Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Day with Grandma

I didn't go to Atria today, but Jeri and Alice Nan did.  Reports are that they had a great time and laughed a lot.  And, of course, they took the traditional "Grandma and Jeri" photo.

There was also a Grandma and Alice Nan photo.

And the best photo of all from their visit.  

I love that photo.  I haven't seen that grandma in months.  Jeri should be here all the time.

They were gone a long time and when they got back here. Polly got right up on Jeri's lap again.  She took some terrific photos.  This is my favorite:

(I'm going to get a 5x7 and then have it framed!)

Alice Nan left to return to Norm's house, Walt went off to visit with his friend, whom he and two others visit twice a month so the wife can go to a meeting with some other women, since she doesn't like to leave him home alone.  Jeri and I watched the Mister Rogers special that I recorded a bit ago.

After he returned, we had a quiet dinner and then Jeri worked on a project, Walt read the paper, and I sat in the family room in case anybody wanted to chat.  Just a nice homey family evening together.

Finally Walt and Jeri headed off to bed and I watched a little more TV, with closed captioning on, and now am headed to sleep myself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


I'm always thrilled when I find a new way to get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night.  I slept until 4:30, which is a long stretch of sleep for me, and then settled in to watch Morning Joe, as I do every morning, hoping it will put me to sleep.  Depending on how outrageous the president has been the day before is a measure of whether I will sleep or be kept awake by anger.

However, Jeri and Walt's sister Alice are here and I didn't want to wake them with the sound of the TV and since I have discovered closed captioning, I just turned that on and read the news.  However, found that reading the news, where you couldn't close your eyes and just listen and hope you'd fall asleep obviously didn't work and within half an hour i was genuinely sleepy, so decided to try going into the living room and lying down and I was asleep instantly!  Slept until 8:30, an amazingly full night of sleep.

Closed captioning may be my best discovery this year.  We've had it for years, but I didn't know how to turn it on and by accident managed to get it working.  What a difference in watching British drama!  But realizing that I could read dialog on TV programs, so as not to disturb sleeping people was wonderful.  I watched an entire episode of Call the Midwife after everyone went to bed....I got to see the episode and understand it and never turned the sound on.

BUT, yes Jeri is here.  Alice drove her up from Santa Barbara.  Whenever Alice and Walt travel, they send each other one word texts, letting the other know their location.  When we are going to Santa Barbara, Walt drives and I text.  So Walt sent a text around 1 p.m., asking where they were and Jeri texted back that they were in Salinas.  So when we got on the road at 3:40, I sent a text saying we were at Dixon and Jeri responded that they were in Sausalito.  Our ultimate destination was Norm's house in Petaluma and based on where they were and where we were it sounded like it was going to be a race to see who got to Norm's first.

As it turned out, we did, but they were right behind and about 5 minutes later, Norm's wife Olivia showed up.  We did what modern families do these days when they all get together.

In time we went to Lily Kai, a nice Chinese restaurant (where we had a Latina waitress) in Petaluma.  It was delicious and we sat at a nice round table which was just perfect for being able to talk to everyone.

Dinner was delicious and we talked about, among other things: plantar fasciitis, orthotics, mattresses, and teeth.....and I marveled at how old we had all (even Jeri) gotten!

Back to Norm's house for dessert and to watch the brief video of Jeri and Bri playing a duet and then we headed home, in 2 cars.  It was a harrowing drive since the road is narrow and winding and there was not heavy rain but heavy drizzle and too many cars.  I think we were all happy to finally get to the freeway.

Polly was on her best behavior and only barked a little and ended up in Jeri's lap.  Victory, after only 8 years.

This morning I made a big batch of waffles and sausage and then Jeri and Alice Nan headed off to Atria to visit my mother.

Alice will be leaving this afternoon and Jeri will be here another 2 days.  It's nice having her home -- well our home.  I realize her home is in Boston now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


This is the 6,572nd entry I have written since I began this journal 18 years ago today.  Hard to believe.

When it began it was on GeoCities, a site which hasn't existed for a long time.  I went back and moved several of the early entries to Funny the World (so you can read "Ned Moves into a Playhouse," the first entry).  My intent was to move all of the GeoCities to FTW, but I stopped at some point and never went back.  It is fun, though, to go back and see where we all were 18 years ago.

I keep a database of all entries and it helps for entries like this.  I am forever getting the number wrong when I write the "This is entry #" number at the end of each entry.  I was only off two entries this time, which is better than it has been.

I received the following video from Tom last night

I am all verklempt (a Yiddish word which describes a person who is too emotional to speak).
It's the "passing of the torch thing."  Having watched Jeri -- and all the kids -- growing up and learning how to play musical instruments, moving on to become professionals, and now watching my granddaughter, just beginning to learn the trumpet, playing a duet with Jeri on her musical instrument.....  Well, it just brings tears to my eyes.  
We did something right.

But there was sad news today.  I read the following on Twitter this morning:

It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday).  He was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. 
This means that for all intents and purposes, the Northern White Rhino has gone extinct in our lifetime.  There are still two females, but since they were unable to breed with Sudan, there are no offspring and now never will be, though the conservancy reports that "his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies."
I find this all incredibly sad.  The species was killed off in large part by poachers wanting their horns to make drugs for impotent men in China.  I hope the sex was worth the destruction of an entire species of animals.
"His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him," said Mr Jan Stejskal of Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Sudan lived until 2009.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Mystery of the Missing Mother

My mother has been in the memory unit for nearly a year.  In all that time, whenever I go to visit her, most of the time, I find her in her room, either sleeping or sitting in her chair.  Lately, I've found her wandering around the building.  Sometimes she is sitting in a chair at the opposite end of the hall from her apartment, or sitting in the community room, where the television is on (I doubt she's watching it).  Once she was sleeping in the chair by where the aides' office is, once sleeping on the couch in the "library" which is at the end of the hall where her apartment is.  

I'm not sure if this newfound "mobility" is of her own making or if it is because I think that at mealtime they lock all the doors so that the residents can't get into their apartments, presumably to force them to be more social with everyone else (though to look at the common room and see them all staring off into space, I'm not sure if that is what it does!)

However, in all these months I have never NOT been able to find her.

I arrived the other day and went into her room and she was not there.  I checked everywhere and she was not to be found.  This is a locked facility, so I knew she hadn't left the place, but where was she?

One of the aides told me that she has started going into other apartments.  I'm not sure if it's to see other people, or because she can't find her own apartment any more.  The aide started checking every apartment and finally found her in the apartment the farthest from her own.  I am remember her former roommate, Marge (who has since been moved to a place closer to her own kids), who used to wander into my mother's apartment and stand there looking kind of lost, then start to talk in nonsensical sentences before she left, or before we escorted her out.

Anyway, all was well.  She was found.  She came in and sat on a very uncomfortable folding metal chair and couldn't understand it when I suggested she move to the more comfortable chair where she usually sat.  It did not compute for her.

I had brought the memory book I had made for her and she looked through it, but couldn't recognize most of the people in it (including her mother and brothers), but was slightly more interested in the book I had made years ago when we visited the ranch in Valley Springs where she spent her earliest years.  The books are mainly for Alix, her Alzheimer's buddy, who is on spring break right now but who will be back eventually and asked for old scrapbooks she could look through with my mother.

She looked through the Valley Springs book twice, then put it down and said she was going to lie down because her "front" hurt.  She got onto her bed and after a couple of minutes, got up and left the apartment.  I assumed she was going to go to the bathroom, but she opened the front door instead.  I figured she would turn around and come back, but she didn't and when I went out the front door after her, she had disappeared.  I don't know where she was because she wasn't in the usual places again.  I guess she was "visiting" again.  A new wrinkle. I came on home.

Today I received the following text message from Jeri, who is now at Tom's house.

Her next text message told me that the "sorry" message had been written by Brianna.  I guess they are having fun with technology.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. Do you tend to have a guilty conscious? 
I was raised Catholic.  People don't realize that when they baptize you, they infuse you with guilt.  It comes from our Jewish ancestors (they invented it; we perfected it).  It apparently passes along thru the generations.  One of our kids felt very guilty (when he was in grammar school) because he was not doing more to help solve the war !  (whichever one we were fighting then)

2. Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
No.  I would be smarter if they hadn't taken them, but they did, when I was in high school. 

3. Peanut Butter - creamy or crunchy?
I like both, but crunchy just for eating, creamy for sandwiches.

4. Get up off your butt. Take 5 steps. Which leg did you start out on?
Left.  I am totally left-sided.

5. What color is your favorite kitchen utensil?
Green.  That would be my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which I've had for about 46 years (I know that because I had it when we lived in Oakland).  I use it weekly and it has given me NO trouble whatsoever in all these years.

6. Did you watch the Michael Jackson memorial/funeral?
No.  I was not a fan.  But we DID drive by the Neverland Ranch the following week on our way to a wedding.  There was a big crowd standing outside.

7. Do you know anyone who graduated from high school this year? Were you invited to their graduation party? Did you go?
No.  We are between high school graduations.  The young people we know are too old and our granddaughters are too young

8. White with black stripes or black with white stripes?
Black with white stripes.

9. If we were to call your 6th grade teacher, what would they say about you?
Well, that would probably be impossible, since I suspect she's dead by now.  I don't even remember which nun I had in 6th grade (though I remember most of my other teachers).

10. Can you draw a perfect circle?

11. What was your favorite scratch & sniff sticker scent?
Hmmm....I don't scratch and sniff much, but I suspect some sort of fruit smell.  I have a roll of scratch and sniff pizza stickers, which are interesting, but not a favorite (I send them to the grandkids)

12. What does your sibling do for a living?
Not much.  She's been lying in a cemetery since 1971.

13. How many light switches and electrical outlets are in the room that you are in right now?
One light switch and I think 4 electric outlets (though 2 are covered up).

14. Do you know sign language?
I know the deaf alphabet very well and have since grammar school (I talk to myself in the deaf alphabet all the time).  But I don't know sign language.  I've always thought that would be something good to learn.

15. Do you step on cracks in the sidewalk?
Sure.  I have no superstitions about that.  And my mother's back is fine.

16. And the sheets on your bed look like....?
Couch cushions.  (I sleep on a couch under a sleeping sheets).

17. What is something that everyone else has, but you don't?
Undoubtedly some tech thing, but I can't think of a thing that others might have that I want.

Here, I think, is my shout out from Says You

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!
Saturday 9: Danny Boy (1956)
"Danny Boy" was selected in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This is a sad song of farewell. Who is the last person you said "goodbye" or "so long" to?
My mother, when I left the memory unit this afternoon.

2) According to the 2000 Census, Massachusetts is the state with the largest percentage of residents of Irish descent. Have you ever been to The Bay State?

Often.  Our daughter lives there and teaches at Berklee College of Music, so we have visited Boston several times.  A nice city filled with history.

3) "The wearing o' the green" is one way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day?

I usually try to wear something green, even if I'm not leaving the house.  I will probably wear green socks.

4) What color makes you look best?

Probably red--the bluish red, not the orangish red.  If you open my closet, there is much more red than any other color.

5) Will you drink something
green in honor of the day (like a Shamrock shake or a green beer)?


6) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm?


7) Though she's singing an Irish ballad, this week's featured artist, Joni James, is of Italian heritage. Can you think of a song as identified with Italy as "Danny Boy" is with Ireland?

Probably O Solo Mio

8) Soda bread and potato bread are popular in Ireland. Are there any rolls or bread in your kitchen right now?

Bread is a staple in my kitchen.  We always have bread, and often, in addition, English muffins or bagels.  If we have no bread and I don't feel like going to the store, I make bread.  I have had soda bread often, when we are in Ireland and it's not one of my favorites.
9) Ireland is known for its whiskey. Do you enjoy Irish coffee (black coffee, whiskey and whipped cream)? The question leaves out the sugar, which is an important part of Irish Coffee.  I haven't had one in awhile, but yes, I do. Did you know that Irish coffee was invented in San Francisco?  At the Buena Vista pub, which is at the end of the Hyde Street cable car line, in 1952.  When I was at UC Berkeley, we often went to the Buena Vista.  It was still a fairly new thing at that time.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Unintended Marathon

Actress Connie Britton was interviewed on Kelly and Ryan this morning.  I've liked her since I saw her on Friday Night Lights years ago.  I know she did Nashville, and for that reason I started watching the show, but just couldn't get into it, so I stopped watching.  But now she was talking about a new series, 9-1-1, where she plays a 911 operator.  I vaguely remember seeing the show promo'd before it began, but decided I had enough of that kind of show in my life and so never checked it out.

However, Britton talked about her mother in the show (played by Mariette Hartley), who has Alzheimers.  They ran a brief clip from the show and I thought it was a one-time appearance by Hartley and I'm all about views of Alzheimers.  This week's show is #8 of Season 1 and I decided to check out episode #1 to get a feel for what the show is like.  It also stars Peter Krause, whom I always enjoyed on Six Feet Under.

Well, not only is Hartley a recurring character, with short scenes in every episode, but the show itself is very good.  "I'll just watch the second episode," I said after the first one ended.  By the time I finally pulled myself away from the set, I had watched five episodes, with only two more to go before I was caught up, and I finished those before I went to sleep.  I don't often do marathons, so the show must be good.

After four episodes, watching Britton deal with her mother and feeling it so familiar, Mom decides to escape one night while daughter is sleeping and daughter goes out searching for her, telling the police that Mom is 75 years old.  

I hate it whenever it is pointed out to me how young writers consider 75 year olds old and decrepit.  But it does make it OK for me to be dealing with serious memory problems, seeing the handwriting on the wall for my own future.

Anyway, the main thing I did today was watch a marathon of 9-1-1.  I was going to stop after episode 4 but my choices were to watch episode 5 or Chris Matthews, and that was no choice. I chose 9-1-1.  Matthews drives me nuts and I get angry with myself every day for watching him, but he bridges the gap between Ari Melber and Chris Hayes.  9-1-1 was much better.  

(No wonder I so often have to struggle to find something interesting to write about here!)

I also got some letters written to some of my Compassion kids.  Two of the three are some of my best writers, write in English, and actually share parts of their lives, so when I respond, I try to make their letters very personal (once a month I write a generic letter that I can send to all 29 of them).

Compassion often sends videos and texts about the importance of letters and how important they are to the kids, who may often never get any encouragement or even affection from those around them.  The kids always send me bible verses so I try to reciprocate -- me, who knows essentially nothing about the Bible, but Google is a great help.

This week I found another source that I will use until I have used everything I marked for use.  After I watched the recent PBS special on Mister Rogers and was reminded on how he spoke with children, and how he made them feel loved and accepted and encouraged them to be the best that they could be, I checked out Mister Rogers quotes and have a whole bunch of them to share with the kids.  

This week's quote was: "You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There's never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are."  I'm sure Mister Rogers, if he were alive, would not mind being plagiarized in a personal letter to a child who definitely could use his type of encouragement.

I did some reading of the book "White Houses," by Amy Bloom, which is listed as a novel, but which is based on the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her partner, Lorena Hickock in the days when the president's girlfriend could live in the White House and the first lady could have a lesbian partner and the press ignored it.  Those were nicer days.

The book I made for my mother arrived and I am very pleased with it.  I will take it to her today, though her Alzheimers buddy won't be back for a couple of weeks, as she is on spring break.

I also had an e-mail from Says You, which surprised me.  When they did a shout out to me on my birthday, when we went to a taping in San Francisco, I was tickled and we looked forward to listening to the show this weekend.  But the e-mail says that had to be cut for time reasons, but they sent me an audio, which was fun to hear again.  I'd embed it here, but couldn't figure out how to add an mp3 file.

And so the day ended.

And I didn't go to Michael's today either.