Tag Archives: weekendcoffeeshare

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.

If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you that I found another Cat Cafe in Shouguang. This one was livelier in terms of both cats and customers. I shouldn’t have had coffee though. They did not have decaf and the only thing I can order with confidence is mei shi, (Americano). It kept me up, so I saw both the sunset (through a gap created by buildings that were demolished during my stay)


and sunrise


The Chinese like what they call re nao (“ruh now” is more or less the pronunciation) which means “hot noise”. It can be translated as hustle and bustle, but sometimes that translation seems lame. Even on normal nights there is quite a bit more light than there is in my relativity quiet neighborhood in Seattle. Restaurants will also pipe out music and messages to try and draw people in. In my neighborhood there is one restaurant that pipes soft jazz to the sidewalk.

But both last night and this morning there were promotional activities nearby that make that pale in comparison. Strobe lights so bright they were blinding combined with highly amplified music at a performance last night and fireworks, a lot of them, going off this morning.

It was both deafening and blinding for me,yet people seemed to be loving it. Maybe there are people at home who wouldn’t find it so overwhelming, so I shouldn’t project it as a cultural norm that Chinese people like re nao and Americans don’t, after all many people do go to rock concerts.

Doing the time warp again: Now I am in the place and time between. A quiet and uneventful bus ride to the Qingdao airport passing through some of Shandong’s countryside with gentle autumn light was an antidote to the war zone noises of this morning. Shandong Province is the fruit and vegetable basket of China and there is a lot of farmland growing a wide variety of crops in strips and greenhouses.


Tomorrow I have a magic morning. My plane leaves Qingdao airport at 7:25 am and I arrive at Seatac at 7:23 am. Does that make me two minutes younger than when I leave?

Have a good week, whatever your time zone.


If we were having coffee…

When I’m at home I rarely go out for coffee these days. My husband and I make and share coffee over the morning paper. Here in China, visiting my son solo, I go out more, and often am alone since he has to work. But it is nice to share now and then. There is something…nice isn’t a big enough word but I’ll use it…to realizing that you like your adult offspring and it’s enjoyable to just visit.


This is a fun place we’ve gone to a couple of times during this visit. It stands out from the street and the quirky interior lives up to the exterior. Technically it is a juice bar, although they serve quite a variety of things including coffee.

I’m in a time warp. When I didn’t get this post done last night because I went to get a foot massage with my son and his girlfriend it was Sunday night, this morning my computer says it’s early Sunday evening (it stays on Seattle time, which helps me not call home at 3:00 am to chit chat about inconsequential things).

This trip I’m not doing an outing to another city, as I have often done in the past. Instead I am trying out some new experiences that are not tourist things: the foot massage was one and the Tai Chi lesson planned for later this morning is another.

Judging by the number of people who were in on Sunday night this is a fairly popular activity. We left at 9:45 pm and they still had people coming in. I’ve never had a foot massage before, so I can’t compare it to a pedicure that you might get at home, but I can say that I am surprised I don’t have bruises this morning. First you soak your feet in a very hot tub of water. It took me several minutes of dipping and retreating to get my feet to stay in. Then they take scrapers, sharp ones!, to remove the dead skin, even between the toes. Then he rubbed with a cream and slapped and pummeled, actually beating on my lower legs, I think this was to improve circulation since he seemed to be checking pulse points earlier. Meanwhile a couple of fairly violent movies were playing. I wouldn’t exactly say it was relaxing, not exactly, but kind of.


This morning we are going to Tai Chi, something I’ve wanted to try after seeing people do it in the parks beside the river. I’m not a very graceful or balanced person so we’ll see.

I’ve become reclusive at home and actually, beyond walking the dogs, go out and about here more than I generally do. I learned a new word a few months ago from the Ragtag Daily Prompt: Coddiwomple. It is the perfect word for what I do: head out purposefully but without a goal. My post A Colorful Day along the Mihe River talks about a couple of them. As I get older I try to plan time into my travels for these coddiwomples. I realized that using guide books, Trip Adviser and the Google to plan every moment doesn’t let me really be where I am.

Do you ever have that feeling?

Happy Sunday, Monday or whatever it is where you are.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

If we were having coffee…

I fear that I would run on and on about me.

The last couple of days, mostly yesterday, found me really upset.

I don’t like to bad mouth people, but one person in particular has me ready to spit nails.

The story goes like this:

I thought the deadline was the 12th, next Monday, the day when Medicare stops paying.

When we applied for Veteran’s Administration (VA) Aid and Attendance for my grandmother we had to use a VA accredited agent. I looked around for one for free, which shouldn’t be hard since they aren’t allowed to charge for their services! But no one called me back in a reasonable time frame…I am talking over a month.

The ones that charge call back. So I found an outfit called Senior Services Navigation, recommended to me by a case worker at a home care company. She (it seems to be a one woman show, give or take) charged less than the outfit in Arizona and it was to be a one time fee for life, including all updates for the VA and applying for Medicaid if it became necessary.

It became necessary.

So I contacted her. Sent her PDF files of The Letter (from Department of Social and Health Services, DSHS) and documentation needed beyond what she had collected to send in the VA application less than a year ago. In addition to sending a scan of The Letter, I outlined in an email the list of documentation they wanted and noted for each item if I thought she had it or if I attached it or would supply it. She responded to that email! Concurring that she had the documentation I thought she had.

Thursday, the 8th, since the deadline was looming and I hadn’t heard from her I checked in (by email). She responded in the afternoon on Friday (yesterday) that I needed to send her The Letter so she could do the submission, plus a bunch of verbage about how she could only do it if I had sent her all the right stuff. I looked back and I had indeed sent The Letter, on December 2 (now is the 10th).

I hauled the letter up on the screen and the actual deadline was the 8th. Crap…Double crap. I called DSHS and was apologetic and concerned. The right person to talk to wasn’t in, naturally, but the man I spoke with was soothing and said that he made a note on Grandma’s file. H said just get it in as fast as possible. So I went in search of the one thing I didn’t have: the letter from the VA.

My Grandma is pretty organized, and not at all demented. I called her and she told me where to look. I went through every sheet of paper. There was the letter saying that they were considering her application, but not one saying it had been approved laying out the details. I figured that I would send that along to at least show good intent, and maybe it would have a claim number or something that they could use.

I got the things Grandma needed to sign together and took them over. At that time she said maybe it was in the box that the butterfly fans came in. For the record there is no such box, but I understood what she meant and, after another quick trip across town, I finally had it all. I mailed the package priority first thing this morning.

I am still trying to find a polite-ish response to the email this gal sent. I don’t blame her that I read the date wrong, but if I hadn’t trusted her to do her job I would have reread the letter at an earlier point and caught the error. The submission would have been on time and I wouldn’t have wasted a bunch of time communicating with her and scanning things so she could do the submission. I need to let her know, because one of the forms I sent in assigns me as grandma’s representative, post dating the one we signed for her.

Morals of the story? Always check in the butterfly fan box! and doing it yourself can be less work and stress in the long run.

April flowers bring?

If we were having coffee…

How are you?

We had a good day on Friday visiting the tulip fields in Skagit Valley (Washington State). The day was perfect in many ways: not too hot or too cold, plus there was a breeze and a light cloud cover so it wasn’t too hot for the dogs.

Managing the deeply rutted roads and the gravel was a bit challenging with the lightweight convertible walker/wheelchair, but we managed to get Grandma close enough to some of the flowers to feel like she was there.

As a bonus: we saw this field of snow geese (?). At first glance it looked almost like a field of white flowers a little past its peak.

As Grandma’s heart is not in the best shape, it felt important to fit this outing in before I take off for a couple of weeks.

We did have one scare: she couldn’t get up from the toilet unassisted at the restaurant where we had lunch, and I had no clue how to assist. We managed in the end, but not on the first try, and I was running through the “what should we do next” scenarios in my mind before we had success. It really made me aware of her vulnerability…and how glad I was that we did this trip.

KSM-20160408-Tulip_Day-13Who knows how things will go in the future. But, however they go, we had the time together enjoying the fresh air and beautiful surroundings.

Wishing you beauty and joy in the coming week…and if you know what kind of birds we saw please share.