December 3rd, 2020

“Ndi matsheloni”, or “Good Morning!” in Venda, a Bantu language spoken in parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is Day 259 of the California Lock Down. Each day the numbers worsen and more restrictions are put in place to help protect us. According to my count, we have 3 viable vaccines who have had remarkable test results. And they say they might be giving vaccines out to first responders and geezers in nursing homes by Christmas. We also have over 90,000 people in the hospital as of Thanksgiving. There are 47 days more days of national shame to endure (Inauguration Day!).

Speaking of days, December 1, 2020 is the 22nd World Aids Day. With all the focus on COVID 19… lest we forget that we had AIDS. As of 2019, 75.2 million people have been infected by AIDS and 32.7 million have died from the disease. The good news is that they have treatments that stop the disease from progressing or transmitted.

I hope everyone had a socially distanced but wonderful Thanksgiving. We really do have a great deal to be thankful for…starting with all of us. Our little band of folks who enjoy the slightly purple shade of the Jacaranda. I am grateful for all my time on the planet and that is all about you and all of the other people who have made my time so enjoyable! Thank you.

Did you know this week we celebrated

This week I learned some stuff:
• I grudging started working on the Santa Workshop stuff this week. I tried to use some new glass cutting gear I got without much success. So I went a different way that might help me ‘getter done’ …. We will see.
• Our new bed arrived this week in 4 fairly huge boxes. So
BJ lead the assembly team and we are installed in our new adjustable beds that we are told will mitigate some of the COPD and Acid Reflux issues that we have. It’s pretty cool.
• I made pumpkin pie from scratch. That is to say, I took our used Halloween Pumpkin, turned it into roasted pumpkin puree and froze it till this week. My granddaughter and I were both surprised by the color of the pumpkin filling when we assembled the pie. She and I were both used to the bright orange color of the canned pumpkin we usually use. Our uncooked pie was decidedly more yellow than orange. Even stranger, the final product is as tasty and orange as any pumpkin pie I have had. I think mother nature was messing with us!
• I have shared a lot of strange and mostly useless information with you all over the years celebrating life UJT style. And I am sure I have put in a plug or two for the CNN Good News newsletter that comes out each Saturday. This week’s version featured some truly remarkable feats of human kindness and compassion. Those are good things to have around during the holidays.
• I don’t know about you but as I have gotten older and lost folks along the way, holidays can have some melancholy moments. You keep busy and smiling to help make those memories your children and grandchildren will recall so fondly after you are gone. But inside, the echos of past holidays tinged with loss of those that cannot laugh with us this year, seem clearer.
• December 3rd is the 338th (oops! I forgot to update the number some time in the past but its corrected now) day of the year (because 2020 is a leap year – but there still only 22 days till Christmas!). Today in 1775, USS Alfred becomes the first vessel to fly the Grand Union Flag (the precursor to the Stars and Stripes). The flag is hoisted by John Paul Jones; On this day in 1800, the United States Electoral College casts votes for President and Vice President that resulted in a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr; Today in 1818, Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state; In 1927, “Putting Pants on Philip”, the first Laurel and Hardy film, is released; On this day in 1960, the musical “Camelot” debuts at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway; Today in 1965, The Beatles release highly successful and influential experimental folk album, “Rubber Soul”; In 1979, In Cincinnati, 11 fans are suffocated in a crush for seats on the concourse outside Riverfront Coliseum before a Who concert; Also on this day in 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini becomes the first Supreme Leader of Iran; Today in 1992, a test engineer for Sema Group uses a personal computer to send the world’s first text message via the Vodafone network to the phone of a colleague; Today in 1997, Representatives from 121 countries sign the Ottawa Treaty prohibiting manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines. The United States, People’s Republic of China, and Russia do not sign the treaty; Gilbert Stuart, American painter was born today in 1755; Joseph Conrad, Polish-born British novelist is born today in 1857; Andy Williams, American singer was born today in 1927; Ozzy Osbourne, English singer-songwriter was born today in 1948; Tina Turner, American-Swiss singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress was born today in 1939; Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist, poet, and essayist died today in 1894; Walter Knott, American farmer, founded Knott’s Berry Farm passed away today in 1981;And finally, Madeline Kahn, American actress, comedian, and singer passed away today in 1999.

Website Update:
This week we made the following changes:
• Week 3 for the new Vocabulary Quiz.
• A new UJT Musical Trivia Quiz!!!!
• This week I haven’t added any new recipes. I did come up with a Japanese Seafood Curry that I am going to try but no until after this update goes out, so if it works you folks will see it next week.

Writing, Ceramics, Stained Glass and Painting Update:
• My stained glass project ran into a snag in that the circle glass cutting device I intended to use won’t reliably cut circles as small as I want. So I have had to go another way. Not sure if I will get it all done.
• This week I managed to miss my watercolor classes again!
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• My little sister has been hospitalized for the past several weeks. She has given us more than a few scares during this time. She appears to be out of the woods for the most part and has started physical therapy. It has been a long road back to this point and her challenges are not over yet. She has been struggling with a long term chronic illness for quite awhile. But she comes from good stock and will get through but its hard. As I post this, she took a turn for the worse and is back in ICU with respiratory issues that may or may not be COVID19. I never know quite what to do. I keep track of her progress via my other steplings and stepmom because I don’t want to intrude as she works through all this stuff. I feel helpless and mostly useless.

Music Update:

Once again, your fossilized DJ takes you on another meander through the dusty cobwebs of my music library. This week selections are perhaps even more eclectic than usual. but all favorites that I hope you will enjoy.

This week’s UJT Radio Program:
• King Crimson — I Talk to the Wind — Another anthem to my past. I spent many a foggy evening, listening to this iconic album, “In the Court of the Crimson King” released in 1969.
• Grateful Dead — Hell in a Bucket — From the Vinyl!!! This song is a deep cut from the Dead’s 1987 release “In the Dark”. I kind of always felt this way whenever people warned me that I wasn’t “with the program” which I seem to remember was a fairly frequent event for me.
• Bruce Springsteen — I’m On Fire — This guy has been making great music forever. This is a great example of his amazing skill as a songwriter. This one comes from his icon 1984 release “Born in the USA”.
• Jackson Browne – The Load Out — This one comes from his, “Running On Empty” released in 1977. It always had a special place in my heard because he talks about the roadies.
• John Mayer — Dreaming with a Broken Heart — This song is a deep cut that I am really fond of from his second full length studio album, “Continuum” released in 2006.
• Brewer and Shipley – Too Soon Tomorrow — From the Vinyl!!! These guys and this album (Weeds, 1969) was simultaneously loved and hated by my wannabe hippy crowd. It was too sweet and gentle for the head banger contingent and a perfect expression of brotherhood and harmony for the rest of us. But is a wonderful record to love or hate.

That’s it… Do the best you can;  Laugh every chance you get;  And always remember …  The best is yet to come!  As always, thank you for being my friend!