Sunday, July 31, 2011

She Sells Mary Kay

Yesterday Ms. Laura had a Mary Kay introductory sales event at the local MK center in Spokane with her mentor in attendance. She recently signed on as a sales associate and this event was the kickoff of her retail experience. Although there were dozens of invitations sent out, there were few takers; something about the time of year and travels, I'm sure.  But, a trusty few showed up and we had a good time; treated to a pedicure and facial Mary Kay style and a viewing of all the products. Very nice.

I bought entirely too much product. I suppose it won't go to waste though; it's very nice "stuff". I figure I'm supporting my daughter in her new venture. 

Any other interested parties?  There are men's products too; did you hear that Denny?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

She Has Guinea Pigs

My college roommate and I reasoned that a pair of guinea pigs would be a good idea the fall of our freshman year. I remember their names, burned into memory forever: "Rosetta" and " Sebastian". We kept them in the large bottom drawer of a desk (opened of course). I guess we were too cheap to purchase a proper cage. We had them for less than a month. Sebastian escaped from his makeshift "cage", found and ate an entire powdered donut, and died right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Ms. B flew home for Thanksgiving and took Rosetta with her (I know not how; probably in her large satchel purse) and left her  in the care of her younger sisters.  I was glad.

My daughter adores guinea pigs; so much that she now has four. This one above is not even a week old. The mama guinea, a belly growing and moving with waving legs, gave birth to but one offspring last Sunday. Huge baby. How could she ever birth a litter?

Sigh. There are males and females here. I'm worried about that.

Friday, July 29, 2011

On the Road to Spokane

The 290 mile drive from Seattle to Spokane breaks down into 3 pieces. Seattle to Ellensburg involves an uphill drive to the Snoqualmie Summit and downhill into the valley beyond. I love Ellensburg because the Dairy Queen makes for a perfect first stop. Gotta love those soft serve cones. 

Top that little treat off with one of these to fuel the remainder of the journey and I'm set for the next 200 miles through parts 2 and 3 of the trip.

The next 100 miles winds up-hill through dry scrub and sandstone cliffs, bluffs, and wide open views. Then, a downhill descent to the Columbia River follows with another uphill past the Gorge and the miniscule town of George, WA. 

The final stretch is flat, flat, flat through fields, the townships of Moses Lake and Ritzville, and on into Spokane. The first Ponderosa pine tree tells me I'm getting onto the home stretch.  Love those evergreens.
Arrival in Spokane; trip accomplished. Time to enjoy the weekend with my daughter.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Annual Haircut

For weeks I've been asking my Dad if Mr. Buffy, the alpha male cat who shares the adult family home with several other subservient felines, submitted to his annual, summer shave.

"Not that I've seen....", he'd respond.

Until, tonight....Dad, who rarely calls me, picked up the phone to announce that "the cat had his haircut today".  Thanks for letting me know, Dad....I visited a couple of days later and found Sir Buffy camped out on his usual chair.

Why do I care?  Because Buffy looks really cute and makes me laugh. Although he may not appreciate his new look, I'm sure it's more comfortable in the summer.  His fur, a renewable resource, will be back to the long, shaggy look by October.

What I love is the feel of his warm body. A normal body temperature for a cat is 101.5 F. You'd never know this when an abundance of fur shields the full effect.

I know Buffy doesn't look too happy here. But, he never does. That's just him.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Visiting Dad

I try to visit my Dad at his adult family home every day that I'm not at work. Depending on the week it could be as few as two days a week or as many as four. This past week it was three; Sunday, Monday and Saturday. The round trip from my house to his is 18 miles. Traffic can be a real pain on weekends with everyone hitting the stores at Northgate Mall, the hot spot a mile from Dad's place.

Dad knows the days I'm scheduled to work and the days I'm off. He keeps a calendar in his walker and periodically asks me to write in my work schedule so he'll know when I'll return.  Sometimes when we go four or five days without a visit, he gets very teary on the phone and asks, "When can I expect to see you again?" Talking on the phone is a poor substitute for a visit. When we do connect by telephone, the brevity of the conversation strikes me as sad. Whereas Mom and I would prattle on for ten or fifteen minutes, I'm on the line with Dad for less than two. His hearing is so marginal that I end up shouting into the line and half the time I know he hasn't understood a word. He hears better in person; maybe he's reading lips too! 

I try to bring him something, anything, when I arrive. There was a time when candy, cashews, and cookies were welcome treats. He can no longer enjoy these snacks, sticking to  his chocolate Ensure shakes which he has stashed in his closet by the case. I bring fresh flowers, old photo albums, and recent pictures of the family instead. He expects nothing; he only wants to see me, to sit with me in his bedroom, and to share the news of our lives, however mundane. Many times there are awkward silences when neither of us has anything to say. I'll stand up, straighten the bank of photographs on his wall above the bed or grab his 5 pound weights and do a mini-workout which always amuses him.

Today I brought him a large photo album (see above). I brought  myself a totally tangled up mess of a wind chime that begged to be untangled. I told Dad I'd sit with him and work on the wind chime. He asked for the album. Both of us concentrated intently on the tasks at hand and suddenly 30 minutes passed. After a few updates from him on the antics of his 5 roommates, my news, and a brief review of the remainder of the week, I was ready to head home for dinner.

Dad so appreciates the company even though our visits are brief. The smile on his face, the brightness in his eyes when he looks up to recognize me walking through the doorway feels priceless. I'm reminded of the utter joy on the faces of my young children when I'd walk through the front door after my long day at work and their long day with the nanny or at school. The big difference is that life is all ahead for children and almost finished for my Dad. I think about that every time I see him and especially when I kiss him goodbye.

He's a very, very good man and I'm proud to be his daughter.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When a House Becomes a Home

This weekend my son and his wife (C and H) moved into their first home. The relief was palpable on Friday when the key to the property was in hand, the loan funded, and the angst of six long weeks of on-again-off again delays finally behind them.  Closing on a house seems to stress the nerves to the max, rocketing the need for patience to extraordinary levels, pushing every button and pulling on the heartstrings at the same time. This particular home sale frustrated our young couple and their loved ones beyond belief , dragging on endlessly.  But, perseverance  paid off. After many false starts and changes to the moving plans, this past weekend was perfect in all regards. Great weather, plenty of help, and joy mixed with relief. 
The New House

By Saturday late morning there were four parents and a brother recruited to help with the offer of supportive advice, encouragement, and muscle power.  An army of young, energetic high school kids hit the scene even earlier to tackle the heavier physical stuff; packing and moving boxes of clothing, kitchenware, and furniture. Add to that at least three more strong guys with a van and pick up truck and you've got a band of MOVERS. Even the king size mattress came down a flight of stairs at the rental house and then up the stairs of the new home, muscled all the way by enthusiastic help. It was a sight to behold.

 The house is great; wonderful floor plan, roomy, and inviting. The surroundings are lush with green foliage, including a bank of evergreen extending from the back yard to the end of their property line which is shaped like a piece of pie with the deep point extending into the woods. The house abuts a greenbelt which will remain just, like private forest. I kidded that one could easily pitch a tent up on that hill behind the house and call the adventure a camping trip with benefits (kitchen and bathroom close by). Wild and wonderful; I'd love to live with the western sun peeping through that dense, living fence in summer when the long days can get a bit warm on the side of the setting sun.

Working people truly long for quick, energizing food after a morning's work. Four extra large pizzas bit the dust in no time along with soda and cookies to fuel the afternoon's labors. 

Another helper on her lunch break
cleaned and vacuumed
While the guys moved heavy stuff, changed locks, assembled beds and desks, Tina and I took on the vacated rental house several miles down the road. Prepared with Comet, sponges, paper towels and true grit we cleaned upstairs and down. I'm thinking we performed far more of a deep clean than required but, what the heck. Three hours later we were done and ready to close the door on that little adventure. We named ourselves the latest recruits to the Maid Brigade and posed for a photo with some of our cleaning gear and more fuel for the journey. Red Bull, as you can see.

I'm thinking we look pretty good, considering....
The guys on their end busted out the Rainier Beer to mark the (sort of) end to a long day.

And, perhaps the best shot of all.....good riddance to the For Sale sign. C and H; we are so proud of the new homeowners, barely in your mid twenties and off to a great start!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Are Patients are Still Patient(s)?

There was a time when doctors were doctors. Now we are providers.

There was a time when office assistants were just that. Now they are clinical service representatives. No, wait; that was last year. Now they are flow managers. Whaaaat?? Providers need managers to keep them efficient, on time, and on task.

The emergency room used to be the ER, now it's the ED (emergency department). Renal failure requiring chronic dialysis used to be termed, ESRD (end stage renal disease); now we acknowledge this diagnosis as CKD (chronic kidney disease) and there are 5 stages depending on severity. Cadaveric renal transplant (CRT) donors morphed into deceased donor transplants (DDT).  Non-heart-beating renal donors adopted the new terminology: delayed cardiac death (DCD) donors. The blood bank is now transfusion services.

Countless changes in terminology reflect some modern sense of political correctness, I suppose.

The constants?  Patients are still patients. They may not always be patient in demeanor or attitude but then, they never have been. At least we are not referring to patients as clients. Yet.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gorgeous Northwest Days

I feel sorry for the rest of the country; burning up with summer's heat and humidity. I feel fortunate to be in a place where the good side of summer shows off its glory. Right now. Today. Perfectly delicious sunshine and comfortable temperatures. 

The cat knows what's good 'n right in this world. Who are we to question?

This, a strong reminder, is why we live here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Rest is History

My sister sent me an email after my post about Dad and the NY Times. She reminded me of another important bit of family history, actually a life changing bit of history.

She said: "You may or may not remember but we (the Thompson family) got to Aruba by way of the New York Times. Dad would drive us all to Ogdensburg after Sunday church and he'd pick up the Sunday paper at the corner newsstand. Ogdensburg was seven miles from Heuvelton. He saw an ad in the paper for a job with Standard Oil of New Jersey (which became Esso Oil; now Exxon-Mobil) and we all went down to New York City for the interview. John and I were bound to secrecy. The rest is history."

Yes, I remember hearing this. I wasn't around until several years later, Mom and Dad's "Aruba baby". For my Dad, although ready for a career move and the excitement of travel to a foreign land, he  insisted to everyone, especially his family that they'd be going "just for a year".  Somehow that year morphed into two plus decades, some 26 years to be exact. I never knew any different; Aruba was and always will be home.

I ponder this isolated decision to step outside the box  and the effect on the trajectory of our family history forever. What and who would we have been had we lived stateside?  I know my life would have been very different. No regrets.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Red Bull Fuels Summer Days

I've always been a caffeine junkie, waking up every morning with the number one priority that first cup of coffee. My motto?  "Bad coffee is better than no coffee."  I'll drink almost anything that passes for coffee especially if it's bitter and strong. I'm going for the jolt, not the taste.

Along about 2 PM, I'm usually ready for another burst of caffeine induced attention-to-task. With the temperatures in the afternoon significantly higher than those in the morning when a cup of hot Joe works well, I typically turn to the iced Americano (heavy on the ice) in summer.

But now?  Cast your eyes above to view my latest discovery, sugar free of course. This little pick-me-up has been around for years but not in my repertoire. Until now..  Gotta love this icy cold aluminum can of rocket fuel, especially savored through a straw.

When my colleagues see me enjoying one of these treats they shake their heads knowingly. But, as I was before them, they are reluctant to go there. Why? Too symbolic of great need?  Not caffeine driven? Wary of the taurine and other additives in Red Bull?  I don't ask. I just drink, smile, and wait for the renewed energy to kick in.

Highly recommended if you like this kind of stuff.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Decades and Decades of the NY Times

I'm not sure when my Dad (or Mom for that matter) started reading the New York Times. As long as I've been alive and aware of my surroundings, the Times has been a constant in the lives of my parents.

At 94, my Dad totes around a copy of "All the News that's Fit to Print" tucked in the sturdy pocket of his walker.  I don't think he reads much of the paper anymore; the print is too small for him and turning the pages for articles on the inside of the paper too much effort with the shaking of his hands from  Parkinson's disease.  He definitely looks for the Exxon stock quote Tuesday through Saturday although he asks one of the caregivers to study the fine print and write the closing value of the stock in pen on the front of the business section so he can pull it out from time to time and think about the dollar amount of those shares.

The Sunday paper he never opens at all; saving it for me to pick up and take home.

"Don't you want to read any of the Sunday Times, Dad?", I'll ask.
"No, I'm saving it for you."

I try to make good on my promise to read it; paging through the Travel Section and focusing on the Book Review but letting the meat of the paper drop in the recycle bin. My bad but there's only so much time, I rationalize.

I remember, as a child and teenager living in Aruba, the NY Times was a special treat for my parents because they had to wait for the privilege of paging through the "real news" of the day until early evening. The daily flights from New York City landed in Aruba towards mid to late afternoon with an unknown quantity of the Times on board. I never knew where all those copies went but one of them arrived, hand delivered to the doorstep of my parents by a man in a car who'd driven the fifteen miles from the airport in Oranjestad into the Lago Colony. Many times with flight delays, the paper might not arrive until after dark. Nevertheless, the man in the car didn't just pitch the paper up to the door but walked through the gate and rapped on our door. Special Delivery.

Dad, (and sometimes Mom) would spend the evening after dinner reading the New York Times just around the time that the printing presses were ready to spew out the next edition on the East Coast. Dad then toted the Times to work the next day for the school library. He merited special delivery of the paper as the principal of the Lago school in Aruba; a nice perk for a man who adored his connection to the mainland. After all, he had planned on a one year adventure in Aruba when hired in 1951 but ended up living and working on the island for 26 years.

Home delivery of the New York Times in 2011 is expensive, especially considering how little of the paper is actually read by Dad or me. My subtle queries to Dad regarding whether or not he'd like me to change the subscription, cancel, or set up home delivery of the local paper are always met with a quick "NO!". I think he hangs on to a memory that makes him feel comforted or comfortable in some small way. This expense is worth it, I rationalize.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back On Line

When last I logged in and posted on Ahead of the Wave, photographs dominated, words a scarcity. Feeling there was little to say but at the same time much to express, I took a break not knowing if it would be my goodbye from blogging or an interim hiatus. Turns out the pull tugs at me again.  Initial relief from the perceived bondage of having to post something relevant, funny, sad, interesting or otherwise worthwhile gradually gave way to thoughts of potential blog fodder.

For weeks I've tried to imagine my re-entry post musing: do I just start writing again like nothing happened or do I try to explain myself?  Probably no one cares anyway; well, that's not exactly true since a few people (counted on one hand) noticed I wasn't writing regularly.

Anyway, there are many "things", going on.

Summer is well underway although you'd never know it by the weather. Today was foggy and cool until well after 10 AM; felt just like early fall. I'm glad that it's not hot but still....

Work absorbs me totally and even when I'm not physically on the job, I play like I am with the online capabilities of the computer. This schedule is unusual for me but in the last 21 days, I've been on call for 15 of those 24 hour blocks of time. I made it through; the first week tougher than the second owing to a cold caught on the flight back from Kaui'i in late June. Now I'm reveling in two days off and feeling light, slightly inspired, and relieved to have time to sit in my nightgown until noon. Delighting in the sound of the trucks picking up the trash, recycling and yard waste makes my home lighter too. I love to purge stuff, 5S, unload, get rid of, throw out and see more air between my things.

I have a list of small tasks to accomplish today; nothing drastic or dramatic. Buy stamps, deposit checks, vacuum carpets, empty the dishwasher, water the plants, write a few checks. Oh, and visit my Dad..... but that's a more complicated task as I try so hard to make a difference in the life of a frail  94 year old man. More on this later.

I'm thinking about the moment; the empty nester's quiet.

I'm thinking about my grown kids and about how our adult relationship changes but yet, doesn't change.

I'm learning about the Mediterranean diet and want desperately to eat healthier. I still am in love with diet Red Bull and pray it's not going to become a product linked with cancer of this or that down the line.

I'm thinking about consciously purchasing local products, supporting the local economy, and pondering where my food comes from. Why do we call pig, "pork" and cow, "beef"?.....and stuff like that. What really happens in the mainstream food processing plants of America?

I'm acknowledging the importance of communicating directly with the source of our human problems instead of gossiping and groaning to others (unless it's my significant other with whom I unload my angst because that doesn't count). :)

I'm pondering what it means to really know that when the sun sets each day there is one less day to live. What do I really want to do with the days left on my life's calendar?

More to come. I'm thinking again and (almost) on The Edge of Glory.

Stay tuned.