display on the deciduous trees.
To be sure, with all the wind, some trees are nearly bare with their branches and twigs outlining the sky when I look through them. They are mute until the leaf buds of early spring.
There are a couple of reasons, I think, why this late fall's display is so good. One is that we are experiencing a lack of humidity that is similar to that of Death Valley or Antarctica according to the meteorologist I heard yesterday on NPR. There isn't the rain of the past two seasons to dampen the leaves, making them sodden, nor to drive them off the trees. Another is that there is so much contrast. That is, without any haze due to the last week's scrubbing from the high winds, the topaz blue of the sky is a vivid backdrop for the bright yellows, flame oranges and deep crimsons. All along the street below us, the trees are a delight. I have to drive in and out of our neighborhood about six times each day. Every time today, I have drawn in my breath when I gaped at the trees. Some are almost all yellow. Some are mixed with green and brown. Some are all orange and red. Most of these trees are poplar or sycamore or liquid amber trees. I don't begin to identify all of them. I just enjoy them. Nature's canvas is glorious.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Got A Minute?

Some days, I hardly get a moment to breathe. Tonight, we started off well. Don and I read the paper together after dinner. Then I cleared the table and started the dishwasher because he had made dinner while Alan and I were out at Alan's gymnastics class. Next, Don started to assemble a set of shelves he had ordered and waited a long time for. They required me to help measure and help hold them as they were difficult to get on the screws just right.

I got a couple of phone calls. One was a call that is trying to get me to buy long term care insurance. I asked her to send me something in the mail. One can't get long term care insurance with certain pre-existing conditions, she said. I don't have any but given my age, I need to take a serious look at this.

I answered some e-mail before I sat down to blog. It is true that that is a little bit of me time. It didn't seem like much though.

I started the washer and dryer after dinner also, and just when I sat down to blog, the dryer beeped. I always go and empty it immediately when it has Don's work shirts in it. I am afraid I yelled when I couldn't find him to hang up his shirts that I was carrying upstairs. Once he was free, he did come and help fold towels and take a few of his items to put away. Then I had to go with Alan to brush our teeth. Since he got a dismal report on dental hygiene, I have been brushing and flossing simultaneously with him each evening. It is one more thing I have to do with him. Most days, I don't mind. Tonight, I felt harried.

Oh, well, tomorrow is another day and I hope to do better. I need to carve out half an hour in the evening if I can to do something I want to do and design it so I won't have the dryer interrupting or some other household task. I also think that I will do better when I can catch up on my sleep now that the wind that has been waking me in the night seems to be calming down. I learned today that the Santa Ana winds that blow from the desert to the sea and drive wildfires are worst in December. Last year, it rained before Christmas. This year, we have had air that is as dry as in Death Valley or Antarctica according to the meterologist I heard on NPR today. Those winds are enough to make anyone cranky.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dancing in the Dining Room
Yesterday, dh was hanging a new valance in the dining room. We have ordered new drapes but they have not arrived. He had to put up a new rod anyway for the valance, so he hung it. I was there holding things in my accustomed role. He sent me to get the measuring tape once. Mostly, I held things such as the rod while he put the valance onto it and also when he was actually installing the rod. Once, I found the mislaid plastic end to the valance under the table runner. Now the valance is in place and I think it looks grand. We decided to return the scarf as it would be overpowering in the smallish room. I think we agreed that the choice of pattern was a good one to go with the new rug under the dining table. All this made me feel pretty good.
There was one thing that made me feel especially happy that had nothing to do with the project. There was music on the stereo from "our time." Our first dates were dances at university. We went to many back then. Once we left university, though, dances have been few. Most of them have been at company functions with music that was so loud neither of us could enjoy it, along with many other couples having to decide between dancing or intact ear drums. This time, the music was at home and at a chosen volume. As we were finishing up, dh took a dancing stance and drew me to him. We danced together for the first time in a long time. I have always enjoyed dancing with him.


Sunday, December 03, 2006


There seems to be a disconnect between men and women's perception of violence. I hate, hate, hate being subjected to violence, especially at night and especially if it is something that actually could happen. I have nightmares. My husband knows this fact. He continues to watch World War II replayed endlessly. Fortunately, he watches that in his den where I don't have to hear it.

Last night, there was a t. v. show on that discussed some high school students murdering their teacher. He was trying to teach me how to use our new TIVO. He didn't get that off fast enough and I left. Tonight, we tried again. I wanted to tape MythBusters but we realized we had seen that particular program. Next, he decided he wanted to delete a show. "We want to delete this," he said. So, again, I was subjected to the very same headline about the kids murdering their teacher. I yelled. I had had it. I left.

One of my e-pals says her husband wants to record and watch endless Gunsmoke episodes. Ones he has likely seen before. She doesn't want to hear them. He does want her company at other times but he doesn't realize that this is driving a wedge.

My sister remarked that her husband watches the same kind of shows relentlessly. I don't know how she manages when they are staying in their RV without a separate bedroom. This new one has only a curtain between the bedroom and the main living area. Hopefully, he has headphones.

These are fellows who love their wives, all three. Why, oh, why don't they see that these kinds of visual images and the sounds that go with them are driving us away, making us disgusted and therefore not wanting to be affectionate with them?


Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Season to Make Something

I am finally in the mood. It is December now. I can get busy and make things I don't make the rest of the year. One thing I want to do is to bake. Most of the year nowadays, I don't bake. I get too many calories in that way. But it is Christmastime. I can make things to give away. I found a recipe called charleston cherry bars in Family Circle Magazine I want to try. It sounds delicious and I can pack the bars up to give away.

Now that Alan is doing stage 3 of RDI, we are supposed to be doing some things where we take turns and some things where we do things simultaneously. There are quite a few recipes I can think of to practice those skills.

I'm not normally a crafty person. Now and then, though, I get a yen to try something. I am on the lookout for simple things to make. Things that we can do together. If you have any bright ideas, please give them to me.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Not A Technophobe
I am not a technophobe. I do try to learn new systems and enjoy the many advantages that they have. It does throw me off when I try something like posting to my blog and I get something like this message: scheduled outage at 3 p. m. PST. It is long after that time. It seems to me that it should have been taken care of by now. I type on, or should I say, keyboard on, and hope that this will eventually be published.
I switched to the beta version of blogger somewhat after the time that I was first asked to do so. I had one username and then I was told to enter an existing e-mail address for myself and it would be my new username. But it doesn't work. I can only post if I first type in my old username and then up comes the e-mail address username and asks me to please log in using it. I sent an e-mail to the help desk and got back the request to use my e-mail address. The person obviously didn't read what it was that made the problem. I can't type in my e-mail address and post because I get back the message that there is no account for that e-mail address. But there is. When I type in my old username, the e-mail address comes up in the username blank. So I think the job of switching me over to my e-mail address was only half done. I don't imagine it was a human that made the error. However, it likely takes a human to fix it. I hope I don't lose my blog by losing access to it. I don't know how to fix it other than writing again to the help desk, repeating my problem, and asking for help. If you have any idea how else to address this problem, please e-mail me. Thanks. I really do try to learn how to use this blog and all kinds of other items that seem to be more and more complex. Unfurrow my brow! Help me out here. Is anyone else experiencing this problem?
BTW, what has become of the ability to center the title of the blog? That has disappeared, too.