Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hate Speech

If you don't like emotional rants, skip reading this.  I am writing it for myself and I don't even know how much sense it is going to make to anybody else.

I don't know how some people can be so filled with hate.  I especially don't know how some people can be filled with hate that I apparently caused.

Today an envelope addressed to "SYKES" was delivered to our house while I was out, which Walt opened.  It was from Peggy and filled with such vile hatred that I can't believe it.

You know, it was two years ago that she decided to end all communication with me, including adding me to her junk folder so if I wrote to her, the email was returned with a notice that said "not at this address."  And yeah, I have done my best to find out why. And yeah, I've been kind of a pest about it, because I just couldn't understand why she's cut me out and besides, I was pissed.  I finally reached saturation and the end of my feelings of friendship for her, realizing the impossibility of it.  I sent her a post card with a poem on it and saying that she had broken my heart, unnecessarily, but that I was finally learning to live without her in my life and ended by saying "goodbye."

This post card was returned with RUBBISH written across it in big red letters and then the hateful letter, which says something (I've destroyed it; I'm finished) about how she had declared that I was never to contact her again, but I had done it. She used to think I was intelligent, but no more.  She now sees how stupid I am.

The print on the letter was about 120 point type.
like this  
It's funny, but instead of making me angry, or hurting me even more, I just didn't care. I just felt dead inside. She suggests that I am mentally unbalanced for continuing to contact her after she expressly said she doesn't want to hear from me any more (something she never ever said to ME, but said to a friend of hers, who passed it along to me, adding that she didn't know why either).

Maybe I am mentally unbalanced, as she says. But that's what happens when the person you considered one of your best friends cuts you off without a word of explanation. Also, why should I blindly follow her demands without knowing why she made them?  "Because I'm the Mom, that's why" ? 

As I've said before, she was not the first one to treat me this way.   Back in 1986 my then-best friend did the same thing and Peggy knew how much that had hurt me. She had also experienced the same thing herself, twice.   Two different people (that I know of) who had cut off communication with her, one without a word of explanation, one with, but hurtful.  So she knows how much it hurts.   She knows how much it hurt her and she knew how much I'd been hurt before.

Yet, she refused to give me the only thing I wanted from her:   an explanation  Obviously I did something unforgivable, because her last message to me had been to wish me a good trip to China and to let me know that we would talk when I got back.  Then nothing.  At that time we were going through my cousin Cathy's death, which was so incredibly painful.  And remembering how I had been there for Peggy when her mother died and when her two dogs died (which may have been even more emotionally upsetting), also when she parted company with the people who ran the ranch on which she helped care for orphaned kangaroos.  I have sat here on the telephone and listened to her cry when her heart was broken, and tried to be as helpful as I could be from 9,000+ miles away.

It never entered my mind that she would not be here for me when I was going through the same thing...and it certainly never entered my mind that she would turn around and do the same thing that she knew would hurt so much to me...and that she would do it when I was already hurting so badly from Cathy's impending death.

I suppose if nothing else, she helped me greatly today, to put the final nail in the coffin that was our 13 year friendship.  But what happens when something like this happens...twice...is that you reach the point where you have zero interest in making new friends and you certainly don't want to open your heart up to someone new.  Once burned, twice shy--and I've been twice burned.

But Peggy was the person to whom I could turn with anything that was bothering me, there to offer comfort and support and I sure as hell am not going to make that mistake again.  

Char is still in my life, for which I am very grateful, but we don't have that kind of relationship.  We share emotional moments, but not at the depth that Peggy and I did.

I want to say I hate Peggy Morrison.  I don't quite...but almost.  And the worst part is that it never had to be this way.  All she had to do was help me understand what made her turn against me. 

In other news, I took my mother to have her TB test read today.  Unless something unusual happens, this is the VERY LAST medical visit she will have at Kaiser San Rafael.  Praise the Lord!

Monday, April 29, 2013

That Certain "Something"

Tonight, after dinner, Walt said he was glad I had been ble to make a visit to Davis.  I told him I thought it was a nice little town and I hoped I would be able to spend more time here.

Yes, tomorrow I'm on the road again, to take my mother back to Kaiser to have her TB test read a second time.  Fortunately I have two things to do in San Rafael.  I never got my I.D. faxed to the medical secretaries and, as my mother's appointment tomorrow is 12:30, they will be there and I can prove that I am who I say I am at that time.
Then it will be over.  I hope.

Last night we went to the world premiere of a new musical, The Little Princess, based on the book of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who also wrote The Secret Garden.

Nannie.jpg (8794 bytes)I've been following Hollywood and Broadway and all things concerned with both places for it seems most of my life.  I think my love of celebrities and movies and stage shows was fostered by both my mother, who loved listening to radio soap operas and reading movie magazines, and my grandmother, who had been a chorus girl in Vaudeville and periodically took my mother to a stage show in downtown San Francisco.

Because I read a lot of stuff about things going on around Broadway, I know that occasionally you'll read about this fabulous new play or musical that is in out of town tryouts.  You get all excited because it has a stellar cast of big name talent involved and you're sure that it's going to be a big hit.

But then you don't hear much about it and then you find out that it closed out of town.

Or it might open in New York and close after a day or a week.

I've always wondered how that can be, when you have top production values, big name stars who have proven themselves able to do well on the stage.  What goes wrong?

Well, I kind of had a taste of that with The Little Princess last night.  We were several scenes into the show before I realized that we really didn't have a plot going yet.  A thin plot eventually developed, but I was sitting there through the first act wondering why, with good music, a great cast, and everything else going for it, I couldn't get into this show.

At intermission, one of the other critics came and sat with me and we compared notes. He had the person he had brought to the show had been saying the same thing.  There seemed to be no "there, there."

I had hope that the second act which, according to the program, seemed to be much shorter than the first, would kind of begin to take all the disparate elements we saw in the first act and bring them all together.

However, it was the fourth (of seven) songs before we got a song that actually fit into the thin plot developed in the first act.  The show eventually reached its conclusion and had me weeping because I'm a weeper and it was a tender ending, but I still felt that the show was missing something big that I couldn't define.

The critics got together in the courtyard after we left the theater and I was happy to see that everybody shared my feelings, and we all agreed that whether the writers intended it to or not, they had borrowed heavily from other musicals.   In fact, one number in Act 2 was so like "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast that I found those lyrics running through my head.

When I encounter a show like this, I like to check out the internet and find out what critics in other towns thought, but though there have been several musical version of the Burnett book written for children's theater, this particular version is brand new.

I checked Amazon and found that the original book is so old you can get it free for the Kindle, so I ordered it and have been reading it this afternoon.

Surprisingly, the musical follows the book faithfully, but what is missing in the musical is Burnett's descriptions of what is going on with Sara (who is 7 in the book and 13 in the musical), her thought process and a lot of the descriptions of the interactions with other girls at the school in which she has been enrolled.

I could see, reading this, how the authors tried to do good by the book, but, as one of my fellow critics said when we were doing our recap together (which we almost never do, by the way), was "Well, I guess there is a reason why they have been shopping this show around for 20 years.  You don't usually open a big new musical in a town like Sacramento."

I'll be very curious to see what the other critics have to say about this show.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Stealing

(Happy birthday, Char!)
The Wish List Meme, part one

1.) What are 3 things on your Wish list and why?

* Getting my mother settled in her new home, so I can stop driving 70 miles to see her
* Photo safari to Africa (never gonna happen, but it's been on my list for decades)
* Cruise up the inland passage to Alaska (to see the iceburgs while they are still here, and to go whale watching)

2.) What do you miss about your childhood?

My mother bringing me soup in bed when I was sick, pinning a paper bag to the sheet so I could toss my used tissues into it, going to the library to bring me books to read in bed, and leaving a bowl next to my bed if I might vomit.  I knew I was "grown up" the first time I was sick and had to take care of myself.

3.) What do you do on your spare time on the weekends?

When you are retired, all time is spare time, so weekends are no different than week days, except the choice of TV programs is different.

4.) What do you appreciate most in your life?

That our remaining children are healthy and happy and married to great people...and that Tom & Laurel have given us two terrific grandchildren.

5.) Would you rather be rich or healthy?

Healthy.  We were on a cruise in Russia with a wealthy couple.  He had so many health problems he could hardly move.  What good did all his money do him?

6.) If you could go back in time would you and why?

I truly don't know.  There is a lot to be said for going back to a time when things were good and loved ones were still alive, but by the same token, would I want to go through it all over again, knowing what I know today?  I doubt it.

7.) Favorite game as a child?

For board games, Monopoly, which I remember playing endlessly.  In grammar school, I enjoyed getting together with the neighborhood kids and playing baseball in the ridiculously small cement yard of the apartment around the corner.

8.) What is your dream career?

I guess I had it.  I loved working in medical offices, but I enjoy more being retired.  If I could go back to college and plan better, I might have chosen a career in Journalism, which, I guess, as a theater critic I am sort of following now.

9.) What do you do in your free time?

All my time is free time.  Watch a lot of TV, read, and drive to my mother's house and back again!

10.) Favorite clothing stores?

I don't go clothes shopping.  All my clothes come from fat lady catalogues and ordered on line.

11.) What TV shows can't you live without?

Well, I can live without any TV show, as I've had to do over and over again as favorites outlive their popularity, but at the moment, I would say The Daily Show, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Scandal, and Big Bang Theory, along with others that I enjoy, but would not miss if they came to an end. 

12.) 3 things you need in your life are

Other than the obvious things like air and water and enough food to live, the things I need in my life are
* An opportunity to write
* Enough books (is there such a thing as "enough books"?)
* Family and friends around me

13.) What can't you sleep without?

A pillow...and usually a Chihuahua

14.) What are you currently a nerd for?

* Computer stuff (though I'm not a nerd for computer knowledge, but more the computer things I use)
* Gilbert & Sullivan
* The Big Bang Theory -- ultimate nerd TV

15.) What is your favorite seasoning?

Cumin!!!  I love it.  I put it in a lot of things.

16.) What is your favorite wild animal?

The elephant.  I think they are endlessly fascinating and elephant societies have a lot to teach us about how to respect each other, help each other, and get along in the world.  It pains me that elephants are so exploited today and I recommend that anybody who has access to HBO watch the current special, "An Apology to Elephants," produced and narrated by Lily Tomlin.  It will make you feel guilty for ever going to a circus...or buying anything made of ivory.

17.) Name 3 of your favorite childhood shows:

* Ozzie and Harriet
* Winky Dink and You
* Howdy Doody

18.) If you could live as a character in a movie who would it be?

Shirley Valentine

19.) Favorite vegetable?

A toss up between artichokes and spinach

20.) Favorite Fruit?

Another toss up, between bananas and strawberries (I think strawberries have a slight edge)

21.) If you had a dragon what would you name it?

Puff, of course.

22.) What do you put on hotdogs?

If I'm eating them at home, just catsup.  If I'm at a ballgame, mustard and onions and maybe some cheese.

23.) Do you play online games?

Only Word with Friends (wanna play with me?)

24.) What's your favorite way to get inspired?

Read a truly brillliant writer, like Steinbeck.

25.) Do you have a middle name?

Anne (remember the "e")

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Love/Hate Relationship

My father joined Kaiser in 1953, when I was ten years old.  I have been a member of Kaiser ever since -- 60 years!  Except for a brief period when I was working for Women's Health and also had Health Net coverage through that job, which allowed me to see one of the doctors in our office for my primary care physician, I have known nothing but Kaiser for my personal health care, though I have certainly worked in enough medical offices to have some sort of idea about how "the other side" works.  I still think Kaiser wrote the book on managed care!

In my 60 years with Kaiser, I have loved it and hated it.  I loved that each of our children only cost $60.  That was the price in the 1960s for total maternity care, from diagnosis thru birth.  They were bargain babies, and worth every penny.

I also hated Kaiser in those years because when I would call the advice nurse with a question or to make an appointment it was not uncommon to spend 30 minutes on line waiting.  Even though you have to go through message phone hell now, it is SO much better.

I loved the care the kids got from their pediatrician (and mourned the loss of my favorite doctor when he and his family moved to an island in Canada so his draft-age son could avoid going to Vietnam).

Here in Davis I have had no real complaints.  My doctor is not a people person and she has no idea about anything about my personal life, seeming to zero in more on the nuts and bolts and lab numbers of my health, but that's really all I need.   When I dislocated my shoulder in 2003 and required an ambulance ride to the hospital, though I know how expensive ambulances are, it was all covered under our Kaiser plan.

I am afraid that by the end of yesterday, I was hating Kaiser's bureaucracy again.  Or maybe it was just that I was a bit grumpy having made 6 trips to San Rafael in 7 days (with 2 days off because one of those days I did two round trips in one day...and actually one of those days wasn't to San Rafael, but to San Francisco, which is roughly the same distance).  Also seeing my mother nearly every day is on the one hand very nice to spend time with her, on the other hand so exhausting with all the forgetfulness and the repetitions.  This morning at breakfast, for example, she asked me if Walt and I took the San Francisco Chronicle and then explained that she's been reading the Chronicle ever since she married my father in 1940 and in the next sentence said "Do you subscribe to a newspaper?"  But she can't help it.  She doesn't know she's doing it.  But it sometimes gets exhausting.

Yesterday she had an appointment with the eye doctor at 2:00 and another at 2:15.  They told me she would have drops put in to dilate her eyes at 2:00 and then the doctor would see her at 2:15.  I also had typed up a letter for her primary care physician attaching a form she has to fill out for Covell Gardens.  I figured that while my mother's eyes were dilating, I would drop that letter off at the desk in the doctor's office upstairs.

We got to Kaiser and the parking lot (a very teeny parking lot) was full, with a whole line of cars lined up hoping to find spots.  Unfortunately, since you turn a blind corner into the parking lot, you don't know that until you've entered the facility, so we waited in a line until I could get out again.  I found a spot on the street half a block from the office and put in enough quarters for 2 hours time, though my mother scoffed and said that was way too much money and that surely we would be finished in less time than that.

We went to the ophthalmology department and after about 10 minutes she was taken in for her first appointment, which turned out NOT to be for drops, but for a scan of her retina, with photos taken for the doctor to look at when he saw her.

We went back out into the waiting room and waited.  And waited.   And waited.  It was about 2:45 when she was taken to the exam room for her 2:15 appointment.  Paul, the doctor's assistant, apologized for the wait and said they had "an emergency" and that things were backed up.  He put the drops in her eyes and said the doctor would be in shortly. 

I knew they had to wait for the pupils to dilate, so I went upstairs to drop off the letter.  Only you can't just drop off something, even though the doctor's office is just two doors from where I was standing and I could have snuck in there and stuck it on her desk.  No, you have to deliver it to the Medical Secretaries' office, which is in another building, in another town.  I begged and pleaded, saying this was just a duplicate of a form she had filled out a week before, but the clerk was adamant.  If I handed it to her, she would just have to mail it to the Medical Secretaries' office instead of giving it to the doctor and that would delay it. 

As it turned out my mother had another appointment later that afternoon in the complex where the secretaries' office was, so I figured I could kill 2 birds with one stone and deliver it at that time.  But no, the appointment was for 6:30 and the office closed at 5.  I sighed heavily and figured I would stop by on the way home to my mother's house and drop the damn form off.

I went back to the office and the doctor still hadn't arrived.   We waited and waited and waited.  Finally someone else came and took us to a different office to wait.  By now I was getting worried that our parking meter would expire and I finally found Paul and asked if I had time to go plunk the meter and explained about my mother's cognitive mental impairment and that it was necessary for me to be in the room with the doctor because she wouldn't understand or remember anything the doctor told her.  He said that I would have enough time.

So I put another hour in the meter and went back to wait with her.   FINALLY the doctor arrived, explaining that they had a detached retina to deal with before he could see his other patients.  We were there because at some point in the past her doctor (now retired) had diagnosed glaucoma and had prescribed drops for her eyes.  Her primary care physician noted that she had not seen an eye doctor since 2009 and had not been taking her drops for a long time and felt it should be checked out.   This doctor found nothing worrisome on her films or in examining her eye and said that she should have her eyes checked out each year, but he wouldn't bother about the eye drops.

So we were, as my mother predicted, there for essentially nothing.   But we had spent more than 2 hours doing it.

I was so mentally exhausted by this point.  But we stopped at the Kaiser facility in Terra Linda.  The Medical Secretaries' office is located by the Emergency room, which has its own parking lot (and is in a different building from the doctors' offices), but the Emergency Room parking lot, since our last visit there, had had another building adding to it, essentially wiping out ALL the parking places, except for handicapped slots, so we had to go to the other building, 2 buildings away, up a steep hill, and park in the parking lot.  All I was going to do was drop off the form, so I just left my purse in the car with my mother.  Oh how could I have been so stupid!

I went down the elevator two stories, and along the labyrinth of corridors until I finally found the medical secretaries' office, but I couldn't just drop off the forms and my carefully typed letter to Dr. Caron.  I had to fill out a form and when I submitted it, they required personal identification from ME to let them know that I was OK to send the form I was submitting to!  Gotta love those HIPPA regulations!  But of course my identification was in my car which was two buildings and three levels away.  I have to say when she told me that I broke down in tears.   It was the straw that broke the camel's back.  The woman said that I could FAX the ID in, but they would not start the process of filling out this form until they had it.  And it will take nearly 2 weeks to get it sent to me after they have my ID.   This could have been done SO simply if I could just have dropped the damn form off in Dr. Caron's office!!!  But then I suppose if 100 of her patients came with forms to be filled out that day, it might have been a problem...  Sigh.  It's terrible to understand from a medical office employee standpoint, but to have to deal with it on an emotional personal level!

We went back to my mother's house until time to go BACK to Kaiser at 6:30 for the second TB test in two weeks.  Covell Gardens requires two TB tests and says that it is a state requirement, though Scott at Springfield had never heard that.

At her house, she returned to hostess mode and drove me insane.   At one point I yawned and she suggested that I take a nap.  She suggested that several times, in fact until I finally yelled at her that I DID NOT WANT TO TAKE A NAP.   (After dinner we were watching TV and if my eyes drooped or if I leaned over to rest my back for a minute, she was telling me I should go to bed -- at 8 p.m. -- and that I should try the bed instead of the couch, because it would be more comfortable, even though I have told her 1,000 times that I can't sleep in a bed because of my back!)

She also cooked dinner for me. The woman who has told me a bazillion times that she has forgotten how to cook, that she wouldn't know what to do with a steak if she had one, that the only thing she eats is from green boxes (frozen dinners) apparently cooks for Ed when he comes to her house and seems to remember how to do it quite well.  She had prepared food to cook for Ed the night before, but he showed up with Chinese food, so she had her preparations left over. We had pork chops, baked potato, fresh green beans, and rolls.   From the woman who can barely, she says, remember how to boil water.  But nothing is too good for St. Edward.  (I will admit that she cooked the life out of the pork chop and it was so tough I literally could not cut it, so she hasn't retained all of her cooking skills, but the beans, potato and biscuits were quite good.)

At 6:30 we went for the TB test and I have to take her back on Monday to have it read. She said it was a shame I had to drive all the way down there just to have someone look at her arm and that she could just go herself, but I pointed out that she'd probably forget, and if she remembered she wouldn't know where to go and when she got there she wouldn't remember why she was there in the first place.  She agreed, so I'm going down again on Monday...but that's IT.  Her doctor has ordered a neuropsych evaluation to assess the level of her dementia, but since she is changing doctors and since Covell Gardens has a memory wing if they determine she is getting too bad, I'm just going to skip that part of it.  I'm tired of all the doctoring...and I know my mother is tired of it!  She has decided she isn't going to see any doctors or dentists ever again.  I don't think I'm going to let her get away with that decision,but she is at least OK for the next year when time for her next tune-up.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Bloody Busy Day

We went to a show last night (more about that later) and at intermission I told Walt that every molecule in my body just wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep.   I was so tired that I walked in the front door when we got home, visited the bathroom, headed to the couch and was asleep in seconds.  I didn't wake up for 7 hours.

My word this has been a busy week.  I am about to make my fifth trip to San Rafael in 7 days, and think that yesterday's double round trip plus all the emotion involved in the precipitous decision to move my mother to Davis just left me wiped out and not in the best condition to start the day yesterday.

But it started with giving blood.  I love the new hemaglobin test Bloodsource had where it all goes through a machine.  Previously I had to wait for that test drop of bood to sink or not and if it didn't (which usually happened), then they had to put it through a centrifuge.  Now it all goes in this tidy little plastic case which goes into a machine that checkes hemoglobin levels and I haven't flunked a test since they started that method of testing.

After I finished my obligatory snack and drink, I raced home, got Walt, and we headed over to Covell Gardens for "contract signing."  This involved the representative going through every page of the lengthy contract to explain everything and my signing away my mother's life as her Power of Attorney.  My mother didn't have to be there for that, fortunately.  It took about an hour and we did have some questions, which she answered.  (About 5 minutes into the signing, my cell phone rang and I saw that it was Scott from Springfield.  I muted the phone and turned it off.)

One question I asked was whether my mother could have the San Francisco Chronicle delivered to her, since this is NOT the Bay Area.  Covell Gardens gets the Sacramento Bee and the Davis Enterprise. We have the Chron delivered, but I wasn't sure how it worked for a facility like Covell Gardens.  I still have to check with the guy who runs the company that delivers it and see if it's possible, but I got the fun notion that I could deliver her paper each morning and have coffee with her to start the day.

After the signing was finished they invited us to lunch at the facility, so we did that.  The food seems quite good.  This time I had a spinach salad with strawberries and turkey and a balsamic dressing. 

I had a whole hour after getting home before time to go to Logos to work my afternoon shift.  It was a very quiet afternoon and I don't think my portion of the day came near $100, though I did have one big sale.  A couple of friends came in and they bought about $50 worth of mysteries.  

These are people we have known for a very long time, her better than him.  She is from the South and drips Southern hospitality, in the nicest way.   One of the kindest, sweetest people you'd ever want to meet but I have to tell you that after David died, she drove me batty, coming to sympathize, bringing treats for us and the dogs nearly every day.

When Paul died, another friend asked if she could do anything to help and as she is a politician and quite tactful, I gave her the task of making sure that our Southern friend didn't drop by unannounced every day.  I don't know what she said to her, but it worked.  She didn't.  Part of me felt bad about that because her intentions were so beautiful, but I felt smothered after David died and just wasn't in the mood after Paul's death to go through it all again.

The afternoon at Logos was so quiet that I tried to return Scott's call three times, but he was always busy.  In the late afternoon he called and we were able to chat.  It was really a very nice chat.  They were prepared to offer us all sorts of incentives for keeping my mother at Springfield, but he realized that 0.8 miles distance from my house vs. 75 miles distance was something they couldn't compete with.  I told him he had been wonderful to work with.  He told me he'd keep her on his list for a few months and call in June or so to see how she's getting along.   We ended on a good note.  I will miss him.

Walt came to get me at 6 p.m. and we had a whole hour and a half before having to go up to the university to see Bat Boy, the Musical.  I was so exhausted the very LAST thing I wanted to do was to see a show and I actually pulled what for me was a hissie fit when we got to the box office and the girl had no ticket set aside for me and said haughtily that she was not in charge of comps and couldn't give me one (later I saw the ridiculousness of this as the theater had about 30 people in it tops, not even 1/4 full).

I leaned my head against the glass and told her that I was here to review it and that I really wanted to be home in bed, so if she couldn't give me my two tickets, I would be very happy NOT to review it and just leave.  (that's my "hissie fit.")

Fortunately someone nearby said she would check and someone else came out and apologized me and let me in.  This company is student run and they always ask me to review and there is almost always a problem at the box office because the PR person, once thanking me for agreeing to come, forgets about tickets and the box office person is also usually new and won't take any step that she hasn't been instructed to take.

Bat Boy is a very odd show, but ultimately a lot of blood is shed on stage, so we figured it was a nice end to a day that started with my giving a pint of blood.  A parenthesis of blood, you might say.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Groundhog Day

It was so much fun driving 70 miles to San Rafael and driving 70 miles back to Davis...that I did it a second time.  300 miles in one day.  I drove almost as far as a trip to Santa Barbara!

Why did I do it?  Well...it's a complete game changer and it started yesterday.  I've been literally having nightmares about this whole Springfield thing.  She wants a one bedroom, but there won't be enough money if she lives too long, the studio will work, but I don't think she'll be as happy there (and there aren't any studios available right now anyway).  We'll move her into the one bedroom and put her on the wait list for the studio...will there still be enough money?   I go to bed worrying about it, I wake up worrying about it, I dream about it some nights.

She has said all along that she does NOT want to leave Marin County (though Springfield is technically in Sonoma county, but they are neighbor counties).   But with all my concerns about the money, I thought I would just check out the local facility here.  Just for comparison. I called their office and, surprisingly, the sales rep gave me a quoted price over the phone for a 1 bedroom, which was $1,000 less than Springfield and even slightly less than the studio.  I asked if we could come right then and have a tour.  She said sure, so Walt and I got in the car and drove there immediately.

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The first thing I noticed as we drove in the parking lot were all the roses out in front.  My mother loves roses.

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We walked into the spacious front lobby, where a group of people was sitting around a grand piano singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," led by, of all people, David's kindergarten teacher.  We talked with her and she said her mother had lived here for 12 years and loved it.  Judy now continues to lead a singing group every Wednesday.

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We met with Alison, the Sales Rep (I learned that term from Scott!) and she gave us a tour.  I hate to say it, but I fell in love with the place.   It's bigger than Springfield (and includes an Alzheimers wing), so there is a labyrinth of halls, but everywhere you look there are little alcoves with people either sitting and chatting, or reading.  They all look so cozy!

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We met the resident who runs the library.  She appears to be my mother's age or older and she is fiercely proud of her library!

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From the upstairs windows, you get a view down into the garden.

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(the pink is a reflection of my shirt!)

I saw a pingpong table, a movie room, an arts & crafts room, a hair dressing salon, a small store run by residents where you can get some small things to avoid having to go to the supermarket, and yes, even a billiards room (though she would never play billiards, but I have been teasing Scott about the lack of a billiards room at Springfield, though it is mentioned in the facility's web site).

Then we went to the apartment that is available (there are actually two 1-bedrooms available now) and the minute I walked in the door, I knew my mother would love it.

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That door you can walk right out of and into the garden was just perfect for her.  There are actually 3 rooms, this living room, a bedroom, and a little dining area (plus kitchenette and bathroom, of course).  It's slightly larger than Springfield, but basically they are comparable in size.  But the garden and the price were what got me.  Not only is the price significantly cheaper, but there is no add on for the alternative living component until you actually need alternative living assistance.  At Springfield $250 is mandatory for everyone and as as your need increases, the cost increases.

Walt and I left the facility so excited.  It's 0.8 miles from our HOUSE.  I could walk there.  I could have lunch with her every day, if she wanted, and not have to drive 70 miles to do it.  If she gets to a point where someone needs to give her her pills once a day, I could do it myself!!!   

But could I convince her to come and at least look at Covell Gardens?

I called her and asked if she could consider moving to Davis.   "Absolutely not!" she said.  I asked why.  She said she had lived in Marin County for half of her life, she loved Marin County and all her friends were there.  I pointed out that Springfield is NOT in Marin County, and that almost all of her friends were either dead or had Alzheimers.  I described Covell Gardens in rosy terms and she reluctantly agreed to come and look.  But it was through clenched teeth.

This morning I drove down to get her.  She had forgotten I was coming, of course, but to my AMAZEMENT, since my telephone call she had convinced herself that moving to Davis might not be such a bad thing, that she really didn't have any friends living in Marin county any more and that really the only thing keeping her there was her stepson, Ed (who says he will visit frequently anyway).

That resolve continued as we made the drive to Davis and she got a real dose of exactly how far I drive every time I go down to have lunch with her.

Fortunately, she loved the place as much as I did.  Alison set us up in the dining room for lunch before we took a tour of the facility and then we went off to look around.  My mother, too, was won over by the sight of that garden just outside her living room.  We were so taken with the place I asked Alison if we could get the paperwork started right away to make sure nobody else got it while we were waiting.

She had her nurse evaluation (which she passed) and she gave them a deposit.  Tomorrow I am going to go and, as her representative, go through all the rules and regulations and sign that agreement for her...she won't follow it anyway, so no point in having her there, since they say it takes about an hour or so.  Walt will come with me to make sure that I ask all the right questions.

Her apartment is perfectly located.  She can't possibly get lost because it's a short walk down to the main lobby and dining room.  They give the residents several free coupons a month so that friends can come and eat with them, if they want and if they use up their coupons, the cost of the meal is only $4, which is definitely on a par with the local McDonald's (and much better).  The dining room surroundings are kind of plush--or maybe it's just the dim lighting that makes it seem that way.  I really think she will be happy here.  I think she would be happy at Springfield, too, but this eliminates my long drive just to have lunch, I can take her to theater with me here in Davis, and I will stop having nightmares about having to find a way to help her end her life when the money runs out (just kidding!)

I can't believe that after all this we went in a completely different direction and that my mother is moving to Davis.

Now I have to figure out how to break the news to Scott.  I feel like I've been having an affair the past two days, and cheating on Springfield with Covell Gardens!!

 This will be my mother's patio when she moves.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My New Passion

I'm developing a new passion.  It's not exacty "new," and it's not exactly unexpected, but I joined SwapBot a couple of years ago.  I'm not a crafty person, and most of the folks on SwapBot are knitters, crocheters, makers of something called ATCs, quilters, jewelry makers, and all sorts of talented crafty people who like exchanging things with each other.
I joined a discussion group there for people over 50 and have enjoyed that, though it's not nearly as intimate or as lively as our CompuServe group.  But still it's fun to learn about other people.

I've also joined post card swaps, some of which involve just sending a regular postcard to someone, but I've also made my own postcards, and sent specific kinds of post cards, like "ugly" postcards, "weird" postcards, "free" cards (advertising cards), and other themes chosen by the person who is running that particular swap.

I've joined pen pal swaps, most of which involve sending one letter to one person, and sometimes they write back, but your job is done when you've mailed that first letter.
There are recipe swaps, which are fun, though I reached a point where I decided I don't really collect recipes any more and while I was more than happy to share what I have, I didn't really want any other recipes cluttering my files!

And then there are the journal swaps.  The first one I joined was a Composition Journal swap, where you keep a journal for at least 2 months, with a minimum of 50 entries and then send it off.  My journal was OK, but the one I received from someone named Linda in Georgia was amazing and I posted this picture of some of the pages to give people the idea.

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This creative I ain't but I had so much fun getting this one that I decided to join the next Composition Journal Swap and I'm having the best time creating pages.  They don't equal Linda's by a long shot, but here are a couple of favorites.

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The left page is about Polly but the right page was a way to preserve a weird catalog I received.  What I have written there is "Father has strange tastes in clothing."
And then there was this fun page.  The woman I'm making this book for lists butterflies as one of her favorite things and I found some butterfly sticker edging at Michael's Craft Store and created this page.

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On the left side of the page is a gift notecard for her...when you lift the note card out of the envelope it's a butterfly, of course.

I'm really sorry I didn't take pictures of the last book I made.   I'd like to compare them, but I'm going to have a record of this book and am pretty happy with how it is turning out.  It's a nice respite from worry about my mother.   Once she is safely ensconced in her new home, I can relax, but right now it's what I think about when going to sleep, what I wake up thinking about, and what obsesses me during the day.  Is this the right decision?  Will the money last?  Etc., etc., etc.

I'm not sure if there is a correlation between creativity and stress, but I'm glad I have this composition journal to busy myself with and forget about thinking for a few moments!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Life Is Change

Peach and I went to my mother's today.  Things are moving very fast with Peach and Bob.  They will be on a plane flying to their new home halfway across the country on Tuesday, so this would be her last chance to see my mother.   And, since my mother won't travel any more, it is highly likely they will never see each other again.

Despite that kind of a downer of an emotion, what a great day we had!   (And sober, too!)
First, the two of us had a great visit in the car driving to my mother's.  She had all of her news about Bob, their new house, the move and a bunch of other things.  I filled her in on all that has been going on with the see saw back and forth with Springfield.  She felt very strongly that Springfield was where my mother needed to be and she, too (along with Scott and Mary Wise on this board yesterday) felt that she should move now and go on a waiting list for a studio apartment while she is settling in.  Peach was also pretty convincing that my mother belongs in a one bedroom.

I also had received an e-mail from Ed, who had checked with a friend of his who works with Hospice and her recommendation was that of all the facilities like this, Springfield is the best of the lot.

We got to my mothers and I called Denise, another cousin, the one who had recommended Springfield in the first place.  Denise isn't really a cousin but whatever you call the daughter of your cousin.  She is our late cousin Shirley's daughter, but Shirley was one of the oldest of my cousins, so old enough to actually be a first cousin.  She works in Petaluma and was going to have lunch with us, so she chose a restaurant and a time to meet.

Amy called from Springfield.  She and I talked a bit and I finally decided...screw it.  We're going to do this anyway, we might as well do it now, so I made an appointment to sign the contract on Wednesday.  I also said we would stop by in the early afternoon today so Peach could see the place.

We drove up to Petaluma and met Niecie at McNear's restaurant, which appears to have been a theater at some time.

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We had an insanely delicious lunch and I took a picture of the little group.

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"This is our family reunion," said Niecie.

Peach showed pictures of the house she and Bob will be renting and told us all about the timetable she has left...she's going to totally collapse when this is all finished, I would not be surprised.

Then we went off to Springfield to meet Amy (who is as charming and pleasant as Scott) and show Peach around.  Niecie, who is a hairdresser by profession and gardener by avocation already has great plans for planting a garden in my mother's little patio area so it's already growing by the time she moves in, which will make this just wonderful for her, since she is already missing the thought of "gardening."

I had Amy take a group picture near the area where they have happy hour every week, where they do puzzles, play card games, and have concerts.  Amy, it turns out, plays the piano and was a music major in college.  (We may be able to convince Jeri to join with her in piano-clarinet duets for the residents at some point.)

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"THIS is our family reunion," says me!!!

Amy gave us each a copy of the place's newsletter and monthly calendar.  You can see how excited my mother is to be reading all the activities she can choose to participate in.  LOL.

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It is fun to watch her at Springfield, though. There are "sparks" of interest and while I know this isn't going to be smooth sailing, I think she is starting to think it might not be all that bad.

We finally said goodbye to Niecie and the rest of us went back to my mother's for another hour.  She and Peach had a visit while I did some grocery shopping, since my mother's back was hurting too much to think of going to the store.

Little_Brown_Church.jpg (21101 bytes)And then it was time to say goodbye.  No tears.  Plans for telephone chats, Skype chats (if I can find wifi near Springfield)
AND, I want to fly to Iowa in June for Peach & Bob's 55th anniversary.  They want to renew their vows at "The Little Brown Church in the Vale," which is in Bradford, Iowa, just a couple of miles from where they will be living.

I was their maid of honor at their first wedding 55 yrs ago and I asked her if she wanted a matron of honor at her vows renewal.  She was thrilled.   It will also give me a chance to say goodbye to Bob.  Their schedule between now and the time they leave is so crazy, there really isn't time for me to do it before then...besides MY schedule is crazy too.  I have been in the Bay Area every day for the past four days and am NOT going there tomorrow, but will drive to Sacramento for lunch with a friend.  Then back to my mother's on Wednesday to sign the contract, work at Logos on Thursday and back to my mother's again on Friday to take her to an eye doctor.

So no way to squeeze Bob in, even if he and Peach had the time, which they don't. 
My mother's new mantra, repeated often these days is "Well...life is change."  It certain appears that this is an era of change for all of us.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I have a special fondness for nerds especially since I became such a fan of The Big Bang Theory (which Walt swears is on 24 hrs a day, but really only an hour a day and an hour and a half on the day when new episodes air).

These guys made nerdy cool -- Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali --just the names are nerdy -- and their girlfriends are science nerds, theoretical and experimental physicists, aerospace engineer, microbiologist and neuroscientist.

But I realized that not all nerds are scientists.  I met an absolutely wonderful gang of nerds on Saturday.  Gilbert & Sullivan nerds.  And, trust me, hard core G&S fans are definitely nerds! I've known at lot of G&S nerds over the past 50 years (heck, I am a proud G&S nerd!), but today I met a whole new group of them.

I heard from Jim, the guy who is the current president of the Lamplighters Board of Directors.  He asked if Alison and I could possibly come to a meeting of a fairly new group they had started, the Leadership Committee, a group of long-term Lamplighters subscribers and donors, meeting periodically with the intent of sharing ideas to help shape development programs to attract other donors.  Big money people.  Alison and I are not big money people!

Jim wanted us there to talk about the first two Lamplighters histories (which most people don't even know exist, since the last book was published in 1987 and there are no copies of either book to sell anymore).  He also wanted us to talk about Book 3, which is going ahead...s-l-o-w-l-y...to talk about the process and, as it turned out, to talk about what would make it all easier.

The group we met included 9 people, Jim and us.  Sometimes there are more apparently.  For our greater edification, Jim had each of the people there talk about how they came to know the Lamplighters, how long they had been around and anything else pertinent to why they were there on this committee. I was kind of proud that I had been coming the longest.  Walt and I will be married 48 years in June and we were dating when we first started ushering for The Lamplighters.

We were also a lot of old farts, so roughly in the same age range.

One guy came to San Francisco many years ago and decided he wanted to attend the SF Symphony.  If I heard him right, he wasn't impressed with the symphony, but somehow found Lamplighters and has been a regular ever since.  Another guy was a subscriber for a long time, then stopped after his wife decided she'd seen each of the operettas and she was done.  But he came back several years ago and hasn't left since.

A woman grew up in G&S and has performed with the company (we actually interviewed her and her mother for Book III).  Another woman has been around "forever" (but not as long as I have) and has apparently helped with many projects for the company.

But the guy who really got to me was a man who, with Jim's prompting, told us that he is the great-great nephew of Arthur Sullivan, and his great-great grandfather was Fred Sullivan, who performed in the first productions of the G&S operettas, directed by Gilbert himself.  That was special enough (and got him an invitation to write a foreword to our book, especially when he said over and over again how much he loved both books!), but he and his wife explained how they got their kids interested in G&S by preparing them ahead of time, reading the stories, listening to the music, and, best of all, the wife created a board game that they play for each operetta, asking questions, the kids get points and at the end of the game get prizes.   She says their grown children still enjoy playing the game and can be seen studying ahead of time if they know that they are going to play the game later.

The new resources director wants to make a video with them, showing how they made their game board and how the game actually works.  I keep thinking what a fabulous idea this is to introduce especially younger children to any kind of theater (in case Laurel is reading!)

P.S.  We met today to go over my mother's finances...all of the finances, including her checkbook, which Ed was organizing.  Our concensus was that she could move to a 1 bedroom at Springfield and be comfortable for about 5 years (maybe 4, in case extended medical care needs to be factored in).  That would be great, but it's a crapshoot.  How long will she live?  If she lives past 100, which, since she has no life-threatening conditions other than old age and has healthy habits and is in relatively good shape, is not unthinkable, she will run out of money around year 5 unless something changes between now and then.

BUT, if we give up the 1 bedroom and put her on a waiting list for a medium size studio (there are none currently available), she will probably be OK.  She at first said there was no problem moving to a studio, then said she didn't want to give up her bedroom, then said a studio would be OK again.  I think it's fair to say that this decision won't be hers because what she wants changes from hour to hour.

Putting her on a waiting list also gives us time to just do a little checking around other places, even Davis, though the look on her face at the thought of living where I could almost walk over to visit her frequently rather than having to spend 3 hours in the car just for lunch tells me she would never consider it.  She has decided she really likes Springfield and I really like Springfield and Springfield is definitely the first choice, but if they have no units available right now, this would give us the chance to just do some window-shopping.

Also I am reading an excellent book, "A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves" by Jan Gross, which my mother, actually suggested we read about 2 years ago ("when the time is right").  I'd bought it right then, but had forgotten I have it.  It is like reading my own story and additionally it has some wonderful insights into resources I had not even thought of, so a waiting list would give me some time to think about how to investigate those avenues as well (like getting a gerontology specialist to help client and family make the right decision).  So for now I'm waiting for a call from Scott (which I've been waiting on for two days...but it is the weekend after all, I realize) and see what he has to say and what giving up the apartment and going on a waiting list really means.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How It Went

We had our big meeting at Springfield on Friday.  My mother, me, Walt and Ed. 
I had talked with her twice the day before about it.  I was going to have her look over some paperwork before we left on Friday, but she reminded me that she had a hair appointment that day "but I'll be back by 10.  I always am," she said.  Our appointment was for 11 and it is about a 20 minute drive.   Should work out fine, though no chance to look over paperwork.

On Friday morning she called to say "Hey, Bev, are you coming down here for something today?"  I said that yes I was. "What is it?   A doctor's appointment?"  We went over it all again that we would be going to Springfield.  "Shall I take you out to lunch afterwards," and I explained again that we would be having lunch at Springfield.

Walt said he would come with me this time and we left here at 9:45 and got to my mother's right at 10.  She wasn't there.  I called her hairdresser who said that she had just gone under the dryer and would be finished in an hour.

I called Scott at Springfield and told him about the delay.  He was very patient and said not to worry.

When my mother came home, she invited everyone to sit down and said she would get us all coffee.  Sigh.  I told her we had to leave, like now.   

We got there and met Scott who set us up for lunch and then went off to meet with another family.  Lunch was again very nice (they have the best onion rings!).  

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After lunch, we met in a private dining room (because there were so many of us) with Julie, the nurse who does the intake evaluations.  My mother passed with not quite flying colors (her memory deficits were clear), but Julie said that was no problem and felt that she would fit in quite nicely at Springfield.

As we walked through the dining room, I noticed a table where four women were sitting and chatting and laughing and thought to myself that this was exactly what my mother needs.

Next Scott showed us 3 apartments, the deluxe studio that he had shown us before (but Ed and Walt had not seen), a studio that is currently vacant, and the 1 bedroom that my mother currently has on hold.  She likes the 1 bedroom best, despite the extra cost.

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This is the small patio she will have outside her door, which goes out to the parking lot, if she moves here.  She's such a busy body, I think she'd love sitting at the window and keeping track of the comings and goings of her neighbors!

Then we met with Tony, the general manager, with whom I am still not very impressed.  He seems to be more intent on talking the company policy than actually listening to what people are asking him, but he did give us what we needed to know, which was the figures of how much it is going to cost her to live there.   We had decided over lunch that we would not sign the contract that day, but would take the figures, meet on Sunday and go over what her financial situation is, and if we decided this was a good thing, I would take her up on Monday to sign the contract.

After my mother and Ed left, Walt and I visited the other facility, which is right behind Springfield.  It costs quite a bit less than Springfield, but neither of us liked it.  It had the feel of an "old folks home," which Springfield does not.  There were people sitting around, slumped in chairs outside and not talking at all.  The girl at the desk (the only "staff" person we saw) didn't seem to know much about the place other than "I think this is a nice place."  And the biggest thing was that they don't have Assisted Living.  I feel that sooner or later my mother is going to need some degree of that (even if only help with her medications) and at Springfield it is already part of the program...as is a memory assistance program to help people with their memory.

When Walt and I got home there was an e-mail from Ed, who had gone over my mother's finances and discovered that she didn't have as much as she thought she would have, though unless she lives past 100, it should be enough to keep her at Springfield.  We will go over all the figures tomorrow and decide if this is do-able.   I hope it is because I've already bonded with the place!  (Heck, the youngest admission age is 62...I could move in and be her neighbor!)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dear Dumbass

This was written by Paul's friend Sarah four years ago.  She just reprinted it on Facebook.  I think it still works today, the 14th anniversary of Paul's death:

dear dumbass,

so i have a big piece of pooh in my butt and i need to get it out.

i am a little late with this letter, i guess. i guess i should have written it on monday, tuesday or wednesday or whatever. i didn't. i was busy wiping tears, being mad, making sandos, and smelling the air.

the air.
it has smelled the same for the past ten years.
before, it smelled like baseball, spring,the pence, sex,sneezes and jasmine.
after, it smells like
and dead you.

i don't know why. 

i don't want to know. if you meant it, it makes you sad. if you didn't, it makes you pathetic. 

how many times did i have to count you down from ten when some one (dmtc) dumb did something stupid? i still can't believe that you did something SO FUCKING STUPID.

i told you; if you want to, i'll do it. that way you get it done and i get to do it.
is that what you meant when you left the shortest message on record(from you) on my machine?

"i have a piece of pooh in my butt".

a week prior.

the message struck me as strange. usually you would have gone into LENGTHY(hehe) detail about the pooh. you would have told me of its girth. you would have laughed. you would have told me EXACTLY what i needed to do to help you get it out. you would have laughed. that laugh. you would have, perhaps, told me if any of it had gotten out of your butt yet, and how much. how it smelled. how it was going to taste in the poohburger that you were going to make for me. you would have asked me if i wanted cheese. . . sauce. you would have laughed.

i didn't call you back. the message struck me as strange but not strange enough to CALL YOU BACK. the truth is, i was screening you in the first fucking place. the next thing i knew, the air smelled different and the sparkles in the sidewalk cement no longer delighted my eyes.

there is a lot to tell you. the world isn't even funny anymore, i mean it is funny but it is also crazy. remember watching movies about the future like, mad max or escape from new york? remember the mutants and sociopaths and gas wars and random shootings? welcome to 2009. not quite, but we are on our merry way to a very dangerous future. i mean,fuck, i am writing you this "note" on facebook.com. a social network that feeds and feeds and feeds and feeds. it doesn't feed us, it feeds on us.

you missed idiocracy. it is a movie by mike judge. it is truth. and to tell you the truth, it is funny. it is fucking hilarious.

the time that would have been your future has been pretty goddamn fucking funny. i have to say the talks would have been EPIC. i would need a 4,000 foot deep sink overflowing with dishes to completely catch up with you. plus we would have to have SEVERAL meetings about the thing and the other thing up on the roof(after we broke in).

you didn't know it, but you were a knight to me. you rescued my mind. when my mind swam with thoughts and i was drowning in a world that looked at me like a confused puppy (head all cocked to the side), you got me. you rescued me. you told me, "you get me, sarah. you GET me", and i pulled a han solo:"i know", trying my hardest to be cool. i tried my hardest to keep it from you. to keep my admiration for you, from you. to play it cool. to play it FUCKING cool. shit, you got me. you GOT me. i found in you a friend that will never be equaled. we were rare. our talks. our trips to the hardware store, for nothing. our trips to the speedboat dealership, to pretend. i will always be grateful that you spent that time with me. ALWAYS. and when i moved away, 3 hour phone conversations twice a week and sometimes more. you were family. i can only hope that you knew it. since the time we danced in the booth to the age of aquarius- to that last message; i can say that i had a fast friend, a bosom buddy in you. no matter the matter ,you were just a phone call away. i fell in love with you as a brother as a person as a friend. i fell hard. then you pushed me and a lot of others into the abyss. it took me 5 years to even believe you were really gone and 5 years to accept it. i believe it now.

so, fuck you paul.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Boy Scouts of America

A few months back, the Boy Scouts of America considered lifting their ban on gay scouts and leaders when public outrage shined a spotlight on their discriminatory policies.

They'll only end this discrimination if they know that public spotlight isn't going anywhere.

This coming Tuesday, the Scouts' Executive Committee will send out a resolution to the 300 local scouting councils on whether to allow gay scouts, which they'll vote on at their annual meeting next month.

For several years, I boycotted the Boy Scout Christmas Tree Lot here in Davis, writing a letter to the editor each year.  The local Scouts would answer it and people still bought their trees at the Scout lot because they knew Scouts, they liked Scouts.
I stopped writing my letter as it seemed like an exercise in futility and the Scouts had moved its lot from mid-town Davis to South Davis, where I never saw it anyway.

Whenever I wrote my letter, the local leaders would respond, saying that they also did not believe in the ban and, in fact, they did not follow it.  (I have no proof whether or not this is actually true).

I've thought about that a lot and decided that not following the ban may be as bad as the discrimation itself.

Many years ago, I joined Ellen and Shelly in picketing the local Scout Cabin, which belonged to the City of Davis and which was used for Scout activities.   Our point was that city funds should not be used to provide anything to groups which disciminate.  Ultimately the Scout cabin was closed and I don't know how (or if) the city supports the Scouts these days.

But while we were picketing, I learned something interesting.   This being a university town, many students from other countries passed by our little group, huddled together on the corner receiving hateful epithets from Scout supporters.  The foreign students couldn't understand what the fuss was all about because in their country (and this was true of all of the students from many countries who talked with us), gender is not an issue in Scouting membership or leadership.  Nobody can see any reason why being gay should a deterrent to being a Scout or leading a Scout group.

According to the BSA, religious organizations comprise 70 percent of its sponsoring organizations. Mormons, United Methodists and Catholics — the three largest groups — sponsored more than 1 million of the current 2.6 million Scouts in 2011.  This religious leadership was not in place when I was leading Scouts here in the 1980s, I don't believe.  At least I never heard of it.

The American Boy Scout Executive Council says that no boy who is athiest or gay can be a Scout and that no man who is athiest or gay can be a Leader (though what religion or sexual orientation has to do with camping and making smores I don't know!)  The BSA has taken away Eagle Scout awards from boys who have come out, and recently denied Eagle Scout award to a young man who had been working toward it since he was 8, long before he realized his sexual orientation.

This is clearly discriminatory.  In this country we do not discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation and clearly, while the Supreme Court has upheld the BSA's right to discriminate, it is wrong for them to receive any federal or local governmental funding, to use public buildings, or in any way benefit from anything that is funded by taxpayer money (though they are still receiving these benefits in many places).

The local leaders in this area have said that they ignore the policy and that a boy or man can belong to the Scouts if they are athiest or gay.

But think about it.  If they follow the policy they are teaching young boys that not everyone is equal, that some kids are better than other kids, that some kids are "less than" and that it's OK to feel that way.

Not good, and possibly even dangerous in this era where bullying has escalated so much.
But is the opposite any better?  They ignore the rule and let gays and athiests participate.  Good, right?  Well, not really.  What they are teaching young boys is that rules don't matter and that if you don't like a rule, you don't have to follow it.

Really, that's not good either.  

If you think about the Boy Scouts as just doing fun stuff and camping and all that, it may seem that it's not important, but the older the boys get the more likely they are to be influenced by whatever decision their leaders make.  The only logical thing to do is for the BSA to fall in line with the rest of the world and lift the ban on athiest and gay members.

If you feel as strongly about this as I do (or even if you feel at all positive about it), you can go to this web site to sign a petition which will be delivered to the BSA before they send out their resolution to the 300 local scouting councils on whether or not to allow gay and athiest scouts, which they will vote on at the annual meeting next month.

This ban hurts kids and undermines key Scouting values, like helpfulness, kindness, friendliness, and courteousness.  It's time to send a message of inclusion -- not discrimination.  You know--like the rest of the world does.

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Ryan Andresen, a teen who was denied the rank of Eagle Scout because he is gay,
says his scoutmaster won't respond to his calls or emails.
He has been working toward that honor since he was 8.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Just when it looked like there was a teeny sliver of light on the horizon.  Just when a bipartisan group of Senators agreed to allow a vote on background checks for gun ownership to actually go forward. Just when the Sandy Hook families lobbied Senators, even admitting that the current legislation would not have changed what happened to their own children, but they wanted to do something to prevent other gun violence.  Just when Gabby Gifford returned to Washington to be a visible symbol of what happens when someone who should have been prevented from having a gun gets a gun and goes crazy in a crowd.  Just when 92% of the American citizens say they want something done. Just when it looked like maybe this teeny weeny step that would be a start at helping reduce the escalating madness in this country would actually pass, it all collapsed.

46 Senators, including four democrats -- Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota -- made certain that the motion was defeated.
Moments ago, the U.S. Senate decided to do the unthinkable about gun violence -- nothing at all.  Over two years ago, when I was shot point blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing.  Four mnths ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing.   It's clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate.
--Gabrielle Giffords
(It is worth mentioning that Pryor, Baucus, and Begich are up for re-election in the next election cycle...vote the bums out!)

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New York senator Kirstin Gillibrand said
I couldn't be more disappointed that the Senate failed to act in a comprehensive way to curb the epidemic of gun violence today.  When 9 out of 10 Americans urge us to act to expand background checks, and then the majority of Americans support making gun trafficking a federal crime as well as getting military style assault weapons and ammunition clips off the streets, and we still can't summon the political will to act, this body is more broken than ever before.  I'm committed to continuing the fight to protect our families and communities from the scourge of gun violennce and will redouble my efforts moving forward.
People supporting today's bill are (some of them) gun owners and 2nd ammendment supporters and find nothing disturbing in merely expanding the rules from guns sold in stores to include guns sold at gun shows and over the internet.  It doesn't even require that guns passed down from father to son (or other relative) be registered. It would seem that there was nothing at all offensive to either side of the gun debate.  Years ago, even the president of the NRA was in favor of this law!

But no.  I supposed the NRA felt that allowing this bill to pass would open the door to other more restrictive measures. Or was having Obama fail more important than protecting American citizens...and children...from harm?

The NRA released a statement immediately after the vote that said the measure would have "criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens."
"Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text.   But that didn't matter," said President Obama.

"As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools," NRA executive director Chris Cox said in a statement.
So of course it's not worth even trying.
...the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment. 
--President Obama
I'm so discouraged tonight.  I had hoped the Senate vote would be one brief shining moment in a shitty week, but no, it's destined to be a universally shitty week.  The local paper is all full of the murders in South Davis, the national news is all full of coverage of the Boston Marathon Massacre, and the internet is filled with hate speech against Muslims just...because.

And 46 Senators betrayed everyone in the country today.

Nice work.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Needless to say, the media is all involved with the Boston Massacre.   The less sensational reporters (like Katie Couric) are the ones that I don't mind listening to.  The more histrionic make me change the station or turn the TV off.

But I haven't really been zeroing in on what happened in Boston, when we have our very own tragedy here in Davis.  There was more information coming from friends of Chip Northup's today, that being that there was much trauma to the bodies and they had also been stabbed, so there is no official cause of death yet (having watched Ducky's autopsies on NCIS, I'm sure the medical examiner wants to take his/her time to get it right).

I also learned that there seems to have been no sign of burglary, so everyone is wondering what the reason for the murders was.  I'm sure that will evolve eventually, but how sad for the couple's six children to have no reason why their parents were killed.

Elephant055w.jpg (45404 bytes)I thought I had reached the limit of my shock about this murder until I read the newspaper's report of it and read:
Enterprise theater critic Bev Sykes praised Maupin’s performance in an October 2009 review.
“(O)ur attention is riveted on Esme, and Maupin gives her total heart and soul: We understand her bouts of depression, her moments of confusion and fear, and her delight over the time she spends with her daughter. Ultimately, we learn the most from Esme,” Sykes wrote.
What?  I hadn't recognized Claudia Maupin's name, but now reading my own review I remember what a lovely person she was and how moved I had been by her performance. She was not an actress, but was recruited from a group at a local Independent Living facility.  Her part was ultimately made larger (given more lines to give) because she was so good in the role. After reaading the article, I sent an e-mail off to the show's director, now living in Australia.

We discussed the murder when I had lunch today with Derrick, my old boss, the former entertainment editor forThe Davis Enterprise.  But we gradually moved on to more fun topics, like movies (which he reviews) and stage shows (which I review).   He asked me about various shows I'd seen and I asked him for movie recommendations.   We compared notes on Les Miserables and the quality of Victor Hugo's original novel.
We also discussed our enjoyment of books of Lee Child and Michael Connelly and talked about how very,very badly miscast Tom Cruise was as Child's hero, Jack Reacher.

He asked me if I'm still enjoying the job and I admitted, honestly, that I do think about quitting.  There is nobody with whom I work any more, like I did with Derrick ("entertainment" is now handled by a person whose primary field of expertise is sports and so there is nobody to talk with about the fun things, the frustrating things and the tricky things) and I feel kind of all alone (so what else is new?). 

What kept me in the job the last couple of years were the upcoming productions of Wicked a year ago and Billy Elliot this year, both of which I have wanted to see for a long time and the opportunity of having good seats for free was a good incentive.   The schedule for the coming year has no such carrot to dangle in front of me, but what keeps me in the job now is sponsoring the Compassion kids.  My Enterprise check helps to pay their support.  If I gave up my job, I would have to either give up Compassion kids or give up eating lunch out and buying books, all of which come out of my small Social Security account.

We made an appointment for my mother to have her "intake interview" at Springfield on Friday morning.  Ed will come, which makes me feel better about encouraging her to sign a contract.  Scott will treat us to lunch and we can see the apartment (which is still having its flooring replaced) and then, if we decide to go ahead with it, she can sign the contract and plan to move sometime in the last half of May, which will give Peach a chanced to have one more overnight (maybe) before she and Bob move to Iowa, since it may be the very last time they will see each other, since neither of them plans to fly again once Peach is settled in.  

It will also give Jeri time to fly out and visit grandma in the old place once more. Jeri points out that having her in the new place will make it more difficult for her to visit since there is no airporter bus that goes from San Francisco to Petaluma, she doesn't think, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. That will be the least of problems, since Walt and I can always chauffeur.

I called and gave my mother the information that we were going back up to Springfield again on Friday and she seemed quite willing and said that she's ready to "get rid of this joint."  I am so hopeful that being in a new, uncluttered, freshly painted and carpeted apartment will raise her spirits and she will spend time getting to know her new neighbors instead of looking around her house wondering what she's going to do with "all this crap."
And after the murder of Chip Northup and Claudia Maupin, I will certainly feel much better with her in a communal environment rather than living in a mobile home alone.  (But I won't tell her that!)