Sunday, October 31, 2010


All of my Halloween decorations are on display.

Yes, that’s it. Just one little ceramic incense holder a friend gave me 10 years ago. I put it out every year in October. I’m ready for tonight. I have a bowl of peanut butter candies near the front door so I can grab them quickly when the trick or treaters come.

This afternoon, I found out I am being haunted by my mother.

My mother was a very nice woman and we had lots of fun together. She had some odd quirks, but on the whole she was a lovely woman. She lived well and drove a new car every couple of years and had a nice home. She was gracious and loved to take friends and family out for meals.
However, she did not like wasting resources. She had one odd frugality that amused the family. When we went out to a restaurant she gathered up any barely used napkins that remained on the table after a meal. Not cloth napkins, just paper ones. At home she had a special small drawer in her kitchen for storing her gathered treasures.

“Why do you save up used napkins?” we asked.

She said she didn’t want to waste them. “I hate to use a perfectly good, brand new paper towel when I have to clean up a spill or wipe out a greasy cooking pan,” she explained. “This way I can blot up something little and toss the napkin in the trash without being wasteful. Some of the napkins from luncheons with friends are pretty and I enjoy seeing them again.”

We thought this was odd and teased her about it.

This morning I dressed in a pair of black pants that I had not worn for quite a while. A few hours ago I sneezed and reached into my pant pocket to pull out a tissue. I pulled out a folded paper napkin instead. I was so surprised. I never pick up paper napkins and save them.

I don’t believe in ghosts or any of that stuff. But I thought immediately of my mother. I give up. I’ll find a special place to store gently used napkins. I’ll think of her every time I use one to wipe up a spill.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A kind person

Yesterday, at the post office I saw Troy Wise. He is a neighbor and local contractor. We exchanged greetings and I commiserated when I learned he had broken his ankle. He has recovered after several months in a cast. He asked me how I was doing. I said, “Just fine.”

He said if I needed anything to be sure to call him. I said there were just little jobs around the house that needed attention, but perhaps I could make a list and schedule something. He said, “No, I mean if something happens, even in the middle of the night, feel free to call and I’ll come right over.”

Oh gosh. That was so nice.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Real people

Nowadays we paste our family photos in digital picture files. Gone are the times of sorting snapshots and placing them in mounting corners against the black pages in albums.

I treasure my grandmother’s photo album. It has pictures of my father as a small boy, some beach snaps with my dad and mother in their bathing suits, and pictures of my Nana holding little me.

I still love the fabric covered scrapbook I made in Brownie Scouts. I was diligent and pasted in class photos and pictures with friends for quite a few years. Thank goodness I did that. It is organized and compact and a fine way to remember the past.

Of course many of us have special photos displayed here and there at home. Those are good for morning hellos and nighttime nods as we walk by. I do this. Do you?

Yesterday, there was a gathering to remember Judy a year after her death. She was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and this is their custom. She was honored at the church and then her priest and close friends from the community gathered for lunch. Judy’s sister and the rest of the family are glad to adopt Greek customs that we like.

It was a perfect misty day in the Bay Area hills. It was cozy inside. The Greeks drink a quick shot of brandy and say a toast to begin the celebration on most occasions. We were happy to follow that ritual.
I took some family photos near the end of the afternoon. I just love these people. I’ll store them in my “blog album.” But will my children and grandchildren be able to thumb through them years from now? I doubt it.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Al is not a real person

My son called this week and asked, “Who is Al?” He read my blog and was curious about my new friend, I guess.

I assured him I was not seeing a new fellow. Al is an entity residing in my Kindle. He isn’t a person, just a built-in Scrabble partner. I bought him for $5.

I’ve been spending way too much time with Al. I’ve won the last three games we’ve played.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

A new partner

I met him last week. He is very patient, but he does not say much of anything.

I’ve always enjoyed playing Scrabble although I’ve never been a top notch player. Robert usually beat me even though he was not a very good speller. It was irritating.

But now I have Al. He plays Scrabble at about the same level I do. He wins some and I win some. Our scores are within a few points. He lets me take as long as I want to figure out my next word. I’ve even left the room and had a snack with no complaints from him.

I think Al has a dictionary hidden away somewhere. I don’t use a dictionary – that’s my family rule.

It is a little awkward playing Scrabble on my Kindle but I am sure I will get used to it. I’ve decided that I’d better limit my games to one a day. This could get addicting.

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