December 28, 2015

Charitable Giving, 1928

I can't recall whether I've shared this in the past, but I always think of it as the year draws to a close.

You think today's solicitation letters are bold? Try this one on for size:

December 22, 2015

December 2000

Fifteen years ago, Pop died on the morning of the 22nd. So on this day every year I reflect on that day and wonder how I can put a few words together about the day and move past it.

So here it is.

We had a home death. It's like a home birth only there is a *lot* less information about death. In 2000 my mom didn't have a computer and what would have been out there to read up on would have been paltry. So that night it was me, Pop, middlesis and a pamphlet from Hospice.

I slept on the sofa. Sis slept on the floor next to Pop's hospital bed. His breathing was terrible. Occasionally we'd call some hospice hotline and ask what to do. They told us we'd know.

It was nerve-wracking, so as soon as there was a speck of light we turned the tv on to TCM and started watching Carmen Miranda in The Gang's All Here. I wish Pop had been conscious. He would have enjoyed it. Not long after, others in the house awoke and joined us. Someone made coffee. The credits for Hitchcock's Family Plot began to roll, and that's when he started to die. I held his hand and looked into his eyes, thinking that I'd never fully appreciated how beautiful they were, and then he ceased to be. That was kinda it. I remember saying "Can somebody mute? Pop's dying!" Of course I still regret that.

Someone went to get Mom out of the shower and she was wrapped in a towel when she saw him. She was relieved, I'm sure, since he'd been in poor health and battling with her for about a year. She chuckled wistfully about the "spite mustache" he'd grown in his final weeks. It was funny to see him in his bed, all tucked in cozy, dead, and with a mustache that comprised a completely new look. 

We left Mom with him for a while, and then each of us took turns being in the room  while others ate breakfast and got ready for the day. Eventually it was lunch time. We all made trays and joined Pop in the family room for a lunch of chili and cheezits and champagne. It seemed natural, and was quite jolly. Nobody really knew what to do next, so Mom gave us a hundred bucks and sent us off to Goodwill. Yes, we went shopping to take the edge off. Someone stayed with Pop.

Our bro finally arrived from his house far away and got to say his goodbyes. Then I went outside to tell the bees, which Pop had asked me to do.

On the 21st and 22nd every year I think of our sweet Pop. Sometimes I would lay down on the carpet in the exact spot where he died in order to think of him. The house is gone and I can't do that any longer, but I can probably find some Carmen Miranda today.

December 13, 2015

Sherman's March of Kitchens

Like the people of the South I just want this to be over?

Well we're getting close.

Fresh food was put in place yesterday, and the frozen foods tribunal was held this afternoon. Some extras of things are going to go downstairs with the old fridge. Why am I the keeper of the family decaf that nobody seems to drink on vacation? Genius items (the extra Mussaman curry sauce from the Thai restaurant) stay upstairs. Frequently used items (I know a boy who loves frozen peas!) also stay upstairs. Those few filets of anchovy and tablespoons of tomato paste that I need infrequently but will lose my MIND if I can't find when I need them stay upstairs.

The result is a pretty remarkable fridge. No more rootling around half-bent looking for a beer or soda. No more invisible veggies crammed into bins that can barely hold them. Everything is visible. My potatoes appear to be free-falling in space. 


December 12, 2015

Dequadin Is Saving My Ass

A few weeks ago, while Mom was at my sister's for the weekend, I cleaned the bathroom drawers and brought chaos into quietude. One item up for tribunal was this tube of Dequadin, a throat analgesic. I decided to keep it. 

And today I am a very happy girl. I caught that throat thing that's going around, and my throat is so very raw. Thank you, Dequadin.

I couldn't figure out where it came from, but there were some Chinese-looking characters on the tube. Turns out that it came from Singapore, which makes total sense. I have rarely been as sick as I was there. And when you're working sick, you just get some local stuff to take and just tough it out. I never need to go back there, by the way.

I had no preconceived notions going to Singapore. There were things that I thought I could like about it, but after the first few days I found this sinister vibe that I couldn't quite shake. Despite the ban on gum on the streets there were malls I went to where there were bloody red splats of Betelnut juice everywhere. Men followed my friend and I down the street and catcalled us in the night, which was made all the more scary by the fact that taxis didn't seem to stop for Westerners. For real. Occasionally one would roll past and apologize for not being able to stop for us. Quite eye-opening.

Over the next few days my health declined. Must have picked up a bug. And when my neti pot finally removed a multicolored clog I realized that I had an outrageous sinus infection. Ewwww. 

On the way to work the last day in Singapore I stopped by our hotel's concierge desk to ask what I should do about seeing a doctor. It would cost $300 to have a doctor come to the hotel. Or I could go to the doctor at the mall. Our tour host had given an alternate suggestion --  that I go to the doctor at the hawker's market across from the museum. The same grubby hawker's market whose food stalls made food out of the frogs and turtles that bobbed about unhappily in Rubbermaid tubs until they met their gruesome ends. Admittedly, I did eat things that came from those stalls and they were DELICIOUS, but they were vegetable-based.

I had all of this to consider while I finished my last morning of condition reporting. Released from my duties at half-day, I had two desires: to go to the used goods store at the hawker's market, and to go to the doctor. I voted for the one at the mall. The thrift store was worse than it looked from the outside. Half vials of 1970s cologne, old American popcorn poppers, some cheesy new Dollar Store kinda housewares. I was determined to buy something, so I looked hard. Over my shoulder I saw a sign that gave the price for records. Whaaaaat? Holy Grail. Singles were 50 cents apiece!

On our first evening in Singapore I had gone to a museum exhibition that explored the year 1960 in Singapore. 1960 was the year that the various constituents who were embroiled in civil war decided to hang it all up and wage peace. In one display there was a gorgeous display of 45rpm picture sleeves and music clips playing. The music was amazing. I had looked for record stores that week but came up empty-handed. At the thrift store, however,  there were easily three linear feet of these things lined up. All super thrashed, but I had to have them. I came home with at least 20 singles, picked entirely for their covers.

I took my 45s to the mall, and found the doctor's office. She was amazing. Had seen the forklift exhibition. Asked great questions about the scientific aspects of forklifts. I explained my malady and she fixed me right up, with Western medicine (thank you!) and a special consideration for the fact that I was going to be on a plane in less than 24 hours.

I went into the mall, found food that could sustain me overnight, came back to the hotel, ordered a taxi for the next morning, packed my bag, put out my clothes, set the alarm and went to bed. I spent the afternoon in bed looking up my 45s on Youtube (a lot of them had been digitized) and realized the tremendous payoff for getting these records. If you ever see a Stylers record, fork over whatever you need to. It will not let you down. Imagine if The Ventures or The Shadows came from Singapore. They made 1000 recordings, some instrumental and some with vocalists.

Does the Dequadin make it sound better? Perhaps!

December 7, 2015


He's my special friend. I found him on the free pile at work. And on days where my sisters are feuding, my mom and her caregiver are beefing, the credit card has gone missing and there is not enough clarity in the world, I'm grateful for my man, my kitties, grey days in our big brown box on the hill, and my ugly friend.

December 4, 2015

December Is Lump Month

No really. Apparently our vet thinks we have lumpy animals.

And in construction news, the backsplash happens next week, and things are looking much more kitcheny.

Grey grout to match the floor. Looks nice with the countertop. I'm coming to like the color.

Handles happened.
 Loving my new cabinets. Can't wait to play with our fridge. It might have an IP. Should we worry about hackers?
Every night I come home and mrguy and I play "kitchen".  I think that people are going to think nothing has changed because the cabinets and pulls are much like our old kitchen at the other house, but I swear this is going to be so much better than our current old kitchen. To review:

November 27, 2015


Based on the success of her previous work "This Is Not A Bill", the little cat has produced another piece in the series we call "Toothings".

Here is the artist at work:

And her latest project, called "Mediana":

November 15, 2015

An Afternoon Drive

Last Sunday was almost perfect.

First, a reunion with the Real Housewives of [that restaurant where we used to work]. I love them. It's like a huge affirmation when we are together. 20 years ago we spent our Sundays together, working like dogs and covered in pancake batter. Now we're in hugely different places in our lives.

We rotate locations for our get-togethers, and last week's was on the top of the hill. Our host now lives in the former home of the vice president of the local Hell's Angels club. When she and her ex bought the place they found 10 phone jacks in the attic (for the bookmaking) and a coffin. It's now returned to what it once was, a sweet house on a hill with spectacular views.

After our togetherness, I had 4 hours to burn before catching mrguy's improv show. I did a little sentimental tour.

First to visit my grandparents. I have always loved this place. I used to take special trips out here with my mom. We'd clip camellias from the yard and bring them up to fill their urns. They used to pipe organ music into the rooms. Super tremelo-filled music. It really enhanced the otherworldly atmosphere.

And the interiors are super schmancy. Check out this grill work:

My grandparents are here, to the right, at shoe-level. They're in a room with a lot of their friends. I guess all the kids were doing it. 

Because of the drawer situation I always wonder what she and my grandfather are wearing, although I imagine she's not wearing anything. Her husband wouldn't release her for burial, said "Let her rot!!" and my parents had to bribe someone in the city coroner's office to get her back. I do not think of those things when I am here, only of happy times with my mother, peace and of being surrounded by beauty.

I was the last person there, so when they closed up I went to the beach to see the sunset.

And then I drove around town futilely looking for a place to eat that you could get to on a Saturday night. Kind of a drag (cause I was super hungry), and kind of awesome just driving around and listening to NPR for a few hours.


Tools Of The Trade

November 14, 2015

Signs Point To Yes, Again

Oh Man, I love this sign! Mrguy and I used to pass it all the time when we lived in the old old place, and we'd talk about how some day we wanted to own it. The sign, not the bar. Today, on my birthday (observed) with bigsis, we drove past and I was determined to at least photograph the sign. As luck would have it, the bar is now for sale, and I have written to the realtor to ask whether the owners have plans for the sign.

The reason I ask is that not too far away, many many years ago, I was getting cheap tires put on my car. While I waited, workers were disassembling an amazing sign I'd admired. I asked them if there were plans for the sign, and they told me that their boss had not told them what to do with the sign beyond taking it out of the frame. They went to a pay phone and called their boss to ask, leaving a message. Then he called me (at my apartment 30 minutes away). I returned home, got the happy message that the sign was all mine, and drove 30 minutes back up the freeway to get the very large sign (2 of them, actually) into my Barracuda. I've been a happy gal ever since.

I'm looking for a photo of the SnackBar sign, but can't find one at the moment. The sign is stored (somewhere) awaiting reinstall after the kitchen remodel is complete.

November 13, 2015

147 Bloodless Days

And then there was Tuesday. Do I start the count over? How do people do this stuff?

I thought I was in the clear -- making it into menopause without the starts and stops. Now I'm bleeding and unbelievably cranky.

I have a great life. I am so lucky. It's not right to be so grumpy.

But I am.

October 26, 2015

New Adventures In The Night

Last night I dreamed that I was checking out of my hotel room but forgot to pack up my other hotel room, which contained Pete Rose's cake dome (which looked something like this):

Pete had a whole bunch of other stuff that I was somehow responsible for that I'd forgotten to box up, all of it bulky.

October 18, 2015

Kitchen 2015 Updates

We are several weeks into this remodel, and it's going very very slowly. For way too long the room that was once our tiny kitchen has just been a dark, grubby hole behind a sheet of viscuine, and the progress that has been made is the invisible kind (electrical, insulation). We don't even have a front window -- just a sheet of plywood that they remove every day to move supplies in and out through.

This week we finally saw movement. Walls arrived on Friday. That makes me feel better.

Anyhoo, on Friday we went out to see Waipuna. They were fabulous and hilarious and inspiring as always. When I see them I want to dig deeper into Hawaiian music and culture. And the audience at this venue draws friends we don't usually get to see and new friends that we make there. Love this venue. Went home happy.

So we're driving home and I really have to go. So much so that 5 miles from the house I have my purse in my lap and my keys in my hand. As we drive up to the house mrguy says "Go ahead!" I get up to the front door, try the key and the lock's acting funny. Maybe I had too much beer? "I can't get it to go -- mrguy, try your key!" Yeahno. His isn't working, either. We'd let the drywall guys lock up themselves, and it seems that they made some adjustments to the lock. We had to figure out how to get in by other means. First we had to clear our heads by clearing our bladders.

The last time I urinated in public was in 1985 under the High St. overpass. My boyfriend's stupid old car had a shimmy in the frame and, rounding the curve on the exit, the frame of the car pinched the brake cable, permanently throwing the brake and stranding it across the two lanes of traffic. He didn't have a AAA membership and neither did I. The stranded motorist plan I had via my parents was the ever-so-budget National Auto Association. It was like the Discover Card of tow services. You know you have it but you don't know who takes it and people laugh when you suggest that you use it. I called for help (after walking a mile in my Deliso pumps to find a phone booth in a seriously skeevy industrial neighborhood in the dark). Help did not arrive for several hours during which I really had to go. Didn't help that we were going to a concert and I was wearing a leotard, tights, a dress and pumps. Back at our underpass I had to practically get 100% undressed behind a concrete pole in order to take a whiz.

Similarly, on Friday there were not other bathroom options. But the hilltop that gives us great views also gives the neighbors a good view of us. Not like they were sitting in their windows waiting for me to doff my pants, but I felt a little shy. I ended up taking a plastic bucket into the breezeway in our backyard and peed my little heart out. Much better!

At nearly midnight it's not easy to find a locksmith. While I called around, mrguy seized upon a plan -- the window. He found a screwdriver in his car, took the plywood off the kitchen window and vaulted himself into the kitchen. My hero!

No moral, here. Another kitchenless day begins. I let the little cat start the first round of dishwashing, followed by a good scrub in the half bath.

October 4, 2015

The Week In Sports

Things are winding down, due to a few local events:

Monday: played a mid-day gig for museum volunteers. Never been thanked so profusely in my life.

Followed by a true success: the pill hotel is all green for the first time. This year I bought my mom a pill organizer that allows a person to set up the pills for each day of the month, with partitions for four different times of day. When it's full, you put the green side up. When it's empty or not quite complete, you put the red side up, indicating that the pills are not there or not ready to take. For the first time this year the whole month is green. It's the little things that make me feel great sometimes. I spend an hour a week doing Mom's pills on Mondays, so I sleep well knowing that the pills are full.

Wednesday: on-camera tour of the archives for Chinese television. Walk into frame and say something about Archives? I guess I can do that. Not exactly what I learned in library school, but it's kinda fun.

Also Wednesday: Mom's house officially sold. The money is in the bank.

Thursday and Friday: Archives tours for 100 members of the press, in groups of 25. Followed by end-of-the-day ART EMERGENCIES, which are the purpose for which I'm really paid. I feel like I earned that pay last week, despite sneaking off to play a gig and take my mom to the surgeon.

Now that that's all behind me, I look forward to getting back to business and fewer meetings. 

Back to work, Cog!

September 21, 2015

Eldridge Cleaver

Nowhere in the Wikipedia entry for Eldridge Cleaver does it say that he liked a Denver omelet with two English muffins, well done.

That's the kind of essential information readers of mrsguy come to expect ;)

September 20, 2015


This weekend was the auction of family items that we consigned to a local auction house.

Unfortunately, nobody is paying much more than the minimum for anything on sale. Mom and her caregiver and I went over there to see it in action, which was fun. And if you're inclined to find it depressing to watch your precious family items being sold for a pittance, it is. But the backstory on this one was lengthy.

We contacted an estate appraiser to come look at the household contents. He said he thought that we should do an auction instead. We had an appraisal of the Asian art from the 1990s that valued just that portion at $82,000.

My regular auction house came to visit and said that the take was going to be more like $10,000. I called middleguy sis and she didn't want to sell it if it wasn't going to sell for that much because she loves the Asian art.

The auction house only wanted the bother of the rest of our items if we included the Asian art.

This left me in a position of having many many many items, including large pieces of furniture, to move out of the house. This, after having spent weeks moving and making decisions on stuff in the house during the hottest summer on record. Oh yeah. Plus menopause and dealing with my sweet mama who needed me. Work? That, too.

Middleguysis asked the nephews if they wanted our jade panels (a prized family item), and they did. This didn't really help, but added another task (meeting them at the house to move the panels).

I offered the auction house some of the jade items, including one that Mom had given me, in order to entice them to take anything. I held back things that we really really like. They were satisfied, and came and took the whole thing -- some fancy furniture, some Asian artwork, some hideous porcelain items. And now, on the weekend of the auction, those things are selling for just about nothing. But almost *nothing* is selling for more than the opening bid. Not sure what it is -- the heat wave, the Chinese economy...I am not taking it personally. And what were we going to do? Keep it all as a museum to our youth?

On the upside, I checked my phone just in time to see in real time that the bizarre shipwreck painting that I'm obsessed with had no bids. I am now the owner of a large 19th Century of a shipwreck. For $100 bucks. mrguy thinks it's cool. Can't wait to pick it up.

First, my last trip to the house. With the mammoo, her caregiver and mrguy.

September 6, 2015

Kitchen Remodel 2015

Now that things have settled down for a week, I can spend a teensy bit of time in the kitchen. My inspiration is Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which I found in a box on the street outside the mamoo's new place. It was clearly someone's go-to for several years, because it's bookmarked, oily, and filled with weird ephemera. 

The recipes are really "of their time" (kind of like the Silver Palate Cookbook) but somehow timeless as well. Today, I'm making a composed salad with Green Goddess dressing, which turned out amazing.

I found myself reading the cookbook on the way to find tile for our new kitchen. We have the cabinets picked out (kinda like our old Ikea kitchen but custom), the floor (green slate, which reminds us of vacations on the coast) and we had to find tile for the backsplash. We looked other places but found our way to Gate 5 Rd. as we did before. 

This time we're buying cheaper tile but found something in stock that we like. Primarily, mrguy likes it. If he's happy, I'm happy. We each have our thing: I get my stove with no vent overhead, and he gets a crazily bourgeois refrigerator.

People wonder why we're remodeling. The kitchen is pretty. But there are drawers that fall off their rails when I use them, and a piece of the fancy stove falls on the ground every time I'm near it. The previous owners didn't bother to bolt the dishwasher to the floor, so until we did it would fall forward every time you opened it. The outlet under the sink, which would be illegal anyway, is just duct-taped to the wall. Then there's this:

When the cats are being pursued by other cats, they throw open the cupboard and take refuge behind the pots. It cracks me up but it isn't sanitary. In the new kitchen, no cats in cabinets.

September 5, 2015

This Is Not A Bill

The littlest cat is an artist, creating abstract works in the medium we know as "paper that is left on the dining room table". She prefers light card, and daily produces work that is, individually, about 2cm square.

This morning, working in plain paper, she created new works of greater size and complexity than usual. I have titled this one This Is Not A Bill.

It was a site-specific work, but I moved it to the kitchen for documentation purposes.

September 3, 2015

Crazy Dreams

Last night I dreamed that a house on my mom's block back home was a fish store. I went there to try to get food for my pet seahorse.

Hijinks ensued. 

There was taxidermy (not of a seahorse, but of a giant deer) and I made a lot of money from that endeavor.

August 29, 2015

Open House

Good luck today, little house!

Rock Shopping

For the last year, I've been thinking about what I wanted from the mammoo's house. I had strong feelings, and I had dustups with my siblings, they had dustups with each other, all about stuff. You think you'll never have hard feelings about anything, and then you do. Boo!

After living with all of my mom's stuff and moving much of it to our garage, thinking about it, working with auction houses, tossing lots of it out...the closer I got to owning some of this stuff the less I wanted it. Even the stuff I was really attached to.

And our garage is now the baleen of the guy family. There are items (some large) that I'm holding onto until people can pick them up. There is all the good china and crystal that will live here while we continue to host Christmas. There are linens that I brought over so we can sort and iron and divvy them up.

But this is what I really wanted and put aside: Pop's crowbar, the lucky horseshoe from over the garage door, granny's fancy hangers, and all my mom's rocks. Back in the day, when Pet Rocks were the rage, my mom wouldn't buy me one. It was, after all, a rock. We had rocks and I could choose one. So I did, and I named it Camilla after Camilla Hall, a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. If you grew up where and when I did, you were likely to be obsessed with the SLA. Eventually I returned Camilla (the rock) to her native environment in the suburbs.

She was the first rock I took from our house. Now she's hanging out on the front porch:

And last week I liberated most of the rest of the mammoo's fine rocks. She, her caregiver and I took a road trip and looked at our empty house. The painters were still finishing up. Mom puttered around and I dug up rocks. I warned the ladies that they'd have some rocks at their feet on the ride home, because I needed to spread out the load.

Then I drove a different way home, because the road to our house is so steep that on a good day I have to pull my weenie car over to let others pass.

Here's the haul:

And here they are around the lemon tree. When I look down from the kitchen den I can see this little piece of home.

August 20, 2015

Bucket List

If I had thought hard enough, this would have been on my bucket list. 

They say money can't buy happiness, but this was one of my best fifty bucks ever.

August 9, 2015


I will miss this tile, on the tread from the living room to the entryway:

You love your Grandma? You love Asian art? You love waffles?

I sent an email with that subject line to oldest and youngest nephews, who were on their way to being the new owners of antique lacquer panels with semi-precious stone inlay. Their payment? Some labor, as well as removal of frozen items from the domicile.

First the labor. Their task, should they love the grandma and waffles, was to remove the solid oak desk from the office. I have lived in terror of this moment from the time the desk entered the office, because my pop had said that it could only leave in halves. Youngest neph brought his Sawzall. 
But the local garbage folks' "bulky item pickup" rules consider two halves of a once whole desk to be *two* bulky items, so mrguy vetoed that plan. And given that mrguy's other name is pack-man, he and two nephs were able to get the desk into the patio without a hitch.

Then came Operation Empty The Office. Out went some cool weird furniture and some future landfill.

Then came Operation Empty Freezer. Despite the removal of 28 frozen bananas (and the 8 or so my brother-in-law also found), the chest freezer was really full. Cream puffs, frozen waffles, meat, milk, butter, lots of plums from the tree (so happy). And yes, 5 more frozen bananas. I knew someone would forget a cooler, and a styrofoam cooler appeared on the free table at work this week. Kismet. I filled it with meat.

The vegetarian nephew got the cream puffs. The non-vegetarian got all of the meat and the ancestral bait (two kinds). The estranged nephew gets bupkis (no art, no bait, no love) and his brother gets the admonition that none of what he's taking can go to his brother. Sadly the vegetarian is undeserving of having to pass on this message, but that's how it is.

While I was cleaning out the fridge, Coco came to visit. I'm sure that I've said this before but I'm not sure I could have gotten through this final stretch at mom's house without the affection of sweet Cocodee, who appears in the middle of the house at the most random times. If you're her parents, doing a Google search on your cat's name, I apologize for monopolizing her time during this spring and summer.

The boys got their art and sent another neph, his wife and our grand-nephews, who arrived a few hours later. That neph walked away with a chest of drawers, some Indian wool rugs, the pop's old fishing kit with real tin cups and stuff, and on a later date mrguy will deliver the jade panels that didn't fit in the truck.

I emptied the toy drawer of its mix of late 60's (mine) and early 80's (the nephs') toys. 

And that was almost the end of it. The garage is filled with garbage bags, the garage cabinets are empty, most of the furniture is out of the house, and our entire mr and mrs guy garage is filled with the things from the house that the greater guy family cares about.


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