Thursday, December 27, 2012

1001 Posts and all that Jazz

I've created this post dozens of times in my head. I've pondered the ways Ahead of the Wave might come to its natural end. Would my final post pop with a profound bang or whimper out with a pathetic fizzle?  Perhaps somewhere in between?

 1001 posts over five years.....what have I learned? What's different about my life now? Have I grown? Or am I the same person? Furthermore, does anyone care?

 Here's what I know.....
 1. Blogging is mostly fun.
 2. Sometimes I've lots to say, sometimes there is nothing to say.
 3. Blogging can create unwanted pressure.
 4. My truest self comes out on these pages but still, it isn't all me. I hold back.
 5. Fundamentally, I'm very opinionated. And, probably mean. Two people near and dear to me remind of this all the time.
 6. I miss my Mom; a lot. There are still questions I need to ask her and wisdom I could use.
 7. My Dad is a love but he cannot hear. Screaming at him is irksome, beyond belief.
 8. I'm happy with myself and what I believe.
 9. I may want to be eternally ahead of the wave but realize this isn't realistic and not really desireable in the end. Life is short; being buried by the wave at times is what makes each day new.
10. Christmas is my least favorite time of year. In fact this Christmas 2012 was the worst Christmas ever.  That's why there's the day before Thanksgiving; a truly blessed day.

. Much love to all and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Favorite Day

This day, this wonderful day before Thanksgiving has always been my "favorite-ist" day of the year and hopefully will be forever. Why the day spells magic and joy to me I don't exactly understand although I've some ideas. 

For one, the Thanksgiving Day holiday is my favorite holiday of the year; better than Christmas. The day is about all the right things; loved ones and time together, sharing a great meal. What could be nicer? I love that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, the fourth Thursday of November. The time of week makes for a very nice four day weekend for many of us, unlike Christmas or New Years that can fall on any day of the week. I love the loaded plate of food, the tastes all blending together. I love the leftovers. I even love the preparation and (sigh) even the cleanup. The fall decorations are beautiful.

This is prime time, people.

But the day before Thanksgiving?  This is the day of promise, the beginning, the quiet anticipation growing, the joyful thought about how nice it will be to gather together once again as family, as friends, as grateful people enjoying the bounty of our lives. I always stop to think about my extended family and where they are on this day, what they're doing  and no matter how far afield they may be, I can draw them close in my thoughts. I remember those loved ones no longer here but who were once such important faces around the table.

Recent tradition holds that we'll watch  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving video, eat pizza, and snack o Party Mix. No matter the weather, it's time to be gathered inside together.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Week Later: Ambivalent

Well, here we are. Election Day 2012. But, that's not really the point of my post today.

My last post was a week ago, the day after the big storm, Hurricane Sandy, hit the East Coast. I can barely fathom that it's been but a week; it seems so much longer. We were so fortunate. Nothing untoward came our way. My heart aches for the devastation, the loss of lives, the injuries and hardships of those affected by this terrible storm. In mid-town Manhattan, there was little evidence of a problem aside from lighter traffic, closed businesses, and tourists moving about the old fashioned way: on their two feet.

By Wednesday, Halloween Day, traffic was hectic as people busted out their vehicles to make it to work with a downed subway and bus system. More places were open, including the Broadway shows which had been dark for three days. We bought tickets for the matinee performance of Once and enjoyed an early dinner on "restaurant row" in the theatre district. The food was amazing at Beccos and the wait staff were all in costume. All very festive and light hearted.

In retrospect, had I truly understood all the sadness and pain going on within a fifty mile radius at the very same time, the enjoyment would have evaporated. When you don't know, you don't know. The human stories come forth days later; they did in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, with 9/11, with the massive Asian tsunami of 2004, with the earthquake in Japan. The details take time to surface and spread and in the meantime, most of us (even those in the middle of the fray, unscathed) keep moving forward with our lives.

I'm glad we went to New York. The days spent in the big city were epic, unprecedented, and we saw and experienced things that we will likely never see again. Empty streets, closed businesses, cordoned off subway access points. I learned that geography was on our side as we hunkered down in mid-town Manhattan, protected by tall buildings and removed from the wilds of Battery Park and the southern tip of the island where havoc played out while the rest of us sighed in relief.

By Thursday, Manhattan north of 34th Street started to look and act like "the city" again. We took in more sights, another Broadway play, good food, and walked our legs off. Meanwhile....grief stricken people were close by.

The juxtaposition in hindsight gives me an odd feeling. Could I have done anything useful to help? Or was it "OK" to simply go on with a vacation and make the best of poor timing?

You can see, I'm wondering.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Strategic Eating in NYC

D and I learned that good food is reasonably priced in New York City.  I sort of knew this from a couple of trips over the last decade but D had not been in the city since the late 1960's. He imagined that meals would be outrageously expensive everywhere. But, not so; especially if you stick to the main rule: NEVER eat in a hotel restaurant, especially at breakfast. If you do, be for-warned that  2 eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, and coffee will set you back 28 bucks.

We avoided standard breakfast fare entirely choosing to buy wonderful looking and tasting pastries from bakeries the day before and enjoying them in our hotel room with a cup of coffee before setting out for the day. Denny found a great authentic bagel spot on Third Avenue called Ess-a-Bagel which reminded me again that not all bagels are created equal. Nothing like seeing those bagels being made right in front of you and having a choice of two dozen types of cream cheese that gets slathered on an half inch thick

As for lunch and dinner, we found great choices everywhere from restaurant row on West 46th Street to the delis on 7th Ave and the 50's. We ate at Carnegie Deli twice; splitting the enormous hot pastrami sandwich which clearly feeds two for the price of one. Then there was the unexpectedly great lunch at an Irish Pub, one of the few places open the day after the hurricane where we enjoyed a Guinness and corned beef. Two nights when very little was open owing to the storm, we ate great tasting pizza from a small storefront on Lexington just by the hotel.

We did not go hungry and we didn't break the bank.

The cost of hotel accommodations is a separate story.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Damage after the Storm

Denny and I ventured out of the hotel after dark last night to buy some dinner. We spied a pizza/pasta joint within 50 yards of the Barclay and thought a quick sprint would be safe. The rain was light and the wind relatively calm. The restaurant was bustling with hungry folk. We took our pizza slices and  a  piece of NY cheesecake to go and were back to the safety of our 10th floor hotel room within 10 minutes.

We were glued to the TV until midnight, channel surfing to catch all the news of the storm we could take in. We never lost power and heard but a few gusts of wind powerful enough to catch our attention. Lower Manhattan took a huge hit with flooding at Battery Park, the FDR highway, and the subway system. The power went out south of 34th street and remains out. Backup generators at NY Hospital didn't work and patients required evacuation to other medical centers in the middle of the night. A dangling crane from a building under construction on 7th Avenue forced closure of streets in the area for fear of the crane would fall with gusting winds.

And this is just Manhattan. We've been watching the news out of New Jersey which sounds horrific and the boroughs of NYC, Long Island and beyond.

This is the first time I don't regret our decision to cancel the cruise, due to depart NYC tomorrow. Will that cruise actually leave the city? How will passengers get into the city when all three airports are closed?  Wow.

More later.

Monday, October 29, 2012

In NYC for the Big Storm

I'm not sure how this happened but....we find ourselves in the the big city for the "storm of the century", Hurricane Sandy.  It's been many a year since Denny and I've lived through a hurricane; the last was Alicia when she hit Houston in 1983. That's a long time ago.

Several days back Denny pointed out that the storm hovering out in the southern Atlantic might hit the east coast sometime during our 5 day trip to New York City. I gave the concern very little thought. As it turns out, our flight from Seattle arrived in to Newark Liberty airport in the nick of time last evening. Plus...we were lucky enough to get one of the last trains from Newark into Penn Station.

You'd never know anything was amiss aside from lighter traffic. Times Square was abuzz last night with tourists. We enjoyed a great hot pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli on storm's eve with mild 60 degree temps and a slight breeze.

The storm ramps up today. Fewer people are out and about and taxis are about the only vehicles aside from police cars on the roads. Most shops are closed. We did manage a great lunch at The National, one of  Geoffrey Zacharian's (iron chef!) restaurants. The chef himself was there, eating with his family and Denny thanked him for keeping his place open. "My pleasure", and a big smile from Geoffrey.

So now we sit in our hotel room with a bottle of Sauv Blanc and the TV on with all the hype about the storm. There's a crane dangling from the top of a 90 story building under construction in mid town Manhattan (not far from here). Yikes.

Here's some pics of Manhattan from last night and today.
Carnegie Deli Hot Pastrami


Empty Streets NYC

Lunch at the National

The Bar at National
 Over and out!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Missing My Mom

Two years ago this morning, on a sunny, crisp fall day, my Mom died. She was declining for days prior, lying in her bed at the adult family home, family sitting vigil at her bedside. The morning before she died she woke up enough to recognize MM and me before slipping back into a coma of sorts. The next day, she was gone, somewhere around 7:30 to 8 AM.

At that sacred moment of her death, my Dad was in the living room at the home, I was en route, driving and my sister not far behind me in her car. The lovely person  in attendance with Mom at the very moment of her last breath was Yerusalem, a very dear and loving caregiver. I'm so glad it was she who was in attendance. I so wanted to  be there, holding Mom's hand. I will regret always ignoring my instinct to stay the night and coming on home to sleep.  These are things that can never be undone.

Today on my drive to work, drops of rain fell from grey skies. Temperatures were in the low 50's. I thought about Mom and all of life that has been lived since her passing. I longed for her presence here and now. I longed for her advice, her wisdom; especially now when there is so much about my life's plan that has been upended.

I figure I will always miss her. Mom missed her mother decades after her death. This may be a loss from which we never fully recover.

I love you, Mom.

Monday, October 8, 2012

He's Meditating on It

Yesterday I shared the news with my 95 year old Dad.

"Laura is pregnant".

A slight, soft smile crossed his face; maybe a small chuckle.

"I guess this means she's getting married", he said.

And then I explained the rest of the story. He was thoughtful,  quiet, absorbing all that I told him. We sat together in silence. He wasn't upset. He wasn't overjoyed. He took it all in. He listened and ate a couple of York peppermint patties.

"I'm meditating.", he said. "I have a lot to think about."

I'll be interested in what his meditation brings forth over the coming weeks. He's such an honest man; honest but also thoughtful.

"She's a beautiful girl that Laura.", he added.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

When Dad Knows, It's Time for the World to Know.

Hearing aids serviced and best possible operating condition: check

Dad wearing both hearing aids: negative. He was wearing only one

Dad is a reasonably good mood: negative. He was cranky about the sore on his face, aggravated by "the way the girls on for the weekend shave me" and his burned out light bulb with no replacement in sight.

Dad and daughter visiting alone: negative. Laura wanted to go with me to visit her grandfather. "There's nothing else to do and going will distract me". (sigh)

One out of four requisites didn't cut it. Tomorrow may be a better day to let him know our news and be open to his response. I have no clue what he'll say but whatever it is, he'll (probably and hopefully) be honest and say what's on his heart even though he respects privacy (see last post).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"I Don't Know, and I Won't Ask"....

Dad is cool. And here's why I think so....

Sunday we attended the Homecoming church service at SFB. Homecoming service is a big deal because the choir comes out of hibernation, puts on their blue and white choir robes and music abounds. This after a long, dry summer with a soloist here and there and the organist but none of the great anthems we've come to expect over the years. The service was great and Dad thoroughly enjoyed the music and the fanfare.

But, he still can't hear worth a damn despite his hearing aids. That's a topic for a separate discussion entirely. He hears the music because the decibel level is up there. As for the greeting, the sermon, the readings, and the prayers; he's basically stone deaf to it all  that's spoken in church.

During one of the hymns, there's an opportunity to come forward with specific prayer requests. In all my years attending church I've only done this once before; one time when Dad was sick and hospitalized back in 2006. I asked for prayers for his healing and the request was read aloud along with multiple other prayer requests.

This past Sunday, I definitely had something worthy of a prayer or two and so I left my seat with Dad telling him I'd be "right back". I didn't think he even missed me and I certainly didn't think he heard my prayer request. He never mentioned a thing about it.

Until....the next day, Laura and I stopped by to visit him and we got to talking about how lovely the church service had been.

Dad: "Yes, and you got up during the hymn and walked up to one of the ministers."

Me: "Yeah, I had a prayer request. The minister mentioned all the requests during the prayers of the people part of the service. You couldn't hear what she was saying, could you?"

Dad: "No. I couldn't hear anything. I don't know what you were praying for and.....I won't ask".

We laughed and moved right on to another topic of conversation. Dad is very perceptive, even more so it seems in his 90's and at the most unexpected times. He knew there was something on my mind, something that made me want to walk up and talk to a minister with a prayer request but he's never been one to pry. Always willing to listen but he never pushes.

I do intend to share my prayer request with him. He needs to know. And, perhaps he can offer his sage advice which might possibly be...."It'll all turn out OK in the end".

Thanks in advance, Dad.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Resentment vs Guilt

When I visit Dad, as I did today, I.....

1. Ask how he is sleeping.
2. Water his plant
3. Straighten the framed photos on the wall that have slipped out of place
4. Check the candy and Ensure supply
5. Ask about library books; which ones are ready to go back?
6. Check and remark about the updated Exxon Mobil stock quote
7. Clean and change the batteries in his hearing aids.
8. Hand him his 5 pound weight and encourage him to "lift 200 pounds", a hundred with each arm
9. Check the volume on his telephone
10. Let him know when I'll be back next and ask if he wants anything

Today he complained about not getting his eye drops. He also couldn't give me a definitive "yes" about going to church on Sunday and told me to call him back on Sunday morning to decide yay or nay. He wasn't happy about his shoes and couldn't understand why his foot care provider wanted him to get a new pair. He told me Geydon will only let him have 2 peppermint patties a day. He pointed out that the carpet in his room had been professionally cleaned recently. He told me that as soon as I left he was going to get one of the caregivers to take him out for a walk. When I told him he looked good today, he said, "Thank you" and smiled.

Each visit is much the same. He seems to welcome my company but I'm lately feeling as though his world is shrinking smaller. The smallest things are huge for him.

Sometimes battling the snarled up traffic to drive all the way to Northgate and back seems like such a waste of precious time. I wish he were closer.  I spend more time in the car than I do with him. A big bite comes right out of the day when I go to Dad's.  Balancing the feelings of resentment with the guilt of not going when I could or should is rough. Guess which is the worse feeling? Yep...guilt is way worse. Always has been and always will be.

And, tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blurry Edges

I'm drawn to this photograph for many reasons. Yes, I used  this picture in my last blog post, the provocative, "world turned upside down" soothsayer entry. But, I return today to study the colors, the shapes of the trees, the blurry edges, and the specks of white that dot the scene.  This is a lowly I phone picture taken at the Japanese Garden at Manito Park in Spokane over the Labor Day weekend two weeks ago. I was standing on a wooden bridge that crossed over a serene pool swimming with koi. At once mesmerizing and calming, I felt a slight breeze of cool air in the midst of a very warm day. I looked down into the water and the reflection of the shimmering trees and clouds above looked back at me. The visual experience was, let's say, "nice" at the time and I thought a photo remembrance might be good. I'd been taking I phone pictures all afternoon and this one was just another.

But, when I actually had time to look at this photograph, I connected more deeply.The colors are lovely and muted. The water and sky become one and the reflected trees are upside down, their crispness distorted into  blurred edges.  Reminds me a bit of a 19th century painting by Manet or Monet. There is mystery and magic here.

Perception is not reality and reality is not perception.

I am awash in changing emotions and thoughts. The photograph gives me some comfort right now and this is what I need most.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

So Sayeth the Soothsayer......

My last post was exactly two weeks ago, on my Birthday. It was a happy, good day. I alluded to something I did that I had never done before in addition to all the other lovely things that consumed my day. What was that thing?

I visited the psychic, the tarot reader, the soothsayer.

I've never had my palm read nor have I had my cards read. But, driving by his place of business every day on my way home from work coupled with a bit of hyped-up curiosity, I walked in for a consultation. Much like a seasoned professional, in fact much like the work I do....if you ask the right questions and look carefully at body language, you're 80 percent there. He told me nothing I didn't already know.

But, he did say with a modicum of urgency and emphasis, "It's going to get worse".  "It" is what we talked about. Did he say this to entice me to come back and use phrases like "I guarantee I can help you" to keep me engaged?  Likely. Unfortunately, for his wallet, the promise of a guaranteed success story didn't work. I will not be going back. Who in their right mind tells a doctor they can guarantee anything? Especially not when we're talking of matters out of our control. Come on.

But he was right to tell me that things would get worse. Although it's a pretty good bet in most settings, he was spot on here. 48 hours later my life changed forever and flipped upside down.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Today was a perfect day, starting with a good night's sleep after a two day camping trip whilst tossing and turning in a sleeping bag inside of a tent. The trip was marvelous but the sleep...not so good.

I totally indulged myself in the day, my 58th Birthday.

First the coffee and newspaper.

Then, the triple pickup: garbage, recycle, and yard waste. Purge!

Then a sweet call from my darling Daughter.
And, lots of Facebook greetings.

Then, the much needed haircut from Ching.

Then, lunch at Menchies, using my gift card to indulge in another triple whammy: coconut, original tart, and watermelon ice topped with mini-chocolate chips. Divine.  I am totally addicted.

Then, a visit to Dad. Bless his heart; he sang Happy Birthday to me and I caught it on video. Last year he sang to me as well but I didn't have my camera on him in time. I remember praying that he'd remain healthy and with us a full year later so I could hear him sing again. Yes!


Then, a lovely, relaxing interlude at the salon getting a pedicure whilst reading People Magazine.

Then, I did something I've never done.....more later. Maybe.

Then, a wonderful dinner at Palisade with my man.

Kate and Denny 8/27/12


Then, a stop at Whole Foods for a sweet dessert to enjoy. And, then a call from my wonderful Son and Daughter-in-Law with more greetings.

And now, I sit with my laptop and ponder how wonderful it is to celebrate birthdays and another blessed year. May there be many more. There is so much living ahead.

I am blessed. Blessed. And, very grateful.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

So Sayeth Condoleeza Rice....

Condoleeza Rice delivered a wonderful commencement address to the graduating class of 2012 at Southern Methodist University this past May. She's such an impressive person. Her words to the 2100 young graduates bursting forth into the world after four years of higher education resonated with me. She had, among other comments, four specific bits of advice regarding the obligations and responsibilities of those educated persons.

-- "find and follow your passion"; the "something you really believe is a unique calling to you, in other words something you can't live without"

-- a "commitment to reason"

-- to "graduate with wisdom and humility"

-- to "remain optimistic"  and to "work towards human progress"

Love it.

On the topic of wisdom and humility, her words resonate deeply for me. She points out that strong beliefs aside, a wider vision, acknowledging that others have a right to their views is healthy. And, necessary.  She says.....

"There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion and holding it passionately. But at those times when you're absolutely sure that you're right, talk with someone who disagrees. And if you constantly find yourself in the company of those who say "AMEN" to everything that you say, find. other. company."

Find other company. Yes. Balance. Expand your thoughts. See what's out there. Respect. 

Saga of Shoes

My Dad rarely puts in a request for new clothing or shoes. When Mom was alive she told me he declared at age 80 that he owned enough shirts and ties to "last forever" and requested "no more".  We've not exactly complied with that request. What else do you get Dad for his Birthday or Christmas or Father's Day but a new shirt and sweater vest? 

Here's Dad wearing a shirt and vest purchased for some such celebratory event. He wears it proudly as he works out with his 5 pound weight.

As for shoes, for the last 6 years he's had only two pair; one black and one brown. The black ones  are totally spent. As I think about it, we need to pitch them as he hasn't had them on his feet for years and for good reason. The brown ones, purchased ages back from Lands End, are enormous slip on shoes that have seen use every single day. He's worn them to church (yikes), Thanksgiving dinners, and my Mom's Memorial service. We try not to look at his feet. Attempts to polish them end up a fool's errand as they never look any better. Countless times we've asked Dad if he'd like a new pair. "No", sayeth he. Ok, I think. Be that way. You're 95, you can decide for yourself.

The "NO" turned into a yes (finally) when Betty, his foot care lady called me to say that Dad's shoes were a disaster; totally eroded on the inside and cutting into his toes. Did Dad complain prior to this? Negative. But, once Betty told him new shoes were highly recommended, shoes were on his mind, constantly.

My first attempt fizzled when the size 12 B shoes from Macy's were "nice but too tight". So, I ordered from Lands End, a 12 wide with shoes to be shipped to his address. Every day I'd ask...."Shoes there yet, Dad".  "Not yet". Sigh. The postal tracking indicated delivery on 7/31. But, there were NO DAMN SHOES and Dad, although pleasant in his complaints, was clear in his remarks that his current pair "hurt my feet". Sigh.

A call to Lands End after waiting several days for the shoes to be delivered revealed that the "package must be lost, Ma'am. We'll send another pair in the mail for you right away". Meanwhile, one of the caregivers pointed out that the postman had delivered a "tried to deliver" note. According to the writing to the left: "garden sprinkler across entry". The post office can't deal with a garden hose? C'mon!  By now, Dad's desperate for shoes and I'm steaming.

Long story short: I picked up the original pair of shoes at the post office and a day later the second pair arrived. At least he's happy with the fit and style. But, he doesn't want both pair. "You'll need to get the ones in the box back to Lands End, sweetheart."

OK Dad.  OK.

Success at last. New shoes and they make him happy. Love it when that happens.....

Status Update

Ahead of the Wave , this baby of mine, hangs on my consciousness like another bit of unfinished business. Created in late August 2007, the Wave,  will soon celebrate five years and boast nearly  1000 posts. I've not been writing of late because I'm thinking....thinking hard about its future direction. Some of many considerations have included:

--taking the blog to an even 1000 posts and then.....
--taking the blog to its 5 year anniversary on August 24 and then.....
--pressing on without change, posting intermittently in keeping with my recent pattern,
--ramping up the posting schedule, seeking the prior commitment to writing,
--letting the blog fizzle out,
--and other less definitive ideas.

Two weeks ago I ordered "hard copies" of my blog from blog2print, a sweet web site that prints each year's posts into a book. I've 2007, 2008, and 2011 so far with 2009 and 2011 pending. Hard copy lined up in a row feels more accomplished to my eye than an accessible, cyber-archive requiring another login and password. Give me a real book.

I ask myself; has blogging (started to) become passe? I know I'm reading fewer blogs these days finding it hard to keep up. Like most cool fads, at some point something new overtakes the old . Has blogging become old, a bit stale?  I don't quite know.

Then, there's my other blog, Back in the Day, a memoir of sorts about my professional life, that demands more thought, time, and effort to write, lying dormant at the moment.  Perhaps I should turn my focus in this direction and shoot for 5 years or 1000 post for Back in the Day.. Lofty goal, this.

I've always known that Ahead of the Wave was a springboard to something else. Practice.

Where I'll go isn't quite clear but at least there options.

Stay tuned. I'm thinking.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The First Week of August

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting 

She says it all and so beautifully. This weekend is "motionless, and hot", pulsating in its shimmering potential.

More to come.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Want to Go Home....

This, our last day in Kauai is bittersweet; lovely to have another day of vacation but difficult to anticipate the goodbye and harder yet, the arrival back into all those "Seattle issues". Years ago, myy mother-in-law advised wisely that we let all those "things" back home slip away when on vacation. "They'll be right there when you get back", she'd say....and, so true indeed.

I wish I felt more rested from the standpoint of getting back into the work routine. I don't. Another week in the tropics and maybe..... Sigh.

I felt the same last year about leaving Kauai. I cried on the way to the airport and will probably do so again.

This gorgeous place allows my mind to put the crap on hold; if just for a little while.

Tonight D went out to Da Crack and brought food back. We ate on the lanai, the soft breezes pulling in ends of daylight. Night comes. And then, morning will come.

I don't want to go home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lanai View

early evening

Whether dusk, dawn, midday or sometime in between, the view from our deck (or as the locals say, "the lanai") at condo #136 is a slice of heaven for me. We've enjoyed this ocean vista for the last six days and have one more full day to languish in this sweet paradise.

The colors mesmerize me; the powder blue sky against the oceanic cerulean contrasted with the long expanse of green lawn. Oh my. Heaven.

mid day

Monday, June 11, 2012

Second Monday in June

I'm feeling strange with an abrupt shift of gears today. Coming off of a 7 day on-call mindset, totally consumed by things medical, I'm back to work at the Arapahoe house. MM and I are at it again; one step at a time, towards the goal of getting the house on the market.

This is a sad time but I try not to dwell on the meaning of breaking up a home, dispersing every item therein and closing the door for the last time. The finality troubles me.

This week we're witnessing the fruits of our labors in April where all items of value were photographed and cataloged into a document for all seven grandchildren of Dean and Doris to peruse and select items they might like to have. Furniture, rugs, wall hangings, dishes, crystal, silverware. Everything.

What I thought would be simple, wasn't. Creating the inventory was an enormous task. We had hundreds of photographs of items divided into categories. MM did the bulk of the work on the master document and the task of encouraging the family to participate in the process in the midst of their busy lives. That was harder than I had anticipated.

A friend of mine went through this process with her parent's home awhile back. Using a similar list, she was amazed how dispersal seemed to magically "sort itself out". I hope that's the case for us. To some degree we're noticing this with our master list. It's fascinating to learn what's important to the third generation of our family.  Everyone is unique. Some have selected many items. Others 2 or 3 at most. Interesting.

When all is said and done, the "left overs" will either go to thrift shops, consignment, or....get packed up and stored in my home. There are so many things that I can't part with just yet, can't let go into the big world.

This is hard.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Celebrating Virginia

Virginia Maher would be 98 years old on this 28th day of May if she were still alive. Today we celebrated her birthday as we've done for years with the usual meal shared in a booth at Spiros Restaurant in north Seattle.  The Vangelis Special pizza is the only pizza we'd consider ordering on this important day. It's a good thing it's the favorite. Virginia enjoyed this tasty pizza on many an occasion when she lived in Seattle. The tradition of a medium Vangelis Special, iced tea and a small salad lives on today and hopefully for years to come. Delicioso!

Happy Birthday Virginia!

I found this photograph of Virginia and her three children taken on Memorial Day 2002, the day before she turned 88. We had a party for her at our house and the family gathered to celebrate. The rhodie was in full bloom on that day, just like today. Happy memories.

May 2002/Memoiral Day

Three Day Weekend

Sometimes it feels really good to do very little except what pleases. This three day holiday weekend has so far been all about a bit of this and a bit of that. In the case of games on the I-Phone, I'll admit it's been a lot of time spent playing Words with Friends, Hanging with Friends, and Scramble with Friends. I let myself play as much as my little heart desired, figuring that I'll slip into my age related dementia more slowly if I challenge my mind with word games.

There was also a trip to church with Dad yesterday which left me feeling guilt-free for the day.

Plus, 3 two mile walks, amazing food (D made halibut, spaghetti, and sirloin sliders), sorting, cleaning, fresh air, sleep, television shows, a dumb Netflix movie (Midnight in Paris), The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on audio book, and an old fashioned in-the-hand book which I'm loving called Swamplandia!. How does Karen Russell write like this? She looks about eighteen years old.

Plus the weekend will end with an annual tradition planned for later today. More on that in a blog post if I can find the photograph that tells part of the story.

Happy Memorial Weekend!
Happy Birthday Virginia!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hacked Accounts Have an Upside

Both my email and Facebook accounts got hacked this past weekend while we were in Chelan. Did this annoyance have something to do with the unsecured hotel internet connection? I'll never know. I've no idea how hackers do their bad deeds in the first place. I only know they create havoc, a sense of dis-ease and concern over what else they might have accessed while they were busy creating bogus emails and sending them to everyone in my address book.Sigh.

Fortunately, I was tipped off by a friend who received the "click here and make an easy buck" email that went out under my name within an hour and I was able to change my password. All back to normal? Hopefully.

Hackers and their nasty work piss me off.

What surprised me, however, was the unexpected benefit that came of this mess.. I received emails from three people I hadn't heard from in a long, long time who wanted to let me know that my account had been hacked. But that wasn't all; their messages contained personal messages and an update on their "news". Nice to hear from these folks even if it took scammers to bring us back in touch. Who would have thought?

Good to hear from y'all again; P, P, and S!

Now, NO MORE HACKERS. Be gone you turds.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Heading Home after a Good Weekend

The long weekend in Chelan (sadly) comes to an end today but I'm looking forward to the drive home. We've some gorgeous terrain to revisit as we retrace the miles back to Seattle. I'm hoping to check out some fresh produce stands; the local asparagus should be great right now.

I'm also salivating over the requisite stop at the DQ in Cle Elum for the soft serve vanilla cone. I strayed from my usual on Thursday last and ate a hot fudge sundae; not nearly as good as the cone. Something about the cold ice cream and the crunch of the cone does me in. Gotta. have. it.  Denny will sit in the car, indulging my persuasion patiently. He'll only eat one of DQ's cones if it's dipped in that waxy chocolate stuff. Oh well, leaves more for me.

This weekend has been all about rest, walks by the lake, food and visits  to local wineries offering barrel tasting this weekend. Barrel tasting? That was a new one for us but quite interesting. On the  third weekend of May, wineries in this area offer a taste of their youngest wines, right from the barrel. We tasted a Pinot Noir that won't be bottled for several  more years and (kind of) got the sense of what the wine would become. That sort of expertise we'll leave to the vintners but it was fun nonetheless. As usual, we ended up buying lots of wine; mostly white but some of those nice(older) pinot noirs as well. My sad comment was, "There's a headache in every bottle". Oh well.

Another nice treat was to read an entire, albeit short, book this weekend.  I loved the feel of a "real" book in hand after "Kindling" for the last years. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka is but 129 pages but  each one reads like poetry. She's a beautiful writer.. The first few chapters were especially touching, personal and full of longing. Now there's a good book.

As an aside, Denny wouldn't touch this book with a ten foot pole. We have such disparate tastes in what constitutes a good read. Even the books I think he'll love, like Killing Lincoln  or  11/23/63, are met with comments like......"it's OK", "or, " it's taking me awhile to get into it". Seriously; it took the man 6 weeks to finish King's 11/23/63 which I'd purchased him for Christmas.  He probably finished it because he can tough out almost anything (think of those law books), even  Moby Dick back in the day. What he won't do is get started on one of my hard core reads; he can tell in an instant that it's literary poison. I digress.

So,  now we head home. Here's to ice cream and asparagus. But, not together. And, no wine either.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Roughing It (not) in Chelan

A short vacation in the middle of May is a nice treat. This is the second year I've accompanied Denny to his WSMA sponsored Leadership Development Conference. This is half work, half play for him and all play for me. I'm not an attendee at the conference; rather just along for the experience of sunny Chelan, the views of the lake, wineries, and plenty of rest. We're staying in a great room overlooking the lake with a deck that was quite pleasant this morning as I sipped a cup of coffee. Ahhhhh. Wonderful.

Last year I found a lovely bookstore on the main street of the small town of  Chelan called Riverwalk Books and bought the Locavore Way. I can't walk passed a used bookstore or an Indie bookseller and not go in for a look. Even though I'm reading most of my books on a Kindle or listening to audiobooks in the car, I bought two that look like good reads. I can't get away from the feel of a book in hand. There's not substitute.

I'm headed out for a walk soon. The day is perfection; cloudless blue and low 70's. Last year we had low clouds and cooler temperatures. There's no predicting Washington weather. I'll take today over just about anything else.

Mama Duck and her ducklings
View of Lake Chelan from hotel deck

Monday, May 14, 2012

Saving Lives for Mother's Day and Every Day

Sure, Mother's Day is nice.... but it seems that each year brings more hype, expectation, and commercialization of what I've learned began with far different intentions. The founder of Mother's Day,  Anna Jarvis  wanted to honor her Mother, a woman who organized an association of women on opposing sides of the Civil War with disarmament and peace being the central goals. In 1914, after Jarvis's petitioning, President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The focus shifted to a public declaration of honor and thanks to mothers in general. To Jarvis's dismay, within a decade of the official declaration of Mother's Day, rampant consumerism incited her to criticize a confectioner's convention in 1923 by stating, "You are using a beautiful idea as a means of profiteering and as the founder of Mother's Day, I demand that it cease."  She didn't have much sway with the momentum inherent in making a buck.

When my two kids were young, Mother's Day was an excuse to be pampered  and to expect some better behavior out of  them. Now as  an empty-nester, mother to twenty-somethings, a phone call from them wishing me a nice day sits well. Cards and gifts aren't necessary. It feels weird to have my own Mom gone these last two years; the ritual pull of  selecting a card and stopping by or calling is forever a memory.  Recently MM and I  sorted through hundreds of greeting cards Mom had saved through the years. Many were Mother's Day cards from the two of us. We threw them out after looking at each one for a last time.

When I read this powerful Op-Ed piece published in the Sunday NY Times entitled Saving the Lives of Moms, it hit me: this is what we should be thinking about on Mother's Day. Instead of spending money on flowers, candy, and cards we should be thinking about how to change the lives of girls forced into motherhood at  young, grossly inappropriate ages and whose lives are made a living hell by obstetric fistulae. The article commends the dedicated work of Dr. Arrowsmith, a urologist who has devoted his professional life to repairing fistulas at the Addis Abba Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. The hospital was founded by Drs.Reginald and Catherine Hamlin years ago. Dr. Hamlin says;

"These women are the poorest of the poor. They're alone in the world without hope, without friends. They bear their sorrows in silent shame. Their miseries, untreated are utterly lonely and lifelong."

I'm going to honor my Mother by sending a donation to the cause. I'm confident she'd be pleased.

Let's think about how we celebrate. 18 billion dollars was spent to honor our mothers yesterday. Think how even a fraction of that amount might change the lives of less fortunate women who live a hellish nightmare as a result of becoming mothers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hooked on 'The Killing'

The second season of AMC's "The Killing" is well underway. Denny and I've spent the last few weeks catching up (courtesy of Netflix) on Season 1.  The first few episodes were excessively gloomy and heavy with sadness making us question why we decided to watch in the first place. The story takes place in Seattle which is the major draw. Although there are lots of familiar cityscapes and shots of Discovery Park (the site of  unsolved murder), much of the show was filmed in Vancouver, B.C. which visually ia a remarkably similar city.

Linden and Holder
The Killing casts a deep hook in your hide by about the fifth episode of Season 1 as the interestingly paired detectives Linden and Holder investigate the murder of a teenaged girl. The girl's past, her family's hidden secrets, city politics, and the duo of emotionally scarred detectives make for great escape as the search for the perpetrator escalates, moving from one suspect to the next over an entire season.  Season 2 is more investigative work on the same crime but the stakes get higher, the violence escalates, and everything is not what it appears to be. Good stuff, huh?

My only beef is the incessant rain, overly heavy for Seattle which tends to mist rather than downpour as anyone who has lived here awhile can tell you. There must have been some negative critique along the way; I've noticed that Season 2 is far less soggy than Season 1. Sure, we get rain in Seattle, especially in the fall but, please.... October can as easily showcase sunny days with brilliant fall color. You'd never know that from Season 1 where Seattle transforms into a rainforest where moss grows abundantly on every dripping surface. Otherwise, this show rocks.

Mireille Enos plays the lead role as detective Sarah Linden. She's tough, complex, and insightful but personally troubled, flawed and floundering below the intensely serious surface. The other characters are equally unique blends of good:bad, innocent:guilty, and trustworthy:conniving. We're left wondering after every episode: Who (actually) Killed Rosie Larsen?

Enos, playing the role of  Detective Linden, never smiles. Never. Serious to the core, troubled, vexed by every twist and turn in the story line, she eats breath mints and smokes a few cigarettes and drinks scotch straight up. But smile? Never. Her persona doesn't leave room for any lighter moments.

Enos is quite striking as this photograph  shows. What's cool is that she grew up in Houston and attended HSPVA (High School for Performing and Visual Arts), the school just across the street from a house we lived in from 1983-1988. I doubt she was old enough to have attended while we were in the neighborhood but it's interesting nonetheless. HSPVA turned out some major talent.

Anyway, maybe you'll enjoy this show as much as Denny and I have; worth a look if you're up for a heavier, darker tale set in dreary Seattle town. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Woe is Me, Alcohol is Not to Be...

A crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is my happy indulgence. 

A cold beer after sweating in the sun is a thirst quenching blessing.

The Cuba Libre is a favorite mixed drink, especially when celebrating a reunion with Brenda Pate.

Unfortunately, all types of alcohol whether wine, beer or spirits cause the same problem for me with 100 percent predictability. Migraine Headache;. pound, pound, pound. After a busy work week, D and I shared a lovely bottle of dry Riesling last evening. Four hours later, an unusually nasty right hemi-cranial misery, recalcitrant to the usual soothing effects of sumatriptan. ARghhhh....

The situation makes me angry.

There's definitely a serious incompatibility going on here. Even today, I feel sluggish.

Damn it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ethiopian Food; Spokane Style

The weekend I spent with Laura in Spokane wasn't completely taken up with sorting, organizing and cleaning her new apartment.  There were a few diversions, the most notable a lunch at Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian restaurant. What a delightful treat. The food was great (although we should have been more adventurous with the heat factor) but even more, the owner was such a lovely woman I could have stayed there all afternoon sipping spiced Ethiopian iced tea and chatting with her.

The restaurant is small and we were the first lunch guests of the day. We took our time, enjoying an appetizer called Veggie Sambusa. Next came the shared meal of two different vegetarian entrees served on an edible pallet of injera with two additional rolled pieces of injera. No utensils.  "Tear, scoop, and squeeze" where the owner's instructions on how to eat the meal in traditional style.We were so hungry and the food was hearty and satisfying.

Injera fascinates me. I've tasted it before at my Dad's adult family home where all of the caregivers come from Ethiopia. They often serve their traditional foods at the open house parties at Christmas and Halloween.  Several times, one of the caregivers has offered me some of her food to taste, a bit worried that I might not be up for the spiciness but I've really liked the flavors. There are lots of vegetarian dishes, too and that makes me happy.

Eating injera is like eating a sponge; non-salty and slightly sour tasting. It grows on me the more times I eat it. Clearly a vehicle for getting the food from the plate into your mouth, it's also quite nutritious. It absorbs the flavor of whatever food it touches. Yum.

Laura and I polished off our meal with baklava and a homemade peanut cookie dipped in chocolate. I'm not sure how authentic these desserts are to Ethiopia but they were delicious nonetheless.

I've got to go back. Better yet, I've got to check out some of the local Ethiopian restaurant sin Seattle. I'm hungry just thinking about this "hole - ey" looking pancake and all the good things it wants to soak up.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Grateful for my Feet

Growing up, I didn't like the look of my feet. They reminded me of my Dad's feet. Mom's feet were so feminine and nice looking. Somehow, my Dad's genes reigned strong on this trait, for me and my siblings.

Dad would say, "What's wrong with your feet? They look like mine and they're fine, strong feet". I wasn't able to see what he saw until many years later. He was so right; these feet are just fine. Think of all the miles they've carried me and they still look OK.

Feet can be timeless (note: can be). If all you see is someone's feet it can be really tough to predict their age. Truly young feet can look old and vice versa. My Mom's feet maintained their youthful, feminine look up until the day she died at age 93. Amazing. Amazing feet.

As an aside, two days a week I ply my trade as a kidney doctor in the Podiatry clinic in our Federal Way location. When working at a remote site, you take whatever space is available. At first I was off-put by the anatomic posters of feet on the walls and the three dimensional models of ankle and metatarsal bones. Now I've come to appreciate my home-away-from-home in the foot clinic. The podiatrists are an interesting group; I've grown to enjoy their company and enjoy the  fact that we work and think from such different perspectives. Vive le difference.

What makes me chuckle is listening to my podiatrist colleague dictate outpatient notes. He describes in great detail things that sound incredibly gross....

"......the severely mycotic ram's horn toenails..." brings to mind these images. I've seen them frequently and fail to understand how something like this takes hold in the first place. I could always ask my podiatrist friend. From the number of those afflicted, clearly this is bread-and-butter business for him.

I'd best not be smug. When I'm old I may not be just wearing purple; I may be sporting these However, if I continue in the path of  my 95 year old Dad, I won't. Thankfully.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Three Week Marathon

A sprint, not a marathon, for me please. I'd much rather grit my teeth and get through something self limited than steam ahead on a seemingly endless and exhausting moving treadmill. Yesterday marked the end to my three week nose-to-the-grindstone, work-like-a-dog (who is that working dog, by the way?), date with a mixed up stew of responsibilities and tasks.

I'm settling in to my second day off, at home, free of my paying job and trying to ignore the non-paying jobs as best I can, I'll take a stab writing about what went on in these three weeks above and beyond wine, chocolate, coffee, red bull, imitrex, tears, and curses.

Photographing Everything
MM and I tackled and made a decent dent in the enormous task of sorting through and archiving items at the house on Arapahoe. Our goal is to get the house ready to sell although we've lots more to do before that can happen. She was here for 10 days and we worked together most days; sometimes for 8-10 hours at a time, sometimes for just a few hours in the evening. I had three full days OFF of work to really dig in. MM took hundreds of photographs from furniture and wall hangings to treasured family dinnerware, decorative plates, and crystal; the basis for a master spreadsheet for the extended family to view and choose what they might like to inherit. We also donated at least four carloads of stuff to charity and generated bags of trash and recycling, Hand sorting and making a decision about every single item is emotionally draining. Hauling box after box of archived family papers and photographs into the car and then into my basement was physically exhausting. The work was important. We knew this down to the bone.

Living Room at Arapahoe

Happy 24th!
Laura and Scott breezed in for less than 48 hours the weekend of her Birthday in the midst of the Arapahoe project. We jam packed their hours with good food, drink, conversation, and of course hauling boxes out of Scott's car and back into Scott's car for their trip back to Spokane. Sometimes it seems as though we move STUFF from one location to another continuously. STUFF; the things that begin to weigh us down and take over our lives. There is a theme here, people.

Then came my ill advised 48 hour trip to Spokane to visit Laura a week later. I drove the 285 miles each way, listening to audio books and stopping regularly at Dairy Queen franchises for soft serve cones to fuel the journey. I agreed to make the trip because she wanted me to see her new apartment and......she was alone for the weekend and felt like company would be nice. In her defense, I think she anticipated tackling a few small (sorting/organizing) projects but, NO.....over ambitious Mom was in high gear and ready to work relentlessly on a life-long project that, unless I consciously put a stop to it, will never (ever) end. She and I are both too old (in different ways) to be doing this dance. She ends up frustrated. I end up frustrated and things go to SHIT before long; usually by the 24 hour mark. In retrospect, her apartment looked better for my visit but at what cost to us both?  Live and learn over and over and over again.

Baby Noni?
Top this exhaustion off  with a legitimate allergy to guinea pig urine (I've learned it is not so much dander as it is urine that morphs into aerosol). That's gross especially for me, a Nephrologist who loves urine. Within a half hour of arrival at Laura's new digs, I could feel the familiar itchy throat, raspy voice, and the start of chest tightness. The rest of the story involved an albuterol inhaler, zyrtec, wide open windows that allowed stinkbugs free entry into the apartment, and frizzled nerves all around.

The not so good news about pulling into Seattle late afternoon last Sunday was the looming 7 day on-call week starting bright and early Monday morning. Couple that with a 95 year old father who hadn't seen me in a week. The final seven days of the marathon seemed like impending hell. In the end, it was half easy:half hard and I lived through it.

I'm taking these two days off to do exactly what I want. Oh, and a few things I don't want to do like clean the house. Denny's wonderful about cooking and laundry but as for cleaning? That's mine.