Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Another Claim to “Fame”

On my website I list three “claims to fame,” the first being my experience with Koko, which I shared in my last blog post.
Here’s the second one: I once performed with the Joffrey Ballet, even though I don’t know how to dance.
I had a few months of ballet lessons when I was in First Grade, but after my father died we couldn’t afford those anymore. Obviously, I was hardly an expert ballerina.
One day someone at the church I attended in San Francisco mentioned that the ballet company was looking for supernumeraries. That’s what would be called extras in theatre terminology.
I tried out and was accepted. 
They were performing Petrushka, which takes place in Russia in the winter. 
Before each performance I’d go down to the basement in the old San Francisco Opera House and  have a wig and long beard  put on by the makeup people. 
Then I’d wander through the maze of rooms trough the room where the orchestra was rehearsing and they’d all laugh at me.
In the room where I changed into my costume I put on layers of padding and heavy winter clothes. I could hardly move!
During the performance all I had to do as part of the crowd was sway with the music and turn around once.

It was hardly what you would call dancing, but I can say I performed with the Joffrey Ballet.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Yesterday the weather here in the Sierra foothills of northern CA was overcast and muggy. That’s very unusual in this area.
When I was a kid my grandfather lived with us, and I grew up hearing stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. 
Because the quake and resulting fires destroyed homes, people camped outside for days, and the weather was overcast and muggy then. People who had experienced that event called it earthquake weather for he rest of their lives. Of course it didn't cause the quakes.
When the Loma Prieta earthquake happened in 1989 I lived in a victorian house that swayed from side to side during the quake. Fortunately very little damage was done to our home, but a lot was done to other structures in the area.
Earthquakes are rare, but very dangerous. Just think about what has happened more recently in Haiti.
It’s the movement of the tectonic plates below the surface of the earth that causes them, and I’m afraid all the lava pouring out from the volcanic eruptions in Hawaii may cause the Pacific tectonic plate to move. 
I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a major earthquake in the next few months. I hope I’m wrong.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

If Only ...

I’ll make this post short and simple.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Golden Rule. I’ve seen paraphrases of it from most of the major religions on Earth.
If only everyone would follow it, most of our political problems, both in the USA and around the world would be solved.
So lets all try to do unto others as we would like others to do unto us. In other words, let’s all treat everybody else the way we would like to be treated.
Even though we may not be famous and powerful, we help make the world a better place a little bit at a time.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

When I Met Koko

I mention on my website that I once met Koko the gorilla and, since her death has been in the news lately, I was asked to share more about that experience. So here it is...

Back in the 1970s when I lived in San Francisco I worked at California School for the Deaf in Berkeley,  my husband was a Sign Language interpreter, we had a Deaf foster son, and we both interpreted services at our church in Sign Language.

We also had a deaf dalmatian who had learned to understand about 300 signs.

Someone at our church told me he knew a woman who was teaching Sign Language to a baby gorilla called Koko, and arranged for me to contact her.

I wanted our dog to meet the gorilla, but Penny Paterson said that wouldn’t work since gorillas are terrified of dogs. In Africa all wild dogs are predators.

But she did arrange for me to meet her at the zoo where she explained to me what she was doing, then took me out to Koko’s cage and went back to work.

A young man who was also working with Koko entered her cage and she slammed the door shut so he couldn’t leave.

Then the baby gorilla quickly clambered up on top of his head so he couldn’t scold her.

I asked if he wanted me to get help and he replied that wasn’t necessary because someone with a key would be coming soon. But he told me having Koko on his head was really hurting his neck.

I signed to her, “Get down.”

Koko turned her head away, then peeked back at me.

I told her, “Give him a hug,” and she climbed down into his arms and hugged him.

He thanked me, and I watched Koko for a while longer, but that was the end of my conversation with her.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

For the Fourth of July

New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bill Drake's Book

This is the first time I’ve blogged about a book that isn’t for kids, but this one got me so excited I couldn’t resist sharing about it.

Almost Hereditary: A White Southerner’s Journey Out of Racism  by Bill Drake is amazing!

Last week I jokingly posted something about being an anti-bigot bigot, but reading this book made me realize my attitude toward racial and religious bigots is really not very different from their attitudes.

The book is part biography, part history, and part information to help readers recognize and overcome their own prejudices. It’s well written and even some of the appendices are interesting to read.

With everything going on in the news lately, I wish everyone would read this book.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Playing Dress-up

When I was a kid I loved playing dress up. 
I had some old Halloween costumes and a few skirts and blouses that had belonged to my mother, and a cowboy hat and cap gun. I think I also had a big piece of fabric I used as a cape. 
All the kids in the neighborhood would put on our dress-up costumes and pretend to be various characters.
Of course the boys always wanted to be cowboys or super heroes while the girls often pretended to be princesses.
In about a month I’ll get to play dress-up again. I’ll be volunteering at the local Renaissance Fair for kids in Nevada City and I’m figuring out what to wear. I don’t have an authentic costume from that time period, but I do have a long dress with full sleeves, so I’ll probably wear that.
It will be fun to act like a kid again!