Sunday, June 22, 2014

hot day

Tried to post this quickie about a hot day that ended on a warm porch.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catching up with Slow Life

Hmmm.  Somehow, followers, the photos I thought I posted of the Iron Chef event a) didn't get posted and b) I can't find them on my computer right now.  So I apologize for your viewing and seeing nada at the time, but I am asking Mark to resend them from his phone and I will put them up as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here are photos gathered from this early June with my dad, Ralph, and Mark's dad, Jerry. We are "celebrating" Jerry's return from almost a month of skilled nursing and hospital care and my dad's rare "outing" from the memory care wing to his (former) main dining room at Cascades of Tucson.  Here, one of their mutual friends is chatting with them.

The second photo is from this week on 6/6--the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  My dad was in the Army and working with their burial unit.  He arrived four days after the landing and was assigned German and Italian POWS to help with burials in Normandy.  The hospice that is now helping with his care, Casa De La Luz, offers an "honoring" ceremony to veterans, so here is Dad with one of his gifts:  a very attractive Army blanket.  He also received a plaque and a knitted prayer pocket.
As care for both dads has become more complex, our "slow life" isn't quite what we would like it to be, but we are thankful for all the assistance they receive from others and for our occasional weekend getaways.  I will be sharing a photo or two from our recent Phoenix getaway in another post.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Eldercare etc.

Since January, both my husband and I have been on the front lines with eldercare for each of our dads.  In between, Mark also was the financial and medical rep for friend who was dying, has died, from prostate cancer.  Needless to say, we have had to stretch our emotional, spiritual and physical muscles.  And we are finding it is more or a challenge to stretch those muscles now that we are in our sixties.  I call us "young seniors" and, fortunately, technically and medically that is far.  But stress takes its toll and if it were not for the generosity of one of my friends we would probably be feeling worse than we do.

Once a month, we "escape" to Phoenix and stay 2-3 days at my friend's condo which she often does not use on the weekends.  We usually eat out once or twice at a local restaurant, but primarily we cook in and have really slow days with no particular plans.  In March, we attended the last spring training game of the Dbacks which was at Chase Field.  We had the fun of the stadium without the intensity of the full season. We also revisited the Japanese Garden and felt the serenity of the green landscape amidst the urban desert. Last month, we rejoined the Phoenix Art Museum.  We did it on our last vacation day and did not have time to take in the Hollywood Costume exhibit.  That, we intend to take in when we next return.  But we did have time to visit the Red Carpet exhibit and visually savor our favorite wing where the Impressionist paintings and sculptures are part of the permanent museum collection.

As we wrestle with the medical care system (I use the term loosely because, often, the reality is that the fragmentation and cost-cutting elements are disparate and frustrating), deal with phone calls, and emails--we often share the concern we have about our own eldercare future.  Once both my parents made it to 90s, their quality of life took a dive.  I see the same with my father-in-law.  Yet our culture resists the reality of death and the medical world, on the one hand, seeks to prolong life at whatever cost and regardless of its quality and, on the other hand, the medical world sets up barriers for compassionate care.

We can do our best, as baby boomers, to pretend it will be different for us, but it may be worse.  As drug costs go up for last stage of life care, will we be braver and refuse to buy into the possibility of 2-6 more months of life when a week of pills could cost "the system" $10,000 or more?  What are we doing now to prepare for our oncoming eldercare? 

I don't have answers today.  I know Mark and I try to exercise, eat wisely (with the occasional slip into comfort food land), and, each on our own way, we practice other healthy habits.  We hope we have a decade of  "good years" left, but, as we are reminded by the health crisis situations of several peers, there are no guarantees we will have another good year.  We only have today.  So, today, we walked on Mountain Avenue, watched baby bunnies hop through a fence and heard baby birds squawking for food from their nest in a blooming saguaro.  We are grateful for our late cool spring weather, for our home, friends and each other.  And hope for another tomorrow.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pima County Fair

Friday we had so much fun with Izy at the Pima County Fair.  I grew up going to the Kane County Fair (Elgin, Illinois) with my Grandparents Dice.  In the Midwest, the Fair is in August, but in Pima County it comes in April.  It was a surprisingly damp (slight shower) and cool evening, but our spirits were sunny.  Mark took Izy on her first Ferris Wheel ride; she visited her first petting zoo where she met a lovely llama; she learned about the carney games (a quick way to lose tickets), and rode the modernized tilt-a-whirl with another "friend" she met while standing in the ride's ticket line.

We spent almost an hour at the 4H exhibition hall and she admired the art work, quilts and made her own crafted baskets.  She gathered vegetables from the "farm", milked a (plastic) cow, and, another first, sat on a tractor.

Four and half hours later, she got into her car seat and was asleep before we hit the freeway!  Such is the happiness of a child at her first county fair.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My mammo results came in the mail today: normal.  I said a prayer of gratitude and prayed for all the women facing similar fears, diagnosis, treatments and healing.

Yesterday I did take a bouquet to the imaging center and asked staff to offer a flower to women getting a mammo.  I am going to try to repeat that behavior throughout the coming months.  It is a small action I can take that helps me stay on a healthier and happier path and may "crack some light" into the walls of the waiting room.

On Monday/Passover (and the day my results were written), I acted "as if" and bought flowers for myself.  Later, I received more flowers from my son and family.  The aroma from the flowers fills my home with comfort and love.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Walls in the Waiting Room

Friday I had my annual mammogram.  Since 2008, I have been on a mammo-roller coaster with several years of "call backs" for more images, three recent years of all clear and no "call backs" , and various friends diagnosed with breast cancer (one death) in between. 

As I sat in my gown in the waiting room (and it was an unusually long wait for this location), I watched the women around me, also waiting.  One was busy doing paperwork on her lap, another was flipping through a magazine and sneezing.  I, too, had a magazine in front of me but I was feeling overwhelmed with my anxiety and my fears for these women, too. 

I have been reading about suffering and the Buddhist practice of tonglen.  As I reflect on it now, I realize I was breathing in their anxieties, holding it in and letting it out with love--or trying to.  But somewhere in my breathe, the transformation of suffering to love got stuck.  Only fear remained in my body.  I am new at this practice and did it imperfectly.  But I tried.

(As I described this experience to a friend today she said, "we live within our walls in doctors' waiting rooms" and this struck me as a title for this blog post.)

Later, in the imaging room, I commented on how busy the office seemed--unusually so.  The tech shared that "we've been really busy since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.  We are seeing women who haven't seen a doctor for years and have been living with growing breast lumps."  I felt both saddened and grateful for the fact that women are now getting healthcare--but to wait because of the lack of it seem horrible to me and a failure of our country.

Whatever comes my way from my mammo this year, I am one of the fortunate women to have had health insurance all my life and good doctors to help hold me up through my health challenges.  I plan to buy flowers (tulips are my favorite) to take to the lobby and ask staff to distribute to women taking their mammos that day.  In a small way, I want to cut a crack in the walls in the waiting room.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tabletop Tulips

I love the shape, color and fragrance of this early spring flower.  Here is a small pot on our home coffeetable.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winding down?

Still haven't transferred many photos, and I feel my need to do this blog which may be winding down.  It will be four years this April that I broke my ankle and this blog began.

Mostly, I have healed and with periodic Proactive PT visits, daily warm-ups and stretches. I am doing pretty well with walking, swimming, and the occasional bicycle ride.

My thoughts today, also, are about a neighbor who unexpectedly died on Friday.  So much in life is beyond our control and I find myself learning, every day, that I need to let go of one more thing....

Whether or not that includes letting go of this blog, time will tell, but just for today, I let go of the need to finish everything I begin.  What about you--what are you willing to let go of today?

And here's one of the few photos, I can share:

This is from 10 days ago--me with our new Subaru Sport 2014 and our terrific salesman, Beau, from Tucson Subaru.  The dozen red roses are from him and they lasted with lovely blooms until today.