Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not Quite Christmas

It's not the Christmas of storybooks and the more northern climates.

Christmas in Hawaii is warm -- high 70's, and this year it is very rainy.  I am reminded of the last major flood in northern California, right at this time of year in 1996, when warm rains at high elevations melted most of a significant snow pack in the space of just a few days.    Pineapple Express, they called it.  But that's a story for another day.

It's not the Christmas Eve of bean soup and bread fresh from the breadmaker, shared with good friends, then bundling into coat and hat and gloves (for warmth, not fashion!) and of heading off to church.

It's not the Christmas morning of celebratory breakfast, basking in the warmth of shared family.  Neither my mother or my brother and sister-in-law celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas.  It's just another one of those obligatory family days with gift exchange.

It's not the very Scottish Christmas dinner we shared with Mark and Andrea in the years they lived in Groveland.  Nor is it the Christmas of leftovers and football on the TV, and leisurely visits with friends and family.  

Instead, I shared a breakfast of out-of-season strawberries with my mother at a table stacked with the special china and silver waiting to be returned to cupboards and drawers after making an appearance for Christmas Eve dinner.  Then slipped off to church.  Even there, it was clear that the main service of Christmas had happened the evening before.  Very small attendance.  No music.  But Christmas, never-the-less.

How, I wonder, did I drift so far from the rest of my family in our ways of celebrating this particular holiday?  Why is it so important this year?

Give thanks for memories, for friends and family.  Give thanks for Christmas.   Don't forget to pray.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Spending on a Rainy Day

The Honolulu Academy of Arts is just wrapping up their annual buying spree -- just in time for Christmas. If I didn't go now, I'd miss it altogether.  So off I trudged, alone, since it was cold and rainy out and Mother didn't feel like fighting the weather.  My intention was Christmas shopping.  For other people.  Turned out to be self-gifting.  Found what is becoming an annual treat -- a lovely Celtic cross in delicate silver.  Quite different from the James Avery Celtic cross found so many years ago at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.  Found a fascinating bead necklace.  It looks like wood, feels like pearls.  It is neither.  The beads are Indonesian, cut from tree resin, each about 8 mm.  

Found at least one gift for someone else, but not at the Academy.  Also found a second needlepoint shop in Honolulu while looking for a yarn shop.  No wonder I can't find the yarn shop; it has closed.

Robert Who Listens still doesn't have enough magic in his bag of tricks.  He was able to confirm that whatever this computer is doing, it's the computer -- not me.  The fix-or-replace will have to wait until January.  It's gone on this long; it can wait a bit longer.

It is cool and rainy and dark outside, with no hint of the dawn.  Sunday is the Honolulu Marathon.  Weather reports say it will rain tomorrow, too.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply motto says When the heavens weep, the earth rejoices.  Give thanks for the rain that nourishes the earth.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Machine's at Fault

When something mechanical in my life doesn't function perfectly, I tend to assume it is my fault.  Something I did is causing the problem.

Remember that new computer I waited half the summer to arrive?  When it finally did, I was immediately frustrated.  I've been complaining since that first week.  Sluggish.  Unresponsive.  Slower than its predecessor with less guts and gusto.

I complained to the vendor, who happens to also be my tech support.  Hey, Daniel, why did I pay a premium price for something that doesn't do what was promised?  I thought you were going to add extra memory to this beast.  It's not there.  Hey, Daniel, I could go to Costco or Best Buy, get the same machine for less money, load it myself (and know where all the files get put), and have at least as good a product for less money.  Just wouldn't have the on-call tech support.   Hey, Daniel, we've got to fix this.  I'm really, really not happy.

Daniel is a good civil servant.  He takes all Federal and State holidays.  He takes a spring break and a winter break.  My computer disasters always seem to happen on the Friday of a long weekend.  Or at 5:30 p.m. on Friday just after he has shut down for one of his 2-week vacations.  His Christmas break starts at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

We started looking for a mutually convenient time to do a remote support session.  First we had to scatter my dad's ashes.  Then we had to get Kimo back on the road.  Then there's my mom's nearly daily list of errands to run.  Then there are my own pressing errands.  Daniel has his own set of problems with an ailing, aged mother and an equally aging father with not-quite-sufficient financial resources.  We finally settled on yesterday afternoon.  At  2:00.  No, changed that to 4:00.  With Robert.

2:00 came and went without a call.  4:00 came and went.  Still no call.  At 4:30 I figured I'd been by-passed one more time and started the download of a library book.  Robert called at 4:31.  No, we couldn't ask the computer to multi-task.  We would still be here 12 hours later, still trying to solve the same problem.

Robert called again today.  Late again.  He tried all the tricks in his magic bag.  Couldn't solve the problem.  Guess what?  It's NOT ME!  He will try again tomorrow.  With a new set of tricks.  It might be a graphics issue.  It might be something else.  Daniel is making "we'll replace it in January" noises.  We'll see.

The important piece:  I didn't do it!  It's NOT ME!  For once, the machine appears to be at fault.

Give thanks for all those machines in your life that work tirelessly, uncomplainingly, day after day, as they are intended to work.   Pray for the tempers of those of us dealing with the recalcitrant, trouble-making machines in the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kickin' Cancer's Butt

I'm getting tired of these cancer stories.

Here's another one that, no matter how badly you feel life has treated you, will remind you that someone else has it worse.  Or at least a different variation of really bad.

Max's mom was in treatment in Sonora at the same time Ray was receiving chemotherapy.  Max's dad used to come into the infusion center (where outpatient chemotherapy is given) wearing a big, bright button declaring, "We're Kickin' Cancer's Butt".  You knew they were fighting.  One after another, the family continues to fight.

If you're anywhere near Sonora on December 11, the Party for Max  is going to be something special.  They have so many bands participating that they are holding two parties the fairgrounds.  One is dubbed "old people's music", the acoustical stuff.  The other is loud, raucous, and geared to the younger folk.  For those who are not familiar with the Tuolumne Co. Fairgrounds, there are only 4 buildings -- not including the barns and the offices.   Town will be hoppin' that night.

This is Tuolumne Co. at its best, the part of country living I miss most.  The community is so small that if you don't know someone directly, if your kids haven't gone to school together, if you don't go to church together, or work together, if you don't cross paths at the hospital or the pharmacy or in Wal-Mart or walking down Main Street, someone you know does or has.  "You know him."  a friend will tell you, and then proceed to remind you of your links.  When someone needs, really needs, the community is there.  Cooking spaghetti or chili, donating to a raffle or auction, working a rummage sale, making music, spreading the word, lending support.  Praying.

There have been lots of needs this year.  Nicole, Megan, Sarah's grandpa, now Max.  Those who have lost their homes, or their jobs, a family member or a friend.  

Give thanks for those unsung heroes who fight cancer in laboratories and research hospitals all around the world.

Don't forget to pray .....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pray for Al

Al waited for over a year for a new liver.  Towards the end of the wait, his kidneys shut down.  He went on dialysis and was added to the list for a new kidney.

An appropriate liver turned up early this week.  So did an appropriate kidney.  His family was told that his surgery was "textbook classic".   That's good news.

Pray for Al's successful recovery.  Pray for his caretaker wife, Pat.  Pray for all recent transplant patients.

Give thanks for those who register as organ donors. 

A Rant on Garbage

I always assumed Hawaii was an environmentally friendly state.  After all, it's a miniscule land mass surrounded by a very large ocean.  Both land and water are to be respected, protected, honored.  That's the Hawaiian way.  It's apparently not the way of non-Hawaiian decision-makers who live in Hawaii.

I worked in a position where I got up close and personal with sewage treatment facilities.  Even the little kit-built plants we operated on the Hetchy treated at least to the secondary level, some to the tertiary level.  Statewide, the large plants all treat to the tertiary level -- discharging water that is not drinkable, but appropriate for golf course and other non-food irrigation.  Some treated solid waste is used as fertilizer.

Officials in Honolulu are outraged that the EPA is demanding the City upgrades to secondary treatment. That means they can no longer discharge water back into the environment after  skimming off the floaty stuff, then settling out 50% of the solids and 25-40% of something called biochemical oxygen demand.

My father left an assortment of prescription drugs, which he hated taking.  My parents shared a primary care physician, who prescribed most of those drugs.  He has told my mom that she can take one of them as needed.  There are a bunch of other drugs we need to get rid of.

The Honolulu garbage disposal website, opala.org, says that liquid medications should be poured down the drain.   Pills go into the regular garbage.  Taped closed to discourage children from opening the containers.

I cringe.  Anything that goes down the drain ends up in the sewer.  Wreaks havoc in the treatment plants.  But not in Honolulu.  Those beasties sensitive to chemicals in the system are used in secondary treatment.  They don't do secondary treatment here.

One medication in particular is a testosterone-based gel.  It comes in little foil packets.  A man can overdose by using too many packets in one day.  The package label and the package insert warn in several places that this product should NOT be handled by females.

The box is now in the garbage can, securely taped and double bagged.  Vicoden, methodone, and other pills popular in illegal drug circles go into the same garbage can.  There is no option.

Someone in California suggested that pill containers should be opened and the contents poured into plastic bags filled with used kitty litter!   Puppy poop would be equally effective.

Give thanks for those who think before disposing of potentially hazardous materials, from lei string and  those plastic things that hold together cans and bottles in the market, to fluorescent light tubes and used batteries and disposable diapers.

Don't forget to pray ....

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Tribute to a Waterman

I gulped as the canoes gathered.

I knew the Malia was coming.  The Malia, 60+ year old koa canoe, the first Waikiki Surf Club canoe to make the annual 41-mile race across the Ka'iwi Channel between Moloka'i and Oahu, the club's pride, the beauty who seldom now is used because she so precious. Just having the Malia present was a special honor.

 I didn't know that there would be four canoes, three with a full complement of club paddlers, three club paddlers on the Malia and seats for those who would carry and spread the ashes. They were magnificent, those canoes in the red and gold of the club my dad was instrumental in founding, setting off the distinctive koa hull of the Malia, trimmed in red, paddlers in their team shirts of gold and red.

I knew that the NaDu K2, the 27-foot fishing boat my dad owned for 40 years, would be one of the escorts, courtesy of the Waikiki Yacht Club.  I knew that the Waikiki Surft Club would bring their own escort boat.  I didn't know that Pat, who often fished with my dad, would be there with his own boat, the True Grit, and several other men who fished with them over the years.

The little fleet of a dozen or so tiny sailboats in the harbor the channel may or may not have been a planned part of the parade, but they waited as we passed, led by the Malia, then joined us out through the channel, beyond the surfing lanes, where the canoes formed a circle.  The rest circled around the canoes.

Both my children, my parents' only grandchildren, were here to honor their grandfather.  They were in the Malia, as was our half-sister, Jackie.  Together they shared the task of spreading the ashes.  Then came the flowers.  So many flowers in so many colors, all loose to protect the ocean environment and to honor a man who loved this ocean.  The canoes made one more pass, then headed back to shore.  The power boats circled twice, then followed the canoes back to the harbor.

There must have been about 40 folk in addition to the paddlers who came to honor and bid farewell to this man who had touched their lives.  There were neighbors, past and present.  There were fishing buddies and business associates.  Dennis flew in from Southern California for the day.  Christie came from Seattle, also for the day.  There were a handful of surfing legends present, folk who and worked with my dad in building the Waikiki Surf Club.  Mark, the surfing historian and surf board collector, came.  So did Sandy, the writer, who came to know my dad as she was writing a biography of Duke Kahanamoku.  Cousins from my mother's side of the family were there.  So were close friends of my brother and sister-in-law, and some of my own friends from Daughters of Hawaii.  There was a generous buffet table and beverages courtesy of the Waikiki Yacht Club, and an open bar.

When my father went into nursing care, he transitioned over to an MD who routinely visits the nursing homes in Honolulu.  As it happens, he lives next door to one of my co-volunteers at Daughters of Hawaii.  I've occasionally laughed and said to Pili, "If I have trouble reaching the doc, I'll just ask you to go next door and leave a note on his front door!"   I was touched when Pili offered a box of flowers from her own garden.  "The orchids are courtesy of Dr. Johnson's garden." her note told us.  I had to smile.

One more time.  Good-bye, Daddy.  Be at peace.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Megan

Not my granddaughter Meghan, who is a delightful and bright young woman in her own right.  As is her big sister Katie.

This Megan is the daughter of one of Tuolumne County's judges.  I knew her parents "way back when" in another lifetime.  Visited with her dad occasionally when I was working in Sonora and in and out of the courthouse on a regular basis.  Haven't seen her mom in many years.  Both Megan's parents are the kind of people who hang around in the recesses of memory, people who have (or will) touch your life in some significant way. 

Megan passed away early this morning.  She had acute myeloid anemia.  It was diagnosed as she was delivering her first child.  Her daughter is just 4 months old. 


I learned about Megan's diagnosis through a Facebook post by a mutual friend.  Hundreds of others must have learned about Megan a similar way -- through word of mouth and from social networking by friends and friends of friends.  Today, there are literally thousands of voices all over the world lifted in continuing prayers for Megan and her family.  Her short life, her struggles, her bravery, the love of the family members for each other, their commitment to their faith and the commitment of their friends, are all powerfully present in the many postings on Facebook and through the blog maintained by Megan's husband.   

If, after reading or hearing Megan's story, you are inspired to reach out in faith, to pray, to invest some time in social action or interaction, to hug someone, then Megan has touched your life.  She continues to make a difference, one life at a time.  She continues to live in the hearts of those she touches.  

Give thanks for Megan's life.  Pray for Ryan, Rylee, Megan's parents and for her siblings.  Go into the world. Make a difference in someone else's life.  For you.  For Megan.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baby Steps toward Recovery

A week?   Is that all?  It seems like forever since my dad passed.  Forever ago, yet not.  I can still stop in that awful parking lot at Oahu Care, trek up to the 3rd floor, clean laundry in a bag over my right shoulder.  ... No, we're beyond that now.  

Dealt with the mortuary.  Cleared away his personal possessions from Oahu Care Facility.  Saw the trust attorney.  Received some cards.  Took one small box to the thrift shop.

Answered numerous questions about "When are services?" with "Still pending".

Still need to pick up the ashes.

On the home front, nothing has changed.  Those changes happened two years ago when he was moved into permanent care.  My mother has filled what for so many years was His Room with her overflow of boxes, books, notebooks, and papers, stuff.  It is the master bedroom, but no longer a bedroom.  Just a catch-all place.

Paper grocery bags are filled and marked.  Salvation Army.  Goodwill.  Thrift Shop.  Friends of the Library.    Then heaped in His Room, since there is more to go into each bag.  There is always more.    My frustration level rises.

I remember how hard it is to part with many things belonging to Ray.  Open closet.  Look.  Shed a tear.  Close closet.  Can't do this yet.  Open drawer.  Remove object.  Handle it, cherish it, remember. More tears.  Return it to its place.  Shut drawer.  Can't do this either.  I understand that heap of bags and boxes.

The time will come.   I have to believe.

My brother and I will talk later today about  a memorial for our father.  Our mother says that should be when we scatter the ashes.  She doesn't want to do anything that suggests having a party.  No food.

The Church makes this end of life so much easier, both physically and spiritually.  Call the office.  Talk with my priest.  Schedule a service.  Choose readings.  Add hymns as desired.   Draw comfort from the liturgy and the continuity assured us by our faith. Stand awe-struck by the number of friends who have come to share this time.  Know that the ladies of the church will be there to take care of everything connected with food, from set-up to clean-up.  It magically happens. At least it does in small towns.  For friends.

Closure. The numbness wears off eventually.   Recovery begins.

Give thanks for the memories.  They add color and vibrancy to our life.

Pray for the souls of those who have gone on.  Pray for those left behind.

Hug someone you love.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thank you.

To all of you who are expressing your condolences either here or on Facebook in the aftermath of our father's passing, thank you.  It is immensely comforting to know that you are out there, reading and caring.

When I came home from the hospital, picked up the laptop, and sat in the dark writing the post made this morning, I was writing for personal therapy.  It didn't occur to me that so many of you would read it so quickly.   It was barely 8 a.m. in Hawaii when I started the round of calls to mainland family and friends.  Without exception, everyone I called had read either my post or my brother's this day, or been contacted by a family member who read it.  It makes the world a far more friendly place, and leaves me feeling not quite so alone and adrift.

My mother was more shaken by the news of my dad's death than I had expected.  We just never know until an event happens how we -- or another -- will respond.  It's tricky not to let those expectations get in the way of appropriate response.  To my way of thinking, my mother needs to shed some tears.  She is not there yet.  She may never be there.  Her tears may have been shed years ago.

Whatever the case, Mother is busy making lists, reading the Yellow Pages, still emptying closets, and directing the rest of us in the choices we should be making.
 "No."  This is used especially when a subject is distasteful to her.
To me, after listening to a conversation between my brother and myself about the canoe paddles in my father's bedroom:   "I want the canoe paddle with his grandfather's name on it to go to Kimo, not to some museum."
To my brother the photographer:  "Use an obituary picture that looks like he looked recently, like people will remember him.  Don't use one from when he was young."
and over our Chinese take-out dinner this evening, "I hope Ian picks out a good picture for the obituary."

Ian, are you getting her message?  :-)

Give thanks for the extraordinarily long and influential life of our father, John Montgomery Lind.  Give thanks that he was finally able to let go.  Don't forget to pray ....

Another Battle Over, Another Warrior Gone

My father, John Montgomery Lind, passed away just over an hour ago, at 1:50 a.m. HST on Saturday, 23 October, 2010.  He was only a few weeks from his 97th birthday.  His hair was still black, as it had been his entire life.  


He didn't make it to December 6.  
He clung tenaciously to life, difficult though this last month has been.  

Good-bye, Daddy.  Be at peace. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mending Relationships

When Julie, the social worker from Hospice, visited my mom last week, she left a paper titled "Five Things".

It is one of the few papers she has kept, not given to me to file away in the Hospice File.

I went looking this morning on the Internet to learn more about The Five Things.  They come from a book by Dr. Ira Byock, Dying Well:  Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life and are described more fully in another book, The Four Things that Matter Most.  They are:
I Forgive You
Forgive Me
Thank You
I Love You
Good-bye 

I have put aside all hurt or resentment I might have had against you.  For all those hurts, large or small, I forgive you.

For those things I have done in my life which have hurt or harmed you, please forgive me.

Thank you for all the moments of light and friendship you have brought into my life.  Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for being you.

I love you. Unconditionally.

Good-bye.

They fit beautifully into the theme of the study currently ongoing in our church based on Dr. Timothy Keller's book The Prodigal God.  Keller talks about unconditional love, families vs. community, and the restorative power of forgiveness, building his message from the (mis-named, he says) Parable of the Prodigal Son.  It, too, is worth exploration.

Give thanks for those who love  unconditionally.  Especially those who love you unconditionally.  

Don't forget to pray.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another Milestone

The milestone is that I am out of the laundry business.  That is a good thing.  I hate having to do laundry on deadline when working around the whims of the weather.

The reason is not particularly good.  My dad is no longer able to help dress himself.  He is permanently in a hospital gown. I don't have to launder hospital gowns.

My mother surprised me.  I don't want her to ever say that we -- my brother and I -- prevented her from doing something she wanted to do, either from ignorance or neglect.  So periodically I offer her the opportunity to visit my dad.  I know better than to expect that she will accept.  This afternoon she asked when I will go again to see him.  She has a big shopping trip planned for tomorrow morning, so my late afternoon meeting with the Hospice RN is less than convenient.

"When are you going after than?" she asked.  

I suggested that Friday morning would be good.  It just might happen.

Seeing her again, her giving him permission to move on, just might be what he needs to take that next step.

Fearless hearts.  Peaceful minds.  Give thanks.  Hug someone.  Let someone know you care.  Don't forget to pray.....

Letting Go

You need to read my brother's post at ilind.net to understand my mood this morning.  It's titled, "Still too Strong for his Own Good".

Our dad is aware of what is happening in his body.  On the last two or three times I've seen him, he's said "I'm in bad shape."  He told me before the medical diagnosis was made that he had pneumonia.  He recognizes that coughing blood is not a good thing.  He knows what he can no longer do, no longer enjoy.  He knows there is no possibility he will enjoy those things again in this lifetime.  But he will not let go.

I think he is afraid.  It's a big unknown on the other side of that door.  Will he walk out into empty space?  Will he simply disappear from the universe?  Will he, as he was promised in those church-going years of his  youth, step into eternal glory?  Or eternal damnation?  Will he rejoin his parents and brothers who have gone before him?

Will he continue to live in the memories of those who knew him, who care about him?  Will he be remembered as a good guy, or a bad guy?  Will he fade out of memory and cease to exist, even there?

When my maternal grandmother was dying more than 50 years ago, her priest was a relatively young man who chose to follow his father's footsteps into the ministry.  He had a gift for working with the elderly.  My mother asked him one day why he, a vibrant young man, chose to work with 'old people'.

"When you are young," he said, "you need the church to give you something to live for.  When you are old, you need something to die for."

I continue to wish for my father a fearless mind and a peaceful heart.   Pray that he, and all those in a similar place, will find something to die for.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a Difference a Walker Makes!

We put the new walker to the ultimate test on Saturday morning.  Can it do a craft fair?  Short answer:  YES!

I took my mom to our annual Daughters of Hawaii fair, an indoor-outdoor event featuring food, music, and a good selection of mostly upscale artisans and craftspersons.  She loved it.  And could never have done it without the walker.

To be fair, it would not be a good thing to turn her loose totally unsupervised.  There are little bumps like thresholds and fat extension cords and low curbs where it is nice to have someone unobtrusively pick up the front end of the walker to help it over the bump.  Down slopes need control, and up slopes need a little extra pull power.  Grass is not ideal.  Paved surfaces are great.  She would go,go,go -- then sit down to shop at a particular stall.  She could go where ever she wanted, meet people, enjoy being out in the world.

She shopped in "Dale's Attic", the rummage component of our fair.  She bought a bottle of marmalade, a lemon and a lime -- which look identical.  She tried on hats, looked at haku lei, exclaimed over the wiliwili lei made from a brilliant orange-red seed that you don't see much any more.  Maybe because an immigrant bug has killed off a large percentage of the population of wiliwili trees.  She looked at plants, and when I bought my Treasure of the Year (a gold and silver bracelet by Donna Cockett of Kauai, who happens to be married to a cousin), she bought one, too.  Different design, same maker.  I think she bought it because she liked the bracelet.  But she also bought it because the maker is 'ohana.
'
By 11:30, she was tired and ready to go home.  But she never would have gotten past Dale's Attic without that walker!

Give thanks for the openness that allows us to swallow our pride and invest in the tools and aids we need to live a full life.
Don't forget to pray!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Deed is Done

It is official.   My father is officially a Hospice patient.  His diagnosis is "adullt failure to thrive".  He has lost 4.5 lbs, more or less, in the last 30 days.  Not good.  He is refusing most meals, except for his 3 bottles of Ensure daily, and some fruit.  He seldom gets out of bed, although he can still walk with his walker.  We are assured that he is getting plenty of fluid, although they are not measuring fluid in/fluid out.

There are some real positives about Hospice care.  He gets another layer of nursing care, with a Hospice Nurse visiting at least twice weekly.

I asked what that additional layer would add to his care.  The answer?  "Another pair of eyes, eyes looking just at on patient, eyes looking specifically for his comfort, for small changes in condition or attitude, eyes trained to evaluate patients at this stage of life."  Oh, another pair of eyes looking from the same view that we do as a family, looking for signs that might be missed by a CNA who is dealing with 8-12 patients, each one with their own very important needs.  Eyes that are not tied by regulatory requirements to desks, patient charts, or medicine carts.

From my own perspective, it means dealing with RNs whose native language is English.  Don't get me wrong here.  My dad has been getting very good nursing care.  But the primary language of most who work at Oahu Care Facility is Filipino, Korean or Vietnamese.  There are communication gaps.  I wrote about some of them the other day.  In the US, men wear suspenders to hold up their pants.  In the UK, suspenders hold up hosery.  Braces hold up pants.   If I asked about braces from a UK perspective, the American thinks about teeth straightening.  When your first problem is translation, the more subtle differences get lost.  You don't always understand what the other speaker is asking or telling you.

It means having a nurse on call 24/7.   I've used that wonderful service in another lifetime -- another place, another patient.  I am incredibly thankful that there was someone to call whenever I needed them.

From the perspective of the checkbook, Hospice Care is well covered by my parents' insurance.  Ordinary long term care is not.  So we have suddenly dropped out of full private pay status into a much more budget friendly  insurance patient.

St. Francis Hospital, manager of this Hospice program, is a Catholic hospital.  They believe that spiritual and emotional health is important to physical health.  They offer both social workers and a chaplaincy program.  I've asked that a chaplain visit my dad -- not as a Catholic priest, but as a friend who comes to talk and visit, and who offers to pray with or for my dad at the end of the visit. He is not a church go-er, has not been for many years.  But he did  regularly watch Dr. Robert Schuller (TV's Hour of Power), and he did grow up as part of an active church family.  It's worth at least  one visit.

Give thanks for Hospice care in local communities where ever they may be.  Give thanks for those devoted folk who dedicate their lives and service to those whose lives are drawing to and end.

Don't forget to pray.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Ian and I are of one mind as to the care of our father.  That is a very good thing.

The morphine, even at low dose, is easing his pain, allowing him to sleep, and keeping his oxygen connection in in place.  That's good.  

A chest x-ray taken this morning shows that our dad has pneumonia.  His MD wants to try 3 doses of an antibiotic, to see what happens.  He also agrees that Hospice Care is appropriate, based on the type of treatment plan we are following.  

The order has been written, and the wheels are in motion.  Staff from Oahu Care will contact St. Francis Hospice tomorrow.  From there .... one day at a time.  

I wish him a fearless mind and a peaceful heart.  

Don't forget to pray.  



Saturday, September 25, 2010

It was not a good day.

Yesterday when I went to visit my dad, he had to demonstrate that his nose was bleeding.  It wasn't free bleeding, like when you get smashed in the nose and require a small mountain of cold washcloths and some judicious pinching to staunch the blood flow.  Instead, he blew into a paper napkin a moist clot containing about 1/4 tsp of blood.

He complained of pain in his shoulders, more intense than it was earlier in the week.  He has been taking Tylenol to ease the pain.

He seemed apprehensive.

His charge nurse called just after 8 a.m.  He was awake most of the night, coughed a lot, and coughed up more blood.  His 0xygen level was running about 90%; he was placed first on a nebulizer, then on oxygen.  By breakfast, his oxygen level was up to 97%.

When Ian saw him early this afternoon, he seemed disconnected from reality.  Ian didn't think he was recognized.  He age only about two bites of lunch, and then only with assistance.

By 2:30 p.m. when I arrived, he was dozing, but woke when I put my hand on this shoulder, opened his eyes, and called me by name.  He dozed again, but when a little old lady from down the hall "came visiting", he thought she was my mother and greeted her warmly.

"Why, Mrs. Lind, I don't see nearly enough of you these days. Won't you sit down?  Bonnie, help your mother with a chair."

I did not correct him, and he was disappointed when a  nurse came to take the lady back to her own room.

He will continue to receive oxygen when staff can persuade him to keep a canula in place.  Better chance with that than a full mask.

He is receiving liquid morphine on demand, plus one or two drops on his tongue at bedtime.

Today the nurse practitioner, who will consult with the doctor tomorrow, suggested that he be placed in Hospice care.  They may or may not do the necessary diagnostic procedures to determine exactly what is going on in his chest.

At worst possible case, he has recurrent pneumonia.  Untreated recurrent pneumonia can lead to patient death in about 4 weeks.

I think my father is afraid of death.

Give thanks for the long, full life my father has lived.  Pray for a pain-free body and a peaceful heart.  Pray that he feels only love around him.

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Anniversary.

Thirty-three years ago, deer season was opening in Groveland.  It was one of those crisp, sunny autumn days that follow on the heels of the first cold snap of the season.  Our friends -- many from the San Francisco Bay area -- gathered in Groveland to support us as Ray and I were married.

We chose a spot we both loved -- under an ancient oak tree shading the front porch of the historic ranch house once owned by Edmund James, later Sol Ferretti, and finally Dunn and McLellan before it was sold to Boise-Cascade and incorporated into the Pine Mountain Lake subdivision.  The house and barn were moved from their original location along Big Creek to an elevation where they would sit on the lake shore of the last manmade recreational lake in California:  Pine Mountain Lake.

Kimo, then 7, sat on the deck snapping the lid of the ring box -- still containing the wedding rings.  I had visions of the rings dropping through the spaces between the decking and into the sand beneath -- and the need to crawl around under that deck to find these all-important symbols of our love.  I'm still wearing mine, so disaster was averted.

After a casual lunch and some wonderfully fruity punch created the night before by our favorite priest, we headed out through Yosemite National Park and Tioga Pass to Utah where I would meet Ray's family.

Give thanks for real love, the kind that strengthens over time, bringing out the best in each of you.  Give thanks for those precious memories.

Don't forget to pray!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rainbows

It was raining lightly when I left for church this morning.  Against the cloudy sky this double rainbow stood out in glory.

It would have been a prettier image if I had been able to take the picture from our own street where there are trees, hedges and greenery.  Until the rainbow got lost in all those trees and hedges.

It would have been a prettier picture if I hadn't had to work around the gentlemen out for his Sunday morning walk, insisting on walking down the middle of the street into which I wanted to turn.

It would have been prettier if I had pulled just a little bit farther up the block on this street.    Or  realized that the lawn in front of this house is brown, not green.  And that there is almost no landscaping around the house.  Didn't we learn in a video class about paying attention to what else is in the view finder besides your subject?  Did I learn?  Guess not.

Enough excuses.  Give thanks for rainbows, where ever they happen to be.

Don't forget to pray!

Addiction

I admit it.  I am addicted.  To fabric.  Like most quilters, doll clothes makers, and even many dressmakers, I see a piece of fabric that I really like, and buy it.  Sometimes I buy complementary fabrics at the same time.  Sometimes I just know that the right companion pieces will come along.  Sometimes they do.  Sometimes the fabric sits in my stash for a very long time.

In one notable case, I bought a piece of fabric to make myself a dress.  After some time in my stash, Ray nagged me into making him a shirt.  He wore that shirt to death, but every time he put it on I mourned for the dress that I now  would never have ....

When the chance to win free fabric came up, I couldn't resist.  If you are inspired by color, pattern, design, fabric, take a jaunt to From Little Things and check out Sarah's new fabric give-away.  

Don't you love the names of her books?  Material Obessions and Material Obsessions Two.

I checked.  The books are available at Amazon.com.  But the covers on the American editions are B-O-R-I-N-G.   How come the Brits get the really fun photographs, as we get the boring stuff???  You can see the UK covers by scrolling down just a bit on the From Little Things link.

Have fun!  Don't forget to pray ....

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Neighborhood Mall


Kahala Mall is the neighborhood shopping area.  I was in high school when the mall was built.  My first "real" job was there, in the anchor department store.  Then it was Liberty House; today it is Macy's.


There has always been a grocery store.  For many years it was locally owned.
A couple of years ago, Whole Foods replaced Star Market.  
Cinnabon, near Whole Foods, is another of the mainland chains represented in Kahala Mall.  


There is no food court, but a number of fast food chains are represented:  Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Panda Express, Arby's Roast Beef, Pretzelmaker ....  along with Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Godiva Chocolate ....  


Kahala Kids, and Reyn Spooner a little farther down the mall, are both locally owned.  They are two of the handfull of local shops not associated with national chains.

Today, the mall is enclosed,, air conditioned and carpeted.  Originally, all space between the shops was open air.  A mynah bird llived in a cage in the garden shop (which was in the wing which now features the Apple Store, Reyn Spooner, and Kahala Kids).  If you talked to him, he'd look at you quietly.  Eventually he'd mutter, "Birds can't talk."



This bust of Jack Lord, who in his lifetime lived in the neighborhood and was a frequent shopper at this mall.  Someone regularly gives him a fresh flower lei.


It's definitely not Groveland.  There's lots more stuff here, but none of the personalization or personality of shopping in Groveland.  Here, there are lines for everything.  You don't routinely stop in the parking lot to visit with a friend, find a shop owner who will go out of his or her way to find you a specialty product not  normally carried, or catch up on local news from friends who also happen to be shop owners.   I miss the community of living in a small town.

Give thanks for friendships.
Don't forget to pray.

A Milestone

A week or so ago my mother found an advertisement that caught her fancy.  "This is what I should have."  she announced.  Never mind that I've been trying for the better part of 2 years to get her to even look at one of these.



Today she went shopping.

The new walker has 4 wheels, 2 hand brakes, a basket AND a (probably the most important feature) a seat!   Makes shopping a whole lot easier.

She plans to use it in her gardening, too.

Give thanks for timely advertising.

Don't forget to pray.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Comfort Zones and Second Languages

Last Sunday I joined several of my Daughters of Hawaii sisters, along with members of the Hawaiian Royal Societies, at a service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral honoring the birthday of our last reigning monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani.  It should have been a very familiar service.  It wasn't.

It wasn't the service that was different, but the language.  It was mostly in Hawaiian, from the lovely solo chanting of the processional right through to the closing hymn.  One of the two lessons was read in English, as were the prayers of consecration.  The sermon was preached in English. Announcements?  English.  Everything else was in Hawaiian. We were a part of the regularly scheduled Hawaiian language Mass offered weekly at St. Andrew's.

Hawaiian is a beautiful, melodious language, but I am not a Hawaiian speaker.  I can read the words, but have to work at everything new.  I can grasp the meaning of what I am reading if I am familiar with the English version of the text, but in most cases I am reading words with no understanding of what they mean.  In my struggle with the language, I lost the experience of worship. I was out of my comfort zone.   I left feeling frustrated instead of nourished.

Suddenly it dawns on me that this is the same experience shared by immigrants to the US.  The language is different, and therefore strange.  If I recognize every third or fourth word, do I really understand what is being said?  How can I learn this new language if no one in my daily life uses or understands it?  How can I build a vocabulary in meaningful context?  Is there someone patient enough to help me through this barrier?

What happens when I travel?   Even English-speakers from different parts of the world give different meanings to common words.  Nappies or diapers?  Suspenders or braces?  Fanny?  Accepted slang, or rude and crude?  Note that Americans wear fanny packs, while in the UK they wear bum bags.

Walk through the market, or explore a cookbook.  What in the world is a Swede? (a rutabaga, not necessarily a citizen of Sweden.)  Caster sugar? (sold in the US as baker's sugar)  Treacle? (Molasses, but I am not sure if it differentiates between dark and light varieties) Sultana? (golden raisins, usually made from Thompson Seedless grapes).  In Hawaii we have gulches and streams.  In California we are likely to call them canyons and creeks -- often pronounced cricks.  Farther east, they become valleys and rivers.

As we remember that today is the anniversary of that terrible day in September 2001, let us celebrate our humanity, give thanks for the diversity that gives us breadth and strength, work to get beyond our differences such as language or accent or even where we worship.  Celebrate the lives of those who were lost that day, American or not.  Celebrate the courage of those who responded to help in whatever way they could.

Happy birthday, Eleanor!

Don't forget to pray....

Friday, September 10, 2010

If Can, Can ...


Armed with a brand new pocket-sized camera, Panasonic's FH20 (on sale at Costco for a couple of more days at the best price I've seen nationally), I wandered Kahala Mall.  This t-shirt, hanging in the doorway of one of my favorite boutiques, caught my eye.  I am likely to go back and purchase it as a Christmas gift for my mom.  It says a lot about how one thinks and feels at 96.

If you can do it, do it.  If you can't, you can't.  Don't fret about it.  Worrying over something you cannot do doesn't do you -- or anyone else -- any good.



The sentiment was particularly apropos yesterday.  After appointments and errands taking up a large hunk of my day, I    found this scene behind the 40' or so of front hedge.











And these at the front
door.



If can, can.  My mother had watered and pruned out the front hedge.  Whenever possible she worked from her garden chair.

Then she ran out of energy.

Filling the green waste can was now my task.  It's a big can, but her morning activity filled it about 2/3 full.

Mother's version, after her nap.  Smiling sheepishly.
"You picked up my trimmings.  I was waiting for you to get home and move the [wheeled] garbage can over so I could fill it up."

And then the afterthought:  "Thank you."

If no can, no can.
That's why I am here.   To pick up at least some of the No Longer Can part of her life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Catching Up

My dad seems to have recovered from whatever was ailing him.  We don't have a definitive pneumonia vs. bronchitis diagnosis.  If he had a touch of pneumonia, the antibiotic must have killed hit, despite the abbreviated dosage and the unpleasant side effects.  If he didn't ... well, it was an aggressive response to a potentially life-threatening situation.

Today he was reasonably clear-headed and conversational, the first time in several weeks he has been that responsive.

"I got up this morning, paid my bills, and since it was still early, went back to bed."  No, but that's OK.  No reason to argue the point.

"I wonder where my brother Willie is these days."  On being reminded that his brother passed away in 1993, he was very quiet for several minutes.  Then he said, "It's sad that I cannot remember."  He agreed that the important memories are still there -- the memories of growing up together, and time and activities they shared.  "As long as you remember him, Bill still lives,"  I assured him.

"What does 1018 [Kealaolu Avenue] look like now?  Is it being taken care of?"  That's the house in the next block where my parents moved when they married.  I assured him that it has been remodeled and relandscaped, and is looking good.

Then there's the issue of my son and his wife.  It's questionable that their status as a family can survive the current crisis.  Right now they are apart.  I am thankful for those who have taken him in and are able to help him find work and a place to live, as I am not in a position to do that.  One aged but otherwise healthy parent, one dementia parent (albeit in nursing care), and one adult child in crisis are more than this mom can handle at the same time.  Especially when I'm not in my own home.

Give thanks for those who reach out to the ill, the hurting, the lonely.
Don't forget to pray ....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Directive -- my version

Ian said it well.  See his entry for 27 Jul 2010 titled DIRECTIVE:  Aging and Dementia

Our dad is a bit better today.  According to this afternoon's charge nurse, he is no longer coughing.  It occurs to me that I  have neglected to ask if he is running a fever.  He ate breakfast, but not lunch.  He is avoiding milk products, including Ensure.  I suspect that he feels they cause vomiting.  He refused the clam chowder today.  Hmmm -- milk based item.  But he's not showing any of the unhappy body emptying that went on while he was on the anti-biotic.

He's had two doses of medication from the nebulizer, but a nurse has to stand at his bedside until the treatment is finished.  Before said nurse gets to the hallway, he has the mask off his face.  Not a good response is the medication is still being dispensed.

Today was my volunteer day, followed by lunch with the Regent and the rest of the Historian Committee across the road at Oahu Country Club.  Lovely setting, excellent company, good lunch.

Give thanks for modern medicines and those who administer them.  Don't forget to pray.....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Patient Advocacy

When someone you love is hospitalized, you want to believe they are getting the best care available.  But what is best?

The care facility where my father has been for the last 20 months is good.  It's not in the Cadillac class, but it is clean, never reeks of urine, and the staff is caring and responsive.  There is just not enough staff to go around.  That's where we, the family, make a difference.  We spend a longer period of time with "our" patient, even on short visits, than staff has time to give.  We notice different things.  We are more likely to pay attention to subtle changes.  

On a visit earlier this week, I comment to my dad that I didn't like the sound of his cough.

"I think I have pneumonia." he said.  "Hurts."  

I asked where it hurt.  He rubbed his hand across his lower chest, near the bottom of his rib cage.  

Part of me said, "He a dementia patient.  How aware is he, really, of his body?"  Another voice said, "He is notoriously unable to accurately describe what his body is telling him."  And in the other ear, "But what if he is right?"  So on my next pass by the nursing station, I asked if anyone had commented on the quality of his cough, or if he had complained to anyone else about chest pain.  

"It may be nothing."  I told the nurse on duty.  "But I'd rather be a nag than miss something important.":  

How did we want to proceed?  "Understanding that we want him to be comfortable, let diagnosis and treatment be the doctor's call."  

Yesterday, he was asleep when I arrived.  There was a wheelchair next to his walker at the foot of his bed.  His clothes and his gait belt were in the wheelchair.  The PM shift had just come on duty.  No one, it seemed, knew about the wheel chair.  Except the charge nurse just going off duty.  He had been in the dining room earlier and got very weak.  He may have vomited.  He was too unstable to walk back to bed.  Hence the wheelchair.  

By the way, his doctor ordered an x-ray.  He does have pneumonia.  It's mild.  He's on antibiotics and a diuretic.  Apparently the combination is making him very groggy.  He had vomited.  He is refusing food.  He does that when he doesn't feel well.  

It could have been a lot worse.  If I hadn't commented on his cough.  If he hadn't complained of pain.  If I hadn't reported my observation to the nursing staff.  If no one else took the time to listen.  

Give thanks for all those medical folk who provide the very best care they can, often under stressful conditions.   Give thanks that they are there to do what we, the family, cannot.  

Don't forget to pray ......  


Friday, July 2, 2010

Ahhhh! Back on line!

... finally, off the mobiles and onto a laptop.  So much one cannot do with just a mobile, but "just the mobile" is certainly better than nothing.

Granddaughters.  Here they are, tolerating the old folk (great-grandmother, grandmother, great-uncle and great-aunt ... and mom) after a day of beaches and other tourist-in-Honolulu things.  That's Katie on the left, the image of her maternal grandfather, who looks like his own mother.  Miriam, center, was part of the family for 10 mos., but headed home to Germany the day after their return from Honolulu.
Meghan, on the right, is the same bundle of energy she was a 3 --- go,go,go, then drop.   She has moments when she is her mother all over again.

Actually, both Katie and Meghan seem to tire more quickly than other teens I know, probably because of their unique physical issues.  Here they are by mid-afternoon Saturday after a morning hike to the top of Diamond Head, a mid-day tour of the Stadium Swap Meet, an hour with another pair of old folks (cousins, of course!) and finally a stop for Pineapple soft serve at the Dole  Plantation.  No wonder they were tired!

Their mother, Christie, has the long, dark braid down her back.  She has refused to cut her hair since she was about 7 and I promised her if she would not brush out the huge tangle at the back of her neck (thinly disguised by a surface layer of combed hair), I would cut her hair short.  She didn't, and wouldn't allow anyone else to help. ...  I thought she looked charming in a pixie cut.  She didn't.  'Nuf said.

Give thanks one more time for the teens, tweens, and younger folk in your life.

Give thanks for Chris and his companions as they head out for a tour in Afghanistan.  It's Chris's second in the Middle East.  Last time he stayed more or less in one place.   This time he'll "be on the road" much of the time.

What ever your feelings about the war, pray for the safety of those who are out there on the battle field.

Don't forget to pray....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nicole Will Walk

On May Day the 16-year-old granddaughter of a dear friend crashed her car. No drugs. No alcohol. Probably a deer or a fox or a cat on a typical Tuolome Co. Road. For her story and status see nicolewillwalk.com. Then pray, or dance, light candles, or do whatever you do to link with the healing powers of the universe. She's making progress, but it is in tiny steps.

Hug your own grands or the other teens in your life. I am thankful my own are not driving.

Don't forget to pray....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dead Computer, Granddaughters and Summer Arrive together

Summer is here. 

On leave for a bit. 

One dead computer.  New one due, but probably not until late next week at best.   Maybe not until after the holiday.  Blogging from a cell phone is a challenge I haven't yet mastered. 

Granddaughters arrive tomorrow from Seattle.  Looking forward to a few days of immersion in the world of teens.  Hopefully, with lots of pictures to share.  When I get around to writing again. 

Keep cool.  Please pray for Nicole, recovering from traumatic brain injury.  And for Al, still awaiting a new liver.   And for Gina, in her last weeks of a high-risk pregnancy.   And for the family where dad recently gave 3 years notice before he moves on to a new life .........  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another Granddaughter, Another Graduation


Sarah is my hanai granddaughter.  Not a granddaughter by blood, but by love and other connections.  Her graduation photos are a stark contrast to Brianna's.

I have to give Sarah credit, though.  She graduated.  Without a lot of help from home.  Through an independent study program through her public high school.  With a lot of help and support from teachers.  Despite some health issues.  Living in a trailer (mobile home has a whole different connotation and does not apply here) on the top of a "hill" in Tuolumne Co. best known for its many residents who live a confirmed fringe lifestyle.  Without public transportation within several miles of home, without parents or grandparents to see that she got to school or the library or to work or to sports events or any of the other places teens tend to go.  A lifetime welfare kid.

Sarah has a lot of talent for photography, even with a basic point-and-shoot camera.  She's been accepted into an online degree program through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.   If she applies her determination and skill and gumption to her photography assignments and classes, she will do well.  It's all up to her.  Just as it is up to every graduate to take advantage of the opportunities presented, and fly onward.

Hang in there, Sarah.  Keep plugging.  It's all worth it.

Pray for Sarah.  Give thanks for those who, despite what life hands them, succeed.  Keep praying...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Congratualtions, Brianna!

Brianna is my oldest granddaughter.  
She graduates tonight, May 27 2010, from East Union High School, Manteca, California.  
Surely wish I could be there with you, dear one. 
Know that Tutu (aka Grandma Bonnie) loves you.  

Pray for all those who are graduating from high school and college in this graduation season.
May they keep always the dreams and enthusiasm of their graduation. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Revelations on Music and Cars

My dad was asleep when I arrived the other day.  But this day he awoke on his own after about a half-hour.  In groping for a conversation topic, I told him about my fellow board member at Daughters of Hawaii.  She is an ukulele player, wants to learn to play guitar.  I am a guitar player who wants to learn melodies to some Hawaiian songs.  It's a great fit, and we plan to spend some time together, each benefiting from the talents of the other.

I didn't pick up the guitar until after I was married.  I took piano lessons while in school, and for several months took an ukulele class with my mother at Punahou School.  Daddy was interested.  "When did you pick up the guitar?" he asked.

He looked wistful, then said, "I always wanted to learn to play the piano."  Oh?????  That's a revelation.

"Didn't your mother teach you to play?  She played piano quite well."

"I took lots of lessons." he said.  "Never could learn to play."  His mind drifted off to cars, as it often does.

"I didn't think I could get along without a car." he said.  "I've had a car since I was 16."   Another revelation.

"Oh, did you have a car while you were in high school?"  That would be interesting.  I thought the family had so little money during the Depression that they had trouble putting food on the table.

"Yes.  I had a 1928 Dodge coupe."  Even more interesting.  My dad celebrated his 16th birthday in December, 1929.  OK, maybe he wasn't 16.

"Did you work on your car yourself?"  

 He didn't answer yes or no.    "There was always a group of about six fellows who were ready to work on my car."     He was never much good with things mechanical.  Always had to have someone to work on the boat engines, too.

The educator in me went click-click-click. My father seldom read anything except the newspaper.  Was less than successful in school.  Worked on old bicycles, the ones made before bicycles had hand brakes and gears.  Couldn't learn to play the piano.  Does that mean he couldn't get his fingers to coordinate, or he couldn't learn to read music?  Preferred books with lots of pictures.   Badly wanted to use the computer, but seldom remembered from session to session how to turn on the machine, open a document or send an email.   Has he fought a specific learning disability his entire life?  Something that depends on rote learning, where most of us depend on our reading skills? Does that intensify the trauma of memory loss?

It's all a moot point now, at his age and with his struggling memory.  But the questions keep flying through my head.

Give thanks for time shared.  Give thanks for what we have without dwelling on what we have lost or missed.
Don't forget to pray ....!  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Birthday follows Mother's Day

This year there was a full week between Mother's Day and my mom's birthday.  She told me last month that "we always" celebrate the two events at once.  But she's 96 years old now.  She has spent too many of those years sublimating her own desires for convenience of other people.  My brother and sister-in-law and their busy schedules.  My living half an ocean away.  My father's indifference.  All those years of boarding school as she was growing up, never learning the joy of honoring each special, small event in one's life.

She was clearly thrilled when my brother suggested lunch at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  I usually use the handicap parking on the other side of the building.  My brother has a better sense of logistics.  In his choice of parking lot, it was out of the car, wait for the guard to unlock the gate, down 4 stairs, and voila! We were in the Pavilion Cafe.  Check out Ian's video of her day and his text version of the event.  Note the birthday card.  It's from a company here in Hawaii that does cards for local consumption.  I've learned the trick.  If it originates in Hawaii, she will probably like it.

The event that Mother was referring to at the beginning of the video, the thing that happened about 1928 or 1929, was a weaving demonstration that she gave while still in high school.  We're not talking baskets or mats here, although both can be done very artistically and can require great skill.  We're talking fabric, threads-on-a-loom weaving.  She was demonstrating, and thinks the demonstration was given at the Academy.  I remember hearing about this demonstration years ago.  I don't remember hearing where it was given.  I also remember hearing that the bedroom in this house that became mine when I was born, and is once again mine, originally held her loom.

I give thanks for my mom and her 96 years of productive life.  I give thanks that she is alert and still able to do  many of the things she loves.

Don't forget to pray ....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day



Honor thy mother.


Mine has been complaining about the difficult time she is having cutting her toenails.  It's hard to get down there to the toes when you're approaching 96.   Even if your not approaching quite as quickly as she is.

She refuses to go to a podiatrist.  "Do you know they charge $40 to cut your toenails?" she responded when I suggested that Medicare sees proper foot care as essential for  healthy living.  It's not what comes out of her pocket that matters to my mother.  It's the amount billed for service.  Before rate negotiations and discounting.  She is just as concerned about what her insurance companies pay as what she herself pays.

I muttered about a pedicure.  Last Thursday she announced, "I have been letting my toenails grow because we were going for a pedicure."  At 9 a.m. on Friday we were at the nail salon.  She'd never before indulged.  If the truth be told, I haven't indulged very much myself ....

She gingerly climbed into the chair.  This is a tiny bit problematic, as the chair comes complete with a mini-jacuzzi tub in which your feet soak while they are awaiting attention from a real person.  That puts the tub right where you would normally put your body as you prepare to sit in a chair.  As it turns out, these chairs accommodate the less agile by seating from the side.

While my own feet were being pampered, I watched my mother's face.  Cautious.  Observant.  Once, pained.  .Interested.  Ahhhhh, relaxed.

She was pleased that her pedicure was counted as a Mother's Day gift.  She even told Ian and Meda about the gift she received on Friday.  Then she smiled, really smiled.  She smiled again when she opened the Goody Bag from Ian and Meda.   That was after a lovely brunch created by Ian, consisting of corn muffins, OJ and a fritatta full of ham, onion, potato, a taste of spinich, and a politically correct addition of mostly-egg-white  beaten eggs.

The goody bag contained several small packages of chocolate -- dark with mint cream filling.  I heard her say conspiratorily to Ian, "You know, chocolate is actually good for you."  She grinned again.  She has been smiling a lot more recently.  Whew.  We've been trying to make that happen for two years.

Give thanks for the smiles.
Don't forget to pray!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still wondering ...

... but this week no one else is interested in what can or cannot, should or should not be taught in private schools.

New thoughts. Am I thinking?

This week, about an article for a Groveland monthly newspaper.  About the to-do list for Daughters of Hawaii.  About how long a dementia patient remembers he is afraid of something.  About ways to bring pleasure to my mother's life as she approaches her 96th birthday.  About a birthday card and a gift for said 96-year-old to unwrap.

The heartache of a mother whose only  daughter died this week.  Possibly from a drug overdose.  Probably prescription drugs.  She was brilliant, caring, well-educated ... and only 33 years old.  She leaves no spouse, no children to grow up missing their mom.  What brings a person with so much promise to this kind of an end?  What lessons will those who knew her bring to their own lives?

Give thanks for Cyndi, who has moved onward into a new life.  Pray for those left behind -- parents, step-parents, sibling, niece, friends, professional colleagues, clients.

Hug your children.  Or your spouse.  Or your parents.  Or a friend.  Today.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just wondering ... what do you think?

At the risk of duplicating a recent Facebook entry ---

I've found myself with a new pot to learn about and perhaps stew over.  Private school education.  At the elementary and secondary levels.  Now don't, as Ray used to say, get your buns in an uproar,.  I am a product of private school education.  I acknowledge, even if I don't always like, the need for public schools to be inclusive (a very good thing) and secular (not always so good), or at least accepting of the differing beliefs of their students.  Modify that.  I am old enough to expect schools, public or private, to be safe places where students are respectful of each other and their teachers, and don't have to worry about getting shot, knifed, raped, drugged, beaten, bullied or robbed in the course of an average day.

When I elect to send my children to a private school operated by a particular cultural, ethnic or religious group, do I have a right to complain when those children are exposed to or required to learn the values, language, and/or culture of the sponsoring group?  Should I expect that their values and traditions will be taught, practiced and upheld?  If my traditions and values are different, should I expect my traditions and values to be taught as well?  Remember, I made a choice to send my children to this school; it was not forced on me.

Should a private school have the right to require that their students meet certain minimum qualifications not imposed on public school students?  Those MQ's might involve academic ability, a special skill set nourished by the schools (I am thinking specifically of music, dance or theatrical schools which combine an academic curriculum with their artistic training), ethnicity or religious preference.  They might include something that has not yet occurred to me.  

What about dress codes?  If it is a Muslim school, should non-Muslim females be required to wear the headscarf (hijab)?  Or burkah?  If it is a Jewish school, should all males be required to wear the yarmulke or kippot? If nuns no longer wear habits, why do I see the girls from Sacred Heart Academy (Catholic) wearing the same uniform their counterparts were wearing 60+ years ago?  Is there an advantage to putting students in uniform?   The schools I attended did not require them.  We had another set of dress codes. Most related to whether girls could wear slacks to school (exception made on the days we worked in the cafeteria), when you had to wear shoes, and what constituted a shoe (as opposed to the far more casual slippers -- the footwear you mainland folk refer to as flip-flops).

Remember that we are talking only about private schools.  Schools that do not receive tax dollar funding.  Schools which might be supported by their sponsoring organizations, donations from alumni and friends, or raised by the efforts of students and parents.  Schools for which a  tuition (often hefty) is paid by parents, grandparents or by scholarships. Schools which exist to offer something other than (or in addition to) what is taught in public schools.

What about Charter Schools?  They get public money.  Some US Charter Schools teach in a language other than English.  Some cater to a specific skill set -- math, physical sciences, music, the arts.

Here's what Wikipedia says about Charter Schools.
Charter schools are elementary or secondary schools ... that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter. Charter schools are opened and attended by choice. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where enrollment in a charter school is over subscribed, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions. In a 2008 survey of charter schools, 59% of the schools reported that they had a waiting list, averaging 198 students.  Some charter schools provide a curriculum that specializes in a certain field ...


I am particularly interested in the view of those who elect to send their children to private  or charter schools.  I'm also interested in the views of private school administrators.  Or the views of students who are passionate about private school education.  


Give thanks for those who teach in elementary and secondary schools, for they are woefully underpaid and under-appreciated.  Give thanks for our differences, for they are to our experience as spices are to our cooking.  


Don't forget to pray.  ... 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Kitten Tale -- and A Very Close Call

Today was the second day of a two-day Diocesan (read 'statewide') conference of Episcopalians in Hawaii.  My home church was the host parish, chosen because we have the largest physical plant on Oahu and can accommodate a group of 250 attendees.   Whatever the reason, only 55 registered.  There were 16 children, 8 presenters, and 3 Diocesan staff -- plus three of us who volunteered to do the hands-on stuff involved with making an event like this happen in your own facility.

It was Chuck Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop, who first heard the tiny sounds.  He was sitting outside the church during a workshop session, working on his laptop computer.  But the little squeeks and mews were persistent, and he is a curious man.  He and Lani Kaaihue, of the St. Andrew's Cathedral staff, searched until they found the source: a tiny kitten hiding in the potted plants at the base of the Columbarium adjacent to the church, wailing piteously.  About that time Linda and I (host parish volunteers) arrived from the kitchen.  Linda went in search of milk and a small bowl.  I talked to the kitten, trying to at least see what I was talking to.  Eventually Kitten backed into a corner, watching me cautiously.  Then came The Grab.  It took a bit to unhook all those kitten claws from the leaves of the plants behind which he was hiding, but out he came.   Yes, lots of claws, but not the frantic scratching and biting I was expecting.  This little guy was clearly afraid, but cuddled up against my chest, eventually relaxing enough to peep out and view the world.  He's been raised around people.

We took him to the Thrift Shop, hoping to find an animal carrier and a blanket.  Success on both counts.  A customer provided a baggie of cat food which she happened to have in her purse.

Safe in the carrier and left in a quiet corner of an empty meeting room, Kitten settled in.  He walked in the milk bowl, but ate every single crumb of the kitty kibbles.  He hid in a back corner of the carrier, positioned so he could see what was going on around him.

We told everyone who would listen that Kitten needed a home.  Many are allergic.  Others faced long airline trips home.  Still other have dogs.  Or just plain don't like cats.  Eventually, we approached the high school boys attending a basketball workshop in the gym adjacent to the kitchen.  Several came to check out Kitten.  One  brought his dad.

"We already have three cats." said Dad.

"Will it bite?" asked Dad.  I acknowledged that Kitten had hissed and spit at Kristy, but didn't bite me when I picked him up.

Dad talked quietly to Kitten, then gently opened the carrier door and slowly reached inside.  Kitten practically crawled into his had without any additional prompting.

"I guess we have four cats." said Dad.

Give thanks for compassionate souls who lovingly adopt the lost and strays of the world.  Give more thanks that I didn't have to bring Kitten home.
Don't forget to pray.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Abandoned Nest

Mama Dove left the nest for most of Easter afternoon, came home overnight, then left again on Monday.  She didn't reappear until very late afternoon.  Clearly, she had had her fill of that next, and perching atop a wriggling chick who filled the next almost completely in his own right.  By breakfast the next morning, the nest was empty.  Lacking a lifeless heap of feathers on the ground beneath the plumeria tree, Baby Dove must have learned the function of wings.  I hope to see a mama dove, trailed by a baby learning to forage for himself, in the yard as we scatter bread and grain scraps each afternoon.  


Wasn't he looking grown up and handsome on Monday afternoon?  

Birds -- and other critters -- know when it is time to allow their children to stretch their own wings and learn about independence, adulthood, and the responsibilities that go with them.  Pray that we humans can have as much wisdom.
Don't forget to pray ....   

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another Dove Update

Mama Dove was  restless this morning.  Perhaps bcause it was morning.  Perhaps because her chick is growing and moving around, too. Look carefully, and you'll see baby peeking out under mom's feathery protection.  




Baby wiggles more.  Now you can see his face, this time under mom's wing.  




At first I thought baby was being fed.  It's possible Mama was grooming her chick.  


Eventually, Mama left the nest altogether.
Baby is looking more and more like a real bird, but still not the prettiest one in town!
Your day will come, baby.  

It is spring!  Easter is coming!  Give thanks for new life.
Don't forget to pray.