Saturday, December 20, 2014


      Last night, Kathie sent me these photos, via email, without much in the way of commentary. She left for Montana on Wednesday, and so I'm guessing that these first two are from Lewistown. The other two, presumably, were taken at her home in Beaumont.

      This is one of her bratty cats. Young and full of foolish energy.

     This, no doubt, is her big male cat Tommy. He is very devoted to his mom.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday on my mind

     Got up and got back down again, into bed. Teddy climbed on my chest and purred into my face. He’s a big ol’ cat and threatens to suffocate me, with all his weight, but I can’t resist a sweet creature like him.
     I finally removed him and got going—“’bye Pal!”—and off I went to my Friday morning class. Ran into Pa who was doing his walk; told him to tell Ma that I wouldn’t be making it for lunch today, ‘cause I had a lunch date with “my dean,” which was true but false.
     So off I went. It was going to be easy, teaching this 3-hour class, ‘cause I would use half the time on an old video about quantum mechanics and skepticism and belief. On the other hand, I had told ‘em I’d be giving them a quiz plus a makeup quiz—and I wasn’t sure I actually had that stuff written yet. Nope. So, a few minutes into the video, I darted into my office and wrote a quick quiz or two. Got it mostly done and used the break time between class halves to finish. It amazes me how I manage to get all this stuff done, and it almost always just works out fine. I like the pace of Friday mornings, ending with a big, wide-open weekend.
     I’ve really been thinking about quantum weirdness lately. I’ve riffed on that stuff to talk about religion vs. science and so on. The students are nice, but they can sit like stumps, and I hate that. So, when the video ended, I told ‘em it’s as if I had come to class with a unicorn, and I walked that thing into class—clomp, clomp—and students barely look up, then start yawning. It’s like that, I said, not to react to just how weird the world is at the subatomic level. How can you not react to finding out that reality is truly weird, weirder than you can imagine?
     Some of ‘em seemed to get my drift. Nice kids, mostly. They sat up straight and acted all interested. I like that video of mine and I think I got some of these kids to like it too, retroactively.
     After the break, I yammered about rational egoists and collective action problems and such. I knew I had to get through a certain amount—to justify what was on those quizzes. But it all worked out in the end, though I also returned their midterms, and that was kind of a grim business, really. Knuckleheads.
     The plan was to go to lunch with Karima (the “dean”) and Lisa today at 1:00. We always say we want to do that but never seem to get around to it, but Karima was determined to make it work. Lisa was already on campus with Bill E, interviewing people for adjunct instruction. I guess it was a big deal, but I had my own things to do and did them—mostly grading and getting stuff done for the weekend.
     At 1:00, I could still hear Lisa, Bill, and somebody yammering way down at the end of the hall, and so I got my duplicating done and then sat down for a second just to take a breath. Then I grabbed the exams (for weekend grading) and headed down to Bill’s office. I poked my head inside and said, “We’re late.” That ended the interview, I guess, though this guy they were interviewing was very excited about something and wouldn’t stop talking about it, whatever it was. I pushed him down the hallway and got things going.
     The three of us—Karima, Lisa, and me—eventually ended up in Karima’s new Nissan Leaf, an electric car, which she wanted to show us for some reason. It’s nice, I guess, though it's shaped funny like some of those Nissans are.
     We went to Zov’s, just down the road, and if I were driving, we’d of gotten their fast, but Karima drives like she’s using her tongue to accelerate, and so it was all hurky-jerky with inexplicable slow-downs and such. I almost said, “Want me to drive so you can use your tongue just to talk?”
     But I have great affection for these women and would only say such a thing as a joke, and, after a while, I was joking around in just that way. We had a great time at old Zov’s, and Karima really let loose with her frustrations and complaints. We wildly gossiped and evaluated and condemned everything and everybody. It was good.
     “None of this—promise me!—None of this is goes on the blog! None of this was ever said!”, said Karima. Well, she knew better than that.
     It was 4:30 before I got home, and it was getting dark, but Teddy needs to have his fun, so I let him outside and he quickly started doing what he does, rolling in the dirt, sniffing the grass, hunting varmints, and so on. Then he ran in to get some of his favorite food.
     I did some shopping online for Christmas presents for the kids. That took quite a while, but I did find something for Adam and something for Sarah. Made some dinner and watched some TV.
     Kathie called and had stories to tell. Me too.

Thursday, Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving):
Annie at Las Brisas, a few months ago
     I drove the four of us to the now-traditional Thanksgiving family extravaganza at Ron and Susan's. It was the usual thing—very kid- (and dog-) oriented. Aunt Judy (Susan's mom's sister) and her partner Dave (he of the toys: cars, boats, motorcycles) were there, as were Sherry (Cheri?) and Boyen, their kids, and even Boyen's mom, Mira, who has been ailing but who seemed pretty dang feisty. She's the Eastern European type who seems always to speak boldly and directly: "you seet down, now!" "Theess is nonsense; no?" Hence, we were treated to various explosions of Serbian, including those directed at Reggie, the wild and friendly German Shepherd and family pet. Old Simon (Nancy's [Susan's mom's] old chocolate lab) rose to the occasion (i.e., he walked) to hang with young Reggie and the kids, who seemed to squirm and run for the whole time (for us), which lasted from about 2:30 to about 7:00, most of which was taken up with conversation while "the girls" (mostly Sheri and Susan) worked on the big meal. They do this with astounding, but charming, inefficiency. I don't dare walk into the kitchen for fear that I'll immediately take over and just freakin' do it.
     Annie had just worked her last day at Home Depot (Wednesday), and, when Ron learned of this, he immediately donned Mira's bluntness ("So, you intend not to be employed?") and took on a more-than-usual sour countenance. Otherwise, it was all very pleasant, which is really saying something, given the right-leaning thinking going on in that crowd. Also, at the dinner table, we were all compelled to state what we were "thankful" for, an absurdity that I barely noted (when they got to me, I just said "ditto").

Friday, Nov. 28:
     Since Annie was free and I was on holiday, I suggested (on Thursday night) that we all go out to lunch on Friday.
     We left the house at 1:00 and arrived at Zov's, of Irvine, at about 1:30. Zov's is a small chain—they've got maybe five restaurants, with the main one in Tustin—started by an Armenian woman (judging by her name) and her family. Zov's seems to specialize on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, something I'm especially fond of. I had just lunched there the week before with my dean and friend Karima and my office mate Lisa and noted the good food and good service.
     Everybody had a good meal and a good time. (Ma always loves to "go out"; Pa manages to tolerate such outings, for her sake.) Ma drank two Margaritas. Annie and I tanked up on coffee; Pa drank Stella, on tap.
     We headed straight home and, eventually, Annie and I took off to do some shopping for a small get-together at my place on Saturday. We seem to shop well together, an amazing factoid, I'm sure.

Saturday, Nov. 29:
     On Saturday, Kathie showed up at Ma and Pa's and I dragged her over to my place, where Annie was in and out with her extravagant preparations (home-made soup, Middle-Eastern flat bread with topping [inspired by Zov's], sourdough bread, etc.) and Teddy was awaiting his reunion with his "mom."
     Eventually, Jan showed up (sans Laurie or Mike), and we commenced carousing and yapping like we do (especially Annie and Jan). Jan managed to find my new bottle of fancy Taquilla (I judged it by its price), and Kathie found her Carona's with lime. Annie and I mostly drank non-alchohol, though I managed three Peronis (a light Italian beer). Everybody loved Annie's soup and bread and such. Even the flat bread. I was playing a loop of Band of Horses and Cat Power music in the background.
     Teddy continued with his career as the world's most charming cat, capturing now Jan's heart. Jan wanted to kidnap him, I know.

Sunday, Nov. 30:
     Now, on Sunday, here I sit, on the couch, with Ma and Pa's MacBook, while Berverly, that old hippie, is cleaning my house (I hope).
     Ma got a letter yesterday, from her doctor, saying that her cholesterol is very high, so she's been dithering and worrying about that. Saw her dump sugar on her oatmeal in mid-dither. What's that about? She can be very, um, non-rational.
    Teddy is here, charming the pants off of everyone.
    All is well, though it is raining, intermittently.
    Ah, the folks just drove off in the old Toyota pickup to do some work in their studio. Annie's supposed to show up with "Smoothies" at some point, but there's absolutely no way of knowing when that will happen (an Annie hallmark), so I encouraged my folks to "just go," and not worry about it. And off they went.
     No doubt Annie will spot them down there and go roar at them about their failure to be at home awaiting her epoch-shatteringly tasty and healthy Smoothies.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A quiet week, a forgotten gal, a true love of mine

     It’s been a quiet week.
     Tuesday was Veterans’ Day, a day off from work (for me). And so I arranged for Ma, Pa, Annie and I to drive down to San Juan Capistrano, to this crew’s (not my!) favorite restaurant, the El Adobe. Its claim to fame is that it was Tricky Dick’s fave restaurant. He thought it was a Mexican place. It wasn't. Now it is. You can just imagine.
     That went well, if quietly. We’re all deaf (or otherwise handicapped), leaving aside Annie (who’s just a bit daffy), and so conversation was difficult, though Annie and I managed it OK. The folks love it down there, even when they say nothing that anyone can hear or understand. We took in the sights, walked around the Los Rios district a bit. Ma and Annie checked out the flowers and bushes and weird-assed cactus.
     We haven’t seen Ron & Susan and the kids for a long time, aside from a couple of weeks ago, for a combined Ma/Natalie/Catherine B-Day over at the folks. We’ll be seeing them next week, though, for the now-traditional Thanksgiving event at Ron and Susan’s. Kids and dogs.
     Kathie’s doing well. She’s at a conference this weekend. Haven’t heard anything lately about her folks, and especially her mom, who’s ailing. No news is good news.
     Wendy seems to be doing quite well post election (her opponent, a disastrous fellow, had the "virtue" of being Republican). As I had hoped, she seems to have impressed lots of people with her intelligence and ability qua candidate, and so she may have a second act as a would-be politician. Like me, she needs to keep busy with something big. I do hope that she’ll find enough to make her happy.

Edith c. 1953
     Annie is plotting her resignation from her Home Depot job. They seem to love her down there, but it seems to be a poor place to work—some of the crapitude emanating from “corporate,” back east somewhere. 
     I’ve been trying to situate her into decent health insurance for years (I'll pay, I keep saying) but she seems always about to do something that will poise her to do the one thing that…. Well, you know Annie. She never seems to get to point B. Being employed by HD, evidently, doesn't get a person even an inch closer to health insurance.
     The present plan is this, evidently: she can’t get the insurance or the desired (and in some sense available) Social Security benefits unless she quits her Home Depot gig. Fine. So why doesn’t she do that? I’ve tried to urge that along but…. —You know Annie, always at the ready with blithering blatherage and a stealthy escape through a side door.
     But, this afternoon, she asked me for help writing a resignation letter. Looks like she means business this time. I’m hoping that she turns it in. I'll believe it when it happens. Then we’ll see where we’re at when the dust settles. Maybe she’ll be “in retirement,” with decent health insurance to boot. It’ll be a whole new chapter for her.
     My curious “obsession” with Natacha Nattova has reached the end of a cycle, I think. I took all of my research and dumped it onto a blog, called “My Natacha Nattova Obsession.” Nobody reads it, which was expected. It'll sit there, a home to strays who wander in, a warm and cuddly spot for those eccentrics and fools who care about this curious slice of the past.
     Nattova. She’s a forgotten person, like most. “The world,” or at least New York, had her in its sights for a while. But, now, if it thinks about her at all, it has no idea what became of her. Or it thinks she died back in the 30s. Nope. I’ve figured out roughly what became of her. I am her, I know, just another creature heading toward obscurity (a place I have already reached). 
     We are all Nattova, God help us.
     Anyway, this (the following) is what I wrote on that blog this afternoon. I’m sure I’ll write further posts, but I mean for this verbiage to be a kind of end. A period to a sentence, a door closed shut:
     No doubt this kind of speculation is unfair, but here goes. It is easily imagined that tensions will crop up for any dancing duo (or trio, etc.) that gains fame. Typically, one person gets more attention than the other(s), justly or unjustly. It is easily imagined that such was the case for Myrio and Nattova (or Nattova and Myrio!) in their years together, starting (I believe) in London and ending in mid-1926 New York. There are indications (see previous posts) that Myrio was irked that Nattova got as much attention, or praise, as she did, drawing light from his own star, and that he sought another arrangement, including his top (or sole) billing with someone less annoyingly captivating. Perhaps these kinds of concerns explain the Nattova-Myrio breakup of 1926. 
     On the other hand, there are indications (again, it is easy to be unfair, working with such sketchy information) that Nattova was a difficult person and difficult to work with: her odd episode with Toots Pounds in London, the violent episode with her protégé (who declared that Nattova was "insane") two years later, the frequent litigation, the peculiar public threats to would-be plagiarists, etc. Perhaps Nattova's demanding and difficult ways grew as her fame grew and, by mid-1926, Myrio had had quite enough. And perhaps that happened with Daks, too. 
     Who knows. A very different (and more flattering) picture is also consistent with the facts as I know them. 
Edith c. 1953
   For what it's worth, though Myrio might have insisted on top billing in the post-Nattova act, he eventually (and soon) commenced flourishing as part of a duo ("Myrio and Desha"), with double billing, with his wife, a real attention-grabber. That lasted for quite some time it seems. 
     Was our girl, Nattova, difficult? That is easily imagined. The evidence is strong but not overwhelming that she was. 
     We are compelled to ask: Why did Nattova's career decline as it did (if indeed it did, and it seemed to)? Had she burned too many bridges? Was it simply a case of the passing fancies of a fickle public? 
     Did she expect more from Daks than the journeyman-like career that he seemed to settle into in the 30s? Did she herself expect to maintain her "star" and then diminish amid the reality of her declining standing? Had she been, for a brief time, a kind of "it" girl—one whose stature depended on manipulation of the press/public or, alternatively, a perfect storm of accident and fortuity? That can be a difficult epoch to live through. Many do not survive it. And some, no doubt, cannot live happily, or at all, when it passes. And perhaps she was a truly outstanding artist whose fame and stature was in some simple sense deserved. But that, too, typically fades—I mean either the artistry or that art's relationship with an always foolish and mercurial public. 
     I cannot imagine Nattova's years, starting in the mid-30s, as anything but sad. It is possible, I suppose, that she sought only to make a living dancing for a motley and inconstant public. Perhaps her increasing distance from stardom, or goddesshood, was no burden for her. But I doubt it. 
     Evidently, by 1940, she lived with Daks in a New York apartment, putatively (or actually?) as his wife. A housewife. But the circumstances suggest that the situation was sadder still. Had she gone (back?) to Daks, not as wife, but only for a place to live, as his career and life marched on essentially without her, as, indeed, it seemed to? 
     But she did survive. Fifteen years later, she settled in Southern California, and she lived a good thirty years longer in the Golden State. How she fared in her obscure second act we'll likely never know. I do hope she fared well, or well enough.
     I thought of W (and K and K) when I wrote that. Sort of.
So if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Trouble-Maker (the Abominal Son-Man)

     I drove up to my folks’ place just as Annie arrived in her Toyota. We walked through the front door together.
     Ma was disappointed to discover that I had not brought Teddy, my cat, with me. I had left him with my folks yesterday, and they greatly enjoyed his company, as usual.
     Animals always bring out the best in Bauers, any of them. It's almost always a good idea to bring Teddy along to a visit to my folks. But, today, young Teddy hid when I picked up my car keys and got ready to go to lunch. He does that. I really don’t like to make him go anywhere he doesn’t want to go.
     Ma had lunch ready. We sat down and ate.
     All was well, it seemed, but my dad seemed to be in a grumpy, or quiet, mood. He is moody (I suspect that he'd deny it), though he is generally friendly.
     Eventually, he turned to me and asked, “How is Becky Jenni doing?”
     Becky Jenni? I could not think of any member of the Jenni clan named Becky.
     “Do you mean ‘Peggy’ Jenni?” I asked.
     “That’s what I said,” said Pa.
     “No, you said ‘Becky,’” said Annie.
     My folks do this all the time. They’ll make a bizarre remark, and everyone within earshot will be flummoxed. B-Bombs, dropped with sufficient frequency, can really break up the flow of conversation, of life, of happiness.
     “Well, as far as I know, Peggy is doing fine,” I said. Peggy is Kathie’s mom, who is 89 years old and has been ailing. My folks seem genuinely concerned about Peggy and her husband, Floyd.
     The conversation soon turned to something else.
     Both of my folks have health problems, though nothing terribly serious, I guess. My dad struggles with dementia and a problem with one of his heart valves. My mom has high cholesterol, or so we found out a few days ago.
     Generally speaking, my folks, who are in their 80s, do OK taking care of themselves—they have reasonably healthy diets, they excercise, etc. Still, they are not entirely to be trusted in their judgments about health. They’ve always had a weakness for simple answers to complex problems: "people who eat lots of vegetables (or who eat apricots, or fish) necessarily live longer." --That sort of thing. Further, they seem to share the fallacies common among people of their generation and age—resisting doctors' visits, refusing to recognize symptoms, general stubbornness, etc.—but they add their own special spin to such folly. I recall the time that my dad thought it a good idea to “treat” our dog, who had sustained a large, open wound in his side, by pouring chamomile tea into it. –That sort of thing.
     My dad is the more active and noisy in his variety of folly. Invariably, he discusses his and others’ health problems as though he were an authority the equal of any doctor or so-called expert. He weaves his sometimes absurd theories over time, pontificates about them, and sometimes seems to take them seriously enough to refuse ideas and treatments suggested by the usual medical professionals. Annie and I worry about that.

     A week or two ago, he and Ma almost rushed off (at Annie's urging) to the emergency room owing to the appearance of an odd facial symptom. In the words of both Ma and my sister, his left eye "grew very large and he looked very weird." This is easily imagined.
     But the problem seemed to go away. I was told about it a few hours later, when I drove Ma, Pa, and Annie to Ron and Susan’s Thanksgiving shindig. I paused and looked at him, and he seemed perfectly normal. I said that we’d just keep an eye on that eye.
     A few days later, I heard that the symptom cropped up again, but then went away as quickly as it appeared.
     Today, during lunch, Pa announced, as he often does on Saturdays, that he had to go join Luis, who was working on some project somewhere. Off he went. He took a swig of water (my folks are very big on bottled water) and commenced coughing, almost violently.
     He does that a lot.
     After he left, my mom said, “I don’t know how anyone can live like that—choking and sneezing and coughing all the time. He’s always got something going on here”—she held her hands up to her nose, then her eyes—“or here, and it’s every day!”
     Annie and I were thinking the same thing, I’m sure. As I said, our folks are not entirely to be trusted with medical matters, such as sudden mystery ailments. Both of us stared at my mom with renewed concern.
     “So how long has this been going on?” asked Annie.
     “Well, it’s only recent. But he’s always got some problem up here.” She held her hands up to her upper face again.
     Yes, it’s true that my dad is one of those people who routinely chokes on drinks or food. He’s been doing that, however, for quite some time. (I seem to have a similar tendency, though much less pronounced.) The thing with his eye, though, seems new.
     Annie and Ma got into a purely verbal dispute about whether Pa’s eye symptom was “new.” These two—and my dad—do not understand the concept of a merely verbal dispute. Hence, upon entering one, they never exit, they just go ‘round and ‘round in circles, resolving nothing. Naturally, I try to reveal their folly, but, generally, such efforts strike them as excess intellectualism and yield resentment and hostility of the “just who do you think you are?” variety. Natch.
     They really ought to just paste a “College Boy” sticker on my forehead and put a muzzle on my mouth.
     I changed the subject a bit. “Now, unlike you two, I haven’t seen this ‘big eye’ symptom. I’m guessing you’re misdescribing it a bit, right? It’s not that his left eye literally gets big; it’s more that his eye lids and other skin get inflamed and one eye begins to look bigger than the other.”
     My mom seemed not to understand. But Annie got it. “Yeah, that’s it,” she said.
     I said: “—'Cause there is such a thing as someone’s eye getting bigger, but that’s not what this is, right?”
     “Right,” said Annie.

     (My folks regard nearly all efforts at clarification with suspicion. Too much of that sort of thing—who ever heard of a "verbal dispute," anyway!—and they start calling you a “lawyer,” the idea being that you’re obviously a hair-splitting, sophistical, ambulance-chasing sack of shit. Sometimes, they even call my friend Jan, a lawyer, a "lawyer.")
     Next, we got into a typically confused discussion about when this symptom started and how many "eye" episodes there’ve been since last Thursday.
     Here’s what I was thinking. This symptom doesn’t seem all that worrisome, in and of itself—that is, aside from the possibility that it indicates something more serious. Perhaps it is a symptom of his other medical issues, including his ongoing heart problem. (I should mention that, recently, Pa received the second of two eye surgeries to correct a cataract problem. Obviously, this eye issue could relate to that.) I suggested, therefore, that, if possible, we call up Kaiser and ask a nurse or doctor whether this symptom is any reason to be concerned.
     That made sense to Annie, who then declared that Kaiser does have someone we can call. (She used to have Kaiser.)
     My mom, however, seemed skeptical.
     Ma is often of two minds during such conversations. On the one hand, she can share my dad’s fallacies concerning medical caution—about coughing, and feeling faint, and “big eyes” and such. But she has also heard an earful from Annie and me about the need to be sensible, to seek medical advice. On her own, my mom is not particularly inclined to resist the suggestion.
     When my dad is around, however, it’s usually an entirely different matter. She seems to lose all autonomy and join in his utterly predictable and incorrigible anti-intellectualist, Old World folly. Today, after my dad left us, she was in a mood to take Pa’s side, despite his absence.
     She can be awfully fickle that way.
     Naturally, the question became: shouldn’t we call Kaiser and get advice about the seriousness of these symptoms?
     As always, my mother became confused while simultaneously maintaining certainty that she saw things aright. It makes rational conversation with her difficult.
     Let me explain. We all understand that my dad tends to resist the suggestion that he has symptoms when he has them and that, even when he acknowledges symptoms, he is inclined to resist the suggestion that he should consult professionals about them. This can yield particularly frustrating episodes—when symptoms crop up at particularly inconvenient times and situations. For instance, Sunday is Pa’s day to relax, and so he is liable to be particularly stubborn about going to the Emergency Room on a Sunday.
     Today’s Saturday.
     Obviously, emergencies, or possible emergencies, don’t become less urgent simply because they fall on a Sunday. Such emergencies become more inconvenient, that’s all. Now, in our little conversation today, in which we debated the wisdom of calling up Kaiser about Pa’s worrisome symptoms, my mother commenced suggesting that we had better not call Kaiser tomorrow, a Sunday. Why? “Because it won’t be an emergency tomorrow,” she seemed to say.
     Huh? Another B-Bomb had been dropped.
     Worried anew about my folks’ competence in dealing with possible medical emergencies, I looked at Ma and said: “If we call Kaiser tomorrow and learn that he had better go to the Emergency Room right away, the need to go to the Emergency Room will not become less so simply because it’s a Sunday!”
     My mother evidently did not understand my point.
     I said: “If we call, tomorrow, and learn that Pa needs to go to Emergency, going there will be more inconvenient for Pa and it might become more difficult to convince him that he ought to go, but it will remain true that he ought to go, then and there, to Emergency, right?”
     Ma remained uncomprehending. At such times, her jaw seems to take on more prominence and she commences arguing a familiar thesis: that, here, we have one of those occasions, of which there have been many (“Lord help us!”), that our son, Roy Bauer, is determined to “make trouble.”

The Abominal Snow Man
     Roy as Trouble-Maker. Surely, you've heard of this.
     Obviously, the situation had become hopeless. Annie and I knew, of course, that we had better make that call today, not tomorrow.
     Still, once again, my folks, and especially my mom, had left me (and Annie) with little confidence in their ability to deal with medical emergencies. I was worried.
     I have no doubt whatsoever that a wiser man would have realized that it was time to give up and cut his losses. I am not that man.
     I offered this: “One hears from people all the time about some health catastrophe—a relative’s stroke, or heart attack, or whatnot. And these people recall early waning signs that, tragically, did not inspire anyone to seek medical attention! You want to shout, ‘well, when Uncle Harry fell forward and smashed his face into the pumpkin pie, didn’t it occur to you that it might be a good idea for him to go see a doctor?!”
     This remark produced a torrent of accusatory remarks essentially of the “you’re being a jerk, a perverse trouble-maker, again” variety.
     Fool that I am, I asked my mother just what sort of person would make the kind of remark—about others’ failures to heed warning signs and such—that I had just made. A jerk? –I was thinking, dolt that I am, that it was obvious that such a person thereby manifests his concern about another’s welfare. See?
     But no. It was plain that, just that moment, my mother had another thought entirely: Lord, save as from this ungrateful troublemaker. Why will he not leave us in peace?! Why does he torment us so!?
     I stormed out, roaring at the mountains, like the Abominable Snow Man.
     So, things are about usual here in Bauers’ Canyon.
     Teddy says “hey.”

     See also: The Kitchen Table

Friday, October 31, 2014

A minor dehydration crisis

     Got done with my 3-hour morning class and headed home sooner than usual. Dropped by to pick up Teddy and headed over to the folks, but the place looked empty. Sure enough, we opened the garage door and the Camry was gone. (Teddy hates entering through the garage. He seems to think monsters reside in there.)
     Headed back to my place and Teddy jumped out of the car just as I came to a stop. He immediately headed for his favorite spot these days: the hill against which my place is built, which is mighty green and lush these days.
     I caught up with the little guy who was already headed up the little trail that starts right behind my place. It has a switchback, and Teddy was already up to that and headed further up the trail. “Slow down, little man,” I warned.
     But no. He got up to the substantial oak tree right there at the side of the trail and started looking up that tree like he does when he’s contemplating a climb. It’s a bratty kind of thing. “Nope!” I warned. I stopped. I should have known. Should have just headed back down the hill. But you know how bratty these cats can be. My failure to retreat was provocation enough for his leap up that tree.
     It’s a fine climbing tree, and so he climbed the trunk, and then up the first available branch. This tree is right up the side of the hill, and it starts maybe ten or so feet above the “floor” of my house, and so, when Teddy got to the end of that branch, he was maybe twenty feet above the roof of my place, way up there.
     I resignedly walked a little further up the trail for a good spot to sit and watch. From there, I had a great view of the brat and his tree, plus the canyon below. I could even see Annie’s place. Her Toyota was there, so I figured she was home. It’s a kind of blustery day, with rain imminent. Nice dark clouds and cool air that moves.
     Teddy just climbed around up in the tree for a while, exploring. But, pretty soon, as I feared, he got to the base of the first branch, which was maybe eight feet above the ground (the ground sloping steeply upward), and he remained there, evidently afraid to come down. As you know, it’s easier to go up than to go down, and that counts, too, for fat-assed cats like Teddy.
     So I headed inside to heat up some rice, and came back out maybe two minutes later, and Teddy was still way up there in the tree, whining a bit. I walked up to the base of that tree and encouraged him to come down, but it was a case of nothin’ doin’. He just stared at me like it wasn’t possible to come down. “Are you kiddin’ me,” he seemed to say.
     I went back in to add something to the rice. Came back in maybe two or three minutes, and he was still at the same spot. I tried again, and he wasn’t budging.
     Went back in one more time. After a while, I came out, and he was still up there. This time, when I got to the base of the tree and encouraged his coming down, he decided to give it a try. He did, and though he threatened to go head over heels (well, if cats had heels), he did make it half way down the trunk and then jumped to the ground, which was pretty soft. I picked him up and took him inside, hoping that he had learned his lesson once for all. But that’s what I said the last time this happened.
     Soon, the phone rang, and I figured it was the folks, who had finally made it home from wherever they were. But it was Annie. She was at some Kaiser emergency care place. She explained that the recent episode in which Ma felt terrible and was rushed to the ER—it turned out to be dehydration—had occurred again. So they were sitting there waiting for the test results, and everybody was pretty sure that, once again, she had neglected to drink enough water. That all sounded pretty good and so I said I’d await another call when they knew more.
     Ten minutes later, she called again, and it sounded like they were heading home and everything was hunky dory.
     After about twenty minutes, I headed down to the folks, but they hadn’t arrived yet. Teddy complained about the garage again, but, once inside, he seemed happy to be there, as always.
     After about fifteen minutes, I spotted the Camry rollin’ on up. They came in and made a big fuss over Teddy like they do—all three are devoted to the little guy—and then settled into some sort of lunch-making flurry, though, in truth, only Annie was actually making anything, which was a massive bowl of mac and cheese. Natch, Ma was nervously doing something, I know not what, and so Pa was pestering her, telling her to “slow down,” with that long-suffering tone. That’s what those two do, all day long. I can't listen to it.
     Well, it was pleasant enough regurgitating the facts about this latest crisis and yapping about the usual trivia. Annie seemed to take forever on that mac and cheese while she yapped like she does, churning the Sturm und Drang of her life. Eventually, she plopped the pot down on the table and off we went, filling up paper bowls. Meanwhile, Teddy was running around being cute like he does.
     All was well.
     Annie says she’s about to give her notice to Home Depot. That sounded good.
     Just got back to my place.

     It’s quiet now, and I like it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Nattova" posts moved to new blog

     I've moved the "Natacha Nattova" posts to a new blog called
     Here are the blog posts that were once posted here and have been moved. Further posts have been added.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More on Otto Hänfler and his people

Marthe, Edith, Otto, c. 1938
     According to his own records, Otto Hänfler's parents were Gustaf Hänfler of Pietronke and Christiane Fischer of Charlottenburg. Last time (i.e., last post), I did a search for Hänflers in the Poznan Project database (a new database for records of 19th Century Poznan residents). Today, I did a search of Fischers, and that yielded the above (that's odd, for, earlier, I got nowhere because there were too many Fischers!). In 1832, Johann Geske married Christine Fredrich Fischer (a peculiar union considering the age difference; see), in Łabiszyn. Interestingly, the latter town is about 65 miles due east of Pietronke. That's pretty close.
     But we're likely barking up the wrong tree, since Otto's mother hailed from Charlottenburg, which is no where near Pietronke; it is in the Berlin area, well to the west. We know that Otto's brother lived in the Berlin area and that Otto and Marthe lived there for a time too. Dang.
     Here's something more positive. In my Hänfler search, I came across various Hänflers in a town called Laski. (There appear to be several Laskis in Poland.) Yesterday, I found a village or town by that name in or near Warsaw, which is very far to the southeast (relative to Pietronke). But, today, I noticed a village called "Laski" very near one of the other towns (Drozki) that comes up when searching "Hänfler" at the Poznan Project site. Is this the Laski of the Hänflers? Maybe so. (See maps below.)
     Maybe we're zeroing in on the Hänflers that produced Gustaf. We'll see.
     Another question is whether Otto Hänfler, or earlier Hänflers, were in some way connected to the "Leipzigers" that lived in that large estate situated near or at Pierotronke. Earlier, I noted that the Leipzigers (or von Leipzigs), a noble family, had connections to Meissen; and, of course, Otto Hänfler made his living, for a time, as an artisan for the Meissen porcelain people (which led to Otto and Marthe's living in Denmark for several years).
     It will be difficult tracking down the Fischer family (i.e., Otto's mother's family), I think, if they lived in or near Berlin, which appears to be the case. That area was, of course, heavily bombed and largely destroyed. It now appears that the Hänflers of Pietronke offer the hotter trail.
Approximate location of three cities mentioned in "matches" to Haenfler
in Poznan Project: Laski, Drozki, Wyszanow (see relative to Hanfler's
hometown, Pietronke (at upper left). There's a village called "Laski" 
seven miles to the east of Drozki--perhaps that is the correct Laski.
DETAIL above. Context below. Look for Drozki and Laski: location of some Hänflers

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Dear Sir,

I have read the entry on your blog with much interest. For several years I have been reading and researching the ethnic and political history of Polish-German borderlands. I thought you might be interested to know that a free online genealogical project called "Poznan Project" is aiming to index all XIXth century marriage records from the province of Posen. Perhaps you might find it helpful in tracing back some of your ancestors. By the way Pietronke and the Kolmar region is a very specific part of Wielkopolska (Greater Poland or what was later called "Posen") with strong German presence since XVIIth century. Several German settlements were established in the area already by the end of the XVIth century with most Germans arriving throughout the XVIIIth century in the aftermath of the 30-year war. German influx made Chodziez-Kolmar largely a German city, and the nearby Ujscie remained predominantly Polish. Kolmar was surrounded by a ring of German settlements. Pietronke is however a very peculiar case since it was one of the few villages around Kolmar/Chodziez with Polish majority. A sort of Polish "island" and as such it was the only village in the nearest area suitable for dialectological research after WW II along with the village of Prosna to the South. In most other villages around Kolmar German farmers predominanted and Poles constituted mainly mobile labour force so no stable local Polish dialect could ever develop. Pietronke however, partly because of its isolation, retained certain archaic features - some linking it with the dialects spoken North of the Netze, rather than mainland Wielkopolska/Posen. It also has to be said that many of the Germans became Catholics and there was a certain division between the Protestants and the Catholics. Intermarriage between Polish and German Catholics was relatively common and  families in the mixed areas were usually to an extent bilingual.  Should you ever need to know the relevant parishes - "Gemeindelexikon Posen" availabe  at may be useful. 

best wishes from Poland and many thanks for an interesting entry about a local family!

[Wojciech Witold]

Approximate location of three cities mentioned in "matches" to Haenfler
in Poznan Project: Laski, Drozki, Wyszanow (see relative to Hanfler's
hometown, Pietronke (at upper left). There's a village called "Laski" 
seven miles to the east of Drozki--perhaps that is the correct Laski.
• Pietronke of Kreis Kolmar, Posen
• Pietronke, part 2
Re Herr Hänfler [Edith's stepfather]: 
• Otto Hänfler, Edith's "father"
• French kiss: the sad story of baby Peter
Explanation: Edith's biological father, Hermann Schultz (1901-1939), died in an accident in 1939. By then, Edith had already lived for several years with her father's sister, Marthe, who lived with her husband, Otto Hänfler, in Bärwalde, the Schultz hometown. Otto, who had been an artisan with the famous porcelain makers Meissen, hailed from Pietronke--in one of the German/Polish borderlands to which Mr. Witold refers above. Pietronke was fifty (?) or so miles to the southeast of Bärwalde.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lambrose Canyon from high above, 2014

1. CLICK on image to enlarge. Our post office address is "Trabuco Canyon," but, in truth, we live in Live Oak Canyon, which eventually dumps into Trabuco Canyon maybe 5 miles down the road. Our road is called "Lambrose Canyon," which is named after the former owners of our property. Bauers' Canyon is (I suppose) the contemporary name of the former Lambrose Canyon (the small canyon as opposed to the road). Sheesh.

     It's hot today, a Friday, and it's pretty dry too. A wildfire has broken out way into Silverado Canyon, ten or so miles to the northwest. Everybody's a little on edge when that happens (in Bauers' Canyon), but we've been through this so many times before. The scariest episode occurred back in 2007. That fire came within a quarter of a mile or closer (just northeast of us). We had to evacuate, but the fire was stopped along Live Oak Canyon Rd. Whew!
     The Google image above (#1) provides shaded strips representing roads, but some of that shading makes no sense. For instance, at the right (and 2/3 of the way down), one finds Lambrose Canyon Rd. heading (from Live Oak) due west and then curving rightward into another road labelled "Lambrose." That shaded "Lambrose" does not exist, of course. The Google image provides no indication where the real Lambrose goes after it reaches Bruce's place (see), so I've shaded in more or less where the actual Lambrose Canyon Rd. runs. See on the bottom right (I've labelled it).

2. A somewhat earlier image/map
     Inspired by my recent adventures on these pages, I've indicated (on image 1) where the old Lambrose Family picnic zone once was—very near where the present-day lower Bauers' Canyon starts (see red dot and shaded area)—during the era that stretched perhaps from the 50s (earlier?) up through the early 70s.
     I indicated the location of "Gilligan's Peak," just above the parking zone next to the main house. Ron will explain, of course, that that is not actually Gilligan's Peak, which, in truth, is at or near what I've labelled "Avacado Heights." Well, yes. But that spot is surely where G's Peak ought to be (it needs a name). Avacado Heights (my coinage) is a flat spot just above my place that provides access to our water tank. It includes a cluster of fruitful Avacado trees that have been visited often, in recent years, by Pa and his Avacado Kids.

I think this is near the "entrance" to Lambrose Canyon
(i.e., Bauers' Canyon), 1976. Here, we see Opa and his dog, Slipper; Ma. 

     Above: essentially, the Santa Ana Mountains (which comprise a portion of the immense Cleveland National Forest)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hangin' out in Orange, c. 1973

Ron, Annie, Ray, and probably Annie's '59 Bug (though it could be my '66 Bug).
Ron, Ray, Roy, Annie. We're sitting in the room edition of the Topaz St. house--
watching TV, it seems. Note the hideous volcanic rock on the wall at right.
Here's what the house looked like c. 1965 (note: garage at right)

Lambrose Canyon c. 1976

I think this is near the "entrance" to Lambrose Canyon
(i.e., Bauers' Canyon). Here, we see Opa and his dog, Slipper; Ma. 
Ray in the background? He would have been 15.
And what's that written on the Lambroses' old trailer?
Smith's "something"
Pa and Opa--on the ridge?
The file for this photo says 12-1973 (i.e., December of 1973). It appears to be the entrance of our Lambrose property. (I just looked. The trees don't seem to match. See below.)
We didn't begin building on the property until about 1975.


     Today, it occurred to me that the road of the "Opa" photo above isn't Bauers' Canyon Rd. but (what has come to be called) Lambrose Canyon Rd.--the road going from Live Oak Canyon and then past Bauers' Canyon. The photo below captures the perspective of the above "Opa" photo, according to my hypothesis:

     It's hard to see in the photo, but Lambrose Canyon Rd. does curve to the left in the background (as it passes the rental), just as the road does in the "Opa" photo. Today's photo used a lense that is narrower than the one used in 1976, and thus it does not show the area to the right with the ridge in the background. So I stood on the spot that, according to my hypothesis, the Opa shot is taken from, and I took a picture of the ridge. Here's a comparison of the shot of the ridge I took today vs. the top of the ridge in the Opa shot:

     Keep in mind that there is nearly forty years between these photos. I'm about 75% certain we have a match.
     I also took some photos of the area at which the old trailer once stood. (The eucalyptus trees tended to get in the way. I walked past them. I believe that all of the eucalyptus trees were planted by the Bauers since 1976.) 
     Naturally, even oak trees change a lot in forty years. Here's my attempt to match oak trees:

     What do you think? It's hard to say, isn't it?