Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For your Reading Pleasure

I was gifted with three delightful books for my birthday -- someone else's idea of what I should read. Fortunately, our reading tastes are similar.

Mother had an appointment with the eye doctor this morning. It's the first time in several years she has had her eyes checked and must be seeing badly, because she ordered both new glasses and (since she selected a frame within the insurance allowance and gets that pair for $25) new sunglasses. I knew there was going to be a wait, so grabbed a book. It has the intriguing title "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", and is proving a delightful read in the style of Maeve Binchy, Rosamond Pilcher, and her son Robin Pilcher. The topic is the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II -- something I had not realized even happened. I'm learning a bit of British history and enjoying a good story along the way. Problem? I cannot put the book down. Tonight promises to be a late one.

My brother blogged this week about Amazon's electronic reading device, Kindle. Coincidentally, that was about the day after someone else asked me if I would be interested in his Kindle1 so he would have an excuse to upgrade to Kindle2. Or maybe he already has the Kindle2. When I went exploring at Amazon, I discovered a free iPhone/iTouch app allowing one to read Kindle books on an iPhone, and to seamlessly move material between a Kindle and an iPhone. If you own a Kindle product, you can play it on any device that can play a Kindle product. It is now downloaded. Will I read on the iTouch? I don't know. It's an interesting concept.

Give thanks for friends who care. Renew an old friendship. Make a new friend. Don't forget to Pray.

Non-Toxic Ways to deal with Roaches?

Everyone else seems to beat the roaches to death. This assumes you can catch them. And that you have a fly swatter handy. Even rolled up newspaper will do -- assuming, of course, that newspapers are still being published in your community.

I am hopeless at hitting the critters. Either I am not fast enough, or my aim is abyssmal. Perhaps a little of both. The bugs just run away and laugh at me. Certainly they don't run away and tremble in fear ... if that were the case, they would stay gone. Ray used to tell me to aim ahead of where you see them. That didn't work, either. "Not that far ahead!" he'd say before taking control of the fly swatter.

Now I've discovered that earth-friendly Simple Green is wonderfully toxic to roaches.

Keep praying!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Season for Bugs

Despite the dire warnings of blizzards on the eastern slope of the Rockies, snow on Mauna Kea, 5.+ earthquakes at Pu'u O'o volcano, and other tidbits of excitement offered by Mother nature, it really is spring. It must be. The bugs are out in force. There's been a cockroach (mostly the 2" variety)in the shower on his/her back with legs in the air every morning this week. Darn things haven't been dead, just upside-down. The bug spray now has a permanent home in the bathroom so the roaches can get squirted and dead before I attempt to transfer them to the disposal center, aka toilet.

Tonight another of the big guys was wandering around the living room. He made the mistake of staying put long enough for me to retrieve the spray and gas him, too. That meant opening all the windows so as to not gas my mother and myself in the process of getting rid of the roaches.

Had been congratulating myself for finally getting the ant invasions in the kitchen under control, then found ants there this morning. Also found another set wandering around in my bed. Hey, the sheets really are clean! Out came the chalk dispenser of Dead Fast -- quickly, before they really got out of control. My bedroom now has a new set of concentric circles and squares surrounding known ant entry points and paths to anywhere. The white lines barely show against the very pale lemon green (I think it's called "candlelight", kind of a creamy yellow with a hint of green)of the walls.

The Pest Control man sprayed outside on Tuesday. Maybe that's why the bugs have moved inside. Interesting concept.

Now, having watched the first televised night of Merrie Monarch Hula Festival competition, I'm off to tackle whatever's invading the kitchen tonight. More hula tomorrow, from 6 p.m. Hawaiian time, streaming on www.kitv.com if you are not in Hawaii.

Give thanks for Dead Fast and cockroaches that succumb to aerosol sprays. Simple Green is also effective for drowning the beasts. It's also warm enough to open the windows and not breathe in the gas. Don't forget to pray!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Disaster Averted

The phone rang at 5:30 p.m. The male caller didn't identify himself. Eventually I recognized the voice.

"Hey, Bonnie, I just want to be sure that someone is at home before I come by." Yes, we are at home.

"He can go out, can't he?" Uuuhhhh??? Oh, my father. "Yes, he can go out sometimes. Where were you planning to take him?" Isn't it a little late in the day for an outing?

Some dancing through misunderstandings. Finally, "Where are you right now?"
In a voice full of frustration he responds, "I'm here at the hospital. He wants to come out to the house."

"No," I nearly shout. "Do NOT bring him here. He cannot get into the house. He cannot do stairs." It was the first non-negotiable excuse I could think of. Once he got here, we'd never get him into the house or back to the hospital.

My dad on the telephone. "I'm making arrangements." Oh-oh.
Me. "I think the best thing for you to do is to stay put right now. They have all the things you need right there. So you just relax and stay put. OK?"
"OK," he says. "I'll stay here. I'll see you tomorrow, Bonnie."
Will he remember tomorrow?

When I visited earlier in the day he had been full of words, strong of voice. If you didn't know what he was talking about, it could have been a rational conversation. I think his friend got caught in that trap.

"Who are the people in that photograph?" he asks. He asks the same question almost daily. In the photograph he's standing on his boat, the NaDuK2, with fishing buddies Lindsey and Pat. They've just come in from a day of fishing and are showing off the catch: 6 large mahimahi.

"Pat came into the store the other day. He wanted me to know he's doing OK." Pat came to visit him in the hospital. The other day.

"I was where I spend most of my time, at the Mercury Club, the site of the Mercury Club...." Where did that come from? He hasn't been involved with the Mercury Club, which bills itself as an elite businessmen's association, in at least 50 years.

"I need a bag. A canvas bag."
I held up the large Lands End canvas tote I use for laundry. "Like this one?"

"No, I have lots of clothes in town. Some are here, some are at the office, some are ...." He rattles off places where he might have a stash of clothes. "I need larger bag. Some are black, some red, some gray, some green. The color is not important. Just don't make it too valuable to you."

He wants a large suitcase. I should have guessed he is planning an escape.

Give thanks that my dad is safe in Oahu Care Facility. Give thanks that he didn't talk his way out the door with a trusting friend.

Don't forget to pray.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Birthdays and Funerals

Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me. May the next one be brighter! Happy birthday to me!

I took my mother to a funeral yesterday. Another of her high school classmates died earlier in the month. She had celebrated her 97th birthday in March. Mother will be 95 in May. Only two now survive from Kamehameha Schools Class of 1931.

I was surprised that the service was to be at St. Andrew's Cathedral, the largest Episcopal church in the state. Think of the services you've seen televised from the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Presidential funerals, “Christmas from the National Cathedral”. Lots of granite or sandstone or marble. In Hawaii, lots of coral. I am terrible at estimating capacity of a space, but I'd guess that St. Andrew's can seat about 600 people. Seating and parking at St. Andrew's are two different kettles of fish. Parking, at a premium on a slow day, was nearly impossible. We were very, very lucky. The church was comfortably full.

The service began promptly at 10:30, preceded by visitation which began at 9:00 a.m. Note that this was NOT a viewing. Hawaiians need time to hug, talk story, to just be together in community. The immediate past bishop celebrated, assisted by 3 priests and a deacon. This woman must have been v-e-r-y active in her church.

As a child, Frances had attended St. Andrew's Priory, where my grandmother was raised and where my mother attended for several years. Yes, the Priory shares grounds with the Cathedral. At the Priory Frances was encouraged to speak Hawaiian, to celebrate her Hawaiian heritage. But circumstances changed, and Frances transferred to Kamehameha Schools. Today students at Kamehameha are steeped in Hawaiian culture, values, traditions, and history. In the 1920's that was not the case. Frances, said her family, hated Kamehameha because she was not allowed to speak Hawaiian or celebrate being Hawaiian. Remember the stories of Indian (read Native American) schools in the US where children were taken to be re-made into little white children? Where American zealots tried to strip them of their own culture and impose a foreign system of language, values and cultural patterns? That’s what Kamehameha was like when my mother and Frances attended.

The speakers included a granddaughter, a son, the lay leader of her church, a son-in-law, and her priest. They spoke far, far too long, but had wonderful stories to tell.
• How Frances, the new substitute teacher, arrived at school. In dismay, the students looked at each other. How could they treat this substitute as they treated all other substitutes? She lived in their community. She knew their families. She was a leader in their church. She knew their names!
• Frances, who wanted an Episcopal church in her own rural community, so like her father before her, started one.
• Frances, who was always ready for a party.
• Frances, who remembered each of her 4 children, 12 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great-granchildren with a small gift at every holiday
• “How many men can say” asked her son-in-law, “that their mother-in-law was both confidant and drinking buddy?”

The same son-in-law told a beautiful story about Frances’ passing. “It was like a ship,” he said, “leaving the harbor and sailing off toward the distant horizon. Those left behind watch her leave, wave good-bye, sing songs of farewell, shed tears of sorrow. The figure gets smaller and smaller, until finally it disappears altogether. She is gone.”

“On another shore are those who wait with anticipation. They glimpse the figure, just a tiny spot on the horizon. ‘She is coming, she is coming!’ they call. They wave greetings, they sing, they weep tears of joy. Finally, the ship arrives. ‘She is here!’ they cry. Frances walks into the arms of her beloved husband, Bill.”

Many of the hymns were sung in Hawaiian. Frances’ genealogy was given in Hawaiian. So were some of the prayers. It was a joy to be part of a substantial congregation that sings out, sings in harmony, in any language. It was especially lovely to hear familiar hymns and prayers in Hawaiian.

Eventually we reached the offertory, normally a half-hour into an hour-long service. It was already noon. Mother had sat too long. She had paid her respects. We left.

Give thanks for Frances and for women like her who lead with love and example and action. Look for shining moments to share with others. Don’t forget to pray!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

To My Clergy Friends

You know who you are. You have been ordained as clergy in the Episcopal Church. Some of you were ordained in the Diocese of San Joaquin. Some of you were ordained elsewhere in California. All of you were ordained in the US. You have decided in your own hearts that you can no longer support the vows you took at ordination, specifically as they relate to The Episcopal Church. For reasons that are important to you, you have chosen to abandon those vows. I understand that you don't see your actions as abandonment. In the eyes of most outside your own circle, you have abandoned the Episcopal Church.

I know you have felt, likely still feel, that the Episcopal Church has abandoned you. Maybe you are beginning to question your decision, but are still loyal to John-David Scofield. Perhaps you feel that it is too late to make a different choice.

I need you to know, especially as we enter Holy Week, that I still count you as friends. You are very special people in my life. We've shared good times, shared joys. You were there when Ray and I needed you. You brought him communion. You brought him music. You brought him peace. You brought him God's unconditional love. You were there when we said farewell.

As God loves us each unconditionally, so I am called to love unconditionally. Remember how Ray used to say, "It's not up to us to judge. That's God's job. He'll sort it all out in the end. Besides," Ray would add, "I hate to see God in the unemployment line."

I don't support the choice you have made. You know that. You know how I feel about exclusivity in church. But I support you. I support you as individuals, I support you as friends, and I support you as part of the Christian Family. I cannot support you enough to leave the Episcopal Church myself. If you chose to return to the Episcopal Church, and if I were in your community, I would be honored be part of your congregation, to serve with you, to take communion from you.

It is never too late to come home.

Look for the light. Give thanks for God's unconditional love. Pray without ceasing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Daddy's Down Time

I don't like getting calls from a hospital or care facility . I particularly don't like getting calls from a facility where someone I love is a patient. So when the telephone rang yesterday morning and the caller identified herself as Suri, one of the charge nurses caring for my father, I cringed.

In the midst of morning activities, my dad began to complain of dizziness and weakness, enough dizziness that he needed to go back to bed. Suri had called the doctor and was still waiting for his instructions. She suspected another TIA (mini-stroke). My dad has a no-code order; would we agree to sending him to an acute care hospital if the doctor deemed it necessary? Ian and I say yes. Mother doesn't think any additional care is necessary. "Let his body do naturally what it is going to do." she says. Meanwhile, there wasn't much to be done. My dropping everything and rushing down to his bedside would do nothing but frustrate me for lack of parking.

Later, Suri caught me in the hallway. The doctor says "Monitor, don't treat." So we monitor.

My stubborn father insisted on getting up and walking to the toilet rather than using his urinal. In the bathroom, nurses found traces of blood in his urine (at least on the diaper), and possibly trace blood in his stool as well. Suri left another message for the doctor, who has not yet called back. Bladder infection, treatable with antibiotics? Prostate issues? Something more sinister? My brain makes fantastic leaps.

By mid-afternoon when I eventually arrived at his bedside, everything looked -- and sounded -- typical. His bed alarm was sounding, but a CNA was at his bedside helping him to dress after a trip to the toilet. Alarm silenced, he greeted me with a big smile, shook my hand with a firm grip and said, "Bonnie, how nice of you to come. You're lucky. I just got back myself about 10 minutes ago. Did you have along drive?"

With some difficulty he moved two steps sideways toward the head of the bed, sat, then lay down.

We talked a little. He didn't remember most of the day. He acknowledged being dizzy. He said he had been out, couldn't remember where he had gone, but assured me it was an important meeting.

A CNA arrived to take his blood pressure, which they have been monitoring several times a day for several days. It is low, at the bottom end of normal limits. He was cheerful and thanked the CNA for visiting him.

He scratched his arms, remembering (a pleasant surprise!) to use the flat of his hand rather than his fingernails. I asked if some cream would help. His face lit up with obvious pleasure, and he nodded. It reminded me of a preschooler being offered a favorite treat. I put some Keri Cream on his arms and hands. Better? He grinned again, nodding. No verbalizing, just nods. His eyes closed and he dozed.

I read for a few minutes. He dozed on. After 15 minutes, I kissed him good-bye, promised to be back tomorrow (now today) and left.

Give thanks for time shared with loved ones. Focus on positives. Don't forget to pray.