Wednesday, July 20, 2011


THIS WAS TAKEN six years ago or maybe longer and I don't know if it's a Christopher picture or one of my own, probably Chris's, due to the quality.

I wish big glasses would come back into style. 
Or I wish I were not so lazy about seeking out what's not currently in fashion. 

Mr. Bob has been feeling poorly the last few days. 
I wish I had the ability to ease his discomfort. 
Right now laughter is nonexistent. 

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


REST ASSURED, I looked it up to be sure, and that's a perfectly good word for "buildings". I miss, more than anything, getting out and about with my camera. When I had the luxury of being a passenger, Mr. Bob frequently expressed surprise at the results of my "drive by shootings" as we drove through neighborhoods at the posted speed limits (or, truth to tell, at a little above). I mention this as a way to defend my use of photos from the archives (29,802 of them to be exact) for these blog entries.

Nowadays, not only is my driving range limited but I go the same places over and over and it takes a miracle to find something photo-worthy when I'm stopped at red lights. So, here from my past, are some buildings I found interesting enough to click the shutter:
This was a lovely house that we rented in Cambria for a week, along with our son and his family. Happy days, those were.

Paper sculpture fascinates me. Not enough to learn to do it, but I'm of the opinion that an appreciative audience is important in the arts.

Very Hollywood, which is exactly where I spotted this.

I swear that this Glendale skyscraper is listing and when I drive past it, I do so quickly while holding my breath.

In high rise apartments, I'm always interested in noting who are the gardeners among the tenants.

San Francisco, of course. If you enlarge this (a double click should do the trick) you can see the little Balinese dancer.

A view from the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland. I suspect it was a Nanny and her charge. I love the opportunity to wave and have a greeting acknowledged with a return wave.

I can only imagine what could be done with that little space. A few plants, a couple of chairs; perhaps an umbrella?

Another Hollywood structure painted in a somewhat gaudy manner. It changes frequently, in the way that Hollywood marriages often do.

I'll end with a story I've told before about the time our eldest was working with me in the bookshop and I'll never forget the wide-eyed expression of embarrassment and horror on his face as he heard me say to a customer that I thought perhaps an appropriate toy for her son might be an erection set. It's a matter of semantics.

Monday, July 18, 2011


  • AT 3 a.m. Mr. Bob awakened me complaining of a sharp pain in his right lung.
  • I called the nurse who came up immediately and decided that it was most probably a severe case of indigestion. Antacid and 7-up eased his discomfort.
  • After sleeping propped up in bed for weeks, it had been the first time he had decided to sleep flat.
  • The nurse suggested that he sleep in his recliner for the rest of the night.
  • I sat up with him for a while before deciding to go back to bed.
  • As I sleepily eased myself onto our unusually high mattress (what were we thinking when we bought it years ago?) the bed thudded to the floor. 
  • Back to the sofa I went, where I lay awake until dawn's early light.
  • Our collective mood is not exactly sunny this morning.

"Don't tell your friends about your indigestion. "How are you" is a greeting, not a question. "
                                                                                  Arthur Guiterman 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


WHILE I'M WAITING TO LAUGH, here are a few looks at what goes on inside the Manor:
The black books on the top shelf to the left are a complete series of Agatha Christie's books. We caught one of the residents standing on a chair to reach one, so for a while we relocated them to a lower shelf. In hopes that she's finished the series, they've recently been replaced. The machine in front of the window enlarges, so that residents with visual problems can see to read.

Once in a while a week features "Taco Tuesday" which causes me to be almost deliriously happy. Will stands ready to take orders for either beef or chicken (one of each for me, please), adds lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cheese. Sour cream and guacamole are served on the side.

When I remember, we take our own hot sauce to the dining room with us. It adds to the experience. Now if we could just figure out how to import margaritas, Taco Tuesdays would be perfect.

When this was taken, the entertainment must have been either serious or at least solumn. 

I was on the lower level one day and peeked into the maintenance room and stole this shot of John hard at work. He's on a team of maintenance men who keep us up and running.

Isabel is a relatively new resident, astounding in her abilities at the age of 103. She's spry, is a splendid conversationalist, can read small print, seemingly has no hearing loss, enjoys a remarkable appetite and does her own laundry. Her daughter came from Canada to help her relocate.

It's unusual to see the men sit down together for a cup of coffee and a chat in the Tea Room, but this is proof that it can happen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


EVERYONE WANTS TO BE OF HELP which is extraordinarily heartwarming. And of course there's little that anyone can actually do in our present situation. One lovely lady, when she heard of Bob's illness, whispered in my ear that she'd gladly do laundry for me.......I'd never in the world take her up on it, but what a precious tangible offer. Another wrote me a note telling me of her availability anytime I'd like to just sit and talk over a glass of wine. I may yet take advantage of her suggestion, when things settle down a little.

The other day I stopped at Ralph's on a hot day and the purchase of celery hearts, green onions and some tomatoes nearly did me in by the time I got home and put them into the refrigerator, but it made it possible to fix Mr. Bob one of his favorite tuna sandwiches. Along with lunch I swallowed my pride and asked Tim for a couple of hours over the weekend so that I could do a larger marketing. He does a superb job of helping and I'm grateful that one of our three offspring stayed close by. But I don't like putting all the burden of having old parents on him. He not only maintains his good nature, but also makes me chuckle.

I realized recently that what I'm yearning for just now is laughter. We're doing a fair job of maintaining positivity, but there's a streak of grimness in it.........perhaps that's the wrong word.......a staunch resolute that doesn't allow for much in the way of humor and I miss that streak of comedy terribly. I want to guffaw in an unladylike manner.....throw back my head and laugh.......what I wouldn't give for one side-clutching moment, the kind where I'm unable to stop for breath.

I can't seem to get beyond poignancy just now. There's no getting around it. Our world, as we knew it, has changed. The hiss of the oxygen tank and the bubbling sound of the concentrator are constant reminders that things are different now and while I'm grateful for the blessing of each new day, I need to find something amusing enough to bring a titter. (That thought almost made me smile, the old line of "a titter ran through the crowd" which brings to mind a lascivious old man who can't keep his hands to himself.) See? That must prove what the guy said about the possibility of my being the Smut Director here at the Manor. (For clarification, see the entry "Comic Relief" posted on June 18.)

Friday, July 15, 2011


IF YOU WERE TO ASK US, we'd say that Mr. Bob came through the three days of chemotherapy just fine this time. The seven hour session on Tuesday did seem to go on and on, but after a good nap, he was ready for a normal evening. Wednesday and Thursday were one hour visits and they seemed to go well.

This is Flavio, who weighs the
patient in and draws blood.
Doesn't he look a little

Normally, Mr. Bob comes home and crawls into bed after he's had his treatment, but yesterday was our day for the cleaning woman so he didn't choose to  nap. Instead he went to the laundry room with me and used his camera when I lost consciousness during the drying cycle. Often my head nods, but I seem to be bent double in this less than flattering shot. It was a deep sleep........that, I know.

 And yes, we attended the monthly birthday dinner last evening

and yes, Mr. Bob had a glass of champagne (I resisted and chose sparkling cider instead).

As we went to bed last night we chortled at the idea of sleeping in this morning. For days we'd risen early for the 7 a.m. home nurse visit, for early chemo appointments. But at 6 a.m. I heard a tapping at the door and then a key turning in the lock. No one had told us to expect a protime visit. To say we were chagrined would be putting it mildly.

We've been useless the rest of today. Lethargy has set in. I can understand why Mr. Bob is exhausted, but my own lassitude has me puzzled. I would say that today was a total waste of make-up, except that I never gathered the energy to apply any.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A DEAR FRIEND sent Mr. Bob one of those helpful "thought for the day" books and it's helping him tremendously to keep his mind focused on positive thoughts.

At one time we read that publication, "Creative Thought", religiously (no pun intended), but we somehow fell away from the daily practice.

He came through the long session well. Here we go again for a shorter treatment.
The book is in the bag we carry everywhere.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


TODAY'S the second of six get-well sessions and we're starting with the seven hour one. Then only an hour tomorrow and the next day. After that, 28 free days until the next one.

I need to go pack a lunch....... sort of a chemo picnic, I guess.
Wish us well!

Monday, July 11, 2011


ONE OF MY FOND MEMORIES from our travels is this pair who made a habit of traveling together. They lived in two different states and rarely did they see each other between trips. As different as their approaches to life were, it worked to be on the road together. The lady on the right was small, wiry, energetic, ready to pound the pavement early in the morning, whereas the woman on the left was a late riser, enjoying her mealtimes; she was utterly laid back.

On a different trip we experienced another sort of alternative travel arrangement. Three seniors had traveled the world together, sharing a room. One was an African-American gentleman and the other two, Caucasian women. They appeared to have the time of their lives, experiencing travel in an affordable manner, in that case, cruising the Mississippi River learning about the music of the area in an Elderhostel program.

I also knew a married couple, both people with successful careers, who lived in two totally separate households, but they enjoyed going to foreign countries together.

Many of you have heard this personal story and I promise I won't repeat it in print ever again. Back in the 1970s I made the largest purchase of my life when I bought two cruise tickets to go to Mexico as a surprise anniversary gift for Mr. Bob. I countered my buyer's remorse by determining to become a good conversationalist before we sailed. My practice area was in doctors' waiting rooms, for young Tim was needing medical attention several days a week. I polished the practice of drawing people out and became so proficient at it that it appeared to be with regret that people pulled themselves away to go in to see their doctor.

Mr. Bob knew nothing of this, not even realizing that he would be leaving the country in the near future. When the departure time arrived friends gathered in our stateroom for a bon voyage celebration (which security no longer allows, more's the pity), after which they disembarked and off we sailed into the sunset. The first night at sea was open seating at dinnertime and we found ourselves with a couple from Barstow, California. I could write a whole piece on my reaction to that town, but won't. Suffice it to say I hope God never puts me there for any length of time.....say, no more that ten minutes. At any rate, we entered into conversation with enthusiasm and I practiced my newly discovered art with gusto, showing honest interest and being just witty enough to keep the laughter and gaiety going. It was a lovely start to our journey or so I thought until the next day, when the Barstow wife approached me after a game of Bingo and in a low voice (surely she didn't really say it out of the side of her mouth, although that's how I remember her words) she whispered, "Do you and Bob trade?"

It was, after all, the Seventies, when something called open marriage was the rage in some sets, but not in our circle. My response was, "Do we what?" And we never saw them again the rest of the voyage. It proved that in conversation, it might be possible to be TOO scintillating. Moderation in all things, was the lesson.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


IT'S BEEN SIX WEEKS since our lives were turned topsy-turvy and we've met more new folks than we possibly could have imagined two months ago. Not only medical people, but pharmacists and cleaning women and dieticians and you name it. About the time we feel that maybe we're resuming what used to be a normal life, another character appears. Once Mr. Bob returned to our two room apartment, a visiting nurse appeared with a bevy of questions. He appears at 7 in the morning which no longer fits what we once called a normal life. We consider that an early time to be up and around, so he's accepting us in our nightwear. It's one of the ways our standards have relaxed since we moved to the Manor. Several of the maintenance crew have seen me in my nightgown and sometimes when the technician lets herself in at 5:30 a.m. to draw Mr. Bob's blood for protime he just extends his arm from under the sheets. The informality of it all is astonishing when we stop to think about it.

So, like it or not, we're getting to know Arvin, who is appearing twice a week at the crack of dawn to poke and probe and listen and make copious notes. He's a nice man, but an intruder, nonetheless.

This week Iris appeared. She's a physical therapist assigned to get the man to exercise, probably a good idea, for our own good intentions never quite come to pass, left to our own devices. She'll be appearing twice a week for a while before leaving us on our own to keep up the patient's strength. Mr. Bob's a good subject and willingly follows her directions, with no complaints and a lot of good humor.

Now a Clinical Psychologist wants to come see Mr. Bob for a psych review. No doubt a little black mark will be put into Bob's chart, for he's turning down the offer and in his telephone message he told Dr. Lehmann that he has an ample support group for his current health challenge and that his time is filled with doctor appointments, home nurses and physical therapy. Enough's enough. 

"A psychiatrist asks a lot of expensive questions your wife asks for nothing. "
                                                          ~Joey Adams

Saturday, July 9, 2011


ALAS, I AM NOT A STUDENT OF THE BIBLE, but I remember that Samson's strength was insured by a luxurious head of hair. I've long admired Mr. Bob's hair.....delighting in how it became more silver with each haircut, and when it began to fall out after his first 3 day session of chemotherapy, it appeared that he was losing the darker strands and the resulting nearly white locks were very handsome, indeed.

But the day came when the thinning, moth-eaten looking head of hair needed attention and he decided to go to the salon on the Lower Level and hasten the process. "Take pictures!", I said, as he left for the elevator.

Judy cut his hair as short as possible without actually shaving it, and we quite liked the result. So did most of the residents. To one lady who is legally blind, Mr. Bob suggested that she come feel his head when she was through with supper. Upon doing so, her delight came as quite a surprise.

I posted this picture in an email and sent it to all 3 of our children, titling it "Dad's new look". Tim responded,

"I really love it! Did it all fall out or did he shave it?"

Susan is either out of town or away from her computer, for we've not had her reaction yet.

Mischievous from birth, Christopher, remembering Mr. Bob's loathing of Elvis, sent this our way:

Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there's your diamond in the rough. 
                                                                                          ~     Larry David

Friday, July 8, 2011


I HAVE A PROBLEM. And I'll be the first to admit it, although I bristle when Mr. Bob suggests that I stop patronizing our local public library. After all, I'm supposed to be one of the two librarians here at the Manor. And our library here is full of interesting books, but here's the way my life works.

As an ex-bookseller (it may be like swimming and bicycling.... once learned, the process is never entirely forgotten) I try to stay somewhat aware of new books being published. When I read a review or hear about a new book that sounds as though it's within my interest range, I hurry to the computer and call up the local library site.  There I can request a book. Sometimes I'm the first to ask for it and more often I'll be put on a waiting list and notified when my turn arrives. So there's no sure way of predicting when I'll be notified that the book is waiting for me at the Adams Square Library branch. Sometimes I end up with more books than I know what to do with.

I suppose it could be worse if I didn't get them returned by the due dates. I've been very good about not accruing library fines although it's utterly amazing how quickly three weeks fly by and my time is up. Because so much of what I want is new, renewing the title usually isn't possible because other people are waiting for the book.

All of a sudden I found myself with all the books pictured on this page, while Mr. Bob suffered through his medical month. I always took a book with me to the hospital when I visited, but did I read it while there? No.

I enrolled in a Speed Reading class once, but all of the students, save myself, wanted to practice on technical reading, something I wasn't the least bit interested in. When my turn came to tell what I had just read, I'd open my mouth and nothing would issue forth. It didn't take me long to drop out of the class. I don't consider myself a slow reader, but I can't keep up with what the public library keeps me supplied with.

No doubt you can tell that I lean toward Non-Fiction. Our library at the Manor has a good section of Biographies and the most sought-after fiction category by residents here is Mysteries. Nadine and I have a small budget for purchasing books, but by and large, the library is made up of donated books. It's always interesting to see what comes in when people break up their personal book collections.

Even as I wrote this, I thought of something else I want to read. And I looked up James Michener's "Recessional", about a group of elders in a Florida retirement home. I'm sure it'll be right up my alley, if I'll just apply myself and get it read. I'm #1 in line to get it. My true confession is that all of the books pictured here were returned unread except for a page here and there. And Mr. Bob won't know about it until he reads this later today.

Another place that my greed shows up is in my large collection of bookmarks. I could and probably will do a whole web log entry on just that subject. The point of mentioning it today is to admit that I'll use anything within reach to mark my stopping place in a book. Recently I was aware of this fortunate selection of a place mark. At least I don't dog-ear pages.

Scottish library joke
A man walks into a Glasgow library and says to the librarian, "Excuse me Miss, do ye huvany books on suicide?" The librarian looks up and says, "Get lost! Ye'll no bring it back!"

Thursday, July 7, 2011


"The cure for boredom is curiosity.  There is no cure for curiosity."
                                                       ~Dorothy Parker

I'VE ALREADY TITLED a previous entry with the word, "Curiosity", and I've a feeling that I've already explored the subject previously. That's the way it is with us old folks. You'll have to put up with it; that's what I tell our kids, although I do try hard not to repeat. Hopefully this will be a little different.

When he was here last winter, Owen showed fascination with Mr. Bob's recliner chair. An investigation followed to see how it worked.

Usually it's impossible to keep children from exploring but some people, as the years go by, lose that desire.

I had already decided on this as a topic when it was time to go to
dinner downstairs. After we'd placed our order, I asked the resident sitting at our table if she liked the new menu holders. They're quite elegant, akin to something you'd see in a fine restaurant. On the right side the specials of the day are listed. On the left page, the "always available" items are listed, which is especially nice when a visitor is here. 

She had no idea of what I was speaking. I said to her, "Oh, you missed it.......your curiosity wasn't working". She replied, "No, I lost my curiosity years ago."

I hope it never happens to me. I'm always eager to experience new places to eat. Who could resist finding out what a place
named "Auntie Em's" was about?

or discovering what foods would be available at a new-to-us farmers' market?

What did we do before we had access to Google? That site is a grand curiosity quencher. The need to know is endless and a very good reason to have a computer, methinks. Much as I loved poring through encyclopedias, the computer awards us instant gratification.

Our grandson, Owen, is lucky to have parents who join him in wonder. Actually, Grandaddy did a pretty good job of investigation up there in the top three pictures. Maybe it runs in families. 

"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity."
                                                   ~Eleanor Roosevelt