LA DOLCE VITA – FELINE FORMULA


Watch Cat
ORIGINAL WALL MURAL “THIS IS A WATCHCAT WATCHING YOU”
by Kayti Sweetland Rasmussen

Choose only human pets who train easily.
Walk casually, but authoritatively, as befits your status.
Exercise moderately, but never let it interfere with your catnaps.
Make absolutely clear that every soft, warm place,
especially human laps, is yours upon demand.
Occasionally allow select humans to touch your person,
but have fang and claw ready should reverent touches cross into familiarity.
Groom fastidiously; after all it’s the exterior that reflects the interior.
Clean and sharpen claws regularly, prepared for instant deployment.
Form habits that suit your comfort, but capriciously change them to avoid predictability.
Stretch fully several times each day, always with liquid but languid motions.
Never allow your server to think the food couldn’t be a little bit better.
Never! Never! Never! allow yourself to be trained to do anything.

—Claudette V and Lory O, November 2013

YOU CAN’T TRUST YOUR MIRROR


I have always felt that the mirror takes advantage of our gullibility. For instance, when I pass a mirror, I see a middle-aged blonde woman, who at one time, if not exactly pretty, is at least interesting.

mirror2

The word ‘interesting’ is interesting in itself. It’s a word people often use to comment on something, rather than telling them what they really think. If they don’t want to insult the artist’s latest effort, which they hate, it seems kinder to tell them it’s interesting.

Some years ago while we were at a family gathering, while watching a cousin across the room, a relative said “You’re not attractive, and I’m not attractive, but she’s attractive. To show that I don’t hold grudges, I am still speaking to her.

But back to the mirror, I was shocked to find from a photograph, that my hair is silver! Everyone else had told me it was, but I chose to believe my mirror. In the 70’s, when hippie clothes were in style, I bought a long denim dress, which I thought was quite cool. But when I saw a photograph of myself wearing it, I looked just like a mushroom in a long blue dress. The mirror had lied once more.

****************************************************************************************************

I don’t obsess about my clothes, but I must confess that I do have a fixation about my hair. Along with so many other things that youth steals, I truly miss having good hair. Throughout the years I have invested in numerous wigs and hairpieces in a variety of colors, and it has always been fun. I was greeted by a fairly close acquaintance once at a large dinner party while I was wearing a very cute wig, and she asked to be introduced. What is true is that I am older than I look, and the hair on my head is exactly where it should be given the hard life I’ve given it.

At one time or another, I have been a blonde, had various shades of brunette, or a combination of the two, and for one luau we gave, it even became black. Later instead of actually dying it, I bought a black wig. This was after seeing the movie “Chicago” with Katherine Zeta-Jones dancing her way through killing her husband.

I was astonished to discover that the nice woman who cuts my hair, is wearing a wig! You just never know.

I always wanted to have red hair, since so many people in my family have it, but the only time mine became red was an accident. I gave myself a home perm, and instead of following directions and waiting a certain amount of time, I put some brown coloring on it. It immediately bunched up, became brilliant red, and looked exactly like a Brillo pad, or Harpo Marx in drag.

It would have been OK except that a widower friend of ours brought a new girlfriend to dinner that night to introduce us. She was a pretty and much-younger natural redhead with long flowing curls she had a habit of tossing around during dinner. Worse that that, she arrived accompanied by an unannounced Schnauzer dog, who snarled at my two dogs, a German Shepherd and a large Dobermann, who did not snarl in return. It was not a happy occasion. However, it did put the lie to the old saying that people look like their dogs because she did not look at all like a Schnauzer. And they did not marry.

So what I needed to tell you is not to believe anything your mirror or your friends tell you about your hair. If you think you are a willowy 5″8″, and blonde, then you are, and in the real scheme of things, why does it matter anyway? It’s OK to believe whatever you wish.

TO THE CLASS OF 2013


graduation
cartoon courtesy of wall street journal

Dear Graduates:

“You’re pampered, privileged and oversexed–but at least your employment prospects are dim.”

This was the opening message from Rob LaZebnik in the Wall Street Journal. Mr. LaZebnik is probably correct about the difficulty of employment in these times. But there are many things you can do to fill in the free time you will have. Go to the beach, watch a movie, tweet, write a blog, or maybe hunker down in grad school. Maybe employment opportunities will improve in another four years.

Many activities take place within that precious group sitting so upright, serious and attentive, whether on a football field or indoors on bleachers. Are they really listening to the speech so carefully prepared and presented by some impressive person, and designed to instill a desire for excellence in their futures? Maybe some are, and everyone will take away some memory of the day, whether it will be the heat, the passing of the marijuana, bong, or just undercurrent horseplay. Ten years ago, my granddaughter had her little dog in her lap, which she passed to a friend when she went up to claim the coveted sheepskin. After all, the little dog had achieved degrees in both French and Communication during the past four years of his attendance with her at the University of Washington.

Seriously, the graduates of today are probably well-prepared for the challenges their chosen fields will bring. In a short four years they have become thinking adults and the skills and friendships they have formed will guide them through these difficult times. “Thinking” is the key word. They have learned to think for themselves which may be worth all the thousands of dollars their parents have invested in them.

I would advice them to ignore all the clich├ęs of the typical commencement speech and do what their generation does best: get lucky.

IT’S A PUZZLEMENT


2013-04-22 14.18.35

It’s a dilemma that has been occupying my mind for some time now. How do all those pills we take know where to go? Seriously, I’m pretty sure there are not street signs directing this one to the heart, another one to the stomach, and a third to your headache. Yet each morning, we religiously sort them out and pop them into our willing mouths. If you take 6-7 pills, how does each one know where to go?

The ache and pain ones are very big business, and almost everyone at some time or other takes them, even for a sore finger, or an aching muscle from too much digging in the garden. But how do they get the message that that is what they are for?

Dr. Advice believes that the pain pills go directly to the brain, but I don’t see them making you any smarter than before you take one. Sometimes I think they stop off for coffee in some hidden corner before they get wherever they are going, since it takes them so long to do their job.

And they come in such delicious-looking colors; pink ones, blue ones, jelly-looking ones, (those are supposed to really be good for us), and many different shapes. They even give you small pill-cutters in case they don’t want us to to take the whole thing. I am taking one which needs to be cut into quarters! Now why in the world didn’t they simply cut the prescription mg. down? I’m not sure they really know what they are doing. Maybe that’s why they call it a “practice”.

Those are just the ones the doctor tells you to take. There is such an enormous array of over-the-counter medicine and vitamins it is truly mind-boggling. Do they make us feel better, or even look better? How about old-age wrinkles; is there a pill for them? I could make a million bucks selling them at the retirement homes.

The Native American Shaman has it made; he can do a little chanting, blow some smoke over you, and maybe prescribe a small dry hallucinogenic mushroom and you can float away in a soft blue haze and imagine yourself well.

My lovely aunt, whom Dr. Advice always thought resembled the movie star Ginger Rogers, recently passed away at the age of 99, and to my knowledge, never popped a pill in her life. What does this tell us?
Well, I’m feeling so good about myself right now but I think I’d better go take another pill just to be sure.

THE NOT-SO-MAD HATTER


Dr Seuss_0002

The Joyous Leaping of Uncanned Salmon” by T. Geisel

Theodore Geisel collected hats. He even encouraged visitors to wear one of his hats when they came to call. Hats were an obsession with him, and there were many which were weird enough to have been created especially for the characters in the books he wrote for children. In fact, most of the characters in his books wear hats, obviously crazy hats. Names such as “Yertle the Turtle, “The Bipolo Seed”, and “Green Eggs and Ham”, were music to kids.

He didn’t cure aches and pains, and he can’t cure a headache or fix teeth or brains, but Dr. Seuss has delighted three generations of children by introducing them to the menagerie of wild and crazy creatures of his imagination. Between 1937 and 1991 Theodore Seuss Geisel wrote 44-45 books and caused millions of children to grin and giggle when reading books such as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Horton Hears a Who”. I read my first Dr. Seuss book in 1937, which happens to be the year he wrote “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.”. His colorful language took learning to read many steps–many fun steps–beyond “Dick and Jane” and “See Spot Run”. Dr. Suess is good for anything which ails a child. He’s the Fix-it-up Chappie”. That’s why kids love Dr. Seuss–he’s very silly. The path to literacy begins at birth. Dr. Suess makes it fun.

But there’s another less well-known side to the Dr. Seuss story. Throughout all those years, Ted Geisel harbored a secret, one that is only now becoming public. After hours, when he was done with his day’s work on the children’s books that made him famous, he painted just for himself. The work ranges from cartoon-type line drawings to intricate oils. He painted birds, elephants, made-up creatures and cats. Lots of cats. Everything that Geisel did had that wacky, whimsical, quirky, Seussian quality. Also little-known, were the ‘Unorthodox Sculptures’ of fanciful creature heads. His was a mind which thankfully never stopped thinking of ridiculous creatures in ridicullous and unlikely situations.

dr. seuss 2-3_0002

dr. seuss 2-3_0001

A VISIT WITH AN OLD FRIEND, DP Challenge


I hadn’t actually visited with him for some time. Oh sure, I see him a couple of times a day, maybe more, but that’s not the same thing as an actual dig-down-deeply visit. But surprisingly he has been a loyal friend for many years.

He’s tall but not too tall. A little taller than I, with an upright and outgoing personality. Blond, but showing definite signs of aging. I find him quite cold toward me at times, icy even.

Definitely a mind of his own, but I don’t know what I would do without him. He’s quite good at handling daily problems for me, and I know I never give him enough credit. He rattles on a bit, but I guess that is standard for his type. Mind you, I’m not complaining, because he is my friend.

He had been collecting quite a lot of baggage, which I never even noticed, what with the holidays and all. He has another friend who lives nearby, and they do share a lot of the everyday load. His friend is also tall and blond, but not as willing to handle some of the jobs I need done. Frankly, I’m not as fond of him as I should be.

Anyway, today we got right down to it. I literally tore him apart, and I think he is happier for it. I know I am, even if it is so tiring to clear out all the garbage he’s been collecting. I don’t feel the need to do that again for awhile.

It’s been a good day.

FRIDGE FRONT

DEATH PANEL FOR AN OLD STOVE


stove To Whom It May Concern:
They’re trying to get rid of me! I can’t believe it. After only 45 yers of loyal service, they think I’m all through. All because I ruined her stupid pie because I couldn’t get my ovens hot. Well, she’s not so hot either. I see her limping around here. No one’s talking about getting rid of her. I remember when they unpacked my crate and took a look at me. She almost kissed me. Not so now.

They soon forget all the thousands of cookies, cakes, pies and bread I’ve turned out for them. Oh sure, they gush over her thinking it was due to her great cooking. Well, it wasn’t. It was me! People come in here and say “thank you, how delicious”, but not one word of congratulations to me. I’m sick of it.

Oh sure, there have been mistakes, but not on my part. I can’t help it if she wasn’t paying attention and I burned a pan or two. And I won’t even go into the way I have felt when he decides to cook! He hasn’t a clue. But I have been loyal and done a good job of heating a few cans of beans, or scrambled eggs now and then. And I have to give him credit, he does a good job of cleaning me now and then because she’s too lazy to do it.

The tons of pasta and sauce, and all the rest of the stuff I’ve cooked for her and they’re talking about replacing me with one of those big shiny eyesores which won’t look right in this kitchen anyway. What’s the matter with them, can’t they see?

I’m so ashamed. Some stranger came today and totally undressed my large oven. I’m so embarrassed; imagine how you would feel. He was quite nice about it though and began poking around up in my control panel, so maybe that’s what is wrong. They stopped making my kind nearly 20 years ago, which was sad enough. Someone else is coming to see me, so maybe they can save me. Keep good thoughts for me.

Well, I just wanted someone to know about this miscarriage of stove justice before it’s too late. Signed: Gaffers and Sattler, a dying breed.

HIDDEN MESSAGES IN NURSERY RHYMES


frog_0002

A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go—-”

For centuries children all over the world have been delighted by these charming nonsense ditties.

But these little songs frequently held hidden messages covering a more serious saga of a political person embroiled in the throes of a scandal, or perhaps even a royal personage falling out of favor. More often than not though, they were simply humorous rhyming verse sung as an amusement to children.

The frog parable is the story of a young frog who went courting his lady-love, Miss Mousey, who in one version runs a neighborhood pub. They were married by her uncle Mr. Rat, and left on their honeymoon. Unfortunately, the merriment was interrupted by a prowling cat, who ate the rat, as Miss Mousey wisely hid under a nearby leaf. Poor Froggy quickly left for home, but on the way he was swallowed by a large white duck. (These little tales rarely ended happily.)

The marriage of the frog and the mouse was sung as early as 1714, with fragments being sung repeatedly through the years. It was prevalent during the Old Price Riots in Covent Garden in 1809, due to the rising prices of theater tickets. This was important because the Drury Theater had burned down and Covent Garden was the only theater left. The riots lasted for three months until the manager apologized and brought back the old prices.

Nursery rhymes were often used as rhythmic accompaniment to spinning, and as a family game to improve memory, due to their repetitive wording. They are found throughout the world, and included in “Nursery Songs From the Appalachian Mountains “ in 1906. The Frog story became an especial favorite in the U.S.A. with 40 versions of it found in various folk-lore societies.

A Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog” was featured in “The Top Book of All” in 1760, and was a long 12 verse bit of cumulative nonsense reminiscent of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. It was often performed rapidly by singing it all in one breath.

Rhymes, songs and riddles have entertained people through the centuries, and perhaps lightened the sting of an ill-humored subject.

NOTABLE & QUOTABLE


“I have never been in a discussion where people said ‘I only wish we had nore time to talk about the weather/sports/gossip’ But, given the need to find common topics for discussion, these are some of the easiest common denominators to find.”

Quote by Dan Ariely, Wall Street Journal

GOODBYE UNCLE LENNIE


LENNIE_0004 He wasn’t our uncle; he wasn’t even related except by choice. For over 65 years he was our “big brother”, wise advisor, lawyer and well-loved friend. The only photos I could find among the many taken during the years of our friendship, had someone’s arm around him, so I’m including this one. He was “Uncle” Lennie to many people for his wisdom and good humor, especially to us and our family.

He loved kids, and as his grandchildren began arriving, he took them all for a day of fun every Saturday. When our own grandchildren arrived, my husband’s first remark was to say he wanted to be the same kind of grandfather as Lennie. I think he has been.

For thirty years he gave his own all-male birthday party at Scott’s, a prominent Oakland restaurant, to which over 100 guests came, entertained and were entertained with jokes and hi-jinks. He was fond of saying that women were also invited as long as they would jump out of the birthday cake naked! To my knowledge that never happened. He always arrived at the party in a limo wearing a tophat and his red clown nose and a big bow tie.

Lennie was a joke-teller supreme. He told jokes to his grandkids, to the postman, the waiters, and to anyone who would listen. The coming of the internet with its joke-sharing gave him constant new material. His penchant for crazy hats and a red clown nose added to the fun. At one memorable party he brought the mascot mule for the Oakland A’s and at another, the cast of the musical “Chicago” came to liven things up. Red clown noses were passed out at his funeral which he would have approved.

He was a CPA, and at the age of 44 he went to Law School and became an attorney as well. Besides that, he became Probate Referee for the County of Alameda for many years. His loyalty to the University of California was legendary, and he loved the Cal football team, win or lose.

He was a good athlete, including tennis and raquetball, and loved golfing, was a member and also the president of the prestigious Sequoya Country Club. Upon his death, the flag was lowered to half-mast in respect to a man loved not only by fellow members, but by the bar and wait staff as well.

Most of all, he was our dear friend, and we will miss him. He always used to say, “Just because they don’t call you, you call them. The phone works both ways. Remember, you’re a long time dead.” Lennie Gross, your 94 years went all too soon.