Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Smoke monster

My mother always told me that she quit smoking while she was pregnant with me. I was going through some photos in a trunk, and found some very strong evidence to the contrary!

In most of the adult photos of my mother, she is holding a cigarette. Not sure what made her start, just the usual reasons probably - trying to fit in with the other 'kids' or wanting to rebel. It wasn't really known to be dangerous when she started, probably in the 1930s or 1940s, but by the 1950s (this is taken in 1953) people were becoming aware of some of the hazards.

The others in the photo are her parents, who were visiting her in Phoenix from southern Illinois, so she is openly showing rebellion in doing it. She would tell me some stories about her father, who was a strict Southern Baptist and on many occasions unleashed fiery righteous indignation and abuse upon those within his dominion, especially the females. She told about the time, and this was as an adult after she had moved out, where she spent a very long day working in their house... sanding, wallpapering, scrubbing and painting... and when she was finished she took out a cigarette and lit it. Her dad grabbed her arm, twisted it around to her back (nearly breaking it), put his foot on her behind and shoved her out the front door. He told her that she would never light another cigarette under his roof.

She didn't quit though. She smoked for the rest of her life right up until she was in her early 70s and had been bedridden with emphysema for some time - she had the oxygen tank with her, and was pretty addled from morphine (and just lack of oxygen in the brain) so that she somehow thought it was OK to continue smoking. She started a fire in her apartment (and luckily her home nurse was there to take action) but ended up being burned in the face and all the way into her poor old already-shredded lungs. She didn't die from that, but, boy was she angry. Her burned lungs wouldn't let her smoke anymore. She had been calling smoking "her only pleasure" for years. She lived for maybe another year, and we lost her just 2 weeks apart from MrB's father who had lung cancer. They were both almost militant smokers... take the cigarettes out of my cold dead hands... that sort of attitude. (I've told some of this tale before a few years back.)

I don't think the pregnant smoking stunted my growth or anything. I was a big 9 lb. baby. As a toddler I was playing with the butts in an ashtray, and she made me eat a bite of the ashes. It worked. I never, ever, wanted to smoke a cigarette in my life, so as bizarre as it sounds, she did me a favor. Don't know if all those long car trips with both parents filling the car with smoke hurt me either. Something with surely get me someday, but I don't think it will be nicotine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Beatle jacket

We finally watched "Living in the Material World," the Martin Scorsese documentary on George Harrison. First, it's really excellent, and not simply another entry in the huge pile of Beatle documentaries. This one has more in it, especially about the music itself. It's a 'duh." See it if you are a Beatle fan, music fan, or interested in the sixties at all.

The reason I'm posting is because it shows George Harrison wearing a jacket that made me hit the pause button and go to the closet.

It looks almost exactly like the matching jackets that my mother and I bought during the same time frame. They were wool (of the scratchy kind), stitched together with some kind of wool yarn, and lined with either silk or satin, I don't know which. They were from Greece, and we lived there at the time.
Ours were both turquoise in color, but I wish I knew what color George's was. I haven't found any color pictures of it. I am not sure what happened to my mother's jacket. I probably gave it to a cousin after she died. I was unable to transport her entire collection of things across the country.

Life is full of weird coincidences.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DailyShow-worthy headline!!

An actual screen-grab from the Huffington Post today. It was inspired and irresistible for the writers, I'm sure.

And in other news, this actually relating to The Daily Show and Colbert, looks like the satellite/cable wars are going to prevent online streaming of my 2 favorite shows for awhile. That's how I watch them (during my lunch break) so now I guess I'll have to squeeze in more TV time during the evening. Not sure I have that extra hour. Grrrrr. Thankfully it's supposed to be temporary (wonder if hulu will still have them?)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Total tourists!

We are back from vacation, as of Sunday actually, and just now getting caught up with sorting pictures, unpacking, doing laundry, working 3 days and catching up on Breaking Bad before it kicks in for another season. Santa Barbara is a beautiful place and it was worth it to postpone a few purchases in order to visit it. The weather was wonderful and cool every day. Overcast every morning and most afternoons. The "No high heels" sign isn't a statement on the importance of being casual, it's a safety warning for anyone thinking of trying to walk on the old wooden pier wearing stupid and dangerous shoes... ... and in this clip form the 1966 Batman movie that was filmed at this very spot (Stearn's Wharf) you can see that there were several violations of the shoe policy, but Batman was still doing his best to keep the place safe.

The whole town of Santa Barbara (California) was like a botanical garden. I don't know how much of the beauty is the result of careful plant-mothering and how much is just from the cool sun and sea breezes, but everything looked healthy and non-distressed. I imagine it's a bit of both. Things seemed to be kept clean and tidy, and I was a bit surprised to have not even seen one stray cat in the whole 4 days.
We got there on the 4th of July in time for one of the longest parades I can remember, followed that night by fireworks at the beach. Here's a group of re-enactors having an opportunity to fire their muskets. Big noise, and the poor dudes seem to get a faceful with every shot.
This excellent sand sculpture was unofficial, and the artist was collecting tips. It was flattened by the next day.

We were the unashamed tourists in getting on the amphibious tour bus/boat. This one is called the Land Shark. Here it is from the pier with pelicans getting a free ride on top.

These were taken from the tour boat, a bunch of sea lions all snuggled and cuted up. They can pretty much guarantee that you'll see sea lions on your voyage, but we didn't see any dolphins, sharks or whales.

This was pointed out to be David Crosby's boat, his "wooden ship," the Mayan.

This is a famous Moreton Bay Fig Tree, supposed to be the largest of its kind in the USA. It was stunningly gorgeous. Trees are magnificent.

Santa Barbara's courthouse is a tourist attraction because of its architecture, tile decor, murals, stained glass, and tower view of the area. This is my "post card" view of one area, and below that is a partial view of the sunken gardens, basically its perfect lawn occupying a corner of the block.

We were back at the same location that night, and here is a night view of one wing of the courthouse, for a free outdoor movie to be shown.

One of my favorites... and a reminder that the peoples of Earth are never going to get their act together and make peace, regardless of all the convincing arguments that they should.

Just for grins, we priced some real estate listings in this area, and were not surprised to see that they are 3 or 4 times more pricey than where we are now. It's a wealthy area, not a good place to be poor... but you can always collect a few pennies on the beach if you have a creative blanket.