September 13, 2018

Dog Mayors

The other day I read an item about the passing of another honorary dog mayor. Pour one out for Lucy Lou, who was the mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.

Which reminds me that in July, for lack of anything better to do, I took my mom to a biker bar in a town about 40 minutes' drive from the mama's place. 

The town's claim to fame is that it once had an honorary dog mayor.

The bar's claim to fame is that after the mayor's passing, they taxidermed the dog and routed the beer tap through its body, which stands on the bar back. As I heard it described, the bartender lifts the dog's leg and the beer is dispensed. Whereas we were pouring one out for Lucy Lou, we were pouring one out of this dog mayor.

So I take my mom for a road trip to the town in question. It's one of those unincorporated areas that's not quite a town. Of course my heart sings for such a place, like a town near the Old Place where you drive through the yellow hills til the road dead ends in a broken up wharf. There you find a bar filled with bikers and a taxidermed polar bear. There's a certain romance in that. Or the Old Place itself, where a multitude of crazy things would take place and either make us laugh or frustrate the hell out of us.

So this bar and the town it was in were much farther than I expected, but the mama loves a drive, so it all worked out. We got there, and there were lots of bikers. A little known fact is that the mama really loves a Harley, so she definitely perked up. 

And we get to the bar and check out the tap and...WHOA NELLY! I guess you hear what you want to hear and it never occurred to me that they would be dispensing the beer out of the dog's nether regions. I thought it would be the mouth. Guess I lack the proper imagination.
 
The beer was not tasty. But they did make a good Shrimp Louis, two things that the mama really likes, and have Harleys and the mama had never been to this place before.

All in all a successful outing.

September 5, 2018

Stockholm

It's 9pm in Stockholm and I'm wide awake and exhausted. But I'm in Stockholm, right?

We gave ourselves a break by taking an airporter, rather than getting a cab down to public transit. The cab drivers can be a bit random. They have nothing on the rando airporter guy from today, who:
  • Carried mrguy's laptop bag to the van and then drove off
  • Parked the van in the middle of the street when he returned
  • Momentarily lost mrguy's sunglasses during his joyride (they turned up under the driver's seat)
  • Drove down the hill without our having our seatbelts on and would not stop when asked
  • Told anecdotes about 1960s state politics and the University system the entire way
Not restful. Plus he was grubby, and as we drove away I saw that the back of the van, where the luggage usually goes, was entirely filled with junk and paperwork. I joked that this cooler is where he keeps the spleen he's taking to the hospital.



Our plane ride was a pain. Literally. It's been a while since I've sat in Economy and my legs are inconveniently long. After a few hours I found a non-painful position and could sleep. But not before I watched a gardening show, three cooking shows, an episode of Fresh Off The Boat and Eat Pray Love.

And here we are, in the Hotel With Urban Deli in Stockholm. Our room features light fixtures that are reminiscent of those in a different Julia Roberts film, Runaway Bride. The bed feels amazing....AND so did the next three hours. We woke up, wandered around town, found Wheat Cat, whose window display is of a cat and kitten made out of wheat.

Now it's morning and that must mean breakfast by candlelight. This place is awesome!


September 2, 2018

Shows

What I should have said in my Adventures in Podiatry post is that I'm jealous that my 60+ year old friend whose shoes I photographed is in The Ramones and I'm not.

By which I mean that about four years ago mrguy south said something that has become a catch phrase in our home. We were walking a trail that starts about six houses down from our house. I was wearing Converse and slipping around on the hill and mrguy and mrguy south were wearing sensible walking shoes and having no problem with their stability. mrguy south turned to me and said "mrsguy, we're not in The Ramones any more." Like "get some sensible shoes!" I can't tell you how many times we reference this when talking about various aspects of getting older. But here we were, middle aged rockers at a show, and guys older than me were wearing their fashionable shoes, and I was eating fenugreek tablets, wearing WIDE SKETCHERS and orthotics and a silicone toe separator. I've got a whole rig going in my shoe just to walk these days.

But I heard that "Dad Shoes" are in right now, so maybe I'll ride that fashion wave. Thank you, Balenciaga!

So me and my dad shoes have been to several shows in the last few weeks, all featuring mrguy:

First the show at the club with the sparkly ceiling, where mrguy played bass with a friend from college. 

and then last Saturday our band played at a neighborhood chili cookoff. Near this adorable sign.


It was a first time for me with my new amp. So cool. I'm now self-contained. I drilled my Kanilea, and have separate controls for both mic and uke, and it is HEAVEN. The gig itself was a bit of a s**** show, with hordes of shrieking children riding scooters all around us. But then you never know where the bits of magic will happen. Of course it's a treat to play music with the 'ohana. And then... a guy came up to us in between songs and thanked us for our playing, telling us that he was a descendant of João Fernandes, one of the three men from Madeira who brought the ukulele to Hawaii. He disappeared into the crowd, and we didn't see him after that. Also magical: afterparty with pizza and beers. Later in the week we had our traditional post-gig pub trivia, where we came in first by one point. We're pretty sure that the one point came from the time that the ladies wanted him to write Rashida Jones, but mrguy heard us say Mindy Kaling and wrote that down instead.

Back to shows. After chili cookoff night was another mrguy show with his regular band. The show was fantastic. Everybody was there. Even some former friends. During the course of the evening, we achieved new milestones in the sport of ex-friendship, including proximity without speaking, full frontal proximity without acknowledging and spouse engagement. By the time the last thing happened and they came to pay respects to mrguy I a) went to use the restroom and b) had a long conversation with someone about his cancer battle. Super fascinating. Do you know that if there is a donor liver that is sort-of itself expiring they'll still put it in you? They start dialing around to see who is able to receive an organ when it is fresh, but if enough time passes and nobody at the top of the list is able to get to it in time (or it to them) they will give the liver, in somewhat of a compromised state, to someone local and farther down the list. He has to do some pretty awful stuff every month in order to be walking among us, but he's hanging in there with his funky liver.

And so ends the week and a half of shows. By this time next month, mrguy will have played shows with four different bands.

September 1, 2018

Penguin, But Avoid The Whale

With the National Anthem behind me, I feel a little more able to plan for our trip to Scandinavia, which is in two weeks [edit: two days, since it took me so long to post this]

The idea of traveling started with me reaching out to a guy on Linkedin. I thought he might be the son of my cousin in Norway. He responded immediately, and now I'm in touch with the lovely cousin that I last saw in 1974. I had no immediate thoughts of going to Norway, but the same week, though, I got an invitation to speak in Stockholm. So suddenly I'm going to do three things I really love to do:

1. Communicate about the work I love by means of my boyfriend, Keynote
2. Travel with mrguy
3. See family

I learned about all of this earlier in the year, but aside from keeping in touch with family and occasionally working on the presentation, I hadn't been able to plan much until last week.

And now I'm so doing it. I kept looking for a hook to take us in any direction. This is what makes me happy. Research, finding things we could do, and then doing them or not. I found out that a band called Virkelig is playing at The Garage on the 8th (if their landlord doesn't shut them down). Then something led me to a story about an emperor penguin named Nils Olav III, which led me to a restaurant in Bergen called Pingvinen. They serve whale, which I will try not to order by mistake.
-------
And now, closer to the day, it's turned into old home week of sorts. The Nordic offices of the forklift company have invited me to come visit in Stockholm. And my cousin in Bergen reached out to our (80-year-old) cousin in Edinburgh, and that cousin is coming over to meet us (and to see her older sister, who is ill). The ill-sister-cousin's-son wants to meet us, and I think there is something else going on. All fabulous. I am blessed beyond belief. I feel like I've inadvertently kicked off a family reunion of sorts. 

Second one within a year.



August 18, 2018

Dinner With Fambly

I feel like this week I've been making up for months of being homebound or mama tasking. The estate sale, the game, the rock show, and then I did this with the neph. We do a monthly confab, which is one of the high points of the month:






On this outing's menu was strawberry cider and a vichyssoise (using coconut instead of dairy) and some onion rings and some brussels sprouts that I should have read the fine print on (shaved, not whole). Not the best choice. I hope that his innards were not as discombobulated as mine the next day. Maybe my podiatrist was right!

Adventures In Podiatry

This week I went to see mrguy play a few songs with his college friend. The club was filled with people my age and older. I took this photo out of jealousy because the guy on the right, who is over 60, is still wearing his Chucks. Not fair. I gave mine up this year and have moved to a post-Chucks world because my toes are killing me.


After I got fitted for my orthotics last year I tried to wear them on our trip to Germany. Not successful. Worked around my foot problems by changing up my choices frequently. Until a month ago when I couldn't ignore the foot thing. So I went to our podiatrist.

She x-rayed my left foot (because between making the appointment and having the appointment I had fallen off my new platform clogs and hurt that foot). When she came to the exam room she asked me if I had irritable bowel syndrome, which is about the last thing you expect your foot doctor to ask. I told her I was good in that regard.

And that's when she sent me to the herbalist. So now I am on a dietary restriction: no corn, dairy or soy, and I'm not allowed to have my laptop on my lap. Between that, fenugreek, calcium, seaweed a an anti-radiation potion, new shoes with stiff forefronts, these weird jelly toe separators and my insoles, I can walk again. Not sure what I do about the bone loss in my toes, but let's get the pain reduction thing going and then we'll deal with the rest.

By the way, I'm going to a wedding today and if there is the right kind of dairy at the reception I am definitely going off the wagon. There will not be soy.

Estate Sale Finds

Sometimes the best part of an estate sale is the house itself.

This one had a great setup for baking: a flour dispenser, zinc rolling surface, rolling pin rest.

I hope the house is purchased by someone who can appreciate it.


Bucket List: National Anthem

Couldn't resist a selfie while on the field at the game, before we sang the national anthem.


Things That Make Me Happy: The Inappropriate Ice Bucket

I have a thing for things that look like other things. Hence the gazelles, the wig form, the model of foot bones. In my first apartment I used to only stock fake food in the fridge. For many years I kept a rubber head of iceberg lettuce that was a hidey hole for money. You get the point.

So when my turn came at the last department white elephant gift exchange I definitely went in for the ice bucket in the shape of a pair of cut-offs. My hope was to use it in our kitchen in the archives because the only thing that is missing over there is some ice. Also, it's hilarious.

But this gift exchange was in the opening months of the #metoo movement, and my colleagues informed me that the ice bucket was inappropriate. So now it lives in my office, where it is filled with individually wrapped dinner mints. 









August 12, 2018

Bucket List 2018

Today I'm updating the bucket list.
 
1. Take an exercise class with Richard Simmons
2. Ride a camel (not a location-specific goal)
3. Sit in the booth with Doreen Simmons while she comments on a sumo basho for NHK
4. Write a book
5. Meet distant family in Ireland
6. Play Carnegie Hall or Royal Albert Hall
7. Be a balloon wrangler in the Thanksgiving Day Parade
8. Volunteer in the Bishop Museum archives
9. Have our Hawaiian band sponsor a match in a sumo tournament in Japan
10. Play music at a retirement home
11. Learn to tie knots (as added in 2015)
12. Sing the National Anthem at a baseball game

At the time I started the list for realsies, Richard Simmons was still teaching. Now he's a hermit, so that's not going to happen.

It leaves the list.

A few months ago Doreen Simmons passed away.

Can't have that wish fulfilled.

#5 has been supplanted by something else: obtaining Irish citizenship. I have been working on that for several years, and my application is on its way. I'll update here later.

#9 seemed doable until Paul McCartney did it, which made me look further into the price. $150,000 or so. Bucket list items should require more effort than money, in my opinion.

It leaves the list.

While I'm thinking about it, who really cares about #6? I guess you can change your mind about these things.

#10 we did a number of years ago with the wacky halau we worked for.

And today I added #12, which is probably unfair. Can you add something the day you strike it? I feel that this was just a silly omission previously.

This leaves me with:

2. Ride a camel (not a location-specific goal)
4. Write a book
7. Be a balloon wrangler in the Thanksgiving Day Parade
8. Volunteer in the Bishop Museum archives
11. Learn to tie knots (as added in 2015)


I'm working on #2, but very slowly and things at the factory make me wonder, sometimes, whether the book's audience is myself. The publisher wants it, but work keeps getting in the way of the book. Crazy times.

Back to the list, though. If you don't have enough on the list, do you die? One item that should have been on the bucket list is going back to Norway to see relatives. That's happening in a couple of weeks. Headed to Stockholm to give a short presentation, and then taking that opportunity to see my cousin who I haven't seen since 1974.

But right now I have to head to the ballpark to sing the anthem.

July 12, 2018

Tahoedad 2018, Post 1

We're 4 days in, now, but Tahoedad 2018 got off to a rolicking start.

Nose, the 22-year-old cat, had a seizure at the vet as mrguy was checking him in to board. We learned that he has hypertension, needs his subcutaneous fluid intake increased, and that he has anemia. Most of those are also problems mrguy's mom has, so that's a little trippy. Nose has many fans at the clinic, so everybody came running to see him and make sure he was ok as the doctor was treating him. The founder of the practice came by. "Is that Nose? He must be 23 by now!" Pretty close, doc! They think that he will recover.

A few minutes after I got the initial phone call about the cat, my sister-in-law called to say that his bro-liness is in the hospital. Blood clots in the lungs, but he has been treated, is out of the hospital and is supposed to join us tomorrow.

Then the mama's fave caregiver's sister died in New Zealand, so we're figuring out scheduling around that. Poo. So sorry for her. Of course it's remarkable that her sister passed away when the mama was on vacation and didn't need her.

Here we are at Day Four. The mama, the frenchman and D were playing gin rummy. I was in the kitchen making sandwiches for mrguy and I. He was upstairs busying himself with fancy book learning. D, who missed Bear Night last year, looks up from his hand and says "Bear!" Yup, the door to the porch was open and there was an adolescent bear on the porch, lumbering toward the dining room. Really, Dude? The boys closed the door to the porch and siblings shouted for the caretaker, who was away from the house. His friend apparently heard us and called him to let him know there was a bear on the property. The bear went down the hill the same way Brutus did last year, and the caretaker walked around with his rubber bullet-filled rifle. 


July 7, 2018

Tahoedad: Glorious 2018 Planning Edition

Family vacation begins soon, and I believe we may be happy to see one another after a really rough Spring. In the last few days I've figured out sleeping arrangements, made the schedule for cooking, kitchen cleanup and the mama's day concierge and night care, and now I just have to pack and shop. And pack for Mom. She and I are carpool buddies.

During our vacation the youngest nephew is having a birthday. I made several passes by the free table at work yesterday, and at the end of the day saw some funny stuff on the bottom shelf -- elements for a Star Wars-themed birthday. Not enough wookie and white guy masks for all of us, however, so I've asked one the other nephs to bring his British Royal Family masks. I think the birthday boy will appreciate it, and his girlfriend will either love it or run away and hide.


June 11, 2018

Sumoversary

This weekend a momentous life event passed un-remarked: my tenth sumoversary.

It started with the ladies' sumo weekend in LA in 2008. After that I really came to like sumo but, ironically, the friendship that brought me to it fell by the wayside. Since then have come a subscription to TV Japan, a viewing of sumo firsthand at the Kokugikan, celebration of Sumo Sunday for my 50th birthday, and a deep appreciation for sumo by mrguy (the best!). It's kinda lonely being American sumo fans, but there are always the message boards and, recently, the english language sumo blog Tachiai has come to the scene.

Ten years after the ladies' sumo weekend, almost all of the rikishi we saw that weekend have retired. However one of them, Tochinoshin, has just battled back from injury to achieve his highest rank to date, ozeki, and there are always new grapplers to meet and appreciate.

We'll see what the next basho holds.

June 10, 2018

Happy Things

The news has not been my friend this week. In the course of one day there was Tony Bourdain, changes in leadership in forkliftland and then I took dinner to a colleague recovering from cancer surgery. That last thing was the highlight of my week, I think.

So I'm going to combat the sadness with sharing happy things. Here is one example: pelargonium "Mr. Wren", originally from the garden of my oldest friend in the world that nice boy who knows who he is. I love Mr. Wren. He has cheerful little flowers and really satisfies. All he wants is water. I can see this planter box from the kitchen den, and it gives me so much pleasure.

Hats off to you, Mr. Wren!




May 27, 2018

Eggs

On this holiday weekend, I stopped by the store for some eggs. I've been craving them during the Whole Life Challenge, and wanted to make some deviled eggs for mrguy and for the mama, who was coming over for lunch today.
Man those eggs were good. Here I am happily sampling while doing Norwegian genealogy research. The big blue book is my trusty Norwegian dictionary, cause sometimes you know that Google Translate's words "Male's brother Unmarried Inner Snouts" probably actually meant something in the original Norwegian. In similar news, there is a newspaper whose name Google Chrome translates as "Eyelids". Best newspaper name ever.

 
In other egg news, we have a birth to announce. A few months ago we bought a security camera for the front door, mostly so I could see which breed of animal is eating my plants. Soon a nest appeared on top of it, and now we have a family of Black Phoebes hanging out at the front. When we open the door, they fly to the No Parking sign in the middle of the street, and then return to the nest when the coast is clear. Today when she was leaving the eagle-eyed mama saw a little shell on the ground. Sure enough, a little later we heard the sweetest tiniest peeping sounds coming from the nest. 

Our new birds have arrived!

Update: one week later there are three little fuzzy heads in the nest with their beaks wide open. We had the front yard and back slope groomed today, so there will be lots of bugs for mister and mrs phoebe to collect for the young ones. And our camera does audio, so we like to listen to them when we can. It's sweet beyond words.

Roots

The search for documents continues vis a vis Irish citizenship, and my interest level surges and then diminishes because finding documents and then obtaining them even when you have all of the information about how to get them is darned challenging.

The folks in Ireland couldn't find my grandfather's birth record, but I knew what it looked like in scanned versions on the Internet. So I called Ireland early one morning and guided them to the page and then the part of the page on which the record was to be found. Sure enough, the certified version arrived a few weeks later.

American records are proving much more difficult. Pop was born in the state of NY, and those guys are TOUGH with their records. Getting his birth record was going to be impossible, but I have his certified copy from the City of NY that he used to get a passport in 1970-something, and that's what I'm going to use.

My grandfather's death certificate was the toughie. A few years ago I looked, but didn't know the location of death. I remembered from conversations with my aunt many years ago that the "country place" as they called it, was situated at the crossroads of several municipalities. They paid partial taxes to each. I have spoken to or corresponded with each of the registrars. Some were allowed to answer questions, and some were not. Each had elaborate conditions I would need to fulfill in order to even ask for the death record.

Eventually I remembered that I had some contracts related to the sale or rental of the house. I looked in them and the house did not have an address. It was at this point that I was feeling overwhelmed and decided to hire someone with more experience than I to help me through the hard parts. At about that time I discovered two things: a) I might need a court order to obtain a death certificate and b) I found the NY death index and learned the death cert # and locality of death. Whew.

The intricacies of this whole project are pretty daunting. My grandparents were unmarried (to each other!), which for Irish records folks is unusual. And my grandfather often misstated his mother's first name (half of the children called her by one name in records and half of the children used another). And he lied about his age. So there will be extra documentation and affidavits to produce. None of this is cheap, either. But I want to prove that I can do it.

May 12, 2018

San Bernardino 2018, Part 4

We drove out to the desert for realsies this day. Mrguy's family had lived in Oro Grande and Hodge (when it was called Helendale or Cottonwood Station), and that's where we went. I'd never been to Route 66 before:


I bought some awesome lavender scented goat's milk soap in a store downtown. And while talking to the proprietor of the place where we bought it, she told us some local lore that helped us identify where some points of genealogical interest were located. And she told us where to find the town's unofficial mayor. 

Am I right in thinking that he came over from his place to downtown to meet us by means of golf cart? I think so.

We had a great time talking to him. He told us where Hotel Whitman had been (another relative of mrguy's was the proprietor). And he talked about the changes he'd seen over time, living in Oro Grande. The cement plant where the hotel proprietor also worked is still there. We stopped at the local pizza parlor where they display old timey photos of the town, and ordered some pie. Turns out that they make apple pie on pie dough. And it was a crazy pants idea but not half bad!


Then off to Hodge before the sun set. Past some houses that should be condemned but are surely occupied. There's a lot of this out there.
And finally to Hodge. Right near here is the property where mrguy's great grandfather lived.
Here it is in all its glory. I'm really happy we could stand on that ground and see where they lived. I just can't imagine how they were able to live out there, in those times.

The next day we drove up to Pasadena to see mrguy south. We stayed at a fancy hotel in a place very unlike this photograph and then visited the Sam Maloof house. So ends our trip to San Bernardino.

San Bernardino 2018, Part 3

We took a lot of photos while we were in San Bernardino.


We fell in love with Queens:



And from the archivists we learned that this strip club is also a dispensary, and that's why it's green. Almost all of our travels took us past Flesh Showgirls, sometimes three times a day:


 And mrguy really wanted a picture of Star Crab. It's a winner on so many levels:


So ends the signage tour of San Bernardino. Next, we go to the scene of the crime.

San Bernardino 2018, Part 2

San Bernardino was surprising to me. I had no preconceived notions, initially, until the review for the kitschy hotel where I wanted to stay said that homeless folks wander around the grounds and panhandle. That seemed less than inviting. We stayed at a hotel near the mall, instead.

San Bernardino is a dusty, downtrodden, and we saw a lot of people who looked like their lives were very hard. But we had great interactions with everybody we met. Surprisingly, we also found good food. Corporate or no, BJ's Restaurant and Brewpub was good enough for two meals:
And a place with very expensive poke (it's the desert, you know) was also a fave:

I just wanted to make sure that we had some protein to fuel the research. First stop was the county archives. The archivists were efficient and of good cheer. They showed us the original of the 1888 coroner's inquest. Most people interviewed said that mrguy's great grandfather deserved it. Wow.

After the archives we visited the local history collection at the library. It's staffed by dedicated volunteers. The kind of people who retire on Friday and return, unpaid, to the same desk on Monday. One of the volunteers, who works in the clipping collection, is 94. It was a convivial room full of helpers, so while mrguy shared stories, I buzzed around taking photos of biographical materials. We learned a lot. Great folks.

San Bernardino 2018, Part 1

After our big Germany trip last year we had thought that this would be a year to go to Ireland. But after some thought we decided that another big trip was too much, too soon. I  got really excited about the idea of going to San Bernardino instead. Just as good.

I can't recall when, but within the last year mrguy had a complete genealogy conversion. Since then, he and I have been digging into primary and secondary sources to try to figure out why and when his people had come to California, and what really happened with the mysterious great great grandfather who was killed by an unknown assailant.

Once mrguy was on the case, that ancestor could hide no longer. A cousin had found a newspaper clipping describing the circumstances of the killing, and it gave us an AKA for the ancestor that was also helpful. And right before we went to San Bernardino, we used plat maps of the ancestor's land along with Google Earth to find the location where the guy lived (and died).

In March we flew to San Bernardino and rented a car. As always, the trip started with Ka'au Crater Boys' "Tropical Hawaiian Day".

and then we made a beeline to Pioneer Cemetery. We knew from an uncle's previous research that mrguy's people were buried at Pioneer, but we struggled for days with locating them. Turns out that many homeless people live in the cemetery, but that if you say "Good morning" and "Excuse me" they don't mind your poking around looking for your people.

We eventually did find our people on Day 3, after going to the Park and Rec department. Note: if you are looking for burials in Pioneer Cemetery, you can go to Parks and Rec with your names, and they will look up their burial location and give you a map. You're welcome. We also spent time at Mt. View Cemetery, and found one of our rellies there as well.

April 29, 2018

What The Hell Is Going On?

Life just turns on a dime, sometimes. Or you think it does. My mom likes to call me up at random times and ask "What the hell is going on?"

I spent the early part of the month dealing with Mom's bronchitis and torn Achilles. Then the boot they prescribed for her Achilles threw her back into spasm. This resulted in more doctors' visits, X-rays, new medication. She's in pain all the time.

New drugs were prescribed for her. The nurses at Mom's community only work part of the day M-F, so I had to jump in the car last Friday, abandon work and pick up the new prescription, which turned out to be in danger of interacting with other drugs. Thanks, Doc! With me standing there waiting, we get the doctor on the phone, and I deliver the drugs to the nurse at home, who has stayed late so that Mom can start the drug before the weekend. I fill in the gaps where professionals should be.

On the caregiving front, I now have only two caregivers, and one of them likes to call in sick on Fridays. And to stir things up.

Mom's mental health is declining rapidly. All of the above was happening along with a backdrop of Mom calling me up three times a day to ask where my father is, and not liking the answer (i.e. super dead). And then badgering me for my not telling her and then badgering me for not telling her the other two times in a way that she would remember. She has other delusions that are more amusing, like the day she called me and started ragging on me by name, thinking I was a different daughter. I laughed and tried to convince her that the person she was talking to was the person she was complaining about. OH. EM. GEE.

Readers of mrsguy, I would like to apologize for the amount of commentary about the sweet mama. If you wonder why you don't hear from me more or why this is all I talk about, here's why. It's my full time job. My next act as daughter is to convince my siblings that Mom needs memory care. And that I need memory care for her so that I can be a human being with my own happiness and purpose in life.

April 8, 2018

Springin' In 2018

This is my third weekend in a row off from mama duty. Middlesis came in from Minnesota to see the mama's precipitous cognitive decline in person, and to take her to see her primary and get him to put her back on one of her drugs. All of those things happened. Slightly fewer texts needed tending to, and I am very grateful for the respite.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, there was a break in the rain. Don't get me wrong -- I have been full of joy about rain, and its ability to dissolve rabbit pellets into fertilizer for my plants. But the sun after the rain has left things gorgeous and me a bit giddy. Every year I say I'm going to pull over and take a picture of this house down the street that has a stupendous amount of iceplant in the front yard. Yesterday I did it:

And then I found that the orchid in the front yard has 7 spikes on it so I brought some in for us to enjoy and for mrguy to take to his ailing mama tomorrow:

And the things that I thought were going to be Naked Ladies turned out to be some sort of bluebell, and they're making an impression under the Echium, which is also blooming:

A little less exciting the the casual observer is my cactus collection in the breezeway. I gave Grandpa a haircut two weeks ago, in hopes of plumping him up over time:

Over the past few years I have been able to plump up the half dead cactus I rescued from Max and Bernice's estate sale years ago. Looking juicy!
Continuing the cactus report, my Easter Cactus, above, is starting to put out little buds that will eventually be fluffy magenta flowers. This is the cactus that was most in need of love five years ago when I first got it. And the one that's the most satisfying.

And wrapping it all up is the best news of all -- we have the beginnings of a single lime on our tree. When we moved here in 2013 our lime bush was a very tiny thing, and about a foot and half tall. Every time it started to produce a lime, The Cloven One came to eat it. My decorative Thompson's Gazelles did nothing to dissuade the deer. Finally mrguy surrounded the bush with chicken wire, and it is now seven feet tall. Mr Yuki pruned it into a single trunk, and now it's finally producing flowers  that are higher than deer-level. That's the key around here. The lemon tree has about 100 lemons on it, because it's taller than a deer. I've learned to love using lime leaf in recipes, but this year I'm hoping for a lime we can call our own.

March 24, 2018

I Take It Back

And I'm beat. After three sleepovers, an ER visit, two doctors' visits and 3 falls (Mom's, not mine) I was ready for some help.

My brother and his wife have taken pity on me and are coming down for two weekends as we figure out how to staff permanent nighttime caregiving. They are truly some of God's good people.

So today I did fun stuff. Got back into my quest for Irish citizenship, pruned some bushes and acquired a new skill: separating rabbit pellets from hay. It's all in the wrist, really. Then I stuffed rabbit poop into some old socks, turning them into rabbit manure tea bags. They are currently soaking in a bucket, making me rabbit manure tea to fertilize my plants with. Yay!

You know I really undersold the rabbit store experience in my previous post. It was...surreal. The rabbit store we went to is run by folks who have a repeating ad on Craigslist that features a Natalie Dee cartoon. Because of this, I expected the Rabbit People to be of good cheer. But that would not be the case. 

Last Saturday, when we got to Rabbit People, Mrguy and I were on a high because we'd just finished scoring our second brick of Amul water buffalo and cow's milk butter at the Himalayan market. So we go next door to Rabbit People, whose ad says that they have large bags of rabbit cage sweepings on the sidewalk, free for the taking. They don't, so we walk inside to ask. The place is a small and very dark warehouse. On the left side as you walk in is some random stuff that is either for sale or the Rabbit People live on that side of the room. Hard to tell. On the right is some strange scene where a bunch of people are under a task lamp, examining a rabbit that's on its back in someone's lap. The people are intently trimming the rabbit's claws or performing a Satanic ritual. Again, hard to tell. The very normal looking girl (there's always one, right?) asks us if she can help us. We want to have our gaze directed away from the activity on the right because when we walked in it felt like everything in that place stopped. Like the time that a group of us went to a place called the Church of the Mother Goddess because one of our friends wanted to find a place where she could worship a female deity (hey, it was 1980). And I tagged along. And they told us that their service would be starting in a little while and we could wait in the room with the altar and all the disturbing art (OK, that's not what they told us but what actually happened) and they kept checking in on us and fervently wishing for us to go away, which we eventually did.

It was just. like. that. So I use my friendliest voice to let her know that I'd like to acquire some rabbit poop. She tells us we can take as much as we want, so we do. And we leave. Whew. We have a big old bag full of Satanic ritual rabbit manure and I hope it doesn't kill me or the plants.


March 17, 2018

Mama's World

I will always treasure these last few years with my mom, but there are days when you just want some time to yourself. Like most of this week!

Bigsis came down earlier this week to attend a doctor appointment with the mama. The doctor ended up sending them to the ER. So I left work, met them there and spent 6.5 hours with my people and a bunch of other people. The downside is that I wish the mama were in better health and the upside is that there's always some sort of crazy stuff at the ER you wouldn't get to see otherwise.

Like our friend! In the waiting room he and his buddy were talking, and because there are zero secrets in the ER, we were listening to: "Yeah. I just hope it's not HIV. I know people live with it now, but that's just what I'm hoping." Later on, the same guy was sharing a room with us. Trump had just fired Rex Tillerson via tweet, and we were telling this to Mom while waiting for test results. I was cracking wise about it and I could hear that the guy on the other side of the curtain got every one of my jokes and wasn't a Trump supporter. I ventured over to his side and showed off my Obama tribute tattoo, and had some pleasure in telling him loudly that my mom doesn't know about it.

After an hour or so he got his diagnosis (Hep C) and then two things happened: an overwhelming aroma of McDonalds filled our room, and he used the "Phone A Friend" option. "Yeah. They stuck a big f-ing Q-tip up my nose, almost all the way to my brain." "It's Hep C." "Yeah, I use 'em sometimes." "Nah, I don't do THAT!" I guess he was learning the possible ways in which his situation could have arisen.

Yesterday I spent some time with Mom and her caregiver at her followup appointment. She likes the doctor, so she's really relaxed in the waiting room (i.e. sleeping while fiddling with a Ricola wrapper) in this photo. Then I dashed back to work and put some extra time to make up for it. But yay! It's Friday.

This morning I woke up all excited because a) no work and b) no mama. These beauties were sleeping on the bed when I woke up:

Then mrguy and I drank coffee in our jammies and did genealogy research. Then we went to the place we call Food Of Gold to buy chicken, then the Indian grocery for other ingredients for an Instant Pot chicken biryani, then Himalayan grocery because we've always wanted to go there, and then the rabbit store, because it's next to the Himalayan store and they have free manure. Then just one more grocery for some regular stuff, and then home.

Two different places on our route had my favorite butter, the butter that all the stores have been out of since Christmas.
So finding the butter in two places is the clearest indicator that this was my day. We did more sleuthing, mrguy made the biryani, I made chili for Sunday lunch with the mama and then the phone rings. Boo! Mom's bitten it at her apartment and they're sending the ambulance. But I talk to the paramedics after a while and they're sure it's all cool (aside from one of those nasty scrapes that only old people can get).

And that's why I'm here sleeping in my mom's guest bedroom tonight. I wanted to come tuck her in and make sure she was ok. I regret being snatched from my cozy nest, and I could easily feel disgruntled, but when I come through the door and see my beautiful, delicious, exasperating, hilarious mama, that all goes away.

Night, mom!

March 1, 2018

Pearl Harbor Plate

It's not really about Pearl Harbor, it's about the plate.

This plate is the worst kind of manipulative, jingoistic claptrap -- sold to whip up people's emotions. The Japanese war planes, the flag, the crying mother sending her son off to war, the little kid who's proud of the big brother he'll never see again, and FDR. Dad looks like Bing Crosby. I love this plate. It's so over the top.

Nobody wanted this thing when I found it on the free pile. It was even refused by a person who came to my office looking for a white elephant gift. But now I eat my lunch on it and it makes me really happy.

I hope that the rare and possibly toxic pigments which I am now eating will not do me in.



I hand wash this sucker.
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