Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day One

When I was saying goodbye to my therapist yesterday, we agreed that I might not be able to have my head shaved in two weeks, because I might be pulling it out tonight, trying to bond with the new computer.  I am happy to report that this is not the case.  In fact, I've been trying to make it as close as possible to the old one and so far have run into no problems at all.  Of course I haven't done a lot yet, but so far so good.  I am cautiously optimistic.

Before Steve arrived with the machine, I took a chance and checked Amazon to see if it were possible to get an affordable version of Front Page that would run on the new operating system and I found one.  $50 for a "used but excellent condition" disk from a seller with a 100% customer approval rating (new is >$200).  With Front Page and Word Perfect that would both work on Windows 8.1, maybe I wouldn't need that virtual computer after all.

Steve arrived right on time, after I'd put the dogs outside.  (They were SO good...didn't bark or leap at the door during the 2+ hours he was here.)

As usual, Steve came in spouting alphabet soup and jargon about things I didn't understand at all.  Steve is a good computer guy, but that is his entire focus, it seems.  He doesn't listen at all, but then I don't know what I'm talking about with regard to computer upgrades, so maybe that's why.

E.g., I finally contacted him after a month to ask if he had an ETA for when the computer would be ready.  The understanding I had was that he was going to set up a virtual computer to run my old software before bringing it to me.  I also told him there was no rush as we would be gone for the weekend.

Well, he called and said that he thought I was on vacation and would call him when I got back.  Not even close to what I said!

He started in to work and the first thing he did was to get my printer working again.  I know so little that I've been frustrated for weeks at not having a working printer when what I was trying to plug into the laptop was the MONITOR, not the printer at all.  Steve didn't even bother with plugging anything in, just set it up to work wirelessly, which means I can even print from the laptop, if I want.

Next he settled in to set everything else up.  When I asked him about the virtual computer, he said that it was his understanding that I was going to see if I could find a work around and if I couldn't, he would set it up.  That wasn't at ALL what we discussed, but in the meantime, I did find a work around and I found out from a couple of people that they weren't happy with the performance of things run through the virtual computer, so I think we're OK.

He then gave me more information I didn't understand, speaking a mile a minute, but I got some hands on time and things seemed to be fine.

He gave me his bill (which was quite a bit less than I expected) and then I was on my own.  Isn't it pretty?

(By tomorrow all that neat looking desk will be close to back to what it was yesterday, I'm sure!  But the floor that Walt spent hours cleaning yesterday [because I can't get down on my knees any more] will still look beautiful for awhile more, at least!)

I don't have Front Page yet, so I'll be doing FTW on the laptop until it finally arrives, but WordPerfect installed beautifully and I've started setting up some of the files that I lost on the old computer.
I don't know when I will start running into problems, but for the moment, I am a happy camper to be (almost) back in business again!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Health Stuff

Atria requires its residents to have an annual physical exam, which is good because without the requirement, my mother would never go to the doctor.  But it has now been done...and we don't have to do that again for another year.

I called her in the morning to let her know she had an appointment and that I would pick her up at 2.  I arrived at 2, just as she was leaving her apartment.  I asked where she was going, she said she was going to lunch.  I reminded her of her appointment and of course she didn't know anything about it.
She asked if I'd had lunch yet and suggested we get lunch before we left.  I told her we had to leave right then.

So we got her purse and did the usual "where is my Kaiser card" rigmarole.  I was smart this time, though.  I noticed she was wearing a blouse with a pocket and I suggested she put the card in her pocket, so every time she went looking for it, I just reminded her it was in her pocket and that simplified things immensely.

On the drive to Kaiser and while in the waiting room she asked countless times what we were there for and would she have to remove her clothes.  She hates removing her clothes.  I told her I didn't see any other way the doctor could perform a physical exam, so she grumbled, but she did it.

The exam was pretty uneventful but the doctor wanted labs, so we went to the lab to get blood drawn.  She is just so totally clueless and unable to understand anything.

Some time ago, I came across a marvelous animation that explains what happens in the Alzheimers brain.  It has been "the" most helpful thing I have seen since this all started.  I find that when I get frustrated with her, I can visualize what is happening in her brain and it helps give me patience.

The whole day took maybe 3 hours and left me mentally exhausted, but it's done and all is well for another year.

Then it was time for my own appointment with my therapist, Debbie.  When you arrive for a therapy appointment, you first fill out a form, each time, which assesses how you have been feeling in the last two weeks.  Rating, on a scale of 1 to 3, things like "little interest or pleasure in doing things; feeling down, depressed or hopeless; feeling tired or having little energy; feeling bad about yourself; having trouble concentrating, etc.

My scores on these items is usually low, but today it was zero.  Debbie was very pleased to see that.  I told her that since starting the antidepressant, I really was feeling very good and in control, I had been regularly taking my medicines (which was one reason I started going to see understand why I was resisting taking them), and that really everything was going well.

I had sent her a link to the Alzheimers video and we talked about how helpful it was and we discussed how I'm coping with my mother these days (another reason I felt I needed some help when I started seeing her)
In the end, she asked if I felt I needed another appointment and, in truth, I did not, but I told her I'd like to come one more time, to show her my bald head.  She thought that would be a good idea, but I think I only have one more session with her, which I'm sorry about because I enjoy her, but I don't really feel I need her any more.

I came home to clear off my desk.

 My new computer is coming today and I figure that by this time tomorrow, I will either be delighted or unable to get my head shaved because I will have pulled out all my hair myself trying to learn the new operating system and trying to get everything set up.

This laptop will not be put away, yet...I suspect I may still need it during the "settling in" process!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Sometimes you just don't know what you're going to discover, or where those discoveries may lead you, when you make a mistake.

I saw a commercial for a station showing reruns of the old Quincy series, which I used to love.  Now it's pretty simplistic, and downright silly, when compared to CSI or any of the medical examiners on any of the other cop shows, but then it was fresh and new and came on the heels of the O.J. Simpson case, when the country first learned about medical examiners.

Anyway, I decided to watch Quincy today.  It was on channel 193.  But when I punched in that number, I didn't hit the 3 hard enough and so what popped up on my screen was Channel 19 and there was Mother Angelica.

Looking for all the world like every nun I had in grammar school, from the one who so lovingly took care of me on my first day in kindergarten, to the one who routinely rapped my knuckles with a ruler if I didn't hold my hands properly in my piano lesson.

Was Mother Angelica offering words of God? giving us inspiration for our daily lives? Was she doing Bible readings?  No.  She was selling rosaries.  Beautiful rosaries, she said, with lovely green stones straight from Ireland, they were, and no home should be without them.

Then she went on to hawk a book written in 1954 by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, "a beautiful book," she told us, as the ordering information flashed down one side of the screen.

It was a bloody shopping network for Catholics!  

Mother Angelica then introduced us to a two volume set of the Lives of the Saints and encouraged us to buy the set and read to our grandchildren ("instead of just playing ping pong with them.")  She also suggested that if you are expecting a baby and don't know what to call it you could get some wonderful saintly names from these beautiful books (embossed with gold and in their own box).  She did admit that perhaps "Fructavia" might not be a good name for a baby of today, and laughed that it sounded a little sweet.

The Mother Angelica segment segued into two very nice ladies who had "warrior rosary beads" to sell, and framed pictures of Jesus, and "our father" beads which were made of (I don't remember how many) red gems signifying the number of years Jesus' blood had flowed through his veins... and a bunch of other things.  I was losing interest.  It was more fun watching Mother Angelica, though I was surprised to see her fully habit-ed, since I didn't think nuns wore habits any more.

When I decided to write about Mother Angelica tonight, I did a search on her and what an interesting article I found.  She is now 92 years old and has not been on television since she had a stroke which affected her speech in 2001 (in 1993, the habit I saw today was simplified and the nuns no longer wear it).  

But after broadcasting on the Christian Broadcast Network, which she left in a dispute when the station refused to pull what she felt was an offensive movie, she built EWTN, the Eternal World Television Network, which ran, in 1980, out of a garage attached to the convent where she lived.  And it is a Catholic television station running the Mass daily.  It was home to Bishop Sheen (which explains why she was selling his book), and other Catholic-related programs.

Looking into her life before television, I found that she founded a couple of churches and in 1995 apparently saw several visions, and had several conversations with the child Jesus while doing missionary work in Bogota.
Mother Angelica claimed to have met the child-Jesus in the Basilica of Divino NiƱo Jesus in Colombia. Mother Angelica stated that she entered the shrine from the back door on crutches with two other religious sisters. She claimed the statue of the child-Jesus became animated and spoke to her. She said He asked her to build a temple in His honor. She claims to have gone into a state of religious ecstasy and afterwards burst into tears which she attributed to her "heart beating 100 miles per hour". On the same episode, two religious statues of the child Jesus from South America were featured on the show while Mother Angelica referred to them endearingly as "babies"
I don't know if she then began selling Colombian statues of the Infant Jesus or not.

I didn't stick around EWTN for long after Mother Angelica disappeared.  The women selling the other Catholic stuff were just too sweet and too... perfect... for my tastes, so I punched in 193 again and this time got to see Dr. Quincy solve another case.  Much more my speed than Mother Angelica, I suspect!

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Hate My Body

Walt and I don't have much opportunity to gather socially with friends.  Mostly it's because we spend so much time going to theater that there is never time.

But we have had three opportunities in the past month+.  January 31 was Ashley's wedding at Lake Tahoe.  I had been looking forward to that wedding for six months.  I love Ashley and seeing her so happy brought a big smile to my face and I couldn't wait to see her married to David.

But I got my famous cold and the cough was constant and sounded terrible.  The last thing I wanted to do was to infect anyone at the wedding with my germs, so we stayed home.

Then Ernie and Lucille came to town.  They are two of my favorite people, Walt's cousin and his wife.  They usually make it out to California once a year and visit Ernie's brother in Long Beach, and Alice Nan in Santa Barbara and then come north to see Norm & Olivia and us.  Whichever cousins and grandchildren they can fit in along the way, so much the better

But as we were getting ready to drive to Norm's house to spend the day with the Sykes family, I was still sounding like a TB ward and sadly decided nobody really wanted to be around me with the constant cough.  So I sent Walt on ahead and he had a wonderful time.

Saturday, 2 days ago, we had an invitation to have dinner at my dentist Cindy's house (Cindy was a friend for about 10 years before she became my dentist).  She and our mutual friend Roberta had taken a course in Mexican cooking and wanted to share with us.  They also invited Susan and Peter from Logos.  Susan and Roberta had been colleagues and remain friends.

I was really looking forward to the dinner.  On Thursday, I developed a "thing."  I don't know what it was but as I worked at Logos, my whole abdominal wall started to get sore.  So sore, I didn't think I could walk the 3 blocks to the car, so Walt came and got me.  I spent Thursday night and Friday in the recliner with ibuprofen (suggested by Kaiser) at my side.

1 a.m. Saturday, I woke up pain free.  I was ecstatic.  My cough was gone, my pain was gone and I had a lovely dinner to look forward to.

In the afternoon, I was feeling the need for a nap, which is not unusual.  I nap most afternoons.  When I got up, I was feeling warm.  Not surprising, I thought, as I had been sleeping in a patch of sun, but when the feeling didn't go away, I thought "what the heck" and took my temperature.  I shouldn't have done that.  It was 100.1.  I went back to the recliner, popped more ibuprofen and hoped that maybe I was just still warm from the sun.

But the fever went UP, to 100.3.  Not a bad fever, but nonetheless, not a healthy temperature.  I called Cindy to get a doctor's opinion and she told me to stay home.  Walt went.  I stayed home and felt sorry for myself.  He did bring me a doggie bag and the dinner was delicious (though my stomach hasn't been up to eating much these days), but I missed all the fun stuff.

But I was well enough to get to the B Street Theater today to review a show there.  Not the greatest show, but one of stories from the Hispanic culture for children.  The kids loved it.  I have to figure out how to write a review.  I would rather have gone to Cindy's.

But I was home for the Oscar telecast.  I love Neil Patrick Harris and thought he did a good job of keeping things rolling, but there seemed to be more tech awards than in recent years and it seemed to take a long time to get to the awards everyone was watching to see (except the families of the tech people). (I did like it that they didn't seem to play people off and let them finish their thank yous this year)

I thought Lupita Nyong'o in that pearl studded dress was stunning, and Jennifer Lopez looked like she was walking on a cloud when she came out in her billowing skirt.

And why doesn't someone let Patricia Arquette know that she needs a comb?  I can't believe she thinks that hairdo looks good.  

But she made a wonderful speech about equal pay for women.  Juliana Moore used her acceptance speech to discuss Alzheimers, while Eddie Redmayne put in a plug for ALS and director Alejandro Inarritu hoped that Mexicans in this country, legally or not, would be given respect.

The obviously gay Graham Moore, who won for best screenplay for The Imitation Game talked about not belonging when he was a kid and that he nearly committed suicide and he tried to tell kids to look at how far he has come and to hang in there...that it will get better.  And J.K. Simmons told everyone to call their parents.

John Legend, winning the award for best song, "Glory," for Selma talked about this being "the most incarcerated country in the world" and how there are now more black men in prison than there were under slavery in 1850.

The winners of the documentary Citizenfour thanked Edward Snowden, while the president of the academy referenced terrorist activity and said that the academy had the responsibility to ensure that no one's voice is silenced by threats."

This may have been the most political Oscar telecast I'd seen since Sacheen Littlefeather rejected the Oscar for Marlon Brando.  But it's always fun.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ned, This one's for you

When we went out for our birthday dinner(s) earlier this week, Ned gave me a hard time for 15 years of daily journal entries.  He thinks I should take some time off now and then.  He says the best part of his day is when he checks Funny the World because he hopes it won't be there.

Well, Ned.  This is your day.  I've been dealing with the pain in my abdominal muscles all day.  (Yes, I've talked with Kaiser)  It's not so bad if I sit in the recliner or if I lie down, but when I sit here at my desk, the pain comes back.

So...this is the day of no entry.  I will be back tomorrow, but everybody gets the day off.

And BTW, some are having difficulty seeing the latest index page for Funny the World, where all the entries are listed.  Some haven't seen anything after the 11th, some nothing after the 15th. I don't have a clue what that is happening, but if you don't see the latest entry, try either clearing your cache (the more complicated solution), or refresh your screen while at the same time holding down the shift key, which apparently bypasses the cache.  (Someone also had luck deleting her bookmark and creating a new one.)

I'm really sorry about the problems, but it apparently is not my fault.  Honest!

Now back to the recliner...

Friday, February 20, 2015

A "Different" Day at Logos

When I arrived at the store, Peter apologized that he had no time to chat because Susan was waiting outside in the car for him.  He said he hoped that my afternoon went better than his morning, which was pretty slow.
My shift started out with a woman who bought a Civil War history and one of C.S Lewis' religious-themed books.  She was followed by a guy wearing headphones who browsed in Science Fiction and foreign languages, but left without buying.

My next customers were a delightful older couple from upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes district, who came in, really, to ask directions to the Varsity Theater (in the next block) because she had left her camera there and she was hoping they'd found it.  But, like me, they are suckers for a book shop and had to browse.  She and I got to talking and I told her that Walt and I had been in their area several years ago and what a nice place we thought it was.  They said they had come to California before the blizzard and their daughter told them to stay here until things calmed down because it was "awful" there.

The woman was British and her husband American.  He was an interesting looking man, short, walking with a fancy cane, and wearing a bright emerald green sweater and sporting a royal blue cap on his head.  He looked like a slightly too tall leprechaun.

She told me that coming to California from upstate New York was like coming to a different country and she was surprised they didn't need passports to get in.

Before they left, she bought two children's books for her 7 year old granddaughter, one about a little girl's adventures in snow, which she thought would be appropriate. 

While she was rummaging about in the children's room, a guy and his young son came in and joined her.  They bought two books, one a book on American poems for children, which the son didn't seem nearly as excited about as his story book about pumpkins.

A guy with the first name of "Homayoon" and a longer, more unpronounceable last name, bought 2 books from the bargain table and a thick tome on the Dictionary of Film.

Then Jim came in with his two daughters.  Jim is a guy who went to UC Davis in the 1980s and became a big fan of Lawsuit.  Somehow he found my name and wrote to me that he had moved away from Davis for several years, had married and had two children and that he had now moved back.  He wanted to tell me (a) how important Lawsuit had been in his life and (b) to let me know that he had a recording they made of an interview on KDVS, the campus radio station, in about 1988.  (He also confessed today that he had a "little crush" on Jeri at the time)

We also discovered, in one of those small world events, that he and his wife had lived for three years in San Rafael, next door to my mother's step-son, Ed!

So Jim had come in to bring me a copy of the CD he made of Lawsuit and we chatted while his daughters were looking for books.  While we chatted, an older guy, who always brings math books in for Peter, came in and they got to talking because the guy also moved away from Davis and then moved back.  They discovered that both of them, at quite long intervals of time, had Peter as a professor.

The guy left and I continued talking to Jim and then, for some reason, I happened to glance at the bookcase facing me and gasped.  There, on display, was Volume 1 of the Lamplighters history!  I couldn't believe it.  Whoda thunk one of my books would be for sale at Logos???  I immediately took a picture and texted it to Walt, Char, and my kids.

Jim left and a wide eyed girl came out from the book stacks to ask if I was an author.  Nobody had ever asked me that before, but I guess I am...or I told her yes.  She was impressed.

I groaned when the obnoxious woman who wanted to fix my eyesight several weeks ago came in.  Last time she came in she stayed and stayed and stayed and was so annoying, I was almost rude to her.  But apparently I was not the only person she had bothered and Susan had talked with her about it (she's also a volunteer at Logos) and so today after starting a conversation that caused me to cringe, thinking it was going to go on and on and on again, she just browsed the bookshelves and then left.  But first she asked me if I had written any reviews lately.  I told her about the review that had appeared a couple of nights ago.  She asked how she could see it.  I told her where in the paper they appeared and she asked if it was on line, I said it was, and she headed off, presumably to look for my review.

A girl brought a Ayn Rand book to the desk, and then discovered she had left her wallet at home, so had to put it back on the shelf.

"My friend" arrived at 4:45.  He had read the Ruth Rendell book I recommended last week and enjoyed it, so he got another one.  I told him about how shocked I was to find the Lamplighters history on the book shelf and showed it to him.  He bought it and asked for an autograph.  I said "Well, then, I'll have to know your name," which he told me was "Willard."  That would definitely not have been my guess.  But now "my friend" has a name, which is nice...and he also owns a Lamplighter history.

A girl said she wanted to "get back into reading" and wondered if I had any suggestions.  I kind of hemmed and hawed and suggested a couple and then pulled out "Outlander," the first of Diana Gabaldon's 8 book series and hesitatingly (because of its length) recommended it to her.  Turns out she had seen the start of the STARZ series on TV so decided she'd give it a try. 

I was really on a roll today!

Susan arrived early and we chatted a bit.  She told me that we are having dinner together on Saturday.  Cindy, my dentist, and Roberta, our mutual friend, have taken a course in Mexican cooking and wanted to cook a dinner.  Turns out Susan doesn't know Cindy, but is also a good friend of Roberta, who invited Susan and Peter to come to dinner.

This was, all things considered, really a "small world" sort of day!

I was having stomach pains all afternoon...not "inside" pains, but more abdominal muscle pain, which I assume is the result of three or four weeks of coughing, but by the time I left Logos, it was so bad I wasn't sure I could walk 3 blocks to the car, so I asked Walt is he could get the car and then drive up to get me.  When I got home and took some aspirin and got into my recliner, I felt better, but only had a small amount of dinner and decided to go to sleep halfway through The Blacklist, at 9:30.  I woke up at 1:30 and now, at a little after 4, I am going back to the couch to see if I can get a couple more hours of sleep.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Me and Mr. Lowe

I've been on a Rob Lowe kick lately.  Before The West Wing came along, the only thing I knew of Lowe was that he was the member of the Bratpack who got caught taking video of his sexual liaisons.  When he showed up on The West Wing I was won over by his portrayal of Sam Seabourn, President Bartlett's Deputy Communications Director for the show's first four seasons.

I didn't think much about him, pro or con, but liked his character and felt that he had overcome his youthful indiscretions and could be taken as a serious actor.

He popped up here and there in things that I would watch.  I watched Brothers and Sisters, where he played a politician partner of one of the daughters, until I got tired of its formulaic plot lines -- one week they were a happy loving family, sitting down to dinner at the big family dining room, the next week some sibling got into a fight with another sibling and there would be angry words and tension and the next week they made up again, ad nauseam.  I liked all the actors but I grew to really get fed up with the show.  But again, Lowe comported himself well.

I don't "do" actors or actresses.  After my decades-long Judy Garland obsession, I haven't ever gotten into following any particular performer, but I enjoy reading show biz bios and, after I chose Kristin Chenowith's autobiography as an audio book and discovered how absolutely delightful it was to hear her read her own story (adding bits of song here and there, which you definitely can't get in a book-book), I prefer to listen to autobiographies read by the author, rather than reading the book.  (I recommend Jane Lynch's book too.)
I had Lowe's "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" on my Audible wish list for over a year.  Whenever I was choosing a book for my monthly selection, I always passed that up and picked something else, but finally I decided to try it.

I discovered that Lowe is intelligent, articulate, an excellent writer, a great story teller, and that he had a wonderful story to tell.  He omits nothing ( didn't seem like he omitted anything), including his many, many youthful indiscretions, his finding his sober self through AA (which he still attends regularly), his marriage, his family, his commitment to both. He tells all in a wonderfully engaging way and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his story.

I enjoyed it so much that I got his second book "Love Life" and started listening to it recently.  I think the title refers more to his loving his life than any tawdry retelling of sexual liaisons throughout his life.  The story of his oldest son going off to college was poignant and beautiful.

He goes into behind the scenes stories of the work he has done professionally in this latter part of his life (I tried watching some of his early films like The Outsiders but they were entirely too "young" to interest my age I'm no longer into the bad boy genre...if I ever was anyway).

But I've started watching a couple of the films that he discusses.  I first began watching The Stand, remembering how taken he was with the film and how much work he put into creating the role of the deaf-mute Nick Andros. I was surprised to discover all sorts of flaws in his performance.  For one thing how does a deaf mute becomes so eloquent? Secondly, he can read lips, but Nick reads lips from the SIDE, sitting next to a person who is mumbling and reads lips so well he is able to write a long, articulate response to whatever the character is saying (of course this is more the fault of author Stephen King and the director of the movie).  Finally, on more than one occasion, Nick is behind someone who is speaking to a group and who calls Nick to come forward, Nick turns his head and comes into the group.  huh?  deaf is he?  So The Stand was not a hit for me.

I liked his performance as JFK in Killing Kennedy, the movie based on Bill O'Reilly's book, despite the fact that it was an abominable movie.  Thank God JFK dies not that long after the movie starts and I could turn the damn thing off.

And I just started watching Parks and Recreation, which I had not watched before, to see him there because he's apparently quite good.  I've watched 2 episodes so far (I checked the episode list to see when he joined the cast) and like it very much.

The point of all this being that one of the problems of my mother living at Atria is that I used to have about 4 hours or more a week in-car time, and I now get very little time to listen to audio books and so I relish having the opportunity to go for a long drive in the car so I can listen to whatever is my current audio book. 

Today I had lunch again with my friend Kathy.  Though we have been lunching in Davis ever since she retired (she says that I'd been driving to Sacramento for lunch with her for more than 15 years and it was time she started doing the driving), we decided to return to our old haunt, the Olive Garden, for lunch this month, so I had an hour of driving time to listen to "Love Life."

I have only four hours left of Rob Lowe's life and now I want to take a long I can finish it and move on to something else, but I have certainly enjoyed this look at an actor about whom I knew very little, and whom I have come to admire greatly for his talent, for what he has overcome in his life, and for his professionalism in his career today.  I also love what a great, devoted Dad he is.

Oh.  I said I would explain my closing paragraph in the review for A Flea in her Ear.  It's my salute to both Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.  "When all the world is a hopeless jumble and the raindrops tumble all around" is from the opening verse of "Over the Rainbow" and, of course, "leave your troubles outside and come..." is what the MC says at the start of Cabaret.  See...definitely subtle!  (And I hope "devastatingly clever")