Stickney’s at Town & Country in Palo Alto.  I remember the last time I ate there.  It was after my grandfather’s  80th birthday celebration and I went driving around with my cousins and aunts and uncles and we stopped at Stickney’s.  I remember sliding into the faux leather booth and admiring that the were still as good as new.  No worse for the wear after all these years.

It wasn’t a Lyon’s or Denny’s… it was different-- older and more “vintage”.  I barely remember the décor other than the maroon booths, but I remember the cakes and pies as you entered.  And the waitresses that I think had worked there since it opened in 1953.  As a child, I remember eating there as much as at any other restaurant, but I don’t remember any particular times but I know I always ordered a burger or the chicken soup.  The burgers were delicious, large and predictable.  The barbecue sauce was super smoky and tangy (more sweet than anything) and the chicken soup had thick, doughy noodles that made it more like a wet casserole than a soup.  And the cakes and pies… oh dear lord the cakes and pies.

Sometimes a memory sneaks up on you as you write about something.  I remember eating there with Diane before finding my wedding dress at Nordstrom.  I sat on the burgundy bench annoyed and bemoaning the hideous sights of horrible dresses we’d been presented with all day.  I didn’t know at the time that after enjoying the usual delicious and gigantic burger, Norstrom would give me my future bride attire and so all my whining was for nothing.  I also ate a huge slice of lemon merange pie, without worrying about which hip it would settle into for the long haul.. ah the joys of being in your 20s.

The history of Stickney’s is one that goes back to a year before the opening at Town & Country.  Adrian “Red” Stickney and his wife, Kay, opened Hick’ry House on El Camino Real in Redwood City in 1952.  A year later, Stickney’s was the first tenant in the new Town & Country Village in Palo Alto.  Soon there were six Stickney Hick’ry Houses from San Mateo to San Jose, California.  The only one not on El Camino Real was in Valley Fair, San Jose.

El Camino Real, for those who are not from here, was called the King’s Highway.  It was the only way to travel between San Francisco and San Jose back in the day.  Along this highway in the years after Red opened the restaurants, his face could be seen on billboards and on the restaurant signs lining “Restaurant Row,” the strip of El Camino in Southern Palo Alto, where travelers would need to “fill up”  and over a mile and a half from Stanford University (thereby allowing alcohol to be served).  Here is where you’d find the old Palo Alto staples—Rickey’s Studio Inn, Rick’s Swiss Chalet, Dinah’s Shack, Ming’s, Villa Lafayette, Rudolpho’s, and drive-ins such as John Barnes Drive-In, the Carousel and Bonander’s.

Stickney’s also was known for their support of Stanford University’s athletes.  Chuck Taylor, Stanford coach (yes, the Chuck Taylor of shoe fame), was a close friend of Mr. Stickney.  Mr. Stickney had been a great athlete, but had to quit when he had to go to work for himself.  He had a big heart for athletes, often employing them so they they could work for meals and extra cash.  He sponsored a number of scholarships and Little League teams, as well.

But the best thing ever about Stickney’s was that it was at that Town & Country restaurant that my dad had his first job. For one day.  He was about 15 or so and he was hired on as a bus boy along at the recommendation by a friend, who already worked there.  If I had been better prepared, I would have found the friend’s name before writing this, but I’m not sure I ever wrote it down.  Hopefully, one my my aunts or uncle will be able to fill this in. 

Dad was learning the ropes and his friend said, “Harry!  Follow me!”  Dad followed him to the men’s room and the kid poured his apron on the sink top and a bunch of money came tumbling out.  “Look!  I got all their tips!”  Just then, Red walked in and caught them.  He fired them both on the spot.

“You just can steal the waitresses’ tips and expect them to not notice!”

Dad told that story every time we ate there and I relished it each time. Miss you, Dad.


Cake’s “Short Skirt” song came on this morning and I remembered the first time I heard it, thinking how cool it would be to have someone think about me like that and write a song about me.   But as I listened today, I realized that middle-aged me would need to change it up quite a bit...

I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what's best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
 ~~~ But with sensible heals, because later in the song I have to tour the facilities~~~
And eyes that burn like cigarettes
~~~ Is this because I need bifocals?  I *am* having trouble focusing at times.  I need to see the eye doctor again, but not sure if my insurance will pay because it hasn’t quite been a year~~~
I want a girl with the right allocations
~~~Like, in my 401(k)? You’ll need to discuss with my financial advisor~~~
Who's fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
She's playing with her jewelry
~~~Because the carpal tunnel makes the clasps kinda hard to be sure you got hooked on there and you wouldn’t want to lose the necklace you actually ventured outside the home to purchase~~~
She's putting up her hair
She's touring the facilities
~~~In her sensible heels because she’s sharp as a damned tack~~~
And picking up slack
~~~Why is it that doing a good job means you get to do the jobs of those who don’t? This doesn’t seem all that sharp-tack like.~~
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket.
~~~Or layerable sweater because there is no fucking such thing as quality morning AND afternoon temperature in any office building created on the face of the earth.
And also hot flashes.~~~
I want a girl who gets up early
~~~To pee~~~
I want a girl who stays up late
~~~Like 8:30?  Is that late enough because I may be able to commit to 9?~~~

It just gets sadder after that so I’ll stop here.  And remove Cake from my playlist as I’m officially too old.

We lost Gramma Lola last December and I’ve been wanting to write this story ever since.  Gramma Lola wasn’t my grandmother or my kids’ grandmother, but all the children called her, “Gramma Lola.”  She lived in the retirement community that my mom lives in and was a good, close friend of mom’s despite their age difference.  They had Sunday dinners together and shared groceries and stories and cooking and a lot of other things.  Every visit of Mom’s grandkids lead to a walk to Gramma Lola’s where they’d get hugs, cookies and lots of Gramma Lola love. 

When Mom got sick and her house burned down, Gramma Lola, being the doer and controller that she was, had to take over something.  And me, being the doer and controller that I am, couldn’t give her the important things like holding the contractors and surgeons to their agreements, so I gave Gramma Lola the all-important task of shelving paper.

We were readying for major surgery and the house was readying for final touches, so it was a good compromise when Gramma Lola brought it to me at 4:15 on a Thursday afternoon via a call to my cell phone (that I ignored because I was at work) and then a call to my work phone (that I answered because I was at work).  “Debbie,” she said, sternly, “Your mother needs shelving paper.  Who is doing that?”

When I was growing up my mom worried about things like carpet fringe and shelving paper, but I was pretty sure that at this point she could give a flying hoot about shelving paper while facing the end of her four months of chemotherapy and major surgery to remove over half a lung and a bunch of ribs.  Pretty sure.  But not positive.

“Let me check with Mom to see.” I responded to Gramma Lola.

Text to Mom: “Do you care about shelving paper?  Lola wants to know.”
Text from Mom: “I could give a flying hoot about shelving paper.”
Text to Mom: “Good to know.”

I called Lola back.  “Mom doesn’t care about shelving paper.”  I then received a lecture about how she already knew mom didn’t care because she asked her but that she should care because it has to be in before her dishes are moved back in and that is happening in just a few weeks and the shelving paper has to be measured for and then purchased and then put in and who is going to do all of that?

“Okay.  I didn’t realize that it was important to have.  Could you take care of this for us. I’ll pay for it if you tell me how much.” 

The shit was on.  Lola used her key (after calling all my numbers and emailing me to tell me she was doing so) and measured the cabinets.  She then went to several stores (calling all my numbers and emailing me to tell me results) and priced out options. 

Shelving paper.  Options.

Does Mom want flowers, checks, designs, pictures?  Does Mom want sticky-back, tack, glue? 

All this on voice mails on all my numbers and emails.  When I didn’t respond in an hour (because... Shelving Paper.  Options...), she then called my brother for his decision since I clearly couldn’t be trusted.  She left him a voice mail and he then called me to tell me that he can’t be bothered with shelving paper options while starting a new job.  Could I please get Gramma Lola under control?

Mom was working on finding care for her cat while she went into the hospital and all the other things you prepare for when facing major surgery.  One thing she wasn’t preparing for was shelving paper.  I asked her anyway, in case she really did have a preference. 

Do you want flowers, checks, designs, pictures?  Do you want sticky-back, tack, glue?


Agreed.  I called Gramma Lola and told her to put the shelving paper on hold until we were ready for that level of decision.

And then mom had surgery.  The second night, Gramma Lola’s daughter drove her to the hospital to visit Mom. Gramma Lola sat in a chair, heard how mom was (still a bit loopy and tired and clearly hurting) and then asked if mom had decided on shelving paper.  Her daughter interrupted, “Mom, now is not the time to talk about shelving paper.”

Despite my elation at having the shelving paper quandary cut off by someone not me, poor Gramma Lola looked so deflated that I second-guessed myself and Mom felt the same.  After they left, Mom said, “Maybe we should give her something else to be in charge of.” I agreed. We knew that Mom would need a walker until she was stronger and the retirement community collected these kinds of items like my children collected Happy Meal toys in the back of the car.  There was apparently a shed of them.  “See if she can check The Shed for a walker for me.”  Good idea.

I emailed Lola this request from my phone that night and then the horror fest really began.

The next day, I got a message from Gramma Lola.  “I chose a few walkers for your mom. I put them on the porch.”

Every morning, I’d arrive at the hospital at 8am and I’d leave at 8pm.  I was staying at Mom’s half-way renovated home with no hot water and no furniture other than a bed that we’d had delivered.  There were no lamps, as they were still in storage until the painting was complete.  I’d come home to darkness and leave in darkness.  The key on the back door didn’t work, so I had to walk around to the front porch in the dark to unlock the door to get in.

That night I tripped over 42 walkers while stumbling in the dark to the front door.  In the time it took to move them all (in the dark) so that I could get in and turn on the porch light, I already had received five voice mail messages from Lola. 

“I saw your car in the driveway.  Did you see the walkers?” 

“I didn’t hear from you.  Making sure you saw the walkers.” 

“The walkers are on the front porch.” 

“There are different sized walkers on the front porch.” 

“You need to choose a walker.  They are on the porch.”

I walked in, turned on the kitchen light, and called Lola back.  “I see the walkers.  Thank you.”

“Did you choose one?” She asked.

With my hand holding the phone, I went to the front door, opened it, dragged the closest walker through the opening.  “Yep.  Picked out the perfect one.”  I was so proud that this was over.

“Now you have to put the balls on.”

What?  I was exhausted.  I was physically and emotionally so done with the day that I was clearly hallucinating. 

“Are you there?  I left tennis balls on the porch and you need to cut them and put them on.”  My continued silence of confusion confused her.  “The balls.  For the feet of the walker.  Otherwise she will scratch the floor.”  She said this all slowly for me, as it was obvious that I was amazingly stupid and confused and knew nothing at all about walkers.  Or balls.

I thanked her for the walkers, the ball instructions, and for her promise of removing the remaining unchosen the next day.  Then I fell into bed without dinner in a fit of exhaustion.  I awoke at 6:30 the next morning and set off for the hospital.

Mom at this point was in and out of ICU and cardiac care with her prognosis, and room, changing from minute to minute.  I spent my days chasing down help, medicine and food for Mom, while also working my full time job from the hospital. And listening to Lola’s messages.

“The balls are still on the porch.”

“You said you would cut the balls and put them on the walker.”

“If you don’t put the balls on the walker, the floors will get scratched.”

“The floors are brand new from the rebuild after the fire.  Your mom won’t want them scratched.”

“It’s after lunch and then balls are still on the porch.”

“It’s dinner time and the balls are still on the porch.”

“I’m going to bed, but I drove over and saw your car pull in.  The balls are on the porch.”

“It’s 7:30 in the morning and your car’s gone, but the balls are still on the porch.”

This went on for a few days with me not answering.  She then switched to email where she included me, my brother, and my mom, so I had to answer.  “I will have Marc take care of the balls when he comes this weekend,” I said, thinking I was ending this discussion.

This quieted her until the weekend when Marc came.  I was at the hospital, but Marc brought the kids over to be there when PG&E came to hook up the water heater. Lola came over to supervise the Great Ball Project of 2014. Marc failed miserably, not having the proper tools with him.  With a sigh, Lola took the project back over and assigned it to the next door neighbor, Ray (which is a story for another time.  Possibly titled, “The Great Mail Crime of 2014.”).

The next message from Gramma Lola was directed to all of us at 10pm on Sunday night.  “Ray has put the balls on the walker.”

At 5am, Mom, who had been stoically quiet, weak and phone-free for her entire hospital stay, texted me for the first time since surgery.  “Thank God Lola’s balls are done.”

And that is the story of how I knew my mom was going to be just fine.
  • The slow walk I do to miss elevators when someone else gets there first.
  • The inside happy dance I do when I remember I don’t have to pay the bridge toll to a toll-taker any longer because I have the machine.
  • When I’m super happy the friend I made plans with is okay staying home, drinking wine and talking instead of going out to mingle.
  • When someone knocks on my door, you can find me hiding upstairs in my closet.
  • That time the car rental place only had a convertible for me and even though the weather was perfect, I never put the top down because I was afraid it would invite eye contact and conversation.
  • Shoe shopping with my daughter: Momma can we just go to the kind of shoe place where they are all in boxes?  I don’t want to talk to people who ask for my size.  Yes, Mini-Me.  Yes, we can.

My Facebook “On This Day” thing came up with this today:

“Today's soccer game features Robot Will (talking and running like a robot) and Stopping in the Middle of a Big Play to Scream ‘I love you Momma!’ Will. Lovely.”

While both things are cute, it took me back to Ye ‘Ol Soccer Days of Yore where I’m sure I earned the title of Worst Soccer Mom Ever. The days when I had to stand in line on the only rainy Saturday of all summer (outside) for 5 hours and 6 minutes to spend $420.00 to get my kid on a team. The other moms wanted to bond and discuss play dates, preschool and probably purgatory, but I just wanted to go home. It was too peopley for a Saturday morning for me.

I then had to buy him or her a uniform that doesn’t fit now, but he will grow into— in 5 weeks whereby it will fit for one game and then be too small (until then I may or may not have purchased a few rolls of duct tape). At the first practice, the kids would chose their team name. Something like “The Pirates,” “The Lightening Rods,” or “The Flower and Nose Pickers.” The last one was my suggestion which was the most obviously fitting, but vetoed each and every fucking year. Then a parent would be forced to volunteer to collect money for the team flag. $15-25 each family to have their team name and individual names stitched onto a flag by a local seamstress. I never did this, which is great for all since I could never remember any kids’ names. They were always given a name by me at the first meeting and then they were always that. Shy Kid. Loud Kid. Kid Who Says “Sit” But It Sounds Like “Shit” and, of course, Robot Will. Near as I can tell, the only use for the flag was to sit on the sidelines during the games so that the kids knew where the Team Snacks were located at halftime.

Speaking of team snacks, every week, a different parent was responsible for bringing the snack. For my week, I brought cut up orange slices, Oreo cookies in little cute individual packets and apple juice in boxes. The kids were then all gluten-free vegans who didn't eat processed foods or sugar or oranges that weren’t certified organic (that day.) And also? Allergic to air. The one kid who could partake (mine) wanted to know where the ice was for his 16 juice boxes.

Here are some examples of what the other moms brought on their week’s. Keep in mind Pinterest did not exist and neither did those Cricket machines that cut out fancy letters. These were Super Soccer Moms compared to me, “Super Sucky Soccer Mom.”

·         Homemade ice cream in the kind of machine you churn so it was actually Fun Ice Cream served in little cups with the little wooden spoons that all the kids loved.

·         Rented a movie theater type popcorn maker AND a generator to power it. They had individual decorated popcorn cups for each kid bedazzled with their name and shirt number.

·         *Individually wrapped hot dogs on a carrying cart like you see at the baseball games.

·         *Personalized big environmentally-friendly water bottles with the team name, kid name, and shirt number. Filled with small individually wrapped healthy treats.

·         *Gluten-free range organic pizza delivered to the field at exactly the right moment.

Let me refresh your memory… Orange. Slices. Oreos. Juice. Box. Just let that shit sink in.

At the end of the year party, they tried to give even my kids a trophy. The closest either of my kids EVER got to a goal was when: A) Signa hung on the goal like it was a swing set; b)Will made a goal in the wrong goal after they switched sides at half time. WTF?!? Like it isn’t hard enough to keep track, they have to confuse me at each game? It’s not my kid’s fault that his mom couldn’t keep up and told him to, “KICK IT! KICK IT IN THE GOAL, ROBOT WILL!”

A trophy? Really, soccer people. Really? A trophy for finding all the four leaf clovers (that had three leaves…). A trophy for collecting lady bugs and yellow flowers? No. Just no. They weren’t most improved. They weren’t even trying. I think those trophies really should have gone to the Super Soccer Moms with the tiny participation one for me for showing up on my day off from people-ing to sort of people.

Yay, me. Now my kids do karate and when they test, it’s a private event that I don’t “get to” attend. Yay, me.
Facebook keeps telling me to look at these underpants.  They are underpants for periods.  Your algorithms are fucked up, Facebook.

First of all, I don’t have periods.  I graduated, Mother Fucker. By way of the Mirena, I graduated, never to look back.  Ever.

Second of all, wtf?!?  That is disgusting.  Do you even know how much I used to bleed?  No, you don’t, stupid Thinx (which, by the way, is dumb, because when I was bleeding, I certainly wasn’t able to Thinx, what with all the blood loss and horror.)

Dear Thinx, Think a tampon and 2 pads.  In just one hour. So fuck you and your period underpants.  I’m so not sitting in that shit.  And from your website:


Well, every pair of THINX has a top layer that wicks all liquid into the über thin absorption layer right beneath it, so that you feel super dry. This way, you can wear 'em all day long (i.e., no, you don't have to change them during the day, no, they don't feel like diapers, and no, it's not like sitting in your own blood). Boom.

“Boom” your fucking ass.  Fuck you.  Seriously.  Fuck you.  No damn way this would have worked for me.  Remember the Diva Cup fiasco?  [read this with birds chirping and a calming ocean breeze in the back ground] “Many years ago, my mother had a vision. She dreamed of a healthy and eco-friendly feminine hygiene product that would change the lives of women everywhere. Today that dream has become a reality and is empowering women around the world to challenge the menstrual status quo as they discover what it truly means to be a Diva!” 

That God Damned cup runneth over, Asshole.  Again, wads of blood, literally streaming, flowing and showering out of my vagina, into the cup and out to the world at large.  One clot alone would fill the cup leaving it to shrug and say, “Sorry, guys, I’m totally full,” to all the rest of the blood for the day.  So how do you think dainty underwear with an “uber thin absorption layer” would fair with ol’ Debbie’s Niagra Falls of menstruations?  Exactly.

So please, Facebook.  Fix your algorithms and send me the Positive Thoughts of the Day™ ads, as I clearly need and deserve.  You won’t be sorry.  Much.

And Prince

He got weird the last few decades.  I didn’t listen any more. I didn’t consider myself a Prince fan anymore. But listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack just now was devastating.

I don’t cry.  Ever.  I just don’t.  I guess I consider it a weakness or whatever.  Must have heard that at one time or another. So even with all things ending and life so so hard, I just keep doing what needs to be done and make it all work.  I don’t cry over it.  Waste of time and energy. 

My therapist hates me.  She says this is awful and horrible and not normal.  But why waste time crying when you have so little time to do what you need to and to be happy?  You need to work and make your children happy and your life happy.  You need to smile and be truly happy, because what’s the point in doing anything else?

But my dad died.  David Bowie died.  And Prince died.  Died.  I can’t see them any more.  I can’t yell at them for getting weird so that I can’t be a fan anymore.  They are just gone.  Assholes denying me that final tirade.  


Purple Rain was just a movie. Likely not even that great, but I haven’t watched it in years to see if it holds up. But it was great then.

Like David Bowie, this movie/soundtrack (can you differentiate the two?) spanned genres. 
Everyone saw it and listened to it.  It was a Big Deal.  And the music was not punk, but still “okay” for punks to listen to-- we didn’t get in trouble for being off-punk for Prince.

In fact, the soundtrack played at the Varsity for the next few years in the café where we scrounged change to afford cafe mochas.  I remember Chuck screaming at me with the lyrics, “I never wanted to be your weekend lover,” and then him quickly becoming my weekend lover. I remember the entire soundtrack. Every.  Single.  Word.

And every word means the world to me. 

And he’s gone. Forever. My Purple Rain is over. And my first thought?  Debbie Jones.  I think we ALL thought of her first.  That’s how important Prince was. We worried about One of Our Own when he passed.

I remember going to First Avenue in Minneapolis every first few visits to Minnesota.  Just in case I got to see him.  Just so I could know in my heart that I saw him.  I remember knowing every word so well that when I revisited the soundtrack just now, even through my TEARS (yes, tears) I remembered. Every. Single. Word.  And the song that came next (see my DavidBowie rant).

And I remember thinking back then at the ripe old age of 17 that life was hard.  That the lyrics of Purple Rain were sad and appropriate and maybe I should learn to cry.  Yet, now, 30 years later, I still ask what is the point?  No one cares when you cry and nothing changes.  Isn’t it best to shake it off and be happy and do what you need to do to get to the point where you don’t feel like crying?

All while listing to Prince and the Purple Rain soundtrack and crying my eyes out.  Life comes full circle.

And now it’s time to move on. Because we are among the Beautiful Ones.