Friday, April 21, 2017

Talkin' to Myself: FATHER

Talkin' to Myself: FATHER: The thing I remember most about him is his singing. Story has it that he joined the Lindsay Presbyterian Church because of its choir (an...


The thing I remember most about him is his singing.

Story has it that he joined the Lindsay Presbyterian Church because of its choir (and its choir director--Virginia Hanigan) He was, as a striking viking from Minnesota, a Lutheran. But singing mattered more than liturgy.

Story has it that he made a recording of "Always" and sent the record to my mother before he shipped out to the South Pacific.

Dad would sing whether you asked him or not. He lead the singing at any public event. He could be found at the weekly Kiwanis Club meeting leading the men of the small community in "America" or other patriotic songs.

He was Virginia's go-to tenor for solos. I have one recording of his singing- a solo in a song written by Virginia and Joe Ippolito (my high school senior humanities teacher). I play it every once in a while just to hear him sing.

One of those strongest memories that I have is of Dad singing "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" to me at a family party. He had imbibed a bit but he stayed on key through the whole song.

He was the only person that could quiet my daughter when she was suffering from colic. He would walk the house singing any song he could think of.  She didn't sleep. She just lay her head on his shoulder and listened.

He was happiest when he was singing. He had no training- just a natural talent. Until he joined a barbershop group in a nearby town (Porterville). He was in his 60's then but his voice improved and his tone mellowed as he learned techniques ways to breathe.

But I never saw one of his barbershop performances. I was a single mom then and I was finishing law school and starting my career.

But now I would give anything to have hear them and to see the look on his face as he reveled in the performance.That has become a stronger feeling now that I have had the privilege of singing with a talented director (Gary Lamprecht) and a group of dedicated singers better known as Vocal Arts Ensemble who have taught me those same techniques. Singing with those who share your passion for music is indescribable. 

He had found his group and shared that passion.

Today, my high school friend, John Bastady sent me pictures for 1987 of the Mineral King Chorus (I THINK  that was the name) .

I got to see his face while he was singing.

He was happiest when he was singing.

Second row, second from the left. Harold "Giz" Gisvold
I know that feeling. I cry knowing that I share that feeling with him.

Of all my mixed feeling about my father, the thankfulness I feel for the gift of song outweighs everything else.

Friday, April 14, 2017



No weaving class today so I weave at home. It takes me three tries to get this far.


This shows that the warp yarn is on the back beam ready to be threaded onto the loom. I usually do this in one try. I am frustrated. But I persevere.


The ice maker on our brand new refrigerator goes kaput. We had the refrigerator delivered less than a month ago. So I go to the store where we purchased the refrigerator and advise customer service that the ice maker is kaput. 

They ask if I have done x,y,or z to try and fix the problem. I advise them that I have done so, per the manual provided with the refrigerator. I advise them that I purchased an additional warranty from the store so that they could come to our house and fix any potential issues with the refrigerator.

I am told that the warranty people located in the store do not handle large appliances (such as a refrigerator) and I must call the 888 number or I could by the same model refrigerator as a replacement for an additional $400. 

At this point I sense difficulty in the universe. I sit on a chair in the warranty area of the store and contact the 888 number. The automated person asks for the model and serial number. I have the receipt from the purchase of the refrigerator and answer the automated person with the number provided on the receipt. 

A LIVE person comes on the line to tell me that the numbers are invalid. I am told by said person that they will send a person out to my home to locate the serial number and then schedule an appointment to fix the refrigerator. The LIVE person asks when next month they can come to look for the serial number.

Sensing an apocalyptic eruption, I approach the store help desk with my phone in hand (LIVE person is now trying to tell me that I have to call the manufacturer of the refrigerator) and ask to see the manager of the department to explain to LIVE person that they are making no sense.

Department manager begins to explain the proper procedure for obtaining assistance in fixing a large appliance and that I should "calm down". Department manager is less than 2 feet from my face at the time. I raise my hand to silence him. (No, not THAT way. With palm towards him at chest high for me.) He tells me to get my hand out of his face!

I hang up on LIVE person and walk away from manager person.

I recall manufacturer and am told by another person that the refrigerator was sold to me in 2014 and the warranty was expire. Could I send a receipt showing that I had purchased the refrigerator in  March of 2017 and they would give me a LIMITED warranty for a used refrigerator.

I become VESUVIUS. USED? I don't think so. I explode all over poor service woman. She says her name is XXXX and can she be of help. (Finally a person with some skills in dealing with angry old women). Turns out that the refrigerator that I bought was a floor model that had "apparently been returned" and "refurbished". No notice to the consumer.

I walked out with a BRAND NEW, IN THE BOX refrigerator (to be delivered soon) with 30 bucks deducted from the price of the original purchase. Delivery is free! 


 I get to Home Depot later than I wanted (you think?) and search for a combination lock and tar remover. No employee had a clue as to where either item could be found. It took another hour to locate them.

Then, then, I go to COSTCO. Given the universal setting for the last two days this may not have been a wise choice. We were nearly cupboard bare so the trip was going to take time. Two hours later, with a cart stacked very strategically, a woman stops me and says "Wow, I never seen a cart that full." She then proceeds to follow me asking where I lived and if that was why I needed so much STUFF. I told her I lived East of Santa Margarita and she replies, "Oh, the Carrisso (her pronunciation) Plain. No wonder you're all so hungry!" I would have laughed but that would have encouraged her. (The Carizza Plain is known for its marijuana fields)

At the truck, finally. The next 45 minutes were spent strategically loading the cooler bags and other accoutrements with the appropriate items (frozen in one bag, refrigerated in another and dry goods in another---it is quite a system so that everything can make it home in one piece!). I am now officially tired. Some guy walks by and tells me I need a drink. He was right. I locked the truck and went and got a COSTCO fruit smoothie.

 I make it home in time to put everything away and jump in the car to go to VAE rehearsal. 

AND I AM STILL MAD AT THE STORE MANAGER regarding the refrigerator.....


 Go to a doctor's appointment. It is a GYN appointment and I am not happy that I am going to one of THOSE at this age. Appointment is for 9:15. I am there at 9:00 as instructed on the new patient forms. At 10:30 my name is called. Doctor  enters room at 11:30. Doctor leave at 11:45. Pleasant enough but clearly upset that she is dealing with an old lady.

 When I get home I am regaled with the tale of woe regarding the scheduling of a 5 year  medical procedure. (If you are over 50 you know which one...) So, being the kind, gentle thing that I am (and truly thinking that I have hit all the less than helpful service people around) I give the doctor's office a call. The upshot of a 40 minute conversation (using the term very loosely) the office personnel will send the appropriate forms by mail (no, they do not use email...). The patient must fill out the forms and bring them IN PERSON to the doctor's office where they will photocopy his insurance cards. The patient will return home and wait for the doctor to evaluate the forms and determine whether an office visit must be scheduled. If so, the staff will contact the patient to make that appointment.

If an office appointment is not deemed necessary the office staff will contact the patient as to the appointment date for the procedure. NOT once is the convenience of the patient considered. EVER.


 I stayed home. The ice maker started to work. The ice maker quit again. I had to thread the blanket on my loom 4 times. Seems counting to 4 is getting more and more difficult.


 I go into town to have lunch with the daughter. She is desperately trying to get all her work in order so she can fly to Fiji tomorrow. So I take the car to the car wash where I have previously paid to have the interior detailed. (The dogs had use of the back seat during the rains and the vehicle was no longer fit for human habitation) I had tried on several occasions to call the car wash to schedule said detailing but no one ever answered the phone. 

Knowing that the direct approach is the best approach (see refrigerator story, ante) I drove in and explained my situation. I was told that I had to call to make an appointment as they were all full in the detailing department.

My response was that I would then back out and try to contact them again. I was offered a free car wash (there were three cars behind me!) I relented and let them wash the car.

Now is when things got interesting.....

Bolstered by my refrigerator win, I went to the office and asked for an appointment. I was told that there would not be an opening until April 29! I told the gentleman that I would be out of the country then. He insisted that was the soonest that a slot would be available. I said, "Fine, I would like my money back."

You would have thought I had asked for the moon! "I have to talk to my manager. You are causing me trouble" etc. He leaves and comes back saying that they can do the car next week. I continue asking for my money back. He leaves again.

Now the first guy (from outside) comes in and tells the counter guy (in another language of which I have some understanding) we will do it now, tell her now.


I got the detailing done, had lunch with the kid, and got my nails done.

I WIN!!!!



Saturday, March 25, 2017


I have been asked to join a friend on a small ship cruise of the Mediterranean. From Barcelona to Rome with 2 extra days in each city. Here is the website. Take a peek and tell me that this is NOT a jeans and sweatshirt kinda thing.

Now, mind you, it took me less than 2 seconds to scream "Yessss!" I clearly did not take the time to consider that I might need something other than jeans, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt or two. 
But now I am.
And I have a problem.
I may need a ----oh, god, no-----a dress..........


I do not particularly like dresses but on some occasions I have been seen in one. And I certainly have not tried to buy one of late.

The problem is not so much that I don't like dresses but, well, uh, er,....
I have "grown" since I last shopped for such a thing. 

You see I use to be tall and rather slender. Not skinny but I was built a little like a stick. I could wear almost anything and look decent in it. By that I mean skirt, dresses, pants. There wasn't much to show off and very little to hide.

Hell, when a client complained that I had "flaunted my cleavage at him" my employer teased me (back in the day when sexual harassment was an unknown issue) that the claim would fail as "there were facts not in evidence"!

It was easy to shop for clothes.

But now that I am "mature" the letter X has entered my shopping vocabulary.

Which is why the mere thought of a dress is distressing.

I have looked in every catalog. Been to every on-line site that carries my size. The dresses are stylish. But they are mostly just a bigger size of the one made for the young and the thin. 

I use to wear horizontal stripes and not think about it. But a dress with horizontal stripes from top to bottom on an X size woman who carries the proof of age like a 45 year old man who is still drinking too much beer? No no no no no no no no!  NO!

I refuse to LOOK like the keg of beer he drank last night!

Then there are the "chiffon" dresses. Flowing, light little things with SPANDEX at the hip! WTF?????

Or the sheath dress with darts down the front. Now "they" want me to look like a pregnant whale!

You see, while my waist has grown, my upstairs accoutrements have not kept pace. My client may win that claim of his, but not by much. Besides, I would have to raise those things up from my knees to make that work.

It is possible, I believe to be stylish without flaunting my physical failings. I know lots of women who can do that. They are large and MAGNIFICENT!

So, to the manufacturers of women's clothing. PLLLLEEEEAASE! Just try to use the laws of form and function in your designs. It isn't difficult. Large women don't look like smaller women. They don't wear the same things. They are proud of their size (it IS a sign of maturity). Dress them nicely and appropriately. 

Anyway, I am back to looking at dressy pants in hopes that there is a lenient dress code on board. If not, I just might have to sue them.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Where Have All the Puppies Gone?

Six Months
They were born on October 29, 2015 and came to live with us on December 23, 2015. They are our greatest joy.

Well, except when they want out at 4am or when they get mad at you for some perceived slight (like not throwing the ball long enough or when demanded) and they pee on the floor in front of you! The hooligans (as Dr. Boos has nicknamed them) are getting trained (again).

This time the training is local. And it goes like this.

Our deck is a health hazard. It has screws and nails popping out of old, dried out planks and the underside is full of wood rot. Our intention, when we moved in nearly 5 years ago, was to immediately replace the deck. We started to.....
Then just repaired the GIANT hole and replaced the newly leaking roof!

But now the deck is getting rather rickety and with two pups playing Ricky Racer orSumo Wrestler or Champion Ear Puller, something was going to give.

And it was not going to be the pups or us.

The removal of the old deck was scheduled to begin this week.

So we began looking for a place to board the dogs. They are puppies and bonded to each other so we wanted to be very careful where they spent the night much less two weeks away from home.

We did not want a kennel where they would stay in a concrete run or a place where they were in the kennel more than they were out of it. We also wanted a place where they had human contact and lots of supervised play time.

Now the first place one goes to when searching for something is-----the internet! The internet knows everything.

After a while this one place keeps popping up. And on its list of recommendators (is that a word?) are two friends of mine.

It had some nice features. Big play yards, human supervision 24/7 AND the DOGS and the owners had to be "interviewed" to make sure they would get along with other dogs.

So I filled out the application and immediately got a response that the trainer would like to meet with the dogs (and us) where we could see the pups interact with other dogs. So we go to a park that has a fenced off dog park. And we meet Justin.

Within seconds (well, minutes...) he has two wild and crazy puppies sitting, heeling, and (best of all) not barking at people or other dogs.

Into the dog area we go. The pups have never been in such a place and to say I was a bit anxious would have been an understatement.

And two things happened. Gracie remained shy and showed no signs of aggression. George, on the other hand, "put on the Giz"*!  He said hi to every dog and every person, played tag with any dog that wanted to play and then came back to tell Gracie that all was ok.

They were accepted to LoveDogs Camp. They spent one night there and were put on probation for barking at night.

So Justin came to the rescue. A little training in dealing with BIG DOGS and a little inclusion of their home routine did the trick. They came home the second time exhausted and filthy! Two very happy puppies!

They are now there for two weeks because this started this morning--

So, where have all the puppies gone? They have gone to camp!!!!

*Putting on the Giz is a reference to my father Harold "Giz" Gisvold. He would work a room by glad handing, chatting, greeting everyone and otherwise being a social butterfly. He descendants, even if suffering from introversion, know how to "put on the Giz". George has is down pat. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Growing up girl

Terry Orr, me, Jackie McLees and Marilyn McLees (year and age debatable

 When I was in kindergarten at Jefferson School in 1956 I was in an outdoor pageant. I think every kid in the school was.

But the kindergartners were part of the story of settling the West. Jackie (above) was a settlers "wife" and was riding in a covered wagon. Terry was a cowboy (I think---give me a break it was a few moons ago that this all happened!)

I was suppose to be an Indian "squaw" and stay in the background around the teepee.

Well, I objected. And apparently I objected loudly. I wanted to be in the war party. I was told that girls weren't part of war parties. I saw no sense in that.

So my grandmother sewed me a fringed "Indian" dress and my mom got me a toy bow and arrow and somehow, I was allowed to run from the back towards the "settlers" screaming at the top of my 5 year old lungs, waiving my bow and arrow. I was part of the "war party"!

I was 5.

When I was 8 I was told that I couldn't go fishing with my dad and brothers because it was too dangerous for a girl.

When I was 13 I was told that I couldn't run in track because it might damage my private parts.

When I was 16 I was told that I needed to be "more appealing" (translation: sexier looking) And just a note of reality--I am built exactly like my father---skinny legs, rounded belly, no waist and no butt! I was a tomboy and built like one.

When I was 22, living in Florida, I was told that I could not buy a car without the signature of my father or my husband. My spouse was in a B-52 somewhere over or nearly over VietNam and my father was in California.

In the late 70's, as a single mom, I was told that I could only work as a secretary at minimum wage.

I objected. I had a beautiful, smart daughter and I would provide for her. So I decided to go to law school.

I was told that I would not be allowed to work in a courtroom.
I was told I wasn't smart enough. 

My first interview out of law school started with this question (from a guy in a blue suit):
 "So, why does a pretty young thing like you want to be working in law?"

 I left.

When I began my career in a courtroom I allowed judges and other attorneys to bully me into taking a back seat. It took me a few years but that no longer happens. I strive to keep my power, my words.

Those are just the highlights that immediately came to mind when Hillary Clinton took the stage to accept the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. 

And I thought of all the slings and arrows that she has taken. I thought of all the slings and arrows most women have taken in this world.

And I cried.

I didn't think I would. I didn't think it would bring up old stuff. But it did.

All the times I was told that I was less than a boy. All the times I was told I wasn't as smart as a boy (when I knew I was) All the times I had to find different ways to get to my goals because I didn't have the boy connections. They all came forward in those few minutes.

I can and have let go of most of the feelings of anger and frustration. But I will always remember all those times. I will hold them close and cherish them. They made me who I am.

And the beautiful, smart daughter?

She went from picking cherries to picking juries.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

La Penquina

La Penguina

The story actually begins several years ago. To be perfectly clear, it began when a fellow Public Defender in Bakersfield bought me an Opus t-shirt. I loved Opus (and Bloom County) But my love for the absurd turned absurdly into a fascination with penguins (as opposed to Puffins).

I began collecting penguins. Statutes and the like. Not real live penguins (or even dead ones) just representations of penguins. Artistic, whimsical, weird, whatever.

Hand sculpted by an artist in Monterey

Part of the collection
 Anyway, I was a bit nuts about collection. I even have socks (several pair) with penguins on them.

That led to the gestation and birth of La Penguina.
She was born the year that Vocal Arts was going to tour Argentina and Uruguay. I had signed up for the trip and paid a goodly portion of the costs.

But work raised its ugly head. I got some big cases that were not going to let me take two weeks off to fly to South America and sing. I was pissed. Then I resigned my self to living the trip through photographs and other people's stories.

And penguins have what to do with this? You asked so I will tell you.

I have a kid who is rather inventive when it comes to such situations. She bought several plastic penguins and gave them to various members of the touring group. (Yes, she was going) The instructions were that La Penguina (the collective name for all of the penguins) was to accompany the member wherever they went and provide pictures to prove that she was there. La Penguina was me in abstentia.

It was a really cool idea and I loved that people would do such a thing. But then there was a hiccough.

Just a little glitch.

Argentina was in a bit of a political crisis. It seems that the President of Argentina and  the ranchers and farmers in the country were have a bit of a disagreement. Strikes were being called for and things were a bit tense. The ranchers and company had given the President a rude name. In Argentina the name was------ wait for it!

La Penguina!

The tour group was told that it was not a good idea to be seen taking photographs with a penguin in the group. It might cause trouble. It would be considered a political statement.

Me? Cause trouble? Even when I am absent!

So La Penquina was put into purses and bags and carried everywhere anyway. Just fewer pictures.

And why this long missive about La Penguina.

I usually have a reason to include these stories in my writing. And I do!

This week (in fact, yesterday) The Kid and her Spouse headed off for a bit of a vacation and the Kid knew I would love where they are going. So she packed La Penguina....

Safely packed for the flight
And every picture she has sent me from the British Virgin Islands has La Penguina.

Ah, the British Virgin Islands

I am really enjoying this one!!!