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Today in My History

2001:   Winter of our Discontent
2002:  Vagina, Vagina, Vagina
2003:  Thank You for Being a Friend
2004:  Gay Marriage
Fluid Motion
2006:  Understanding
2007Mouse Withdrawal
2008:  What the Old Folks Do
2009:  The Concept Album
2010:  Doughy Balls
2011:  A Day of Compassion
2013: Me vs. Italian Food

Bitter Hack
Updated: 1
Elemeno Pea

Books Read in 2014
"Port Mortuary"

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Ernest & Vanessa's Visit

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Airy Persiflage

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mail to Walt


13 February 2014

My friend Kari and I had coffee together this morning.  It's something we do once or twice a year and I always think we should do it more often.  She's a fascinating person with whom I share a lot of interests.  For one thing, she's one of a very few people I know in my "real life" who not only understands, but appreciates all of the internet stuff I do.  She was my "Twitter" go to for awhile, though she doesn't use twitter as much as she used to (and I almost never use it).

She understands Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and the various program connected with blogging, like Flickr, Blog-to-Print, Blogger, WordPress, and other things that most people go blank when I mention.  It's nice to have someone who understands.

She was encouraging me to print my blog and I'm thinking about it.  It would be spendy, but kind of nice to have all these entries in hardback book form, one per year.

In addition to having the whole internet thing in common, we have aging mothers in common.  Hers is 85 and sounds like she is in a similar position to what mine was at 85.  She can't imagine her mother ever moving out of her family home.  Of course, when my mother was 85 I never dreamed that she would move out of her house either.

In addition to the other things we talked about, she mentioned that today would have been her grandfather's birthday, if he had not died 15 years ago, and that she had written a blog entry about him.  She talked about how fortunate she was to have such good memories of both of her grandfathers.

I have written here before about my grandmothers, one of whom (my mother's mother, Grandma Scott) I loved, the other of whom (my father's mother, "Nannie") I tolerated.  I never saw enough of Grandma Scott, saw too much of Nannie.  I miss Grandma Scott; I haven't missed Nannie once since she died, which is sad because she worshipped me (I was jealous of my sister because Nannie didn't like her all that much.   We called her "Nannie" because "Grandma" made her sound too old.)

I've never really talked much about my grandfathers, mostly because I never really had a real realtionship with either of them.  I called them both Grandpa (Grandpa West and Grandpa Scott).  I saw Grandpa West a lot but he was just kind of "there" and I never thought much about him.  I saw Grandpa Scott rarely and was mostly afraid of him because he seemed gruff and unloving.

GrandpaSm.jpg (24072 bytes)But I thought I'd give them their due and talk about them.   Grandpa West was a formal guy.  He always wore a suit and a tie.  I can't picture him in anything else.  He was terribly henpecked.  He had been a star in Vaudeville, an Irish tenor who was offered a recording contract by a record company in New York, but my grandmother wouldn't let him take it because it would mean moving and she refused to leave San Francisco.  Instead he went into business with his friend Larry Barrett, who was opening a parking garage.  Grandpa had the chance to become his partner, but Nannie was afraid he would lose the money he was supposed to invest, so Larry opened the garage and Grandpa went to work parking cars for him.  He parked cars his entire career while Larry became very rich, opening several parking garages in San Francisco, owning a couple of homes that my grandmother liked to visit, all the while letting my grandfather know what a loser he was.

We frequently had dinner at their apartment (Nannie would never move out of the apartment because she felt buying a house was an expense they could not afford...she talked my father out of buying a house too, and he never did until after she died, and my sister and I were grown). When we went to dinner Grandpa always sat stiffly in his chair while Nannie took care of the entertaining.  I think he might have mixed drinks, but I'm not sure.  Once they encouraged him to sing one of his songs from Vaudeville days and the whole time he was singing (in a still-strong, steady tenor), Nannie spent the whole time rolling her eyes and sighing in exasperation.  I don't remember his ever singing again.

When they came to our house, Grandpa always gave Karen and me a quarter. I'm not sure why.  It was his way of bonding with us, I guess.  He always said "tell me all about yourself" and we never knew what to say, so one day he decided that the only reason we talked to him was because he gave us money and from that day on he never gave us money again and got angry because that time we kind of expected it, since he had always given us money before.  Kind of reminds me of my father, who always brought us little gifts when he came home from his weekly trips to Los Angeles.   We would run to greet him, grab his "grip" and dig through it to find our gift until the day he decided we were too old and got angry with us for looking for the gift he did not buy.  He had not given us a warning.  One day it was OK, the other day it was something that made him angry.

[Gee--is this the pattern of my life?]

Grandpa died in a rest home.  The day he was dying, my mother and father took my grandmother to see him.  My father dropped the women off and went to get a haircut so he would look groomed for the funeral.  Nannie wouldn't touch her husband as he was dying, and Grandpa died in my mother's arms.  He deserved better.

GrandpaS.jpg (29941 bytes)As for Grandpa Scott, he was an interesting man.  He was completely bald because someone dropped a bucket of tar on him when he was working in a deep hole one time and his hair never grew back.  I remember him in overalls, with a hat on, though I know he didn't wear the hat all the time.  He also had no teeth.  He had false teeth, but he didn't like to wear them, and he could function just fine without them.  It was always funny when I used their bathroom, because his teeth sat in a glass on the counter.  The combination of no teeth and his big moustache and the fact that he mumbled made him difficult to understand when he talked, but I was fascinated that he could eat corn off a cob just as cleanly (and perhaps more cleanly) than someone with teeth.  He also put sugar on his sliced tomatoes.

He had been a rancher on a small ranch when my mother was young, then when they sold the ranch and moved into town he was a handyman.  They moved to San Francisco and he was a handyman there too, for I don't know how long.  Before I was born, they had purchased an acre of land in Inverness, about an hour's drive from San Francisco.   That's the only place I ever knew him. 

He raised corn and chickens and I don't know what else.  I remember him taking me into the shed when he had newly hatched chicks and letting me hold one of the soft little chicks. I remember helping feed the chickens and gather eggs from the chicken pen.  I don't really remember much else about him.  I don't think I ever sat in his lap or had a conversation with him.  He had raised 11 children and buried one and maybe he was burned out on talking with kids (though Peach, who lived in a house on the acre and saw him frequently, may have different memories).  He had a fishing boat and used to go out on Tomales Bay to fish.  I went with him one time, trying to catch crab (he set me up with a length of string with bacon on it).  I don't remember if I caught a crab or not, but I remember that as being fun).

By the time he died, he had had both legs amputated for a blood circulation problem.  After that I was really afraid of him because I was scared of seeing him without legs.  I can't remember if he died at home or in a hospital, but I remember my mother telling me that he was so in control of himself that while most people's bodies release bowel and bladder at the time of death, his never did.  Not sure how he accomplished that!

I would like to have better memories of my grandfathers, but at least I knew them, a little bit.  Grandpa Scott died before Walt and I were married, so he never saw any of our children.  Grandpa West lived long enough to hold Paul as a newborn (but, of course, I can't find that photo now!)



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Me and Grandma Scott
in the strawberry patch


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