Sunday, October 30, 2016

Slip Sliding Away

Tom cooked brunch this morning.  Even as a kid he was famous for his egg dishes.  Today he made a fritata that was fabulous, along with some leftovers from dinner the night before. And a tangerine mimosa

It was a laid back first part of the day, eating, watching football...and then came the deluge.  It was rain. Real rain!

Bri was so happy that after jumping up and down and up and down many times, getting her pajamas all wet, she just sat down in a big puddle, a huge smile on her face and said "It's finally RAINING!"

Lacie, 5, who has probably NEVER seen rain before that she can remember, due to the drought, was more practical.  It was raining; she was going to get wet, so she went and put on her bathing suit with her rain boots.

She has a shriek that would shatter glass and she used it over and over as she jumped in puddles in great glee.

It only lasted about an hour but it was wonderful while it lasted.

We watched football and the girls and I first played poker and then Go Fish.  For poker we used a desk of cards marked with the Dewars Scotch label and for GoFish it was cards from Ireland with the Guinness logo,  Then Tom showed me a piece of paper on which Brianna had been practicing her cursive.  I post it here, without comment.

 In the late afternoon, we went to the pumpkin patch.  I thought the trip would be postponed because of the rain, but no.  However the parking lot was a swampy mess and I was very happy I had my cane with me every time my feet started sliding in the goo.

We first stopped at the small petting zoo--2 goats, 1 mule, 1 pig and 2 turkeys. I didn't want to mention that it sounds like fattening up for a big banquet!

Next the girls wanted to go through the corn maze.  Given the condition of the ground, I was reluctant, but I also didn't want to be a party pooper, so, big breath and in we went.

At first, I could keep up, but as we started encountering rows without straw on them and lots of puddles and muck, I started sliding and getting scared...I was also getting way behind (but Tom finally came back to walk with me)  I could just imagine the damage I could do to myself if I fell.  Finally we got turned around and Bri told us we were going the wrong way because we were close to the start not the end, but I just said I had to go out the start.  Besides, my hip was aching terribly and I just had to sit down. So grandma was an old poop after all, but then we headed for the PUMPKINS!

I found a nice hay bale to sit on while the others wandered out into the field.  I had to laugh when, surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins, Bri suddenly shouted happily, "Dad, I found one!"

Finally 3 big and 1 small pumpkins were chosen and Lacie helped pull the wagon out of the patch.

After the pumpkins were purchased, the family DID go all the way through the maze, so I didn't feel so guilty.
I thought our visit was finished but first we had a hay ride around the perimeter.  People sat on bales of hay in a big wagon.  It was embarrassing that I could not pull myself up and needed Tom to give me a push from behind, but though I was reluctant to do this, I really had a good time.

Last thing before we left the farm...Bri stopped to pay a visit to an old friend.  She has had her picture taken with him every year since she was a baby.

The family was going to go home and carve pumpkins, but I had hit the wall, so I said goodbye and said I would meet them at Bri's school tomorrow, where there is a performance.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Perpetual Motion

In The Music Man, Harold Hill asks town bad boy, Tommy Djilas if he had ever done anything with perpetual motion.  "I almost had it once," replies Tommy.

Tommy needed to spend the day with Brianna.  As I watched her do laps around the house with the dog, Bandit, last night, I was amazed that she was still going at top speed, showing no signs of tiredness.  For my part, I drove home at 9, collapsed in a chair and literally could not move...and I hadn't really done anything but watch the girls much of the day...and I had even taken a break mid-day for a nap.

I went over to Tom and Laurel's at around 10:00 for pancakes and smoothies (banana, peanut butter, coconut water and "seeds") and then we were off to the soccer field for the girls' last games.  Though Bri is one of the two shortest on her team she is fierce.

She even made a goal and her team lifted her up in triumph,.

Lacie, on the other hand, played some

 ...but really her heart wasn't in it today.

(note her shoes.  The other girls have regulation soccer shoes; Lacie is wearing shoes with a Frozen theme)

Tom is one of the coaches for Lacie's team and I marveled at how patient he was with his team of 5 year olds, which include two kids with "challenges."

After the games we went off to a restaurant for an awards brunch, where the girls all signed each other's shirts as a farewell to the season.

From there, the plan was to go to downtown Santa Barbara, where the girls were participating in a "flashmob" of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," in makeup.  I had received a text from Alice Nan with information about connecting to the internet and was anxious to try that.  I was also surprised at how tired I was just from sitting and watching the two games!  So I opted to come home, but from all reports, the flashmob was a great success.

I was less successful at home,  I could finally get onto the internet, but with all of my attempts to use Joe's computer to get onto sites, I screwed up passwords, apparently and it all seemed so confusing that I decided to just skip trying to post Funny the World until I got home.  But I remembered that I could still post to Airy Persiflage, so have been doing that.

I also started taming DirectTV, writing down the number of the stations I visit most often so I don't have to scroll through 1000 stations to find one show I wanted to watch.  I now have my own guide and I am a happier camper.

Around 6:30, I went back to the house and found the whole family preparing dinner in the kitchen.

(Bri had been standing next to Lacie just seconds before I took this, peeling a carrot)

Bri may be the jock of the pair, but Lacie is the cook. Both girls enjoy helping in the kitchen, but Lacie in particular loves making food.  In fact, she got her own set of tools for her birthday (which had a "top chef" theme).  When I arrived she was slicing vegetables for the salad and then had her own pair of mini tongs to toss the salad.

Dinner was just a delight.  Listening to the four of them have real conversations brought joy to my heart. The girls are old enough now to have their own opinions and unafraid to express them.  One big topic was "Cotillion."  Laurel tells Bri that if she can't improve her table manners, she will enroll her in Cotillion where she will learn, among other things, how to behave politely at meals.  

Bri reacts in horror and emphatically declares that she will NOT go to Cotillion because she will have to dance with boys, her face wrinkled in disgust.  "Who would ever want to dance with a boy? she asks.

It was impossible to get a picture of Bri playing tug of war with Bandit, but I loved this picture I took of the two of them the night before.

Imagine the two of them, each at opposite ends of a long piece of cloth, running around and around and around.

It was bath time and then story time (they are on Book 3 of the Harry Potter series) so I said goodbye and headed home.  I hadn't done anything all day but watch, but when I got to the house, I sat in the recliner and literally could not move.  I was asleep by 10:30.

Tomorrow we are to go on a hay ride and pick pumpkins.  "Good photo ops," Laurel tells me.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Thwarted by Technology

Technology continues to thwart me.  Today it is warm in the house and all I wanted to do was open the window, but can't find where it's locked.

I did get the washing machine working, so that was a good thing (it helps to understand the difference between "push" and "pull").  And since I could not get onto any of my regular web sites, I just used Joe's computer to check my email (which was being forwarded from my DCN account to my Google account.  I could get into Google).

But Laurel was at work, Tom was out of town, the girls were in school, so my plans for spending the day on the internet having been thwarted, I was left with how to amuse myself for the entire day.

I thought of going to the mall for lunch, but I pulled up the menu for Chilis, where I had thought of going, and nothing appealed to me and it was all too expensive.  I wanted to pick up toothpaste, Neosporin and Tums, but I just didn't feel like going out for just those, and there was nothing I needed to "shop" for (and I'm not just a "shopper" for the sake of shopping), so I just stayed in the house.

I must also add that I hate Direct-TV.  It is the least intuitive remote I've ever seen.  You can't find anything easily and it seems to be half home shopping stations, half of THOSE being for sex toys.  It's the first I time realized that a TV menu should be R-rated! I don't know how parents can let their kids browse through station options.  If you are looking to find out what station an upcoming program is on, lotsa luck with that.  The guide will confirm that yes, it is indeed coming up on xxx station, but do you think it will tell you the NUMBER of that station so you can switch to it when you want?  Noooo.  I have learned a little about how to use the damn thing, but oh how I long for my ComCast menu!!!

At least my Kindle worked and I finished reading "Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog" by Ted Kerasote.  I had been close to the end of the book the last time I was at Logos, but I was nearing Merle's death and knew that it would be a tear-jerker (and was I ever right!) so chose something else to read in public.  But here I was alone and could wallow in the story of Merle's death.

Merle was a stray that Kerasote picked up on a rafting trip.  They lived together 14 years and the book is a combination of their story and Kerasote's philosophies on a dog's brain, dog behavior, and his own belief in letting a dog make his own decisions (within reason).  

Merle was a favorite of the small town in which they lived, and as he approached the end of his life everyone came to say goodbye and when he was buried, everyone came to his funeral (I'm crying as I write this).  It's an extraordinary book.  And I am SO glad I didn't try to read it in public!

In due time, Laurel texted that she was home from work and to c'mon over.  I packed up my computer, intending to post yesterday's entry using Tom's internet.  I was greeted by a friendly ghost.

And first there were movies to see.  The girls were watching one of the Ice Age movies

I'm afraid that the intricacies of the dialog eluded me and I never did figure out the plot other than a lot of running from meteors crashing into the earth, but it was nice cuddling with Lacie while we watched together.  Laurel was in the kitchen making a Blue Apron meal and I had a taste of what it must be like to be Walt every night!

After dinner, I set up my computer and Laurel gave me their password.  Only it didn't work.  I tried several times but no luck.  Tom had texted that his plane had arrived in Santa Barbara so I knew he would eventually be home, but it was getting late, the girls were into their nighttime routine.  Tom had been gone 4 days and I just felt I should leave and not disrupt things.  I had packed up everything and was ready to walk out the door when Tom arrived, but I didn't unpack and set up again.  He asked me if I had used their password...only the password Laurel thought it was had been one digit off.  Owell.  I was getting used to this internet vacation.

I came home, found a Star Trek TOS marathon, settled down and slept, more or less for 8 hours, with one interruption in the middle of the night.

In the morning I tried going on Joe's computer to check my mail, but it had rebooted itself sometime in the middle of the night, and needed a password to access, so so much for that idea.

But the girls are now awake and I can go over there.  I won't even take my computer with me.  I've resigned myself to writing these and posting "eventually."

Ironically, I had a text from Alice Nan asking me if I needed internet access. the Pope catholic?  But she wrote it last night and I found the text this morning (my phone does not alert me when there are texts, which drives me NUTS) and they were probably already on the road by the time I answered her.

I'm not going to take my computer with me to Tom's, but just enjoy the girls.  We are going to their soccer game this morning.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


NOTE:  Writing this from Santa Barbara,  Walt's sister and her husband are out of town and I have the run of the house.  EXCEPT, I can't get on his internet server, so I can write an entry and post it...eventually...but it will be tricky.

Are you old enough to remember "service stations"?  When I was growing up and first driving, if you needed gas, you didn't go to a "gas station," you went to a "service station," where there was a helpful crew who pumped your gas, cleaned your windows and checked your oil and tire pressure.  There were always people who could you direct you to where you needed to go if you were lost and if they could not, the would whip out a map and find out.

I miss those days.

My day (which ended by discovering I can't get on the Internet) started the day before....or the night before that.  It was about 11.  Walt was upstairs in bed.  I was downstairs at the back of the house watching TV when suddenly our car alarm went off.  After checking for bad guys, and finding none, Walt went out and tried to see what the problem was.  The alarm was off now, so we both went back to what we were doing, when the alarm went off again. I'm not sure how he "fixed it" but we were able to sleep without being disturbed by the alarm.

The next day, I got into the car to go to Atria and as soon as I put the key in the ignition the alarm went off and all the dashboard lights started flashing.  That was pretty impressive.  Wondering what I had done wrong, I took the key out, checked to make sure that I was doing all the stuff the same way I always did, put the key back in to try again, turned the key and again the alarm went off and the lights flashed.  I got out of the car to call Walt and when I tried to lock the car, the alarm went off again.

Walt was at work and not answering his phone or texts, so I contacted the theater where I was to have reviewed Sound of Music and told them I would not be there.  I got good advice from Facebook readers, but none of their suggestions worked.

I was figuring that something terrible had gone wrong with the electronics and that the car would have to go in for servicing the next day and I started warning people that I might not be driving to Santa Barbara after all.

Walt finally got home and thought the battery in the car might be dead, since now I was getting NOTHING when I tried to turn on the engine.  He recharged the battery, got the car started and drove to Honda to have things checked.  The told him it was the dead battery, fully charged it, and sent him home.

So now I was going to Santa Barbara.  But he decided he wanted to get new tires since it was going to rain and we were about due for new tires anyway.  He went out and bought new tires.

In the morning, determined to get on the road early, I got everything packed and headed off, listening to my Harlan Coben book.  I had gone about 3 hours when a warning light came on the dashboard. I pulled over and checked the instruction manual and found out that the symbol indicated low pressure in the tires. I was in the middle of nowhere.  I finally found a gas station, surrounded by nothing, and tried to see if I could check the air in the tires, only I would have to pay $1.50 in quarters, which I did not have because Walt cleaned the change out of the car before he took it in to be serviced.  

I checked with the person in the little store, but she was a grumpy old lady about 85 years old, who had never put air in tires and didn't know how to do it.  She did, however, open the air machine so I wouldn't have to pay.  But that was pretty hopeless.  I HAVE put air in our tires, but probably not for 50 years and the angle at which I had to put the hose and the tiny print on the gauge made it impossible to know if I was putting air IN or letting it out.

I called Walt and we decided I was probably OK to drive for a bit, since the tires didn't look low.  Fortunately I was only 7 miles from a big area where there are lots of gas stations (notice I didn't say "service" stations).  I couldn't see any air machine in the first one, but did find one in the second.  Not only that, but there was a nice strapping young guy just finishing up pumping his gas.  I asked him if he could help me put air in my tires, but he said he had two babies in his car and couldn't leave them.

The next guy I asked was on his way to the bathroom and couldn't help me.

The third guy was the clerk in the store, who again turned the machine on for me so I didn't have to pay, but couldn't leave the counter.  He finally decided that the store was empty so he came out to help.  He said the first tire was OK and I think he put air in the second.  I thanked him profusely, but when I turned on the motor, I was still getting the warning light.  I decided to drive on, hope I made it to Santa Barbara without losing a tire, and have Tom check it for me.  Walt agreed that would be OK, as long as the tires didn't look low.

My back was really starting to hurt, so I stopped at the Harris Ranch to get coffee and a small dessert and as I was leaving the parking lot Walt called back and said that maybe the problem was that the tires had not been calibrated after they were installed, so he was trying to help me figure out how to do that over the phone.  It took a bit because his definition of "dashboard" and mine are different, I discovered.  But eventually I found the right button, hidden from view, and when I pushed it and started the car again, the warning light disappeared!

Finally I was on my way, with about 3 hours driving time left.  I managed to hit not one, not two, but THREE heavy rain squalls (discovered watching the news this morning that there was flooding in those areas later) so that I could hardly see the cars in front of me.

The other problem was that I had finished my Coben book and had started an Alexander McCall Smith book, which was not a gripping story and it was putting me to sleep.  I kept drifting over onto the right shoulder (fortunately we have those rough patches that make a horrible noise when you drive on them and wake you up!).  I finally pulled over and found a better book and that did the trick.

I felt like Dorothy waking up in the poppy field and seeing Oz shining brightly in front of her.  Other than being  exhausted by the time I arrived at the turnoff, things had gone all right, except that I had drunk about a gallon of water since I left the Harris Ranch and had to pee.  NOW.

I pulled into Tom's driveway (to pick up the key to this house) and dribbled my way into their bathroom.  Laurel was reading to the girls so I didn't want to stay (plus I wanted to get out of my wet clothes) and just came on over here.

I got in here, took off all of my stinky clothes and put them in the washing machine and discovered I couldn't get it started.  Maybe Joe does something to the washer when they leave the house for several days but I didn't want to mess with anything. So I have wet clothes, covered with liquid detergent sitting in the washing machine and I hope to take it to Laurel's tonight and wash them.

FORTUNATELY, I decided not to try writing this last night because fighting with their TV remote, which is so much more complicated than ours, and then finding out I had no internet access would have been the icing on the cake.  As it was, I realized I had brought all my meds, but forgot Tums and with all that was going on I had major heartburn.  Also, I brought all of my dental stuff...and forgot toothpaste.  Off to K-Mart in the morning!

But now I have to see if I can use my brother-in-law's computer (which I hate to do) and get onto my Yahoo account and post this.  Wish me luck.

Well, that didn't work.  It seems that NONE of my regular sites, including Yahoo, where I post these, and Facebook, will accept my password. But I just realized I can take my COMPUTER to Tom's and use HIS internet tonight, so I'll do that

It doesn't help that my eyesight has deteriorated a LOT in the past year and I can not see any of the tiny screens I'm using very also doesn't help that I can't find anything on TV except TRUMP...TRUMP.. TRUMP.  Thank goodness an SVU marathon starts soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's the Little Things

As I do nearly every morning, I watched the window behind the morning group on The Today Show.  It bothers me so much to see people jumping up and down and waving their arms wildly while you're trying to listen to whatever is being discussed by the talking heads.  Don't they know they look like idiots?
The people I have the most respect for are the camera men who try to find angles to shoot the stars while cutting off the audience.  There is an art to it.

Before one of the last debates, I was watching MSNBC and Chris Matthews was having a very serious discussion on their outdoor stage while one guy standing behind the stage practically turned himself inside out to get noticed.  The camera man shot the group on stage from the side, then did close ups, and occasionally went back to the full table and the idiot trying to disrupt everything.

(Speaking of my respect for camera men, do you realize that every time you watch some guy climbing a high peak or doing something else amazing that there is a cameraman who is doing it ahead of him, carrying camera equipment.)

As I watched the idiots in the Today Show audience, I was thinking about the little things that irritate me.
We are right in the middle of the deluge of political ads right now and there are some that get me every time.
There is one guy -- a Trump supporter -- who is running an attack ad against his opponent which says that he is backed by environmentalists (oooo...big bad environmentalists) and that if his opponent is elected, he will cut off water to the central valley, which would, of course, be disastrous and sounds ominous unless you understand that the opponent is a farmer in the central valley!!! I guess he is counting on people in cities not to realize how ridiculous that threat is (besides, "backed by environmentalists" would be a plus in my book!)

There is a guy running for Senate who promises that he has a plan that will end the Iraq war. 

There is an ad being run over and over and over again attacking a candidate based on the fact that he sexually harassed a woman 20 years ago.  "a" woman.  "20" years ago.  While I certainly don't condone sexual abuse, if that is all they have against him, it doesn't sound like much.

Then there is the guy, currently in the House, who is running for re-election and his father was running some sort of a money-laundering scam.  The ad says that if he was aware of his father's actions, he's corrupt.  If he wasn't aware, he's completely incompetent

Then there are the state propositions.  The one that is getting most attention is Proposition 61, which is backed by Bernie Sanders, who says we have to stick it to the pharmaceutical companies and who thanks California for standing up to the pharmaceutical industry.  Sounds good, right?  But the "no" vote is backed by just about every medical and and veterans groups in the state who all say it only lowers prescription prices on a few and raises it on everyone else.  I was waiting to see what the democrats would recommend and it turns out that when we got our list of proposition recommendations, 61 was one of only two on which they had no recommendation!  It sounds like this is "damned if you do, damned if you don't" vote! I am having voter angst about this proposition.  Based on the very long list of organizations opposed to this proposition, I can only assume Bernie Sanders was duped into making an ad supporting it.

There is also Prop 53, which would require voter approval for infrastructure-related revenue bonds totaling $2 billion, adjusted for inflation, or more.  The "NO" add is ridiculous and says that big cities like San Francisco would decide what happens to things like road repair and (this is the part that gets me) if the "big one" hits the Sacramento area, could delay repairs for years.  I'm sorry, but if "the big one" hits, it's gonna hit cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles first!!! In fact, if "the big one" is big enough to cause severe damage in Sacramento, it has probably destroyed San Francisco. In comparison, Sacramento will have very little damage (notice I stressed "in comparison"). 

However opposition (or support) for this bill depends on where you live:
The “No on Prop. 53” team has ads running statewide, denouncing the ballot measure as a threat to public safety and local control. But what you see depends on where you live.
In the Bay Area, for example, the ad features Alameda firefighter Juan Medrano, who warns that Prop. 53 would allow “voters in the Central Valley or Los Angeles to veto local projects we need, like fixing bridges and road safety.”

In Los Angeles, though, an L.A. fire captain says that same ballot measure would allow “voters in the Central Valley or San Francisco to veto local projects we need, like water supply and road safety.”
And in Sacramento, it’s those evil voters in San Francisco and Los Angeles who will strip the power to improve water supply and road safety from the good people of the state capital and its surrounds.

In the Central Valley, it’s those city slickers in San Francisco and Los Angeles they need to worry about, while in San Diego those folks outside the friendly confines of Southern California, in San Francisco and Central Valley, plan to impose their will on the oceanside community.
(from The San Francisco Chronicle)
Apparently a lot of us are having voter angst right now. So many that many of the talk shows are having segments on how to handle it, and Dr. Oz (whom I don't watch) devoted a whole show to how to cope with all the anxiety surrounding this election.

Apparently no matter who becomes our next president, it is the end of the world as we have known it, according to the other side.  Perhaps we are gearing up to the zombie apocalypse.  So people are either not going to vote or are going to vote for someone who hasn't a chance of winning (I hear the alternate candidate in Utah, who is not running anywhere else, may actually be winning that state.  Nice for a protest vote, but we have to elect a real president people! and a throw-away vote like that will help one of the candidates you don't like into office.)

It's enough to drive you crazy:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

90 Year Olds

Our friend Arthur Sullivan celebrated his 95th birthday a year ago today, surrounded by friends and family.  We knew that we were there to celebrate...and say goodbye...he died a couple of months later.

What a sweet man he of the Lamplighter friends I had known the longest, 40 years or so.  Everyone who knew Arthur loved him.

But speaking of 90-something year olds, I had not gone to Atria for a couple of days.  She doesn't notice any more, so I don't push myself as much any more, which is lovely.  It means that when I do go, I enjoy it more.  Usually.  And it seems that every visit is different from every other one.

I had thought of going for lunch, but got an email from the entertainment editor of the Sacramento paper asking where my "stage pick" article was for the upcoming Sound of Music.  I had completely forgotten to write one, so I did that first, and by then it was too late for lunch, so I waited around until 1:30 and then went to Atria.

It's always a good sign when her newspaper has been taken in.  That means she's up and functioning.
Only she wasn't.  She was awake, but still sitting on her bed reading.  There was no walker in the apartment and no sign of any food.  She was wearing her pajama tops and her underpants.  She asked what I was doing there and I told her I had come to visit and asked if she wanted to sit there on the bed or if she wanted to go into the living room.

She stood up and I assumed she would get dressed and join me in the living room. She joined me, but she didn't get dressed, just sat there in her pajamas and underwear.

We talked for awhile and an aid came in with her lunch on a tray (her bill, which I received recently, shows that she has discovered room service and she seems to be eating in her room a lot).  She had a memory retention of about 10 seconds yesterday.  Every tie she glanced at the tray, she didn't know what it was or where it had come from. 

There were men working out in the courtyard, as they have been for months.  They are finally getting closer to finish, but she always thinks they are just there for the day.  She told me that they had put in a new pathway yesterday (they actually did it two years ago)

The men came up on her patio to begin painting and there she sits in her underwear.  I shut the curtains and suggested she really should go and get dressed, so she got up, went into her bedroom, and came out tugging on a blouse, which she was trying to pull on over her pajamas.  Then she sat down, again still in her underwear.  I asked why she didn't put on some pants.  She said she didn't have any and covered her bare legs with a blanket.

I went and got a pair of slacks for her and she laid them on top of her legs, hanging down over her knees and asked if that's what I wanted or if she should also cover her legs with the blanket.
I told her I wanted her to put her legs in the pants, which she finally did.

The food tray had a plate with a hamburger on it, and two covered cups, one with coffee and one with soup. Each time she looked at at the tray she wondered where it had come from and asked what was in the cups.  She opened each one and sniffed one.  She didn't want the coffee because it was black.  She would cover both cups up again, look away, then look back and open them up again to see what was inside.  She did this several times.  

She did finish the hamburger and took the plate out to the kitchen, then later walked out in the kitchen to ask who had put the plate there.

As for our conversation, I couldn't get her into talking about the past today.  She has completely forgotten about her husband Fred, which always hurts my heart because she loved him so much but now her husband memories are mostly about my father.

It was a day when she wanted to know if I was going dancing.  My god how many times did she ask me if I was going dancing and why I was not. She couldn't seem to comprehend  that the last time I was dancing was 13 years ago, at Tom and Laurel's wedding (she didn't remember who Tom was).

That's kind of how the whole visit went.  She was feeling some discomfort in her leg but she has stopped acting like she's in agony, so I assume that the pain med is working, though I think one of the effects of the med is this new mental state of hers. It makes visits more pleasant, if....weird.

Like I said, you no longer know what to expect when you open that apartment door. But the good thing is that she now seems happy more than she seems unhappy and that is a very pleasant change.  But who knows how long that is going to last.

I feel uncomfortable going of this coming weekend to Santa Barbara, but Walt will come and visit her and Ned will come and visit her, and knowing that aids from Atria visit her several times a day is very, very comforting. and, in truth being somewhere where I can't go to visit her will be really nice for a few days.

Yesterday was Tom and Laurel's 13th anniversary, which is difficult to believe that it has been that long.  I told them I will take them out to dinner, if we can find time when I am there this weekend. I am very eager to see the girls again.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Show Bizzy Weekend

I have often said that Monday and Tuesday are my real weekends.  Two or three show weekends have become the norm lately, especially now that I write for two newspapers.  See the show at night, write the review the next day.

Some shows are more difficult to review than others.  Friday night's The Impromptu at Versailles, a Davis version of a Moliere comedy was one of them.

The Art Theater of Davis was formed three years ago, to fill a niche Director Timothy Nutter felt was lacking in a town with a musical theater company, a Shakespeare company, a company that does both musicals and comedies, but none devoted to producing contemporary modern drama (tho it is unclear how the 17th century Moliere fits into that mold!).  They have done Chekhov, Ibsen, Noel Coward and now Moliere.  Each represents a big hole in my education, as I never studied, read, or even attended works by these authors (well, except for Noel Coward).  

So when I sit down and start to write the review, I know I am at a disadvantage from the get-go, compared to my co-critics, who have been reviewing these kinds of plays for years.  It doesn't help that I struggle to understand what the playwright is getting at.  (This goes for most Shakespeare too).
I do a lot of research and somehow manage to cobble something together which I hope will pass, and then when I read it in the paper a few days later, doesn't really sound like I don't know what I'm talking about.  I've been foolin' 'em for 16 years now.

With plays like August: Osage County, which I saw on Saturday, it's different.

I had not seen this play before, nor had I seen the movie, which, when I saw the play I was happy about.  Much better to have all of the "revelations" surprise me.  

The theater company producing this is Capital Stage, my favorite little theater in Sacramento, and they gathered the cream of the crop for this production.  The lady standing up, Violet Weston, the pill-popping matriarch of the family was played by one of Sacramento's leading actresses, Janis Stevens.  She has done several one-women shows, including Vivien, a show about Vivien Leigh, written especially for Janis,. which she eventually took to New York, where she was nominated for several big awards.  

She also played Katharine Hepburn in Kate, and Maria Callas in Master ClassBut in this show she starred and was a powerhouse.  

Writing the review for this play was easy, but first, since I had enjoyed the play so much, I decided to watch the movie on Netflix.  I enjoyed it as much the second time and felt that Stevens' performance could be favorably with Meryl Streep.

Last week I had more or less of a "vacation."  Only one show to review, and that was Pirates of Penzance, the review for which I could probably write in my sleep.

It was fun review, especially since it was a good production.  I think I managed to get it written in half an hour.

Next week I have the weekend off since I am going to Santa Barbara for my turn to see the kids (Walt went down a few weeks ago for Lacie's birthday).  

But tomorrow is Monday, the first day of my weekend.  I won't even have a car since it's going into the shop to be checked before I take it on an 800 mile trip.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Bookish Questions

1. How long did it take you to finish your last book?
The last book I finished was "The Cat Who Went to Paris" a book I picked up at the book store where I volunteer.  I finished it during my four hour shift. I always have three or four books going, including the one I'm listening to in the car, which may take weeks or months to finish (usually I have two books going in the car, one that I listen to while driving around town, one that Walt and I listen to together on trips out of town.  On a trip to Santa Barbara we finish a book in 2 days, but if we aren't traveling much, it could take months to finish.

2. How many times do you stare at your bookshelves each day?
There are bookcases in every room of this house, so constantly.

3. How many Goodreads friends/books do you have?
182 friends, 357 books.  I don't remember when I joined, but I only add books that I have read, not books that I am currently reading or want to read.

4. Do you ever quote books in public?
Often.  I quote books and movies.  I have no original material.

5. Do you ever re-read books?
I have, but not now.  I have so many on my "want to read" list that I have no time to go back and re-read old friends. My favorite re-read was "East of Eden," which I think I read 3 times, once along side Steinbeck's "Journal of a Novel," which is a collection of letters he wrote to his publisher while writing the novel.  Reading those two books together is a fascinating experience.

6. Do you judge a book by its cover?
Yes, and no.  My choice of a book is based on many things, friends' reviews, reviews I've read, recommendations in TV interviews, or, sometimes, the cover.  A lot of the books I choose are kindle downloads where I don't even see the book cover.

7. Do you take pictures of your books before you read them?
Only the books I read at the book store, which get posted as the Photo of the Day on Funny the World.

8. What are your biggest distractions from reading?
TV...though many times I read while watching TV.

9. Where is your favorite place to buy books?
Apologies to lots of people, but Amazon.  Most of my books come as Kindle books through Amazon. Second would be Logos books, the used bookstore where I work.  It's a dangerous place for a volunteer to work!!!

10. Do you always have a book with you?
Always.  I learned that a long time ago.  I almost always have my Kindle, which means that I don't get upset when I have to wait in line or at the doctor's's always a chance to read my book. (I also always read during intermission of shows I'm reviewing).  Having an audio book is wonderful for coping with the frustration of traffic is much less if I'm engrossed in a book.

11. Do you read during breakfast?
No.  I never got into the habit of reading while eating.  Sometimes if I'm eating in a restaurant alone, I will try to read, but it's often difficult because the table is too far from my eyes.

12. How many hours a day would you say you read?
It varies a lot.  Sometimes less than one, sometimes more than four.

13. Do you read more or less now than you did, say, 10 years ago?
About the same, I'd say.

14. Do you consider yourself a speed reader?
I've always wanted to be a speed reader, but the older I get, the slower I read.

15. Do you read in bed?
No.  First of all, I don't sleep in a bed, but when I do try to read while going to sleep, I am good for a page or maybe two before I fall asleep.

16. How old were you when you got your first library card?

I don't know, but sometime during grammar school.  I went to the library once a week, picked out six books, and walked the mile home, uphill (really!)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Today at Logos

It was good to see Sandy again.  We commiserated on last night's debate, which she decided she just couldn't watch, but had heard reports about, and about our fears for the coming election.  I wonder what the people in the store at that time were thinking.  Nobody joined in the conversation, and none of the ones there at the time bought books.

A nice lady from El Cerrito, near San Francisco, came in with a bag of books to donate, unhappy to hear we are no longer accepting donations.  We directed her to the SPCA thrift store.

A couple came in and the woman went directly to the literature section, and grabbed a book, holding it victoriously in her hands (I found out later it was "Death of a Salesman" which she has been looking for).  She looked around some more and found three more contemporary fiction books she liked.  She asked a good question--if we are no longer accepting donations, does that mean that the book selection won't change within the last two months.  I told her Susan and Peter are still going to book sales, so there would be some sort of turnover.

Several men came in and looked around and left,  Finally Santa walked in.  Or his twin brother.  He had snow white hair and a show white beard and was wearing jeans and a plaid shirt.  He had a broad face and a round little belly.  He was also chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.  He bought a book about Frida Khalo so if any of you have that on your Christmas list, congratulations.  Santa is coming through for you!

A man with very red hands -- almost as if they were frostbitten, though unlikely in today's warm weather, bought 2 John LeCarre books and two contemporary fictions.  He returned a bit later with his wife.  I recognized him by his jaunty hat.  The wife bought 4 books on architecture and told me she was remodeling their house, which she had never done before, and wanted ideas to confer with the guy who was doing the work.  She also bought a book of Japanese verbs and a book called "Two Years on the Yangtze," which I may or may not have read around the time we were going to China.  The title sounds familiar and I know the author's name is familiar.

A tall woman with white hair piled on top of her head in a bun came in, reminding me of Dorothy in The Golden Girls until she walked toward me when I could see she was much too young and had botoxed lips.  She didn't buy anything

The next woman didn't buy anything either, but I was wearing my "Litograph" shirt, with text from Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" written teeny teeny teeny to fit around the outline of the standing stones in Scotland where the book starts.  She said she liked the shirt and had been thinking of getting one of those shirts for herself.

A woman stopped by the store and looked in the window and then quickly came in and picked up the book "Homegoing" which she said is a new book that is on everybody's "to read" list and she was thrilled to find it for only $6.  It was only published in June of this year and was a New York Times best seller.

I had been reading the two chapters I never got to finish of "The Cat Who Went to Paris" which I almost finished last week and went looking for a new book.  I found "The Girl in the Spider's Web," which is #4 in Steig Larsson's "Millennium" series.  I had read the first three, but sadly Larsson died in 2004, at age 50 after climbing 7 flights of stairs to his office because the elevator was not working.  His fans mourned that we had seen the last of Lisbeth Salander, but a brave man, David Lagercranz has written the fourth book in the series and so far it's quite good. I brought it home to finish.

About now, the cash register tape was running out and I had to put in a new roll.  I'm generally pretty good at doing that, but for some reason, this particular role was quite stubborn and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get it to pick up after all and my friend would be by soon and always needs a receipt.  But finally I did get it to work.  Close call. He arrived about 15 minutes later.

This time he bought out our collection of Mary Poppins books (3 books) and we talked about the book I was reading. He asked if it lived up to the original three but by that time I had barely started it and couldn't say.

An older man with white hair and stooped posture came n, hands clasped behind his back, and asked where the mystery books where.  I showed him an he looked through the section and left without buying thing...or unclasping his hands!

A girl brought in a flyer for the Davis Treat Trail, companies that will be giving out candy on Halloween.  We talked a bit about it, she left the flyer for Susan and Peter to put I their window and left some little flyers on the front table, explaining what it was all about.  I think they have participated in the event every year.

A guy sat at the front table for a long time looking through a book, which he finally bought -- "Christian Mythology."

Another guy bought a book called "Random Walks in Biology" which reminded me of my years working in the Physics Department at Berkeley when my boss, Fred Reif, wrote "Fundamental of Statistical and Thermal Physics," which I have mentioned before.  The only thing I remember from that book (other than how long it was and how many times I typed the 650 page book (which now sells on Amazon for $100) was the random walk problem.  One of the examples Fred used was a drunk leaning against a lamppost and the fact that there was no way you could predict which way each step would go because he was too drunk and would take steps left and right randomly. When the book was finished, I found a little statue of a drink leaning against a lamppost and gave it to him.

Walt was off in San Francisco at a "geezer dinner," a gathering of several "old" Lamplighter guys--actors and tech guys--who get together periodically for pizza and beer.  It was nice that they had it at the home of one guy who has been pretty much house bound because of pain for several years now.  He used to come to our annual Gilbert dinners, but can't make it any more. Walt said it was good to see him again.

I rode the bus home, which gave me an hour to read my book before confronting the hungry dogs who were ecstatic that someone had finally come home to feed them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mindful Training

First, thanks to everyone who commented yesterday.  It was wonderful encouragement.

If there is anything I dislike more than office meetings, it's "interactive activities."  I once refused to review a show because the publicity said it involved the audience moving through several different stages, all of which would include interaction with the performers.  I do not interact happily. Entirely too intimidated.

So I was not happy when the annual Sutter Davis Auxiliary meeting, which had already gone through the boring stuff, standing rules revisions, new officers, scholarship report, new members introductions, volunteer survey results. CEO update and hospital performance took a brief break and it was announced that after the break there would be a presentation on "Mindful Training" and that would include a "little group interaction."  I couldn't figure out a logical reason for me to slip out unnoticed.

So far things had gone all right.  I had gotten to the hospital before the 9 a.m. start time, surprised that I didn't see more volunteers.  The last time I did that, I had been a month early.  But I knew this was the right day.  I went to the meeting room and there were two guys playing with the projector.  Don who is one of the big wigs, told me I was early.  I looked at the clock and said I was only 10 minutes early...only the meeting was scheduled for 9:30.  But they were serving a continental breakfast and I had not had any breakfast because I'd left the house so early, so I got a pastry, some fruit and coffee and settled in to read the book I always have with me.  I never really mind being in situations where I have to wait because I always consider it bonus time that I can use to read my current book.

Eventually people started arriving and I noticed with pleasure that I recognized more people than I recognized last year, but still as people started sitting, they were still sting in groups all around me, with the chair next to me remained empty.  I was wryly thinking to myself that it's always like that.  I always stick out like a sore thumb, until the woman in front of me turned around and started talking to me.  She said she knew me through one of the nurse practitioners at Women's Health, for which I worked for 12 years.  Turns out she is new and is one of the people in the dog therapy program, so we had something to talk about.  Then a woman named Barbara sat in the empty seat next to me and was very friendly.  So I was feeling OK as the boring part of the meeting droned on.

And then came the presentation on Mindful Training.  I was actually enjoying it, and surprised (and disappointed) when the half hour was over,

In the introductory remarks, I learned a shocking thing, that there are some 400,000 deaths each year caused by hospital error.  In fact it is the third biggest cause of death, after heart problems and cancer.  This situation was identified 17 years ago and there has been no significant change in all that time.  Makes you a little nervous about going into a hospital and understand why patients are discharged so quickly.  Things from giving the wrong medication to operating room errors, or somehow facilitating the spread of hospital borne infections like MRSA.

The facilitator explained that one of the steps they are taking to reduce the numbers if "Mindful Training," which begins with learning how to listen.  She said that most of us listen while we are already composing how we are going to respond to what our partner is saying (just think of presidential debates!) and so we often don't really hear what the other person is saying.  I thought about some of my most frustrating meetings with doctors who came into the exam room having already made a diagnosis of my problem without ever talking to me, and being unswayed by anything I said.

As she continued to talk about how to learn to listen "mindfully," and as we broke into groups of 3 (which was actually fun) wile one of us was the story teller, one was the listener and one was the observer to describe what she thought about our brief conversation while Paul talked to me about which super power he'd like to have as a superhero.  I thought we were having a fairly mindful conversation until Barbara pointed out things that we did and did not do.

As the activity progressed, I was taken back to Oakland in the 1970s, in the early days of our parenthood.  I was at m wits end because I could not keep a calm house and it seemed that everyone was always at each other's neck.  Jeri would have been about 6 at the time and the others down from that.

A nearby church advertised that it would be holding a class on Parent Effectiveness Training (PET).  I suggested to Walt that we take the class, but he wasn't interested, so I signed up and went off to the weekly meetings, while he stayed at home with the kids and waved "Have fun!"  It wasn't exactly fun, but I did go and learned tools I could use to help deal with my warring children. I learned how to listen mindfully and started practicing it on the kids.

"Active Listening" worked like we were following a script.  Ned would say ABC and I would answer DEF and he'd answer GHI and it was just perfect.  I was thrilled.  The thing actually worked!
But then I tried it with Paul.  I'd say ABC and he'd answer 56£Π@.  I'd try DEF and he'd respond ⅛Π$.  It never did work on Paul, but the training was not useless because I did learn how to interact with the kids a bit better and even today, I call on my Active Listening when I think of it, though, in all honesty, I am still more likely to listen while trying to form a response in my mind.

When the meeting was over, I ran some errands (including a trip to Michael's craft store where I actually spent less than $50.  When was the last time THAT happened??) and then I went to Atria.

It was 2 p.m. when I got there and my mother was not in her apartment.  I sat down to go through her mail and figure out which bills needed to be paid.  I had a question to ask her Long Term Care insurer but when I called I got into voice mail hell where I was moved from one message to another, each offering me a great value, like cheap movie tickets and things like that.  I finally hung up and called again, and realized I must have dialed wrong the first time.  But I never did reach a real person before my mother came back, pushing her walker.

She had not been in the dining room, so I don't know where she was but she came in saying "I just had to get away.  Everybody is having problems today and I just couldn't listen any more!": which tells me she had actually been talking to other people.  I think that now that she is using the walker, her pain is much less and she is learning that she can actually get out and move around.  And it only took three years to convince her.

We sat and talked and from time to time she would look over at the walker and ask what it was, and if it belonged to me.  I just answered her simply and didn't elaborate and the nice thing is that she seems to have forgotten how much she hated the idea of using a walker.

For the third visit in a row, we had a delightful visit.  Again we talked a lot of nonsense, but you know, you go with Active Listening and just follow her lead and give her the answer that satisfies her, things go very well.

She didn't remember that Ed had visited her earlier this week or that Jeri had called her twice, but Jeri said that they had conversations like they used to have.  I am so encouraged.  

She didn't once complain of pain, even getting out of the chair to walk me to the door when I left. That was the best part of the day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I don't know if anybody notices the number at the bottom of these journal entries, but many years ago someone told me that journals like this looked more professional if you numbered them, so potential readers could see how many times you've updated.  I don't know if that is still the case. I don't see a lot of journals or blogs that number their entries any more, but I have faithfully done so and it's hard to believe I have written over 6,000 entries since this project started back in 2000.

Over the years I guess you could say it has become my obsession.  I don't write a cooking blog or a political blog or a parenting blog or a particularly funny blog, but at various times it has been all these and more. I would be hard pressed to categorize it. I still refer to this as a "journal" and its mirror on Blogspot,  Airy Persiflage as a "blog," though the content is identical.  (I started Airy Persiflage specifically for Kari Peterson who wanted to be notified by email whenever I updated, which is kind of silly, since I update every day). From the beginning I tried to mix things up so that I would never be boring.  

People ask me how many readers I have and I don't have a clue.  There was a time when I knew how to check stats, but I don't any more. It could be a couple dozen or it could be a thousand.  (I suspect closer to the former than the latter).

When I look back over the past 16 years, it is amazing the various eras of my life it has recorded.  With very, very few exceptions I have updated every day, taking my laptop with me when we travel, often typing in the middle of the night when staying with friends, after everyone has gone to sleep so that I can be sociable, but still get an entry written.  When we have gone on international vacations, it has been interesting and sometimes challenging to get entries written.  At one time I knew all the best cyber cafes in London, I found coin operated computers in a library somewhere along the Thames and in a coffee shop in Scotland (where I mistook the floppy disk drive as a coin slot and put my money in there!).  When we had good internet access in our room on cruises, I updated there, but when we didn't, I would write the entry, put it on flash drive and then transfer using the ship's computer--only since the ship's computer, in the days before notebooks, were so busy, I waited until after midnight.  On one cruise on the Danube, I padded out to the lobby in my stocking feet and up the stairs to the computers every night around 1 a.m., when only I and the security guard were awake.

When I think back on what this journal has recorded it's amazing to me.  I picked up so many readers when I started Weight Watchers and this became a record of my successes (and failures).  I took up biking and the entries became a combination of weight loss and exercise, a new concept for me.  I lost 85 lbs before I started sliding, and then had the biking accident that ended up biking career. A lot of readers stopped reading me when I started gaining weight again.

There were the SPCA years, when we fostered over 100 dogs in 3 or 4 years.  I wrote about all of them, especially the puppies.  Ahhh....the puppies!  The years of bottle feeding and cuddling and then watching them go off to other families.  The "rainbow puppies," so named because they were nearly identical and wore colored string on them to tell one from the other.  They were all adopted in Davis and we even had a 1 year birthday for them at the dog park, so we could see how they had matured.  The puppy entries were some of my (and others') favorites.

We don't do fostering any more because the four of us--Walt, me, Lizzie and Polly--have become so set in our ways that to go back to the chaos of trying to fit a new dog in with Polly would be difficult.  Also, the local animal shelter stopped giving puppies to the SPCA and instead gave them to breed specific rescue groups.

There were the years when I worked for Dr. G and wrote a lot about him and his eccentricities.  I was always afraid he'd find the entries, but I kept writing them anyway.  I also talked about working for "the psychiatrist," which I did for 30 years.  All of those entries ended when I couldn't stand putting earphones in my ears one more day.

The birth of both of our granddaughters (including the days before their birth, when we were all on baby-watch) were recorded here, as has their growth into the 8 and  5 year old girls they are now.  I don't see them as often as I'd like, but I write to them, and now Brianna has started writing to me sometimes.  She is even learning cursive and her last letter, received this week, was written in cursive. I hope this is something we will continue throughout her life, and Lacie's too, when she is old enough to write.

My entire 11 year friendship, from start to finish, with Peggy was recorded here, with all the joy of our time together both here in this country and in Australia, and then the pain and confusion of her decision to end the friendship for reasons I never knew and never will know now.

I have written of my sponsored kids through Compassion International and my passion for elephants and dogs and their plight.  I can't write eloquent political commentaries like some bloggers, but sometimes I just have to put in my oar when I can't stand it any longer.

I've touched on many of the stage shows I have reviewed, a "career" which parallels the history of this journal, since I first began reviewing in 2000.  I even started a separate blog on Blogspot to keep all the reviews, which I have found extremely helpful over the years.  The name, "Bitter Hack," came from an angry letter from a reader who accused me of being a bitter hack after a review she didn't like.  I decided to embrace it and make it my own.

Over the years I have enjoyed blogging the Emmys and the Oscars.  I love awards shows and though I haven't done it in a couple of years, it was fun taking notes during the show to produce an entry when the shows were over.

In the last ~4 years, I have written about working at Logos.  I sometimes think those entries are boring, but I'm surprised at the comments I get from people who really love them.  Those entries are coming to an end, now, too, when the store closes at the end of January.

I've always loved doing memes, and have answered lots and lots of questions through Sunday Stealing and more recently Saturday 9.  I sort of consider those as my "days off" because content of Funny the World is directed by others and I just have to comment on the questions.

Now, of course replacing weight loss and puppies and other things I have written about is my mother and the progress of her dementia.  I wanted to keep track of her so that if I ever needed to look back and see what she was like xx years ago, and compare it to today, I could. It has been helpful when I get feedback from people who have traveled this road before me.

I have made wonderful "imaginary friends," as my friend from CompuServe used to call people with whom you felt a real friendship but might never meet in real life. People whose blogs I read religiously, like Rob Rommel-Hudson, who has probably never read a single entry of Funny the World, but I started reading him before his daughter Schuyler was born, through the trauma of learning of her "broken brain" and then watching her grow into a lovely teen ager, who cannot speak, but who uses a box to speak for her. 
I have written far too many memorials, both for people I knew and loved in my real life and people I knew and liked in my imaginary life.  People like Jim Lawrence of Jim's Journal and Sill in Corea, both of whom commented regularly and were good at keeping my feet to the fire if I got carried away and wrote something not quite true.  Jim said he started getting in shape while he was reading Funny the World, but he took it to extremes.  Slimmed down and became a real athlete, sadly dying during a triathlon.

There was Dougri, who lived in Providence, RI and was a strange man who once told me I should watch "Sunday Morning" because he thought I'd like it. I've been watching it ever since and think of him every Sunday morning.  Sadly, after a cancer diagnosis, Doug took his own life.

And I can't overlook "l'empress," whose life seemed so similar to mine.  She kept a blog too and it was not until shortly before her death that she let on that she had cancer.

Writing memorials is my way, I guess, of coping with the raw emotions of losing a friend.  Some were more painful than others.  Writing a memorial for Mike, Char's husband, who died on a cruise in Germany, was so difficult.  He had been a friend for more than 50 years.

And then there were the memorials for my cousins, Kathy and Peach, who died within a few years of each other.  So hard.  I dragged my computer with me to Iowa when Peach was undergoing chemotherapy and stayed with her and her husband for six weeks, recording he struggles and my first experience of a Midwest winter.

Though it sometimes may seem that my life is an open book and that there has never been a thought flitting through my head which has not made it to these entries, I do censor myself, more now than in the early years.  There are subjects that are off limits and I have religiously held to that.

When I began writing Funny the World, it was with the idea that if I ever had the chance, I would love to be a new Erma Bombeck.  Could I actually produce a newspaper length column every day?  Well, after 6,050 of them, I think I answered that question, though I have never, ever reached the level of even the worst of Bombeck's columns.  It's much harder than it looks!

But as I said, this has become my obsession and as long as I am physically and mentally able to do it -- and still enjoying it -- and Yahoo is still letting me post! --it will go on, whether for a dozen people or a thousand people.  Mostly, for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rude Awakening

I was having such a nice nap.

I had fixed myself some lunch and settled down in my soft recliner to eat it and watch an NCIS rerun.  When I opened my eyes, I realized that I was watching a different episode and that I must have fallen asleep.

I glanced over at the clock and saw that it was 12:40.  My shift at Sutter begins at 12:30!!! I called the information desk to apologize and say I would be right there, but there was no answer.

I was in the car and on the road within five minutes.  It takes about 10 minutes, with stop lights, to get to Sutter, so by the time I got to the hospital it was nearly 1.  I realized I had left my cell phone at home, which isn't a problem since there is a phone at the desk, bit the phone has information that I check when I'm at Sutter -- like the name of a former employee, whom I hired, who still works there and who is going to stop and see me one day and I can NEVER remember her name!

There was nobody at the Information Desk when I got there.  Now, it's not like there was a line of people wanting "information" but I still felt bad for being so late.  I decided not to sign in until the end of my shift so I could get to the business of providing "information" right away.

The first thing I noticed was that the computer screen was locked.  They must have done some upgrade on the system in the last month or so because this is the second time it has happened to me and in checking the "notes" that we leave in a big binder when there are questions or comments, I see that in the last week or so, four other people complained about locked screens. I've been there over a year now and this is a brand new thing.

Each person has an individual log-in, but you have to be at a certain screen to log in.  The locked screen asks for a password to GET to the log-in screen, but it's not YOUR password, it's Sutter's.  the only way the screen can be unlocked is to crawl under the desk and reboot the computer, and our instructions for what to do when you have a locked screen is to ask the security guard to unlock it, since you need a flashlight and we don't have one at the desk (and most women working the desk, most of whom are old farts like me, would not have a clue what they were doing and would be terrified to try.)

While the security guard crawled around under my desk, I went to the cafeteria and got some ice water.  Once the system reboots, it takes forever for the right screen to come up.  While waiting, I sat down.  In a hole.  The chair is at its lowest setting and you can apparently no longer adjust the height.  I left a note in the binder about both the screen (asking if we couldn't just have the password to get into the system, since everyone seems to be having the same problem) and the chair and signed it "grumpy Bev."

When I was finally up and running, I saw a note reminding people to get their flu shots.  My plan had been to go to Kaiser the next day to get mine, but with a free shot right in-house, I decided to get it at the hospital.  I've never been one of those people who are afraid of getting shots, but I'll tell ya, those flu shot needles are so thin that it's amazing they can pierce flesh.  You can't even tell when you have been injected.

They gave me a note to send to Kaiser to prove that I have had my shot.

The day progressed relatively uneventfully.  No babies born today.  A woman named Haunani called to let me know she was expecting a woman to come in for a job interview and to give the woman her phone number.  Only the number she gave was wrong.  But I managed to find her anyway.  However, I wanted to ask her if she had been named after the magnificent Hawaiian singer, Haunani Kahalewai, who was a regular on the Hawaii Calls radio show for years and whose voice was as smooth as butter.  I was taken with her when my mother and I went to a live recording of the show when we were in Hawaii back in 1960 and I have a couple of her records.

I didn't get the opportunity to talk with Sutter's Haunani, but since it was such a quiet day, I went on the internet to see what I could find about Haunani Kahalewai.  I discovered that her records on Amazon sell for $40-$150 and there are only a couple of videos on YouTube, none of which are favorites of mine.

A florist arrived with an arrangement of flowers, which I took upstairs.  I could not take them to the patient's room because he's in the ICU and actually, I don't think they can have flowers in the ICU, but I left them at the nurses' station.

Then a guy came in to pick up a body. That was a first for me!  I didn't know what to tell him.  He had the room number where the deceased was and I called the operator to find out what he was supposed to do.  Specifically he wanted to know where he was to go out of the hospital once he had the body.  The operator didn't know either but suggested he go upstairs and ask the nurses, which I told him to do.

For future reference, he parks his truck by the ambulances and takes the back way out of the hospital so as few people as possible see him transporting the deceased.  The newly departed gentleman was 83, I discovered when I looked up the occupant of that room number.

Shortly after that, an older gentleman in a wheelchair was being taken out to a van that would take him home, and I thought of the contrast of how these two old men were leaving the hospital! This one was going out with an arrangement of flowers and what looked like a daughter pushing his wheelchair.

A young girl came in looking for a doctor.  People do this all the time.  They have not seen a doctor, do not have a doctor but want an exam and think they can get it at the hospital.  Not only did she not have a doctor, she wasn't even sure she had insurance.  It amazes me.  Sometimes the ones for whom English is not their first language make more sense, but this was not the case this time.  Sutter has an Internal Medicine department, but being the former office manager of Women's Health, I sent her there and told her they could check on her insurance there and, if possible, make her an appointment.

I had a lot of time to read.  I'm reading a book written by a friend.  He's written several books and I'm ashamed to say I have not read any of them.  But when I went to Atria the other day, I left my kindle at home, so I checked the Kindle app on my phone and found that one of his books was there so I started reading it while my mother napped, pleased to find it very good.  But I'm halfway into it now and it's driving me crazy.  He has so many characters (like a Dostoyevsky novel, but at least they don't change names!) and no clear place where this is all going, other than a character study.  I now don't want to finish it, but I've read so far into it that I feel it a duty to finish!

Toward the end of my shift, three women came in.  I didn't see that two of them had dogs on leashes, but only saw the one with the puppy in her arms.  He was only 3 months old and making his first therapy visit. She said they like to start them young.  He was a spaniel-looking puppy.  The other two dogs were a huge Burmese Mountain Dog and a little Pomeranian.  I laughed when I thought of Polly as a therapy dog.  She'd give the most placid of patients a heart attack!

I stayed a little after my shift ended, since I'd come in so late, but around 4 p.m., unlike Logos which often has its busiest time at 4, things start getting very dead at the Hospital around 4, so I finally packed up and left.