my cat Clea

Before I was a dog person I was a cat person. I had my cat Clea for nearly twenty years. I got her in 1991 in Oklahoma City and she was with me until 2000 in Gilroy. She made many moves with me.

When Terry moved up to Mountain View with me in 1993 Clea was rather unsure about this interloper. But Terry gave Clea good bottled water and fed her before I got home from work, so she decided Terry was OK.

Our first year in Gilroy, 1997-1998, I continued to drive up to All Saint’s Episcopal church in Palo Alto on Sundays. That meant Terry was home with Clea. Terry got in the habit of watching movies on Sunday morning and Clea loved that because she could lie in Terry’s lap for ninety minutes or two hours undisturbed. I would get home from church to find Terry in her recliner with Clea in her lap as the movie was ending.

Clea’s attitude was, “Wake me when the movie is over.”


hanging up the microphone

This year of 2016 has become a year of broadcasters retiring. On New Year’s Day Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards did their last Rose Parade broadcast. Vin Scully is in his last year broadcasting Dodger games. We will miss them, and their replacements, however good they might be, will never equal them.

Rose Parade photo by Prayitno. Creative Commons license.

Rose Parade photo by Prayitno. Creative Commons license.

There is, however, something to be said about going out on one’s own terms. I love the story of the opera star, who, when asked about the timing of her retirement, said, “I want to retire when people say, ‘Why do you retire?’ and not ‘Why don’t you retire.’” Superb advice.

Some people do stay on too long. I think Arthur Fiedler stayed with the Boston Pops about two years too long. I loved listening to Bill King broadcast Oakland Athletics games on the radio, but in his last couple of seasons his partner Ken Korach had to give him a hand on many  particularly complex or quickly executed plays.

Vin Scully seems to me to be as sharp as he ever was. Stephanie and Bob were still superb in their final broadcast. That’s the way to go out.

spicy macaroni and cheese

I had the television tuned to the Cooking Channel the other day as I was getting ready to watch a cooking show from my DVR list. They were showing an old episode of The Best Thing I Ever Made and I spicy mac and cheesecaught Sunny Anderson talking about spicy macaroni and cheese I stayed with that and delayed watching my DVR’d show.

In addition to the standard shells and cheddar cheese, the recipe included cayenne, dry mustard, and pepper jack cheese. I showed the recipe to Terry and she was intrigued. I made it last Friday. Terry’s reaction: “Killer!” I felt the same way.

It’s great when those serendipitous moments happen.

If you’re interested, the recipe is here.

new routine

My weekday routine since we’ve been here has been to get up at 7:00 am to feed Tasha and then go back to bed for another half hour or 45 minutes. But I realized that in doing so I was probably getting more sleep than I needed and that I could be more productive. So after Labor Day I started something new. Instead of going back to bed I have started staying up and doing my walking.

This is good because I am getting my walking in on a much more regular basis. I can’t use the excuse that I used in the afternoons that it was too hot to go out walking. I’m feeling better and am in fact feeling more productive. Plus, I don’t feel like I have something hanging over my head all day.

It’s all good.

Sacred Music Friday: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee at the Royal Albert Hall in London

baseball: the broadcaster matters

The fact that much of Southern California cannot see the Dodgers on television on account of the greed of the Dodger ownership group and Time-Warner Cable means that some fans get overly excited when a game is broadcast on ESPN or as a Fox Television Saturday game. I scratch my head at this excitement. Yes, you can see the team on the screen, but the broadcasters are the network guys, not the local announcers. To me, who is broadcasting the game is important.

baseballThe Giants have always done a fine job of employing broadcasters. I loved listening to Hank Greenwald on the radio. In 1997 Jon Miller became the lead radio broadcaster for the Giants. He is one of the very best. More recently, the Giants brought on a then young Dave Flemming and he is first class in his own right. On television, of course, Giants fans get to enjoy the marvelous team of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper—Kruk and Kuip.

Here in Southern California we have, of course, the legendary Vin Scully. And despite the television issue, I can hear him on home games when he simulcasts the first three innings. When Vin is doing television Charley Steiner does the radio play-by-play. I’m finding that Charley grates on me, which is odd, because I enjoyed when he did post-season baseball for ESPN. On road games when the new guy, Joe Davis, is not in the TV booth Charley does television. For those games Rick Monday does the radio play-by-play. I really do enjoy listening to Rick.

Who is broadcasting the game does make a difference to me.

The Essential Ellen Willis

EllenWillisThe Essential Ellen Willis
by Ellen Willis (Nona Willis Aronowitz, Editor)
University of Minnesota Press (May 1, 2014), 536 pages
Kindle edition $16.99, Amazon paperback $19.54

Ellen Willis was a prolific commentator on both social issues and pop culture. Her most well-known work was her music criticism. I reviewed, well sort of,  the anthology of her work as a music critic, Out of the Vinyl Deeps, back in 2013.

The Essential Ellen Willis covers much different territory. While there is a very long opening essay about Bob Dylan, the book is largely made up of her essays on political and social issues. She is an unabashed feminist and unashamedly quite far to the left in her political leanings. The essays are grouped by decade: the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, and the first half of the first decade of the twenty-first century.

This is how Willis describes herself in one essay. I believe that this is worth quoting at length because how she sees herself informs almost all of her writing:

quoteI’m an unmarried mother, one of those miscreants recently denounced in these pages by former education secretary William Bennett and Peter Wehner of Empower America. I am not and have never been on welfare; rather, I’m the sort of affluent Murphy Brown type Dan Quayle thinks sets a bad example for the lower classes. Nor am I functionally a single parent: I live with my daughter’s father, my companion of 14 years. I’ve always hoped we would join or start a communal household, but it hasn’t happened. As far as I can tell, our domestic routine is indistinguishable from that of married couples in our socioeconomic milieu—at least those couples who are making a self-conscious effort to share child-rearing. Our finances are equally intertwined, our problems no doubt equally banal.

Her quest for the communal household never succeeded. She wrote a cogent essay on the difficulties of obtaining quality childcare in which she expresses a similar yearning. She was clear-eyed and practical, however. She notes that in a hippie commune the women would take care of the children and the men would go off and do their own thing. Not at all the model she sought. (Willis did, by the way, eventually marry her partner, sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, near the end of her life.)

While the quote above was obviously from an essay written in the 1980’s (Murphy Brown, Dan Quayle), I was most engaged by her essays from the sixties and seventies. They are a real time capsule into those two eras. (They were two different eras in my personal experience.) I found her work from the nineties less engaging, though she has plenty to say about Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, and other goings on of the decade.

The final piece was a reproduction of an unfinished work entitled “Why We Need a Freudian Left.” Makes no sense to me, but she was intent on it in her last days her husband tells us.

Willis died in 2006. Like Molly Ivins, we lost her far to soon. Though Willis was a much deeper thinker than Ivins, both were progressive voices of reason. We don’t have enough of those.

the Olive Street neighborhood

An Olive Street recollection.

My Olive Street apartment in Claremont from 1975 to 1977 was in a convenient location. The main north-south thoroughfare, Indian Hill Boulevard, was just a block over. Olive Street ended at Arrow Highway, and we were just a house or two up from there. On the other side of Arrow Highway was a strip shopping mall that contained useful establishments from a practical, everyday perspective.

There was an old Safeway store that was not fancy, but had what we needed. There was a desk where you got your check approved before checking out. Sometimes we preferred a newer, nicer, store and so would drive to Ralph’s, Alpha Beta, or Lucky. But Safeway was always there for ease and simplicity.

Then there was a laundromat. It was very nice not having to go too far to do our laundry.

The strip mall also had a newsstand. The books were not a big deal as I worked in a bookstore, but I enjoyed flipping through the Village Voice and New York Review of Books.

Finally, there was a TG&Y variety store (remember those?). We didn’t shop there much, but sometimes we would try to change our bills for quarters there so we could do laundry.

Our Olive Street apartment. Convenient and appreciated.

a paying gig

I got my first paying freelance work at the end of May. My marvelous sister-in-law connected me with a fellow who has done a lot of IT work for the Chamber of Commerce. He is growing his own IT business and no longer has time for the grunt work, as it were. He acquired a new client and enlisted me to transfer the content on their web site from the old environment to his server.

I made every effort to do a complete, through, and professional job. I worked over the Memorial Day weekend because the old IT guy was turning the lights out on the old site on June 1st.

He seemed happy with my work, and said that he anticipates having another project for me mid-June.

And I got paid. Not a lot, but I got paid. I’m using part of the proceeds to have a ceiling fan installed in my office, something I’ve wanted since we moved here.

I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum.

If you know anyone who is looking for writing or web work, my web site is at


Sacred Music Friday: Durufle’s Requiem – Introit

Maurice Durufle – Requiem: I Introit (Requiem Aeternam). The Yale Symphony Orchestra with the Yale Glee Club, Jeffrey Douma, Music Director and the Elm City Girls Choir, Rebecca Rosenbaum, Music Director.