Thursday, February 28, 2013


This is my beautiful mom. She died last Sunday.

For those who knew her, my heart breaks with you. For those who did not, here's an introduction to the best confidante, role model and mother a girl could hope for in life. This is the obituary I'd planned to submit to the local paper, but have opted instead to publish here.

Obituary: Beverly Todd

Bev -- my mom -- was a longtime caregiver, advocate, and dear friend to countless elderly in South Salem. Hers was a kind and generous spirit. She devoted much of her life to the welfare of others, giving wholly of herself and doing so always with great affection and humor.
She was born Beverly Marie Steinberger in Silverton, July 23, 1938, the first child and only daughter of Art and Marie Steinberger. Her brothers called her Bevvy Buns, a nickname she grew fond of and wore proudly within the family circle as an adult. Bev attended St. Paul’s Elementary School in Silverton, Silverton High School and Marylhurst College in Lake Oswego. She also spent a short time waitressing in El Paso, Tex. an early adventure, living with a girlfriend there for a few months before returning to Silverton to marrying Cecil Todd in 1958. They had one daughter, Toni. The couple divorced in 1977. Bev met her true love, Jim Cafferty, shortly thereafter. Except for a short time in the mid-1980s when she lived with her brother, David, in San Francisco, Jim and Bev have been together 36 years. 
Bev worked through the 1970s as an assistant to an ophthalmologist, Dr. Robert Baum. She was also a member of Queen of Peace Parish, engaged as an involved parent throughout the 1960s and 70s, helping immigrant families with basic needs and teaching catechism classes to junior high kids.
Her career in elder care began when she returned to Salem from the Bay Area in the mid-80s. When asked why she didn’t retire sooner from what proved a rewarding but exhausting profession, she said, “I’d say to myself, ‘When the last one of my people passes, I’ll quit.’ Then one or two would go, and someone new would move in, and I’d grow attached to them.” Bev cared for each as she would and did for her own parents, with respect, companionship, love.
Lacking rhythm to comical effect, she enjoyed music nevertheless and was a fine dancer. In their day, she and brother Paul cut-a-rug with enviable jitterbug moves. Or so she claimed. A born story teller, Bev was known to embellished upon and tweak facts for dramatic affect, often placing herself at the center of the action. She’d wax on about any topic, whether she knew much about it or not. To those closest to her, this was one of Bev’s most endearing qualities. 
An avid reader, she enjoyed a good yarn in print, too. Movies, live theater and performance were always a delight, and she relished fun weekends with girlfriends.
Card games were not her forte, but with a sharp wit and appreciation for wordplay, her Scrabble skills were unparalleled. A talented sketch artist and doodler, Bev left a daily legacy of busts and caricatures on Post-it notes and napkins. She was crafty and creative in spades, a fine seamstress and inventive cook who loved to try new recipes and share her favorites. Fascinated by science and history, Bev poured over copies of Smithsonian Magazine and National Geographic, enjoyed discovering any new bit of family lore and visiting museums and historic sites when traveling. Trips to Florida, New Orleans, Hawaii and Colorado were highlights, but her favorite destination was Disneyland. 
Her sense of humor was sometimes mischievous, always infectious. She was quick with a smile and kind word toward anyone, senior to toddler, any color or creed. Enter any of her regular haunts at her side, and you’d hear the most genuine, “Hi Bev! Good to see you!” 
Bev died Sunday, Feb. 25 of unexpected complications from cancer. She was 74. She’s survived by her husband Jim Cafferty, daughter Toni Todd, brothers Paul and David Steinberger, nieces Amy and Nicole Bruntz and Brandi Ferris, nephews Michael and J.D. Steinberger and Brad Bruntz, son-in-law Ron Niederpruem, Sisters-in-law Victoria and Lorna Steinberger, Her lifelong best friend Veronica, Logan the boxer, Sunny the conure parrot and many friends whom she loved and cherished like family. To Bev, the greatest love and affections from everyone.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Here's a beef. In the United States of America, we have miles of soybeans, rows and rows of those podded, phytoestrogen-laced legumes across hundreds of thousands of acres. Why then, can I not find a bag of frozen edamame that does not say, in tiny print on the back of the package, "Product of China?" Anybody? I even tried the local health food store. They had 'em, compact plastic, post-consumer-waste pouches with "Organic" emblazoned across the front, a blast of eye-catching, eco-graphics. But on the back, way down in the lower left corner, written in letters so small you have to squint to read:"Product of China."

Speaking of beef, in Hawaii, a place where I occasionally spend time, many of the larger, local cattle ranches ship their animals to the mainland for processing. Meanwhile, island supermarkets are filled with beef from the mainland.

"There are two things in this world you should never pay for," advises a wise (ass) friend of mine. "Fish and sex." Now, I didn't catch enough trout last summer to stock my freezer. OK, I never got around to buying a fishing license, and ice fishing ain't my scene. So, in these snowbound days, I buck by buddy's admonition and, with actual money, buy fish from the local grocer. It's wild caught Alaskan salmon, not farmed or die-injected, previously frozen but not bad for the middle of winter in the middle of the mountains, and cheaper than most decent cuts of beef. Ah, again with the beef. Beef. It's what's not for dinner, although I see them every day, lines of plump, woolly bovines nosing through hay, strewn thick across nearby pastures. Why is it that a sockeye hauled from the Cook Inlet and flown 3600 miles to land on a pile of crushed ice at City Market here in Gunnison, Colorado, is cheaper than a ribeye I could shoot from my yard if I were so inclined?

It's a mad world.