Category Archives: Random Reflections

Times they are a changin’

Winter is here. I don’t really care what the calendar says. It happened yesterday. In the morning the sun was shining and it wasn’t very cold, so I took the pups for a long-ish walk. It was still fall then.

By evening it was winter. Not cold snowy winters like the mid-west or east coast. The dark, wet enough to work the chilliness into your bones of a Puget Sound region winter. No doubt we’ll get a few more flashes of sunshine, but this time of year the sun arrives with a cold north wind.

I love it when Thanksgiving and Christmas are over a month apart. Things are less frantic. I’ve taken down the fall decorations and not put up the Christmas ones. I wait until December.

One benefit to the longer time between holidays is that most holiday special attractions are open this week, but not yet crowded. So today (while my spouse wrestled with the clogged drain in the kitchen… they really should saint that man!)I took myself off to visit the “Gingerbread Village”. I put “Gingerbread Village” in quotes because it’s more than gingerbread and more than a village. It is really sculptures. This year the theme is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and the entries were imaginative and filled with fun details (to see any image larger click on it).

I called this one “Mount Crumpet”

I called this one “the grinch’s lair”:

This one was Whoville plus Mount Crumpit:

This one was Whoville:

Last, but not least, was “The Feast”:

They have official names somewhere but I was so entranced looking at the details that I didn’t catch them. For more information about the annual Gingerbread Village here is the website: GingerbreadVillage.org.
I wouldn’t say that I am ready for the holiday season to commence, but, after today’s outing I am feeling a good deal less hostile to it.

It’s foggy today

The light is different. In the winter when it’s clear the sun is either intense or it’s dark. Feast or famine, warm or cold. The fog diffuses the light mellowing the extremes.

I think foggy might be how I’m feeling as well. Not bad, not great, generally on the bright side, but it’s diffused light, not intense.

Thanksgiving is Thursday. For the first time in a long time it will be at my house. My husband and Dad built a ramp so grandma can be brought in.

The turkey is thawing in the garage, which is the same temperature as a refrigerator, and the house is getting a good scrub up. I try to keep up, but time goes by so quickly that “I just did that” means I did that six months (or longer) ago.

I don’t like doing housework. I like the place clean, but it doesn’t last, and when it’s done (rarely) things are just the way they are supposed to be. It doesn’t have the sense of accomplishment of making something new.

I suppose that may be why people do projects just before the holidays. I don’t. The newspaper on Saturday made me laugh: it contained an article in the “Home” section about revamping your dining room for Thanksgiving by adding elaborate molding. Five days before Thanksgiving?

The sun is burning through and the light is getting too bright.

100 Years Ago

The armistice that ended World War I began 100 years ago today. Europe lost almost an entire generation of men in that war.

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

The Poppies: Weeping Window art installation is a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I. These photos are from when it was at Carlisle Castle last June.

Patrick Jennings Pic and a Word: Remembrance

If we were having coffee…

This past weekend it would likely have been in the cafeteria or lobby Starbucks of the hospital. Of the past 9 days my grandmother spent 7 in the hospital, in two visits. This is wearing on me in a lot of ways.

It starts with a call in the wee small hours from a nurse saying they called 911 and have taken Grandma to the hospital. They say the name of the hospital, but on one occasion they were incorrect so I phone around trying to locate her. By the time I locate her and talk to her nurse I’m awake, the nurse always says don’t bother to come right away wait until morning.

To speak with the doctors you have to catch them while doing their rounds. Which means being on site. Grandma is all there mentally but she doesn’t hear well and her back up plan is to pretend she does hear and give a reasonable answer based on context. She’s very good at it and people rarely realize that she didn’t have a clue what they said. For that reason I like to hear for both of us, then I can explain it to her.

Hospital time is different. It seems like it is always wait then hurry up. As we waited for them to coordinate yesterday, we watched a “reality” TV show about weddings, with the sound off. Although it is a bit hypnotic, I think the premise is wrong. Four brides compete and judge each other for the chance to win a fancy honeymoon. Tens of thousands of dollars are going into these affairs. I guess what bothers me is the judgement and competition about the event itself. A wedding, in my old-fashioned view, is about recognizing a relationship and the formation of a family unit, not the dress, the venue, the food and the experience (the four judgement points for the show).

Somewhere I heard that there is not a correlation between the cost/elaborateness of a wedding and how well the relationship lasts. What they were able to correlate was whether or not the couple took a honeymoon or not, and it didn’t have to be a fancy one. Probably not a surprise that spending time together is more important than putting on a show for others. I wonder whether turning the wedding into a competition has an effect on the longevity of the relationship.

Is this obsession with drama and competition over substance and relationships what is wrong with so much today?

Watching these shows and seeing these folks head off to Bermuda and other tropical locations on a dark day with a sliver of a view framed by two brick walls is a bit depressing. Especially since costs associated with this week of hospitalizations have probably eaten away any chance that we will get much of a vacation this year. Making it more depressing is that the second hospitalization is because the insurance company refused to approve a prescription ordered when they discharged Grandma on Wednesday and they gave her a medication for breathing that caused her heart rate to skyrocket in its place.

We took her home again today and are paying out of pocket for the prescription, which is way cheaper than the cost of just one day in the hospital. Supposedly we will get reimbursed when the approval comes  through…

Hopefully she is stable for a while.

When we got home we took the dogs for a walk to enjoy an unseasonably warm fall day. There is still a lot of pretty color, although some trees are looking bare. A nice, peaceful end to a stressful period.

I hope your weekend was peaceful.

Life lag

I got home from China a little over a week ago. Since I don’t work I don’t usually fuss about jet lag. I try to go to bed and get up at about the right times and not worry if I oversleep a bit or need a nap, after all sometimes that happens anyway. It takes a week to ten days to adjust.

I’d been home a few days when we got a call at 1:00 am that they had taken my grandmother to the hospital. It took over an hour of phone calls to find out where she was, which was a bit unnerving.  When I finally located her, I spoke with the nurse attending her and since she was sleeping stayed home until the next day.

I finally drifted off sometime after 3 and didn’t get going until after 9. The first sign that things were a bit amiss was seeing the blood on her carpet when I stopped to pick up a few things for her on my way to the hospital. There had been no mention of bleeding from the nurse who called me.

When I got to the hospital she looked awful, her left hand was severely swollen and bruised, seems the EMTs had botched a blood test and attempt at inserting an IV (at a guess they had dropped the sample resulting in the blood stain I saw). Also, the left side of her face was red blotches, more blotch than skin by a lot. The nurse, when I asked, said that Grandma had said it had been going on for some time, months. I said “no”. We had spent Wednesday evening with her and it wasn’t there then.  She hadn’t seen herself in the mirror and didn’t understand what they had been asking her about.

She looked awful, but the superficial wasn’t the real problem. She had coughed herself into atrial fibrillation. If you are my week ago naive self you don’t know what that means: In a nutshell the top valves of her heart aren’t playing nice with the bottom ones.

Because of her age, 95 years, and health history including a very bad reaction to one of the drugs they usually use to treat this and kidneys that are barely managing day- to-day life, the usual approaches needed modification. So we went from the nurse I spoke with on the phone the first night saying she was just being admitted for overnight observation, to “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”. She is finally home (at her nursing home) now.

While she is in the hospital I suffer from life lag. I have to drive over and be around to find out what I can. We have to arrange a wheelchair van to bring her back and it takes both of us, so when they keep saying “tomorrow”, we keep putting off our own life (vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc) so we are ready to bring her back.

It takes a week to ten days to get over jet lag; I wonder how long it will be until I feel like I’m over life lag, or if I’ll get over it before the next crisis: her heart isn’t really back to the old normal, and the coughing that popped it out of sync last time has been coming and going for years.

Have you ever had life lag? How did you cope? I feel like I need to have a strategy moving forward, because I fear this wasn’t our last rodeo.

Speaking of coffee…

If we were having coffee I’d probably be a bit talkative. I’m visiting my son in Shouguang, Shandong Province, China right now. There are a lot of different coffee shops. Each each shop is unique. While my son is at work I go walkabout and that, almost always, involves stopping somewhere, often one of the little coffee shops, for refreshment.

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Yesterday I had my morning coffee at a bakery, along with a…I’m not quite sure what to call it…it looked like it was savory: a bun with some corn and pepper visible and what looked like cheese on top. Turned out there was no cheese (it was a drizzle of a sweetish frosting-like substance) I was surprised, upon biting in, to discover that it also had a fairly tasteless hot dog inside. I should have known, this is my tenth trip to China and my fourth to Shouguang. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t the kind of treat that kept you eating after you were full, so I ate about half of it.

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At this bakery the seating for drinking one’s coffee was on the second floor and they have windows so you can look down and watch them decorate the cakes which is nice for those of us going solo. It’s much more pleasant to linger with something to watch.

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Today’s morning coffee was at Cat Kingdom…yes they had cats. I was the only customer. It was a Mom, Pop, and child shop. I think they had about seven cats. The boss cat was a fluffy grey.

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I realized, once again, that having a stiff-ish cup of coffee is a very cheering thing. As I sipped and watched the cats I felt my eyelids and my mood elevate.

Posted for Weekend Coffee Share

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge-Week 4

PHOTO CHALLENGE OF PLACES WE SIT…OR MIGHT SIT…OR ART ABOUT SITTING

Welcome to week 2 of Pull up a Seat. Take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or pingback. For more detailed directions go to Pull Up a Seat page.

Thank you to everyone who is participating. It is really fun to see all the different ideas conjured up by the theme.

Follow up: the seat I showed in last week’s post was for jockey training.

Here are my photos for this week. They take a sober turn. I almost cried when I saw this and realized that someone had built a makeshift shelter from two dumped sofas and some other desert trash.

I took these photos in late August, in the desert, in an area where people, especially contractors, dump many things in order to avoid paying the fees at the local landfill. It appeared unoccupied, so hopefully its builder found a safer refuge from the elements.

Over to you (hopefully on a happier note).

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Keep Remembering the kids

I finally found a news report with an update about the children.

PBS Newshour: Fewer than 200 migrant children remain separated from their parents

I feel like the headline is misleading. What they actually mean is that fewer than 200 are eligible to be helped by the class action lawsuit.

There are an additional 220 children who are deemed no longer a part of the class-action lawsuit. If you add that to the 182 who are deemed part of the class action that is a total of 402 still in government custody. to my mind that isn’t brilliant progress, the article on September 4 said that 416 remained in custody. Although it feels like they are not necessarily comparing apples to apples from week to week.

I have not been able to find out what happens to those 220 kids.

In Loving Memory

For Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Open topic. I chose graveyards and this post is in memory of all who died from the terrorism on September 11, 2001, and all who have died since fighting in the wars it spawned. I embedded piano music to the hymn “For all the saints who from their labors rest” below, thinking that it makes a good backdrop to the slide show.

May this crazy world we live in move toward peace.

 

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