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OUR MOTHERS


“PERSEVERENCE” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Just as the tiny tree in this painting struggles through rocky soil to reach its independence and achieve its potential, we too struggled to loose the loving bonds of our mothers.

We spread our wings and announced to the world at large “Look! We have listened; we have learned; we can survive”

We have been blessed, and we are grateful.

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SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION


“#number 007” kayti sweetland rasmussen

Wouldn’t you know it? I thought the leg surgery last year was the cat’s meow, and would enable me to reengage in all sorts of former activities. Though it was apparently successful, things gradually went wrong during the year and it seemed we were back to square one.

It’s amazing the things the medical profession keeps learning. They soon discovered that the new vein wasn’t as good as they thought and was blocked again in a different place.

I went in for a procedure last week for angioplasty where they were able to open it once more. They don’t call these things “surgery” anymore” as procedure sounds much better.

The group in the radiology room were in high spirits. They had all attended the “Commi-Con” affair in San Jose where people buy, sell and trade comic books. I believe it was started some time ago by Steve Wozniak, the genius who will Steve Jobs, created Apple. I could be wong of course, but I do KNOW for a fact that Wozniak is the sort of person who would do this. During the procedure I asked one of the techs how large his collection was. He said “It depends on how large you think large is. Mine is 21,000 books. The other great conversation was devoted to the rattlesnake bit someone got the day before on top of Mission Peak when putting his hand beside the rock he was sitting on. Naturally the rattlesnake shook hands with him and a helicopter was called to haul him down to civilization. I know for a fact that he was on top of the peak, because I’ve hiked there, and that is where rocks large enough to sit upon are located. Last time I was there an illusive tiny blue butterfly was sunning itself.

Now surely this takes all your concentration away from what is happening to your body, along with the melody playing on the tape, which happened to be “A Horse With No Name”. I’ve always liked that song, though I can’t recall all the words or who did it.

Right after arriving home however, I discovered a large painful area around my middle which was black and blue. Turned out it was a “hematoma” and when I reported it, they sent me immediately to the emergency room where I lounged around in great comfort all day—from noon till eight o’clock, taking cat scans et al and they finally determined that it is resolving itself, so go home with no more worries.

The emergency room is an interesting place. It was Sunday when most people should be out enjoying the sunshine, but there were so many, lying in beds out in the halls, walking around wearing the cool robes which open in the back, visiting, etc. and of course, some who were really sick in the cubicles divided by curtains which can be closed for privacy. A few doctors trying to divide themselves up into many, and many nurses moving from place to place. A busy place indeed.

From the cot that you are placed on after dressing in one of the cool robes, they send you to various places for tests, in my case the room containing the huge cat scan machine. It takes quite awhile after the doctor determines the best way to go, for someone to wheel you down dimly lighted halls, which are vacant on a Sunday. After finding my self parked alongside a lonely wall I was reminded of a favorite trick in the auto repair business of giving someone a “wall job”; by parking your car alongside a wall to take a turn which may take a long while to accomplish.

After my wall job they completed a scan and wheeled me back to my cubicle. We had arrived at noon at the advice of 2 of my doctors, and by now it was mid afternoon with no apparent food or drink in sight. However the woman in the next cubicle was being fed spaghetti and meat sauce which smelled delicious to my hungry self. I plaintively begged for a little snack, but they said no food in case you need surgery. I went to sleep to forget the whole thing, and the young doctor came and said they were going to do another scan. Naturally I asked what they had seen that made them think they needed another one. He seemed surprised that I should ask, but I calmly explained that if I were making a dish of food or baking a cake and it didn’t turn out right that I would have to do it again. My cynical thought was CYA which as you may know means “protect yourself in case something goes wrong”. The carpentry and sewing businesses also have a saying: “measure twice, cut once”.

It was, all in all, an enlightening day, showing the dedication of so many in the medical profession, giving immediate care to so many unfortunates. On the other hand, I think if I were a doctor, the emergency room would be a never ending source of interest.

And a note to Mr. Trump, we are getting the same good care as we have had with Obamacare, so he doesn’t need to worry about us.

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ANYONE WOULD KNOW


NUMBER 004, watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Well, it’s apparent that we all see things differently.

Many of you readers know that I am a retired sculptor, art teacher, who also painted for most of my long life. I have never been a landscape painter, nor has the sight of a perfect hillside set my fingers a-twitter to paint it. On the other hand, the tilt of a head in the sunshine, or the eager excitement in a child’s eyes made me rush for a paint brush.

Now that the passing years have diminished my eyesight, I again have the urge, but no longer see things in the same way.

I find this challenge exciting because I am no longer constricted and can follow my own advice to former students: “Remember, a straight line doesn’t always have to be straight.” Unlike a portrait, perfection isn’t a valued commodity.

My husband, paragon of artistic expertise, is a great critic while peering over my shoulder in the studio. “What’s it supposed to be?”

Well, anyone can plainly see that it is a picture of clouds, rocks, and a tiny tree making its way up through the cracks, seeking the sun.

“But where are snow covered mountains?”

Well I might have taught YOU snow covered mountains, but I’m not ready for them yet. Meanwhile I’m going to continue making wiggly lines.

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WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?


The gardens are bursting into bloom and leaf with more rain in sight. The old song “Wishing Will Make It So” has proved once more that someone is listening.

Small words are usually harder to define than long ones. I recently read that a group of lexicographers were revamping an obscure dictionary and found all the short, throw-away words like “a”, “the” “as” etc., were difficult to define in a simple way, but the long hard to say words were easy to break down. I am reminded of Bill Clinton’s use of the word “is” in his defense: “It all depends on the meaning of the word “is”. What does that mean? What’s wrong with “if”? “If only I hadn’t taken that position.” Well, History will debate it for a few years and then forget about it.

Dr. A once told me that he couldn’t decide whether I was clever or smart. Either way I was in trouble. A rat can cleverly avoid capture in a trap, but does that make him smart? If he was smart he would eat the large block of cheese in the cupboard before it ever got to the trap. We once had one who quietly ate an entire gingerbread house without disturbing the box it was in, and leaving one piece of candy as a parting thank you. If I were clever I would invent ways of doing simple jobs in a simpler way. If I were smart, I would be rich and famous and wouldn’t need to worry about being either smart or clever, because I could hire it out.

Our use of words is important. Some words often mean one thing to one person and something entirely different to another. A young girl dating a hormonally active boy may say “NO”, but the boy hears “YES”, to her dismay. Today we sometimes sprinkle our conversation with words from another culture. Our son-in-law instructed the Mexican gardener to remove some moss growing in his flower bed by saying “No Mas” which the gardener rightfully heard as “No More”, and took our the entire bed.

My husband refers to one side of the house as “the front yard, but clearly the address in on the other side of the house which makes it the front yard.

Mark Twain was a pretty good wordsmith and story teller and modestly claimed to know how a story ought to be told, being frequently in the company of other writers and story-tellers. Their use of words was their livelihood.

According to Mark Twain there are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind–the humorous. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

Already we can see there is a difference between humor, comedy and wit. Yet they all amuse.

“The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. The humorous story is strictly a work of art—high and delicate art–and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story was created in America and has remained at home.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the ‘nub’ of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.

“Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it. Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and indifferent way, with the pretense that he does not know it is a nub.

But the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you—every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping exclamation points after it, and sometimes explain it in a parentheses. All of which is very depressing, and one want to renounce joking and lead abetter life.”

(Parts taken from “How To Tell a Story” by Mark Twain)

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MY TEA CUP RUNNETH OVER


There are all sorts of tea parties. There was the Boston kind which wasted a great deal of good English tea, but got the message over. Then the political kind, whose movement now sails under another name. Extraordinarily, this year I have attended two of the finer gatherings of ladies which have actually served tea.

I have been gifted each year to a special birthday treat by my two daughters. This year’s birthday celebrations culminated in a lovely high tea at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel.

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The Fairmont is one of the fine old historic hotels in San Francisco, and has been featured in many films and television shows. Nearly completed, but nearly destroyed in 1906, at the time of the great San Francisco earthquake, it was rebuilt by Julia Morgan, who was also famous for building William Randolph Hearst’s castle San Simeon, down the coast a bit.

The hotel was ready for occupancy by 1907 and business has been brisk ever since. One of its attractions is the Tonga Room, with its Hurricane Bar, a historic tiki bar. It features a bandstand on a barge which floats in a former swimming pool, a dining area built from parts of an old sailing ship, and artificial thunderstorms. In 2009, the owners announced plans to close the Tonga Room. In response, a group filed an application to make the Tonga Room an official San Francisco landmark. I’m happy to say that Dr. A and I, in our hey-day, sat under the thunderstorm a few times. Great fun.

The Venetian Room was where Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in 1961. A statue of Tony Bennett was unveiled outside the Fairmont in August , 2016, in honor of his 90th birthday, the performance and the song’s history with San Francisco.

As if we three ladies weren’t giggling enough, we were joined by my granddaughter, who flew in from London, and a sneak attack from her brother. Oh yes, they also served tea.

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WAITING ROOMS


‘INUIT MOTHER AND CHILD’ watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

We are all in some sort of waiting room. Some with anticipation and some with trepidation. It depends upon where you are waiting; grocery store, post office, assisted living facility or doctor’s office. The grocery store is a toe tapper, while you wish the person in front of you would hurry up and count her change, and return the unwanted can of beans. The post office could go both ways; did you get a bill or a check? The people in the assisted living place, are waiting for God, and it could also go both ways. The doctor’s waiting room is far and away the most interesting.

Our hospital is getting older and seems smaller, and the number of patients has increased; drawn by the advent of Silicon Valley technology. For lack of space, various disciplines have been combined in spaces far to small to contain them. While waiting for my rheumatology doctor, I watched mothers and children waiting for pediatrics, There were also cardiology and oncology patients cooling their heels.

A beautiful young woman dressed with a jeweled head dress offered a seat which I gladly took. She was from India and her husband had come here to work for Google. She misses her parents and the fact that her daughter has never met them.

Two young fathers carrying their babies checked in and I remarked to myself that fathers never came to pediatricians appointments, let alone carrying their offspring. Another sign that times have changed. The day of the stay-at-home mom is over.

As refreshing as these fellow waiters were, a dark cloud arrived in the shape of a grumpy looking gentleman in his late 70’s dressed in baggy work pants and jacket, checked in with the young woman at the desk and obviously was disgruntled by having to give a co-pay. Mumbling all the way, he threw himself into the small chair with a scowl. He gave a challenging look toward the check in counter and groused: ” I pay enough as it is around here. Now you expect me to wait here?”

I was glad to go in to meet the cute young woman doctor who is always a pleasure. After chatting and acquainting her with any new problems, I told her about the current state of the waiting room, including a description of Mr. Grumpy. She laughed and said “I think he is my net patient.” I hope she was able to make his day a bit better.

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SOCIETY PAGE


Newspapers are not what they used to be. They have a large amount of news, both real and fake, but all news is tightly contained in two or three pages with ads for viagra, refrigerators and cars taking up most of the space.

Not so long ago news was organized into days of the week, with the Sunday paper requiring an entire day to digest, Monday and Tuesday simply rehashing Sunday’s news. Then Wednesday’s paper contained a segment of 6 or 8 pages of cooking and recipes. You could plan the entire week’s menu from the Wednesday paper, clipping recipes which would be tucked away in folders for years to come.

Thursday, no matter if you read the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle or the Seattle Times, contained the Society news. Photographs of celebrities acquainted you with the styles of the day, and you felt part of the coming out parties, and every other event the posh attended. For every wanna-be woman especially, it gave a real meaning to Thursday at the breakfast table. It was a real service to the community.

In or about 1970, the local Atlanta, Georgia’s Thursday Society page covered the birthday party of Miss Sally Jo Hornbacker, who recently turned five years old. The day was sunny and sublime, and twenty small guests, dressed in fairy tale dresses in Easter egg colors, arrived at the local country club, each bearing a beautifully wrapped gift for the pretty little celebrant, herself gowned in an apricot taffeta dress designed by Emile de Mille, with three petticoats in contrasting shades. Sally Jo, the daughter of Judge and Mrs. Marvin Lebush Hornbacker of the Savannah LeBushes Hornbackers. Sally Jo’s ensemble was set off by small black patent leather Mary Jane shoes, and she carried a small beaded pocket book in robins egg blue. The guests, all daughters of the local gentry, were treated to a beautiful six layer cake decorated by the esteemed baker Michele Fontainbleu. Each child was gifted with a lovely gold bracelet upon leaving the part, and it wad deemed a great success.

Today is my birthday. I have achieved the admirable age of 89, which entitles me to not much more than 88 did, but I am probably the luckiest 89 year old living at this address. I somehow helped in creating a wonderful family with the help of a thoroughly admirable husband, who turned out to be the love of my life for the past 70 years. Together we have accumulated groups of very special friends.
You may ask “is that all there is?” and I would answer “What else could there possibly be?” HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!