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Crime, Nature and Nakedness

How could these three words fit together in one story? Well, spend 24 hours in Berkeley and they fit quite well. I went to visit my daughter at Cal, and we had quite a day.

One of my favorite restaurants in Berkeley is Chez Panisse. We had lunch reservations. A drawback about going to a famous restaurant is having high expectations. Our lunch didn’t meet them. My daughter’s pasta was just ok and my fish was too salty. However, that wasn’t the crime. To compensate for the average meal, we decided to swipe a water glass. The water glasses at Chez Panisse have their logo on them and make a nice souvenir. (See photo below). I slid the glass in my purse and off we went. A few feet down the sidewalk we heard someone calling behind us. “Miss, Miss, excuse me.” My daughter and I looked at each other in horror, we’d been caught. “Miss, you left your scarf behind.” I mumbled some thank you’s and resolved, no more stealing from restaurants.

After the heist, we went on a beautiful nature walk near campus. My daughter is taking a botanical class and during the walk, pointed out lots of interesting facts about redwoods and other trees. I snapped a few shots as the photos show more than I can tell.

Path in the Woods

Looking up into Young Redwoods

Back at the hotel, we decided a little pampering was in order. We changed into bathing suits and headed to use their Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.

We started in the sauna. An older, saggy everything woman was applying lotion all over her naked body. In that confined space there was a lot of ick factor. Honey, could you wrap a towel around yourself and just put that lotion on your arms and legs. To quote a book I’m reading now, we were “Gone Girls.”

Hoping for better luck in the steam room, we found another naked lady (of course). This “plump and proud of it” woman was on her back with her legs propped up the side of the wall. Not liking that view either. Repeat “Gone Girls.”

Our last stop was the Jacuzzi. We sank in our own little corner where we avoided floating boobs and other sights. Not quite the pampering adventure we imagined.

Is it Naked or Nude?
I am never sure which adjective to use and got a little clarification in this quote by Kenneth MacKenzie Clark, Baron of Saltwood.*
To be naked is to be deprived of our clothes, and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us feel in that condition. The word “nude,” on the other hand, carries, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenseless body, but of a balanced, prosperous, and confident body: the body re-formed. In fact, the word was forced into our vocabulary by critics of the early eighteenth century to persuade artless islanders that, in countries where painting and sculpture were practiced and valued as they should be, the naked human body was the central subject of art.

So where I use the word “naked,” Berkeley ladies would use the word “nude.”

*1903-83, English art historian – Another quote of his that I find amusing is:
Opera, next to Gothic architecture, is one of the strangest inventions of Western man. It could not have been foreseen by any logical process.

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To Share or Not to Share

I recently went outside my comfort zone to apply for a day class at a local junior college. It was a very humbling experience. The class I wanted to take had a pre-requisite for a college level English class. So, I found the college I went to back in the day and was able to get a copy of my “typed” college transcript. I was quite surprised to see that I received a “C” in English. Good enough for this purpose. But more troubling was the fact that I completely forgot I also got a couple of “D’s.” After I got over my embarrassment, I realized this was a good sharing moment for me and my college freshman daughter. Yes, you will live if you don’t get all “A’s.”

College Transcript from the Olden Days

Back to my day class. I did expect that most of the students would be young. I didn’t expect I would be the only old student. Really, I am the only one. There was a chance with a couple of other ladies, but for various reasons, they dropped out after the second class.

I explained my predicament to my daughter. She replied with “Keep a low profile Mom.” That is usually not an easy thing for me to do. So I sit in the back of the class and only contribute when no one else is brave enough. Somehow that seems to get others going.

Now the funny part. Last class we read our favorite poems. I sat near two young guys. The one behind me, say his name is Quan, read his poem. He told us why he liked it and the instructor asked him to read it again. He said: “My throat is a little dry. If Valerie (how cute, he remembered my name) wouldn’t mind, could she share her water bottle with me.”

Yikes, share my water bottle? The flu is epidemic, people are coughing out their lungs and he wants to share my water bottle. I didn’t hesitate. I turned around and gave it to him. He took a swig (while we watched, slightly shocked) and returned it back to me.

I have no recollection of his poem. Something by Sylvia Plath. I kept thinking, Valerie, whatever you do, don’t drink from that bottle again. At break, a couple of the young ladies chatted with me. One said “I couldn’t believe he asked to share your water bottle. And I thought, what would I do if I was in your place? I’d probably give it to him too.”

Next class, I am bringing a fresh water bottle and little Dixie cups with me. Stay healthy!