Sunday, July 25, 2021


Let's take a look at what's going on in my neck of the woods -- Southern California, sometimes referred to as SoCal.  Then, we'll briefly move across the pond which has prompted a personal memory of my modest, rather inconsequential but thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally hammy in dramatic terms,  life.

Pandemically speaking, Delta+ infections, especially among the unvaccinated and younger people, soar in Los Angeles County,  as reported in our local newspaper, Claremont Courier, by reporter Steven Felschundneff.  "The vaccination rate has stalled at 64% of the eligible population" in our town, he reports. 

I continue to mask whenever I go out, even to drive thrus and for pickups as I had been doing, even when that requirement had been relaxed.  Frankly, I don't see the situation changing anytime soon and current news reports suggest October may see a peak.  But this virus and variants wickedly change so I recommend you regularly check reliable news health sources you have both nationally, as with  Dr. Fauci, M.D., NIAID (National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases) Director, I respect, and your local sources.  

***Late insert:   I just read this from my daughter:   "Very frustrating and unsettling when your unvaccinated teammate comes to work sick and apparently has been for the past 2 weeks, then doesn’t bother to take a covid test because they think they couldn’t possibly have covid and then tests positive for covid thereby exposing the entire team plus surely countless others."

She has been vaccinated and has continued to mask when her employer required the team start coming back into the office a couple days a week which none of them wanted to do. Their work remotely has been as productive or even more so during the time they've worked remotely and there is no reason why they could not continue doing so. Now, of course, she will have to be home for two weeks. Hopefully, remote working for the team will resume at the end of that time. I don't know if the ill person has been unvaccinated, or not, but they certainly are creating problems for all as well as themselves.

Back to My So Cal up date.....We're experiencing increased drought conditions this year.  Recently we've been asked to voluntarily reduce our water usage by 15%.  Avoiding cutbacks or complete loss of power has resulted in the electric utility company requesting periods when we limit our use of appliances and other electronic devices during certain daily hours.

We're sometimes asked throughout the year to not use our fireplaces burning wood if air pollution issues are of increased concern.  But that's another matter relative to our environment, air quality, to which smoke from any forest fires would also contribute.

Temperatures have been hot and higher in the three digits more frequently this year than previous years.  Fire risk is elevated in our mountainside forests exacerbated by dry undergrowth but, hopefully, all will be spared should flames arise, and homeowners won't have to evacuate, much less lose their homes, possessions, animals or even lives.

The creatures living in the mountains are feeling these climate change effects impacting their lives, food sources and comfort.  Consequently, some animals, including coyotes who have previously established packs in some towns like my own, are venturing more into our foothill neighborhood communities.  

The numbers of bears frequenting human environments in our foothill communities as they've done for years seem to have increased.  Bears have been sighted in our town again this year, probably only a mile or so from my neighborhood.  Given that my next door neighbors have a pool, plus a large community pool for subscribers in a limited area also exists at the end of our street about which I hope the bears don't find out.

Here's a short 14 sec. video of a bear taken last year in our town followed by a 2:48 min. video in another community of a mama bear and her cub cavorting in a family's pool they have been regularly visiting this summer -- after the pool is cleaned, of course.

Earlier this month the bears who generally visit primarily the night before, or in early morning hours when residents have set out at the curb their garbage cans for pick-up,  have expanded their talents.  We, in my neighborhood, have been spared that bear "raiding the garbage can" activity so far.  

As if human porch pirates of packages isn't enough, now the bears are getting in on the action.  In LaVerne, the community next to mine, a family discovered a bear had chosen one of their Amazon-delivered packages, the one full of chocolate, naturally, to take right off their front porch in this ABC7 youtube video:

Moving across the pond, more familiarly known as the Atlantic Ocean, I was intrigued earlier this spring when I read popular crime writer Agatha Christie's play, "The Mousetrap" was going to resume London performances after having been shut down due to the pandemic.  This play had been running continuously for over 60 years!

As I may have mentioned previously,  I was bitten by the acting bug whose juices have remained in my soul -- but resulted in overt expression by being in plays when I was young and single.  The juices effects subsequently dissolved into the background of my life when I worked in TV and after I married, then had children.  This occurred because, the traditional way of staging a play as I knew it required setting aside at least four weeks of my free time just for preparation, learning lines if acting, and rehearsals.  The commitment continued for however long performances to a live audience were scheduled.

I just didn't think I could do justice to a play, my children, husband, coupled with the demands of the rest of my life, retain my sanity, if I became involved in theatre.  My husband had pressures of his own so would have difficulty trying to pick up any slack for our family my being away from home so much would have caused.

Through the years I sometimes have felt nostalgia for this theatrical part of my life.  However, when I was still single, there had been a period of time when I had even seriously been debating between moving to NYC to audition for acceptance to train in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts or applying to the Pasadena Playhouse on the West Coast -- from which I still have the application form I requested but never submitted.  No doubt I am just one of many who had similar thoughts but never acted on them -- one of the differences between those who succeed in the business and those who don't.  

London's West End Theatre's "Mousetrap" re-opening announcement news triggered memories for me immediately, as I recalled those years in my mid-twenties when I was very active in amateur little theatre.  The passion I developed never left me after the very first play I was in during high school -- a drama I had strongly urged we present, "Drums of Death." In retrospect, perhaps a different type play might have been a more wise choice for our high school group and audience -- something light-hearted.  I think I still have a copy of my play book.  Perhaps I can sell it since it's now out of print, but I see one paperback being offered on the internet for $30.

When I entered college, I enrolled in an elective one hour credit course called "Stagecraft" with drama activities and plays.  These soon became my primary focus over and above all of my other coursework designed to prepare me for a career to become a Medical Technologist.  I wisely changed majors at the end of the term.

My studies the rest of my undergraduate college years included a certain number of theatre focused classes along with my extra-curricular involvement in lots of plays as well as broadcasting on our campus radio station with my music program, "Jo's Jukebox".  My last year I was thrilled to be chosen as the only female character in a live one-act play in a relatively new entertainment media then, television, on a nearby commercial TV station.  I was becoming aware of some of the potentials for a possible future career.

After graduation, returning to my native state, I enthusiastically joined a local little theatre group, Foothill Players,  which filled all my free time after work for the few years I lived in that town.  Primarily, I acted in, and/or directed plays, including a couple of Agatha Christie's -- "Witness For The Prosecution" and "The Mousetrap"; produced and directed with friends another successful, including monetarily, children's play, with an adult cast, "Winnie The Pooh".

We encountered racism initially in our effort to use the theatre stage to mount this play, "Pooh" through the Players group, to which most of us belonged, for the public but overcame that challenge.   The theatre group which has successfully grown and expanded now has since readily taken credit for our production just as they accepted the small profit we made over and above the expenses using the theatre for which we paid them, then donated our profits to them.  We had paid out of our own pockets to stage "Pooh", making our costumes thanks to a talented artistic non-member of the theatre group who hadn't been allowed to join.

"The Mousetrap" which I directed proved to be a very demanding undertaking when our leading actress had a miscarriage early in her pregnancy during the week before the play was to open.  I visited her in the hospital and in my young inexperience-in-such-aspects-of-life hardly knew what to say or do, but concerned for her welfare, wondering what to do about the play.

Our "Mousetrap" cast later gathered with other theatre leaders.  The consensus was the old show biz cliche', "the show must go on", since the publicity was out there, some tickets sold, and it was so close to opening night.  Furthermore, much to my concern and it certainly hadn't been my suggestion, all concluded I was most familiar with the play, all the characters lines, therefore I should play the lead.  I, extremely hesitant, very reluctant, finally agreed. 

I spent every free moment in the few days we had before the weekend opening, reviewing and  memorizing my character's lines with cues, especially key since there was not to be time for a rehearsal, but I knew the stage blocking, having designed that myself as director.  I had real reservations I might have to depend on off-stage prompts for some lines which in all my other acting performances I had never needed to utilize.

I'm quite sure this was one more experience greatly contributing to a skill I had reason to have to use in most every work position afterward that I describe as needing to "fly by the seat of my pants" -- unexpected situations developing to which I would generally readily adapt with relative calm while maintaining my sanity.

To my great relief the day before our play was to open our leading lady said her doctor had decided she was well enough to perform safely, if she wanted to,  that, in fact, the activity might even be good for her.   

Sitting in the audience, as I usually did during plays performances that I directed, I hoped and expected all would go well.   No reason for me to stay backstage since everybody knew what they were to do and now it was up to them to do it!  I would only be in the way -- especially if anything went awry they would need to focus all their energies on adapting with no distractions from others telling them what to do.  I did have a slight bit of apprehension that in case there was a problem with our leading lady that I better be prepared to go on stage after a short break to assume the role.  Happily, all went well!

Sunday, July 18, 2021




Bull raising is threatened in Spain I read recently in the news as this pandemic has taken a toll on many business enterprises.   The bull raising business, especially in Spain, is no exception though it has been under assault for other reasons for a number of years as has been bullfighting for which these bulls are raised.

"The most well-known form of bullfighting is Spanish-style bullfighting, practiced in Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.  The Spanish Fighting Bull is bred for its aggression and physique, and is raised free-range with little human contact.

The practice of bullfighting is controversial because of a range of concerns including animal welfare, funding, and religion.  While some forms are considered a blood sport, in some countries, for example Spain, it is defined as an art form or cultural event, and local regulations define it as a cultural event of heritage.  Bullfighting is illegal in most countries, but remains legal in most areas of Spain and Portugal, as well as in some Hispanic American countries and some parts of southern France.  (CGTN Rahul Patnak). 

This 2002 The Art of Bullfighting video (17:20 duration) best presents the bullfights ritual sequence of actions I was to see one mid-1950's afternoon.  Video commentary notes:  "Every attempt to ban bullfighting in Spain has failed.  In fact, since Spain joined the EU, it has enjoyed a renaissance as Spaniards stand up for their cultural heritage."  


Actually, since this video, a few Spanish cities reportedly have outlawed the practice of bullfighting.  There may have been some slight decline in bullfighting acceptance around the world in subsequent years in addition to the toll the pandemic has taken.   

PBS recently aired a special program series on writer Ernest Hemingway that I watched.  During this TV series, books he wrote about bull fighting evidenced his fascination with this activity in Spain.  He stressed bull fighting was not a sport as conventionally viewed in the United States.

I was aware of Hemingway's non-fiction book, "Death In The Afternoon", published in 1932, examining the Spanish traditions and ceremony of bullfighting.  Deeper meanings about fear and courage, life culminating in death, though the latter supposed to be only for the bull, are the focus true aficionados appreciate he noted.

His earlier novel, "The Sun Also Rises", published in 1926 portrays American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights.  The story is based on real people in his life.  Thought to be a lost generation after WWI Hemingway suggests they were resilient and strong.

"The Running of the Bulls occurs every July 7th-14th in Pamplona, Spain.  6 Spanish fighting bulls, along with 6 steer, run from the Corrales de Santo Domingo to Pamplona's Plaza de Toros (bullfight arena).  Over 1 million spectators watch thousands of runners over the 8 days of the San Fermin Festival.

Rick Steves, European travel authority, describes the event:

The 2021 Running of the Bulls event was cancelled for the second year in a row as reported by Reuters due to the pandemic.   The event, expected to resume in 2022, is being promoted on the Internet now for visitors to make travel bookings and accommodations reservations.

I have not been particularly interested in bullfighting so hadn't read either of Hemingway's  books though I did see the 1957 movie based on "The Sun Also Rises".  I especially recall sultry actress Ava Gardener in a leading seductress roll pursuing the bullfighter which reportedly became her reality in real life.  There was also a much less appreciated 1984-TV miniseries I didn't view of that same book that is said to not have been favorably received by critics and the viewing public.  The news item and focus on Ernest Hemingway prompted numerous thoughts and memories of my own from the mid-fifties.

My only sibling, decade older brother now deceased, made an effort to expand my horizons in various ways throughout my life.  Not all his undertaking went well such as the time he sat preschool age me on the back of his bike with me gripping his bike seat.  My little legs hung down as he rode his bike uphill toward our house.  Apparently, my legs tired and I attempted to rest my left foot somehow, but ended up entwining it in the bike wheel's spokes.  I still carry the large scar on my ankle but have no conscious memory of the event.

When I was a senior in high school my brother visited, gave me the keys to his convertible enabling me to have the rare opportunity to drive alone into town on my own one evening from our then rural home.   Then when I graduated from high school his gift to me was a couple pieces of Samsonite luggage which was perfect for moving out into the world, or college as I had hoped and he certainly encouraged.  A few years later he gifted me a necessary standard bit of jewelry accessory for any young woman's social life I was yet to experience -- a high quality simulated pearl necklace.  

So, years later when I visited him in Ecuador, one unexpected activity he introduced me to was an afternoon at a popular event in South American countries as well as Spain -- the bullfight.   The event featured an increasingly popular young bullfighter, Jaime Bravo, who was busily making a name for himself though relatively unknown then.  Bullfighting was more universally accepted during those years, partly due to Hemingway's writings describing the Spanish art form aspect of the event.

I recall visiting a local hotel an afternoon after attending the bullfight where my brother's young children were able to interact with the giant size Galapagos tortoises in the courtyard.   I heard quite a commotion inside the hotel which soon revealed itself to be fans encountering their idol, Bravo, who was staying there.

My recent research about Jaime Bravo's career revealed in his biography he led quite a colorful life, eventually groomed to be a U.S. motion picture star, actually appearing in several movies including: 

"Love Has Many Faces" (1965) with him as a matador, of course, a movie that was scandalous at the time.  "Starring Lana Turner, Cliff Robertson, Hugh O'Brian, Ruth Roman, and Stefanie Powers, the film was rife with repeated affairs...seemingly Bravo was typecast."  His voice was dubbed due to his heavy accent, though he spoke English.

"Known for his death-defying style, in the late 1960's ... Jaime Bravo was a bullfighter for many years, especially popular with the ladies and with the border town crowds.  He had the looks and the charm, if not the talent, to make it on the screen and to some producers, that's all that mattered."  Ava Gardener is said to have showered her attention on him at one of his bullfights.  Born in Mexico in 1932, he died there in a car accident in 1970.

Whatever point of view one has about bullfighting, after my viewing the afternoon spectacle, talking with others, reading about the various perspectives of bullfighting aficionados and critics, the moment when the banderillas planted their spiked end wooden sticks designed to tear muscles, nerves and blood vessels, my reactive opinion was formed.  

Then, when the bull charged the mounted padded horses with the consequences of their sharp pointed horns out of view my perspective was reinforced.  Yet later, more flesh damaging sticks were thrust into the bull's neck and shoulders.  There was never any doubt in my mind -- how could such torture and brutality be part of or considered as art -- this was animal cruelty.  


Sunday, July 11, 2021


LIVNG IN PLACE, independently, alone, after my husband's death, then retiring years later, resulted in changes that prompted necessary adaptations in my life coinciding with my aging.  As I've written here earlier, I've  gradually become aware daily activities that once were incidental in the scheme of living are increasingly taking more time, and effort.  I've realized some assistance from others is becoming necessary to maintain my lifestyle, living in my home with no family locally to assist me.  

Preparation for those occasions when I might not be able to take care of my basic needs including when I become ill have required some pre-planning.   All other times, ordinary routine shopping at a store, cooking and cleaning, even driving my car, have necessitated I plan ahead but they took on unexpected importance when the pandemic emerged.  I've benefited from the increased availability of pickups, deliveries, ordering online, even occasional aid from kind-hearted young neighbors.    On the other hand, I've been reticent about hiring help to come into my home lest they expose me to the virus.

I've continued to pay attention to any services that are becoming available or are expected in the future that could enhance my being able to remain in my home through this final stage of my life.  More and more older people have indicated, just as I am doing,  they prefer living in place in their residences to moving into facility groupings for older people such as nursing homes, retirement communities, other type senior residences.  

Our U.S. government has not taken action to adjust our health care system financing to enable more older people to remain in their homes rather than have to go into a facility to receive needed care.  I think this should be a health care goal in how to care for our older population for those who choose doing so, but one that is unlikely to occur in my lifetime.   Nevertheless, I continue to note there are some efforts being made to find ways to help older people to live independently and safely in their homes.  Moving, relocation from familiar surroundings can be health complicating factors for elders.

NOTE: (Added after original publishing).     Reports are that costs are less for elders cared for in their residences than if they're cared for in facilities as currently occurs.

We're told our nation is having an increasing need for more doctors, nurses, caregivers and general health care workers whether older people are in hospitals, other facilities, or living in their residences.  There has been some expansion of virtual care since the pandemic but where does all the extra help needed come from?  

One such proposed source being explored are robots.  Research and prototype robots have been created with ongoing improvements being developed.  Recent years I've been intrigued by numerous news stories, videos that have shown us some of the robots, their increasing skills and capabilities, older people interacting with them and creators design plans.  

Click on this recent Orange County Register newspaper article an elder friend sent me titled "6 Robot Helpers Used for Health Services, Eldercare and Social Support".   These are some of the robots mentioned with links here to their sites:  Elli-Q, Care-O-Bot, Qoobo, Lovot, Paro, Tombot.   Do you favor one of these robots?

Some additional videos that give a glimpse of robot efforts such as this one, Rudy, designed to offer "... care and companionship to seniors" as he engages in conversation.  (This PBS News Hour video with Judy Woodruff is 4:03 minutes duration.)   

Then, there is the robot with AI, Mabu, involved in your health care and Jimmy.                   (5:55 mins. duration) 

Time magazine offered a video of robots working in health care:  (1:34 mins. duration).         

Researcher Thomas Bock's TEDxTUM talk presentation describes his vision of the future of robots in medical care.  (17:51 mins. duration) 

I think robots offer some potential benefits for elders as these machines are refined in the future.  I have reservations about how much I want them involved in my health care.  I do know some robots are now being used in select surgical procedures such as hip replacement which some elders need.  Further examination of robotic surgeries viability will be of interest as they become more prevalent.  Some reports have said the robots are more surgically proficient than their human counterparts.

I don't perceive wanting to interact socially, or converse with robots other than for the simple novelty the exercise might provide.  Dancing with a robot doesn't appeal to me; singing, maybe.  I become easily frustrated communicating with recorded messages on my phone since they often inadequately provide options appropriate for addressing my reason for calling; as often also occurs with limited contact choices offered by many businesses on the internet. 

I don't desire a robot pet whose reactions would soon become very repetitive and predictable,  Perhaps some elders needing to relieve their loneliness might react differently to robot pets as they do to toy stuffed animals.  I can appreciate some individuals with dementia could enjoy a robot but for others trying to maintain their reality orientation they could be problematic.  

What do you think about the use of robots in our health care, social lives, or what could robots provide that would be most useful as you become or are a senior/elder? 

Sunday, July 04, 2021


 Celebrating Independence Day -- July 4th!

Let us preserve our independence, democracy, freedoms, by re-pledging our allegiance to the  United States Constitution this year and for future years.

Following the Constitutional Convention in 1787 Benjamin Franklin, one of the founders of our country is reported to have been asked, "Do we have a republic or a monarchy?"  His reply was, "A republic, if you can keep it!"

Our democratic republic was threatened during the previous federal government administration like never before as select officials acted in ways that could be interpreted as violating their oath of office and threatening our republic.  Even now numerous legislators are reticent in defending our form of government.

May we not succumb to being governed by anyone, including a future or former leader who seeks primary allegiance to him/herself,  rather than our Constitution, takes actions to undermine our democracy that leads to establishing another form of government such as an autocracy, monarchy, theocracy. 

Let us remember bipartisan election officials across this nation have unequivocally stated 2020 was our most secure Presidential election so we should reject those false conspiracy theories that state otherwise.

We must persist in establishing true equality for everyone, safeguard voting rights for all without suppressive efforts aimed toward some, despite political efforts and selective judicial rulings otherwise.

Let us continue to pursue social and financial equality for all our citizens regardless of race, creed, color, sexual gender.

May all those who planned, supported and participated in the Capitol January 6th insurrection be identified and prosecuted with preventative actions to ensure such an activity never again occurs.

May American patriots re-dedicate ourselves to supporting and preserving the United States of America's constitution, our democratic republic and our planet's environment.


We continue having high hot temperatures in our Southern California drought conditions.  Uninterrupted electric power provides much-needed air conditioning I certainly appreciate.  Fortunately, water rationing has not been necessary to date.   

I feel emotionally rejuvenated following a visit the past week with a few of those still living family members who drove halfway across our country to my home.  We always have a variety of frequent virtual communications throughout the year, but with the pandemic we did not see one another in person for much too long.  What a delight to hug a young grandson who has grown immensely since last I saw him as he prepares to enter 5th grade.

I especially benefited from having my son aid me by performing numerous long overdue tasks to enhance my ability to more comfortably keep living in place independently in my home.   There is much more work to be done that will continue to be my focus.  He may be able to return in the future to provide more assistance.  

Unfortunately, aging's effects have slowed my work efforts considerably, including my determination to reducing my possessions, so my progress is slow.  Also, I expect I'm not alone in finding performing everyday necessities I once considered as incidental in life requiring minimal time and effort have now become much more prominent major time-consuming activities.

In the mix for me will be finally getting crowned -- not the royalty variety -- following another earlier root canal.  I will continue my weekly blog post here but visiting other's blogs to comment may be lessened, as this past week, while I order my life a bit more.