Sunday, March 31, 2013

Do I Laugh or Do I Cry?

That was what Maryanne wrote this morning when she reported the sad news of the passing of Dana Rae Pomeroy.  Dana Rae, a strong-willed woman, had gone out on her own terms, not content to let the doctors remove her from life support.  Instead she woke up from her coma and was able to say her goodbyes.

On March 25...just days ago, Maryanne posted this:
A mere two weeks ago DanaRae was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. They found a mass in her right lung. She did not want anyone to start worrying until we had more information. I mean we knew it was not good, but just HOW not good was still open to question until further tests were done.
By the time Maryanne let us all know, DR (we usually called her DR) was in  ICU, her right lung completely blocked, lots of fluid in her left lung and her BP 60/40.  The doctors put her in an induced coma and when it was clear that it was close to the end, they were going to remove her from life support yesterday, but, as I said, she woke up and was able to give orders.  She had the chance to say goodbye to her husband and this morning she finally passed at 6:25 a.m., Eastern time.

DanaRae was part of our CompuServe group, and is the fourth person in the group to die, the third within the last four months.  The rest of you have been put on notice:  NO MORE DEATHS FOR A LONG TIME NOW!!!

DanaRae was also my very first internet friend.  I had a modem and didn't know what I wanted to do with it.  I also had free software for CompuServe, so I joined but was terrified of racking up huge bills by spending time on forums (where all the fun was) which cost money.  But there was a practice forum, where you could learn how CompuServe worked, ask questions of more experiened members and try your hand at posting messages (my lord does that seem like a lifetie was.   It was 1995). 
DR and I ended up in the Practice Forum at the same time and a friendship developed, as we exchanged messages on the board, and started writing to each other in e-mail.  We were both writers, but she was a more professional writer than I was.  She had written a marvelous book called "When Someone You Love Has Cancer."  It has always been a conundrum to me why this book did not start selling like hotcakes and why I didn't see it everywhere in the self help section of book stores.  In fact, I never did see it in a book store.

The book tells the step by step details of the death of her first husband, Walter F. Sinner, also from lung cancer.  The book deals with emotions, practicality, and all sorts of medical issues.  Josefina B. Magno, MD, president of the International Hospice Association said, This book is real life.  It depicts the pain, the fear, the worries, the anger, the guilt, the grief, the confusion and every human emotion that accompanies a cancer diagnosis...An important source of help for both patients and families...

It is ironic that DR died of the same disease that took her husband, the disease with which she was so famliar, and wrote about so eloquently.  (It also makes me wonder why she continued to smoke!)

DR and I both eventually got enough confidence (and figured out how to make it affordable) to join the Issues Forum, where we were both active in Women's Issues and started the group that is still close today.  It's another of those happy things that I wrote about yesterday.

In addition to being a writer, Dana Rae was also a neat freak.   She and I had many e-mail discussions about my cluttered house and she swore she could help me become a neat person.  She started with all the clutter on tables and other flat surfaces.  She assured me she wasn't so much a neat person, but she was a person who knew about containers.  She told me that I could buy some pretty containers and store all of that clutter out of sight in containers.

I went to CostPlus and brought home lots of pretty straw baskets, and colorful plastic containers.  I sorted through all of my stuff and got it all put away in those containers.  For about an hour, my house looked clean and neat and organized.  Then those containers became new flat surfaces to put other clutter.   I still have one container that I bought at that time which is filled with much of my detritis that I have not looked at since I filled it, but it has lots of stuff piled on top of it.

I think DR finally realized I was a lost cause.

DR and Pat Peck (who died in October last year) were active participants in the blog written by Bill Dahn (who died earlier this month).  After most of Bill's entries, he invited his readers to comment on anything they wanted.   Dana Rae, who went as "Lady DR" was prolific.  She, like Bill, was dealing with an ailing mother and her very last comment in his last entry was about her:
More prayers for Mom, please. She's back in hospital, no one can tag what's wrong and three docs are in disagreement. Deb has made it very clear than when a decision is made and treatment completed, Mom will go directly home, not to a rehab facility. No idea how that impacts treatment or discharge. I figure Deb has to feel like a yo-yo on an elastic string, at this point, and she's dealing with it alone at this point.
She later added her sentiments after reading that Bill had died:
I'm still trying to absorb the idea of Bill being gone. I've known him over twenty years, met him in Boulder. He's such a caring man and has been so supportive of many. The help and encouragement he offered those of us dealing with elderly parents meant so much. The personal help and encouragement he offered me will never be forgotten. My heart goes out to you and your family and to your mom. Peace, prayers and love
Now Bill and DR (and Pat too) are together again, and their mothers are left without their help, love and support.  It doesn't seem fair.
At the end of her book, DR offered hope for grieving loved ones:
Believe it or not, one day the sun will look a little brighter, you'll discover a higher level of energy and you will sincerely smile at someone or something. You'll find a rekindling of old insterests or discover a new interest that sincerely intrigues you, You'll want to go to a social event instead of forcing yourself to go.  And you will always be aware of life's priorities and the importance of taking risks and enjoying every day, every event, every experience.   This advantage is reserved for those of us who have been there.
In her life, Dana Rae Pomeroy lived those words.  She remarried, loved her husband and her dogs passionately.  She enjoyed every day, every event, every experience.  I would love to know how she felt when she passed over and started a whole new bunch of experiences to savor.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Joyful Pictures

Today I had planned to write another obituary for a friend who is terminal, was in a coma, and who was scheduled to be taken off life support today.   But when her husband got to the hospital for that sad event, he found her awake.   This doesn't mean that her diagnosis has changed, but it does mean that this strong-willed woman has decided to go out on her own terms.  She has been moved to the hospice wing of the hospital and the obituary will be written eventually, but not today.

While her impending death is a sad thing to contemplate, her waking is a joyful event. 
Recently, my friend Mary wrote an entry about things that make her happy and since I'm feeling happy about my friends temporary reprieve from the jaws of death, I have been concentrating on feeling happy today.

It's funny how your brain stores such clear pictures of various events in your life.  I flip through the mental scrapbook labeled "Happy Memories" and I come up with an assortment of pictures throughout my life:

- The sight of newborn Jeri plopped onto my abdomen right after birth.  I wrote "she was a lovely shade of blue," and she pinked up real quick.  Each time I gave birth, that first sight of the new baby was wonderful, but Jeri was first and it was special.

- The memory of Tom, about 2-3 years old, dressed in a brown tweed play suit, blonde hair flying, dirty football under his arm, charging through the front door, throwing himself into my lap and saying he needed to nurse.  A couple of "swigs" and he put the football back under his arm again and ran out to join his friends.

- Me sitting on the lawn in front of our house, watching toddler David running up the hill, arms outstretched, and throwing himself into my lap for a hug.

- Seeing Ned going off the 5 meter platform for the first time, landing with a splat on the water, knowing how much it must have hurt and watching him swim the length of the pool to shake off the pain, climb back up and do it again...perfectly the next time.

- Watching Paul in a stage dive at UCD's Whole Earth Festival...and later, watching Walt amaze everyone (except Tom and his friend, who planned it) do a stage dive off the stage at the Davis Art Center during the concert that was dedicated to Dave's memory.

- Standing in the "lower lobby" of the Lamplighters theater watching soprano June Wilkins cutting one of the three sheetcakes I had made for her.   The Lamplighters were not doing anything to acknowledge her retirement and I talked them into making it a big deal.  June never knew, nor did most other people, that I had made the cakes, but it's still one of my favorite big smile moments.

- Sitting in Gilbert Russak's apartment, watching him sitting, cross-legged on the floor, "conducting" the recorded orchestra while painting a mental image for me of Humperdink's "Hansel and Gretel."

- Watching Walt walk onto the stage for his 50th Birthday party, surrounded by 100 or so of his best friends, the culmination of a year of planning.

- Watching Paul hit the high note in "The Kite" during the production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown that the kids had produced, directed and designed themselves.

- The look on my mother's face at her wedding to her husband Fred.

- Visiting Caversham Park in Western Australia, walking around the kangaroo enclosure, and feeding the roos.

- Sitting in a tree with Peach in my childhood, on our grandparents' property in Inverness, both of us eating apples and baring our souls to each other

- Watching my mother sitting at a table with a bowl in her lap, peeling and slicing apples for a pie.

- Seeing Steve in The Last Session for the first time, in Colorado.

- Listening to the music of Paragon Park which Jeri had arranged, and then meeting the writer and composer of the show. 

- Any of our pumpkin pie escapades

- Traveling with Peggy to Monkey Mia in Western Australia to watch the dolphins cavorting at our feet while we stood in the Indian Ocean.

- All of Ned's videos, especially his birthday videos for Brianna (how's the latest one coming, Ned?)'

It is nice to look back over 70 years and have so many easily remembered high points that make me smile and give me such great joy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Creepy Bosses

A comment on a discussion board for the "over 50" set on Swap Bot got me reminiscing about an old boss I once had.  One of a few creepy bosses I've had in my life.

This guy had about five female employees, a big office with a library (which he pronounced "liberry"), and I went to work part time in the early days of my transcription enterprises, never realizing that this would be my lifelong work.

This guy was a work-a-holic, working night, day, and weekends.   Though it would seem that things would be casual in such a small office, he wanted zero personal interaction among the employees.  He was willing to pay to avoid it.

People would go on vacation and when they returned, he would treat the entire office to lunch at a restaurant to welcome the vacationer back to work.   That would seem like a nice thing to do, but he figured that we could talk about the vacation over lunch and it would never have to be mentioned in the office setting.

It would make sense if this was a busy office, with clients coming in and out all the time, but I honestly can't remember a single client who came to visit us.   I'm sure one did, but it was so infrequent that it was not an issue.  He had the type of job where he frequently met with clients in settings other than his office.

And though devoted to his wife, he was also apparently a bit of a letch.  Instead of giving us bonuses, he would, from time to time, send us out to buy new clothes, which we had to then wear into the office and model for him in the "liberry" behind closed doors.  I never had any problem with him, but I heard reports that there were women who got chased around the liberry.  In those days, sexual harassment was not the big deal that it is now and I don't think anybody ever reported him to anybody.

I didn't work full time, but worked on call and I would be called in on weekends.  I hated working long hours on a Sunday but it never occurred to me to say no.  I was working one Sunday morning when he was ranting and raving around the office.  It was just the two of us there and he was furious because his new grandson was being baptised that day and he had to leave the office and go  to the damn baptism.

I listened to this for awhile and I finally blew up at him.  I told him that work would always be there, but this was the ONLY chance he would ever have to be part of his first grandson's baptismal ceremony.  I don't remember what else I said, but I remember yelling..."You GO to that baptism...and YOU SMILE!"   

To my great surprise, he did.

I also clearly remember when I quit the job.  I decided I just couldn't take him and his foibles any more and I gave him my notice.  It was 1986.   I remember that so clearly because I remember how I felt walking out of that office into the beautiful clear spring day, feeling like a 100 pounds had just been lifted from my shoulders and feeling that all was right in my world.

I know it was 1986 because it was just a few weeks later that my friend Gilbert died and it all came crashing down.

This wasn't my last experience with the creepy boss, though.  I don't know how much later it was--it might even have been a couple of years.  Out of the blue I got a call from him asking if he could work one more day for him.  I said I could and he asked me to come to his house to get my instructions, which I thought was pretty weird.

Well, it turned out that he had a meeting to go to and was going to be out of the office all morning and what he wanted me to do was to go into the office and do some work, but I was really there to make sure that nobody talked while he was gone.   I was supposed to report back to him on anybody who talked about anything except business while he was gone.

I was flabbergasted and told him that it was demening and disrespectful to his employees and I refused to do it.  I don't know if he got anybody elsse willing to be his stooge or not.
I haven't heard from him since that day, though this is a small town and I used to see him all over the place.  I'm not sad about that.

He was definitely an experience, but one I'm glad I didn't have to have for long.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

5000 Questions, Part 3

I think this brings me up to date with SundayStealing.  I'll now wait until they post the next part.

51. Make up a definition for the following silly words...
Fruitgoogle:  Fruitloops updated for the Internet age
Ambytime: Like Miller Time, but with sleep meds
Asscactus: Anybody who has ever had hemorrhoids understands this!

52. What was the last thing you made with your own hands?
Asiago Cheese Bread.  Yummm.

53. What was your favorite toy as a child?
Probably my storybook dolls, though I was only allowed to look at them, because they were decoration for our bedroom.

54. How many TV’s are in your house?
I'm embarrassed to say five, though two don't work

55. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Pick up the mail and go back inside.

56. How do you feel when you see a rainbow?
Like bursting into song.

57. Have you ever dreamt a dream that came true?
No.  I don't dream often and they are rarely reality-based

58. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?
Not been to one, though my friend DanaRae did a tarot reading for me that was eerily accurate.

59. What is your idea of paradise?
Seeing all of my dead family and friends again.

60. Do you believe in god and if so what is he/she/it like?
I'm not sure what I believe.  I believe in something/one larger than ourselves, but I don't envision the old man sitting on a throne.

61. Do you believe in Hell?
Of course -- often here on earth!

62. What one thing have you done that most people haven't?
Ridden a camel in the rain in Australia.

63. What is the kindest thing you have ever done?
Baked cakes for the "retirement" of Lamplighters contralto, June Wilkins.   Still my very favorite moment ever -- and she didn't have a clue who made the cakes.

64. Have you gone to WTIT's facebook page and hit "like" yet? If not, why not? (No pressure.)
I had no idea what this was, so did go to the Facebook page and see that it is nothing I would be interested in.

65. What holiday should exist but doesn't?
Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.

66. What holiday shouldn't exist but does?
Children's Day

67. What's the best joke you ever heard?
There was an Indian Chief, and he had three squaws, and kept them in three teepees. When he would come home late from hunting, he would not know which teepee contained which squaw, being dark and all. He went
hunting one day, and killed a hippopotamus, a bear, and a buffalo. He put the a hide from each animal into a different teepee, so that when he came home late, he could feel inside the teepee and he would know
which squaw was inside.
Well after about a year, all three squaws had children. The squaw on the bear had a baby boy, the squaw on the buffalo hide had a baby girl. But the squaw on the hippopotamus had a girl and a boy. So what is
the moral of the story?
The squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the other two hides.

68. Where is the most fun place you have EVER been?
Ever?  Wow...that's a toughie.  NOT Disneyland. Maybe Universal Studios. Maybe Lagoon Lake in Western Australia.

69. Is your hair natural or dyed?
My natural color is a lovely auburn, but I work hard to die it salt and pepper so I look older than I really am.

70. Do you have any deep dark secrets or are you pretty much up front?
Sure...isn't it more fun to be a person of mystery?  That's what Cousins Day was all about!

71. What is under your bed right now?
Since I don't sleep in a bed, nothing.

72. If you were in the Land of Oz would you want to live there or go home?
Depends.  Is this before or after both Wicked Witches were killed?

73. If you drive do you frequently speed?
Not any more.  I've never had a speeding ticket, though I was given a warning twice.  Nowadays, I am that little old lady creeping along below the speed limit in the right lane, the kind of driver my father hated.

74. What is the world's best song to dance to?
I don't have a clue

75. What song was on the last time you danced with someone?
I think the last time I danced was at Tom's wedding in 2003.  I don't have a clue what the music was.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Last Cousins Day

Yes, you read that right.  I have just come from the last cousins day.  Of course, I didn't know it would be the last one when we planned it.   Bob had his stroke in November and our previous cousins day had been a month or more before that, so it was so wonderful being back around my mother's table again.

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When this picture was taken, my mother didn't know what Peach and I already knew.  I had only found out an hour or so before.

My day started at 8:30, leaving to get Peach.  She lives 35 miles from our house (I clocked it) but she isn't a freeway person.  Before Kathy died, she did the driving.  The two of them picked me up and we left our car here for Walt.  After Kathy died, Bob would drive Peach to our house and I would take over from there, then he would meet us here when we got home and drive her home.  With Bob no longer able to drive, Peach could not get herself here, so I drove from here to her house, picked her up, then doubled back, past Davis again and on to my mother's

On the drive we caught up on all the news.  And she had a stunner for me.  The doctor says that Bob has progressed so well that he will be able to leave the care facility on May 15 and the doctor felt he would do better in a home setting than in the facility.  But that wasn't the stunner.  Right now their son lives here and has been a big help to her, but their two daughters live in Iowa and Peach has decided that she and Bob will move to Iowa on May 16.  She is flying there next week to pick out a house, which her son and his wife will buy and she will rent from them.   She feels that right now there is nobody that can give her the kind of emotional support she needs now and will definitely need after Bob comes home.  She is moving to a town of 2,000 people, which just got its first ATM machine this year.  Her daughters and their husband are there (and daughters are -- I'm sorry, Ned and Tom -- a much closer support for a mother than a son is). She already knows several other people in the town from their past visits there.  There is an active senior center and a place where Bob, a Navy man, can meet with other retired military men and talk about the old days.  (He already thinks he is living in "the barracks" and goes to "the mess" for meals).

My immediate  reaction  was very selfish.   "You're leaving me???"  It took us a long time to become this close and she is the nearest person who is the closest person to me and I started to tear up just thinking about her moving.  But as we talked and as she told me all the good points about all of this, it just seemed like all the pieces of a large puzzle were falling into place beautifully and I agreed that she must do this.  It will be wonderful for her and especially wonderful for Bob.

She said she didn't want to tell my mother until this morning, so we didn't say anything about it.  We just settled in to play 65, pleased that my mother remembered as much of how to play the game as she did.

At 4, Peach decided to mix the drinks she had brought.  I put hors d'oeuvres in the oven and she started mixing.

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Most of the drinks that we make for Cousins Day are mixtures of liquors and juice or cream or something to cut the alcohol.  This was straight vodka mixed with straight melon liquor and the combinatin was lethal.

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But it was very pretty looking...

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...and it tasted, as my mother said, "like more."  In fact, my mother was getting downright frisky, munching on a spinach dip profiterole.

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she posed for this picture!

We were giggling a lot and talking about bad words and why they are bad words and other topics that we don't rarely discuss when we are together.

Peach made refills and then more refills.  I somehow managed to get dinner on the table, but I was beginning to realize that I was feeing my martinis.   In fact, I couldn't even eat my dinner.  Peach and my mother were engaged in the kinds of deep philosophical discussions about Iowa and Springfield Place that you have when you are in your cups.  Unbeknownst to them, I was in the kitchen quietly retching into the sink.  I stopped drinking then, with my 4th martini untouched, but the other two finished off theirs.  I can't remember when in the last thirty years I have ever been that drunk...and I think maybe only once or twice before in my life.

My mother moved from the dining room table to the living room and a proof of exactly how drunk I was was that she looked like hell and I did not take her picture.  I don't think I could have focused.  I did, however, stagger across the room and instantly pass out on the couch.  It would have been fun to have had a sober person take our picture, 3 old bags, each passed out on a different chair or couch.

That was around 7:30.  At 10 p.m., I was wide awake, feeling sober, in a dark room.  My mother was gone.  I hoped we hadn't killed her.   Peach was sitting up on her couch and waved at me.  Then she came over and sat with me and we had maybe the best conversation we have ever had, professing our love for each other (OK, maybe I wasn't as sober as I felt) and recalling all the special moments in our lives, all the way back to my visiting her when she was in boarding school in San Francisco when she was probably 8 or so.  We talked about the move and how important it was and how we could still Skype and how I wanted to fly to Iowa and visit them after they are settled.

We noticed the condition of the room.  The window curtains were open (my mother NEVER leaves them open), the kitchen and the table were disasters, with dirty dishes, boxes, and empty bottles everywhere (yes, we finished BOTH bottles of liquors).

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I did the unforgivable -- I cleaned up the kitchen and actually loaded her dishwasher.  Then Peach and I decided it was tie to go to bed.  I managed to sleep until 3 a.m., but have been awake since then.  I lay there listening to my book, waiting for the other two to wake up.

When I saw the light go on in my mother's room, I was happy that (a) we had not killed her, and (b) that she didn't wake up yelling about how bad she felt.   I went in to sit with her and she was laughing a lot.  She had gone to bed in her clothes and said she had never slept in her clothes before
All things considered, she felt that the previous night had been great fun.  She does come from a long line of alcoholics and we felt that we had done them all proud.

We had two more games of 65 and a very light breakfast and then Peach and I packed up to come home.  I took the lamp with me, finally, and a couple of bowls that I think Tom can use.  I want to give my mother the sense that this is really happening.  She told Peach this morning that she knows it is going to happen and she's ready (that was right after she told me she wasn't going anywhere and was going to stay there.  Sigh!)

And then it was over.  Cousins Day has definitely gone out with a bang, not a whimper.  Peach will come back once more between her trip to Iowa and her moving there, so we can take her and show here where (I think) my mother will be moving and then...that's all she wrote, folks.

How incredibly fortunate we have been to have had this special thing in our lives for so long, but it is definitely time to turn the page to a new chapter for both Peach & Bob and my mother.

And I'm not going to drink anything stronger than water for a very. long. time!!!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Changeling

How many times in the past two years have I looked at Polly's little head and wondered what is going on in there.  She is rarely relaxed.  She never gives that cute little doggie smile that you see in commercials and YouTube videos. She is the most vigilant dog I have ever seen.  She can go from what appears to be sound asleep to full attack mode, if Lizzie looks at her wrong, in a fraction of a second.

What happened to this little girl in her first year and a half to leave her like this? To make her so afraid of everything, even after 2+ years in this home where she has no threats whatsoever.

Lately things have been changing between us.  Once again, who knows what goes on in that little head.  She seems to be starting to prefer Walt to me, at least during the daytime and evening.  She is so excited when she sees him and she often sits in his lap rather than mine at night when we are watching TV.   But then something will spook her and she'll run over to my chair.

For the first year we had her, she would instantly leap into the chair with me..  Now she sits and whines and whines until I "invite" her up (that was all her idea, not mine!).  But instead of one big leap into the chair, she may try 5, 10 or even 20 times before that leap that does it.  She doesn't seem to be in pain or have any stiffness and when she does leap, it is effortless, but it's as if she's afraid something is going to hurt her if she does and she has to screw up her courage to make the full commitment to the leap.

Her favorite place also used to be curled into a ball under my armpit.  Now she doesn't seem comfortable there and often will curl up on the footrest instead, on the chair, but not with me as was so important to her for so long.

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(and then, of course, just because I mentioned this change in habit to Walt, she decided to sleep next to me again!)

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She still starts the night out by sleeping on my side while I am in sleeping position, but more often than not, now, she jumps down after 5-10 minutes and goes to sleep in a chair instead.  I am starting to feel rejected!

I would love for her to be a normal little dog, but I guess I have to accept that she never is going to be and just enjoy her for the odd creature that she is.

Tomorrow is Cousins Day, after more than six months.  Bob is finally "settled" enough in the rest home that Peach feels she can take a day off, and desperately needs it.  I am bringing dinner and tried to figure out the best way to make it easier on my mother -- just cooking dinner so she doesn't have to isn't enough any more.  You can't leave leftovers, and I feel guilty using too many pots and utensils because she won't let anybody clean up for her and I hate watching her struggle through her back pain trying to clean up my mess. 

So I finally decided on Trader Joe's frozen quiches (which I like very much).  Each is the right size for one person, they just go in the oven on a cookie sheet, which doesn't need to be washed because they don't dirty it, so clean up will be very easy.  To go with it, I got an all-in-one packaged spinach salad which again, will only dirty one bowl to mix it all in.  I think this meal may be a doesn't give me the chance to show off with some fancy dish I've created, but I will feel much better about it after the meal is over!

But anyway, tomorrow's entry will be posted late, after we return from Cousins Day (and it will be later than usual because I have to drive to the far side of Sacramento to take Peach home because she doesn't do freeways.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Height of Rudeness

The older we get, the less patience we have with young people, the more appalled we are with their behavior.  You see a kid, as I did tonight, with an earring like a big button which fits IN the hole in his ear, much like a Ubangi warrior would stretch his lips out to unnatural size (I learned this from Bozo the Clown records when I was a kid!) and a bunch of piercings all over his face and you think "that kid will never be a bank president."
But I am here to tell ya that stereotypes are never a good thing and that bad behavior is not limited to those of the younger set.

This afternoon we went to San Francisco for a Lamplighters production of The Sorcerer.  It's not my favorite Gilbert & Sullivan by a long shot, but we always go to the Lamplighters anyway and this was a fun production.  It was held at the Herbst Theater, next door neighbor to San Francisco's opera house, and a lovely little city-owned ~1000 seat theater.

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But I was shocked at the behavior of some of the white haired patrons in the theater.  First there was the woman who took her phone out right as the lights went down, in spite of all the cautions against photographing or recording the production and proceeded to take a number of photos.

Then there were the two very large white-haired gentlemen who entered the balcony on the far side after the lights went down and the show had started and stumbled their way across the whole balcony, talking in a normal tone of voice all the way, blocked everyone's view while they climbed over the row to get to their seats and then proceeded to get a very bright flashlight out so they could read their program.

But the topper was this guy who, at the intermission, pulled a big shiny apple out of a paper bag and sat there eating it, sharing it with his wife, despite all the signs saying no food allowed in the theater.  No wonder kids don't know how to behave in public any more!

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When we left the theater we drove over to Fisherman's Wharf to redeem our long-awaited Groupon for Capurro's restaurant.  This was to the restaurant we were going to go to the last time we went to a Lamplighters show and got stuck in the parking garage for two hours.

It was worth the wait!

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Yes, even more crab.   This was roasted in wine and delicious.  I may have reached my crab saturation for this season, though!

Now to try to figure out what to make for dinner for Cousins Day tomorrow.  Peach has decided she needs a day off from Bob-care, and her son will be taking her place with his father. We will spend 2 days with my mother and I am trying to figure out a dinner that (a) will leave no leftovers (she gets angry if a crumb of leftovers is left), and (b) will take a minimum of pots and pans to prepare so that she has little clean up afterwards, since she refuses to let anybody load so much as a plate into her dishwasher, but moans as she cleans up because her back hurts so much.

Cousins Day used to be easier...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Century Is This Anyway?

I am caught in a time warp.  I'm having a difficult time figuring out what century I am living in.  This is a personal reflection, by the way, and has nothing to do with any current political policies or decisions!

I've mentioned several times that when I drive, here in the 21st Century, I listen to the Diana Gabaldon "Outlander" series of books.  This is a series of (so far) seven books which are, at the very, very minimum time travel books (but so much more!).  In 1945, Claire Randall is traveling with her husband Frank in Scotland.  While investigating the standing stones at Craigh na Dun (which is actually a fictional stone circle, though I can picture it well since we saw stone circles when we visited Scotland)

Craigh.jpg (9693 bytes)

Unbeknownst to Claire, this circle is a time portal and at certain times of the year, if you go near the stones, you may be transported back in time.  In Claire's case, she finds herself in Scotland of 1743.  To make things VERY concise, she ends up married (not a choice for either of them) to a Scott warrior, James Frasier.   The two eventually fall madly, passionately in love in a time heading up to war in Scotand.  With a knowledge of history, Claire is able to let Jaimie know what is coming, especially the slaughter that will take place at Culloden, the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rebellion.

When they discover Claire is pregnant, Jamie insists she go back to her own time to save herself and the life of their child.  Claire leaves him behind, knowing she will never see him again (this is only Book 1, so we know that's not true!).   Husband Frank takes her back and when her daughter is born, he raises Brianna as his own child.

After Frank's death, Claire takes Brianna to Scotland and tells her of her real history.  When they find a grave for Jamie and see the date of his death, Claire realizes he lived through the bloody battle of Culloden and decides to go back through the stones to see if she can find him.   Since we have to get through 7 more books, of course she does and in one of the subsequent books, Brianna goes after her, followed a bit later by Roger Wakefield, who is in love with Brianna and who knows the whole story.

Miraculously they all find each other and through many adventures they find themselves in "the colonies" (North Carolina eventually) in the time leading up to the Revolutionary War, so that war plays a big role in the saga.  Bri and Roger have two children, but the youngest has a heart problem which can be easily cured in the 20th century, but not in the 18th, so they decide to return through the stones again, while Claire remains in the 1700s with Jaimie.

I have 3 hours left of book 7 and book 8 won't be released until Fall of 2013 (and who knows when the audio book will come out...I must have the audio book because I'm in love with the voice of narrator Davina Porter).

Anyway, in this audio book, I am straddling the 18th and 20th centuries while at the same time on my Kindle reading Doris Kearns Goodman's "Team of Rivals," on one chapter of which the movie Lincoln is based.  Obviously that puts me smack dab in the middle of the 19th century....with the background on some of the "rivals" extending back into the 18th century at the time of the time traveling Frasiers!

So I don't know what century I am in at the moment and today my credit for a free Audible book arrived. I very nearly ordered "Dissolution: a Novel of Tudor England" but decided I needed to extricate myself from at least one century before adding another!

Tonight the plan was to review a play called "The Mountain Top," which is based on the final day in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.   However my "intestinal thing" is still giving me a difficult time.  I can sit OK, but when I stand up, I start to get chills (Underdog Syndrome again!)   I thought I'd give it a little time and see if things improved, but they did not, so I exchanged our tickets for next weekend and I have the night off.

(I did enjoy lying down in a patch of sun on the couch in the living room.  The dogs, bless them, let me share  their bit of warmth)

I finally remembered that there are medicines to take care of my problem, so I have popped a couple of generic Imodium and hope that I will feel better soon.  After all, tomorrow we have tickets (that we paid money for) to a Lamplighters show and reservations at a Fisherman's Wharf restaurant for a fancy crab dinner.  When I bought the Groupon, I had no idea I would have so much crab the week before we were going to this dinner, but really can you ever have too much crab?

I think not.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Free at Last

Anybody who has traveled the road that I have just barely started on will identify with this, and I really hate to complain again, but today I just really reached saturation.

I came home to Davis after my trip with my mother to Springfield Place because the next day I was working at Logos.  Only then I ended up with an intestinal "thing" that made it unwise to be out of the house for that long, so I just stayed home, and must have needed the sleep because in spite of nearly 8 hours sleep at night I also took a good nap during the daytime too.

holter.jpg (4187 bytes)I drove back to my mother's in the evening.  Her doctor had ordered a Holter Monitor (a portable EKG that records for 24 hrs) that was going to be put on her at 10 a.m. on Friday and removed at 10 a.m. on Saturday.  So I stayed Thursday night so I would be there in time to get her to Kaiser by 10 a.m., and then Friday night to get her to Kaiser first thing Saturday morning to have all the leads removed.

By Saturday morning, when she woke up and handed me the monitor and all its cords, off of her body, and said "I don't know how this happened, but they all came off," I had reached saturation and had to get out of there.  I packed up the monitor, wrote a note to the EKG department, drove to Kaiser at 8:30 a.m., broke into the office and left everything on the receptionist's desk in the darkened office (well, technically I didn't actually break in...the door was unlocked, but there was nobody around).

You now, I don't know how moving to independent living is going to help her memory (though they do have a program that is supposed to help improve memory and I can't help but believe that more social interaction is going to help too) and it's not going to change how often I visit her, or how much I help her with, but if nothing else, it will ease my mind to think that there are people around her all the time (whether she leaves her apartment to interact with them or not) so that if something goes wrong, someone is there to help and she won't have to wait for me to drive 80 miles, or Ed to come, if he's not camping, or her friend Jim to stop by twice a week to see if she is still alive.  She has a wonderful group people, over and above Ed, Jim and myself, who love her and who do lots of things for her, but being with her 24 hrs a day for the past essentially 3 days has made me realize that even though we are doing a lot, it's not enough.

Let's start with the Holter monitor.  I know it's a foreign concept to her, but I must have told her 100 times what was going to happen, including showing her a picture I called up on my cell phone to explain what would happen.  "Where am I going?" "And what am I supposed to tell the doctor" (I told her over and over and over again that we were not going to see the doctor), "where is the office?" "What are they going to do to me?"  "What are they going to tell me?" "Will they give me the answers right away?" I answered every question as if it were the first time she'd asked it, because in her mind it was.   I didn't mind...but I sure got tired of repeating myself so often.

I joke with her about not being able to remember her doctor's name.  Not remembering a name is not unusual (heck, if it were, I'd be in big trouble), but her doctor's name is Dr. Caron and my sister was Karen and both are pronounced identical.

There was the question of what we were going to have for lunch.  We were going to go out.  We were going to eat home.  We would go to the club.   What should we do for lunch?  Should we go to the club for lunch or for dinner? Would I like to have lunch at the club? Etc. 

I had forgotten that I was staying two nights instead of one and had not brought a change of clothes, so yesterday afternoon I found a robe of hers and put that on and washed my clothes, along with the towels I had used during my shower.  When the clothes were dry, she took the clothes out of the dryer, foldled the towels and went wandering around the house trying to remember where she keeps towels.  She even checked the cupboard where she keeps her pots and pans.  I didn't want to let her know that I realized she was lost, so I took them from her and told her I had taken them off the towel rack and would put them back.  

When we ran out of toilet paper, she could not remember where she keeps the toilet paper.
And getting old.  My god am I tired of hearing how old she is.   It starts first thing in the morning with "oh god, I'm tired of getting old" then why is she still alive when all of her siblings died a long time ago, do I think her husband is still waiting for her? Why is it taking so long and a whole litany of questions and comments, which are repeated many times throughout the day.  This morning the very first thing she did when I went to sit on the bed with her was to point to two tiny blood  bruises, the kind that all old people (me included) get and to ask for the 1,000th time why she got them.  I explained--again--about the thinning of skin and how when older people brush against something it broke a tiny blood vessel, and told her that Walt's mother had them all over both of her arms.  Then she slaps them, tells me she hates them and that she has to cover them up with long sleeves because they loook ugly and that they make her look old and she doesn't want anybody to know how old she is.  

(Despite the fact that she tells EVERYBODY how old she is because she does not look 93 and she gets great satisfaction out of the looks of astonishment and disbelief on the face of everyone.)

Twenty minutes later she is showing me the same bruises and asking me again why she gets them.

We spent a lot of time on "all this crap" in the house and how she wanted it gone now, but when I offered to put it all in a bag and cart it away, she says she's not ready.  Then she says that she's not ready to move, but she just wants all this crap gone.

Gone are the days when we could have a conversation about ANYTHING other than how old she is, how much she wants to die, and how "messy" her house is.  She even only told me the story of my aunt "drunk as a skunk" sitting on the pot in the back yard of her childhood home only once, which is a new record, though I did hear twice about her mother getting a new car--once given to her by my aunt, and once by my mother's uncle (same car, same story, different giver).

The thing that is amazing is that she has developed so many coping mechanisms, ways of being coy or cute or saying things like "Oh, I knew that--I was just having a little joke" that unless you are around her a lot, people think she is better than she is.  I know that salesman Scott at Springfield was convinced she was understanding everything he told her, but when we got in the car, she didn't remember diddily squat.  When I got to her house on Thursday night her stepson Ed was there having dinner.  I said "did you tell him about our adventure yesterday?"   She didn't remember that we had done anything or where we had gone and remembered nothing about the place.

Oh, I know...I know...I know she can't help it.  I know she would be appalled if she realized how much she has forgotten and how much she can't retain, and I really try to be patient with her, but three days of it constantly just got to me and I had to leave before I lost my patience.  I'll be back again on Tuesday, when we are finally doing Cousins Day again.

Friday, March 22, 2013

5000 Question Meme, Part 2

Since I will be at my mother's tonight, I'm doing Part 2 of that biiiig meme to post before I leave.  Here goes:

26. Who has done something today to show they care about you?
Walt let me sleep when I took a nap.

27. Do you have a lot to learn?
Don't we all?

28. If you could learn how to do three things just by wishing and not by working what would they be?
*Speak fluent French and fluent Porgutuese
*Master PhotoShop
*Play the piano (if we had one any more)

29. Which do you remember the longest: what other people say, what other people do or how other people make you feel?
It's a toss-up between what they do and how they make me feel.

30. What are the key ingredients to having a good relationship?
A sense of humor, common interests, the ability to trust

31. What 3 things do you want to do before you die?
I've pretty much done everything I would like to do before I die, but that cruise to Alaska still hangs there, as does the train trip across the Canadian Rockies.

32. What three things would you want to die to avoid doing?
Good lord.  I don't want to avoid doing anything that badly!

33. Is there a cause you believe in more than any other cause?
It's a toss up between quality for all gay people and assistance for children around the world who are living in poverty.

34. What does each decade make you think of:
40s and 50s - grammar school
60s - First independence, job, UC Berkeley
70s - Marriage and parenthood
80s - The Lamplighters and Gilbert
90s - First (and only) "career"
00s - Friendship with Peggy
10s - International travel

35. Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?
Each was special in its own way.

36. What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song?
The very first one that popped into my head was "Lollipop"

37. What country do you live in and who is the leader of that country?
USA and who is "leader" at the moment is up for grabs.  Supposed to be Obama,but the way congress is going, who knows?
     If you could say any sentence to the current leader of your country what would it be?
     For God's sake, be the leader we elected you to be!

38. What's your favorite TV channel to watch in the middle of the night?
Hallmark.  I have seen every Golden Girls episode ever made and am working my way through Frasier.

39. What Disney heroine are you the most like and why?
Dory, from Finding Nemo.  A helper, but not a star

40. Have you ever been a girl scout/boy scout?
Yes.  I was as Girl Scout for many years

41. If you were traveling to another continent would you rather fly or take a boat?
Definitely fly

42. Why is the sky blue during the day and black at night?
'Cause God turns off the light so you can't see the color.

43. What does your name mean?
Beaver Lake

44. Would you rather explore the deeps of the ocean or outer space?
Neither, thank you.

45. Word association
What is the first word that comes to mind when you see the word:
  Air: Breathe
  Meat: Lamb
  Different: Separate
  Pink: Pepto Bismol
  Deserve: Earn
  White: Wedding
  Elvis: Presley
  Magic: Bullet
  Heart: Broken
  Clash: War
  Pulp: Orange juice

46. If you could meet any person in the world who is dead who would you want it to be?
I would like to visit Albert Payson Terhune at Sunnybank during the Lad a Dog years.

47. What if you could meet anyone who is alive?
Betty White.  We could have tea and talk about dogs.

48. Is there a movie that you love so much you could watch it everyday?
I'm finally tired of Affair to Remember, so let's say Dave.

49. You are going to be stuck alone in an elevator for a week. What do you bring to do?
iPad and power cord...good for games, Facebook, Twitter, TV, etc.

50. Have you ever saved someone's life or had your life saved?
I don't believe I have ever saved  saved a life.  A lifeguard once rescued me from a lake.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Springfield Place

The first visit to an Independent Living facility has been made, and thank goodness it was a good experience.  A very good expereience.

When I started investigating places on line to tour, it was a pretty daunting experience.  There are so many and they all tell you the same thing.   They are all wonderful, it's the perfect place for Mom and Dad, and they give you only sketchy details and few even give you a price range.  Where to start?  I was hoping for word-of-mouth recommendations.
My cousin's daughter, Denise, had already taken my mother to one place, which my mother had thought nice, but didn't remember the name of.  And when I asked her, Niecie gave me that name and also another name, Springfield Place, where a friend of hers had a beauty salon.

I checked out their web page and it had a form for requesting information.  Thinking I would get a brochure in the mail, I filled it out.   Scott Shreckengast, their salesman, called me within the hour.  I found him a delightful man and we talked a long time.  Yes, I know he's a salesman and he's paid to be delightful.  He earns every penny.  I kept that very much in mind both in our conversations and in the tour yesterday.  But the place has a lot to offer, and I like their philosophy and the way they deal with their residents.  We made an appointment for Wednesday.

It rained the night before and was grey and drizzly when I woke up.   The last thing I wanted to do was to drive to San Rafael again, but I did.  It was one of my mother's very bad memory days.  "What are we doing today? -- going to lunch?"  "Where are we going?" she asked several times, and then "what are they going to do to me?" and "where do you want to go to lunch afterwards?" though I told her over and over again that lunch would be included in the tour.

Springfield2.jpg (7549 bytes)And so we drove to Petaluma, which was about 20 miles from where she is living now (and is where Walt's brother and sister-in-law live).  

The place is on a busy intersection but set back from the street.   The entryway is quite large and off to the left was the dining area.  I had been accustomed to separate dining rooms in the two places where Walt's mother lived.   This is in the middle of everything, large and spacious.

Springfield3.jpg (12046 bytes)(The piano shown in this picture is now in a different area and the whole area where the photographer is standing is the dining room.)

Scott joined us and took us to the dining room where we were to order lunch.  He had bought a nice orchid plant for her (having asked me about her favorite plants ahead of time).  He had also dressed in a blue shirt, since he had asked me what her favorite color was.  This is a guy who works all the angles.  But he is so darn charming, you just don't care.

A woman passed by and he grabbed her to introduce her to my mother.   She is the facility's "raised flower bed gardener."  She loves raising roses and says she wants to raise orchids, but they keep dying on her.  My mother gave her some tips and Scott said if she moved here she could help the woman with the garden.  I could see her eyes light up at that suggestion.

While we ate, Scott went over all he could think of that would appeal to her.  He did talk a lot about her possibilities for travel with Springfield, which would not appeal to her at all, since her back problems make it difficult for her to travel and she has reached a point where the confusing of being around a lot of people...though I can see that perhaps being in this setting might make her more sociable again.  He also talked a lot about "easing the burden" on me since they could take her to her doctor's appointments.   That would never happen since she needs someone IN THE ROOM to hear what the doctor has to say, but it's nice to know that in a pinch, that is a possibility.  (And it's no burden for me at all, of course.)

What I liked about the place is that all of their buildings are licensed for assisted living care, which means that if she goes into Independent Living and then finds that she needs additional assistance, she won't have to move to a new apartment.

We toured three apartments, two studios and one one-bedroom.   While my mother didn't think she needed more than a studio, I could easily see that the one bedroom would work much better, especially since she could still have Jeri visit her when she comes to town.  (When we got back to her house and I looked at "all the crap" that will have to be reduced to fit into just a one bedroom, I think a studio is complete out of the question!)
One very nice thing is that for a $500 refundable downpayment she can hold a place at Springfield until she is ready to move.  He talked about one woman who put her downpayment down and didn't move in for four years.

(The web site mentions a "computer room" which I didn't see and he says that when they finish remodeling, there will be wifi available, but not right now--still, that was a plus for me...I could finally use my computer while visiting my mother overnight.)

Scott said he would come and do a home visit and continue the discussion and I think she may give him $500 at that time.  But we do want to check another couple of places before making the final decision.  Still, we are on the hunt and I am hopeful that I can get her settled before we leave for the Ukraine in August.

I developed some sort of an intestinal "condition" on the drive home.  Perhaps a delayed reaction to all the rich food I had over the weekend.   By the time I got home, I was in trouble.  Walt made his own dinner and I settled into the recliner and finally decided to "take a nap" at 8 p.m.  I woke up at 9:30, was up for about half an hour and then went back to the couch, where I slept until nearly 7 a.m.  I'm still not 100% and have asked for someone to fill in for me at the book store today.

I have to return to my mother's this evening as she has an appointment to have a Holter Monitor put on tomorrow morning, so I'm spending the night and will return on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


We watched the premiere of the new reality show, Splash tonight.  This time it's not romance or cut-throat competition, or starving on some lonely island...this time it's water.  Pools of water.  And jumping (or diving) into them.

As the web page for the show says, "Splash marks the first time 10 celebrities will train and compete in regulation platform and springboard diving at dizzying heights in front of a weekly poolside audience."

As with some of these shows (like Dancing with the Stars, for example), "stars" may be stretching it for some of the contestants.   Here's the line up of the 10 "stars," starting with the best known"   Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Louie Anderson, Drake Bell, Chuy Bravo, Rory Bushfield, Nicole Eggert, Keisha Knight Pullliam, Ndamukong Suh, Katherine Webb and Kendra Wilkinson.

How'd you do?  How many names do YOU recognize.  I recognized three--Abdul-Jabbar, comedian Louie Anderson, and Keisha Knight Pulliam, last seen as the tiniest of the Cosby Kids, on the Bill Cosby Show.

neddive.jpg (60253 bytes)But we couldn't not watch it because it brought back memories of the long-ago history of this family:  the diving years.

Out kids didn't do "normal" stuff.  While most of their friends were on swim teams, ours were on the diving team.  While most other kids were playing soccer or football or baseball, ours were doing theater and band.   I'm definitely not sorry. I loved going to diving meets and marching band events and especially theater

We kind of fell into diving, literally.  Ned's good friend Matt was on the Davis Diving Team.  Ned must have been 8 or 9.  He would go to the pool with Matt, watch him do his dives and then copy him.  He enjoyed it so much that we investigated his joining the Davis Diving Team, under coach Brett Evans, who told us that he had once been on the Olympic Team.

Brett was a charismatic coach who worked well with all ages of kids and got the best out of them. Ned took to diving like...well, a duck to water. It wasn't long before all five kids were on the team and I was spending most of my afternoons sitting poolside inhaling the chlorine and watching bouncing bodies.

DaveDive.jpg (56339 bytes)I always felt kind of smug, listening to my friends who had spent the whole weekend at swim meets, because their kids would be competing in several events and so had to stay the whole day.

With diving, you drove in age groups.  They told you about what time your group was diving and when your group finished, you could go home.  I loved that.

All the diving parents learned to keep score and to judge diving.   Walt and another judge once collaborated:  "You count the sommersaults and I'll count the twists."  (I didn't say we were good judges!)

Brett had one of the best kids' diving groups in the state and we drove all over the place to compete.  Ned once dove against Greg Louganis, right after Greg had won his silver medal.  Ned had won his age group (I believe it was 10 and under) and Greg had won his in this fun meet, and at the end of the event all the winners competed against each other kind of for "best in show."  I know that you'll be surprised and disappointed to hear that Ned did not beat Greg in that event.

So we had to watch Splash, if only for the laughs.  But it was nice to discover that the coach of the divers competing was none other than a now grey-headed Louganis.  And the show was really kind of poignant.  There was 400+ lb Louie Anderson, who could not climb out of the pool the first time he got into it, standing on the 5 meter board and doing a front dive.  It wasn't beautiful, but what a sense of accomplishment he had when he completed it.

Then there was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom some would think would be a natural, since he's an athlete (even though he's 65 now!), but I remember when our kids went through growth spurts and their diving suffered because they hadn't yet figured out where their arms and legs ended any more. Abdul-Jabbar's dive was terrible and I'm sure his abdomen stung quite a bit when he got out of the pool, but he got high marks for trying. 

There was the beauty queen who wore a bathing suit that looked like it was in danger of popping off if she twisted the wrong way.  Her dive wasn't great, but she challenged herself  (which Pulliam, who was voted off had not) and so passed on to the next week's competition. 

I think we will be watching this show from now on.  I want to see what happens as the competition progresses.

As for our own kids and diving, sadly Brett eventually decided that he was too good to teach for a city program and so he went to private lessons only and someone much less talented took over the program.  He felt that Ned had talent and he offered us the opportunity to let Ned study with him, but the price was prohibitive and so we had to say no. 

I'm sorry that we couldn't afford to let him continue, but his actions after he went private made me ultimately happy that he wouldn't be influencing Ned.  Ned, who was once one of his rising stars (in his age group, Ned and 2 other boys in Northern California were always top in all the competitions, see sawing between who was first and who was second and third) was totally ignored.  Brett would come to the pool and not even speak to Ned.
It hurt Ned's feelings so much that he quit the program and, to tell you the truth, I can't remember the last time I saw him do any dive at all (though I'm sure he got over the hurt decades ago).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Automatic Pilot

Oh, how I desperately wanted to climb into my car, set the destination for Davis, turn the car on, and go to sleep.

I was feeling very smug yesterday morning.  I had fixed myself a "couch" on the hotel bed, using my suitcase and one of the pillows to lie against, and feel like the couch here at home.

couchbed.jpg (44433 bytes)

And it worked.  Except for waking up once in the middle of the night, I slept nearly 8 hours.  It was wonderful.

I fully expected the same thing to happen last night as well.   But we were exhausted when we got home from dinner and while I sat down to write my journal entry, Lynn went to bed.  By the time I got my entry posted, it was only 9:30 and Lynn was sleeping with a blanket over her head to shut out the light.  I turned off the computer and the lights and got into bed myself.

I did go to sleep after listening to my book for an hour or so, but when I woke up at 2 a.m., I was wide awake.  Wide awake.  I tried listening to my book until I got sleepy, but I never did.  I finally turned off the book and tried to get back to sleep, but instead lay on my back staring at the ceiling wondering when it would be morning.  I never did get back to sleep.

When we both woke up, I think we were talked out, finally, because neither of us said much of anything, going through our morning ablutions pretty much in silence. 
I had suggested we go to Grandma's Kitchen for breakfast.  This was a place that I had seen on the Internet before and which had been recommended by the women I'd talked with the day before.  Having no other restaurant we had discussed, we went to Grandma's kitchen.

We had a bit of a problem with Tildy (the GPS), who took us to the wrong end of Fremont Street.  It really wasn't her fault, though we suspected she'd had a night of drinking herself.  The web address was on Fremont Street and didn't indicate that it was really NORTH Fremont Street.  The GPS gave us the option of two Fremont Streets, but did not indicate that one was North (not that we would have known which one to choose anyway).  Instead of driving to the location, which was quite close to our hotel, we drove all over Monterey before we finally found it.

GmaKitchen1.jpg (44054 bytes)

Whoever started Grandma's Kitchen is a real lover of owls.   The restasurant itself is your standard run of the mill diner, with metal and linoleum tables, booths, and a counter at the front (with a "beware of Attack Waitress" sign posted).  But the walls are lined with owl kitch.  Pictures, statues, macrame, paintings, etc., etc., etc.

GmaKitchen2.jpg (62925 bytes)

The food was standard diner fare but delicious.  We both had scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns.

GmaKitchen3.jpg (68751 bytes)

The hash browns were perfect, as was everything else.  Lynn had toast, I had biscuits.  The biscuits were obviously home made and there were two of them, but though they were delicious, they were more "solid" than light and fluffy and even I, the biscuit lover, could not finish one, let alone two of them.

After breakfast, we drove back to the hotel, checked out, packed up the rest of our stuff and headed for the parking lot.  We said our goodbyes and promised to do it again ... maybe in another six months.  Next time we plan to include our friend Lisa, who said she would love to spend a weekend with us (I've been kicking myself that I didn't ask her to join us this time!)

Then onto the road.  I had planned to stop in Castroville, the self proclamed Artichoke Center of the World.

Castroville.jpg (49904 bytes)

I wanted to buy some local artichokes and stopped at The Big Artichoke, where I remember having lunch with Cousin Nora, on her first visit to the United States, from Ireland a long time ago.  We are all huge artichoke lovers in this family.  On that trip was the first (and only) time I'd ever had fried artichokes, and I see that they are still serving them.

 Nora didn't think much of artichokes in any fashion whatsoever.   I was reminded of an old Little Rascals movie where Buckwheat is served an artichoke, which he had never seen before.  After removing lots of leaves, trying to find sometehing in it to eat, he said "It may have choked Artie, but it ain't gonna choke me."  

I did buy some artichokes for dinner tonight, and also some tangerines to eat on the road (since I was completely out of money and knew that I could not stop for lunch, even though I was so stuffed from breakfast, I didn't see that as being a necessity!)

The ride home was rough.  I finally did stop for a hamburger I didn't want, just to wake up.  I counted out quarters and made sure that I could pay for the cheapest Jack-in-the-Box plain cheeseburger.  I knew I didn't have enough money to stop for my old sure-fire picker-upper, a McDonald's iced mocha.   But the burger did its stuff and for most of the rest of the drive, I was OK, though the last 10 miles or so were difficult.
I got home, climbed into the recliner, checked the mail and passed out for a couple of hours.  

So the longed-for weekend is finally over.  It was such fun and I'm so glad we had the time together.  I look forward to doing it again!

Thanks so much, Lynn!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Did We Have Fun?

I told Lynn it was time for me to write about our day and find out if we had fun or not. (SPOILER ALERT:  we did!)

Lynn wasn't sure how the day was going to go when first the coffee maker wouldn't work and we had to order a new one from the front desk, and then the ironing board (I've heard that some women use these things) collapsed literally on her and she ended up ironing her pants on the board, on the floor).
However, in spite of these mishaps, we decided she could drive today because of her GPS, Tildy.  I've come to really love her new Accura.

We had looked on line for a place to have a nice Sunday brunch and I came to a place called First Awakenings and we both agreed this was "our place" based solely on this snippet of a review on Yelp by a customer named Michael, who seemed particularly enamored by a menu item called "All that Razz," which is a raspberry pancake with coconut and granola.  Of this dish, Michael says: "The pancake was also crazy good.  Even with the raspberries, granola and coconut, it was amazingly light and fluffy.  It tasted and felt exactly like baby angels were flapping their tiny wings inside my mouth."  Now how can you not want to taste that?

What we didn't realize until we got there was that it was located one block from the Aquarium, our next stop after breakfast.  Serendipity.

We both did have All That Razz and yes, baby angels flapped their tiny wings inside our mouths.

Trust me.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  You'll just have to come here and try it!

Next it was off to the Aquarium, where we spent about 3 hours.  Oh my...this was worth the nearly 30 year wait.  I feared that since we were coming on a Sunday it would be mobbed...and it did get more crowded around noon, but entering at about 10 a.m., when they opened, we had zero problem with crowds anywhere.  We watched the penguins being fed, 

saw the magnificent kelp forest,

and saw so many things but we both agreed that our favorites were the sea horses and the jellyfish.  (I said I wanted to be a jellyfish--brainless, heartless, but beautiful!)  I particularly liked this odd seahorse, which looks like a creature from a Dr. Seuss book.

I have so many incredible pictures, but I will put them all on Flickr when I get home rather than fill up this journal entry.

There were also many things purchased for the grandkids.  Fortunately I had texted Tom "otters, penguins or seahorses?" and he texted back "seahorses!" That made it easier.

We wandered around Cannery Row for a bit, agreeing that John Steinbeck would not recognize it today!  After coffee and a purchase of a Steinbeck book for Lynn ("Cannery Row") we came back to the hotel where we sat in the lobby looking at the ocean.

Lynn went off on a far too energetic walk along the beach while I stayed where I was, watching the ocean and finishing my book.  But I was also talking to two women I overheard reading comments from the internet about the place we had eaten yesterday and I highly recommended it to them.  They, in turn, told me about the place they had eaten last night, which is right across from where we ate, and said how much they liked it.  Lynn and I decided to go there for dinner.  It's called Domenico's and it was just as great as the women said it had been.  We waited 20 minutes at the bar for a window table, but we were in no hurry and appreciated the chance to have a window table so we could watch the sea lions sleeping on the platform right opposite our table.

It was kind of like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf in miniature.

Our dinner was fabulous.  I had crab-stuffed prawns, which came topped with caviar and were delicious.

This place may have been my favorite of the weekend...and, oddly enough, it was the cheapest!  I liked it because the waiters were all so friendly.

On the way out we met two women from Perth and chatted with them on the walk back to the parking lot.  Then we stumbled on back here to the hotel.  It is 9 p.m. as I write this and Lynn has been asleep for about 15 minutes.

Tomorrow we have a restaurant picked out for breakfast (also recommended by the women I spoke with this afternoon), and then will be heading back to our respective homes.  It's been a fast weekend, but it's a good thing it's ending because I don't know that I could eat like this for another day!!

And to answer the question I posed at the beginning...yes we had a FABulous time today!!!