Friday, May 31, 2013

Early Photoshop

Tabloid journalism and manipulated photos have been around for a very long time, I discovered.  They predate computers.

I worked at Logos today and didn't really feel like reading, amazingly.  I did finish a Jon Katz Kindle book on dog training and played some games of Word with Friends and during a rare down time, I went walking around the store.  I found a fascinating book called "Three Fearful Days," by Malcolm E. Barker.   It's apparently Book 3 in a series of books he is writing (has written?) about early San Francisco history.  This particular book is subtitled "San Francisco Memoirs of the 1906 earthquake and fire."

As a native San Franciscan, I am fascinated by new twists on the story of the fire.  I wish I had been able to get my grandmother to talk about it.   She was a young girl when the earthquake hit and for the rest of her life had a pathological terror of earthquakes.  Hers was one of the thousands of families who lived in tent cities around San Francisco until housing was rebuilt.

I haven't gotten far into this book, the meat of which, apparently, will be personal memories of survivors, compiled from letters, journals, and whatever other forms of historical narrative the author was able to find.  The book was published in 1998 and there may have been survivors still left, since I think the very last survivor just died a couple of years ago (he was an infant when the earthquake hit), but it was 92 years past the event so the likelihood of personal interviews is slim at best.

In just the little bit I've read so far, I've found some fascinating stuff I didn't know before.  For one thing, we've always heard that it was a magnitude 8.3, but recent better data suggests that it was probably more a 7.8.   Still a big jolt, but not as big as originally recorded.

Also, there were supposedly only 400-something who died, but it was actually closer to >2,000.  Even that number may be low, since the fire burned so hot that if anybody had been trapped in the fire itself they would have been incinerated and thus not counted.

The San Francisco fire chief actually had a plan in mind for an event such as this, but sadly he was one of the first people killed, when the roof of his house tore a big hole in the floor of his house, the chief fell in and the roof collapsed on top of him.  His plan had been to let all the residential fires burn and concentrate on saving the business district.  That didn't happen.

The governor came to SF as soon as he realized there was no electronic communication and he set up a command center in Oakland, across the Bay, where he oversaw the mobilization of forces (apparently quite effectively) and sent out calls for help around the country.  Help came in all forms from all over the country. There was somewhere in Idaho where residents couldn't get any bread because every loaf of bread that was baked was sent to San Francisco.

The organization of tents, food, health, sanitation and other things seems to have gone incredibly organized and San Franciscans were lucky that they kept big plague-type diseases under control.

It all sounds very similar to the kinds of things that happen when natural disasters hit now.  And Americans around the country pull together to help the victims, only now there is the Red Cross and cell phons which make donating $10 to the relief fund so much easier.

But in addition to all that, the country had its own kind of tabloid journalism in 1906.  One paper, eager to show the destruction of San Francisco, didn't wait for photos from local people, but doctored its own photo.

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Not bad for 1906...and no access to photo manipulation software!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Unclear on the Concept

What's wrong with this picture?

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I've complained about this before, but it always bugs me.  I'm in a drive-through line and I am asked to please have my order ready when I get to the microphone.

Where, please is the MENU?  It is where the microphone is.  This reminds me of trying to order phone service from AT&T for my mother yesterday.  Unless I could put in her previous AT&T location, I could not complete the order, which supposes that everyone only has AT&T (my mother did not).

Here, at McDonald's (and most other fast food joints), it is assumed that you know everything on the menu before you ever reach...the MENU! I have ordered the same thing at McDonald's for years because I am intimidated by the voice which instantly asks for my order the second my wheels reach the menu.  If McDonald's has added anything new to their menu in the last 20 years, I don't know it because I just order a cheeseburger and fries.  I know that is on the menu!

It is no better to go inside the restaurant.  These folks take "fast food" very seriously.  As I enter the building and approach the counter, I am immediately asked what I want.  No time to look at the menu, just some young kid standing there tapping his or her toe because I've taken 10 seconds to look at the menu.
I am becoming an old fuddy duddy.  What I should do is download a menu from every fast food joint and study it before ever going through a drive-through!

There are some fast food franchises (some of them McDonald's) which I just love.  These franchises have TWO menus.  One before the "have your order ready" sign and one after.  I should tip the guys in those franchises because I appreciate them so much!

* * *

It was a good day with my mother today.  She was asleep when I got to her apartment at 7:45, but she had been up and had made coffee, then decided to go back to sleep until I got there.  She seems to be settling in and I feel it's getting to be time where I let her go to breakfast on her own.  There is a group of women who are always there when we arrive, and one greets her by name.  If I weren't there, she might feel comfortable joining this group, though she says she prefers to have breakfast with me.

After breakfast we went to Safeway to get some of those vital things she desperately needed to get (toothpaste, because her tube was getting low, butter for her toast in the morning, beer in case Ed comes to visit again, laundry detergent, and cookies to put in her cookie jar so she has something to offer potential guests if they visit).  She said again that she would walk there by herself next time.  

We went out into the country to a local strawberry stand to get berries and cherries and on the way back, I went through the Safeway strip mall again and I asked her to direct me back to her house.  She couldn't, until I got her pointed in the right direction.  I asked her how she expected to walk to the store and back when she couldn't recognize how to get there (it's only 2 blocks, but it involves making two turns en route).
Tomorrow I'll have breakfast with her and then help her do a load of wash, but I work at Logos in the afternoon, so she's on her own for the rest of the day.   

A friend of mine, who lives out of town, is going to stop by and introduce herself and then promises to come at least once the following week when we are in Santa Barbara for Brianna's pre-school graduation just to check on her.  I am very grateful to her!  My cousin is also going to come and give her a pedicure.
Tonight we are off to see the "new" production of Les Mis.  A very nice break!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Some Days You Just Have to Cry

I am incredibly grateful for social media today.  There are SO many people who have walked this walk with their aging parents, and the supportive comments are so helpful. 
  • It is hard, Bev. It is unfortunate to go through, but the alternative is worse. Try to laugh with these moments as there will be a day you will wish for them back. Smile You are an amazing daughter to be doing all this.
  • My mom's adjustment broke my heart, but the reality was that she grieved losing her independence, which she had actually lost, even at home. It broke my heart, but in assisted living, I knew she had help close by, AND she was much closer to where I live.
  • It's a hard road we travel, despite it being out of love. Know that there are others who have walked and are walking similar paths, and you will make it through this transition, even with some bruises and scars. Hang in there.
  • I remember the frustration and anger (mine) wondering why my mother couldn't see clearly what I was seeing. Why she wouldn't do what we thought she should do. Sometimes we thought she was pretending. It is very difficult, especially when you are without siblings to assist with the decisions.
  • I read your tale of mother's move and settling in and I have to admit, my thoughts were "I'm glad my mother went so suddenly, and while she was still enjoying life and had all her faculties." Then I had a twinge. My adoptive mother spent her last few years in a nursing home with Alzheimers. My sister lived there and dealt with her and all the details. I just saw her once after she got moved there. She had no idea who I was. I think.... I don't know... I guess I was lucky to be so far away and not be in on all the details. Maybe I understand my sister's bitterness and anger a little more now. In any event, for what it's worth, know you have my respect!
  • I am feeling for you so much right now. We dealt with my mom's dementia for nearly 11 years. It was often like dealing with a termperamental toddler. So hard to make that reversal from the parent-child relationship.
As I become my mother's mother and she becomes her daughter's daughter, it is so painful for us both.  I miss the mother I once had, she misses her independence. It frustrates her when she can't remember things, and angers her when she can't do what she wants to do.  But she is not aware of 90% of what she can't remember.  She just asks over and over again and while I am more than willing to answer each question as if she hasn't already asked 20 times before in the last 10 minutes, I do realize how emotional draining it is for me.

In the years that we hosted foreign students, I developed a "foreign student" way of speaking, where I slowed down my speech and used very simple English, so that it all sounded conversational but yet was easy for the students to understand.  I have noticed that I am using "foreign student speech" with my mother now.  My conversation is slower, my grammar is more simple, and I automatically repeat vital information during the sentence I'm saying so she hears it twice instead of once.  Sometimes this helps, other times she turns around and asks me the thing I've just told her twice.

But you really can't be impatient with her.  It's certainly not her fault that she can't remember, and I know that it embarrasses her when she can't.  I try to find ways to remind her without letting her know that she has forgotten. I also try to make it a big funny joke when it is ME who gets something wrong and when I forget something.

I've decided that I really need to have breakfast with her every morning for the next week or so.  In addition to the fact that the breakfasts are really good! and that they aren't charging me for them right now, I never know what I'm going to find in the morning.  The first morning she was disoriented and scared.   The second morning she was asleep and when she woke up and saw me everything was fine.  Today she was dressed, but didn't know if she should go to the lobby for coffee or not and was so happy to see me.  I reminded her she could have made coffee and she said she didn't have any ground coffee, but I reminded her of where the bag from Peet's was and that she did, indeed, have coffee.

But today she was insistent and angry.  She wanted to return to Terra Linda TODAY.  She has THINGS TO DO and important things she needs to bring back to Davis.  When I asked her what they were she said "I don't remember, but I know they are important." I asked what was so important that couldn't wait a few days and she just insisted that she needed to do it NOW.  

She decided she would go home with Ed when he stops by to see her this afternoon.  She'll spend a few days there.  I reminded her that she won't have a car and that her chair will be in Davis and there will be no place for her to sit to rest her back when it starts hurting.  She'd find some place, she insisted, but there were THINGS she needed to do RIGHT NOW.

I finally got her to agree to wait until Friday when I said we could call and make a hair appointment with her hair dresser, whom she usually sees on Friday.   We called Hannah and rescheduled her appointment from 9 2 p.m.  That seemed to settle her down a bit.  I also left a message for Ed warning him that she was going to ask him to drive her to Terra Linda.  He assures me he won't do it.

We had a lovely breakfast and then I again steered her to the puzzle table where we worked for 10-15 minutes.  She does love puzzles and I figure if we do this after breakfast every morning she will get that activity imprinted in her head and that will give her something to do out of her apartment. Right now she's afraid of getting lost if she leaves her apartment.

She did answer her cell phone (with which she has been trying to turn off the TV) when I called to let her know I had ordered her AT&T service.  That was a big step forward! Her new phone should be working by the time we get home from Terra Linda on Friday.

She also wants to go to the local CVS store and assures me that she can walk by herself, but (a) she has no clue where it is and (b) there are no benches on which she can rest when her back hurts.  I told her I would take her the first time so she knew where she was going.  She said she had to make a list of "all the things" she needed to buy.  She's been saying that for 3 days now and I keep offering to drive her to CVS, but that seems to be too much for her and she gets frustrated because she can't remember what she needs to buy, but she will make a list.   So far she has not started one.

I'm thinking that if she decides she must walk to CVS herself, I will follow her in the car so I can pick her up when the back pain gets to be too much.   Hopefully we can forestall that for awhile.  Heck, she still isn't sure which way to turn going out of her apartment to get to the dining room; I don't know how she thinks she's going to be able to find CVS by herself.

I came home last night and went to sleep at 9:30, waking only briefly at 1 and then sleeping until 6 a.m.  Everything comes with its perks and this situation is making me so exhausted I'm actually getting SLEEP.

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This was done by a Davis High School student,
Henry Anker, as he chronicled his grandmother's
final year, living with dementia.
The pose, and the staring into space is so familiar to me now!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013's Contagious!

Tom called late morning today, saying he thought he would pass through Davis on his way to Terra Linda, where they are spending the night tonight, and maybe we could have a picnic with Grandma.  I had just gotten home, after being at my mother's all morning, and went back to her house to drop off a cord for her cell phone.   I told her not to go to lunch, but that Tom and the family would be here for a picnic.  I said I would call her when we were leaving the house and she could come out to meet us in front of Covell Gardens. It was kind of a test to see if she could find her way out of the place.

I quickly whipped up a bunch of stuffed eggs to take to our picnic.

A bit later, Tom called again and said they were stopped dead in holiday traffic and that it was raining and that maybe we should give up on the picnic idea and instead meet at a restaurant.  He told me where to meet them, we guesstimated what time he would get there.

At the appointed time, we got my mother (more on that in a bit) and headed over to Steve's Pizza.  Tom and the family weren't there yet.  I tried calling his cell phone, but he wasn't answering.  We decided to wait to order until he got there.

Pretty soon the phone rang and it was Tom.  "We're here," he said.  "Where?" I asked.  "The Grad," he said. I was at the wrong restaurant.  He had said "The Grad" and somehow I heard "Steve's Pizza" ('cause the two sound so much alike, dontchaknow).   That's when I realized I had been spending too much time with my mother and it was time for a break!

I stopped to pick up a newspaper this morning and went to my mother's at 7:30.  I was so early the front doors were still locked, but I had my key.  I knocked softly on her door, but there was no answer, so I let myself in.  She was still asleep.

I went out to the patio and sat there reading until she got up.   She had done an amazing job on the apartment yesterday afternoon and almost all the boxes had been emptied.  It looked like her home.

I asked her how her "date" with Ron, the ambassador had gone and she looked at me blankly.  She had completely forgotten, but had gone to the dining room by herself and sat with a couple of nice ladies, whose name she did not remember, but remembered enjoying their company.

We went off the breakfast and Ron was there, so I joked about her "standing him up" and they made another date for tonight.  We was with a delightful woman and someone else (or we would have joined their table).  My mother seemed happy and relaxed making conversation with new people (unlike me!)

We found a table and sat down and were later joined by David, a retired Presbyterian minister from Texas, who moved to Davis because his son lives here.   Ron had told us that the questions you will get asked the most often (and ask the most often) are "where are you from?" and "what brings you to Davis?" Already we are finding this to be true.

Breakfast was very nice and afterwards, we sauntered down to the puzzle table where we worked on the current puzzle for awhile.  "I can see I'll be spending a lot of time here," she said.  Good!  That was what I'd hoped.

I left her to get a cord for her cell phone, since the battery was low and said I'd be back later in the afternoon to take her shopping.  Then, of course, came all the business with Tom.  The plan was that I would call her on her newly charged cell phone and she would meet us out in front.  I called but there was no answer, so we drove over and she was sitting in her chair insisting that the phone had not rung, though I later did a test and the phone rings and the phone showed that I had called her.  Later, when Jeri called, she heard the ring but ignored it until I pointed out that it was ringing.

I told her that we needed to go meet Tom and the family.   "Nobody said a word to me about TOM," she insisted angrily, though was happy to know she would see him.  As we were nearing downtown, she asked about Tom.  "When did you see him last?" she asked, adding that she had not seen him in a long time (forgetting he had been there the day before). "When will you see him again?" she asked, "In about 10 minutes," I told her.

Lunch was fun, sitting at the sports bar watching the Giants-A's game.

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Of course, my favorite was this look that Laurel was giving to Lacie.  

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Lacie impressed us all by showing us where her nose is.

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After lunch we stopped by our house to load a chair into Tom's SUV to drive over to my mother's apartment.  Bri, age 5+, has now been in my driveway, if never inside my house. At least she knows Walt and I do live somewhere!

We dropped the chair off at my mother's ("Gaga" to the girls) and Bri made friends with Maxie, the daschund.

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Walt broke down all the boxes and carted them off to the dumpster.   I think she has only three boxes left to unload and except for those, in her bedroom, you'd never know that she just moved in.  Everything is neat and orderly, looks like "her apartment" and there is no "crap" to worry about.

My mother was having her re-do "date" with Ron tonight and I left a big sign on her door saying "Ron here 5:45" so she wouldn't decide at 5:30 that she was hungry and go on to the dining room without him.  Also so she would remember his name when he showed up.

I came home and took a long nap.  For dinner we had leftover lunch...and stuffed eggs!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Roller Coaster

Well, this experience certainly is interesting...and definitely has its ups and downs.

When we last left our intrepid heroine, she was happily relaxing in her new home, and said she was going to take her time unpacking boxes so that she could truly make this apartment hers.  She was going to go to get breakfast at 7:30 and would see us for brunch at 11:30.

Sounded great.  I came home and slept like a log all night.

This morning I gave her time to get her breakfast and then showed up at about 8:30, newspapers in hand.  I could not believe it when she opened the door.   Her face was flushed like she had been crying.  There wasn't a light on in the house, all the curtains were closed and she was shaking.  "Oh, thank goodness it's you," she said.  "I just didn't know what to do."

Poor thing. I felt so sorry for her.  She hadn't been to breakfast because she didn't know where to go or even which way to turn when she left the apartment.  She said she had lost the call button that they gave her when she came in (the local Life Line) which she was supposed to wear around her neck at all times but it wasn't there and she didn't remember where she put it.  She hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast yesterday, she said (I knew THAT was wrong, since we all had burritos around 3:30).  She just seemed so terribly helpless and lost.

I turned on the lights and gave her her newspapers.  I took her out to the front lobby and showed her where she could get coffee and some pastry and we came back and talked.  We did an in-depth search for her Life Line, which had just disappeared.   After a frantic search, it was found -- around her neck.  Crisis averted.
When her coffee was gone, she went by herself back to the front lobby to get more.  I considered that a major break-through and I decided NOT to put an arrow on the door pointing in the right direction.

Walt came and took her empty boxes to the dumpster.  The three of us went to their brunch.  I let her take the lead and did not point her where she should go.  She managed to find the dining room all right. It was kind of interesting.  They advertise a carvery station, Belgium [sic] waffles and mimosas, none of which were visible, or offered, but we did have a lovely breakfast.   They had fabulous fried shrimp which was crisp, not soggy, as you would expect from being in a warmer.  Also, the eggs benedict had runny yolks, which I never find in warming trays.  I would have liked a Belgian waffle, but didn't see where I could order one.

A little lady came and sat with us and, I have to tell ya, she made my mother seem like a Rhodes scholar.  I think it also gave my mother an ego boost to discover that this was one of her fellow residents.  It's always nice to find someone more confused than you are! I don't know how long she has been at Covell Gardens.   She did tell us in one of her more lucid moments that she hasn't been there long, but she has lived in Davis longer than Walt and I have (and we've been here nearly 40 years).

I reminded my mother about her "date" with Ron, the ambassador tonight.  She had totally forgotten that, but I hope she remembers long enough to "put on her face," which she said she would have to do.

She still thinks she's going to walk to my house to pick up her car from time to time.  I just let that pass without comment.  

We were going to go shopping for some supplies, like shelf paper, a garbage can and other things that could freshen up the place, but when I asked if she'd rather do that today or tomorrow, she said tomorrow.  She said she had "all the time in the world" to get settled.  And to my utter amazement she said she can hardly remember "that other place" where she had lived.  When our breakfast companion asked where she had come from, my mother looked at me blankly and said "Bev, where did I come from again?"  She had unpacked her shoes and put them away without a single comment about shoe choices, and most amazing of all, she said that maybe after three weeks or so, when she had her apartment all straightened out, we could go back to her other place and stay the night and get some cleaning done.  I tried not to express shock at that statement, given that she was adamant yesterday about going TODAY to clean it all up.

She also said that she didn't understand why the movers had gotten lost trying to find her house yesterday when it plainly says "260" on her mailbox and on her house.  Only 260 is not her house number.  I didn't mention that she had forgotten her address!

Of course, I know full well that she could totally change tomorrow and demand to be taken "home".  I am avoiding saying "home" at all with regard to Terra Linda, but just calling it "Terra Linda."  There are a couple of vital things I forgot to take, like the charger for her cell phone (tho if I can get her land line installed this week, that won't be a problem) and her address book.  If I think of a couple of other things, I might drive back there without her and pick them up, but hopefully I can just have Ed bring them.

When we left around 1:30, I told her I would go to Peet's and get her some coffee so she can make her own tomorrow.  I did, and by the time I got back to the apartment, she was asleep on the couch, so I just left the coffee on the counter and let myself out quietly.

I'm looking forward to getting a report on her "date" tonight and whether she meets new people, so I'm having breakfast with her tomorrow morning.  I think I'm going to take her to see The Great Gatsby on Wednesday.  It's playing in town and it seems to be the sort of movie she would really like.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


That's "thank God it's Saturday."  If it's Saturday, it means GRANDMA IS MOVED!!!!!!!!!

It was not exactly easy and there are many rough patches ahead, but when we dragged ourselves out of the new apartment, leaving my mother looking like death warmed over and feeling like that ourselves, the house looked good, she seemed satisfied, and we had so many people to thank for making it all work as well as it did.

My cousin Niecie took her for a long drive out to West Marin to see wildflowers, the ocean, and have a nice oyster lunch.  That gave Walt and me time to get in and do some packing.  Jeri last week and my mother's stepdaughter Ellen the week before had been working with her, but she had been resisting doing actual packing and though they did get a lot done, they didn't do nearly was much as they wanted to do because she was so resistant.

With her gone,  Walt and I filled box after box, emptying all the drawers of all the pieces of furniture that were coming up here, and moving all the boxes staying into one room and boxes going into another. Walt worked his tail off while I was on the phone canceling her 2 newspapers subscriptions and her Comcast (which is also her telephone service).  That always sounds easier than it turns out to be.  It probably took me half an hour to get that done, during which time Walt had packed a dozen boxes or more.

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The first battle was over shoes.  My mother LOVES shoes, and working in a thrift store for 20 years, she was able to buy lots and lots and lots of shoes for not very much money (though the idea of wearing used shoes makes my skin crawl, she loves it)  But there are shoes in the collection of >50 pairs that still have the sales tag on them and shoes she will never wear again (high heels).  I don't know if it was Jeri or Ellen, but someone got her to separate out the shoes that were going to Davis and the shoes that were going back to the thrift shop.  There were two boxes, one marked "shoes for Hodge Podge" and one marked "shoes for Davis." 

Well, she went ballistic when she saw the two boxes.  WHO made that decision. SHE had never been asked. She was going to have to go through both boxes again. She insisted that she was NEVER consulted on the decision and was afraid the wrong shoes would go to the wrong place.  When she calmed down, I moved one box into the "stay" room and into the "go" room and she seemed to forget about it, though she did remember after we got to Davis, but the fire had gone out of her protestations by that time.

She also got furious when she was told (not for the first time) that she would not be able to have her oven hooked up or bring her microwave.  She asked (not for the first time) why not.  I explained (not for the first time) that her doctor had given her the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (good thing she didn't know that the first diagnosis was dementia!) and the place does not permit machines which might accidentally be misused and cause a fire. She was angry and embarrassed, but couldn't fight it--it was her doctor's diagnosis.  She was highly indignant and said her doctor never even tested her, but she doesn't remember that she has tested her a couple of times. So hard for her...

Another battle was over the "stuff" left behind.  The watchword for the weekend was "I'm so glad we can take our time going through all this stuff.  We don't have to decide everything today."  But by that, it turned out, she meant that we would move all of her things to Davis and then tomorrow we would go back for another few days and finish cleaning up the house.  I told her absolutely not.  She was going to stay in Davis for a week.  A WEEK???   She couldn't possibly wait that long.  She wanted to go back right away.  

I finally solved that problem by pointing out that we had both been under such pressure for so long that we deserved a week off, that she could take six months, if she wanted, to clean everything up, if she didn't mind paying an extra   $6,000 rent to do it.  That took the wind out of that particular sail.   Even moreso because I left a lot of boxes to be unpacked and things arranged the way she wants them in her apartment.  She wants to take her time and do it right and obviously if she is getting her apartment in order, she can't be cleaning up her mobile home 70 miles away.

I discovered that she doesn't so much want to just give things to Hodge Podge, but she wants to give them to specific people.  The kitchen counter was filled with things like half used packages of birthday candles, paper coasters so old they had lost their color, rusty tape measures, lots of pencils and other detritus that she doesn't want to throw away, or even to give away to HodgePodge because she wants someone she knows to want all this crap.  I can't seem to make her understand that everybody she knows has been offered stuff and they all suffer from the same syndrome:  too much stuff, and nobody has any desire to add more stuff.

We went out to dinner and then Walt went home.  I would follow the next day driving my mother's car, which we would then keep. Well, THAT wasn't going to go over either. She needed to drive her car. She needed to visit friends (whom she hasn't visited in 2 years), she needed to go shopping in San Rafael (for what?), she needed to go do some things at the thrift store, where she hasn't worked for a year. I know this is really, really hard for her, maybe harder than moving.  Thank god Covell charges for parking spaces and it really is silly for her to pay for parking when she can park in our driveway for free. She thinks she is going to walk to our house whenever she wants the car, though she doesn't know how to get here and there is NO WAY she could walk that far without her back giving her fits. I suspect we will be dealing with the car issue for a long time.

Ned and Marta came down early this morning and were such a huge help, especially Ned.  I don't think we could have done things as efficiently as we did without him.  I was grateful to him many, many times during the day for all of his expertise.

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The movers did a super job, but were halted briefly when they went to move the piano (which they moved HERE) and found a dead mouse under it.  Ned says that looking at the inside of the piano it was clear the mouse had been living in it for some time.  In fact, there were several pieces of furniture that we moved which had shocking amounts of mouse droppings under them.

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But we eventually called it a day, packed up some of the live plants, and headed off to Davis, through Memorial Day traffic.
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A second before I took the above picture, she was sitting there, looking so forlorn, her head in her hands. I felt so sorry for her, but hoped that her mood would brighten as we started setting up the apartment in Davis.
The movers did a great job and, per my request, they moved my mother's special chair in first, so she could sit down and watch the proceedings without hurting her back too much.

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It had been Jeri's keen eye which made her take a tape measure to the two beds in my mother's house, and discovered they were identical in size.  We had planned to take the guest bed, thinking it was smaller, but we were able to take her own bed, so she doesn't have to sleep in a "strange bed" tonight.  It fit perfectly.

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(and look at that nice garden view she has to look at when she wakes up in the morning!) The floor rug had to go because they can't have any sort of throw rug there...too great a trip hazard.

Tom, Laurel and the girls arrived to check out Gaga's new pad.  They are going to be going to Terra Linda in a day or two to pack up the dishes and the glass cabinet they are in, but for today, they had a good time exploring Gaga's new garden.

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Throughout the day, members of the staff dropped by to introduce themselves and give her information about the place.  A guy named Ron, a resident ambassador, came to introduce himself, tell her about things, and invite her to dinner with him tomorrow.  He warned her that he had "lots of girlfriends." Just a really nice, warm, welcoming guy and, of course, attention from a man was just what she needed.

When we left she wasn't thinking about Terra Linda, but about "taking her time" to unload the boxes, put everything where she wanted it to be, and make this really "her" apartment.

Such an incredibly good sign.  I am bone and brain weary tonight, but happy and feeling hopeful about the future!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Filler Meme

Here's the "what to write when you know you aren't going to be home to write a real entry" meme.

1. Which state do you consider to be the most boring state?

2. If any chef from the Food Network could cater your wedding, who would it be?
It's a little too late to decide on which chef is going to cater my wedding, which was nearly 50 years ago, but if I were to have a Food Network chef cater a party, I'd go with the Barefoot Contessa, because she's laid back and her food always looks fabulous.

3. What's the last thing you ate that was red?
Hmmm....I guess the strawberries in my salad yesterday.

4. Have you ever questioned the sexuality orientation of a close friend?
Does it matter?

5. Everyone loses a friend after some big fight. Tell us about one.
I have dwelled far too long on my difficulties with Peggy (if you don't know who that is, check the "cast" page for this journal).  I'm finally starting to feel better about myself, so there is no point in rehashing old news.

6. Have you ever washed an iPod or mp3 player in the washing machine?
No, but I have washed a cell phone (fortunately that was before I got a smart phone)

7. Have you ever screamed / yelled angrily at a boss?
Only once, and he deserved it.  It had nothing to do with work, but it was about his grandson's baptism, which he was grousing about having to attend while we were working on a Sunday afternoon.  I yelled at him that work would still be there when he got back, but that this was his only chance to be with his first grandson at his christening, the he should GO to the baptism and he should smile.  To my great surprise, he took my advice.

8. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep?
More times than I want to remember.

9. Have you ever regretted being in a relationship with someone?
No.  (There haven't been very many!)

10. Have you ever acted like you understood something when you didn't have a clue?
Oh God, all the time.  I am the Penny (of Big Bang Theory) of my life!

11. Have you ever thought someone must have been insane?  If yes, tell us something about the person.
When you work for a typing service, you see some very strange people.  One of the strangest was the former high school teacher who did  have mental problems.  He always had arguments with invisible people when he came into our office, and then he'd kind of snap out of it and apologize to use for his invisible friends.  He was really terrified of a popular magician of the day and felt that he was controlling us with rays from outer space because he could make things disappear.

12. Have you ever pretended to be younger than what you are?
No.  I have no vanity about my age.  I am 70 years old, I like being 70 years old, I wouldn't want to be younger.  I earned all my grey hair.  I do, however, have my mother's good genes.  Nobody believes she's 93, and when I tell people I'm 70, they don't believe me either.

13. Back in the day, did you ever cry because you were turned down for a date?
I didn't date much and it was generally only one person at a time, so I don't remember ever being turned down or disappointed that someone didn't date me.

14. Have you ever had a pregnancy scare?
LOL.  No. Every time it was a real pregnancy, not a "scare."  All five times.  But all five were welcome.

15. Have you ever pretended to like someone when you didn't?
Yeah.  I'm not the kind of person who can be cruel to someone if I don't like them, so I smile and nod and act normal even if I can't stand to be around them.   Fortunately those people are few and far between.
OK...that's it for this meme.  While you're reading it, with any luck I will be dealing with movers and in the next entry I'll have all the news that's fit to print...and maybe some that isn't.

Friday, May 24, 2013


A friend sent me a marvelous list of foreign words that don't have an equivalent in English.  It is missing one such word that I use frequently:  saudade, which, in Portuguese, is an extreme longing or homesickness for someone or something or some place.  The Brasilians who stayed here, and especially the ones who have remained in our lives all these years, and I use this term all the time--it's a very long time between visits, so there is much saudade.

While most of the words on this list are totally unpronounceable, the first word on the list is one I think I can pronounce easily. (don't ask me how to pronounce "mamihlapinatapai," which is in the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego and describes that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.)  The pronounceable word is "Kummerspeck," which is German for "excess weight from emotional overeating, or, literally, 'grief bacon'."

What a marvelous word.  If I didn't already have sebendy-leben blogs already, I'd start a new one just to call it "Kummerspeck" and then decide how to tailor the content to the title!  I have suffered from Kummerspeck my whole life and just never knew it before!  I feel like Anne Sullivan teaching Helen Keller what "water" is..."It has a name...It has a name!"

And if I weren't before, I am definitely in the throes of a nice episode of Kummerspeck right now.  Trying to juggle all the things that need to be done to get my mother up here on Saturday has me scarfing down food without even realizing that I've eaten anything until after it's all gone.

Kummerspeck.  I like it.

This morning I ran around town getting last minute things done.   On the way to Target, Ed called me (a call I took on the bluetooth in the new car.   Have I mentioned I love that car?) and we talked about the status with money and other things about moving.  He feel bad about not being there on Saturday, but thinks that with so many other people around he would probably just be in the way and he needed the rest and would stop by and see her on Tuesday, which is probably going to be better.   Less confusing for her with fewer people.

I bought a shower curtain and rings to install in the bathroom, then got toilet paper, tonic, ice cream, and ice cream cones to go with her vodka and cashews and took it all to the apartment and got the curtain up, but couldn't close most of the rings, so Walt went and finished the job later in the afternoon.

In the afternoon, I worked at Logos.  Lemme tell ya, working at the book store was so far off my radar screen that I had to literally force myself into "book store mode."  

Just before I went to work, I received the bill for my mother's first month at Covell.  They only overbilled us by $6,000.  Billed us for two payments she made already.  Naturally I called right away and was told that the billing person was presently busy and would get right back to me.  I have discovered that this seems to be the standard answer at Covell.  The person you want to reach is always busy and is always going to "get right back to me" and never does.

At 4:30, naturally I had not heard from her so I called again (the glory of being able to take your cell phone with you to work!).  And, of course, she had gone for the day, but would call me tomorrow.  I'm afraid I made a bit of a stink about how we haven't even moved in yet and I'm already fed up with the runaround I get every time.  The person on the phone told me she would talk with the manager and he would "get right back to me."

I had little hope, but he actually did and we actually had a very nice talk.  I have the feeling that the left hand doesn't always know what the right hand is doing in that place.  For example, he told me that when my mother moves in, someone would bring her a set of keys.  I probably should NOT have admitted that we already have keys (at least I didn't admit that we have three sets of keys!)   He assured me that this was not their policy and that he would talk with his staff about it.  I hope I didn't get anybody in trouble. I had been told throughout the signing up process that as soon as all the paperwork was finished and all the money paid, we had possession of the apartment and they would give us keys.

Owell...that's their problem to work out.

The next thing to keep me awake is worry about whether the movers will actually show up on Saturday.  They are supposed to call me tomorrow.

Walt is driving me down to Terra Linda tomorrow and I will stay there until the movers come on Saturday and then drive her up and help her get settled and stay to have dinner with her the first night.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How the Other Half Lives

We were invited to have lunch today with some of the nicest people I know.  I met her many years ago, nearly 40, I think.  I had been involved with the PTA and everybody I worked with asked if I knew her.  They told me that she lived close to our house and I really should know her because she and I would work well together.

One day there was a knock on my door and I opened it.  This tall, slender woman with a shock of white hair across her otherwise black hair stood there.  I knew within the first two minutes why everyone had been saying we needed to meet.

We never became the kind of friends who saw each other all the time, or did a lot of stuff together, or shared our deep dark secrets with one another, but I always felt I had a very good friend whenever I was with her.  She was kind of a hero to me during that time.  She was the most selfless, generous, giving person I knew. If she heard that someone was in trouble, she was there, without making a big deal out of it.  She just helped them solve their problems.

She worked with just about every charitable organization in town.   With my friend Joan and others, she founded "Citizens Who Care," a group which helps the frail elderly and their caregivers -- and a group for which Walt now serves on the board. I always felt like a real slacker when I thought about the difference in the lives of so many that she touched.

She made a definite difference in a couple of lives close to us.   When Eduardo, our first foreign student, was living with us, she decided to help him earn money by letting him paint their house.  He didn't know anything about painting, but she taught him and he painted her farmhouse and the out buildings.  He did such a good job he got another job as a house painter while he was here.

And for us, she brought us Marie.  Marie was a high school girl in Mexico, whose minister felt she had great promise if she could come and study in the U.S.  My friend knew that I worked with placing foreign students in homestays and asked if I could find someone to take Marie.  We hadn't had a girl staying with us in so long that I said we would take her.  Marie moved into our living room and lived with us for a year, during which time she learned English, got a job waiting tables, and did well in school.  (Marie had dual citizenship, since her father had been American.)

Marie was a real success story which I told many years ago here.  She and her husband opened a Mexican/Italian restaurant many years ago (more than 10 now, I think) and for awhile ran a second restaurant in downtown Sacramento as well.  Todo un Poco has won lots of local awards and always appears on the "favorites" list in the Sacramento Bee.

The six of us used to get together regularly once or twice a year, Walt and I, Marie and her husband, and the couple who brought her to us.  But the restaurant business keeps her busy and my friend and her husband have both had health problems, so we have not seen each other in about three years.  In the meantime, my friends have moved to a senior residence about 20 miles from Davis. It was a difficult decision for them, but she had developed several medical problems and he was diagnosed with a nervous affliction and they decided they were looking ahead to the future and wanted to move now while they could get the most out of their lives before they were going to need more assistance. (How I wish my mother had done that!)

A month ago, I got a message inviting us to all come for lunch at the new place and get a tour.  Miraculously, we were all free on the same day and today we all met for lunch.  We first stopped at the house.  This place has a building for people in assisted living, and I think some apartments for people in independent living.  But there are also private homes for people who are able to live independently.

This isn't like the place where my mother is moving.   This is for folks who can lay out a large amount of money to live on a golf course and have incredibly beautiful surroundings, along with gourmet meals that put any "senior living" meals I've ever had to shame.  They also have benefitted from moving early, when participation in many of the programs for older people has helped them physically.

Our friends' place is gorgeous.  (The first thing we saw when we pulled up to the house was a wild turkey strolling across the grass.) Walt commented that you could fit our entire downstairs in their living room (I wonder if they'd like a solid oak table that cost my mother's husband $500...they have room for it!) 
I loved this statue they had.  So cute.

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Apparently the artist found the dog in a store somewhere and created the cat, modeled on her own cat, to put on top of him.  

We had a tour of the house and and heard about all the wildlife that they enjoy watching, like the wild turkeys and the quail families that run across their back lawn. 

I learned something very interesting.  Apparently the complex brings in goats to keep the vegetation down.  They eat the poison oak that grows in abundance and, because goats have four stomachs, by the time the plants are eliminated, the poison oak seeds have been neutralized.  In the past four years of goat grazing, they have managed to reduce the amount of poison oak growing on the land and they hope that by continuing to have the goats grazing on the land they can eventually eliminate it (pun intended) entirely.

We walked along the grounds (seeing the wild turkeys sleeping) to the main building, where we got another tour.  The story behind this place is that a group of visionary friends decided they all wanted to retire together and so they bought 60 acres in the hills and built their first building.  Now it's this magnificent complex and some of the original group of 8 still live there--in fact, one of them was having a 95th birthday today.  Makes me think that the Pinata Group missed out on some golden opportunities...if only we had been rich!

Lunch was amazing.  I had a spinach and strawberry salad, home made muffins (made by one of the founders of the settlement, who serves it to you herself) and then, for an entree, a crab risotto which was incredibly delicious.  Walt had the risotto too.  Someone else had a lamb chop which was cooked perfectly and made me almost disappointed I hadn't ordered it (it was my second choice).  Lunch was topped off with a cherry crisp which was fabulous.

My friend couldn't stay for the entire lunch as she is head of a group that votes to give scholarships to the deserving members of the staff, and she had to go to a meeting.  But we were about finished anyway. 
It was just a wonderful day of visiting good friends, reminiscing over old times and getting a taste of how the other half lives.  I use "other half" in the most loving of terms since these are wonderful people who deserve everything that they have.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This Might Actually Go OK

For the first time since we started looking at places to move my mother, I am feeling optimistic and thinking it just may go all right.

In the morning, Walt and I went over to Covell Gardens to bring the TV set so it could be set up for her.  Turns out nobody told us that it didn't come with hardware for all mounting, so now we have to go out tomorrow and find a wall mount and then the staff at Covell will install it so it will be ready to go when she gets there.

We also stopped to visit my friend Peg Kerr, who was part of a writing group I belonged to several years ago.  I wanted to see a furnished apartment to get an idea.  Peg's apartment is smaller than my mother's but looks quite comfortable and not at all crowded.  We also discovered that from the hall across from her door you can see my mother's patio.

Jeri and my mother arrived shortly before noon and we drove to meet Jeri's godmother Jeri and her husband Phil (they have been married 3 years now and we still have not managed to get a Jeri & Phil and Jeri & Phil picture!).  

We had a nice lunch (thanks, Phil!) and then took them with us to show them Covell Gardens.  I couldn't get the Jeri & Phil and Jeri & Phil picture, but I did get a Jeri-Phil-Jeri picture!

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...and, of course, a Jeri-Jeri picture.

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To my delight, my mother actually seemed to be interested in her new apartment, for the first time.  She wanted a broom so she could sweep her porch.   She was tickled when we put her ceramic dog, which has guarded her porch in Terra Linda for about 20 years, outside her living room door.

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Jeri and Walt worked at taping where her furniture would go, so she could get an idea of how things might come together.

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She began supervising and talking about what she wanted to put where.

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When we left the apartment to show Jeri the rest of the complex, my mother made sure that the curtains were closed so people couldn't look in and see her stuff.  Another good sign.

We walked through the building and came across a few clumps of people.  My mother told them she was moving in and had conversations with them.   She seemed interested when I pointed out that on Sunday they are having something called "meditation for pain," which might be a way to help her with her back pain. I was feeling so good about it all by the time we left.

Jeri went off to visit a friend in Davis and we brought my mother home with us.  Another amazing sign...Polly actually made friends with her, in her weird approach-avoidance way.

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Jeri came home and we all sat down to dinner, served on the new blue glass plates that had been my godmother's, which I brought home from my mother's house on Sunday.

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We talked about moving plans and things we can do after she gets here.  It was such a wonderful evening and my spirits lifted higher than they have been for several months.  And everyone is helping.  My mother's good friend Paula helped pack.  Her step-daughter, Ellen, spent several days with her packing.  Ed has been wonderful about so many things, Tom & Laurel are coming on Saturday--whether to Terra Linda or Davis will be determined by when the movers show up and where between Santa Barbara and here they are at the time. Ned & Marta will be in Terra Linda to help organize for the movers on Saturday and Ned is already planning to have lunch with her at the new place a couple of times a month so she realizes that this was really a very good move.

I am ending the evening tonight with a full heart and high hopes and feeling like maybe an ant can move a rubber tree plant after all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Got Nothing' for Ya

There are nights -- not many of them -- when I sit down here to write a journal entry and come up blank.  I feel like Jeff Probst sending the losing Survivor team back to camp after completing a challenge. "Return to camp.  I got nothin'for ya."  (Probst not exactly the elegant elocutionist.)

It was a full day, though not one in which a lot of interesting things happened.  

There is always a lot to be done after going away for a few days.   Catching up on recorded TV programs alone is a big job.  I always try to delete the command to record some programs so I don't have a big back-log to return to, but our DVR sometimes has a mind of its own.  It is set to record all of The Big Bang Theory episodes, for example, old and new, because over the years I didn't always watch it and now I'd like to see the episodes that I missed.

Only The Big Bang Theory is shown here two times a night on one station and the new episodes when they are shown on another.  This meant that there would be eleven episodes of the show to record in my absence and I dutifully went through an indicated that I did not want them recorded.  However, the DVR, being obviously a Big Bang Theory fan went ahead and recorded them anyway. I came home not only to the shows I wanted to watch, but eleven episodes of Big Bang Theory and a DVR that was 99% full.
It seems the ultimate in sloth to sit here all day watching the TV backlog.  But it's a dirty job and it had to be done.  These are the pressures that the modern conveniences places on one.  It's a job that Jeri, who does not watch TV, never has to worry about and makes fun of me because I do.  

But how could I not have recorded the finale of Scandal, for example? If you miss 5 minutes of that show, let alone an entire episode, you are hopelessly behind.

I'm not all caught up yet, but I do have the DVR down to only about 50%.  (Fortunately Walt, who likes Big Bang Theory, but not that much, was gone much of the day, taking the new car to have its finishing touches put on.)

But I didn't spend the entire day in front of the TV screen.  I had brought a set of dishes home from my mother's.  They are another set that once belonged to my godmother.  Simple dishes, but they are a deep blue glass and I've always loved them, and especially the unusual shaped glasses that go with them.

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I remember fondly drinking orange juice out of the little glasses on special occasion breakfasts when I was a kid.  I don't know how much I'll use the set, but I'm glad I now have it.  I got them all washed and put away, where they will probably now gather dust for as long as they gathered dust in my mother's cupboard.

ergonomic.jpg (5333 bytes)The other thing I had to do was to switch purses (isn't this all riveting?).  I am not one of those women with a "purse wardrobe."  I have one bag and I carry that until it's time to change.  For literally decades the bag has been one of those ergonomic things that are supposed to be good for your back.   It looks like a large boda bag, like Basque sheepherders carry their wine in. They are never good for my back, though, since I carry so much crap in them that the purse weighs about 25 lbs (I weighed it at the doctor's).  I routinely carry my Kindle, the camera, iPod, and cell phone, as well as the normal stuff, like wallet, too many keys, coin purse, etc.  One of those bags will last me about 10 years and I replace it with another identical bag when the zipper starts to split. I think I'm on my third ergonomic bag.

This time I got brave and daring and decided to look for something new.  The one frustration with the ergonomic bag is that no matter what I put in it, it immediately gets lost.  I can stick the camera in it and 5 minutes later I can't find it because it has sunk to the bottom of the bag.  I thought I'd look for something with more places to separate things out.

I came across a "Baggallini" on Amazon and decided to try it.

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It's going to be an adjustment to learn how to carry this, but it has four outside pockets, one for the cell phone, one for the iPod, one for the camera, and one for the two containers of quarters I carry for parking meters and a bag of lozenges that I take when I go to the theater to keep myself from coughing.  I think I'm going to like it, once I get used to it.

Last night, Walt and I went off to Costco and bought a 37" TV set for my mother, which we will take up to Covell Gardens today so it can be installed and ready to go when she moves in on Saturday.

All this stuff from yesterday seems so terribly petty when I think of the people in Oklahoma trying to rebuild their lives after losing everything after that terrible tornado.  "I got nothin' for ya" is literal for them, and my heart goes out to them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

That's My Girl

Following the e-mail from my mother's stepdaughter yesterday, I found myself back in the throes of worry about the Big Move this week.  It was 4 a.m. before I was able to get to sleep, and 6:30 when I woke up.  I took a shower, got dressed, and waited to hear from Jeri

Around 8 a.m. this morning, I had a text message from Jeri, who had spent last night at Tom & Laurel's.  She was letting me know that the house was awake and that I was invited to come over for pancakes.  I woke Alice and Joe up to let them know I was leaving...and that they were invited too...and headed on over for a pancake breakfast.

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(Jeri took the picture; Laurel was making us all smile!)

I was sitting there with my pancakes and my coffee and suddenly there was coffee everywhere, the cup overturned, and liquid dripping off of my pants and onto Brianna's socks to the floor. 

What was great about the accident was that innocent little Lacie had spilled the coffee not me!

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I'm usually the klutz that does something like that.  Have I passed the torch down to my little granddaughter? One can only hope!

Jeri and I packed up our stuff and were on the road before 10:30.   We called my mother and Walt from the car bluetooth...I'm learning to enjoy that little feature of our new car! It was fun to have 3-way chats.  We told my mother we would be there ASAP.

I drove as far as Gilroy, where we stopped to get some cherries from a roadside stand, and then Jeri drove the rest of the way.  We chatted the whole way, so nice to have Jeri there and such a luxury to have 7-8 hours for visiting.

The house finally looks like someone is moving.  Ellen (my mother's stepdaughter) had written that it seemed to upset my mother when she packed things because she is still waiting for "someone" to come and take stuff and seems hurt that nobody wants any of her things, but some things have been packed and there are boxes around.  I did pack up a set of dishes I wanted, and that seemed to please her.

I have set Jeri to the task of helping her choose the clothes she is going to move and finding my mother's cell phone--which is somewhere, They are going to come to Davis on Tuesday, so Jeri can see the place and my mother can (I hope) remember what it looks like which, even with a tour of the place and the pictures I brought to her a week ago, she still can't do.

We had a vodka & tonic and Jeri took the photo she always takes, to send to Phil to let him know that she had arrived safely at Grandma's.

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Then Jeri went out to get a pizza which we had for dinner, and I left them behind to drive home.  My mother's back is really bothering her and this was the first time I can remember when she did NOT come outside to wave goodbye to me and tell me to "drive carefully--you've got my kid in that car."

This is going to be a full week, but at the end of it, my mother will finally be living in Davis.


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I don't get a chance to take pictures like this much any more!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bri's Surprise

The day started today with Alice, Jeri and I driving to the UC Santa Barbara campus to watch Brianna's gymnastics class. Alice Nan and Jeri had been to her classes before, but I had not.

It was a glorious day and the campus was filled with bougainvilea covered walls.

It was great fun watching those little girls work on balance and jumping skills, though difficult to take pictures in the low light with a zoom lens!

a trampoline landing

After a game of hide and seek on the campus, Jeri went home with Tom and Bri and I came back here with Alice.  Joe had a nice breakfast waiting for us.

I couldn't keep my eyes opened.  Joe and Alice were going to a party at 2, and at 12, I sat down to read my thing I knew the house was all quiet and it was 3 p.m.  I had a very long nap!

Around 5, I went over to Tom's and found that Bri had a big surprise waiting for me:  The training wheel of her bike came off today.  (See video here)  She was very proud of herself.  While she practiced riding back and forth across the yard, Lacie and I bonded over a book.

In the evening, Joe and Alice arrived and we all enjoyed a Screwdriver made with Tom and Laurel's blood orange tree and a vat of Kraft Mac'n'Cheese, while watching Wreck It Ralph, given that this is May 18. 

I have to admit to fighting tears, a little bit, realizing that David died 17 years ago today, before Tom met Laurel and thinking how much both he and Paul would have loved these little nieces of theirs.

By the time the movie was over, Bri was exhausted and so I just left quickly, so she could get to bed.  Jeri spent the night at their house; tomorrow we head up to my mother's to begin her Last Week in her current house. 

I had an email from her stepdaughter tonight, giving me a report on how this week has gone (she has been helping her pack).  I could feel the weight of worry descending on me again.  I hadn't realized what a marvelous tonic being here for 3 days with the kids, knowing that someone was there working with my mother was.  But all good things come to and end and it's time to click my ruby slippers together and head for home again.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Full Day

Jeri and I had such a full day yesterday that I literally collapsed when we got home and was asleep around 9:30, just waking now, 4:30 a.m., to write this entry.  (The very large martini Tom fixed for me may have been partly to blame!) But it was a lot of fun, and I got something crossed off my bucket list.  Not bad for a day.

First, I took my little girl to the zoo.

Santa Barbara has a nice little zoo, covering 30 acres which, in spots, overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  It's not a big zoo, with only 160 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects, but the setting is lovely.
I had been here once before, when I came with Walt, Tom and Bri.  That day I was rushing home, so only had about 30 minutes to spend, most of it struggling up the hill to see the giraffes.  The thing about this zoo is that everything seems to be uphill, which is a struggle for this fat body. This time I was smart and brought my cane, which helped a lot going up hills and up stairs.

First off, I got to cross something off my bucket list.

This is Michael (the giraffe, not the kid).  Last time we were here, I wanted to feed a giraffe, but the line was too long and I had too little time, but this time we were the only ones there so Michael and I bonded over lettuce.  Jeri fed him too.

Then we meandered over hill and dale looking at the animals, the meerkats, the gorillas, the warm weather penguins, the bald eagles, etc.  I knew we would eventually come to the elephants, and I was sad about that.  Many zoos around the world are changing their elephant habitats and giving them more room to roam, which, while not ideal, is at least better for the animals.  Sadly, Santa Barbara has no room to build a larger elephant enclosure, and so we saw these two very sad, very bored looking elephants, Suzi and Mac.

The one on the left would pick up a trunk full of grass and then just let it lie there, curled in his trunk as if it was too much energy to bring it to his mouth. I felt sad for them.  The zoo facts say that "Our elephants are like you! Suzi and Mac like to paint, play the harmonica, do yoga, and even play soccer!" But elephants shouldn't be "like us," they should be like other elephants, and they weren't born to paint or play soccer!

Before we left the zoo, Jeri insisted we had to have ice cream, so she bought us cones.

She actually had hoped for soft serve ice cream, but they didn't have any.  This was good enough.  Some little kid who looked to be about Lacie's age saw me from across the courtyard and came running over, hand outstretched, saying "mine! mine!"  But I was a mean person and didn't give him my cone!

We found a nice little grill down by the beach and stopped for lunch and then drove to see my college friends, Dick and Gerry.  They are Ned's godparents and live very close to Tom and Laurel, in fact they pass their house every Sunday when they walk to Mass.  

It was a nice getting caught up, over a bottle of Portuguese rosé, which I managed to spill all over the place.  ever the klutz.

We had been invited to "family movie night" at Tom & Laurel's and got there in time for Jeri to help Brianna make pizza.

I sat with Lacie, while she drew me a picture.

We ate our pizza in front of the TV as we watched the Disney film, Little Bear 2  Since I had somehow missed the original Little Bear I tried to figure out the back story, but it is basically the story of a guy turned into a bear, who is still in love with the human girl he left behind and her search to sever her bond with him so she can marry a man...only to discover that she still loves her old friend, even though he is a bear.  I won't spoil the ending for those who are planning to watch this movie (I know you all are), but suffice to say that at the end, Jeri, Laurel and I were in tears, and Bri was definitely caught up in it.

After the movie, Bri made cupcakes in her new Easy Bake Oven.  She and aunt Jeri licked the mixing bowl while the cupcakes cooked.

When they were baked, Bri frosted them and served us each one for dessert.

Jeri and I headed home after the girls went to bed and the rest is history.  Tonight we are going back to Tom & Laurel's for Mac 'n' Cheese night.  Some of you will know why.