Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Go Bears

PBS aired a documentary narrated by J.K. Simmons tonight.  I probably would not have watched it were it not for Simmons, whose voice I enjoy.  

It told the (pun intended) grizzly story of two young women killed on the same night in two different parts of Glacier Park in 1967.  Both were killed by different bears, the first murders by bears since the park was established in 1910 and, if I understood it correctly, the very last bear murders in the park.
Examination of the bears after they were killed showed that both were suffering from painful conditions -- one had a mangled paw and the other (a mother with two cubs) had glass imbedded in her jaw, both of which undoubtedly made the bears a bit testy and might have contributed to their attacking the girls.  The girls were each with groups and at a distance of several miles from each other.  They were with guides and knew what to do and not to do, but it didn't help.

The story of the two rescues were pretty impressive and involved landing a helicopter in the dark to remove one of the women, who later died in the hospital.

The story of an event 50 years ago seems odd, but the point is that these events were what set in place the start of rules that would protect both humans and bears in the coming years.

As I watched the show, I kept flashing back to our camping trip in Yosemite when David was a toddler.

We didn't camp in the park itself, but up in the hills, where it was more wild.  We had a nice campground with other people around.  We did all things you do when camping, including enjoying s'mores. Walt got the camp site cleaned up and everything put away in bear-safe places.

When it came time for bed we got everyone bedded down in our huge family tent and all went to sleep.

At some point I was awakened by the unmistakable sound of a bear snuffling on the other side of the tent from where my head was.  All I could think of was when Tom stepped in a marshmallow when we were having our s'mores.

Had we cleaned his shoes?  Would the bear sniff the marshmallow?

I was literally paralyzed with fear, trying to figure out what I would do if the bear tore through the tent...and not wanting to breathe so that he wouldn't hear me.

Eventually the bear snuffled off and I fell asleep.

In the morning when we woke up, the bear was in the cab of a truck across from us, having a gay ol' time tearing things up.  I think I'm glad I had not seen this documentary before my own bear encounter.

This afternoon, I got one of those feelings I get from time to time, an overwhelming need to lie down.
I haven't gotten on the couch since this "whatever it is" since I had such a difficult time getting off the couch, but I just needed to lie horizontal.  I got Walt to help and I was able to get onto the couch, though he had to lift my legs for me.  I asked him to check back every so often in case I felt the need to get up an was unable to.

Polly was beside herself.  Her nighttime schedule before "whatever it is" was to lie in a chair in the family room while I doze in the recliner and then get all excited when I head off to the couch.  Since "whatever it is," she still sleeps in the family room, but when I get up to go to the bathroom she watches me and when I get back into the recliner, she sighs, gets out of "her" chair and goes into the living room alone.

Today when I headed for the couch she fairly danced with glee and as soon as I was lying n the couch, she jumped up and curled up on my feet (briefly).

As for me, it felt so good to be able to stretch out full length on my side with the back of the couch bracing my back. There was zero pain anywhere.  I think I was asleep in seconds.  Walt said he checked in on me a few times.

I would have slept longer, but I got a huge cramp in one leg and then had to try to struggle to get that leg on the floor.  Polly immediately started barking -- I suspect she decided I was going to get up and feed her, but I'd like to think she was letting Walt know I was up and needed his help.

I was able to calm the cramp, but could not get off the couch without Walt's assistance, but now that I see how it's done, I may take another nap or two on the couch in the future, when Walt is home and I know I won't be trapped on the couch again.

Monday, July 30, 2018

New House

ay!  We have a new house.  Well, a new-looking house.  The painters have spent two days here washing and painting and when they left yesterday, it was all finished.  I love the new color scheme, a bluish-grey with a darker blue trim.  I wonder if the neighbors will notice.   

Walt came in last night and announced, with pleasure, that we had NO SPIDERS in the car port.  I told him to check again today.  Spiders are so plentiful in Davis, I'm certain that there will be a few families that move in overnight.

He also told me he was going to have to climb up to re-focus the car port light, since the painters left it pointed out into the street.  I always get fear and trembling in my heart when he talks bout climbing UP anywhere.  The man is 78 years old and has had at least one fall off of a ladder a few years ago (not as tall as the ladder would have been to adjust the light and much more steady).  Fortunately, he managed to find a pole that was tall enough that he could adjust the light while standing on terra firma.

The last 2 days have been about the same as every day, with the exception that we were essentially hermit-ed.  All the windows were covered in plastic and the world outside was a grey blur.  No way to check progress.  No way to let Polly out, though Walt has taken her for walks after the painters leave at night.

In truth, the hermit-ing had no impact on my life other than that I could not look out the window, but I did briefly get excited that Walt said the first night that we probably should not cook so he would go out and buy some Chinese food for us.  My favorite thing to do!  Then he remembered he was going to a retirement party, so there went my Chinese dinner.  I would not have enjoyed the party if I were normal, but there was no way I was going to go with my leg weakness.  I didn't know the honoree anyway.

So I had a spoonful of peanut butter and some nachos (chips with cheese sauce on top).  It was no chow mein.

I spent a good portion of the day writing letters to the Compassion kids.  Actually, I was answering letters.  I spent a good part of last week getting the incoming letters organized and now I have almost as many to deal with again.  But it's good to hear from the kids, especially since finally some of them are starting to say more than thank you and "I'm praying for you."

I'm learning about flooding in Kenya and the work of the Red Cross, a wild animal park and the "Day of the African Child" in Budalangi, cable cars in Bogota, motor car racing and swimming in a river at a fiesta in the Philippines, and varuous sporting events.  One of the kids wants to be a priest, another one is feeling very lonely.  Very definitely an upgrade from "how are you, I am fine" letters.

Walt's day usually ends around 10:30 or so, after dinner and a couple of glasses of wine.  He gives Polly her treat (she reminds him if he has forgotten) and heads off upstairs to bed.  I stay up watching TV for a couple more hours before settling in to see whether I will be able to sleep or not.

Last night there was nothing on TV that interested me, so I started to watch the last 3 episodes of Orange is the New Black, which I had not finished (season 5--the new season just came out).

I was only going to watch one episode but couldn't stop and watched all the way to the end of Season 5.  Then I turned everything off and tried to settle in, but I just had to find out how Season 6 starts and then forced myself to turn off Netflix.

Now that my butt lesion is about cured, it's easier to sleep..."easier" being a relative term.  Some nights I sleep very well (for me).  Other nights, like last night, I can't get to sleep for love nor money.  It was about 5 when I finally fell asleep and 7 when I woke up.

It was nice to wake up and be able to look out the window, and even better to go outside an see the beautiful new paint job.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!
Saturday 9: Love Is All Around (1970)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here

1) This week's song is the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a sitcom that originally aired from 1970 to 1977. Were you a fan?
Yes.   I loved the show.  I still remember the finale.

2) The song tells us that Mary Richards can turn the world on with her smile. Yet the real-life Mary Tyler Moore said she was uncomfortable with her "wide mouth." If you could improve on one of your facial features, which would you choose?

Wider rather than squinty eyes.

3) We also hear that Mary can "take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile." What do you think makes a day "a nothing day?"

I love "nothing days" where there is nothing on the schedule, no show to review, and no guilt about not visiting my mother.  (These days, with my knee problems, most days are "nothing days")

4) Mary works in the newsroom at WJM. Her desk is neat as a pin. Are you neat? Or do you lean to the sloppy side?

Bwahahaha.  Anybody who knows me, or who visits this house for 10 seconds, knows that "neat" is not a word EVER used to describe me.

5) Mary's best friend, Rhoda, worked as a window dresser at Hempel's department store. What department store did you most recently shop at? What did you buy?

I can't remember the last time I was in a department store.  I mostly buy on line.  I'm not a big shopper.

6) Mary Richards lived in Minneapolis. What city is nearest to where you are right now?


7) Originally the part of Mary Richards was written as a divorcee, but in 1970, there were no TV shows that centered around a divorced woman. Think about the women in your life. Are most of them married, divorced, single or widowed?

Married or widowed.

8) The MTM production company logo featured a mewing kitten. The cat was found in a Minneapolis shelter, and, after her sequence was shot, she was adopted by a crew member who named her Mimsie. What's the name of the last cat -- or dog or hamster or rabbit -- that you petted?

Our dog, Polly.

9) Random question -- Would you rather have a job that kept you seated on your fanny or standing on your feet?
These days I can't stand for 5 minutes without discomfort, though I have a butt that handles being seated very well.  (And as a theater critic, my job pretty much requires that I sit all the time!)

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Heart of Social Media

We hear so much these days about how negative social media has become -- and it has.  Facebook posts and tweets have become so ugly and hateful, and the art of intelligent conversation seems to have been replaced by name calling and insults.  Sometimes I have to shut it down because I just can't take it any more, especially when lead by the Tweeter in Chief.

But we forget that there is also a good side to the internet.  People are not all bad.  In fact, some are downright wonderful.

This morning I heard the story of a 4 year old boy, dying from kidney failure, who received a kidney from someone who read his story on Facebook.  It's not the first such story of such selfless generosity I have read.

Yesterday I received a phone call from someone who just wanted to find out if I was OK.  I don't believe I've ever spoken with her before and I don't think she has ever posted to the guest book, but she was worried that she had not seen an entry since July 5.  Knowing that this happens from time to time, I suggested she clear her cache and that might solve the problem, as it has for others in the past.
I assumed she was reading Funny the World, but she had been reading the mirror site,Airy Persiflage on Blogger.  Then I felt guilty because I have not updated that site since we left for Santa Barbara and she's right--there are no new entries.  So I apologized profusely, assured her everything was OK, and spent all day yesterday getting Airy P up to date.

But how lovely that she cared.

So many of you over the years have come through for me -- when I was losing weight, when I participated in various fund raising activities (especially when Ned and I had our heads shaved).  It has always warmed the cockles of my heart -- and surprised me! -- to find how many people read this and want to help.

And then there is Schuyler.  I have "known" Schuyler since before she was born.  I remember her dad's concern that he might not be a good father.  I remember that beautiful first year of photos of this adorable little girl as she grew into her chubby cheeks and made all of us fall in love with her.
I remember sharing his concern that, nearly a year of age, she had not spoken.

I remember the many doctor visits and tests when they finally had a diagnosis: Polymicrogyria, which is a condition in which  the brain doe not develop normally in utero and can cause seizures, delayed development and a lot of other symptoms, including inability to make the fricative sounds that allow them to speak normally.  Predictions for Schuyler were dire.  They predicted disabling seizures and an inability to ever read or go to school.  (More complicated than that, but that's the overview).

Refusing to accept the label of the "R-word," they continued research.  They discovered that with the help of a machine (now a cell phone, but then they called it her "big box of words") she could communicate, but it was very expensive, so many of us who had followed her story up to then chipped in and they were able to get it for her.

Rob wrote a book "Schuyler's Monster, a father's journey with his wordless daughter" which we all bought. Following publication of the book, Rob got very active in the disabled community and he and Schuyler have attended many, many conferences and shared their experiences.

Through the years, we have watched her ups and downs, cheered when she finished grammar school and went on to high school and joined the band (as percussionist).  We grieved for her inability to find a friend, rejoiced when she did.  We laughed at her love of monsters.

Last month we were so proud of her when she graduated from high school.  Einstein she is not, but she was able to get a job that would allow her to go to Australia with her dad to participate in a conference for the ISAAC (Int'l Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication).

Then came the angry note from her father: 
The people who run Schuyler’s summer internship dropped the ball and didn’t follow up with her about her time sheet, so we’re just now learning that she will not in fact get paid for all the work she’s done in time for her to use those funds while she’s here in Australia.
Schuyler worked hard all summer to earn money for this trip, and now it falls apart because someone didn’t know how to deal with her timecards. She’s still asleep, so we get to have that fun talk when she gets up (plus another heartbreaking one that I’m punting to the end of the week).
Schuyler is supposed to be learning real world lessons from this program. I guess the one about how much or how little her work is valued by her employers counts as a real world lesson. It’s just not the one I was hoping for.
He wasn't asking for money, but again we chipped in and Schuyler has the money she needs to enjoy this experience.

When I look over Schuyler's life and the hundreds of faceless, nameless people who have helped, it makes me realize that social media is not all bad.  Sometimes it's downright good.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


This week I embarrassed myself.

I haven't embarrassed myself in public this bad since the time I kicked the zebra keychain.
It was Tuesday, so we had gone to Music Circus, this week for Gypsy, a magnificent production starring three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello as Mama Rose.  Don't tell Jim Brochu, but I liked her better than Ethel Merman, for whom the show was written.  Merman had such a sharp edge to her, which Rose needs, but Carmello's heart shone though more, I thought, and she could belt out those familiar tunes with the best of them.

I didn't embarrass myself until intermission.

With this  "whatever it is," it is difficult to stand up.  I have to push up; I can't pull up.  I don't know why, but that's what it is.  We've talked about putting a safety bar in the downstairs bathroom but that won't do any good because I would have to pull myself up on it and that's the least efficient way of getting to my feet.

As I've explained before, it's not that my legs or knees hurt.  In fact they feel perfectly normal, but it's like when my brain sends the signal to stand up, it doesn't reach the knees and they do nothing.  Usually by rocking back and forth 3 or 4 times, the message finally gets through and I can stand up...again, with no pain, just with struggle.

This makes it difficult when sitting in the middle of a row in a theater when half the row wants to go out for a potty or snack break.  I hate making people climb over me because I hate it when I have to climb over people.  Last week, Jeff didn't use his second ticket so there was an empty seat next to e and I could kind of turn my body and make a slightly larger space to squeeze through.

I was feeling good about things this time, though.  I noticed I was walking around the house without a cane more that day and though I still needed help getting into the car, I felt certain I could stand up to let folks pass.

Oh, what a mistake.

Not only could I not stand up, I also couldn't swivel around to let them climb past me that way.  There were six people standing there waiting to get out and I couldn't get up.

I tried and tried and tried and nothing worked.  Walt helped by trying to lift me, Jeff tried to lift me and even people standing in line tried to lift me.
What made it worse was that I had worn a lovely pair of black velveteen slacks, which are now a little too big for me, so that the waist band is loose.  The velveteen material acts like Velcro against the cloth theater seat so if I can move my body, the slacks stay where they were, so with all the pushing and trying to stand up, the pants kept slipping down and Walt was trying not only to help me up, but to keep my pants from falling!

They eventually got me standing up and I apologized profusely to the people I had inconvenienced and then while they were all having a good time peeing and eating outside, I walked back and forth the length of the row, with no problem at all.  No pain, no weakness, no nothing.

Back for Act 2 and I spent the act worrying about what would happen at the end of the show. 
Sacramento generally drives me nuts because it seems that EVERY show gets a standing ovation at the end, whether it deserves it or not (England is so much more dignified!).  Whether you liked it or hated it, you have to participate because you can't see what is going on on stage unless you join the standees.  But this works to my advantage because the second the people stand up, I start struggling to my feet and generally by the time the last actors have left the stage, I am standing up.

But for some reason, the way the bows were staged for this show, nobody stood up until Rose took her bow, and then everyone leaped to their feet.  Not only was it not enough time for me to get to my feet, again my legs did. not. work. at. all.

We went through it all again.  Jeff tried pulling me up, I tried pushing up, Walt tried pushing me up while holding my pants from falling off and everyone around me tried to help.  Some little woman in the row behind leaned over and pushed and kept saying "Come on!  I know you can do it!"

I eventually did get up.

The frustrating thing about this is that when I left the theater, I sat on a bench outside waiting for Walt and Jeff to come out and when they did, I stood up just like a normal person.  I hardly even needed to push up at all.  So what the heck happened in the theater seats?

It may have been sitting in one spot for more than an hour with my knees bent, but I had a clue of the problem yesterday when I tried to get up from my desk chair.  I have a chair on wheels and I roll it back against my work table so that it can't move and I push myself up.  Sometimes it takes rocking back and forth 3 or 4 times before the knees engage but generally I have no problem.  But yesterday it was like being at the theater.  I tried everything and the knees resolutely refused to move.

I did finally, with a few tears and bad words, manage to stand upright.  For awhile I thought I'd have to sit there until Walt got home from the store. As soon as I'm upright, I'm absolutely fine.  Shortly after I got up, I needed to look something up on the internet, so I went back in the office and cringed when I had to sit down again, but I noticed before I sat down was that the chair was at its lowest setting, so it was like sitting in a hole and maybe I was trying to push up from too low a position.  It made me wonder if that is the case with the Music Circus seats too.  When I raised the chair to its highest position I was able to push up with no problem whatsoever.

I'm now thinking of trying to find a cushion to bring with me next week and see if that will help me stand up.  I will definitely NOT be wearing the velveteen pants!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Living TV History

Sometime next month, PBS is going to air a special on Betty White, who is celebrating her eightieth year in entertainment.

Betty White has been an amazement to me.  She spans the entire history of television.

Do you know that she was on the very first television test ever sent out?  I don't remember where I heard that, but years ago.  She was working in radio in a place where they were also working with television and needed to film an experiment to send across the street and so Betty White was the person they filmed.  This was in 1939.  Betty White has been in television for longer than I have been alive.  And she keeps going.

It will exhaust you just reading through her Wikipedia page.

In the 1950s, she hosted a daily five and a half hour Today Show type show that ran six days a week.  Can you imagine any of the current talk show hosts today who could handle five and a half hours six days a week?  She did it for four years.

In addition to that, in 1952, she began filming her own show, Life with Elizabeth.  She was the first woman to have full creative control in front of and behind the camera.  Life with Elizabeth ran for three years...and I remember watching it.  It kind of set the tone for pretty much every family sitcom ever since.  I Love Lucy without Lucille Ball's zaniness.

She also did guest spots and commercials in the 1950s, just to make sure she didn't get bored!

In the 1960s she discovered game shows and appeared on most of them, most often on Password.  She enjoyed the show so much, she married the host, Allen Ludden, to whom she stayed married for 20 years, until his death from stomach cancer

In the 1970s. after a couple of guest appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore show, she was cast as a regular, the sex-starved Sue Ann Nivens with the public persona of a sugar sweet Martha Stewart type.  In casting the role, the creators  wanted a "Betty White type" an were pleased to get Betty White herself.

During this time she had done a 19 year run as the hostess and commentator for the Tournament of Roses parade, but NBC dropped her, and CBS picked her up for a 10 year run as hostess and commentator for the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Golden Girls started in 1985 and was a huge hit for the four women playing the friends sharing a house (though apparently things were not all that friendly between White and Bea Arthur).  The show ran for seven years.

In the 1990s, she did mostly guest appearances, racking up awards along the way and then in 2006 she made 22 appearances on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and had a recurring role in Boston Legal  from 2005 to 2008

In 2007 she began doing commercials for Pet Meds and one might have thought she was going to relax on her laurels and enjoy her old age, but no.  She decided to host Saturday Night Live, at age 88, the oldest person to host the show.

In 2010 she took on the role of Elka Ostrovsky on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland, the landlady in the house, a role that was supposed to be only a one-time thing, but ended up being a regular role.
In 2011 a Betty White calendar was published, and White started her own line of clothing to raise money for animal causes.  She may be best known in these days for work for and devotion to animals and animal causes.

From 2012 to 2014, White hosted and executive produced Betty White's Off Their Rockers, in which senior citizens play practical jokes on the younger generation.

In 2012, she received her first Grammy, for a recording of her best seller "If You Ask Me."

This list of her awards is long including a daytime Emmy, the Grammy, 5 Primetime Emmys and SAG awards.  And if you click on the list you get this:

She has written seven books and recorded two audio books.

The "references" section of her Wikipedia page contains 88 entries.

And still she goes on and on and on like the energizer bunny. She is just 3 years younger than my mother and just reading about her life is exhausting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Me and Father Joe

His name was Martin Joseph O'Looney, a Paulist priest. We met him back in 1953, when my mother decided to become a Catholic.

I'm not sure how she happened to choose Old St. Mary's church for instructions, as it was not our local parish, but she went to OSM and took instruction from Fr. Joe.
The church was in Chinatown, across the street from a park, so she would leave Karen and me in the park (boy, you sure wouldn't do that today) and meet with Fr. Joe for an hour in the rectory and then pick us up.

I don't remember the first time we met him.  I was 10, Karen was 6.  He took one look at cute little Karen and thought she was greatest thing since sliced bread.  Fat me?  I was chopped liver.  That kind of defined our relationship my whole life.

He baptised my mother and attended the dinner my godmother threw for her, coming dressed in his priestly collar (he hated wearing it, but realized my godmother was very prim and proper).  The only thing I remember about that dinner was Joe and Karen huddled together laughing about putting olives on their fingers. I think my godmother was scandalized.  

My parents became an active part of his social group.  They met frequently for parties, often at our house.  The group loved to sing and Fr. Joe had a gorgeous voice and I loved to lie in bed and listen to the laughter and music going on in the living room.  I think of him whenever I hear "There's a long, long trail a-winding," which can't possibly be sung without harmony.

We enjoyed getting together with his sister and her family and we occasionally vacationed together, along with Fr. Joe.  Karen and I and her kids put on terrible plays that we charged the adults to come and watch.

Joe was kind of a renegade and did his own thing, over and above what was going on with the rest of the priests, though he remained a Paulist.  He gave great sermons and had a large following, so though the church hierarchy didn't know quite what to do with him, he remained a Paulist.

When I was in high school, he joined the Navy and served on the USS Kearsarge, an air craft carrier.  Whenever the ship hit San Francisco, he would come by our house to visit.

I remember when he had been in Japan and brought my mother a beautiful set of Noritaki china.  Though I had no emotional attachment to it, it was sad to give it away when we moved my mother to Atria.

When he left the Navy, he came to the Newman Center at Berkeley, where he spent several years.  When he arrived, I was the only person he knew so I became the person responsible for everything he found wrong about the center.  

My "chopped liver" status continued.

But everyone loved him,  He had that Irish personality, a twinkle in his eye and a taste for fun.  He also was dedicated to his special causes.  He founded "Amigos Anonymous" during his Newman apostolate in Berkeley. For eight years in the 1960's, groups of dedicated college students of all faiths from various colleges spent their summers in Central Mexico working with the poor. Their projects varied widely—starting an elementary school, organizing a renters' association, conducting vaccination programs, coaching kids in basketball, forming discussion groups, etc. The spirit of service continued through the Amigos Anonymous Scholarship Program in a small town in the state of Guanajuato where the Amigos originally worked. The program supports students whose families are too poor to send them to school. It was still in operation at the time of Joe's death.

He always wanted me to be involved, but I resisted.  (It took several years after his death (at 88) in 2006 when I was finally able to get off of their mailing list)

When my sister died, he presided at her funeral, but I have no memory of that.

He and I butted heads over two funerals.  For my father's funeral, I wanted there to be a recording of my father playing a couple of his compositions on the piano in the background as exit music, but he stopped everything and said that Beverly wanted everyone to hear these and made everyone sit there and listen to the music before he dismissed us.  It was a small thing, but indicative of how he never listened to me.

When David died, I reluctantly asked him to do the service and he said that since David had died while driving drunk he wanted to give the kids in the audience a lecture on safe driving.  I asked him not to do it.  He did anyway.  Jeri didn't want to play the clarinet for the service, but he made her get up and do it.  And then when the service was over, he was angry with me because I expected him to go to the cemetery with us to do the graveside services.  He had a party to go to.  But my mother got him to go and he reluctantly did.  When Paul died, I did NOT want him anywhere near the service (our friend David Gerrold, who had a mail-in minister's license did it beautifully and my friend Olivia spent the whole afternoon blocking Joe from getting near me!)

When my mother left my father, after 35 years of marriage, to marry Fred, Father Joe offered to get her an annulment of her marriage to my father based on the conditions of their marriage.  She declined and just lived in sin for the next 18 years.

As he got older, he sort of moved away from a parish and lived with his sister and her family (her husband became my father's best friend). He had dinner with my mother a couple of times a week.  He showed up with a bag of food for her to cook for him, and sat there drinking while she did.  On more than one occasion, she feared for his safety when he got into a car, but she never said anything.  He eventually moved into a rest home near her house.  He had lost the ability to communicate when he finally died, which is a shame because communication was his strongest skill.

He was most noted for the very long letters he would send out at Christmas commenting, from a very liberal perspective, on affairs of Church and state and especially on social justice concerns. In 1993, for example, he wrote: "As once more this itinerant hermit takes pen in hand to assemble this annual Christmas epistle ‘to the scattered troops', there comes the temptation to cop out. Last year's long-winded document was received with general approval. Even my right-wing critical correspondents conceded that it was my best and suggested that ‘I quit when I'm ahead.' I'll resist the temptation. It has been a busy and confusing year. Etc, etc"  (I copied that from his obituary)

We received copies of his old Christmas sermons for years after he died, and I'm glad they have finally stopped coming.

He was a very big presence throughout my whole life, yet I have no emotional feelings about him whatsoever.  Kind of like my father.

Monday, July 23, 2018

History, Recent and Long Past

Be still my heart.

The sore on my butt is getting better.  It still hurts, but it's no longer excruciating.  I still can't get into a prone position, but I did some pretty good sleeping last night sitting up and it actually felt good.
If it's Monday, Ned is here.  We have hired him to work 3 days a week, helping do all the things that need doing around here.  He's the white tornado and just what we need, whether we want it or not! 

Today he pulled out a box of scrapbooks for me to go through.  Sigh. Scrapbooks.  The bane of my existence.  We have dozens of them.  Maybe hundreds of them.  My scrapbooks (from my childhood), our scrapbooks (raising kids), and more recent scrapbooks (fortunately, digital photography has now moved "books" to the internet).

But in addition to our books, there are Walt's mother's scrapbooks and my mother's scrapbooks and my  father's scrapbooks, plus a few that belonged to my godfather, who was my grandfather's brother!.  Photo albums, mostly.  And what to do with those.  It's easy to get rid of  the books that are filled with pictures of people I don't know (nor does my mother any more), but what do I do with the pictures from my mother's 90th birthday party, for example? And how about all the clippings from my grandfather's years in showbiz, my godfather's years as a champion 6-day bicycle racer, and their brother's career in boxing??

And how about this lone photo, stuck in the back of a book of pictures from our wedding, which belonged to my father.

This was Paul, taken in 1970, in our Oakland house.  The thing on the floor is Ned's beloved blanket....which he still has!!!!  (It isn't in such "good" condition any more, tho.)

The thing that fell out of a book I picked up was a history of my grandmother's side of the family.  Peach had done extensive research on our grandfather's ancestors but I don't know how much she uncovered about our grandmother's.  Some of this I knew, some I did not.

We can trace our history back to the reign of David I (1024-1153) of Scotland.  Ivan Kilpatrick witnessed a charter of Robert Bruce. The crest of the Kilpatrick coat of arms is a hand holding a dagger, distilling drops of blood and the motto is "I mak sikar" ("I make sure")

This was derived from the famous 1306 murder of John ("Red") Comyn by Robert Bruce in the Gray Friars Church, Dunfries, Scotland.  As Bruce left the church, he asked his friend and follower, Sir Roger Kilpatrick, if Comyn was really dead; whereupon, Kilpatrick said, "I mak sikar" and went back and stabbed Comyn again and again until he was certainly dead.

So don't mess with me, you guys  I come from fierce stock!

When James I took the English throne in the first quarter of the 17th century, he began transporting Scotsmen to the colonies, for failure to pay tithes to the established church.  The first record of one of our relatives is in 1756 in Rowan County North Carolina.  He was married in 1772 and they had 11 children.

Andrew was a soldier in the Revolution.  He was an ensign in the first Regiment of Rowan Militia under Col. Griffith Rutherford.  There is a family story handed down that he was wounded in the shoulder in a Revolutionary battle.

At the time Peach wrote this (1996) she had tons of information to go through and planned to speak with Elroy Kirkpatrick (age unknown), but he had had 3 heart attacks and 3 strokes and I don't now if he lived long enough to speak with her.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Here are some food questions from Swap Bot

1.  Do you like pie?
Love it!  .My favorites would be pumpkin, peach, or any kind of berry.
  2.  Italian or Mexican?
I grew up in San Francisco, on the outskirts of North Beach and my father's favorite food was Italian (though he was Irish).  We ate a LOT of Italian. Italian was never my favorite.  I much prefer Mexican or Chinese.

3.  Can you bake? If so, what are your favorite things to bake?
Yes, I can bake.  I worked as a cake decorator for a few years, but my favorite things to bake now, I guess, are cookies (which I rarely bake because I'd eat them all).

4.  Do you use cook books or do you try to find recipes online?
I have lots and lots of cook books, but 90% of the time look for recipes on line.

5.  Do you own a kitchen aid mixer?
Yes.  I've had the same mixer for nearly 50 years and have had ZERO problems with it.  I love it.

6.  Ever cooked a meal for more than 15 people at one time?
Yes.  My biggest may have been 24 for Christmas (which was clever, seating them all in this tiny house!)

7.  Do you like hospital food?
Fortunately, I have little experience, but suspect it would be akin to airplane food in the days when they still gave you airplane food.

8.  Favorite fast food restaurant?
For burger joints, 5 Guys.

9.  Any picky eaters in your family?
I don't know any more.  Walt and Marta won't eat onions and Brianna and Lacie have very particular tastes, but I never have to cook for the two of them, so I don't have to worry about it.

10.  Soda or Tea?
Neither, actually.  I prefer coffee or water.

11.  Hot chocolate?
Oh my yes, the richer the better, loaded with whipped cream.  I never GET it, but if I decided to have some, that's what I would want.

12.  Favorite holiday dish?
Turkey stuffing and pumpkin pie (not together)

13.  What is the most tasteful strangest looking thing you have ever tasted?
I'm not generally one for tasting strange looking things.  I did have escargot once, and it was surprisingly good (and not very strange looking), but I haven't had it since.

14.  Fries or tater tots?
Hmmm....good question.  My favorite fries are shoestring potatoes, but you can rarely find them, so I guess I'll say Tater Tots.

15.  Do you like cheese? If so what kind?
Yes, but I'm not adventurous.  I love Swiss cheese, brie, mozarella, Bourson...mostly the milder cheeses.  And cream cheese, of course.

16.  Home made or can soup?
I'm not a big soup person, but if it's a good home made soup, I'll love it.  I used to make a lamb soup that was to die for.  The soups we had on our cruises were fabulous (not canned).  Occasionally, I'll have a chicken noodle or cream of tomato, but only when I'm reminiscing! I keep thinking I should make soup more often because there are lots of good recipes out there.

17.  Do you like to eat out?
Is the pope catholic?  I would eat out every night if it weren't so expensive.  There are a ton of restaurants in this town that we have never even tried.

18.  What kind of food is popular where you are? (Like in Alaska it is seafood)
I don't know that there is a certain genre that is popular here, but there sure are a lot of Thai restaurants in town.

19.  Do you like cotton candy?
I used to love it, but it had to be "fresh" from the pot where it is made.  When they started wrapping it up it took all the "magic" out of it for me.  I haven't had any in decades.

20.  Turkey or Chicken?
Depends.  I love a turkey at the holidays, but rarely other times, but I cook a lot of chicken.

21.  Hamburger or tuna helper?
Definitely hamburger.

22.  Raw or cooked veggies?
Cooked.  I'm one of those cretins who prefer vegetables to be soft, not crunchy

23.  Do you like salad? If so, what is your favorite kind of salad?
I like a good salad bar and usually add tomatoes, onions, cheese, kidney beans, and bacon to my lettuce.  But I also like Cesar salad, broccoli salad with cranberries, and love fruit salads.

24.  Favorite pizza topping?
Sausage and mushroom with a pesto sauce

25.  Do you like meat loaf?
It depends on the meat loaf.  My mother made the best meat loaf ever, yet had no recipe for it.  In all my cooking years, I have never been able to duplicate it.  I don't dislike meatloaf, but I am continually looking for one like my mother's.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Bang, Bang, Bang

I noticed that my mother was wearing glasses when they wheeled her out to the car for her annual medical exam.
Of course they weren't her glasses, and I don't know whether they do anything, pro or con, for her vision, but she was happy to have "her" glasses on.  I also notice that her eyes, which have been red lately as she rubs them, seem to be fine now, so who am I to complain?  At least she was wearing her own clothes this time.

She didn't know where she was going....or why....despite several explanations, but what else is new?

Going into the exam room was silly, since Anne, Dr. Akanda's nurse was helping my mother while I was struggling to get out of the chair I was sitting in (Walt finally helped me).  

We had our pre-exam meeting with Anne who then gave my mother a gown to put on, which she couldn't understand at all.  As Anne was leaving the room, she was struggling to get the gown over her shirt.  I stopped her and told her she had to take her shirt off first, but that was too complicated for her to process and she continued to put it on over her shirt.  I started to get to my feet to help her, but my knees wouldn't work.

Talk about the blind leading the blind!

We did finally get the shirt off and the gown on (though with how little "hands-on" the exam was, it really was unnecessary).  And now the annual exam for her 99th year has taken place.  Next time she has an annual exam it will be just before her 100th birthday.  The sad thing about that was how excited she was for several years at the prospect of making it to 100 and now it doesn't even rate a blip on her awareness meter.  If you tell her she's about to be 100, she just says she refuses to be that old.

She'll be 99 in just under 2 months.  Hard to believe.

You can tell how much her ability to read has been compromised by her Alzheimers.  There was a brochure across from where she was sitting.  It said "Everyone deserves a safe relationship."  She struggled to read "everyone deserves a safe..." but "relationship" was too long a word for her to read.  Sigh...this is the woman who was an avid reader all of her life and was proud of reading two newspapers, back to back, every morning.  :(

So we have now done annual exam for her and for me, physical therapy for me, neurology and dental exam for me, and upcoming dental exam for Walt and eye exam for me.  We may be good to go for the next year!

I'd like to say that it was an otherwise quiet afternoon, but it was anything but.  There was a point where I was sure that there was going to be a hammer smashing  through the wall of my office.  And Walt had to remove things from the walls for fear of them being knocked off.  We are having the siding replaced on the house and, ultimately, the house repainted.

There was so much pounding and other noises that even Polly decided it was useless to bark and just fell asleep.

But there was much productivity going on and they got a good start on the house.

When they are finished it will be like having a whole new house, but there is much more pounding to go before the job is completed.

Their afternoon nap

Friday, July 20, 2018

Yes, but I CAN'T get up

"OK, you can sit up now," said the physical therapist.

"Yes, but I can't get up," I wailed, letting him know he would have to help me get to a sitting position.

This "whatever it is" is so frustrating because things look so easy and I feel like there should be no problem doing them, until I try and then discover how much my body rebels.

After I explained my symptoms to the PT, he said he would give me some exercises to do all of which could be done on a bed.  To demonstrate, he lay down on the table and then showed how all I had to do was raise each leg up 90 degrees five times and then the other leg five times.

Now it was my turn.  Well, first of all, I could not get into a prone position without help, but once lying down I tried to lift my left leg and it would only go up about 6" and then I tried the right leg and I couldn't get that an inch off the table.  So he decided he would steady my leg and have me move it out to the side and back.  Moving it to the side was surprisingly easy, but putting it back on the table was impossible.  It was like trying to lift my leg into the car each day.
The arm exercises were easier and Ned has some small weights he will loan me as the strength starts to build up again (I hope).  The "core" exercise, which involves standing and tightening my buttocks is very easy--something I can do!

I came home with a bunch of exercises and not sure how much they will help, but I will do them.
It's frustrating that things which should be easy are impossible.  The PT was saying to do one thing and then roll over and do the other...but I have not been able to "roll over' for months. I never thought much about it because it was not a skill I needed until I had the first fall a couple of months ago and asked them to roll me over and discovered it was impossible.

When I was still able to sleep on the couch, it became impossible for me to get to my side, which was my preferred position for sleep and two or three times was so immobilized that I could not get off the couch.  I wish I had recognized these symptoms then and not just chalked it up to weight.  After the first time, I moved a heavy table near the couch so that I could grab it and pull myself upright, with difficulty, but successfully.

I was able to sleep fairly well last night.  I figured out how to sleep on my side in the recliner.  It ain't easy, but the pain in my butt disappeared and I was able to sleep for several hours.

Ned has a plethora of things he want to do to make life easier for me,  but I have not given up the hope of getting better and don't want to go whole hog revising the house if I"m going to get back to normal again.  Give me a few months for 'acceptance' of what a new normal is going to be, if it is indeed going to be a new normal, before we totally remodel the house..

Speaking of which, this is going to be a noisy couple of days.  

We are having new siding put on the house, and the house repainted and the hammering started about an hour ago.  It's driving Polly crazy and the combination of the hammering in my ear and Polly's barking is going to be very....uh....interesting.

Today we are back to the doctor again, this time for my mother's annual exam.  Once again, I am putting the burden of getting her ready for  the appointment on Atria and will pick her up, readily dressed and ready to go, at the back door, so I don't have to walk all the way back there.  I could walk all the way back there, but if you have a "condition" might as well take advantage of it when you have the opportunity, especially when you are paying Atria big bucks for her care!