Saturday, December 24, 2011


HERE IT IS, Christmas Eve and time is getting short and there's so much to share with you that I'm putting it all in one posting.


My clever brother sent this picture to the guests that came to his house for dinner. He's a fabulous cook and I'm jealous of his abilities. He also sent me this link and I'm passing it along to you:


This is the Big Bertha radiation machine that Mr. Bob visits five days a week. When he's accomplished 35 treatments, he'll be through. Fingers crossed, prayers uttered.


The next picture was taken months ago. Mr. Bob's hair has grown back so nicely that he required a trim yesterday. Our daughter, Susan, asked that he please see that his Andy-Rooney type eyebrows get some attention.


Owen, returning to the Oakland Airport at night, following 4 stimulating days in Florida, visiting theme parks with all their wonders, looked out the window as the plane was descending and observed, "Wow! Planet Earth!"

The following is another "old" photo from the archives. We'll be around this table at 4 this afternoon to celebrate Mr. Bob's birthday whether he likes it or not. Remember, he's definitely not big on birthdays, his own or anyone else's.

But on Thursday evening, the guest mariachi band encircled him and serenaded the birthday boy.


Another from my brother:

Friday, December 23, 2011


WHAT WAS THERE ABOUT THIS YEAR that made me decide on a whim to purchase a tree? It's to be a year of no material gifts whatsoever, neither given, nor received and I surprised myself by buying an 8 inch wreath and a small swag for our front door, mostly so we could get a whiff of Christmas now and again. That aroma is too good to give up and before my purchases dried up, they didn't offer much in the way of the sweet smell of Christmas.

I passed this sign on the way home from breakfast last Sunday and circled the block, whipped into a parking place and asked my Scrooge how he felt about choosing a tree. Amazingly, he was game and soon reappeared with a perfect little evergreen.

At home he emerged from the passenger side with his tree just as Clara was finishing her three-times-around-the-block-equals-one-mile ritual and she insisted on hanging the tree on her walker to take it inside.

Although she lives on the first floor, she marched on to the elevator and when we got to our door, Clara had the littlest Christmas tree waiting for us.

I couldn't resist taking a picture for the archives. I know that we had a traditional live tree, fully decorated, as the children were growing up, but I wonder at what point we jettisoned the practice to devote all of our energies toward the extra hours of retail demands at that time of year.

Our daughter remembers, perhaps too vividly, the year I was determined to have a tree in every room of the house and proceeded to buy our six trees, standing them in buckets of water on the patio and after Christmas, carrying them from the back yard out to the trash pickup location at the curb. They never saw the inside of the house. A total waste of money. Foolish and frustrating, more so even than the year I mixed up several batches of cookie dough in November, labeling them with oven temperature and baking time before finding room for them in the freezer. My organizational efforts always fail and we didn't get around to Christmas cookie baking until the next February.

So you can see the import of acquiring a tree this year of all years, a year that I can't label "bad" even though we've been challenged beyond anything that's happened to us before. I can't speak for Mr. Bob, but I have found unexpected gifts in the situation, perhaps most of all the receiving of your friendship as you've cheered us on along this unknown path.

sit with husband
in a room
lit only by 
tree lights and remember that 
our blessings outnumber the lights. 
Happy Christmas to all!"
                                                                                      Betsy CaƱos Garmon

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I KNOW I'VE MENTIONED BEFORE that the staff at the Manor are not allowed to accept tips. If, God forbid, a resident should insist on tipping a helper, I'm sure the person who lives here would be sharply reprimanded, but the employee would be fired on the spot. Or so I've been told and I don't plan to test it. The urge to tip is hard to resist when the services rendered are often way beyond the call of duty.

I think that's what attracted us about this place in the beginning..... it was obvious that staff members were sincere in their willingness to help and help they do......amazingly.............dropping whatever they're doing to assist a resident who they see carrying a package or juggling keys to unlock a gate or door. 

Our chance to express monetary appreciation comes in the fall of the year. It's much like being near the end of a long cruise when it's time to tip the crew members. Someone brilliant in mathematics is in charge of figuring out how much each employee receives based on seniority from the money that accumulates in the Employees' Appreciation Fund.

Santa comes on a designated day mid-December and the staff are called on alphabetically. One year I hope they'll consider calling names by number of years of working at the Manor. I sat next to someone in the payroll department and was treated to the benefit of annotation as she whispered such words as, "She's been here 25 years".

The worker approaches, shakes hands with our president, Jack Frost and turns to Santa who hands out the envelopes along with a dollar coin for good luck. The residents and other staffers applaud and it's a feel-good event for all concerned.

Maggie has been here 20 years. She works 2 jobs and is the mother of 6 children.

Sometimes it's Jack Frost who gets a hug.
Susie from the dining room is wise. 
Jack's here all year 'round.

Other times it's Santa. Cora takes care of prescription needs and takes good care of us.

Janice is an important nurse who worked here a long time, retired, then missed us enough to return to work.

Juan is one of the skilled cooks in the kitchen and one of two Juans on the staff.

I think this is Conrad. His look-alike brother works on the nursing staff, too, and their mother before them.

Carlos is in charge of the Maintenance and Housekeeping crews.

Verjik waits tables and is always jolly.

Daffodale brought her son, Wyatt, to the festivities.

All mothers are beautiful.
Wyatt is especially fortunate in that respect.
I call this "Waiting for Santa"
Taken in December, 2010

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I'LL FOREVER WONDER if the reason I came through the mastectomy without losing my sanity might be because I had become so hungry for something different to do that I welcomed even what promised to be a negative experience. I'm a hypochondriac who is deathly afraid of doctors, and the family marveled at what appeared to be "bravery" on my part, but I don't think it could be termed "courage" and certainly not "fearlessness" embarrassing if it was merely "boredom".

So after seeing Mr. Bob through months of treatment (and one of these days I must come clean about what living with chemo was REALLY like, but not just yet), and weeks of my own tests and surgery and recuperation and the beginning of my own  chemotherapy program, the last week of "rest" between medications has been what in the drug world might be termed a "trip". 

Even though my eyesight seems to have dimmed somewhat, my receptors have been overwhelmed with insights and ideas and appreciations. One night I made myself get up at 3 a.m. to write down some of the thoughts that were flooding my brain, just so I could fall back into the sleep that usually comes so easily.

I've been letting myself be more spontaneous about going places and following through on ideas, dragging my own precious Scrooge along with me, so far with less complaints from him than when I'm trying to please him rather than myself. 

A friend I'd not seen for months suggested meeting for lunch last week and the actuality brought me such pleasure that I determined to indulge myself more often. That very same evening we joined our former neighbors for our monthly Chinese dinner at a big round table with a lazy Susan in the middle, laden with succulent offerings; definitely the way to go at an Asian restaurant is with a large group which gives one a taste of many flavors. After dinner I drove through Montrose which always enhances one's Christmas spirit.  The tree that was written about in scathing terms in our local paper didn't shock me at all, but rather brought a smile to my face because it dared to be so different. I know who wrote the letter of complaint and I'm sitting on my hands to keep from responding. Christmas isn't the time to be argumentative.

Two days later, we partied rather than stitching at the weekly Needlepoint Group, with lunch and an ornament exchange that was good fun.

Breakfast with friends on  Sunday, after which, wonder of wonders, I was moved to get the first Christmas tree we've had in probably 15 years. I'll do a separate entry about it. I still can't believe it happened as I marvel at the whiffs of Christmas that emanate from it.

Remember, everything that I like, I tend to do in excess and being sprung from what felt like bondage, showed that tendency of mine, so on Monday after taking Mr. Bob to the cardiologist ("everything's fine.....see you in 3 months"), we stopped at Leon's, a new bakery in town and shared a pulled pork sandwich with extra aioli.

Mr. Bob's radiation

appointment on Tuesday took longer than usual; I would have had to drive over the speed limit to get back to the Manor before they stopped serving dinner, so I found a parking place and we enjoyed seafood at Clancy's......Mr. Bob ordered cedar plank salmon. He said not a word about its being good. I hope it was. My fish and chips were excellent.

This morning early I descended to the bowels of the building and had my hair washed and blown dry before rising to the occasion of taking Bob for his daily dose of electromagnetic waves; from there to the credit union and next our minivan nosed its way to a place called The Toasted Bun where we had a late breakfast.

I'm ashamed of the amount of hedonism I've exhibited in this past week. In my heart of hearts I know that I'd do it again, given the chance. I can feel a New Year's resolution or 2 coming up. Meanwhile, "DECADENCE" is my word of the month. At a nearby school, it appears to be something else.

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
                                  ~ Mae West

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I REMEMBER when a 100 year old antique seemed nearly impossible to attain among our own things. Now here we are, living in a plethora of items from long, long ago. The kitchen chairs from my mother's house came along with us to the Manor. They were attractive, once sturdy, and I just didn't want to part with them until I realized that the supports were loosening and someone would eventually end up on the floor if we weren't very careful. Not a pretty picture to contemplate. 

So the nagging began. Mr. Bob got tired of hearing, "Either repair those chairs once and for all or we need to get rid of them." Or maybe he didn't register my warnings at all, it's hard to tell. I talked Tim into taking 2 of them, 2 are still in the bedroom, at Bob's 2 desk positions (he gets 2 desks while I'm working everything in my lap and trying, fruitlessly, to maintain some semblance of order, but that's another story.)

One evening during Susan's visit, I sent her along with Tim out to Pier 1 to look for some director's chairs. We had brought 2 with us when we moved here and during the first fund-raising boutique, I pointed a chair out to Mr. Bob as being like ours and his response was that it didn't just look like ours, but that it WAS ours and at that very moment a customer was claiming it. In my book, decisions such as that require a conference.

At any rate when the kids returned home from their shopping trip they were excited that the chairs they had found were "so MOM!", just shrieking to be purchased. They were right.......witness:

Now to get rid of the other 2 kitchen chairs. My grandmother had a saying, "He can sit on his thumb and let his feet hang over". That should either speed up Mr. Bob's bill paying or slow it down. One or t'other.

"Comfort rules. You want to be able to sit in a good chair comfortably for a few hours and be able to talk and enjoy a glass of wine. There's nothing worse than sitting in an uncomfortable chair."
Amanda Pays

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


TODAY  I'm 1/6 finished with my chemotherapy program. The doctor said the first session is the hardest, possibly because one doesn't know what to expect. The following 3 pictures are a study on pretending one isn't present on the scene. I'm so lucky that I don't have to have the drip system that the gentleman next to me is having, but only some syringes full of the medication. Even at that, I don't want to watch, just get it over with, is my attitude.

Birthday dinner this month was the usual delicious. Fennel soup, tenderloin, twice baked parmesan/truffle potatoes, green beans. Lovely. Dessert is always looked forward to by me.......a red velvet cupcake and what are referred to as "drunken berries" an assortment of berries in a cloud of whipped cream flavored with Chambord. Yum!

Susan sent this picture of Justin in Alaska involved in his favorite activity.........making art. He'll be 27 on December 22.

Susan sent this picture of Justin in Alaska involved in his favorite activity.........making art. He'll be 27 on December 22.


Chris and his family flew to Florida today, stopping in my home town (My kinda town, Chicago is) for 2 hours. After attending a nephew's graduation in Miami, they'll go on to Orlando, planning to go to 4 theme parks in 4 days. I'm glad they're young.

And that's the news from our corner of the world.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Image DetailRECENTLY, I checked out a coffee table book from the public library on "Artists' Houses". Out of several homes featured, we had actually visited only one....... Sam Maloof's house
in Alta Loma. It had been a splendid experience, one that I highly recommend should you be looking for something interesting to do.

In the borrowed book, I noticed that except for Sam Maloof's house, the artists had used a palette of the most muted of neutral tones in their domestic surroundings. A very few had a patch of color here and the form of a pillow or a small bowl, but the grays, beiges, off-whites predominated against the natural materials so many had chosen for their houses.......rock, stone, wood. 

That got me to wondering about my own preferences. I often wear black, hoping to God it's true that the darkness is slimming, but I enjoy putting a splash of color somewhere against the black. (Never mind silly Tim, in this photo.....he, who used to be shy about a request for a simple snapshot.)

Remember how taken I was with the color red in a recent posting? Well, yesterday I pulled out a long skirt I've never worn, found I had a blouse of the same color (it may be the Tangerine Tango that  has been deemed the color of 2012......wouldn't that be something, to be in style for a change?) Since I didn't plan to leave my room, I put these 2 garments on, warned Mr. Bob when he arose from his nap that commentary on my outfit was not appropriate and wore it for the rest of the day, alternating between feeling happy and utterly foolish. If I wore it down to the dining room, I think many proper ladies would fall off of their chairs, possibly resulting in a lot of broken hips. It doesn't resemble any Manor outfit I've ever seen. When I was lighter in weight, I wore a pair of pants with off-white tropical flowers on them and there were many comments about how "loud" they were. 

Last Saturday I had to pull on my drab clothes to go collect my own prescription because the drugstore doesn't deliver on the weekends, so technically I'm on the road to recovery. I'll be interested to see if I can be brave enough to wear Tangerine Tango once my current illness has abated and I'm out in the world again. Often my rebelliousness is all in my head without the backing to put it into action. Know what I mean?

"Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!"Marianne Faithful