Friday, October 21, 2016

Today at Logos

It was good to see Sandy again.  We commiserated on last night's debate, which she decided she just couldn't watch, but had heard reports about, and about our fears for the coming election.  I wonder what the people in the store at that time were thinking.  Nobody joined in the conversation, and none of the ones there at the time bought books.

A nice lady from El Cerrito, near San Francisco, came in with a bag of books to donate, unhappy to hear we are no longer accepting donations.  We directed her to the SPCA thrift store.

A couple came in and the woman went directly to the literature section, and grabbed a book, holding it victoriously in her hands (I found out later it was "Death of a Salesman" which she has been looking for).  She looked around some more and found three more contemporary fiction books she liked.  She asked a good question--if we are no longer accepting donations, does that mean that the book selection won't change within the last two months.  I told her Susan and Peter are still going to book sales, so there would be some sort of turnover.

Several men came in and looked around and left,  Finally Santa walked in.  Or his twin brother.  He had snow white hair and a show white beard and was wearing jeans and a plaid shirt.  He had a broad face and a round little belly.  He was also chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.  He bought a book about Frida Khalo so if any of you have that on your Christmas list, congratulations.  Santa is coming through for you!

A man with very red hands -- almost as if they were frostbitten, though unlikely in today's warm weather, bought 2 John LeCarre books and two contemporary fictions.  He returned a bit later with his wife.  I recognized him by his jaunty hat.  The wife bought 4 books on architecture and told me she was remodeling their house, which she had never done before, and wanted ideas to confer with the guy who was doing the work.  She also bought a book of Japanese verbs and a book called "Two Years on the Yangtze," which I may or may not have read around the time we were going to China.  The title sounds familiar and I know the author's name is familiar.

A tall woman with white hair piled on top of her head in a bun came in, reminding me of Dorothy in The Golden Girls until she walked toward me when I could see she was much too young and had botoxed lips.  She didn't buy anything

The next woman didn't buy anything either, but I was wearing my "Litograph" shirt, with text from Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" written teeny teeny teeny to fit around the outline of the standing stones in Scotland where the book starts.  She said she liked the shirt and had been thinking of getting one of those shirts for herself.

A woman stopped by the store and looked in the window and then quickly came in and picked up the book "Homegoing" which she said is a new book that is on everybody's "to read" list and she was thrilled to find it for only $6.  It was only published in June of this year and was a New York Times best seller.

I had been reading the two chapters I never got to finish of "The Cat Who Went to Paris" which I almost finished last week and went looking for a new book.  I found "The Girl in the Spider's Web," which is #4 in Steig Larsson's "Millennium" series.  I had read the first three, but sadly Larsson died in 2004, at age 50 after climbing 7 flights of stairs to his office because the elevator was not working.  His fans mourned that we had seen the last of Lisbeth Salander, but a brave man, David Lagercranz has written the fourth book in the series and so far it's quite good. I brought it home to finish.

About now, the cash register tape was running out and I had to put in a new roll.  I'm generally pretty good at doing that, but for some reason, this particular role was quite stubborn and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get it to pick up after all and my friend would be by soon and always needs a receipt.  But finally I did get it to work.  Close call. He arrived about 15 minutes later.

This time he bought out our collection of Mary Poppins books (3 books) and we talked about the book I was reading. He asked if it lived up to the original three but by that time I had barely started it and couldn't say.

An older man with white hair and stooped posture came n, hands clasped behind his back, and asked where the mystery books where.  I showed him an he looked through the section and left without buying thing...or unclasping his hands!

A girl brought in a flyer for the Davis Treat Trail, companies that will be giving out candy on Halloween.  We talked a bit about it, she left the flyer for Susan and Peter to put I their window and left some little flyers on the front table, explaining what it was all about.  I think they have participated in the event every year.

A guy sat at the front table for a long time looking through a book, which he finally bought -- "Christian Mythology."

Another guy bought a book called "Random Walks in Biology" which reminded me of my years working in the Physics Department at Berkeley when my boss, Fred Reif, wrote "Fundamental of Statistical and Thermal Physics," which I have mentioned before.  The only thing I remember from that book (other than how long it was and how many times I typed the 650 page book (which now sells on Amazon for $100) was the random walk problem.  One of the examples Fred used was a drunk leaning against a lamppost and the fact that there was no way you could predict which way each step would go because he was too drunk and would take steps left and right randomly. When the book was finished, I found a little statue of a drink leaning against a lamppost and gave it to him.

Walt was off in San Francisco at a "geezer dinner," a gathering of several "old" Lamplighter guys--actors and tech guys--who get together periodically for pizza and beer.  It was nice that they had it at the home of one guy who has been pretty much house bound because of pain for several years now.  He used to come to our annual Gilbert dinners, but can't make it any more. Walt said it was good to see him again.

I rode the bus home, which gave me an hour to read my book before confronting the hungry dogs who were ecstatic that someone had finally come home to feed them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mindful Training

First, thanks to everyone who commented yesterday.  It was wonderful encouragement.

If there is anything I dislike more than office meetings, it's "interactive activities."  I once refused to review a show because the publicity said it involved the audience moving through several different stages, all of which would include interaction with the performers.  I do not interact happily. Entirely too intimidated.

So I was not happy when the annual Sutter Davis Auxiliary meeting, which had already gone through the boring stuff, standing rules revisions, new officers, scholarship report, new members introductions, volunteer survey results. CEO update and hospital performance took a brief break and it was announced that after the break there would be a presentation on "Mindful Training" and that would include a "little group interaction."  I couldn't figure out a logical reason for me to slip out unnoticed.

So far things had gone all right.  I had gotten to the hospital before the 9 a.m. start time, surprised that I didn't see more volunteers.  The last time I did that, I had been a month early.  But I knew this was the right day.  I went to the meeting room and there were two guys playing with the projector.  Don who is one of the big wigs, told me I was early.  I looked at the clock and said I was only 10 minutes early...only the meeting was scheduled for 9:30.  But they were serving a continental breakfast and I had not had any breakfast because I'd left the house so early, so I got a pastry, some fruit and coffee and settled in to read the book I always have with me.  I never really mind being in situations where I have to wait because I always consider it bonus time that I can use to read my current book.

Eventually people started arriving and I noticed with pleasure that I recognized more people than I recognized last year, but still as people started sitting, they were still sting in groups all around me, with the chair next to me remained empty.  I was wryly thinking to myself that it's always like that.  I always stick out like a sore thumb, until the woman in front of me turned around and started talking to me.  She said she knew me through one of the nurse practitioners at Women's Health, for which I worked for 12 years.  Turns out she is new and is one of the people in the dog therapy program, so we had something to talk about.  Then a woman named Barbara sat in the empty seat next to me and was very friendly.  So I was feeling OK as the boring part of the meeting droned on.

And then came the presentation on Mindful Training.  I was actually enjoying it, and surprised (and disappointed) when the half hour was over,

In the introductory remarks, I learned a shocking thing, that there are some 400,000 deaths each year caused by hospital error.  In fact it is the third biggest cause of death, after heart problems and cancer.  This situation was identified 17 years ago and there has been no significant change in all that time.  Makes you a little nervous about going into a hospital and understand why patients are discharged so quickly.  Things from giving the wrong medication to operating room errors, or somehow facilitating the spread of hospital borne infections like MRSA.

The facilitator explained that one of the steps they are taking to reduce the numbers if "Mindful Training," which begins with learning how to listen.  She said that most of us listen while we are already composing how we are going to respond to what our partner is saying (just think of presidential debates!) and so we often don't really hear what the other person is saying.  I thought about some of my most frustrating meetings with doctors who came into the exam room having already made a diagnosis of my problem without ever talking to me, and being unswayed by anything I said.

As she continued to talk about how to learn to listen "mindfully," and as we broke into groups of 3 (which was actually fun) wile one of us was the story teller, one was the listener and one was the observer to describe what she thought about our brief conversation while Paul talked to me about which super power he'd like to have as a superhero.  I thought we were having a fairly mindful conversation until Barbara pointed out things that we did and did not do.

As the activity progressed, I was taken back to Oakland in the 1970s, in the early days of our parenthood.  I was at m wits end because I could not keep a calm house and it seemed that everyone was always at each other's neck.  Jeri would have been about 6 at the time and the others down from that.

A nearby church advertised that it would be holding a class on Parent Effectiveness Training (PET).  I suggested to Walt that we take the class, but he wasn't interested, so I signed up and went off to the weekly meetings, while he stayed at home with the kids and waved "Have fun!"  It wasn't exactly fun, but I did go and learned tools I could use to help deal with my warring children. I learned how to listen mindfully and started practicing it on the kids.

"Active Listening" worked like we were following a script.  Ned would say ABC and I would answer DEF and he'd answer GHI and it was just perfect.  I was thrilled.  The thing actually worked!
But then I tried it with Paul.  I'd say ABC and he'd answer 56£Π@.  I'd try DEF and he'd respond ⅛Π$.  It never did work on Paul, but the training was not useless because I did learn how to interact with the kids a bit better and even today, I call on my Active Listening when I think of it, though, in all honesty, I am still more likely to listen while trying to form a response in my mind.

When the meeting was over, I ran some errands (including a trip to Michael's craft store where I actually spent less than $50.  When was the last time THAT happened??) and then I went to Atria.

It was 2 p.m. when I got there and my mother was not in her apartment.  I sat down to go through her mail and figure out which bills needed to be paid.  I had a question to ask her Long Term Care insurer but when I called I got into voice mail hell where I was moved from one message to another, each offering me a great value, like cheap movie tickets and things like that.  I finally hung up and called again, and realized I must have dialed wrong the first time.  But I never did reach a real person before my mother came back, pushing her walker.

She had not been in the dining room, so I don't know where she was but she came in saying "I just had to get away.  Everybody is having problems today and I just couldn't listen any more!": which tells me she had actually been talking to other people.  I think that now that she is using the walker, her pain is much less and she is learning that she can actually get out and move around.  And it only took three years to convince her.

We sat and talked and from time to time she would look over at the walker and ask what it was, and if it belonged to me.  I just answered her simply and didn't elaborate and the nice thing is that she seems to have forgotten how much she hated the idea of using a walker.

For the third visit in a row, we had a delightful visit.  Again we talked a lot of nonsense, but you know, you go with Active Listening and just follow her lead and give her the answer that satisfies her, things go very well.

She didn't remember that Ed had visited her earlier this week or that Jeri had called her twice, but Jeri said that they had conversations like they used to have.  I am so encouraged.  

She didn't once complain of pain, even getting out of the chair to walk me to the door when I left. That was the best part of the day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I don't know if anybody notices the number at the bottom of these journal entries, but many years ago someone told me that journals like this looked more professional if you numbered them, so potential readers could see how many times you've updated.  I don't know if that is still the case. I don't see a lot of journals or blogs that number their entries any more, but I have faithfully done so and it's hard to believe I have written over 6,000 entries since this project started back in 2000.

Over the years I guess you could say it has become my obsession.  I don't write a cooking blog or a political blog or a parenting blog or a particularly funny blog, but at various times it has been all these and more. I would be hard pressed to categorize it. I still refer to this as a "journal" and its mirror on Blogspot,  Airy Persiflage as a "blog," though the content is identical.  (I started Airy Persiflage specifically for Kari Peterson who wanted to be notified by email whenever I updated, which is kind of silly, since I update every day). From the beginning I tried to mix things up so that I would never be boring.  

People ask me how many readers I have and I don't have a clue.  There was a time when I knew how to check stats, but I don't any more. It could be a couple dozen or it could be a thousand.  (I suspect closer to the former than the latter).

When I look back over the past 16 years, it is amazing the various eras of my life it has recorded.  With very, very few exceptions I have updated every day, taking my laptop with me when we travel, often typing in the middle of the night when staying with friends, after everyone has gone to sleep so that I can be sociable, but still get an entry written.  When we have gone on international vacations, it has been interesting and sometimes challenging to get entries written.  At one time I knew all the best cyber cafes in London, I found coin operated computers in a library somewhere along the Thames and in a coffee shop in Scotland (where I mistook the floppy disk drive as a coin slot and put my money in there!).  When we had good internet access in our room on cruises, I updated there, but when we didn't, I would write the entry, put it on flash drive and then transfer using the ship's computer--only since the ship's computer, in the days before notebooks, were so busy, I waited until after midnight.  On one cruise on the Danube, I padded out to the lobby in my stocking feet and up the stairs to the computers every night around 1 a.m., when only I and the security guard were awake.

When I think back on what this journal has recorded it's amazing to me.  I picked up so many readers when I started Weight Watchers and this became a record of my successes (and failures).  I took up biking and the entries became a combination of weight loss and exercise, a new concept for me.  I lost 85 lbs before I started sliding, and then had the biking accident that ended up biking career. A lot of readers stopped reading me when I started gaining weight again.

There were the SPCA years, when we fostered over 100 dogs in 3 or 4 years.  I wrote about all of them, especially the puppies.  Ahhh....the puppies!  The years of bottle feeding and cuddling and then watching them go off to other families.  The "rainbow puppies," so named because they were nearly identical and wore colored string on them to tell one from the other.  They were all adopted in Davis and we even had a 1 year birthday for them at the dog park, so we could see how they had matured.  The puppy entries were some of my (and others') favorites.

We don't do fostering any more because the four of us--Walt, me, Lizzie and Polly--have become so set in our ways that to go back to the chaos of trying to fit a new dog in with Polly would be difficult.  Also, the local animal shelter stopped giving puppies to the SPCA and instead gave them to breed specific rescue groups.

There were the years when I worked for Dr. G and wrote a lot about him and his eccentricities.  I was always afraid he'd find the entries, but I kept writing them anyway.  I also talked about working for "the psychiatrist," which I did for 30 years.  All of those entries ended when I couldn't stand putting earphones in my ears one more day.

The birth of both of our granddaughters (including the days before their birth, when we were all on baby-watch) were recorded here, as has their growth into the 8 and  5 year old girls they are now.  I don't see them as often as I'd like, but I write to them, and now Brianna has started writing to me sometimes.  She is even learning cursive and her last letter, received this week, was written in cursive. I hope this is something we will continue throughout her life, and Lacie's too, when she is old enough to write.

My entire 11 year friendship, from start to finish, with Peggy was recorded here, with all the joy of our time together both here in this country and in Australia, and then the pain and confusion of her decision to end the friendship for reasons I never knew and never will know now.

I have written of my sponsored kids through Compassion International and my passion for elephants and dogs and their plight.  I can't write eloquent political commentaries like some bloggers, but sometimes I just have to put in my oar when I can't stand it any longer.

I've touched on many of the stage shows I have reviewed, a "career" which parallels the history of this journal, since I first began reviewing in 2000.  I even started a separate blog on Blogspot to keep all the reviews, which I have found extremely helpful over the years.  The name, "Bitter Hack," came from an angry letter from a reader who accused me of being a bitter hack after a review she didn't like.  I decided to embrace it and make it my own.

Over the years I have enjoyed blogging the Emmys and the Oscars.  I love awards shows and though I haven't done it in a couple of years, it was fun taking notes during the show to produce an entry when the shows were over.

In the last ~4 years, I have written about working at Logos.  I sometimes think those entries are boring, but I'm surprised at the comments I get from people who really love them.  Those entries are coming to an end, now, too, when the store closes at the end of January.

I've always loved doing memes, and have answered lots and lots of questions through Sunday Stealing and more recently Saturday 9.  I sort of consider those as my "days off" because content of Funny the World is directed by others and I just have to comment on the questions.

Now, of course replacing weight loss and puppies and other things I have written about is my mother and the progress of her dementia.  I wanted to keep track of her so that if I ever needed to look back and see what she was like xx years ago, and compare it to today, I could. It has been helpful when I get feedback from people who have traveled this road before me.

I have made wonderful "imaginary friends," as my friend from CompuServe used to call people with whom you felt a real friendship but might never meet in real life. People whose blogs I read religiously, like Rob Rommel-Hudson, who has probably never read a single entry of Funny the World, but I started reading him before his daughter Schuyler was born, through the trauma of learning of her "broken brain" and then watching her grow into a lovely teen ager, who cannot speak, but who uses a box to speak for her. 
I have written far too many memorials, both for people I knew and loved in my real life and people I knew and liked in my imaginary life.  People like Jim Lawrence of Jim's Journal and Sill in Corea, both of whom commented regularly and were good at keeping my feet to the fire if I got carried away and wrote something not quite true.  Jim said he started getting in shape while he was reading Funny the World, but he took it to extremes.  Slimmed down and became a real athlete, sadly dying during a triathlon.

There was Dougri, who lived in Providence, RI and was a strange man who once told me I should watch "Sunday Morning" because he thought I'd like it. I've been watching it ever since and think of him every Sunday morning.  Sadly, after a cancer diagnosis, Doug took his own life.

And I can't overlook "l'empress," whose life seemed so similar to mine.  She kept a blog too and it was not until shortly before her death that she let on that she had cancer.

Writing memorials is my way, I guess, of coping with the raw emotions of losing a friend.  Some were more painful than others.  Writing a memorial for Mike, Char's husband, who died on a cruise in Germany, was so difficult.  He had been a friend for more than 50 years.

And then there were the memorials for my cousins, Kathy and Peach, who died within a few years of each other.  So hard.  I dragged my computer with me to Iowa when Peach was undergoing chemotherapy and stayed with her and her husband for six weeks, recording he struggles and my first experience of a Midwest winter.

Though it sometimes may seem that my life is an open book and that there has never been a thought flitting through my head which has not made it to these entries, I do censor myself, more now than in the early years.  There are subjects that are off limits and I have religiously held to that.

When I began writing Funny the World, it was with the idea that if I ever had the chance, I would love to be a new Erma Bombeck.  Could I actually produce a newspaper length column every day?  Well, after 6,050 of them, I think I answered that question, though I have never, ever reached the level of even the worst of Bombeck's columns.  It's much harder than it looks!

But as I said, this has become my obsession and as long as I am physically and mentally able to do it -- and still enjoying it -- and Yahoo is still letting me post! --it will go on, whether for a dozen people or a thousand people.  Mostly, for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rude Awakening

I was having such a nice nap.

I had fixed myself some lunch and settled down in my soft recliner to eat it and watch an NCIS rerun.  When I opened my eyes, I realized that I was watching a different episode and that I must have fallen asleep.

I glanced over at the clock and saw that it was 12:40.  My shift at Sutter begins at 12:30!!! I called the information desk to apologize and say I would be right there, but there was no answer.

I was in the car and on the road within five minutes.  It takes about 10 minutes, with stop lights, to get to Sutter, so by the time I got to the hospital it was nearly 1.  I realized I had left my cell phone at home, which isn't a problem since there is a phone at the desk, bit the phone has information that I check when I'm at Sutter -- like the name of a former employee, whom I hired, who still works there and who is going to stop and see me one day and I can NEVER remember her name!

There was nobody at the Information Desk when I got there.  Now, it's not like there was a line of people wanting "information" but I still felt bad for being so late.  I decided not to sign in until the end of my shift so I could get to the business of providing "information" right away.

The first thing I noticed was that the computer screen was locked.  They must have done some upgrade on the system in the last month or so because this is the second time it has happened to me and in checking the "notes" that we leave in a big binder when there are questions or comments, I see that in the last week or so, four other people complained about locked screens. I've been there over a year now and this is a brand new thing.

Each person has an individual log-in, but you have to be at a certain screen to log in.  The locked screen asks for a password to GET to the log-in screen, but it's not YOUR password, it's Sutter's.  the only way the screen can be unlocked is to crawl under the desk and reboot the computer, and our instructions for what to do when you have a locked screen is to ask the security guard to unlock it, since you need a flashlight and we don't have one at the desk (and most women working the desk, most of whom are old farts like me, would not have a clue what they were doing and would be terrified to try.)

While the security guard crawled around under my desk, I went to the cafeteria and got some ice water.  Once the system reboots, it takes forever for the right screen to come up.  While waiting, I sat down.  In a hole.  The chair is at its lowest setting and you can apparently no longer adjust the height.  I left a note in the binder about both the screen (asking if we couldn't just have the password to get into the system, since everyone seems to be having the same problem) and the chair and signed it "grumpy Bev."

When I was finally up and running, I saw a note reminding people to get their flu shots.  My plan had been to go to Kaiser the next day to get mine, but with a free shot right in-house, I decided to get it at the hospital.  I've never been one of those people who are afraid of getting shots, but I'll tell ya, those flu shot needles are so thin that it's amazing they can pierce flesh.  You can't even tell when you have been injected.

They gave me a note to send to Kaiser to prove that I have had my shot.

The day progressed relatively uneventfully.  No babies born today.  A woman named Haunani called to let me know she was expecting a woman to come in for a job interview and to give the woman her phone number.  Only the number she gave was wrong.  But I managed to find her anyway.  However, I wanted to ask her if she had been named after the magnificent Hawaiian singer, Haunani Kahalewai, who was a regular on the Hawaii Calls radio show for years and whose voice was as smooth as butter.  I was taken with her when my mother and I went to a live recording of the show when we were in Hawaii back in 1960 and I have a couple of her records.

I didn't get the opportunity to talk with Sutter's Haunani, but since it was such a quiet day, I went on the internet to see what I could find about Haunani Kahalewai.  I discovered that her records on Amazon sell for $40-$150 and there are only a couple of videos on YouTube, none of which are favorites of mine.

A florist arrived with an arrangement of flowers, which I took upstairs.  I could not take them to the patient's room because he's in the ICU and actually, I don't think they can have flowers in the ICU, but I left them at the nurses' station.

Then a guy came in to pick up a body. That was a first for me!  I didn't know what to tell him.  He had the room number where the deceased was and I called the operator to find out what he was supposed to do.  Specifically he wanted to know where he was to go out of the hospital once he had the body.  The operator didn't know either but suggested he go upstairs and ask the nurses, which I told him to do.

For future reference, he parks his truck by the ambulances and takes the back way out of the hospital so as few people as possible see him transporting the deceased.  The newly departed gentleman was 83, I discovered when I looked up the occupant of that room number.

Shortly after that, an older gentleman in a wheelchair was being taken out to a van that would take him home, and I thought of the contrast of how these two old men were leaving the hospital! This one was going out with an arrangement of flowers and what looked like a daughter pushing his wheelchair.

A young girl came in looking for a doctor.  People do this all the time.  They have not seen a doctor, do not have a doctor but want an exam and think they can get it at the hospital.  Not only did she not have a doctor, she wasn't even sure she had insurance.  It amazes me.  Sometimes the ones for whom English is not their first language make more sense, but this was not the case this time.  Sutter has an Internal Medicine department, but being the former office manager of Women's Health, I sent her there and told her they could check on her insurance there and, if possible, make her an appointment.

I had a lot of time to read.  I'm reading a book written by a friend.  He's written several books and I'm ashamed to say I have not read any of them.  But when I went to Atria the other day, I left my kindle at home, so I checked the Kindle app on my phone and found that one of his books was there so I started reading it while my mother napped, pleased to find it very good.  But I'm halfway into it now and it's driving me crazy.  He has so many characters (like a Dostoyevsky novel, but at least they don't change names!) and no clear place where this is all going, other than a character study.  I now don't want to finish it, but I've read so far into it that I feel it a duty to finish!

Toward the end of my shift, three women came in.  I didn't see that two of them had dogs on leashes, but only saw the one with the puppy in her arms.  He was only 3 months old and making his first therapy visit. She said they like to start them young.  He was a spaniel-looking puppy.  The other two dogs were a huge Burmese Mountain Dog and a little Pomeranian.  I laughed when I thought of Polly as a therapy dog.  She'd give the most placid of patients a heart attack!

I stayed a little after my shift ended, since I'd come in so late, but around 4 p.m., unlike Logos which often has its busiest time at 4, things start getting very dead at the Hospital around 4, so I finally packed up and left.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ella Chase

I was driving to Atria the other day and listening to NPR and heard the most fascinating story.  It was so fascinating, I sat in the car after I'd parked to listen to more of it...then came home and found the recording on line at RadioLab and listened to the whole thing.

These two guys were driving south from San Francisco when one got excited and said that he saw a goat standing on a cow.  The other pulled the car over and they went and indeed find a goat standing on a cow.  As soon as they began to approach, the goat leaped down but they were standing in a field and when they looked around, there seemed to be letters scattered all over the place.

When they started picking up the letters, they found they were all addressed to someone named Ella Chase and seemed to all be from soldiers.

They picked up the letters and ut them in the box they seemed to have blown out of and took them home, determined to find who this Ella Chase was and whether they could return her letters to her.

Out of this accidental discovery has come a lifelong passion for one of the guys who found them. 
He started doing research to find out who Ella Chase was.  He searched all sorts of public records and it was not until months later that he found an obituary for her in the Napa newspaper.  The obituary had the names of several of her surviving relatives.  He managed to contact one relative, who wasn't interested at all.

During the process of his search, he found record of her maybe (or maybe not) marrying.  He started following that line.  He somehow found the name of her maybe husband and then found a newspaper article where there was some sort of kerfuffle, where he was married and denies ever marrying Ella.
Shortly after that, Ella started writing letters to soldiers fighting in World War II.  The letters in this collection they found were letters from the soldiers, many of whom referred to er as "mom" and expressed such warmth and gratitude for her letters and for her support.

Eventually they found her obituary, which listed family members and they tried to get in touch with them.   I think it as a cousin they called, who was't interested at all, but they found a guy they thought must be her grandson and called him, leaving a call back number.  They didn't hear from him.

Eventually he did call back and said that he thought the box they found had fallen off of is truck when he was moving to Southern California.  They had a nice conversation and he said that he also had a big box of photographs they might like to have.

The point of the story is how it all started by seeing a goat standing on a cow and out of it this whole passion and search began.  And it has given Ella Chase some sort of immortality and recognition for her kindness to support the fighting troops.

This has been a good week for my mother. (Isn't it nice to read that for a change?)

I think the medication is finally starting to kick in.  She still seems to have pain when she tries to get up, but she doesn't complain or seem to be suffering most of the time.  And it may be the medication that is making her loopy. We have had long conversations lately, all of them kind of fun because she makes no sense whatever.  Sometimes she knows who I am, sometimes she thinks I'm her sister.  I think she recognizes me and then she'll say something like "how is Mom?" when I will stop and ask her if she knows my name and she doesn't, thpugh she recognizes that I'm family and she loves me.

She doesn't talk gibberish, but she talks nonsense, asking questions or making observations that make no sense whatever, but she believes them and it's kind of fun to go along with her.  I just follow along with whatever she says, asking question about how she'd do this or that, what she wants to move, etc.  We often laugh when she can't come up with an answer.

One of the best things I ever did was putting her into the assisted living program.  She wasn't ready for it (and would not have qualified for long term care insurance payments) if I had done it earlier, but now that she is on, there are people in and out of her apartment all day long, checking on this or that, giving her meds, etc. She has always been a social person and now she has someone to talk to several times a day.

Not only that, but I know she is eating regularly and that she's getting her meds on a regular schedule. AND, what may be even ore important, knowing that she is getting attention, I don't feel the need to go and visit her every day and consequently I enjoy going to Atria more than I did when I felt I had to be there (almost) every day.

I don't know how long this situation is going to last, but I'm certainly enjoying it right now.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Today at Logos

Today Sandy starts her "every other week" schedule and I met Vojka, who will be alternating with her.  Seems like a nice lady.  I doubt we will become chatty like I have become with Sandy.

The first thing I did was to buy a photo card by Sandy Granett, local photographer who sells her cards at Logos.  I'm in a swap on SwapBot to share works of a local artist and I just love her stuff.  Usually she does flowers, birds, and bugs around Davis, but I liked this Halloween theme.  I hope my partner likes it.

I thought my first customer was a guy, when I saw "him" hunkering down in front of the craft books that should have been a clue) wearing a dirty cap with "Dubois" on it, sitting backwards on her-yes, she turned out to be a girl--head. She bought 7 bargain books, a crafts book a book on California History, and a contemporary fiction...and a bag to put them in.  The biggest sale of the day, at $42.77)

A farmer type in rumpled jeans, a blue shirt, and dusty shoes, as well as a camouflage baseball cap on his head.  He looked around for quite awhile and finally bought a book called "They Were Ragtime."

A tall guy in a plaid shirt bought a book called "Gershwins" which has been on the shelves for a very long time.

A guy looked around kind of aimlessly for a long time and finally asked me if I could help him choose a book.  He's trying to "get into reading" and wanted something short.  I gave him Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."

A large woman dressed all in black bought the Screwtape Letters and a copy of the Koran.  We talked about the problem of having too much stuff in our purses.

A older middle aged woman came in having just finished watching Deep Water Horizon at the theater down the street.  She liked it a lot.  But she didn't find an book that she wanted to read.  She thanked me when she left and said again how much she had enjoyed the movie.

The Antiquarian was in and out in about 3 minutes, finding and buying a copy of poems by Robert Browning.  He was in a hurry, so we didn't chat.

Peter's friend Tom came in with 4 books to donate.  He does this every week, then shops at the math book section and if he finds something (as he did today), I don't charge him for the book.

A woman with Minnie Driver curly hair that extended down the middle of her back was dressed all in black with a black back-pack and a multicolored scarf.  I don't know why I found her striking but I guess it was her bearing, but she just looked so "together" in a way I never have.  She carried a book around for a long time and ultimately put it back and left.

A tall guy with grey hair, a baseball cap and glasses on top of his head. He bought 4 bargain books, and 2 scientific books and then after he'd paid, he noticed the stack of books that Tom had left for Peter.  I just made up a price and sold him the one he wanted.

A blonde with a long aqua colored sweater with wide white stories at the bottom asked if she could put a book on hold. I told her we didn't do that.  It was a book on Korea and I told her that the chance of it being gone when she comes in tomorrow were slight, though admitted that I thought that about "East Across the Equator" which I set aside 2 weeks ago and was gone the following week.  She found that book for me!  I'll see if it's there again next week.  Last week I read something on my Kindle.  This week I chose a different book:

(No connection with Lillian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who...." books)

A woman with a large drooling dog stopped by to look at the bargain books, but did not come in, which, given how much the dog was drooling, was probably a good thing.

A swarthy guy with big headphones hanging around his neck spent a lot of time in the show biz section and ultimately bought two plays and a Dostoyevsky book.

A woman wearing shorts an flip flops looked though the fantasy book for awhile and finally bought a book by Neil Gaiman.

Another woman with pink/blonde hair wearing a dress, sneakers and a backpack and a violin case took off her sweater and settled herself on the floor with her ebook and looked at the fantasy shelf.

An older woman bought 2 bargain books and said, again, how sad she is that Logos is closing in January.

The final person I dealt with was a woman, all in black, who came in, stood at the front and looked around.  Then she asked me "do you sell books?" Not sure what she thought we were doing in a store filled with books, but she said 'We have nothing like this in Orange County.  We have to go to Barnes and Noble or the library"

Maybe that explains a lot about Orange County.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I Win!!!

It's not fact it's rare ... that I can fool the dogs. They have been carefully training Walt and me over the past few years and I suspect they think they are close to winning the battle.

But not today.

We are creatures of habit around here, mostly because the four of us are home together all the time.  The dogs, bless them, are usually very patient with me.  No matter where I start the night, I usually end up asleep in the recliner.  Lately, after years of insomnia, I'm actually getting sleep.  I wake up in the middle of the night and move to the recliner.  To put myself to sleep, I have the TV on (lately I've discovered that Morning Joe is the very best sleeping pill, since it comes on at 3 a.m. here).  Even if I sleep as late as 9 a.m., as I did this morning, the dogs are very quiet and respectful, though they  are eager for breakfast.

But the second I touch the lever that lowers the footrest on the recliner, the dogs leap out of wherever they are sleeping and come running into the family room.  Lizzie is there for morning cuddles, Polly yeah, kinda wants to be cuddled, but even more she wants to eat.  NOW.

Walt never has to wonder if I'm awake or not because Polly starts barking immediately and barks and barks and barks and barks until she sees that their bowls are on the kitchen counter and being filled.
The day is pretty dull mostly with the dogs, exhausted from eating, spending the day recovering in their beds.  Once in awhile they go outside to see if there is anything interesting in the back yard.  Lizzie is amazing.  There is a spot in the yard where she stands and barks.  She doesn't seem to be barking at anything, but I swear if I let her she would bark in that spot all day, if I let her. 

But after 5-10 minutes I call them in.  They come in, running, because they know that they will get a little treat when they respond.

On nice days, Polly spends a lot of time outside, and if I am in the recliner and decide to get up, she races into the house, doing her happy dance, barking and turning circles because she thinks I will give her a treat.  Sometimes  do, sometimes I don't.  The other day she went out to the patio, barked twice, then poked her head in the door and looked for me as if to say "did you hear that?  I barked."  

I used to feed the dogs their dinner after Jeopardy.  When the "think music" for the final Jeopardy question came on, the dogs would get up and stand there looking at me. This worked well for a long time until we went away on a cruise.  Ashley fed them earlier and after we got home, there was no living with them until 7:30.  I finally agreed to feed them at  6 and since then, they have been trying to get me to feed them earlier and earlier.  I'll be in there in my office and I'll feel a nose pushing my elbow around 4 p.m., and when I don't move, they'll try again in a half hour. I refuse to feed them before 5 p.m., at the very earliest.

Even if they haven't yet started telling me they are ready to eat, all I have to do is get up to go to the bathroom an Polly starts barking and Lizzie starts leaping. I have put off going to the bathroom for as long as half an hour just to avoid Polly.

During the day they will interrupt me for three reasons:  Either they are hungry and want to eat NOW, or their water bowl is empty, or they want to go outside (we leave the sliding glass door oen for them, rather than using the dog door.  Not sure why.)

Polly has definitely become Walt's dog.  When she first arrived here (about 8 years ago), she was terrified and bonded with me, so she slept with her nose in my armpit and eventually felt comfortable enough to turn around and slept like a normal dog in my lap, and always slept on top of me.  Some time ago I realized that she was spending her time in Walt's lap.  I'm not jealous.  I think it's cute.  When she hears him coming down the stairs that little tale could take off like a helicopter, if she weighed less.  If he makes the mistake of walking through the family room without petting her, she stands on his chair and barks and barks until he comes back and pets her, then she lets him leave. She sometimes still starts out sleeping on me, turning and turning to find her sweet spot, settling down for about 30 seconds, then getting up and moving to a chair, where she spends the night.

Tonight the dogs were out in the yard, barking.  I suddenly realized that it was 5 p.m. and wondered if I could sneak into the kitchen and start putting their dinner together,  Their hearing is so acute that I can stand in the kitchen and whisper "treat time" and Lizzie leaps up from a nap and runs to the kitchen.  

But I snuck out of my office and quietly picked up the food bowls and put them on the counter.  I opened the tiny can of dog food I mix with kibble.  I managed to get it broken up in their bowls and was just opening up the bin where I keep the kibble when suddenly they were there.  I don't know if it was the aroma of the canned food or the noise of the kibble as I scooped it up that made them realize I was ahead of them.  

But I did it!  I managed to get their dinners mixed for them without any leaping from Lizzie or barking from Polly. 

These days you have to find your triumphs wherever you can.

But speaking of triumphs, I met Ned at Atria this morning.  He had brought a watermelon and coffee cake for us to share with my mother.

I was pleased when we got to her apartment to see that the newspaper had been picked up again. When we went in, she wasn't there.

Ned decided to check the dining room, and left me in the apartment with his dog, Bouncer, the whiner.  Bouncer spent most of the time (15-20 minutes) Ned was gone (he called me from the dining room and said they were finishing up there) standing at the door whining.

They arrived back at the apartment, my mother once again pushing her walker.  ("Is this my apartment?" as she sat down and looked blankly around the room.  I wish she could learn to recognize where she has lived for the past 3+ years.)

We had a nice visit, though most of the time she didn't make sense and when Ned and I talked, she usually didn't understand our words (but laughed about it).  "You know, I see you both speaking but I can't understand a single word you are saying."

But after the blow up earlier this week, it's been so nice to have three really positive days.  When she is good, she is very, very good...when she is bad, she is horrid.   And it's nice that Ned often brings out the best in her because Ned will not tolerate anything less than positive.