Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Giving Tuesday


We've had Black Friday (which now appears to last all week), and Cyber Monday and today is Giving Tuesday.  I was overwhelmed when I opened my e-mail this morning.  There were thirty-nine organizations asking for donations.  And this is just the FIRST e-mail of the morning.  I decided to list them here.  Some of them I've never heard of before:
Alzheimer's Assn
The Animal Rescue Site
Save the Children
Juvenile Diabetes Assn
Samaritan's purse
World Wildlife Fund
National Catholic Reporter
Capital Stage
Acme Theater Company
Kids Apraxia
IPFF/WHR -- I had to look this up -- it's Planned Parenthood
David Sheldrick Foundation (saving orphaned elephants)
Wildlife Conservation Society
Michael J. Fox Foundation
Human Rights Campaign
Novica
Greater Tod Network (this may be a typo on my part)
Nat'l Assn of Free & Charitable Clinics
American Diabetes Assn.
Wilderness Society
Int'l Fund for Animal Welfare
Earth Justice
NARAL (Pro Choice)
African Wildlife Fund
GLAAD
Canadian Breast Cancer Fdn
Global Giving
Center for Biological Diversity
The Million Nets Fund
Fistula Foundation
WISER Int'l  (World Insitute for Strategic Economic Research)
Int'l Rescue Committee
ALS Assn
UNICEF
Charity Navigator
People for the American Way
United Farm Workers
World Concern
Animal Place
Yolo County SPCA
Movemember Fdn
ACLU
Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (my old high school)
Save the Arctic Caribou
In Defense of Animals
Doctors without Borders
Every Town for Gun Safety
Humane Society
American Wild Horse Preservation
Oddly, there is no request for additional giving from Compassion.  Yet.  The day is still young.  I can't remember how many of these organizations I have ever, in my life, given a donation to, but not all that many.  I am more likely to send a donation to an animal group like the Sheldrick Foundation, groups that help kids, or groups like Planned Parenthood.  I sponsored a woman through the Fistula Foundation for a year and they still love me and thank me every year for my support, though I have not sent them money in a long time.  Hope springs eternal.

The problem is that all of these groups do good work and help lots of people and animals and at times like this I am sad that my discretionary income is so limited and I can only do just so much.  A list like this does, however, keep me from spending a lot of money on silly unnecessary stuff for myself.

$  $  $  $

I went out to my monthly lunch with my friend Kathy and when I returned decided to see what requests I had received in the few hours since I started this entry.  I spoke too soon about Compassion.  They were the top of the list for the Giving Tuesday afternoon.  At 2 p.m., I had received requests from 11 more charities and repeat requests from several organizations that are already on the list.
Compassion International (offering "free shipping on goats")
Cap City AIDS Fund
All Out -- Russia
The Lamplighters
World Vision
Immigrant Youth Coalition
B Street Theater
San Francisco Chronicle Season of Giving Fund
Oceanic Preservation Society
The Future of America Society
National Day Laborer Organizing Committee
Sacramento LGBT Community Center
Bringing the total number of charities who want my money to more than 50.  In one day.  I've given up counting.  It's too overwhelming.  I'm not giving anything to anybody on "Giving Tuesday."

I always look forward to my lunches with Kathy.  It always rejuvenates me and I go home on a high.
Today was different.

Today's lunch was .... morose, for want of a better term.

We had planned a gala celebration, happily drinking a toast to Hillary's election.  Instead there was nothing happy about today, and no celebration.  We shared disappointment, anger, fear about the names that seem to be added to Trump's cabinet, his seeming lack of interest in learning anything about the protocols of the office he is about to assume, our shock (or maybe not) at watching him slowly back up on almost every promise he made when campaigning, shock at his tweets which still sound like a schoolyard bully ("If Crooked Hillary insists on a recount, I will change my mind about not prosecuting her.")  Anger that he now decides he can run his business and the government both out of the oval office.

We ended lunch with nothing to say and both kind of slumped out to our cars.  I decided that the combination of post-Trump election malaise and Mom frustration is turning me somewhat catatonic.

I strongly urge people to check out this video by Keith Olberman for wondering whether the election that Trump himself himself won was rigged and into the mainstream media for giving Donald Trump’s absurd conspiracy theories the same coverage they would receive if they were serious concerns. Olberman pulls no punches and addresses most of the fears many of us have.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Herc


His name was Hercules Demosthenes Morphopoulos.  Irish guy.  :)

This is what he looked like the last time I saw him, when I was pregnant with Tom, in 1970..  I had been referred to him by my San Francisco dentist when I moved to Berkeley

He's the reason I stopped going to the dentist for more than 20 years.

He died last August and his obituary appeared in the San Francisco newspaper just this week.
We knew about his death, though.  All of his patients, even me, were notified.  I wasn't a current patient, of course, but when we moved to Davis, Walt continued driving 80 miles to see Herc twice a year.  It was his day in Berkeley and he combined it with lunch on Telegraph avenue, and a round of the book stores we used to haunt when we lived there.  When Herc retired, Walt kept going to the office because he liked the people and he liked his days in Berkeley.

Herc and I never got along.  For one thing, oddly enough he had halitosis and I hated it when he got close to my head.  This was before they started wearing mouth guards.  Maybe he didn't really have halitosis.  It seems odd that a dentist would have halitosis, but there was something about him that made me nauseated.

But he also was very firm about flossing.  The last time I saw him, he yelled at me for not flossing properly.  I was so rattled that I decided then and there that I would just stop going to the dentist.
So I didn't.  For more than 20 years, until I was convinced my teeth were ready to fall out (they weren't, but through no fault of mine!) and then made an appointment with my friend Cindy (with whom I had worked at a typing service for several years while she was getting her dental practice established.)  Herc may have changed my life for the worse by his bedside manner, but Cindy changed my life for the better by hers, and I have been a nice compliant patient ever since.

But Herc was a real character.  Very socially active.  He had a strong commitment to social causes (love his shirt here, "Fight plaque, not Iraq").  He was a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-founded a free dental clinic in Berkeley, working at other free clinics in the Berkeley area.  He volunteered in Nepal, Africa, Mexico and Nicaragua.

He was Walt's kinda dentist.

I think about Herc whenever I sit down in the dental chair at Cindy's office and chat with my hygienist.  Judging from the notes left on his memory page on line, he had a host of grateful patients, friends and fans.  I just wasn't one of them.


And today we went to Kaiser to see her PCP.  As expected, the doctor went through all the notes from the ER and had nothing to suggest, but she did make an appointment for a neurological exam in Sacramento on Thursday (no Logos again this week)

I think we were both in a bad mood today.  We weren't grumpy or anything, but just not really in a mood to chat.  When I got to Atria, I found her sitting across from the dining room drinking coffee with another woman.  I think their being together was happenstance, rather than socialization.

My mother didn't understand why nobody told her she had a doctor's appointment and asked me about it many times on the ride there.  She doesn't understand why she doesn't remember being unconscious and has no memory of being in the emergency room.  This is a recording.

The appointment was otherwise uneventful, except she wet herself and didn't even realize it.  That was very sad.

Her PCP is also mine and she was very happy to know that I was finally going get my lab work done, while I was there.  My own brain was off somewhere too when I walked up to the counter at the lab and said I was there for a mammogram.  Now, I am overdue for a mammogram, but I hadn't even thought about it until it fell out of my mouth at the check in desk.  So I've had a mammogram and I'm good for the next 2-3 years, the tech tells me.

Then I had the blood work done and so that is finally done and I should be good for at least several months, when they'll start bugging me to have the blood work done again.  

We had a minor potential disaster.  The keys to all the apartments at Atria are on these stretchable key chains, which everyone wears on their wrist.  We have had far too many cases of my mother losing her keys, which she usually keeps in the kitchen, but they have been found in her purse (which is stored in a different place each time), at the front desk, in the linen closet, and even once inside the grandmother clock!  I was happy to see she was wearing it on her wrist, where it should be, when I picked her up.  She had it on her wrist when we were in the exam room and when I got out of the mammogram room, she didn't have it.  She didn't even know what it looked like and didn't remember ever having it.  I took her purse and looked through it, but no keys.  I asked her to check her jacket pockets and she didn't know what she was checking for, but the pockets were empty.  I checked the purse again.  Twice.  I was about ready to go back to the exam room to see if she had dropped it somewhere, when I found she had pushed it up her arm so that it as around her bicep instead of her wrist.  Crisis averted.

But it did identify her as an Atria resident, and the woman sitting in the wheelchair in the waiting room recognized her as a fellow resident with whom she has had lunch several times.  So she took care of her while I had my blood work done.

When we got back to Atria, she didn't recognize the place and didn't know where she was supposed to go and I think was pissed with me that I told her to go into the lobby and if she didn't recognize it, to ask anybody and they would point her in the right direction.

I had hit the wall.  


Tomorrow I have lunch with my friend Kathy, unless my mother decides to pass out again.

Monday, November 28, 2016

How was YOUR Saturday?


It was not how I'd planned to spend my Saturday afternoon.


But then, to be fair, it wasn't how my mother planned to spend her Saturday afternoon either.

I had a call from Atria at noon.  She was having another of her passing out spells.  Should they call the paramedics, or did I want to come over.  Since it seems an exercise in futility to take her to the ER, we decided we'd start with me coming over.  She was passed out, looking for all the world like she was dead, but she was breathing and her eyelids were fluttering...never open, but fluttering, kind of like REM sleep.

I called her, talked to her, rubbed her arms and feet, held her hand (at one point her fingers kind of closed around my hand, thought she didn't squeeze) but I was no more successful at waking her than the aids were.  

So they had to call the paramedics, and if the paramedics are called, they have to take her to the emergency room. She was probably out a total of 45 minutes and the paramedics say that she started coming to when they were taking her out of the ambulance.  (You know she's back when she flirts with all the men around her -- paramedics, doctors, and nurses!)

Same place, different time, another three hours, another round of tests, more results of all within normal limits.  It's so frustrating that they run every test in the book that they can do in the ER and they all come back normal.  

The doctor said the only change from last time was that her heart rate was slightly, but not alarmingly, lower than last time and he thought maybe one of her cardiac meds was not working well for her and should be changed.  He also said if it was a cardiac problem, maybe we should consider a pace maker, but my god does anyone even think about such a procedure on a 97 year old???

While we were waiting, I snapped this picture to send to all the family to let them know she was fine...or as fine as she could be, given that she had passed out just a couple of hours before.

After all the tests had been done and evaluated, the doctor again said that everything was normal and he didn't know what caused her to pass out and that she should see her regular doctor on Monday, so I have now made an appointment for her to see her doctor Monday afternoon.  I'm hoping to get a referral for a full neurological workup, which the last ER doctor recommended three weeks ago.

Dr. Patrick also gave me a form with a change of orders to drop the cardiac med, awaiting a different type of med from her regular doctor.  I was to deliver that to the med techs at Atria.

If I had $1 for every time she asked me where she was, how she got there and why was she there Walt and I could go to a first class restaurant for dinner tonight.  Poor dear.  I know she's scared, confused and has no memory but I should have recorded "You fainted.  Nobody could wake you up.  They called the paramedics, they loaded you onto a gurney and into an ambulance and brought you here to the emergency room.  They are trying to find out why you fainted."  But a minute or two later she would look around and say she didn't know where she was and what was she doing there?  Do you know how many times you can ask that question in three hours?  Next time I'll have to keep track.
Finally I had my packet of "at home instructions" and I went and got the car.  They wheeled her out in a wheelchair and got her in the car.  It was raining pretty steadily by now.

We got to Atria and I drove to the front door, under the overhang and got her out of the car so she would not have to walk in puddles in her hospital-supplied socks and told her to walk inside the door and sit and wait for me.  Thank my parking angel, there was a space in the Atria parking lot, so I didn't have to walk a block in the rain.

I gave the doctor's orders to Brianna, who is in charge of my mother's care, and took her off to the dining room to get some food in her.  It was now 3 p.m. and she had not eaten all day.  They were all set up for dinner, but scrambled us some eggs and toasted some toast and my mother finished everything.  Then I took her back to her room and left her, saying I'd be by the next day to check on her.  The aids put her on a 2 hour check to make sure she was OK the rest of the afternoon.

Then I went back to Brianna.  She could not accept the doctor's orders.  Though they were on official Sutter Davis forms, he didn't sign his name and without his signature, they could not follow his instructions.  So back to Sutter -- it was now raining harder, of course -- the doctor was as exasperated as I was, but signed the damn form and I took it back

I asked the doctor if we could get frequent flyer miles.  He laughed and said at least I had a good sense of humor about it all.  I asked him what choice I had!

So Brianna has now accepted the doctor's instructions and presumably the possibly offending medication was dropped when they gave her her meds this morning.  And tomorrow we'll go to Kaiser, where I will answer a bazillion times where she was and what she was doing there and remind her that she had fainted yesterday. (I love it when she asks "why didn't I know that?"  Because you were OUT! I tell her)
I came home and was just ... depressed.  I was depressed because they can't do anything to help her unless they can figure out what is wrong, and depressed because there was a point while I was trying to wake her up, when I hoped that she would just take a last breath and join all those folks I was sure were standing around her bed waiting for her.  That made me feel like a terrible person....but what did she need to wake up for?  And how lovely it would be to just fall asleep..forever.

Her new thing is asking if there isn't someone else in the family who could help her, since I can't.  But the people she wants to help her are all dead.  She's stuck with inadequate me.

I couldn't really eat last night, but did manage to choke down a piece of the new pumpkin pie I had made using the leftover pie dough and pumpkin filling.  I made "new leftovers."

So then.... I thought I had finished this entry until I got another call from Atria saying she was upset again and they couldn't calm her down.  I went over there and this was a whole new wrinkle!  Usually she's upset because she doesn't know where she is or what she is supposed to be doing.  This time she was upset because nobody likes her there, everybdy talks about her and points to her and she doesn't know what she has done wrong, and she wants me to put her someplace in a room by herself.  I knew paranoia was part of the dementia cycle, but she had not displayed it before.

We talked a long time.  I pull no punches with her.  I tell her there is a disease eating her brain and that it is incurable.  I remind her that her mother and sister both had it too, so it's not unusual.  (I think that always helps)  She wants to know what we can do to fix it and was relieved to hear that she will see the doctor tomorrow because she's sure the doctor will know what to do (fat chance).  She moved from that to wasn't there something she could do to help other people like herself and I told her I'd see if we could work something out.  By the time her aid, Harbans, came in to check on her, she was laughing and we had a nice visit with the aid (who, I found out, is from Fiji).  She says she loves my mother and my mother says she is her best friend.  

After Harbans left, she seemed to be in good spirits so I told her I was going to go home.  "Are you feeling better?" I asked her.  "Why?  Was I not feeling well?" she said.  I told her I would see her tomorrow to take her to the doctor and she got indignant and said "Did anybody ask ME about this?"  So she was back from Paranoia-land and just in the same ol' Land of Dementia once again.


It's a new adventure every day....

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Stealing

We found this gem... from a blogger who calls himself Silverguy of the site MD Junction. I’d like to tell you more but that’s all I’ve got. That site is a Blogspot or Wordpress wannabe but it is more like you have Blogger logos all over your blog. I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving. (We apologize to our international players for having questions about an American holiday.)

Time to toast!

Cheers to all of us thieves!

How many Thanksgivings do you attend?
Just one.  We had an invitation to go to a second, but with dealing with my 97 year old mother all day, one was about all I was up for.  I never know when this is going to be her last holiday and even though with her dementia she doesn't now what's going on, still it's important to me that we spend it together.

Where do you attend Thanksgiving(s)
?
I so miss the days when the entire family went to Walt's mother's condo at Lake Tahoe and we spent the weekend laughing and playing games and everyone contributed to the food.  But she is gone now, my mother has dementia, and the kids are scattered, so now it's a dilemma each year.  We have gone out to a restaurant, had dinner at the facility where my mother lives, been with Ned's in-laws, and had dinner here.  This year, we just had dinner for 3 here at our house, while Ned and his wife visited early in the day and ate with his in-laws.

What is your favorite dish?
A toss-up between stuffing and pie.

What is your least favorite dish at Thanksgiving?
That ghastly green bean casserole everyone likes.  Yuck!!

What, if any, are your Thanksgiving traditions?
We're at a period in our lives where we are struggling to find new traditions.  It used to be that we played charades (hilarious with Walt's mother, who never could get the rules straight) and Tom making his famous baked Alaska.  He may not have been in high school yet when he decided he wanted to learn how to make it.  Now he's gently pushing 50.  I wonder if he still makes it....?

Name your FAV thing about Thanksgiving.
These days I am very nostalgic about Thanksgiving and my favorite thing, maybe, is memories of so many wonderful Thanksgivings in the past.

Do you make anything for Thanksgiving? If yes, share what and why.
I made turkey, dressing, garlic cheese mashed potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with pomegranates and walnuts, and, of course, pumpkin pie.  Amazingly, my mother ate a little of everything.

Out of everything you eat at Thanksgiving, what can YOU cook the best?
Stuffing and pumpkin pie.

What do you drink with your Thanksgiving feast?
We serve white wine, but I have water, my preference.  (We did have vodka tonics before dinner, though)

Has there ever been a feud during your Thanksgiving?
No.  Fortunately we've never been a feuding family.

Do you have Appetizers before you Thanksgiving meal?
We used to, but with only 3 people for dinner, appetizers seemed kind of silly.

How many people attend your Thanksgiving(s)? If yes, who?
Over the years, I have had as many as 24, including the whole family and one or two foreign students living with us.  So this year with just Walt, me and my mother was kind of pathetic!

Have you ever missed a Thanksgiving?
Two years ago, I was in Iowa, helping my cousin going through chemotherapy.  Because of weather, I was kind of trapped there longer than I expected and had Thanksgiving dinner with her family, but it seemed strange not being home for the holiday.

What kind of pie/cake/dessert do you eat for dessert?
Pumpkin!!!  I think I have in the past also made a pecan pie and, as I mentioned above, Tom always made baked Alaska, but nowadays, it's just pumpkin pie.

Do you ever play games at Thanksgiving?
In the years when we were going to Lake Tahoe, we played games all weekend.  In addition to charades there were endless card games of all kinds, and a few board games as well.  As I said, I miss those days.

Name 3 things you are Thankful for:
1. My family (including the dogs)
2. That my mother is physically healthy (it would be terrible if in addition to dementia she suffered some sort of debilitating condition).
3. NCIS marathons

Is there anyone who has normally attended Thanksgiving, that will not be there this year? Who?
Not THIS year, but every year, we miss Paul and David, now dead many, many years.

Name the funniest person at your Thanksgiving this year and tell us more.
Ned is always the funniest and thanks to his humor, my mother was convinced that she could come to our house, otherwise she would have stayed home sitting in a chair looking at leaves on the trees.

Which person eats the MOST?
Me

Which person eats the LEAST?
My mother, who took about a tablespoon of each thing.  but she ate them.

Do any animals attend Thanksgiving dinner?
Of course.  Lizzie and Polly would be very disappointed if they couldn't sit and stare at us hoping for something to fall on the floor.

If so, do they get Thanksgiving scraps?
I value my life, so yes.

Who carves the turkey?
Walt.

Have you ever had to make Thanksgiving all on YOUR OWN?
Just about every year since I started making Thanksgiving dinner, sometime in the 1970s.

Do you get along with the people you have thanksgiving with?
Walt and my mother?  Yes, I could say so!

Is your Thanksgiving formal, or do you just do whatever?
There has never been anything in our lives that has been formal.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme! 

Saturday 9: Baby's in Black (1964)Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 25, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains?
I don't "do" Black Friday, but I did pick up two audio books I wanted at Audible.com at a hugely reduced price and a new iPod for $33 at Amazon.

2) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game?
No.  I might pig out, but definitely not in front of a football game (the 9ers aren't playing, are they?)

3) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) What was particularly delicious at your Thanksgiving table?
The turkey was delicious, as was the pumpkin pie.  Nothing stellar this year, though.  I had high hopes for my "sides," since I spent so much time researching and choosing them, but they were just "meh."

4) Among the biggest the Black Friday advertisers are Target, Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy. If you could have a $100 gift card to any one of those stores, which would you choose?
Definitely Target.  For two reasons.  One is that I have never shopped at Kohl's and there is no Macy*s or Best Buy here, but more importantly there is a boycott of Target now over the bathroom issue, allowing transgendered people in the bathroom they believe is appropriate for them.  Such a silly tempest in a pee-pot.  (Why aren't people more worried about the pedophile men in the men's room when they send their sons in to pee than the person who looks like a woman in the stall minding her own business?). I need to be supportive of businesses who understand.

5) This week's song, "Baby's in Black," is about a girl who wears black because she's in mourning. Do you find that the color you're wearing reflects your mood?
No.  I usually am not even aware of what color I am wearing.
 
6) The woman who inspired this song, Astrid Kirchherr, has been friends with Paul McCartney since he and his bandmates (John Lennon, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best) met her in Hamburg back in 1960. Tell us what you believe are the components of a strong, lasting friendship.
Compatibility, shared experiences, trust, and a good sense of humor.  An attempt to keep up their side of the relationship is also good.

7) In the early days of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon began writing a play but abandoned it. Do you have a novel, painting, play, song or poem that you're going to finish "someday?"
No.  I've co-authored two books and have hung up my author credentials and am resting on my laurels.

8) When he was 16, George Harrison dreamed of moving to Canada, Australia or Malta. In just a few years, he would visit all those places with Beatles and eventually decided there was no place like home and stayed in England. Have you ever thought about moving to another country? If so, where?
When we visited, I felt I could happily live in London or somewhere in Ireland. But I wouldn't like to be that far away from the kids.

9)  Random question: Finish this sentence -- If you want me to give you "yes" for an answer, the best time to approach me is _____________________.
Any time when I'm not in the middle of trying to write a review.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving


You'd think someone who has cooked as many turkey dinners as I have over the years (both Thanksgiving and Christmas for as many as 24 people) would have no qualms about cooking a turkey dinner for three people, but I woke up at 6 to get potatoes into the slow cooker (new recipe) and then sat here checking and rechecking recipes for the three other dishes for the meal -- turkey, stuffing, and Brussels sprouts.

I decided I'd do a cheesecloth wrapped turkey (how can you go wrong with a turkey wrapped in melted butter soaked cheesecloth?) and instead of stuffing the bird, do a dressing, where I just cook it in the oven.  I had bookmarked all three recipes (Brussels sprouts, which I have only cooked once before, with pomegranate seeds) but then my computer rebooted itself and I lost the recipes.

So I spent a good deal of time searching the internet for the recipes I had decided on.  I got them all printed, but even at that I would be changing them as I cooked.  I had decided on a dressing (i.e., not cooked in the bird) with sage sausage -- I never have used sausage before.  My mother always used turkey innards to flavor the stuffing, but I've never done that, so this would be an experiment.  I also discovered  that I had no onions.  I ALWAYS have onions.  I didn't want to go to the store (if I could find one open), and decided I'd be nice to Walt (who hates onions) for once and cook without an onion.  There would be chopped apple and celery and then dried cranberries and toasted almonds (not in the recipe, but something my mother always used).

Around 11 Ned and Marta stopped by on their way to Marta's parents' house for dinner  We had a nice visit and then they went over to visit Grandma.  About half an hour or so later, it was time to get my mother, but I was at a point where I couldn't leave the kitchen, so I sent Walt.  He told me later that Ned was a gem.  My mother had decided she didn't feel like coming, but Ned is not to be denied.  He told her what a good time she would have got a coat and put it on her, and then guided her out to the car.  I didn't know any of that until after we had taken her home again.  She was, of course, confused about where she was and asked me many times if this was my house.

Walt made her a vodka tonic, her first in a very long time (she used to have one every night).


I sat there and said to her "You know how you're always telling me you want to get rid of all the crap in your house?"  She nodded affirmation.  Then I said "Well...look at this" and indicated the crap around the chair where she was sitting.


She told me that obviously she had not done a good job teaching me how to clean house.  We laughed.  She also tried making friends with the dogs.  Lizzie loved it, Polly was having none of it and stood in the hall barking.


She helped me carry dishes to the table, but instead of coming back to get another dish, she took her own dish and started filling her plate, and in the process knocked over my wine glass.  I don't think she even realized she had broken it. I kicked myself for putting out my godmother's good crystal (which I acquired when my mother moved to Atria) because I loved the glasses and now only have 3 left.  But that was my fault, not hers.

Everything  turned out fine, though there was too much, which, of course, was the whole point of cooking myself--leftovers!.  I also was disappointed that I had chosen dressing instead of stuffing and next time will stuff the turkey again.  Dressing is too dry and crispy.  Stuffing is wet and soggy and perfect when added to the dressing that doesn't fit in the turkey to make the perfect combination.
I was also a little disappointed in the Brussels sprouts.  They were good, but not as good as I had hoped.

But she ate it all and had a piece of pie...and two glasses of wine.  While Walt and I cleared the table, she finally made friends with Polly.  Sort of.


She was really tired when we took her home and was probably going to go right to sleep...I would too, if I'd had a vodka tonic and 2 glasses of wine!

It was really a nice Thanksgiving.  And after we got home from Atria, we had calls from Jeri and from Tom (and the girls) so we had touched bases with everyone and feel very thankful for a day well spent.


Now I go to sleep, dreaming about the pumpkin pie I'm going to have for breakfast in the morning, and the turkey sandwich I'll have for lunch.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve


On Thanksgiving Eve, as I wait for my pumpkin pie to cool so I can put it in the refrigerator, let me take a few minutes to reflect on the things for which I am grateful this year.  I did this several years ago, but have not done it in a few years.


1. First of all, of course, I am grateful to have long-suffering Walt in my life.  He makes me laugh, drives me to endless stage shows, carries more than his share of the load around here and still loves me anyway.  He's always been a wonderful father and I love the good relationship he has with all the kids.

2. And I am thankful for our kids -- the ones who survived.  I am thankful that we are all friends and all love each other, and that our disagreements are minor.

2a.  I am particularly thankful this year for Ned.  I think about that every time I sit in my beautiful new office.

3.  I am thankful that they each married wonderful people whom I love like my own children.


4. I am thankful for the memories that I have of our dead sons.  That may sound weird, but when they died we had great relationships, and I have so much to look back on for when they were alive.

5.  I am thankful for two beautiful granddaughters, who are growing up much too quickly, but who are both loving little girls.


5. I am thankful for the dogs.  I hate them every time they want me to feed them, but I am thankful that basically they are very good about letting me sleep in the morning and nap in the afternoon.  They might be my "pet" peeves when I am awake, but it could be so much worse.

6. I am thankful that my mother is in a good place that seems to really understand what her problems are and how best to deal with them.  There are times when I get aggravated with Atria, but never for their care of my mother.

7. And I'm grateful that she is still in my life, and despite her dementia, is mostly in a good mood.  I miss the companionship that she used to give me, but I am glad that we can still laugh together.

8. I'm thankful that I've had the opportunity to see so many wonderful shows this year, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It's worth it all to be sitting in critic seats for Book of Mormon, knowing people have paid $100 for the seats and we get them for free.  It's also wonderful to discover something astounding, like Grounded the show we saw a couple of years ago, which still stands out as absolutely fantastic., and little Lilac Buckser, age 7, who was in one of the Christmas Carols we saw last week.  A real talent in the making and we were there to see her first show!

9.  I am thankful for the friends, near and far who are so important to my life, like the PiƱata women, especially Charlotte; my friend Kathy, who is my lunchtime buddy; Joycie, who took her title of "big sister" very seriously back in 1956 and has been my friend ever since; the CompuServe women, all of whom are great friends, even tho we rarely have the opportunity to get together.

10. I'm thankful for the Internet which allows me to make new friends, who then stay in my life for many years, whether we ever meet face to face or not.  And then there are friends like Kimberly, with whom I have been internet friends for a very long time, and whom I met just this month for the first time.


11.  I am thankful that San Francisco is my home town because I love to show it off whenever possible!

12.  I am thankful that I have had the privilege of volunteering at Logos the past 4-5 years, and will be sad when Peter and Susan turn it over to new owners in January because I will stop volunteering then, but it's sure been a great experience.

13.  I am thankful for air conditioning and cooling fans in summer and sweatshirts in winter.

14. And I am thankful for my sponsored family -- Anjali, Brayan, Briana, Fred, and many others, who help me put all of this in perspective and make me realize what a truly blessed life I lead.

15  Finally, believe it or not, I am grateful - sort of - to Donald Trump because he has only been "elect" less than two weeks and already he is showing is devoted followers that he is the liar we've said he is all along.  His promise was that in his first 100 days he would put Hillary Clinton in jail, start building the damn wall, and abolish Obamacare.  Now he seems to be changing his mind about prosecuting Hillary, kinda likes some of Obamacare, thinks maybe human actions might affect climate after all, and in his "first 100 days' there is no mention of the damn wall, which he was going to start on Day 1.  Not only that, but it is costing the American people $1 million a day to take care of Melania and Barron in New York (to say nothing of the congestion in front of Trump Tower) and this is unlikely to end until at least June.

He also said he would put his business in a blind trust and let his kids run it, and now he's saying he can run his business and the country both from the Oval Office.  He'll make billions in the next four years.

So, yeah, I'm almost grateful to him for showing his true colors immediately.  Makes me wonder how much worse it can get, when he hasn't even been inaugurated yet



I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We will have a quiet day, just bringing my mother here for an early dinner.  But I will at least have leftovers on Friday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Memory Unit


Today we finally had another Big Meeting at Atria, to go over a few points, get a progress update, and tour the memory facility.  Walt and Ned came with me.  It's always comforting to have reinforcements!

The first item was the large statue broken by the workmen during the recent lengthy renovation.  I told them it had no special significance and if there were any sentimental value, my mother no longer remembered it  I would like it thrown out, but just wanted it to be known that I was very upset about how it was handled (or not handled). 

The General Manager wants to replace it.  God no!  We definitely don't need that, but he wants to do something for us, so I suggested he let us all come for Christmas dinner the day or two after Christmas, as Tom et al. will be here.  If Jeri and Phil come it could be as many as 12 people for dinner and he readily agreed.  So we're all good about the broken statue.

They tell me that she has been off the narcotic she was taking for pain for several weeks now, which I'm thrilled about, since she is still having some pain, but nothing like it was for so long.  She's not in agony any more.

They also think she's not ready for the memory unit but that there may be a day when she is.  I asked for a tour. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting.  Maybe something like the convalescent hospital Walt's mother was in before she died where all she had was a bed and a TV and two roommates.  My mother would hate that.

But I was pleasantly surprised.  I expected it to be depressing, but it was not at all. The first thing I noticed about the place was how bright and airy it was.  The community areas are open and inviting (unlike where she is now) and right next to the dining room, so it seems more conducive to social interaction.


It is set up so if someone wants to "wander" they can go outside and the path they follow takes them back inside again.  They can't get out of the locked facility.


(I found these two photos on the internet. They are Atria facilities, but not the Davis facility, but look very similar.)

Residents live in 2-person "suites," which means a shared bathroom in the middle and bedrooms on either side, but otherwise privacy, and room is significantly larger than I expected.  I could see my mother doing well there.  Moving her out of her apartment would necessitate getting rid of lots of the "crap" that bothers her so much (mostly photos) and she could start all over in a pristine environment.

But not yet.  She isn't at that stage yet, they tell me, though they do see her needing to move eventually. A big factor is the cost, which is significantly more than she is paying now.  If we knew how many more rent payments she was going to have to pay in her life, it would be easier to decide what she can afford, but we don't know that.  When she moved in there, I think the rent for the memory unit was something like $6,000 a month and there have been 3 rent raises since then, so lord knows what they pay now.  Her stepson figured, 3 years ago, that she could afford to live at Atria until she was 103.  But if she moves into the memory unit, obviously we'd have to knock her off before that.

After our tour, we went to visit my mother, who was sound asleep at 1:30.  We woke her up and she came to quickly when she knew Ned was there.  He's so good for her and with her!

When we finally left Atria, I went off to the store to buy fixings for Thanksgiving dinner. My heart is only partially in it, since it will be only my mother, Walt and me.  Ned and Marta are spending the dinner with Marta's family, who have invited us to join them, but whether she cares or not, knows what's going on or not, it's important to me to spend these last holidays with my mother.  And she definitely does not do crowds of people she knows, much less a house full of strangers.


For the last several years, we get to this part of the year and I just want it to be January.  The holidays were always such a HUGE family time for most of my life and it kills me that we are so separated and that there are only three of us to "celebrate" this week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Nut Tree


This was my lunch today.

It was a crab melt with avocado and fabulous and then Char and I both splurged and had milk shakes.  Mine was a vanilla malt.  My father taught me to love malt. When I was growing up there was a drug store a block from our house and the had a lunch counter where you could get milk shakes.  Those chocolate milk shakes were some of my best childhood memories.

But awhile ago I discovered NON-chocolate milk shakes and discovered I really like vanilla shakes, so I ordered one with malt.

Now I rarely order shakes and even more rarely order malts but I am almost always disappointed that sometimes you pay more for adding malt to your ice cream and seldom can you taste the malt.  But Fenton's is a premier ice creamery and my shake was deliciously vanilla-y and even more malt-y.  I loved it.

Fenton's used to be a popular ice cream store in Oakland when we were raising our kids there.  We didn't go often but enough to have fond memories.

Many years ago Fenton's opened up what I think is just their second location, 30 minutes from our house.  When Char and I have lunch, she usually drives up to meet me there, though it is by NO MEANS halfway between our two houses.  But I think she enjoys an excuse to eat at Fenton's like I do.  We usually get something with crab in it and this crab melt was a new item on the menu and became an instant favorite.

Fentons was built on the site of the famous old Nut Tree grounds.  

When I was a kid, it was a fun place to stop, even if only to look around.  There was a restaurant, a shop that sold jewelry and scarves and "stuff," and had a big section on aviation, books and more "stuff."

There was a nice bakery that always had huge decorated cookies.  


There was also a separate building that was the toy store, a mini railroad that ran around all the property, a big merry-go-round, and oversized rocking horses that sat outside the entrance to the restaurant.


There was also an airport.  Yes, a real airport.  The place was so well known that sometimes folks would hop into their planes in Southern California, fly up for lunch and then home again.

The place had humble beginnings.  In 1921 the Power Family set up a roadside nut tree stand in the shade of an old oak tree in Vacaville, conveniently located along I-80 and a nice place for a stop between San Francisco and Sacramento.  And it just grew like Topsy.  It seemed everyone stopped at the Nut Tree.  (It was a favorite stop of one of my uncles and one of his wives and caused a bloody argument every time because she always spent so much money in the shops)

When our kids were little, Walt and I took one kid out for dinner a month.  One month Walt took a kid, the next month I took a kid.  They got to pick wherever they wanted to eat.  It just had to be a "sit down" restaurant.  In the early years, The Nut Tree was always a favorite choice.  The restaurant had a huge aviary with lots of birds to watch.


Everyone got their own home made loaf of banana bread served on a tiny bread board to hold you until your meal came. There was a pineapple salad with some sort of marshmallow dressing that was delicious.  At the end of the meal there were all those fun things to look at and try to resist buying, or something to pick up at the bakery to bring home.

The original Nut Tree shut down in 1996.  One day it was there, the next it was gone, though they never took own the iconic sign.  


Eventually stores began popping up on the site of the old Nut Tree, and now it is a thriving mall.  At first it was just a disappointing number of the usual shops, but as it began to fill up, they returned a lot of the feel of the old place, only different.

It was the perfect place for Fenton's to build a new restaurant, which is right next to the shop for JellyBelly stuff.


There is now a museum in the town of Vacaville with over 7,000 artifacts from the original Nut Tree.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Beloved Holiday Classics

I haven't even purchased our Thanksgiving turkey yet and I've already reviewed three Christmas shows.  Of all the theaters I review, there is only one left doing a Christmas show, and that won't be until December, thank goodness!

What's with Christmas shows before Thanksgiving anyway?  It's like extending Black Friday for two weeks.  Takes all the fun out of it.  I want to be concentrating on turkeys and pilgrims and what I'm thankful for, not whether or not Scrooge is going to be redeemed again.  Yet.

Two of the shows I reviewed were versions of A Christmas Carol and they could not have been more different from each other.

This story has been with us since 1843, when it was first published. In the past 173 years, we have experienced the story in just about every way possible. It’s been read aloud by the author himself, there have been stage plays, movies, musicals, a soap opera, and even a production performed entirely in Klingon (Scrooge is named SQuja').


It has been performed by humans, puppets, cartoon characters, muppets, and dogs.


Ebenezer Scrooge has been played by Lionel Barrymore, Stan Freberg, Vanessa Williams, Patrick Stewart, Mr. Magoo and Scrooge McDuck among a host of others.


It's difficult to think of a new way to look at the story, but Sacramento's B Street's Artistic Director Buck Busfield (Tim's brother) came up with one.  In his version, after 173 years, Scrooge is tired of having to go through the same story year after year.  He tells the audience that he's decided that this year he is going to drink lots of tea so he won't fall asleep and the spirits can't wake him.  But of course the characters won't be denied and what results is an hour and a half of zany action performed by Scrooge and 4 actors who play "everybody else" while Scrooge insists he does NOT want to be a part of this story this year.

The Winters Theatre Company went more traditional.  I love Winters.  I love them not because they are so good, but because they are so sincere.  Amateurs in the truest meaning of the word. They are the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker getting together with some folks who may have had some acting experience, and doing the best darn play they can.  The results are always uneven, but never un-entertaining.  

This year's show had over 40 characters in it.  There were only a few actors who played more than one small role.  The community center stage was expanded so it went wall to wall and the set was enormous, with walls that folded out to reveal yet another scene, and even one part of the stage in the middle of the audience.  The story was very traditional with very good performances and not so good performances.

To my surprise the actor who surprised me the most was a little 7 year old named Lilac who sang in a clear voice that almost sounded like she'd had voice lessons and her enthusiasm for being on the stage was such that she was excellent as each of the three small characters she played.  I hope she sticks around as she grows up.

There is one more Christmas show to review, Santaland Diaries, by David Sedaris, which at least is being presented in December.  I've seen the show twice and the same actor is playing the same role (it's a one-character play), so I'm not looking forward to reviewing it because what can you say the third time around about the same play with the same actor?

I do enjoy beloved holiday classics (a term I picked up from a show called Every Christmas Story Ever Told, which manages to fit parts of every beloved holiday classic into a 2+ hour show, so I don't mind doing these reviews....I just wish they'd let me finish my Thanksgiving leftovers before hitting me over the head with Christmas.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Stealing


1. Would you prefer to be smart or happy, and why?
If I were smart, that would make me happy.

2. If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
Sigh.  This question again.  if I had a superpower, it would be the ability to erase this stupid question from every meme in existence.

3. What is your biggest regret in life so far?
I regret all the painful deaths.  I regret having no good memories of my father.  I regret being unable to "fix" my mother.  I regret all the friendships I lost for reasons I never knew.

4. If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be and why?
At this age, I'm not looking to marry any character, but if I were, say, in my 30s, of course I'd be tempted by Jamie Fraser ... and anybody who has read Diana Gabaldon's books will know why.

5. If money and career were no object, where in the world would you choose to live?
That would have to be if money and career were no object and you had no children or grandchildren.  Under those circumstances, I would love to live either in London, the South of France, or Ireland.  But I don't mind being anchored to someplace close to two of my children and my grandchildren.

6. What’s the last book you read that you simply could not put down until you finished?
The latest was "Home," by Harlan Coben, the new book in his Myron Bolitar series.  Not only have I missed Myron et al. terribly, but this was also not a disappointment, bringing them back after all these years.  I couldn't put it down and I hated finishing it because that meant it was over.

7. What television show do you plan your day around in order to see it live?
With a DVR you don't have to plan your day around any show, but we most often try to get home in time to see Jeopardy each night.

8. What extracurricular activities or sports did you participate in when you were in high school?
I was terrible at and hated sports, but I loved working on the yearbook (I was editor), the school newspaper, being in the school play and that sort of thing.

9. Of all your pet-peeves, which is the strangest?
I'll go with a literal "pet" peeve....my dog who will not stop jumping on me when i get home from...anywhere (even just from going outside to get something out of the car), and the dog who thinks that the only reason I ever get up out of a chair is to give her food.

10. Is it better to beg forgiveness or ask permission?
If you ask permission, you will never have to beg forgiveness.

11. If you inherited or won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
There is not a lot I want or need, so I would use it to do the most good in the world, starting with making sure my mother has adequate care for the year(s) she has left, helping our kids financially, and then spreading out to help improve the conditions of my sponsored children through Compassion, and to do what I can for causes like saving elephants and providing clean water to people without.

12. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I am very good at embarrassing myself, but the event that always comes to mind when I see this question is a time when I was in grammar school, got caught in a local park that had no toilet, peed in the bushes, and tore my pants open.  I had to walk home (about 4 city blocks) with my butt hanging out and was hailed from an upstairs window by a classmate I hated to begin with.  I still blush thinking about that....and that was more the 50 years ago!

13. Which fictional character do you believe is the most like yourself?
Mrs. Fezziwig

14. Are you superstitious? If so, what are you most superstitious about?
I'm not really superstitious, but I refused to even think that Hillary would win when all the polls were going in her direction.  Turns out I was right.  :(

15. Do you believe it is vital to everyday life to know what is happening in the world around you?
"Vital to everyday life" is such a big thing.  But I do believe in trying to find out what is going on, though I admit that since the election, being in a news vacuum sounds awfully nice.

16. What is the nicest thing anybody has said, or you believe they would say, about you?
That I'm a good daughter and being nice to my mother.

17. What are your life and career goals in 5, 10 and 15 years?
Well, in 15 years, I hope I'm dead! (I'll be 91 then and God help me if I end up like my mother, at 97!).  But I don't see any career goals in 5 or 10 years.  Not much chance for advancement when you are retired!

18. Would you rather live in a large house in the suburbs, or a tiny apartment in the city with an excellent view?
If I were living alone, I'd choose the apartment, in San Francisco, please, but only if the rent were paid for me.  I need very little space and in this large house, I tend to spread out.

19. What are you three weaknesses?
Peanut butter
Chocolate
Ice cream

20. How would you describe yourself in three words?
* Neanimorphic
* Grandiloquent
* Waggish

21. Which is more logical to follow—your heart or your head?
The more logical is to follow your head, which is why I usually follow my heart.

22. Are you spiritual or religious in any way? If so, how?
I gave up organized religion when the Catholic Chuch began protecting pedophile priests.  So I'm a "recovering Catholic."  I believe in a "something" out there, but not an old man in a long beard with a bird hovering over his head. 

23. If you could have any career possible, what would it be?
The one I have now:  retired, with the occasional show to review to keep my creative juices flowing.

24. Have you ever been arrested or contracted any diseases?
I have never been arrested, but heck, who has NOT contracted any disease?  Everything from the common cold to more serious illnesses.  (Fortunately, I have not had any truly serious illnesses)


25. Which is better—a novel or a movie?
I have had so many beloved novels ruined by the movie.  I continue to see movies made from books, but they are never, ever as good as the book.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday 9


Welcome to Saturday 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9
questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme! 

Saturday 9: Cabaret (1972)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Liza Minnelli encourages you to put down "the knitting, the book and the broom." Which of those three were you most recently doing: knitting, reading or housework?

Definitely reading.  You'd be hard pressed to find me doing the other two.

2) She sings that we shouldn't allow "some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away?" Do you know anyone who reliably looks at the downside of life?

I just came back from spending 5 hours with my mother, who has dementia.  She used to be such an upbeat person, but she very definitely looks at the downside of life these days.

3) In 1972, when this recording was popular, so was The Brady Bunch. In the two-part season premiere, The Bradys went to Hawaii. Do you have any warm weather vacation plans this fall/winter

Not really.  We have been invited to a wedding in Las Vegas in December, but I just found out how much it will cost for a wedding with no reception and I am re-thinking plans now, much as I have looked forward to this wedding for months.

4) Though not her uncle, just a friend to both of her parents, Liza always called  Frank Sinatra as "Uncle Frank." Is there an older person in your life who isn't a blood relative, but who refer to as "aunt" or "uncle?"

Not really.  We used to call Walt's old co-worker and good friend "Uncle Dave" for the kids, but we haven't seen him in years and the kids haven't seen them since they were adults, so I  think that moniker has gone by the wayside now.

5) Liza collapsed onstage during a Christmas concert in 2007. She says she'd been nauseous before she went on and simply fainted. Sam has never fainted. Have you

Only once.  The morning after Paul was born, I hemorrhaged and then, when the nurses took me to the bathroom, I fainted twice because I'd lost so much blood.  That's the only time

6) Liza told US Magazine that she loves to eat at Olive Garden. Do you?

My friend Kathleen and I ate at Olive Garden in Sacramento once a month for about 15 years, until she retired, then we switched restaurants to Cafe Italia Davis, because I'd been driving to Sacramento all those years and she figured it was her turn.  We always had the same thing at Olive Garden -- a bowl of soup and their salad, with bread sticks.  A cheap lunch! Now our monthly lunches are more expensive, but our choices more varied.
7) People are often surprised when they learn Liza is good friends with Gene Simmons -- the KISS member with the long tongue. Tell us about one of your good friends.
I mention Kathleen above.  I met her back in the 1970s, when we were both in La Leche League and both nursing our babies.  She ran a group in Sacramento and I ran a group in Davis and we worked together to plan a national conference.  As our kids got older we sort of drifted apart.  She went on to become a childbirth instructor and then head of a women's health department of a local hospital.  I didn't see her for a long time, but our paths intersected through PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  Once again, she lead a group in Sacramento and I led a group in Davis and we met again as we were preparing a mixed event, and we attended a few gay pride events together. She has a daughter who has given her two grandchildren; and a gay son, who is married to his husband and living in England -- the two men have weathered a lot of storms until it became legal for them to marry and they have been together for a long time.

I introduced her to my friend Steve Schalchlin, who came and performed at a Service of Remembrance for AIDS victims in Sacramento.

Some 20 years ago, we decided that we never saw enough of each other and we decided to start having lunch together once a month, a promise we have kept all these years.  We don't see each other, usually, during the rest of the month, though she has discovered The Lamplighters and we recently met her and a friend for lunch before a Lamplighters show.  We have supported each other through many personal and family crises and have spent a lot of time discussing politics.  In two weeks we will meet for our next lunch and post mortem on the election.  I expect it to be a depressing lunch!
 

8) She keeps apple juice and yogurt in her refrigerator at all times. Would we find either in your refrigerator right now?

Not right now.  I almost always have yogurt in the fridge, but I'm out at the moment.  I don't like apple juice, though, so unless I'm buying it for a recipe, I never have that.

9)  Random question: Which would be a more frustrating dinner companion -- someone who won't shut up, or someone who won't say a word?

I've eaten with both and I prefer someone who won't shut up.  I hate those awkward silences and I'm good at tuning out conversation I'm not interested in (besides, someone who won't shut up is more interested in what he is saying than he is what you are hearing)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Today at Logos 'n' Stuff

It was a pleasant surprise to see Sandy when I arrived.  This was supposed to be her "off" week, but now she'll have two weeks in a row when she is off.  We commiserated on Trump again, and additional things that we have realized about the upcoming administration.  But we will "push through," as a teacher on TV said this morning, because we have no other choice.

The first customer was a short, older man with white hair and beard and a big backpack.  He bought a copy of "Siddhartha" and asked about when he could bring books in for donation.  He was sad to hear we are not accepting books any more (though at the end of the day, Peter told me that he thinks they're going to start taking books again soon, so people will be happy to hear that).

Train guy came in with 5-10 minutes to browse, a long time for him.  But with all that time he didn't find anything that he wanted and said he "came up empty" this week.

A woman so nondescript I couldn't find anything to say about her bought 4 bargain books.
The next woman was more noticeable in her skin tight jeans, grey sweater and boots.  She had horn-rimmed glasses and a backpack, but even though she was more "noticeable" she didn't buy anything.

An older woman who has been in before came in with a young companion who was obviously there to help carry books.  She bought 2 biographies (one the biography of Lady Randolph Churchill) and a bargain book.  She was probably younger than my mother, but she reminded me of her, very determined to do all she could for herself, with her companion only there when she needed help.

A young woman with shoulder length very curly hair bought a book on the Japanese method of "Tidying up."  We laughed about the likelihood that either of us would actually do that.

The Antiquarian was in and out within 5 minutes (he's always in such a rush!) but was there long enough to buy a little book "The Life of Samuel Johnson."

A jock-type lumbered in wearing jeans, a white t-shirt and an unbuttoned red plaid shirt over it.  He walked in that bow-legged way cowboys do when they have just gotten off a horse.  Surprisingly, he searched cookbooks but didn't buy anything.

A middle aged man was looking for Outlander book for his wife.  He specifically wanted "Dragonfly in Amber" (book 2) but we have no Diana Gabaldon books at present.

A tall man was looking for a book by someone named "Graham," but couldn't remember anything else.  He wandered around for so long and was so interested in the tally sheet on which we record each sale that I had to wonder if maybe he was doing reconnaissance for Friends of the Public Library, which was going to vote last night on whether they wanted to take over the store or not.

A man with a DVR box under his arm started to walk past the store and then, kind of like an afterthought came in, looked around for awhile, but then left.  As he left, he confirmed that we would be closing at the end of January.

A woman came in with a cell phone held to her ear, walked around continuing to hold the phone to her ear, though she never spoke.  She had a shoulder bag over one shoulder and a cup of something in her hand.  She was very interested in the sci fi and fantasy section, but didn't buy anything.

The next guy was a study in black, from his skinny jeans and black boots to his curly black hair to his black rimmed glasses, to the black skateboard he held under his arm.  He bought a  book and I goofed up his change., shortchanging him by $5.

A short, swarthy man checked our history section for a long time.  He, too, was all dressed in black except for his bright red sneakers.  He ultimately bought two math books.

An older woman in a red Santa hat, trimmed in a leopard skin print, wearing hot pink sparkly sneakers. She brought in a huge armload of bargain books.  She noticed the elephant t-shirt I was wearing and said she would bring me an elephant charm she has at home.

Walt picked me up and we came home to watch Jeopardy. I started cooking some Indian chicken dish and was about 5 minutes from plating it when I had a call from Atria.  There was another crisis.  It was the same "where am I? who am I? what am I supposed to be doing?" angst, but a bad one again.
I tried to calm her down over the phone, but the aid didn't feel that she would go to sleep and that I should come.  I told Walt how to do the last few minutes of cooking his dinner and I went off to Atria.

When I went in, she was sitting in a chair, clutching her purse and with the most terrified look on her face.  She didn't know who I was.  I told the aid I would get her into bed and let her go.

I took my mother to the couch and held onto her and just kept talking.  Over the next hour, I did get her somewhat calmed down, though she was terrified that I was going to leave her alone all night.  What would she do if she woke up in the middle of the night and I wasn't there?

We talked about that over and over and over again and I did finally manage to get her into her bedroom and into pajamas (with PANTS!).  I was going to show her the help button, but of course I can't find it, but it doesn't really matter because she wouldn't remember anyway, specially not in the dark.

I promised I'd be there early in the morning, so I'm going over at 9, which may be 3 hours before she wakes up, but at least I'll be there if she's terrified when she wakes up.  At least I always have a book to read while waiting for her to come to.

I'm also going to see if I can tour the memory unit to see whether this might be a better option for her now that these anxiety attacks seem to be coming more often.

Ned, who spent 2 hours with her yesterday, and who has never been one to play the politically correct game, says that the best thing for her would be to die.  "It's time for Grandma to die," he tells me.  It's the sort of thing I probably would never say but he's really right.  She's not happy.  She is afraid every waking moment and is living her own personal Hell.  All I can think of is how much peace she would have if she could just go to sleep and not wake up (I can't even say "she should die.")

But for now it's another day, another adventure at the Home.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Oh Poop


Here is an on line quiz that actually does some good.

It's made by UNICEF and at the completion if you enter your e-mail address, it will donate 50 cents to the fund that helps bring clean sanitation facilities to children worldwide.  And in the process you will learn fun facts about pooping and shocking facts about how many people worldwide have no access to toileting facilities and what UNICEF is doing about it.

It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the test and heck, if you are reluctant to give out your e-mail address for fear it will add you to UNICEF's mailing list, create a dummy account.

And yeah, with all the scam we see on the internet, maybe the 50 cents it donates to UNICEF is as real as the millions you'll get from that Nigerian prince and his very large family, but I'd like to think that maybe it actually does add funds to the cause.

I became interested in the issue of worldwide sanitation when I saw an occasional stomach turning TV special about bathrooms worldwide.  I wish I could remember the name of it.  But I love how writing this journal sometimes teaches me so much.

In googling around trying to find the name of the video, I discovered that this very weekend, November 19, is "World Toilet Day," a day devoted to educating ourselves about this worldwide problem.

"The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030. This makes sanitation a global development priority."

There are some 2.4 billion people worldwide -- one-third of the population -- who have no clean toileting facilities, which causes massive health issues worldwide.

There are two specific things I remember from that video that affected me so profoundly.  One was people bathing in the Ganges, the sacred river in India, which is also the most polluted river in the world.

The other scene was the narrator of the program getting out of a ship and walking through a huge field of feces.  I don't know where it was, or even which country it was in (but perhaps it could be more than one country), where people just go out into the field and poop.  It was like walking through a whole field of mud. The stench was so overpowering that the narrator had a difficult time not vomiting just trying to make his way through the field.

It's not a subject we like to think about, here in our protected environment with our 2-1/2+ bath houses, but it is a growing problem.

It is a problem that affects women more strongly than it does men.  Women in the marketplaces in West and Central Africa voiced their concerns about the lack of sanitation facilities and the negative impact on their productivity, in particular during menstruation. Public toilets, even if available, are often unsanitary and poorly maintained. Without access to toilets, women and girls develop coping strategies: they eat and drink less, and have to defecate in the open, hiding wherever they can. They also stop working during menstruation. Women and girls may delay urination and defecation but it is not possible to stop menstrual flow. The lack of facilities also exacerbates anxiety and stress during menstruation and increases their vulnerability.  Women fear violence by men in public toilets and "open defecation sites."  (Think about that phrase when you next use the toilet and think of the people using "open defecation sites.")
Around a quarter of all workplaces did not have toilets in Cambodia, and around 14 percent of workplaces had inadequate toilets in the Philippines. In Vietnam, around 3 percent of health stations and 74 percent of marketplaces had no toilets. Assuming women employees were absent for one day a month due to a lack of WASH facilities during their menstrual period, the study estimates more than 15 million workday absences in the Philippines and Vietnam combined and corresponding economic losses of millions of dollars.

These kids are lucky.  They don't have to walk miles to get water, though their drinking and cooking water comes from the same place that they may use for toileting.

It is a huge problem and I really encourage people to do some reading about it.  To tell the truth, when I started to write this entry today, I had a completely different (somewhat lame) topic in mind, but when the quiz popped up (Freudian slip.  I originally typed "pooped up" !!) and I saw that it was serendipity that I was finding out about all this just two days before World Toilet Day, I knew I had to address it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Crisp Sheets


Lizzie and I share a bed.  I don't mean she sleeps with me, I mean we literally share the bed.  She has it during the day and I get it at night (for those familiar with W.S. .Gilbert shows, we are the Cox and Box of Davis, without pork chops)..  I know that for 99.9% reading here this does not sound like a pleasant thing, but I kind of like it.  When I crawl onto the couch at night, Lizzie, who has been sleeping there, quietly gets down and goes to make another bed in a chair.

I get my pillow and put it on the couch (there are limits...I don't share my pillow) and crawl under a warm blanket that smells faintly of dog.  As I lay there last night, I thought about how weird most people would think it is, but how comfortable I was.  My pillow is wonderful.  My blanket is soft and warm and best of all, my back is nestled comfortably against the back of the couch and I know that I probably will not wake up with stabbing pains in my back.

But as I lay there, I remembered how nice it was to be sick when I was a kid.  My mother was a great nurse for a sick kid.  If I had a cold, there would be a paper bag pinned to the side of the bed where I could toss used tissues.  If it was a stomach thing, there was a bucket on the floor in case I couldn't make it to the bathroom on time.  We had no TV then, so she would go to the library and pick up a pile of books for me to read.  Often they included some of her childhood favorites (I still feel guilt that I couldn't get into Kipling's "Kim," which she told me was her favorite book, growing up).  I remember the cool hand on my fevered brow and sometimes she would bring me warm milk with melted butter floating on the top, to soothe a cough (I now know that was probably one of the worst things to do, and I didn't really like it but it was love in a warm glass and I remember it fondly).  

But the thing I remember most was the crisp sheets.  Whenever I got out of bed, she would remake it, smoothing the sheets and making them feel fresh again with those tight military corners.  Often there were clean sheets smelling faintly of bleach and feeling cool and smooth under my skin, which was partcularly nice when I had a fever.

(I never heard of thread count until our cousins days, when we had to stop at a Bed, Bath and Beyond en route to my mother's house one time because Kathy had forgotten her pillow and she could not sleep on pillowcases lower than 300 thread count, so I never learned to appreciate bedding other than the normal stuff.)

I only remember feeling that comfy in a strange bed once before.  Since I scrunch on couches or chairs when we sleep in hotels because the bed just doesn't work for my back, I can't speak about most hotels.  For all I know they may have the same feel, but the only one I still remember fondly (and would move back to today) was a B&B we stayed in in Boston while trying to hide from Jeri before surprising her on her 40th birthday.  I can't remember a bed ever that was that comfortable.  It also came with free wifi, gourmet breakfasts, and a beautiful golden retriever who woud put his head in your lap as you ate.

Of course that was 10 years ago and for all I know, it is no longer in business (and if it is, given how wonderful it was, I'm sure it is out of our price range!)

I don't think about bedding any more, and Lizzie is very gracious sharing her bed with me, but occasionally, I would love to have crisp sheets to crawl between...and maybe a cool hand on my forehead to check for fever.

Fun with Fours
From my cousin, Donna Niehoff
I just like doing these, no reason at all
Fun with Fours
To Lighten the Load!! Take a moment.
Four names I go by:
1. Beverly
2. Bev,
3. Mom
4. Mrs. Beverly
Four places I've lived:
1. San Francisco, CA
2. Berkeley, CA
3. Oakland, Ca
4. Davis, CA
Four things I love to watch on TV:
1. NCIS
2. The Blacklist
3. most medical shows
4. Outlander (when it returns)
Four countries I have visited:
1. China
2. Turkey
3. Australia
4. Estonia
Four states I have visited:
1. Washington
2. Iowa
3. New York
4. Oklahoma
Four things I love to eat:
1. crab
2. chocolate
3. leg of lamb
4. turkey dressing
(not all together, I should mention!)
Four favorite drinks:
1. Water
2. orange juice
3. coffee
4. gin and tonic