Sunday, June 26, 2016

Memories from Barb

On this, our 51st anniversary, it seems appropriate to print what my aunt Barb wrote to us on our 25th anniversary, about our wedding day:

When your mother and dad were celebrating their twenty fifth year of wedded bliss, they invited Unc and I to attend the festivities. Because of poor health, poor car and no gas, we had to send them our condolences by mail, along with a note of remembrances of their wedding day. Tho’ I’ve not gotten an invitation from you to attend this years festivities, or any other years festivities, I’m going to try and control my “hurt” and write a note of remembrances of the first day of the rest of your life’s wedded bliss.

Your wedding day is and always will be etched in my mind – and I’m sure the reason for that is, I am still, after all these many years, having nightmares about it.

Now, I know you’re thinking – “Why should dear old auntie be having nightmares about my wedding?” My answer to that: “Little does the bride and groom know what goes on at their own nuptials.” They are the stars and have no thought, or in fact care, as to the rest of the cast or what the audience thinks or does. I’m thinking of writing a pamphlet of do’s or don’ts on this subject – but here I digress.

Unc and I were very excited about being invited to your wedding. Those were very lean years for us and I knew I didn’t have the proper clothes to wear for such an elegant occasion. I did not want you or your mother to be ashamed of me – so trying to appear at my best I discussed the situation with my friends and neighbors. They all took pity on me and for the sake of my peace of mind they pooled their resources (their clothes) and sent me off to the city in style.

Your Uncle Bill was president of The World Sign Association in those years, so he had all the grand clothes because he had to look real spiffy and presidential at the meetings. Because I didn’t have anything to wear but rags, I had to stay at home with the babies. That has been my lot in life for fifty-one years, but I try not to complain and I don’t cry too much about it any more.

Since I was looking fairly sharp in my borrowed finery, the old boy was going to allow me to ride with him and stay overnight at the Claremont Hotel. I would go to the wedding while he attended the meetings.

By the time I got to the church most of the guests had already been seated; only your mother, (my sister) was in the outer room waiting to greet guests. As we came through the door, she looked me over, walked toward me and said “Good Morning!” I am the mother of the bride – may I direct you to your seat?

Well!!! You can imagine how I felt. I had neglected to take off my dark glasses when I entered the room so there was some excuse for her not recognizing me, but my God, I had slept with, eaten with, fought with, laughed with and loved this lady for a lifetime and now she did not even recognize me. I tell you, I was crushed! However, after she saw me minus the shades and in a better light, she came to her senses and shuffled me towards the door of the chapel and told one of the ushers to seat me.

Well!!! I found myself seated among a pack of strangers. I came to find out she had sent me to sit with Walt’s relatives. They all looked at me as though I had just arrived from the second rock to the sun.

Tho’ “being an out of the loop” Catholic, at that particular time, I had not forgotten how to kneel and pray at the proper command. Those darn ding-a-ling bells always did confuse me and I never quite understood if they were ringing to tell me that dinner was served, or if it was time to bring the cows’ home.

During part of the bell ringing, I looked over at the “West’s” side of the chapel and saw my brother Paul and his lovely wife Alma sitting almost in the front row. It was about this time when I began to feel like a neglected orphan. I had known Alma in earlier days and believe me, when I tell you, that her real hair was not connected to anything but air.

After I married my present husband (you know him) Alma decided that we were not longer to be catered to and from that day forth she never graced our presence again. (My, I really did digress there, didn’t I.)

Now, back to the story. You can, I hope, understand how I felt, here I was in a House of God and as the Bible says, “I was a stranger in a very strange land.” We all said our amen's and were dispersed to the outer gardens, where if I remember correctly we were to wait for the bread line. Not too far in the distance there were benches placed for the comfort of the guests. I took advantage of a seat far removed from the motley crowd so that I could think over the events that had happened so far that day. After all, strange things happen, and one must “Go with Flo” whomever she is.

There were quite a few vacant benches around me and it was not long before Paul and Alma joined we bench sitters. They had not seen me yet, so I whistled over to them (I can do that very well with just two fingers in mouth) and that loud sound really causes attention. Everyone else, near and far heard the whistle, but somehow my dear relatives were hard of hearing. Or perhaps, their minds were in Paramaribo and consequently did not even glance my way.

Being the nice person that I am, I joined them on their bench, and we talked for a minute or two before Alma excused herself and moved to another bench so that she could be more comfortable and cooler.

The bells rang for the chow line. I don’t remember if it was a sit down affair or a serve yourself buffet. I do remember sitting next to your grandmother Pearl for awhile. I really did like sitting with her, because I am the quiet, bashful sort, and I do much better on the listening end than trying to make people hear my low voice blatherings. Pearl was very gracious and instinctively knew I was not a real talker. She held up her end of the conversation, and mine too, for which I was thankful.

    I do believe my dear aunt was being sarcastic.  She is not shy and my grandmother never shut up.

Your grandmother had beautiful well-kept hands and her fingernails were always perfectly manicured at just the right length and color for the occasion. In her presence I always sat on my hands.

After the banquet and some “things” to drink, the guests made their speeches and the bride and groom were toasted, and everyone did all of those nice things they always do at weddings.

Would you care to know something weird about you on that day which I shall never forget? As the day progressed, when most brides are beginning to droop and fade, you defied tradition and became more beautiful with every hour. When I kissed you goodbye, you were absolutely gorgeous – even if you had taken your shoes off.

There it is, now you know!

Auntie Barb
June, 1997

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Finished--at last Finished!

It's finished!

Ned finished it while I was at Atria this afternoon and when I got home, I was all set up -- computer, printer, and TV.  All these shelves!  I hope to fill them in a more organized fashion (but probably won't!)  But I love that all of my Compassion kids binders are all together on one shelf now.

I took the morning off from Atria because my mother's step son was stopping by to visit her, and I had my monthly lunch date with my friend Kathy.  I was on the way to the restaurant when I had a phone call from the step son letting me know that my mother seemed to have a pain in her finger and had anybody checked that?  I couldn't believe it.  I had written to him TWICE giving him a full report on the accident, including the sprained fingers.  I assured him that the doctor was aware of the problem, that she had been ex-rayed and that I had explained it to her at least 100 times.

I also had a call earlier in the day from someone at Atria.  She said "I'm here with your mother.  She's a little confused and doesn't seem to remember what happened to her."  I told her too that it had been explained to her a zillion times and would probably explain a zillion more times.

Lunch with Kathy was interesting.  Naturally we talked a lot about politics.  Her son and his husband don't know what is going to happen to them.  His husband is from Portugal and is working on his PhD.  He will get his PhD in another couple of years.  Her son has a guest visa because he is married to his husband.  But since the husband never established permanent residency in England because he didn't need to, under the EU, he doesn't know if he will be allowed to stay...and if he can't stay, does his husband lose his guest visa?

After lunch, I went to Atria.  The stepson had stayed less than an hour, according to the guest book  But at least he came which is more than anybody else in the bay area has done.  I stayed until about 5.  Her bruising is more extensive today

She took a nap, and I did too.  We sat there and stared at each other for about an hour.  Occasionally she would tell me that her fingers hurt and she didn't know why. At one point she told me that she didn't know why, but all she could think of in the back of her head was that she wanted to walk and just keep on walking forever.  I wondered if this, combined with her obsession with seeing her mother lately meant anything.
I decided to turn on the TV and tried to find something that she might be interested in enough to look.  I tried Ellen but she just turned to me and said "do you understand anything that is going on?"  I finally just turned the set off. She is beyond being able to watch TV and enjoy it.

When I left she was upset because she didn't know what she was supposed to do if I'm not there.

It was a hour earlier than yesterday, but I was eager to see my new office.  I will go back at some point tomorrow, but my heart is in starting to arrange the office.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Plagues of Davis

I think I'm glad we don't have a cow.

I checked out the plagues of Egypt and think we are experiencing them.  The first plague was blood.  OK, it was the water turning into blood, but there was certainly enough blood on Ned's finger two days ago to qualify as a plague of blood.

It's more difficult to figure out how my mother's accident jives with the plague of frogs,  I'm sure something about "croaking" would be in there somewhere.

Day 3 of the plagues is the plague of insects.

    Then God ordered Aaron to strike the dust of the earth with his staff, and no sooner did he do so than all over Egypt bugs crawled forth from the dust to cover the land. Man and beast suffered untold misery from this terrible plague.

That's kind of what happened when the garage door guy, who was here this morning to fix the garage door which had come off its hinges, found when he started to investigate.  We are rich in termites, poor only in what a hit our bank account will take in order to eradicate them.

Day 4 has something to do with livestock being infected, but I think if I toss a bit of lamb's blood on the door post we'll be OK.

Walt is meeting with termite guy next week and by God, if he tells me I need to pack up all my stuff so he can spray, I may just possibly have a first class hissy fit.

While Walt was dealing with termines, I packed up and headed to Atria, where I spent the day. She actually slept until noon and when she woke up, she was brighter than she had been the day before.  She still doesn't have a clue what happened or why her fingers are so sore and I must have explained that to her 100 times.

Her face today looks horrible, as the bruising has set in.

But actually by the time I left at 6 I could see it was looking better, though anyone seeing her for the 
first time would be appalled.  Other than being shocked at her appearance, she didn't seem to be too upset until we were going to the dining room for dinner and she saw herself again, for the first time in a couple of hours, and decided she didn't want anybody seeing her, which I certainly understood. (So I ordered a dinner to be brought to her room before I left to come home.)

Not only did she sleep until noon, but she also took about an hour and a half nap in the afternoon, so I got a lot of reading in and actually finished my book, "Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars" by Bill Berloni.  Fascinating story and there is even a sort of friend of mine in it -- Moose, who was the first traveling company Sandy for Annie.  I used to chat with Moose at Sacramento's Music Circus every night when I was driving the local "mutt" in from Davis for his brief stint in Act 1.

My mother's step son is going to stop by tomorrow and I'll be curious to see what he has to say.

Her main complaint is her fingers.  She can't get it through her head that they are sprained (and she doesn't know how she sprained them).  The big problem is that the first two fingers on each hand are very sore yet she keeps her hands clasped together, fingers interlocking.  When I give her the old line "It hurts when you do that?  DON'T DO THAT!" she will look very guilty, unlock her hands and then proceed to squeeze finger in order over and over again to see if they still hurt.

I poined out to her that yesterday, when I tried to clean her up with a wet tissue, the very touch of the tissue, without pressure, caused her to scream out in pain, so she had come a long way in a day.  But of course, she has lost the ability for cause and effect relationships and she didn't pay any attention to what I was saying.

I was drained when I came home.  I don't do anything, really, when I'm there (except today I did a load of dishes that was piled in the sink), but it is such an emotional drain on me that I just want to come home and sit, which Polly can't understand because, dogdammit, it's time for her dinner.  NOW.

I'm going back for tomorrow afternoon.  I have lunch with a friend in the morning and Ed will be there part of the morning anyway.  I'll stay until 6 again, but I think by then I can feel comfortable leaving her alone. given the progress she had made today.

* * *

Ned says tomorrow is the day he is moving my computer back into the new office.  Then my REAL work begins!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

After the Fall

I have been getting more sleep than I usually do lately...and it's kind of nice.  Yesterday I went to bed early and got up around 4:30 a.m.  I didn't feel sleepy, so read my book for awhile, then got a glass of ice water (which I usually have first thing in the morning) and promptly fell asleep.

At 9:30 the phone rang.  The caller ID said it was my mother, but she always calls my cell phone and yes, it was not my mother.  It was someone from Atria calling to let me know she had had a fall.  I said I'd be there in 10 minutes and probably made it in less.

When I got to Atria there were 2 fire engines and an ambulance.  I got to her apartment and there was nobody there, so I went to the front desk, where they said that they had sent her to Kaiser in Vacaville.  When I got outside, the fire engines were gone, but the ambulance was still there so I called out to them and went down there to see if she was inside, which she was.  She was very confused and wasn't sure why she was in the ambulance.  The paramedic asked if she normally knew things like the year and the month and I told him no.

They took off for the hospital and I followed them.

She was in a room in the ER and very confused.  She didn't know why she was there, doesn't remember falling, and is very upset that her fingers hurt.  She also wanted to know what the liquid was that was trickling down her face (blood).

So the questions she wanted asked were:  what happened?  Why do her fingers hurt?  What should she be doing?  Why was she in a hospital?

How many times can she ask those questions in 2-1/2 hours?  Sometimes she understood my answers, sometimes she told me I wasn't making any sense at all and that she was too old to understand.
The funny thing is...the two things she is fixated on under normal circumstances are her watch (comparing the time with the wall clock) and her toenails.  When she can't think of anything to talk about, she asks me if I think her toenails are pretty.

So in the middle of all those questions she was asking, she suddenly noticed that one foot was peeking out from under the hospital gown and she stopped to let me know how pretty her toenails were.

Over the time we were there, she had x-rays on her hands (fingers sprained) and a CT scan to see if she had a concussion (no).  While she was gone, I had a nice conversation with a social service worker and we talked about dementia and alzheimers.  She gave me her phone # in case I have things I want to discuss with her.

When she returned to the ER room, the doctor put 5 stitches in her forehead and then went off to find the scans that had been taken (this took a long time).  Now she wanted to know again why she was there.  When I mentioned the stitches, she asked when she had stitches because she didn't remember that at all.

I was glad I had my cell phone with me and took her picture to show her what her face looked like.  Oddly, she didn't seem to feel a connection between herself and the picture.

Her cut seemed to bleed a lot periodically and I spent a lot of time cleaning blood off of her face.  Also, she was very upset at all the "red" on her hands and she didn't know what it was and however did she get blood on her hands.

She needed to go to the bathroom badly and I went to get the nurse, but my mother looked at me like I was crazy...she didn't need to go to the bathroom.  Five minutes later if she didn't get up to go to the bathroom she was going to "poop all over" but when the nurse came, she didn't know why she was there...she didn't have to go to the bathroom.


Eventually we found that the fingers were just sprained and that the CT scan showed there was no concussion.  A nurse cleaned up her and put a bandage over her stitches.

I knew that I couldn't go off and leave her alone, so I planned to spend the afternoon.  Figuring she would sleep, I stopped by the house here and picked up my Kindle.  It was a good stop because Ned was here and he always brings such sunshine to his visits with his grandma. She stayed in the car and he went out to spend some time with her.

Back at Atria, someone came to explain what actually happened.  Apparently she fell getting out of bed and was bleeding so much she went out into the hall to find help.  She has a pendant to wear, but she has stopped wearing it and even when she wears it, she doesn't know what it is for, so I don't know that it would have helped her.

But they also told me that the day before someone found that she had taken her bed apart and had removed the mattress.  Whoever it was asked if she knew where she was.  She said that yes, she was in San Francisco and was looking for a phone to call her mother.

In the late afternoon, she asked me "where is our mother?"  I said "did you mean where is YOUR mother?"  She said no, where was OUR mother and then snapped back and realized that I was her daughter, not her sister.

I don't know what I will find tomorrow.  I've taken the day off at Logos and will stay at Atria all day just to make sure she's OK.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

First Blood

"It's not a construction project unless a little blood is spilled," said Ned as he wrapped gauze around his finger.  The Frozen band aid I offered him wasn't going to do it, though I would have enjoyed seeing him with Princesses Anna and Elsa decorating his pointer finger, and it would have made a funny picture to send to Brianna and Lacie. 

But this was heavy duty blood.  Thank goodness we were able to find gauze pads and tape (though the tape was in the desk that my computer desk is now covering up).  We so seldom (i.e., almost never) need first aid supplies any more.  I think the tape was from my cataract surgery...the first one.
He cut his finger moving the first of two bookcases back into the office.  These and a metal file cabinet are the only pieces of the old furniture that are coming back in again.

He's going to put one more shelf in above the bookcases, now that he can see them in place.
The rest of what he did was little painting stuff (like a second coat of enamel on the desk top) and building a cover for where the modem and wifi will go.  He also took out a lot of tools, so it's starting to look like an office again.  I put some boxes up (but they won't stay in that spot...still it was nice to see something on the shelf).

He went home early and will be back tomorrow and, he thinks, finish up on Friday.

An e-mail I received during the morning was a lovely surprise...Amazon apparently had to give its customers rebates because of some Antitrust Settlement I knew nothing about.  But I was delighted to hear they had added a not small amount to my account and I was able to buy 3 kindle books I've had on my wish list but didn't want to spend the money for.  I still have money left in my account, which is delightful.

In the afternoon, I binge watched 2 episodes of Rizzoli and Isles, whose new (final) season started without fanfare and was already 3 episodes old when I saw it last night.  Walt went upstairs to take a nap.

I was sitting there, minding my business and arranging the new books into the right files on my kindle when I heard a kerfuffle at the back door.  When the dogs reacted by lunging at the door (which was slightly open to give them access to the yard), I thought maybe another bird had gotten confused and flew into the sliding glass door.

But when I got up, what a surprise!

Our mock orange bush had fallen over...well, at least a big chunk of it had fallen over.  You have to actually climb over the bush in order to get past the patio (unless you go around, that is).

I'm not sure what we will find when it is all cleared away, and whether the remaining part of the bush will be viable or not.

But it certainly did add a bit of excitement to the day that started with "first blood" in the office!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


In the movie The Graduate, young Benjamin Braddock is given advice by an older man at his graduation party.
"Plastics," the man says, explaining that plastics were the wave of the future.  That was 1967.  His prophecy has come true and plastics are everywhere.

Plastics have become my life.  It seems these days I have never seen a plastic container I didn't like.
Take this little tower thingy.  It is made up of three sets of three plastic shelves, each approximately 7" square (a little over 7" in length).   It is my new tower of stickers.

I use stickers.  Lots of stickers.  I decorate letters to the girls and send them stickers when I write to them.  I use them in creating pocket letters.  I send them to the Compassion kids.  I share them with members of Swap Bot.

Not only do I use stickers, I also get stickers.  People send them to me in SwapBot swaps.

Years ago, when I was making scrapbook pages, I bought lots and lots of stickers, many of which I still have.  So I am drowning in stickers.

They have all been in one big box and trying to find something takes forever.  

But now I have a tower of stickers.  It took me over an hour yesterday to set up drawers for:  Disney, Irish, "critters" (non specific animals), dogs, cats, smiley faces, butterflies, hearts and flowers.  Those are the categories of stickers I have the most of.  I still have a lot of other oddball stickers, but now the stack is much smaller and much easier to plough through when looking for just the right sticker.

Then there is the Washi tape.

I love Washi tape.  It's the Japanese paper tape that you can use to decorate anything.  The one really nice thing about Washi is that if you don't like where you positioned it on a piece of paper, you can pick it up and reposition it.  I always decorate the girls' envelopes with Washi and use it for lots of other craft projects.  I have lots and lots of Washi tape (I also get sent Washi tape).  Now I have two big boxes in which to store most of the rolls of tape.

I love those little plastic boxes.  I could fit more Washi into the bigger box without them, but I like having them in groups of 4 rolls.  They stay neater that way.  I have similar boxes for oversized patterned paper books and individual sheets.

I have plastic boxes for postage stamps, one drawer for forever stamps and one drawer for odd-denomination stamps, to make up extra weight envelopes.

There are boxes for post cards, both to send and those received and then there's this nice sectioned box

It holds various little things that I use for pocket letters.

These days whenever I look at the overwhelming mountain in the living room, I think about what I can store in plastic boxes to keep it organized and dust-free.

Plastics are not going to be the only answer for my office organizing when the room is finished (in maybe two more visits, Ned guesses), but they are going to go a long way to be a good start.  And there are still lots of shapes and sizes of boxes that I still want to get.

Benjamin Braddock would be amazed.

Monday, June 20, 2016


At intermission of the matinee of The Music Man, I sent a text to Jeri which said "I'm probably the only person in the world who cries through 'Wells Fargo Wagon.'"

When we got into the car after the show, we both agreed it had been a good show and that we enjoyed it.  "But there are still flashbacks," Walt said, saying "Sadder but wiser girl" always got to him.
I've always thought of The Music Man as our "family show."

It was the very first "big show" that Paul ever did.  He played Winthrop, the little kid who sings "Gary, Indiana."  Jeri was Amarylis in that production, the girl who takes piano lessons from Marian the Librarian and joins her in singing "Good Night My Someone."

Later that same year, Paul was cast to play Winthrop again in a production at a huge amphitheater in Oakland. He stayed with friends of ours who had suggested he audition for the part during rehearsal and the show itself.  When their awards ceremony came around, he was one of the kids nominated as "Best Child Actor," and won.

When he got older, he played Tommy Djilas, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, who "almost invented perpetual motion."

In his last monologue show, he did Harold Hill's song, "Trouble," and I always thought it would be funny if someday he played Harold Hill...and then later, when he was much older, Mayor Shinn, so that he could have spanned his whole life with The Music Man ... but he died first.

You'd think it would be difficult for me to see "Gary, Indiana," but it's not.  There are so many cute kids who play Winthrop and the kid yesterday was adorable, so I enjoy the performance, not the memories.  But when the finale of Act 1 comes on and they sing "Wells Fargo Wagon" and Winthrop has his big solo wondering if there could be "thomething thpecial jutht for me" I picture 10 year old Paul taking center stage and I just lose it every time.  I sat there yesterday with tears rolling down my cheeks, trying to wipe them away before the lights came up for intermission.

For Walt, his difficult memory is the duet Harold sings with his old pal Marcellus, "Sadder but Wiser Girl" because he is remembering the high school jazz choir days when Paul and his friend Kag performed that song.

So Music Man is always a mixed bag.  It is probably my favorite musical, but it is also the one that is fraught with the most memories.  And what better way to spend Father's Day than seeing "the family musical"?

The show ended at 5 and we had been invited to join family at Marta's sister's house for a Father's Day barbeque.  Since it was a very hot day, I didn't want to bring food to share and have it sit in a hot car for 2-1/2 hours, so we stopped for food after the show.  I also took the opportunity to run to Office Max, next door to Safeway, to pick up another box for the office.

Dinner is always fun and celebrates the four dads in the group.

That would be Marta's Dad, her sister's father-in-law, Walt and Marta's brother-in-law.  

So it was a good day and as we left for home, there was a gorgeous sunset in the sky.

Earlier in the day, I had stopped by Atria to deliver a gorgeous basket of red carnations I had found at Michael's for my mother.  They look so real and they won't die on her, which is always a plus.  She was unintentionally funny today and though on the one hand it was sad, on the other hand, I couldn't help but laugh at what happened.

I found her sitting in the hall outside the dining room, where the men--fathers and their grown up sons--were stopping by a big bin of bow ties, gift for all the fathers going to lunch.  "I'm getting too old and I don't know what's going on any more," she said, as I explained to her more than once that it was Father's Day and the ties were for all the Dads.

After awhile we went to her apartment.  I had her pills for next week to leave for her and I was fairly certain that if I left her sitting in the hall, she would not remember to take the flowers with her when she went back to her apartment.  And I was right, because even when I reminded her to take them, her reaction was "Oh?  Are those for me?"

We got to the apartment and I went to put her pills in the bathroom, where I always leave them.  I saw that the previous week's pill box still had two days' worth of pills in it.  It had been 3 days since I was last there and when I was there, there were two days' worth of pills not yet taken, so she hasn't been taking her pills.

I confronted her with it (which is always pointless, but somehow I need to do it).  "There are two days worth of pills in there so I know you haven't been taking your pills," I said.

She got defensive and then said "OK...I'll take one NOW."

She got herself a glass of water, and two cookies and went to sit down and dutifully eat her cookies.  I got her pills and handed them to her.  "What are those?" she asked, and then said " I take pills?"

I'm going to have to monitor her more closely to make sure she is taking the pills, which means going to Atria more often.  But I had to admit that I got a good chuckle out of her thinking that she was doing what she was supposed to do by eating two cookies with her glass of water.