Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Looking back to messages from readers


From page A9 | December 30, 2012 |

When a reader sends an interesting response to one of my columns, I often think, “I need to write a follow-up column” to share the reader’s ideas.

But then I forget. Or I haven’t got enough material for a whole second column. Or I simply move on.

There’s a fourth option.

Today I offer an end-of-the year wrap-up of responses I received to a variety of topics.

Giving up the landline

In October I wrote about the ever-growing number of people who are giving up their landlines. One reader pointed out something significant that changes when a household has only cell phones.

When you call a cell phone, the person who answers will be the person who owns the cell phone. You won’t have an “accidental” conversation with another person who picks up the phone, as you might in a home with a landline.

In most cases, it’s good to get the person you want.

But I feel a loss. Every time I call my son, who has only a cell phone, I reach him. His girlfriend, who has her own cell phone, never picks up. Recently, they moved in together.

I don’t feel comfortable calling her directly yet, but I would love to have an accidental conversation or two. Cell phones make that impossible.

My favorite cereal

One of my lighter topics was about the demise of my favorite — in fact, my only — cereal. I was addicted to Smart Start Oat Flavor, which my 3-year-old grandson thought was named “Grandma’s Cereal.” When it disappeared from California supermarkets, I flew it home from my daughter’s place in Wisconsin.

When it began disappearing from shelves there, I found it on Amazon and bought a case. When that ran out, I wrote my column and a sainted reader (whose husband pines for the vanished Product 19) told me it was being unloaded at the Dollar Store.

I bought 16 boxes.

I ate them well past their expiration date, until finally I was about to run out. Feeling panicky, I bought other brands and tasted them. Most were too sweet. One reader had sent me a photo of a cereal she liked and I bought it for no other reason than her good will, but I didn’t fall in love.

Last week I slowly and sadly ate my last bowl of Smart Start. The next day I tried a new cereal that I had bought in Placerville. Oh joy! Nature’s Path Heritage Crunch is the most delicious substitute I’ve found so far. I danced around the room.

Then I remembered something. It was heavily marked down at the store where I bought it.

Could it be headed for oblivion, too?

Job Hunt for Academic Women

The column about my daughter’s job search drew an exceptional number of responses. Many readers reacted with sadness to the idea that a young woman with children (or planning to have children) cannot present her whole true self on academic interviews. My daughter had been advised not to mention her family.

After that column, I was invited to a meeting of the faculty advisers for UC Davis’ Work Life Program (established 2003) which tries mighty hard to make sure our local academic women get a reasonable shot at combining children and success in their careers. They also support time off for fathers. UCD’s family-friendly policies are more generous than policies in the 10-campus system overall.

Engineering professor Michael R. Hill, a member of the committee, wrote, “My hope for (your daughter) is that she will land a plum position and lead a family-connected life in plain view of her colleagues, and one day tell her students to present on their merits, without hiding things so lovely as a devotion to children, to family, and to a full life.”

I didn’t manage to write a column about UCD’s Work Life Program, but I applaud their efforts.


I have written about Larry more frequently than anyone outside my family. Whenever I write about him, I get email thanking me for continuing his story. Larry is the former home health aide to my father who began life with many disadvantages, including an abusive father, started college after I met him and became, at age 40, a poet.

Recently, he works as a host and guide at the Apollo Theatre in New York. His emails, which formerly contained punctuation and grammar mistakes, are smooth and polished. He sounds happy.

One reader described my role in Larry’s life as being his “witness,” which is not the same as being a friend or even a supporter. I wish I had the wisdom to write a column about what it is to be a witness, but not yet.


I wrote about traveling to the Big Island for a family wedding and missing the free leis we received on our previous visit 25 years earlier. Here’s the message I got from my daughter after that column:

“Your column brought back the scent for me — and I didn’t encounter any leis when I went as an adult. These must be old scent memories from 25 years ago.”

Her recall of a smell from the distant past — she was 6 years old at the time — fills me with wonder.

I am so lucky to write this column and get the messages I do.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at





Family enterprise builds a home for music

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Mosquito districts sprays tonight

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Bob Dunning: Poll dancing, direct from Las Vegas

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Share your love of nature with young wetlands visitors

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

Movies in the Park return this fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

Center for Families hosts Summer Carnival

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Vintage car show planned this fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis native named a Schweitzer Fellow

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

DHS Class of ’94 set 20th reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Tips, techniques will give you a green thumb

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Grief support focuses on journaling

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

How the Bockler wasp got its name

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Kiwanis golf tournament supports local agencies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Drop off school supplies at Edward Jones offices

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UC Davis alumnus hopes to bring amateur radio to Nepal

By Rachel Uda | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Yolo County CASA seeks volunteer child advocates

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Recycle old paint cans for free

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



Not sure which direction to go

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

Violence as entertainment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Shocked at vampires story

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Paul Krugman: Corporate artful dodgers

By Paul Krugman | From Page: A6

Nicholas Kristof: The world’s coolest places

By Nicholas Kristof | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Gravel mining affects us all

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



Fiona Buck pushes the limits in para-athletics

By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s rally to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Morse homers but Giants lose 6th straight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Nightmare on Ballpark Drive for River Cats

By Will Bellamy | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2





Brady earns top honors at State Fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Smither releases new CD Saturday at The Palms

By Kate Laddish | From Page: A9 | Gallery

RootStock kicks off ‘Día de Albariño’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Folk musicians will jam in the Arboretum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

YoloArts to host a state of change exhibit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

UCD professor Andy Jones named Davis’ new poet laureate

By Rachel Uda | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Molten art on display at Davis Arts Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9





Calvin D. Rourke

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6