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Up close and Bridget

December 1, 2008 4:33 PM

A tribute to my grandmother

This morning while driving to the Rocky, I received a tragic phone call: My grandmother had passed away at about 3 a.m. She had recently taken a fall and broken her hip, and while attempting to recover from the resulting surgery she acquired a MRSA drug-resistant infection. Within the past few days, her kidneys failed and she was developing pneumonia. She managed to eke out a final "I love you" to my mom before losing her ability to speak.

Helen Webb was 81 years old -- a member of the "Greatest Generation," and the leading lady in a love story (namely, marriage to my grandfather, for whom she waited to return from World War II) that flourished for more than 62 years until her passing. After she was diagnosed with macular degeneration 15 years ago and began losing her sight, my grandfather was there to lovingly guide this fiercely independent woman when necessary. One of her great loves, shopping, became markedly more difficult; I remember my grandfather reading tags for her when she thought she might have found something in her size. In restaurants, he would read her favorites to her off the menu, or go to the salad bar to make a little plate with exactly the toppings she liked. Every day at about 3 p.m. was "drinky-poo time," when they relaxed and shared a scotch and soda together. When out and about they held hands, drawing more than a few comments from strangers about how they were just so damn cute.

That was how the last few years of visits with them in Southern California would go: an early, early lunch, a bit of shopping at the premium outlets, relaxing and talking, drinky-poo time, and then "Jeopardy" followed by "The Wheel" -- and one wouldn't dare shout out an answer before Grandma had her crack at the question!

Another great love of hers was reading, and hence the blindness took quite a toll. Enter the Braille Institute, which provided immeasurable support to my grandmother, as well as the books-on-tape loaners that she devoured. Here's where you can send a dollar or two to the Braille Institute, so they can keep extending that help to others.

Another way to honor my grandmother will be a trip to her favorite store, Nordstrom, followed by a drinky-poo and toast to the heavens. And, of course, sending her off with her favorite song:

November 10, 2008 11:14 AM

My recent Californian moments

There are two things that really struck me upon moving to Colorado: 1) The yellow lights are REALLY short, and 2) I have to do a double take every time I fill up my car (which in L.A. was every four days; here, it's every few weeks, it seems) because they sell really low octane gas here, so to get the 87, which is the lowest grade in Cali, I have to pick the middle one at the pumps.

Now on to those recent Californian moments:

  • At the Eddie Bauer outlet, aka my new second home, I was studying a pair of black silk long underwear on a clearance rack. A saleswoman asked if I needed any help -- which, on my trips there, has basically included taking my most recent armful of sweaters and mittens up to the cash registers. I help up the long johns and asked the saleswoman, "Are these supposed to, like, keep you warm?"
  • At the Firestone on Colorado Blvd., getting my Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25 high-performance winter tires on Saturday. The guy is ringing up the work order, and mutters, "OK, we waive the tire disposal fee because you're taking the summer ones..." Me: "What? I have to take my other tires? What am I supposed to do with them?" After it was made clear to me that you don't throw away $800 tires, and you can't wear out your Blizzak tread in the summer, I relented and will be dragging my Michelins up the stairs one at a time in Hefty bags to store in the study closet.
Can I suggest that someone start a tire valet business? You could check your off-season tires like a coat check, then show your tag at the end of the season to have them back!

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August 10, 2008 10:41 AM

The newest member of my furry family

Yesterday I went down to the Dumb Friends League/Humane Society of Denver's Quebec Street Shelter and fell in love: That's my new chinchilla (I'm leaning toward Chinderella for her name; she's just too sweet to name after some newsmaking scalawag as I often do with my pets), a little over a year old, chilling out on her chinchilla chin chiller (cool granite slab). She spent the entire night bouncing all over her three-story cage, complete with an extra wood ledge that I installed. She also had her first dust bath last night, and she enjoyed rolling around in it so much that I nearly filled my sunken tub with ground pumice. Right now, finally, she's napping!

The Dumb Friends League (yes, a lot of animals are smarter than people) is having an adopt-a-thon this weekend, so if you can open your home to a loving critter then go stop by! (You can also go online first to see who's available.) Once you stop in, go to the computer kiosk in the appropriate section (dog or cat/small animal) and enter your basic information: name, address, your living situation, pet preferences, etc. The computer suggests some primo pets for your lifestyle. Then, grab a pen and paper and browse the animals. Once you've found one you love, let the customer service desk know and they'll arrange for an adoption counselor to bring out the pet, bring you into a meeting room, and see if it is indeed a match.

My adoption counselor was Laurie, and I never felt rushed to make a decision, though once I cuddled the chinchilla I was pretty much a goner. The paperwork was relatively easy (adoption fees include a free vet visit within 14 days of adoption, though animals get checked out while there), and a store at the shelter made getting an appropriate cage and accessories easy. (Proceeds from the store help the shelter animals, too.) The staff are extremely helpful, and it was awesome to see so many new matches going on around me as families met their new dogs and cats. But there are also some adorable rats, ferrets, and a big black bunny named Tara who could use a loving home. So get down there today!

And consider Chinderella to be the new, official mascot of this blog. (More pics and progress reports forthcoming!)

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July 29, 2008 6:35 PM

My Colorado roots

Yes, I'm definitely an L.A. native -- have any doubt, just listen to me talk -- but did spend grades 3 through 5 living in Englewood and attending St. Louis School.

And my claim to fame for those three young years in Denver was being Kiki Vandeweghe's fourth-grade stalker biggest fan. Some regulars at the former McNichols Sports Arena may have memories of their games being ruined by my presence, as I'd sit in the stands and shriek "KIKI!!!" at the top of my pre-pubescent lungs. Then, donning my dad's UCLA sweatshirt, I would wait afterward to get the umteenth autograph I'd collected from him. No restraining orders were ever issued, and my crush eventually turned to the blond guy on "Simon & Simon."

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July 24, 2008 2:16 PM

From La-La Land to the RMN

Before I dive into blogging up a storm, a bit of introduction is in order. I moved to Denver nearly two weeks ago to start this supercool new job in the commentary department as online opinion editor, member of the editorial board and opinion writer, and mistress of the op-ed blog as well as this department's multimedia diva (isn't that what it said on the job description?). I come from the L.A. Daily News, where my columns were syndicated on the New York Times News Service and I contributed to the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, National Review, etc. I also used to blog as GOP Vixen.

Now settled in my supersweet apartment (and coming from L.A., nothing seems expensive) and having slashed my 100-mile-per-day commute to next to nothing, I'm ready to go where no Angeleno has gone before: into four seasons. (This wet stuff falling outside the window right now -- I think I last saw it off Long Beach sometime in 2004...)

So enjoy, add your comments and suggestions, vent and be merry as we take the Rocky Mountain News opinion site into new territory!

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