Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year 1916

Yesterday, Dad asked me to "go over the calendar" with him.  He pulled out the small calendar he keeps in the storage compartment of his walker along with the NY Times, a letter opener, his eyeglass case and a supply of Kleenex. I keep his calendar current with notations about upcoming doctor's appointments, celebrations, visits from the Houston family, and my work schedule. He appreciates knowing when he'll have an in-person visit from me and when we'll go for our 45 second phone conversation (my work days). He's a man of few words on the telephone.

As we looked over the last days of the month, I reminded him that February 2012 is another Leap Year. It took him a moment for this to register but when I reminded him of an important event in our family history that took place on a Leap Year in 1916, I had his attention and recollection.

What happened on February 29, 1916?  

Shirley Keyes and Lewell Thompson (my paternal grandparents) tied the knot in marriage on that date and within twenty four hours were on a train headed west to Saskatchewan to begin a new, exciting life on the plains. I wrote a blog post about this four years ago, another Leap Year.  The details are here. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscar Faves

Two favorite picks from the grand night of the Oscars 2012....

1. Best Dress: Stunningly gorgeous

Milla Jovovich
2. Best Award: Well deserved and great acceptance speech

Meryl Streep
Denny fails to connect with any of this hoopla, from the fashion to the awards. He spends the time in the kitchen cooking food for the week. 

He was sorry to have missed Jennifer Lopez's bust-line when she presented an award along with Ms. Cameron Diaz. I also thought something on J Lo's wardrobe malfunctioned. Sorry you missed it D.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another On Call Week Bites the Dust

Praise God; the on-call week is over. 7 days (this always impresses my Dad but no one else, particularly) carrying the pager continuously and rounding on the hospital service is rather like banging your head against the wall. It feels so good when you stop. Ahhh.

This week wasn't too rugged; every on-call week spins a different feel. One new kidney transplant, a number of people in house with transplants from past days, and the usual collection of dialysis patients as well as those whose kidney function had been good but then turned south. All in a week's work. 

I felt good about hitting a controversial diagnosis "on the head", spot-on, and recommending a treatment that actually worked and worked fast. Those wins are terrific when there is so much we nephrologists do that feels like applying pressure to an open, gushing wound.

And so, on this Monday, my weekend begins. The sun is shining in Seattle. The trash, recycling, and yard waste pickups (another of my favorites: the triple header) passed by our house this morning. All is well.

Only wish I wasn't dreaming about a tall stack of blueberry pancakes, dripping with melted butter and real maple syrup with a side of crispy bacon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lost in a Bygone Era

Here's a show I'm really enjoying.....

Downton Abbey

Surprisingly steamy and scandalous, I love the unspoken tension between the characters. It's all about the eyes.

Lose yourself in the early 20th century British countryside for awhile. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Celebrating 26 Birthdays

Chris turned 26 this past Friday. Hey, how did that happen? 25 was a milestone birthday last year and now he's movin' on towards the "big three-O".  We shared a nice time over a typical V.M. cafeteria lunch. Turns out this is a treat for both of us since even though we work in the same place, we don't eat lunch together very often.

Yesterday, we drove to Gig Harbor for more celebrating with Chris and Heather. Tina and Wayne drove up from Vancouver. We'd have been the two nuclear families together again as we were at Christmas had Laura and Tim been able to join us. A wonderful day, just the same. How blessed we are to be close enough to get together like this. Very special and reminds me of decades past in Houston when we'd gather as one big family together (D's side and mine plus all the kids).

We enjoyed a great lunch (without counting points) and treated ourselves to dessert back at the house. Birthdays are just that way, you know.

Amused by the antics of the "mews" along with Belle and Boz, inspired by Chris's beer making endeavors, a lovely, warm home, and a ridiculously funny British show called The IT Crowd, I'd say it was a great day. Oh, and we listened to Adele's CD, 21 to and from the Harbor. It's all good. It's all good.

P.S. Did you know that some cats like to eat rose petals?  The Valentine roses that Chris gifted Heather were gnawed by none other than Gus. He bad.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thank Goodness for Spanx


I really (really) like this dress. The photos don't show off one of the dress's nicest features; the "shutter frill design". I absolutely love this look and found that London Times markets an entire line of "cocktail dresses" like this one. The best part is....the dresses are very reasonably priced. Ahhhh.

I really (really) like these Nina brand shoes. Turns out that they come in all sorts of colors; one matches the top of the dress (above) perfectly.

Thank goodness for Spanx which will be essential if this is the look for the big event in March.

I'm getting excited.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cake and Ice Cream

Snapping pictures at a family event is standard. When we gathered yesterday afternoon for a belated celebration of Dad's 95th Birthday, this one was my favorite.  Chocolate cake with cookies and cream ice cream. Nice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney: You Rocked My Days

Whitney, I can't believe you're gone.

Rest in Peace.

Thank you Jennifer Hudson for your brave salute to Whitney at the Grammy Awards Ceremony tonight.

Great Advice from Pastor Ruff

Rob Ruff is a Lutheran pastor at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota. I read his recent contribution to on preparing for death. Thoughtful, timely, and above all, comforting.

These are words highly recommended no matter who you are are where you are in life.He writes with something for everyone, even those who may consider themselves invincible.

Here's what he says....

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm Not Ready

Although he's out of the hospital, my Dad is not doing well. He's weak. He looks tired. Today when I stopped by to see him, the usual sparkle in his eyes was gone. He was flat and clearly not feeling up to any visiting. He didn't respond much to my questions and didn't seem to care if I was there or not.

This is all very atypical for Dad.

When I last saw him, three days ago on his Birthday, the big 95, he was in his hospital bed but looked considerably better and was far more animated.

What does it all mean? Will he rally? Will he not?

I know he's lived a long, rich life. Very few people make it to this age. None of this matters when the thought of losing him looms large. I scream inside: "I don't want to let him go. I'm not ready yet."

I'm scared but can't do anything to fix this situation. I'm strangely calm tonight but my thoughts keep coming back to that core of worry and dread. Is this his time?

We're planning a small party tomorrow afternoon in lieu of the bigger bash which was cancelled due his hospitalization. I'm still sad about the missed opportunity to celebrate (big) with him and the rest of the local family. But, as he said, "We never know what tomorrow will bring."

Tonight I wonder what tomorrow or the next day or the day after that will bring. These are critical days for Dad. He will either rally or, he won't. I'm not ready. I'm not ready. I'm not ready.

"Fund Raising Made Fashionable" (Swapapalooza!)

I had no idea what to expect from an innovative event called  Swapapalooza which I attended earlier today. I came away thoroughly impressed. Not only does this event raise money for neighborhood schools and provide clothing for women's shelters (whatever is left behind: not "swapped" or purchased), but the experience is unique, extremely fun, and I walked out with some very nice clothing.

Last evening I dropped off my donations of clothing and shoes as did about 100 other women who had registered in early January for this event. The organizers and volunteers for Swapapalooza sorted through all that "stuff" and somehow arranged thousands of items into presentable form by category: dresses, pants, tops, outerwear, shoes, purses, hats and scarves, even jewelry. Points are assigned based on the number of items submitted for the swap; 2 items equals 1 point. When it comes time to trade in the points, each treasure found can be had for 1 point. The great part of swap is that extra points can be purchased in real time to cover the cost of any extra items that just have to find a home in your closet.

Picture 100 women lined up this morning at 9:00 AM, ready to hit the inside of that gymnasium where thousands of articles of clothing and accessories were on display. As predicted, large mirrors positioned throughout the space made for (fairly) easy viewing of the style and fit; all very up close and personal.  Photos of the friendly mayhem with clothing strewn everywhere and women in various stages of  un-dress would really tell the story's not fair to do that (or welcomed). My pictures are rather bland compared to what was really going on in there for two plus hours.

The professional on site fashion consultant offered lots of  helpful advice

 If at first there's a sense of : "Sigh, there's nothing here for me", JUST WAIT. With some patience and a little time, what disappears off the racks resurfaces continuously and the options become richer by the moment. I found a cool pair of gold tone flats within the first 5 minutes but came up short when scanning the racks for anything I'd think of wearing. Much of the clothing was clearly made for a younger generation and was very much weighted toward summer styles.

But then, over the next hour, I found a couple of gorgeous black leather jackets (never have owned one) and a long, sweater with a wonderful drape in my favorite color, blood red. I didn't come across and must-have tops or pants but but did land a cute purse to round out my 6 points. Wow!

I'm already considering the closet clean-out for next year. I'm definitely IN for the next Swapapalooza.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wisdom from Dad

Yesterday, in the context of Dad spending his 95th Birthday in the hospital, he mused (and I wrote it down to preserve the quote), " You never know what tomorrow will bring".

True this.

There are inklings, premonitions, and predictions but in the end you never know.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Dad's 95th Birthday

For reasons I could never quite pinpoint, the anticipation of my Dad's 95th Birthday celebration created in me more anxiety than excitement. I felt vaguely troubled and strangely longing for the party to be over. Weird, I thought. Why would a sense of dread color what should have been all about family and friends gathered together to acknowledge our love for a truly remarkable man who has lived long and well?

Last night I told Denny I felt a foreboding; like something was going to spoil the day. I knew in my heart this would likely involve my Dad's health, an illness, a turn for the worse in his frail, ofttimes teetering-on-the-edge condition. Then, I'd rationalize that such an event could happen any day; why would it hit on his Birthday?  But still, I stewed and thought about the rare but possible chance that one could be born and die on the same date. My thoughts can take me in all directions, especially into the macabre.

So, when the call from the lead caregiver at the adult family home came just after 8 AM  today advising me that  Dad was not doing well, suffering from another upper respiratory syndrome with fever, I wasn't at all surprised. All those free floating concerns of the last few weeks crystallized instantly. "I knew it; I just knew it.", I kept saying over and over to myself.  Deeply sad inside, all I could do for the next hour was let the tears run. The timing sucked and there was nothing to be done about it except deal with it.

The caregiver and I made the decision together that Dad needed to head off to the ER for evaluation and treatment. He wasn't happy about this but he's good about following advice. He was whisked off to the hospital and spent the rest of his birthday as a patient. He's going to be OK with medical attention, antibiotics, and a bit of time. He may even get to come home tomorrow.

Dad wasn't too happy that his party had to be cancelled. At one point he told his grandson who so lovingly sat with him in the ER this morning that we should all "just go ahead with the plans" for the party without him. "You should dance!", he said. Chris explained that we didn't want to party without him, the guest of honor. This offer is so typical of my Dad. Only he would want the party to go on while he hung around a hospital ward, working on getting over his bout of pneumonia. Sigh. We'll celebrate later this week we told Dad and he seemed OK with the change of plans.

By the time I arrived at the hospital to check in on him, he was looking pretty good; tired and weary from all the hoopla, a bit hungry, and eager for a good nap but surprisingly on-the-ball. I fetched him a carton of chocolate milk from the cafeteria  and sat with him as the huge mylar birthday balloon floated near the ceiling of his room. It wasn't long before the lead caregiver from the adult family home arrived with Dad's glasses, hearing aids, and teeth!  Add to those necessities, the NY Times and the updated Exxon stock quote and he was all set.  Dad started singing and I knew he had rallied despite the rocky start to the day. Once again.

Tonight, I think of Dad in his hospital bed. I hope he has a decent night's sleep and gets to come home tomorrow. This is the first birthday he's ever spent in a hospital. He was born in upstate New York, at home, as was the custom for the early 20th century.  Even as a newborn, he never saw the inside of a hospital on that Thursday, February 8, 1917.

Happy Birthday to You, Dad!   We'll party with you this weekend; better late than never!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Eating Green

Every now and then it's time to head to Uwajimaya and get lost in the produce section. Amazing. Fun. Inspiring.

And, these were just some of the green things. Orange, purple, rust, red, and yellow; all for another time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cedar Rapids: The Movie, not the City

When some Netflix titles end up in our mailbox, I often wonder if they've been delivered to the wrong house. They're usually Indie movies that vaguely register with me as having been added to the queue way back there in time. And so it was with Cedar Rapids, a flick with a rather uninspiring description on the DVD sleeve. I had not a clue as to who, what, when, where or more importantly WHY this one made the cut. The movie sat around for weeks waiting. Waiting.

Sure; Cedar Rapids is a nerdy, raunchy, if not predictable flick but there were more than a few really, really good laughs along the way. Call me easily amused but this one was fun. Here's the trailer if you're so inclined.