Friday, January 12, 2018

Shithole Countries

I have a strong need to write to my three Compassion children in Haiti and the bunch of them in African countries to tell them that they are loved, that they are special, and that they should never listen to people who tell them otherwise.

I am so angry at what that White House bigot has said today that I can hardly speak.  The man who was born with a golden spoon in his mouth, who has never served his country in the military and who has done nothing but raise and lose money and market his own brand dares to smear an entire segment of the world population with the term "shithole."  He couldn't last one week, maybe not one day, struggling the way the people of those countries live.  

Why are we not getting more immigrants from Norway?  Maybe because it is a better country to live in than this one.  Especially now.  I might think of emigrating to Norway myself (if it weren't such a long commute to Santa Barbara).

I returned to Atria, finally, today.  As I suspect she didn't have a clue it's been nearly 2 weeks since I was last at Atria and was unconcerned when I told her I had been in bed for the past 2 weeks (well, recliner, but "bed" sounded better). 

She was bright and conversational today, but was not in "today."  She told me that her sister Marge was finally getting things together, that she'd been in trouble lately, but she was getting her life in order (Marge was Peach's mother who died some 40+ years ago).  She said she needed to see her brother Jim, long dead, and she asked me if I had been with her mother before I came to see her.

At least she was talking about something other than how old she was, and we had a nice conversation about how good it was that Marge was getting things together.  We eventually got around to age and when I mentioned being almost 75, she said in shock "why that's an old, old lady!"  Thanks Mom.  :)

For Christmas, Atria gave each person in the facility this big box called "Storywise."  It's filled with cards on the front of which is a suggestion to share a story and on the back a photo to help prod the memory.  Like this:

The idea is to get easy memories flowing, but sadly my mother can't relate to this any more.  There was one card that said something about favorite thing her mother cooked but she couldn't remember anything her mother ever cooked.  If I had asked her about her first home, I doubt she could remember that either.  The box kind of broke and spilled cards everywhere and I ended up taking about half of them home with me because they would not stay neatly in the box.  Maybe I'll use them as journal prompts from time to time...or maybe put some of them into a shape to make a Sunday Stealing list of questions.

When after I realized she couldn't think of anything her mother used to cook, I mentioned the can pile her father kept.  I can't tell you how many times she told us of the big pile of cans her father kept in the back yard and whenever they wanted to do anything he said first they had to move the cans to the other side of the yard.  Later, when she grew up, he admitted it was just a job he could give them to keep them busy.

But she no longer remembers there was a can pile and it's sad that I am probably the only one who remembers the story, now that Peach and Kathy are dead.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fun with Instapot

Anyone hesitant about buying an Instapot should discard your nervousness and just buy it.  There is so much on the Internet re instructions, videos, and endless recipes it will take just a short time to fall in love with it.

The first thing I made was apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal.  It was, perhaps, the most delicious oatmeal I'd eaten.  There were enough leftovers for two more meals and I've made it one other time after that.  Today I moved on to a maple-walnut oatmeal and it was equally as delicious.  It's actually a healthy breakfast.  Be still my heart.

Once I tried hard boiling eggs in the Instapot, I was hooked.  I've done it a few times now and they turn out perfectly every time.  They peel beautifully. No more picking little pieces of shell off of the egg.

My turkey broth was a winner.  I haven't used the broth yet for a soup, which I will eventually (the broth is in the freezer), but the broth was delicious and Walt loved the vegetables that I cooked with the bones and ate them for lunch.  (and I ground up the "garbage" part of the broth I cooked, after removing all the bones, and Polly has been loving having it mixed in with her kibble at night.)  Best of all, the turkey bones are finally out of the freezer.

There are so many things I want to try and if I ever get caught up with my Home Chef meals, which backed up over Christmas,  I will have a good time cooking more main dish kinds of things.

Very sad, tragic news from Santa Barbara county, where the recent fires have left no vegetation to hold back water from this week's torrential rain.

To date there are 15 deaths, and the death told is expected to rise as the search continues.

One very dramatic rescue was of a teenager who was buried under mud.

Even Oprah, whose multi-million dollar home is in the Montecito hills, where most of the destruction has taken place, is not immune.  "In an Instagram post, the media mogul said she woke up to a blazing gas fire and then found shin-deep mud in her backyard."

In reading about the ongoing tragedy, I am just thankful that Tom et al. bought a house on the flatland.  It's not totally inconceivable that they could be hit, but it would have to be full scale devastation before they would be affected.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Give Me a Ring Some Time

There was a simpler time, a few cell phones ago, when I created ring tones and had a specific ring tone for various people.  When Char called, it was the Cal fight song, for example.  I can't remember what other ring tones I had.  It was really kind of silly, actually, because I almost never get phone calls.  It's either Jeri or Ned or very rarely my mother's step son or Tom.

I have lots of numbers in my phone, but if I get three phone calls in a week, that's a big week.  But I sure had fun picking out "meaningful" songs, creating ring tones, and using them.

Now that I have this super-duper iPhone, I don't have a clue how to add my own ring tones, or how to make them.  Oh, I'm sure that if I spent a lot of time searching, I could figure it out, but I just go with the ones that came with the phone. (And I suspect you can no longer get a program to make your own ring tone for free.)

Char gets a ring from a bell tower, which is like the campanile in Berkeley.  Not as meaningful as the Cal fight song, but the best I could do.

For Jeri there is a duck sound, since I remember the duck boats in Boston.

Walt has a dog bark, which seems logical.

Ned has a "boing" sound (I don't know why) and Tom is set up for the sound of a motorcycle (because he once had a motorcycle), but in all honesty, I don't remember ever hearing it.

As for the rest of my contacts, they just get the generic ring tone.  Which is fine, if boring.
How I'd love to think long and hard about what would be the perfect sound for each person.  Jeri has a home made sound on her's Phil saying "Short Stack!"  On her old phone she set it up so it was the notification of a text message from Phil, but now she can't set up separate ring tones for separate people when they send texts.

But all the advances in telephone technology have taken all the fun out of having a cell phone.
For that matter, when we got our new land line, years ago, I found out I could choose personalized ring tones.  Whenever Walt calls, it plays the William Tell Overture, but I no longer know how to do that or where to find imbedded ring tones if they exist.  But since Walt calls me more than anybody else, I suppose that doesn't really make a difference.

In Beauty and the Beast, all of the household servants who are gradually being turned into pieces of furniture or other household items, look on the blossoming relationship between Beauty and the Beast and have hope that the curse will soon be lifted and they will be "human again."

That song has been running through my head all day today, as the couple of doses of cold medication and dozens of throat lozenges have worked their magic and other than a few bad coughing spells, I have been cough free.

I am feeling so well that I am going to Atria tomorrow.  I can't remember when I was last there, but it might have been before Christmas.  My mother came here, but I haven't been there.  When they called to say she needed toiletries was about when the creeping crud began descending and I just bought a bag of soap and stuff and dropped it off for her at the front desk.

I feel guilty for not calling to explain, but if she figured out how to answer the phone, she wouldn't understand and if she understood, she wouldn't remember so there didn't seem to be any point.  But I will load up my pockets with throat lozenges and make up for lost time tomorrow.

Yesterday I finally figured out to do a setting on our smart TV.  It is supposed to have closed captioning and I have tried several times to use it, but to no avail.  But with spending the day in front of the TV yesterday and determined to sleep my way to health, I checked out some settings and by golly, found the right control, not the one I had been using.  So I can now turn closed captioning off and on and I watched the latest episode of Last Tango in Halifax (a show I love) and understood everything  Normally, I miss about 3/4 of the dialog because of the northern British accents and I merely get the gist of what is going on.  But yesterday I understood it all.  This opens up a whole new world of British drama for me.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

PJ Day

I woke up this morning feeling the worst since the creeping crud attacked me. 
I decided that I would do pretty much nothing, snuggle into my recliner under a quilt, watch TV, read, and sleep.  And that is what I did.  I didn't even get out of pajamas all day.  I didn't get much reading done, but it seemed that I never saw an entire television show because before whatever I was watching ended, I was asleep. 
I don't know how many naps I took, but at least four.
The cough was the worst.  Sometimes so bad that I felt I was going to vomit.
Now I must add parenthetically here that my mother was raised with Christian Science.  At least that's what I heard all my life, though she converted to Catholicism when I was 10.  I don't know how much "religion" there was in her family.  It was her mother who was Christian Science and I don't believe her father was religious at all.  My grandmother's father was a hell fire and damnation preacher and I don't think that was Christian Science either, so I'm not sure at what point Christian Science entered her life.
She never practiced it, that I knew.  She never read anything that I was aware though she read a lot of Catholic literature.
The only time her Christian Science became an issue was when she was sick.  She hated going to the doctor (still does), and rarely took medicine.  But she has also been healthy throughout her life.  In fact, the only illness I remember her having was when she got the mumps as an adult. Whenever she got sick and someone suggested she see a doctor, she'd just smile that smug, enigmatic smile and say "I'm Christian Scientist" and not see the doctor.
Because of my mother's feeling about medicine, I just don't think about it.  When I get something like the creeping crud, it never occurs to me to call a doctor (especially when everybody in town seems to have the same thing), or to take medicine.  It might be different if I had a "relationship" with my doctor but though she has been my doctor for many, many years, I still don't feel we have a "relationship."
Our "medicine shelf" is pathetic.  The cold medicines are long expired and there is little else except Imodium. 
When the kids were little, I wasn't the mother who rushed them to the doctor for every little thing, nor did I give them aspirin for a fever that was 100 or under...I always figured that it was nature's way of making sure they stayed quiet and rested.
But when struggling with wracking coughs last night, I said something to Walt about checking to see if we had any cough medicine.  He mentioned that he had some upstairs, so he brought down some "CVS-itussin" or something like that.  The bottle had two doses left in it. 
I took a dose and within 20 minutes, my cough was gone. 
Unlike Robitussin (which is supposed to last 12 hours), this one says it lasts 4 hours and 4 hours later, almost by the clock, I was coughing again.  I took the second dose and again the cough resolved.
As I said, I slept most of the day and in the afternoon sent Walt out to get some more cough medicine.  What he bought was another 4 hour dose medicine, but it again worked as effectively as it did last night.
Maybe there's something to this "medicine" thing after all!
I got up and cooked dinner, but had no appetite, so I fed Walt and had an orange and went back to cuddling under the quilt again.
I am feeling almost human again.
Now Walt has a raspy voice and feels about the way I did two days ago.  At least we're stocked up on cough medicine now.
I haven't been to Atria in over a week and I'm feeling guilty about that, but I probably won't go until Wednesday.  Today it rained all day and even if I felt better, I wouldn't have gone out in the rain.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Award Season Begins

We went to see Spamalot yesterday afternoon.  It was a matinee so we were home in time to see all of the Golden Globe awards.
I love the Golden Globes because it's the firsts of the big award broadcasts, followed by the Emmys, the Oscars, the SAG awards, the Grammys (which I don't watch), and the People's Choice awards (which I always consider kind of hokey, since I notice that winners are usually in the audience and non-winners usually are not, so I suspect it's all staged, but still fun).  The other thing about the Golden Globes is that since it's  dinner with alcohol, people are generally more relaxed.
I liked this year's awards ceremony because there was kind of a tacit agreement that all the women would wear black in solidarity with the "Me too" movement.  There may have been women who did not wear black, but I only saw one, the president of the Foreign Press Association, who stood out in her bright red gown.  But everyone else was in black and what an elegant picture that presented.
The one thing about these awards is that each year I find out how much television I don'twatch!  There are so many shows I've never seen.  There was a lot of attention to Big Little Lies which, in anticipation, I'd binge watched ... and didn't like. But since it's about bullying and spousal abuse, it is timely.
One of the reason I didn't like Big Little Lies is that even with my hearing aids in, I missed most of the dialog.  BUT last night, after years of owning this TV, I finally figured out how to turn on closed captioning and I might just go back and watch some of it with the captioning on.
I knew Elizabeth Moss would win best actress in a drama, so there was no point in even hoping for a win for Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) or Chrissy Metz (This is Us) but it was nice they were honored with the nomination.  and I was not wrong--Elizabeth Moss won the award.  She's an actress I've never been fond of ever since she played First Daughter on The West Wing.  I knew The Handmaid's Tale would get lots of buzz, so I started watching it, but I first read the book and did not like the story and after the first episode I decided not to continue, since I knew how it ended.  Now I'm kind of sad that I didn't, but not sad enough to go back and watch it.
Oprah's speech following her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille award was, of course, the high point of the evening.  Such class that woman has, and such a stirring speech
"I want all of the girls watching here now to know, that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, 'me too' again."
There was lots of buzz after the speech about Oprah running for president in 2020 and I guess now that we have moved onto reality TV as being a qualifier for running for office...why not?  She certainly would be an improvement over what we have now and she might even be able to govern effectively.  Everybody loves Oprah.  I'll bet she could even charm Kim Jung Un. 
Long-time companion Steadman says that Oprah would love to run.  I'll bet she could beat what's his name.  She she certainly is a more stable genius than #45.  But what would Steadman be?  First Gentleman?  First Boyfriend?
And we'd have dogs back in the White House again
(I think my cough is affecting my brain....)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. What did you do last year that you had not done before?Got hearing aids. I had also never been in a book club lead by my 9 year old granddaughter
 2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?
As a general rule, I don’t make resolutions because I rarely keep them, but I think I need to make a resolution to be more patient this year, as my mother’s Alzheimers worsens.

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or become pregnant?  Or adopt?
Nope. I’m at the age where all my friend’s children (and my childreln’s friends) have all had their babies and until THOSE babies grow up, no more new babies.

4. Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness/injury?
Too many people we knew died. I’ve lost count, but that’s what happens when you are in your 70s. All of your friends start dying. Social gatherings usually begin with "organ recitals," where you learn who has been ill, had a body part replacled, etc.

5. What places have you visited?
I don’t think I"ve visited any place this year, except Santa Barbara, where our son and his family live. We go there a couple of times a year to visit the granddaughters.  

6. Any new pets? Lost a pet?
Lizzie, our dog of 10+ years got very sick overnight and we were going to have her put to sleep, but she took matters into her own paws and died before the vet could tend to her. I miss her a lot.

7. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing i.e. love, job security, peace of mind...)? 
It’s not what I want MORE of, it’s what I want LESS of, and that’s depression over my mother’s condition. She’s physically healthy as a horse, but has zero short-term memory.

8. What date from last year will remain etched in your memory and why?
Since I can’t think of a specific date, I guess nothing etched itself in my memory, but I will never forget the deep, deep depression of watching Donald Trump become president. 

9. What was your biggest achievement last year?
I think getting my mother settled in the memory care unit was a huge achievement.  It is a better place for her and it has eased a lot of the pressure on me as well.

10. Did you get sick or injured?
Thankfully, no

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Hands down, my Instapot!  I expect we will have a long and happy life together. 

12. Where did most of your disposable income go (money leftover after you pay for food, medical care, basic clothing, transportation and shelter)? 
The basics of daily living come out of Walt’s retirement chek and as he pays the bills, I ever see how much that is. I spend about $300 a month on sponsorship of 11 children arund the world, and the rest of my disposable income goes either for little things for my mother, or books for me.

13. What song will always remind you of last year?  Doesn't have to be a song released last year.
I have been "learning Hamilton" by listening to the CD. I haven’t seen the show and probably won’t for 2 years. But "The Room Where it Happened" has been an earworm for some time now.

14. What do you wish you would have done more of?
Probably reading.

15. What do you wish you would have done less of?
Talking with my mother about how old she is for an hour every couple of days. 

16. What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to? Any recommendations?
I’m enjoying "Young Sheldon" since I’m such a "Big Bang Theory" fan. And I’m still loving "Outlander" and eager for Season 4 to start.

17. What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read?
I’ve read 34 books this year (much fewer than last year) and of those my favorite was probably "Silent Footsteps," by Sally Henderson, about this woman’s time observing elephant families in Botswana. (I love elephants and reading about them)

18. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently?
I had lunch with a friend, listened to a depressing Trump speech, and reviewed a so-so show (about Lizzie Borden). The next night Walt took me out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and then the following day we had lunch at the facility where my mother lives. She had no clue that it was my birthday, nor did it seem to faze her when she was told that, but we enjoyed out lunch anyway. I didn’t feel differently. I think after 65, it’s all downhill anyway! 

19. What political or social issue stirred you the most? 
How much time do you have? This country is going to hell in a handbag, and being pushed by the man who never should have been president. Other than that, things are fine.

20. Who was the most interesting new person you met?
I can't think of that many new people I met, but Jen, the lady who runs the Memory Unit where my mother now lives is an interesting person.

21. Describe how a relationship changed. 
It's not significant, but I used to stay in close contact with my mother's step-son, who handles her finances.  As her memory has gotten worse, he visits less and less and now doesn't even answer my e-mails.

22. Do you think you are still the same person that you were at the beginning of the year?  How so?
Oh probably. Other than the continuing deterioration of my mother’s mental health and my deepening depression about it, not much else has changed in my life. I’m just more resigned about it.

23. Summarize the year in three words or less. Bonus points for doing it in one word. Explain.
Alzheimers. (Does that really need explanation?) 

24. How have people around you changed? 
Mostly my mother. My son also is much easier to get along with, now that he’s 50.  He has often been a godsend.

25. What have you learned throughout the year? (Other than crafts) Alzheimers sucks.

26. Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favorite thing you made? 
I can't think of any new crafts I learned, except beginning to learn how to get the most out of the new InstaPot.

27. What changed about your physical appearance? (Hair? Wrinkles? New makeup style? Etc) I don't really change, from year to year.  Not even more wrinkles, since the fat moves in an smooths them over.

28. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?  (Some suggestions-family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance)I hope for improvement in Washington, I know there is no hope for improvement of my mother's Alzheimers, but I hope that she continues to be healthy.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

I succumbed

It's the "in" thing to do and people all over the country are sitting at home reading.
I couldn't help myself.  I wanted to be one of the "in-crowd" and got a copy of "Fire and Fury," the expose book by Michael Wolf about the first year in the Trump White House.  Furious Trump was trying to get the publishers to refuse to release the book, so they upped the date by a week and I wanted to get a copy right away.  Wolf says that Trump's ire is the best marketing ploy he could think of:  "The book the president doesn't want you to read."
Every talking head in the country is discussing it and the consensus is that if you're a Trump fan you won't believe it, and if you are not, you'll be nodding in agreement, and be even more shocked than you have been up to now.  It is probably not a book that is going too change anyone, but should definitely line the pocketbook of the author.
I'm not that far into it yet, only up to the night our Glorious Leader won the election, but already it's an interesting nobody, including the candidate thought he was going to win and he had even promised Melania that he would lose (and as the vote started to go more and more in his direction those weren't tears of joy she was crying). 
In fact, apparently everyone involved in the campaign had post-election jobs lined up and the candidate himself felt that in losing he actually won because he had increased his profile and he was ripe for another reality TV show of some sort.
But he won.  All I could think of that night was that movie where Robert Redford was running for office as a pretty boy with lots of charisma and not too many smarts, whose campaign was run for him by his handlers and then when he won, there was this look of utter shock on his face as he asked .... "what do we do now?"  I somehow envision that happening with the Trump group too.
Anyway, he won and we've seen where that has gone in the last year and I will read more of it as I complete this book.
Ironically, last night I loaded up with a bunch of cold medications, stuck a bunch of throat lozenges in my purse, wore a shirt that I could easily lift up against my mouth to avoid spreading germs and to muffle my inevitable cough, and we went to review a play called "The White Rose."
It is the story of a group of university students in Munich in 1942-3 who are determined to denounce the Nazi regime.  They are arrested by the Gestapo in February 18, 1943 (a date I remember because it was the day after I was born) for distributing treasonous  literature.  Five days later they are executed by guillotine.  For practicing free speech.
It is a powerful play with so many things to consider when comparing their ideals with what is happening in this country today.  In fact, in the program was a sheet listing "early signs of Fascism and How to Combat it in Peaceful Ways" which I want to quote here;
1. Nationalism:  when flags are seen everywhere paired with the idea that your nation is flawless.
2. Destruction of Human Rights -- this could be turning a blind eye to police brutality or the militia being allowed more room to interpret laws.
3. Identification of "the enemy" -- this could be calling one group of people the enemy due to needing a scapegoat or a radical.
4. Controlled media - when the media is being regulated by people in power.
5. Corporate power being protected -- when rich or elite are voted into positions of power and then use the power granted to them to protect their assets.
Make you squirm a little uncomfortably thinking of this compared to #45's administration?  "To combat fascism is to stay informed, inform others, and to elect a diverse group of leaders."
So I came home after the show and went back to reading "Fire and Fury" and listening to the news, learning that #45 had interviewed the candidates to fill judgeships and that one of the candidates that was his choice for judge is a guy who had served on his oversee the district that contains most of the Trump properties and all the banks in New York.  Corporate power being protected, anyone?
Most of my adult life I've wondered how the "good people of Germany" could let the 3rd Reich happen.  Now I'm seeing it happen here.
Char is visiting the Holocaust museum in D.C. today and sent a note saying that one of the films she saw there said that "Germans were sure they could control Hitler."  And we saw where that went.  I suspect that #45's handlers felt they could handle him too and now we are seeing where that is going.
If you want me, I'll be in my recliner, coughing and reading.....