You know those “terms and conditions” you have to read over and accept? Well, we should have been told that 2020 is going to be quite an interesting year… interesting in the sense that the stuff they write about in history books is going to happen almost every single month.
But this is not why I am writing these words.
An article by yours truly about 2020, and what’s going on, and how to best cope with the things that are going on.
As many of you know, I left nearly two weeks ago to be by my sister’s side as she was dying. She passed away on Friday, May 29, 2020. which is Pentecost in the New Testament. I don’t really understand the connection, but her dear friend she celebrated the tradition each year with her, called it to my attention. Over the years, They embraced and began celebrating many of the Jewish festivals and traditions, as taught by her Christian Jewish friends, so it was fitting that that was the day she would die.
Today, I went through some of her old pictures and I will sprinkle them throughout my story. Click on them for more info. Her art and some of her stories are in blog posts I’ve done in the past, so if you ever have a chance or time to go back, and some are way back, I encourage you to do so. I hope you will bear with me, while I share how my trip went and some of the feelings I experienced.
I went to be at my sisters side because she was at mine when I needed her most. I have to say, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It doesn’t even compare to how I felt when my parents died. Over the years, my blogs have shared bits and pieces of our childhood and the abuse we endured growing up, so their passing was different. It was perhaps one of relief. We knew that mother’s mental illness would be cured and that dad’s judgement for his actions would be in God’s hands. They were still our parents and we loved them despite themselves. We appreciated their good attributes and tried to focus on those and that part of them that made us who we are today. To be honest our feelings vacillated often. We would often remind ourselves to stay positive. She and I worked as a team to take care of our parents as we felt a Christian should.
No, my sister’s death cut deep. If she had not come up to help me care for our ailing parents, I might not be here to write this blog today. She was my rock and my lifesaver. I loved her deeper than I can ever express. Surprisingly, I am composed for the moment as I am sharing this.
I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to share my trip experience which went as follows:
When I spoke to my nephews the doctor had stated, she might not live through the weekend. I was in a quandary because of Covid-19. I vacillated all day. I did not want to be sitting in such close proximity to people in an enclosed airplane cabin which recycles and blows back air from throughout the cabin. I didn’t know what their process was or if it would be safe. I get sick every time I fly, so I know I’m inhaling germs that recirculate. My daughter reassured me that her flight left seats open between people, so it wasn’t until evening that the decision was made. I asked my friend for buddy passes. She responded instantly. However, because of Covid, flight schedules were considerably cut and my choices left me with either leaving my house at 4am for a flight leaving at 6 am and not arriving to my destination until after 9 PM, with a long layover in Seattle or leaving at 11:30am, laying over in Seattle until the next day and arriving the day after that, the same time I would have arrived had I left at 6am, only a day later. 36 hours! So, I had to explore other options. Fortunately, I found another carrier with a flight I could afford that would not leave me in Orlando but get me where I needed to be without hiring an Uber for the rest of the way.
I arrive at the airport and I was relieved that it looked pretty empty. My goal was to get to my sister right away. She was there for me when I needed her so I had to be there for her. I was early as I wound my way through the terminal and sat down. Social distancing was not a problem. Yay! That, however was short lived as more and more people arrive. They announce this will be a full flight. I’m understanding that to mean with the extra seat in between. WRONG! It was full.
My old school N-95
Terminal – not bad here.
They announce they will not be serving food but we can pick up a sack on our way in and we are to leave our masks on except to eat. For real? The two people in my row take their masks off and I thought I overheard the man next to me say, he’d been in an area that was questionable. UGH! No way in hell is this mask coming off. Years ago when I worked at the health department, I was fitted with an N-95 mask specific to me, so I was fairly confident I would be okay. It is not like the ones today but it fit extremely well. The problem was that it had been in it’s package for six years. On arrival to Charlotte, one of the straps broke, breaking the seal. I put a spare one on over that and it kept it in place. To be honest, it was horribly uncomfortable and I hated re-breathing my own air for 8 hours. I was extra careful too because there was a chance I might not get into hospice being from California. Despite my good intentions, near the end of that flight I looked over at the passengers near me and they were all sleeping with masks on, so I sneak a drink and a couple of bites of pretzels or some nutty thing. By the time I got to Charlotte, I was parched and hungry. Not starved, but at my age I never let that happen. I rationalize to eat when I’m not hungry so I don’t bonk later. Before my next flight I bought a sandwich, found a safe place, ate and drank all my water.
Diana and her BFF
My next leg had delays. This time we each got a row to ourselves. The second officer comes out and tells us there are creaky boards in the back deck and some lights going off. For real? The girl across the way wasn’t sure she wanted to stay on board. I’m worried and I’m getting antzy that I’ll never get to my sister in time. I feel like screaming, “my sister is gonna die before we get there” but I don’t, then I debate telling everyone my mission and starting a prayer vigil, but that’s not my style either, though I sometimes wish it were. I’m sure some of that comes from all those years as a Jehovah’s Witness getting rejected for our door to door ministry that’s made me gun shy. I do have faith and I do share scripture, but not like others might. We lift off, finally and I text my nephew with our new ETA.
I was so afraid I wouldn’t get there in time. I let my nephew know, since he’s picking me up at the airport. He said, no worries, he’s taking me straight to her, which isn’t far and open 24 hours. I feel better. My nephew was worried they might not let me in because he’d heard that folks from four states were prohibited. New York, Washington, California plus Connecticut. I’m thinking, yeah, I’m from California, but there are no incidences in the area I live in and I don’t go into the denser areas. I hadn’t been anywhere populated in months, so I have my argument ready.
Diana and I
Diana and sister #2
My sister was my go to girl. She’s the one I talked to and most of the time with no judgement. Sometimes, my brother and I would roll our eyes though, because she could be at times quite self righteous… no, just coming across that way. Now my other sister, she uses scripture for everything and talks in scripture, which I find annoying. Maybe she thinks we’d forgotten everything we ever knew or perhaps she has nothing else to say and finds that a way to connect, which I believe may be the case.
I have step siblings who’ve been very supportive and encouraging as well. One has been surprisingly reasonable and I call attention to it because she can be a little like sister #2. Oddly, for some reason, amid all the updates I send them, they start talking about their cats, or barbecues and recipes. Let me explain. I have two major chat groups I’ve formed for getting updates on my sister. This saves the nephews. One are the siblings, the other are my children and one adult grandchild. Then there’s my brother who would go crazy on the group chat. And, one for sister #2, since any news in the group chat would warrant incessant phone calls. Sister #2 is on the autism spectrum, so communication is handled differently.
With boys & step mom in AL
mom and Diana’s two boys
With sister #2
My kids on the other hand start joking in a sick sort of way. They love their aunt very much. She is their favorite aunt, but when I told them there’s an off chance I might not get in the hospice center because of where I came from, my daughter, the nurse asks if they have the quick test and then says something like, “they’re all gonna die anyway”.
I exclaim “Tina!”
My son, who tends to be a bit stoic say, “I thought the same thing Tina”
My granddaughter, boy do I love that girl, says “haha, that was funny” “terrible but funny”
Mr. Stoic follows it with “Robert Heinlein said, “people laugh because it hurts too much to cry”
Yes, its true. I know my kids meant no disrespect. They are hurting too. They hurt for me, they hurt for Di and for their cousins. I get it and in the next few days, witness it. None of us were ready for this, yet over the past few months we’ve had to make ourselves ready for this eventuality. I think deep in our gut, we knew.
I was thinking how just a few years ago, Diana and I were each other’s soldier while we cared for our dying parents. Mom in 2009, Daddy in 2011. It felt like so long ago, another space in time. We parted in 2014, yet we talked nearly every day for the first two years, then it became once or twice a week. On a rare occasion, we’d skip a week, then we’d pick it up again.
We tried weaning ourselves of being so dependent on one another. She was doing a better job of joining groups and making friends than I. I had a harder time of doing this even though I had always thought of her as the dependent one. She needed me, but I think I needed her more. What she had a hard time with is connecting with her kids. She admired my time and relationship with my kids. I was more open about their foibles and they had their fair share, but to me her boys were perfect and maybe so did she. I saw them as successful in their careers, while my kids took longer to get off the ground. She had these two stud muffin, gorgeous sons and she couldn’t get close to them. She never said, it but I felt it. For a long time I thought it was them, but it wasn’t all them. I see how close we’ve become since all this happened and we’ve talked. I had observed this before. I remember how when she first came up to live with me and help, there were moments of miscommunication or lack of. I’m guessing she had moments of feeling unworthy so it makes sense, it was easier for her to chat and make friends with strangers. No risk there. She loved her boys and I believe they loved her but I think they had a hard time bringing it all in together. At first I thought that was why she didn’t get the help she needed in time. No matter how much I encouraged her to reach out to them, she didn’t. Help came when her grand daughter noticed something wasn’t right with her Nana, when she went over to help her with bookkeeping, because her eyesight had started to go.
So I believed, it passed, she didn’t get the right help at the right time. In speaking with her son, it appeared that early on if she’d gone for help, it still might have been missed. As it was, her symptoms may have lead another doctor down a rabbit hole.
The facility she is staying in is immaculate. I fill out the questionnaire, they take my temperature and I go in. It’s after 11pm.
We go into her room and she is breathing steadily. I marvel at how young her skin looks. No wrinkles. But she’s gaunt. There is nice soft spa music playing. Her son said, someone had brought that in. It was perfect. I talk to her, tell her about my trip and all the chaos going on around her. There is no recognition, just a lifeless body. It is now May 21. 1 AM I tell her I love her and miss her. Around 2am we leave.
On the farm at our
favorite fishing hole
The next day, after little sleep, we go again. I go over all the fun times we had. A little past 1PM, we decide to grab a bite. As we head out to the parking lot, the director runs after us and inquires about the sister from California. She apologizes for not having gotten back to my nephew right away. She tells him California, New York, Connecticut and Washington are prohibited. She asks when I would get there. I hesitantly tell her, it’s me. She asks if I’d already been in. I say, “yes”. Well, because my sister is so grave, she would make an exception. Uh, I’ve already been in there we’re thinking.
I reassure her that the area I’m from has few cases and I took extra measures myself, given where I planned to be. So, she’s okay with that. Perhaps she’s unaware that her forms only ask about foreign travel, exposure to Covid – 19, temperature and cough. My answers were “No” straight on down. Oh, well.
Each day from there on out is the same. Every other day a doctor comes in and every other day a NP. The doctor tells us on Friday the 22nd that she’s hanging on but did not expect her to survive the weekend. The NP tells us this is her favorite room because of the nice music. It makes her feel like she’s at a spa. We tell her Diana was a massage therapist, so it’s perfect for her. The nurse says no wonder and agrees. The second day I go from sitting by her bed to the couch and notice her birth date just happens to be stamped on her bed. It is a yearly inspection sticker, but…? I start to say something and her son says, “yeah, we know”. Huh.
So here we sit by her bed waiting for her life to end. I recount stories of our childhood and we share stories of life with Diana. The teasing her boys used to give her… what is it about boys teasing their mother? I see hubby doing it to his mom all the time. He is still doing it as a grown man. There was so much these boys didn’t know about their mother, but only one is here to hear the stories.
Each day there are minor changes and each day they’d level off. On Saturday though she starts to gurgle. I guess they call it the death rattle? They gave her an injection and we thought this is it. When it increased, I lost it. When my step mom got it, I thought it was because she’d had emphysema from all those years of heavy smoking, but the nurse explained we might see fluid being released from her lungs even though Diana never smoked a day in her life other than maybe one time behind the house as a teen experimentally.
After awhile, I apologized to the nurse and said we had to leave. I couldn’t do it. She understood and reassured me not to worry, I would not be the first nor the last to do so. That night I didn’t sleep feeling guilty I’d run out on her like that. At the same time, it seemed awful waiting for someone to die. We expected a call that never came. The next day, the gurgling had gone away. Then her gaps in breathing increased but Sunday came and went and she was still there. When the doctor came in Monday, she shook her head and said, she had a strong heart. They referred to the gaps in breathing as apnea. I’ve had occasional sleep apnea and that isn’t any fun at all. My son calls and his little girl, Maggie May wants to talk to her Auntie. She’s four, doesn’t understand but wants her to get better, so I put the phone to Diana’s ear and Maggie May proceeds to tell her about her unicorns like only a four year old would. I take the phone up and start to talk to my son, when Diana starts this continuous moan. I hang up and my niece in law calls the nurse. She’s given a shot and it subsides. A couple of days later her breathing gaps increase. The doctor says, she shouldn’t be here and I want to pop her one. In a way, I wish she wasn’t lingering. It was painful to see how thin she was.
May 26 Tuesday. Something felt different and I didn’t want her to be alone. Since I’d been there, three people had come and gone. The nurses and staff are wonderful. I decide this is where I want to come to die. The room across the way is now empty. I let my nephew know I’m not coming home, but they tell me it didn’t matter what time, they would leave the light on in case I change my mind.
When I left my home in California, I really wasn’t anticipating staying away so long. When I left the weather in Florida was 91, it cooled off a few days later and add the fact that her room was air conditioned, I was freezing to death. My light linen pants and short sleeved shirts weren’t cutting it, so I brought in blankets. Eventually I bought sweatpants and sweatshirt at Walmart.
That night, they bring someone else in across the way and she is wailing and moaning as well. That’s when I noticed Diana moaning. I close the door. I call the nurse and tell her, but I hear them saying the person across the way had vomited, so they’re fighting to keep her from aspirating. It is now night and the staff is lighter. Even so, someone comes in right away to give Diana her shot. They are quick, but the nurse across the way calls for help. Fortunately, there is a male nurse on duty. Later, when the door is opened briefly, I see them walking a tall, large, (not fat) woman. There are several interruptions in the night and I’ve not slept hardly at all. When morning comes I shower and put my same clothes on.
At some point, I realize my body feels like it went to war, so I decide to go home. She’s somewhat stable and my nephew will arrive shortly. At this point, we have been staggering visits. I’ve still not seen nephew #2. I ask if I might see him, but no, he’s too busy with kids and work. Those words were often my sisters excuse for why she didn’t spend more time with them. Work and kids. It always upset me that she wasn’t being included in that dynamic. Nana’s can watch kids and love spending time with them. I didn’t know how much of it was her or them. I learn later, he was struggling over the fact that he had no solutions for her condition. He has a strong science background and a professor at the college, so he was in a quandary over what happened and why. The thing is, and I knew in my gut this is true, when you “play” with the brain, anything can happen and the why can sometimes be elusive, to never be understood or discovered. I get it. He was also hoping for a miracle. I guess we all were.
Before I left, a new nurse had come in to administer her pain med. Over the last couple of days, because of the moaning, her meds would be upped. However, her heart was still strong and her urine clear. The nurse says it tends to get darker near the end.
I slept a good part of the day. I just couldn’t get my strength up after my previous night. I realize that despite my good intentions, I just have to understand my limitations. So far Diana has disproved every prediction they’ve made. No two people die the same, that was the only verifiable truth. We all die differently. I wondered how much longer. My family and husband have been supportive. Everyone constantly grateful I could represent them.
At one point on the first Friday I was there, my husband tells me his brother, who had just had a quadruple bypass just before Diana went in for her surgery was having to get four stents in. His arteries were already calcifying. I fretted that day that we would lose them both on the same day. Then, if that happened it could start a chain reaction. My mother in law would be devastated, her husband at 94 would get upset for her and our whole house could fall. As it turns out, the stents were put in and he goes back to do two more in a month. So far, it looks fine.
Thursday May 28, My nephew and his wife stayed with me most of the day. Even though they only allow two visitors at a time, they gave us a pass. We apologized to one nurse who sweetly says, “What? I don’t see anything” We were grateful. I had my reservations about leaving Diana that night, but I knew I couldn’t stay the night again. She was different, but I had to trust.
In the morning on Friday, when I came in, I sorta knew. Her eyes were veiled and it was like she was already gone but she was still breathing. My nephew came in a little later. A couple of hours later they changed her position. My niece in law comes in to switch places with nephew but he doesn’t want to leave. He feels it too. When she starts to assure him it’s okay, she doesn’t mind staying, I look over her shoulder and say, “She’s not breathing”. It takes a moment for that to register. I look at the clock. 11:37am. I get the nurse and she verifies that yes, she has passed on.
For ten days, I talked to her. The last two days I prayed over her and told her how much I loved her. How I didn’t want to see her go but that I knew she’d be okay and better soon. I asked God to take good care of her as I knew how much she trusted he would.
I did research. I learned that the first to go is the brain, but hers was pretty much already gone. The last MRI showed her frontal lobe completely dark. Then each major part takes turns. Despite how strong her heart had been and the other parts of her body that hung on for so long, there was no chance of any organ transplant unless they were in the hospital. Hearing is the last to go. Her urine diminished but never changed color. The skin on her limbs did mottle hence my biggest clue she was close. When they administered that last dose, she cried out. I asked why. The nurse said, every five days they have to change the portal. Hers had been changed last night, so yes, she probably felt it initially but only for a moment since they’d given her a pain shot. She went minutes later. When her death was confirmed I bawled. My niece in law bawled. Nephew calls his brother who comes running. He had been visiting most nights after the kiddos were tucked in bed. I felt bad for his kids, that they would never really know their Nana. The other grands were in their late teens, his are only two and four. He said his goodbyes. By then we girls had regained our composure. Son, #1 had been hugging us both while remaining strong. Son #2 also hugged me, but neither shed a tear.
I remember when parents died, we didn’t cry until two weeks later. I understood when there were times #1 son wouldn’t respond to my chatter, that it was how he was keeping it together. Sometimes, I can’t talk either. Sometimes being alone is hardest.
I rushed to make my return flight home so that I wouldn’t be an added burden to my sweet sisters#1 son, should I completely come unglued. Our mourning was derailed when we heard on the news about George Floyd and all that mess. For a moment I thought Diana why couldn’t I have gone with you? I don’t want to be here anymore.
Oh girl, if you only knew what has been happening while you were sleeping and now are gone. We would have had so much to talk about and analyze. We still dissect these events and make it all better. I did talk to her today, but she didn’t answer.
This blog was going to address the question of what we were doing with our time, but it’s a matter I’ve seen dealt with in other blogs and even though I only got around to writing the first two paragraphs, when I got back to it, I realized a more important event that some of us may not have thought of is taking place.
My first line was: What are we doing with our time? Better yet, what am I doing with my time?
At first I played games and binge watched shows, but to be honest, I was watching things I wouldn’t normally watch, so I stopped. I quit watching doomsday or apocalyptic shows, like TWD and started looking for films that were upbeat. There really isn’t much out there and I don’t get Hallmark. I think that was when I wrote instead, “Wishing for a Musical”.
Actually, what I was doing is stewing a lot about my sister in Critical Care and/or ICU, because they, the doctors, kept bouncing her back and forth between the two places. I hated too, that while she was there the past two months, she couldn’t possibly get better because there were NO VISITORS allowed! I got to thinking about so many others out there like her. Families like ours. So I started doing “busy” things.
Sure, I refinished some furniture until three weeks ago when my C5-C6 rebelled and put me in the ER. It was like a charlie horse in my back that wouldn’t go away. Hubby and I first tried to work it out like you would a charlie horse and it got worse. So the paramedics came and off I went.
There I was sitting in a wheelchair unable to move, all alone and my previous musings slapped me in the face multiple times until it got my attention. I looked around at the people I didn’t know, like 4 or 5 of us spaced out in the room, but no family members by our side. One lady decided she didn’t like it or where she was, so she got up from her wheelchair and moved over by me. I was in so much pain, I could neither stand nor sit without help. Between clenched teeth I hissed, “No! You’re too close, go away!” , but she didn’t listen and kept moving in even closer. I was in too much pain to roll away. I felt helpless. Thankfully, a nurse rescued me and took me away, just as the woman settled in the closest seat to me! I guess I looked like a friendly face despite my hissing. Some things, I guess you can’t hide.
I didn’t cry but I felt like throwing up, my Bp went up to 249/111 and I could hardly breathe and I waited. They did scans and ran tests and I waited. My four hours felt like an eternity and I waited. That whole time I couldn’t even take a selfie to document my misery! Finally, I was heavily dosed and we called hubby to pick me up. I was so sedated, I could not focus. I was the equivalent of an inebriated drunk in pain. The pills they gave me made my mouth feel so dry and nasty. I won’t tell you all the other things these pills made my body do or not do. I did have time to think though.
You see, when I worry, I keep busy so I don’t have time to think about it, whatever it happens to be. If you’re a blogger I follow, I probably hit “like” delete and no comment, or I pretended I’d read it or I read it and didn’t comment because I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else. Forgive me. By the end of the second week they lifted part of the ban, hubby asked if could walk. I was feeling like a walk. It didn’t hurt to walk anymore, but as you noticed, I still didn’t have the energy to write about our hike until yesterday.
BACK TO THE PATIENTS
Think about all these non Covid-19 patients in hospitals all around the world not getting to see or hear their loved ones voices or feel a touch or a hug from them. It was no wonder my sister began declining. We are all very close, but if there was a chance for her mind to come back it went with the lockdown. The question at the top of my mind, “Was there ever a cognisant moment where she wondered where we’d gone?” I wondered and felt an overwhelming sadness.
Finally, this week, the doctor told my nephews that he did not believe she would recover. Her brain has apparently atrophied. Of course, if it isn’t being used or recognizing familiar sounds or voices around her… where was her motivation? When she spoke last, I was asking her and telling her about things she was familiar with, so I could get a yes, and finally, an “okay” when I told her “I have to leave, but you get better, so you can visit me in California”. It gave her mind something to work on.
It made me sad this past week reflecting on not only her situation, but that of others during this pandemic. She’s not the only one alone right now and my nephews are also not the only ones prevented from being near their loved ones when they need it most.
In November, my cousin, who had Parkinson’s, but because of her weak state, caught pneumonia, was hospitalized. There, in the months that followed, she had a series of three strokes, the last one being the most debilitating. Her family was not allowed to see her because of quarantine. Hispanic families are very much about family, so not liking the situation, they fought to bring her home. She, unlike my sister was somewhat aware and once home they said their goodbyes and I love you’s. Within 24 hours or so she passed. I know that was how she would have wanted it. Her siblings never made it in time, but her children, grandchildren and husband of 50+ years were all there. She was 4 months older than my sister.
I’m sure there are other stories like these. We are living in an unprecedented time, no doubt. I realize hospitals have to be extra careful, but in my heart I cry for all these folks who can’t be with loved ones. Some of these patients may not consciously understand why their loved ones aren’t there. There may even be confusion and concern. It’s an impossible situation.
After the conversation with the doctor, her boys had to decide. Do we keep doing what we’re doing and not get to see her and her not improving and possibly dying alone or do we put her under hospice care, where at least we can be with her? On the remote possibility something turns around, where her mind can possibly absorb the sounds of their voices, they opted for the latter. Sure, they know it may not happen, but then who knows? There is always the off chance of a miracle. What if something penetrates and she realizes she’s not alone? WHAT IF?
In the meantime, she has a room with a beautiful view and she is getting soft massage like music played in her room. (She was a massage therapist) It is peaceful. But, the best part is her family can visit.
The view from her room and she and I, after a bike ride, a few years back. She’s the tall pretty one.
IS IT POSSIBLE?
I know each hospital room has a TV and they are almost always on. Has anyone thought to video family members talking to them and perhaps cycling positive messages and images from loved ones to these patients? Many of these patients, even those not totally aware may be staring at or hearing the noise of a horrible TV with depressing news cycling all day long with information, that for the moment may not apply to them or it’s playing some stupid show they’ve seen a hundred times already. How much better would it be to hear the sound or possibly the face or faces of loved ones on the screen instead? Or, perhaps a family video of a special moment. I would think that could aid their recovery.
Maybe someone out there has thought of doing this or maybe not. I don’t have the skill to run with this, though I wish I did.
In the meantime, if you’re with me on this, send all the good vibrations, prayers and love you can muster in all directions on behalf of all these special people.
Actually, there isn’t going to be much of a story, except in pictures. Being in isolation has been trying in two, maybe three ways. One, hubby is working from home and I am conscious of not making too much noise, so… I can’t run the vacuum or do anything so loud his customers can’t hear him talk, or he them. Especially, since sometimes they amount to him putting out fires and handling discrepancies. Ugh. It’s hard to negotiate things when he can’t go to the warehouse and see what went wrong and who dunnit, so I hear him in his “office” trying to appease some irate customer.
Because of that, when the weekend comes, it is so nice to get out and away in whatever fashion we are permitted to. At first, it was short drives where we couldn’t get out of the car, but they were scenic. Now, we can hit the trails and we did.
I intended to write last weeks excursion, but events (interviewing roofers etc.) got in the way and I just didn’t get around to it.
So, today, you get two for one. Two in one? You get it.
The first was scenic and amazing. It was in the Calaveras Hills Preserves not 10 minutes away from home. There were so many fabulous pictures to take of sites scene… uh seen.
We wore our masks (well I did and he did when we came upon other folks) and at the beginning of this one, there were a few too many people so at one juncture, when the trail split, we took the road less traveled and we were rewarded for doing so.
What is interesting is that all these hikes and preserves are tucked in gully’s of residential neighborhoods.
I don’t know about you, but I love old, giant gnarly trees and beautiful spring flowers in bloom. On this hike, notice our famous California Poppy and the purple flower of a stinging nettle.
Water lily’s in the waterway, a graffitti’d dam, some green spiny gourd or fruit of some sort on a tree and my favorite, some sweet unknown green flower in a stump.
This hike was marshy and we could hear, but not see the quail in the brush.
There was a rotted rope swing, that God forbid anyone would even contemplate using since the water couldn’t have been more than two feet deep below it, and the trail of what was probably a rattlesnake that had recently crossed before us.
Another favorite is this picture of what diversity of foliage that is so California, because in this photo, there is a giant cactus(native), palm trees, a tall eucalyptus in back(not native), An old brush oak and trees, I can’t name.
Hike #2 was on the Manchester Preserve somewhere between Escondido and Rancho Santa Fe, about 30 minutes south from home not far off the 5 freeway. It was a bit deserty, but no less beautiful. The flowers were gorgeous and with the exception of those cactus flowers, these were tiny, despite their size in the photos.
Again, we are in a valley between residential neighborhoods.
I loved the contrast in this picture of the new cacti among the skeletal remains of the old.
And someone leaving us a reminder to…
Steps to one of the neighborhoods above and a bee seeking nectar from a flower.
and of course, a smaller gnarly branch.
I hope you enjoyed the walk with us and if you’re ever in southern California, look us up, we would gladly take you with us into the unknown and less know canyons of SoCal .
Typically, I don’t do the blog awards much anymore because I take them seriously, and done correctly they take a lot of time. If you know me, I tend to write about everything under the sun, which usually comes from the inspirations I get reading blogs I follow. Sometimes, I draw from the trials and tribulations of my own personal life in addition to the joys. So basically, I’m all over the board.
That said, I unquestionably appreciate being recognized as consequential to the blogosphere by Jim at bgddyjim who was nominated by Anna at Storm in a Wine Glass. So these are his questions for me:
What makes you cry for joy? This is actually easy. I love hearing and learning of my friends successes and achievements. I love it when one of my blogging friends publishes a book or achieves a milestone. I love it when my kids make headway in their own lives or when someone I met years ago actually remembers me after the one time we ever did anything, ie The Hollywood Dance-athon for Breast Cancer where we danced nonstop for 12 hours. Yes, I may have been in my late 60’s and these young men in their early 30’s but I kept up and they remember. I only mention it, because I got an Instagram note from one of them five years later, wondering how I was holding up during lockdown and it made me feel pretty special.
2. Favorite book and why? The Bible. It is never outdated and there’s advice for anyone for anything in it, if you know where to look. I’m not terribly religious or attend a church as regularly as I used to, but I still hold it in high regard for the valuable advice it has to offer.
Describe your perfect moment of the day. This one is actually tough, because just waking up is the best moment. I especially cherish sunny days though, because I must admit I’m a sunshine girl and function best when the sun is out.
Your best quality? I think my best quality is my eagerness and willingness to help others when in need. I loved working and volunteering for Red Cross for many years.
Is there anything you struggle with that you’re continuously working on overcoming? In conjunction with #4, knowing my limitations and restraining myself from thinking I’m the solution to everything. I have to remind myself I’m almost 74 and I can’t do it all. lol
The best piece of advice you ever received? Wow! This is tough. I think the best advice I got was from a friend of mine years ago. She noticed that I was quite the chameleon always trying to change to everyone’s expectations, always trying to please others. She told me I could be liked for just being myself and it was okay if I didn’t please everyone. It was hard because my mom, bless her heart, had drummed it in my head that I wasn’t good enough and that I had to fit into this mold of “goodness”, which I could never live up to. In her own ignorant way she wanted me to be goal oriented, but it came out wrong. I realized that years later. She did mean well though and I had to forgive her for it..
Describe what ‘hope’ means to you. Hope and faith are akin to one another and it is the desired expectation of something I look forward to today and always. I hope I can be patient and tolerant with my fellow beings and that love and kindness will abound in their spirits and when it doesn’t I hope I can forgive.
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? For the record – I mean true bravery! Doing a sky dive isn’t brave if it doesn’t scare you. Bravery is doing something that scares the shit out of you! I’m a daredevil, always have been, so my skydiving feat was daring but not brave. When I first read this, I kept getting heroic and brave mixed up. Are they one and the same? I don’t know. I think my first rock climb on a rope was the bravest thing I’ve ever done, because it literally did scare me nearly to death. Heights scare me to death and dangling from a rope, relying on someone else to keep me safe was scary. I remember when I finally got to the top, my mouth was dry like it was full of cotton and I could hardly get the words, “I did it!” out. Yeah, taking that first step was the bravest thing I ever did.
What did Little You want to be when he/she grew up? An actor/dancer/singer.
Looking at a photo of Little You, what advice would you give him/her? You’re going to be okay. You will be loved the right way. Be decisive. Stay focused on school and learning. Look at yourself with kinder eyes and don’t let anyone keep you from your dreams.
….and what advice would Little You give the you of here and now? Little me would look at big me now and say, “Don’t hide, your dreams are still important and don’t worry so much about your kids, they are going to be alright. You did a good job, they’ll figure things out and trust in that.
I’m not going to nominate other bloggers, per se, though I’ll list a few I respect and if they choose to answer the same questions above, well they’ve been awarded the Liebster Award, too. I know these tend to go around in spurts, so I won’t be offended if they don’t reply.
If not for me but for anyone else who’s given this much thought I’ve put mine down and in doing so may rattle a few cages here, but this experience got my thought “muscles” working overtime.
I was asked the following question on Quora yesterday and what follows in blue was my response.
“I’m a Muslim man who came to America for a better life. I like the food and women in bikinis. However, I don’t like Christians because of their beliefs about Jesus. How can I avoid Christians in America?”
“This is interesting. You like what America has to offer, but you don’t like Christians. Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. What if I went to the country you came from and said the same thing? I like this… but I don’t like Muslims. This actually happened to a friend of mine. She resolved it by returning home to America.
It was not the Muslim religion itself she did not like but it’s tradition of women being subservient and having to walk behind her husband rather than alongside him. And, there was more, all having to do with their beliefs and customs.
Even though America was primarily Christian when it was founded, it has evolved to embrace people of all faiths. If I went to your country, I would want to get to know the people better regardless of whether or not I agreed with their worship or them calling their deity by a different name than the one I believe in.
To Christians, God, Jehovah, Yaweh, is the equivalent of the Muslim Allah, Jesus as to Muhammad. I have not read the Quran though I do possess one. My father, however did read and study it. He told me, “Something most people do not know is, if you were to read both the Christian Bible and the Quran, you would find many equivalents.” Their prophecies, though not exactly the same, bare many similarities to those in the Christian Bible. As I understood what he told me is, it tells the same story using different names. Any Christian reading this might find his simple assessment disagreeable.
Aside from that, take a look at the figures. The thing is, 74% of America is made up of those who believe in Jesus, and that does not include those of the Jewish faith, which is the root of Christianity. That’s a lot of people to stay away from. 20% believe in no god. The remaining 4% are Islamic or of non Christian faiths.
The best way to overcome prejudice is to get to know it’s people and beliefs. Look beyond the superficial and find a common ground. If that doesn’t work, then I would politely suggest you do as my friend did and go home. I hope this answers your question.”
I really tried to be polite because whether the question was contrived to get a rise out of me or not, I treated it with sincerity. I also didn’t include the caveat that just because someone says they’re Christian, that they really are. Sigh
Today is Cinco de Mayo and because we have a huge Hispanic population in California, it wasn’t unusual to see trucks with huge Mexican flags waving behind them which made me wonder. Prior to the USA annexing California as it’s own, California and Texas were once part of Mexico. The thing is, we aren’t anymore, so why do we share in that celebration, besides it being an excuse to party? I mean, even in Colorado and Alabama, where I’ve lived, there was some form of observance. No day off of course, but there would be Cinco themed partying in the streets and restaurants.
If you were a wee bit offended by the question above, it’s understandable. It’s not that unusual for people who flock to our country’s doors for all the bennie’s they can get to have allegiance to their own country of origin and none to ours. That’s a lot of takers. However, most folks don’t want to live in a country where they can’t thrive or better themselves. In the case of this man who, himself said, he wanted “a better life”, implying he can’t get it in his country. To them we are a prostitute, to use and throw away, ie devalued.
Personally, we are nothing more than used toilet paper to a good many of the folks that come over. They deride us and demand more. Yes, they may work, but their money is going “home”, with a meager amount used to sustain themselves with. They use us, giving back nothing, then throw us away when we have nothing more to give. The audacity of that man. But, I remained kind and even if I had added all that came to me after I was done with my reply, I would have done so with graciousness. It breaks my heart that this occurs. Other countries wouldn’t tolerate it if we did that to them, but then we wouldn’t even get through the front or any door if we didn’t have something to offer them. It is also why our country is torn between should they stay or should they go.
I know there are those born and raised here that do the same thing, disrespect, gripe, complain and ask for more and that breaks my heart as well. As citizens they can legitimately exert their first amendment right to decry what they see as unjust. After all, if they’re paying taxes and putting back into the system then … it doesn’t make it right, but they are free to do so.
For some reason this reminded me of the girl who lived across the street from us, when I was a kid, who called her mother a whore because she had split from her dad and was dating someone else. At some time in the future, I, at 14 years of age, referred to her mother as “that whore” and holy hell was rained all over me for that. That was when I learned that it’s human nature to mouth off about your kin when you’re upset, but by golly, no one else better do so.
I truly don’t mind helping folks but for pete’s sake, I would like to see a bit more gratitude and loyalty from those folks that take advantage of our bounty.
If America is that awful, then yeah, you know where the door is.
Then, again, we must ask “What would Jesus do?”
There are two answers from the Bible that could defend two ways of thinking.
One, illustrates how he felt about the money changers as he ran them out of the temple for defiling (disrespecting) a holy place … Matt. 21:12, Mark 11:11
Then, the one, where he tells us to turn the other cheek… (forgiveness and generosity) Matt. 5:38-39, 5:41
Then again, there’s the warning about leaven (attitudes that corrupt) Mark 8:15, Galatians 5:9
I think because we, as Christians tend to be compassionate and giving, we find ourselves perplexed or torn as to what course is the right one to take, not only for us but in dealing with others.
If the man who asked the above question fears or dislikes Christians, could it be he is actually afraid he may begin to like us or become one of us? We can be a like-able bunch.
Yep! I’m beginning to feel like I’m on a 2020 fateful trip, stranded on an island, feeling pretty damn helpless.
I got a call this morning… my sweet step brother Michael will be having surgery for appendicitis. It hasn’t burst… yet. That’s bad enough but he has pneumonia as well. No Covid-19, thank goodness! Later tonight, they still hadn’t gotten to him. They blame it on Covid-19. I am certain he will be fine, but good grief! He said the pain meds they gave him were working and he has a good attitude. I told him he was a survivor.
I don’t want to bellyache, but I’m venting because what else can you do when you can’t expend all this angst any other way?
Could things get any worse? In case you haven’t followed my family saga, let me fill you in.
In the last two weeks, I had to put my little kitty down, I know it’s not a human relative, but it was still emotional. She’d been with us 18 years. Then, I learn sometime later that my cousin died the same day! Over the years we’d lost touch and I knew she’d been in the hospital with pneumonia, then had several strokes to follow. She’s the same age as my sister who has been in ICU for over a month and she is family, so all of that was just one more thing. If I don’t sound unusually sad, it’s because she had Parkinson’s and has been suffering of late, so it was a relief for the family to know she is in a better place.
My sister, btw is showing marginal improvement, not great yet, but we are trying to be optimistic.
What makes all of this so hard is, I can’t go running to be with either sibling, given our isolation status, besides hospitals are no longer allowing visitors anyway.
As you know, we sprung a leak, but the good news is, it wasn’t as bad as we’d thought it could be. Apparently the winds managed to channel water through a vulnerable section which is being sealed, as we speak. The overall roof is fine. The roofer said he wouldn’t charge us until we knew for sure the repair worked and… we have more storms coming, so we’ll be testing it out soon. He lives down the street.
Have you ever felt like Big Brother is watching us?
This was so weird so tell me if any of you have experienced this phenomenon…
After the roofer left, I told hubby what he’d said, about the roof and that we could possibly need new gutters after reinforcing the last layer of shingles, which were not done properly and the wood fascia was rotting at the roof line. Well, this morning my junk box (thank goodness it went straight to junk, but I still clean it out each day, so I noticed) was inundated with solicitations for gutter replacement. NO WHERE HAD I WRITTEN THIS DOWN. It was only a conversation we’d had in the proximity of our computers… and hubby’s phone!!!!
This has happened to hubby more than me and we were in his office, not mine. I have an iPhone, he has a Samsung. Whether that has anything to do with it, I don’t know. I’m wondering if Apple is insuring it’s users more privacy.
I’m not inclined to be a conspiracy theorist, but … I am beginning to wonder.
On the good side…
I went to Costco and I’m proud to say Californians are well masked and adhering to the proximity requirements. At least they were at Costco. I was double layered, in fact. I knew when I got home I would take my outer layer off in the garage and spritz myself. Hey! Can’t be too careful.
I covered my hair and wore glasses so my eyes would be somewhat protected. If I had swimming goggles, I might have worn those. Heck who would have recognized me anyway? Hmmm now that’s an idea…
An interesting note. While I was in line, waiting to check out, there was a grumpy guy in the lane next to mine barking orders to his wife. In the lane in front of me, the woman saw my cooking oil and realized she’d forgotten to get some, so I told her to run. The checker was then ready for her and she’d not returned yet. He looked up and around and she came running, shouting “I’m here!” Then she says how grateful she was that I was behind her. I said, “Well, you know in this time, it pays to be kind to one another”
Grumpy heard the exchange, “You can’t mean everyone, some people don’t deserve to be kind to” I looked at him and sweetly replied “I said, “yes, every one, you don’t know how that might change their day”. His wife chimed in and said, “She’s right, you never know”. Secretly, I hoped I had changed his.
Earlier in the week, I took my car on a drive, I was told it needed to be driven now and again and I happened by Home Depot. They had roped off a section to filter customers into the store a little at a time. Home Depot was doing their part, but… the people in the line were not proximity conscious and other than the employees, only two or maybe three were wearing masks. I did not stop. Only observed.
Time on my hands…
What am I doing with my time other than entertaining conspiracy theories and whatever else, I can come up with?
Weeell, hubby’s home a lot which means . . .
I get to have lunch with him and . . .
And… I’m actually trying to be useful. My neighbor, God bless her, is making masks. I’m not as useful, but I did help a little (very little) with making straps for them.
Strawberries . . .
Now I did buy strawberries from a neighbor, who has a large family. Her hubby is a gardener, so I’m guessing work may be limited. She and several others in the household do housekeeping, so I’m sure they’re not working right now. She doesn’t normally come door to door, so I’m guessing things might be tight. I practically threw money at her, but I just couldn’t turn her away. We didn’t talk except through the closed window. Her son was wearing gloves and mask, she wasn’t. He usually goes along to interpret. I told her to set the produce down and after awhile, I went out and hosed everything down just to be safe. I felt badly that it had to be that way. I don’t think she was offended, after all I didn’t just turn her away.
Well, that’s the story of our fateful trip for now and it’s not over yet. Our mayor is talking about this lock down not being over until we’ve had 28 days of no new cases.
So in the end, like Gilligan and the Castaways, you roll with it, add levity, look for the positives and hope for a rescue.
As you know, I’ve been complaining, or maybe I’ve not complained enough about the weather we’ve been having in California. Rain, is something we don’t get a lot of and when it does rain, it is generally manageable… at least in our neck of the woods.
Well, today it not only kept a steady pace, but the wind was unbelievable. My friend Jim was talking about the wind possibly getting in the way of a good bike ride. I better warn you Jim, it’s headed your way, so watch out, it’s aggressive. If you’re lucky it’ll settle down and you will get that ride in anyway.
It isn’t bad enough that we can’t go anywhere because of the Covid-19, but we can’t even go outdoors in our back yard! The gardeners haven’t been able to finish their work and what we have plenty of is mud. His goal was to eventually put in a French drain, so the water doesn’t continue to run toward the house, but we didn’t get that far. So, now it just puddles.
Then this evening, Russ got ready to practice on his guitar a bit before going to bed and there was water by his amp, which sits right next to my side of the bed. I looked up and “shore” enough we have a leak, all along the seam where the addition was put in and the roof-line reconfigured. So we get some totes and lay them in the line of fire and hope that’ll catch most of it.
We were going to stay in the room but the pit pat was too much. So we moved over to the spare room. It’s kinda nice having a four bedroom when there’s just two of you. When he or I get sick we self quarantine and it’s all good. Sometimes.
If that isn’t bad enough, he went to use the bathroom and there was water puddled on the floor that I think came through the vent. Out comes another tote.
I had been in there moments before to look. I look again but I still don’t see any roof damage or water buckling like what is evident on the other side of the shared wall. That made me wonder if perhaps the water was due to the velocity of the winds blowing it into our turbines and perhaps it flooded the entire roof? Or perhaps it is a combination of both.
It also means strangers will be entering our home during lock down.
In California, not many homes need air conditioning because with the right kind of venting we blow the hot air out or just open a door or window in front and back and we get a nice breeze.
So, it’s 11PM and there’s no way of getting anyone to look at it right now, but in the morning, I guess we’ll have to pull out the warranties and insurance contracts and call a roofer. Ugh!
That’s bad enough during good times, but now?!!
So, it’s late, but I text my neighbor and ask if she knows any good roofers, thinking she’ll answer in the morning, but she’s up and texts right back that “Fred” down the street is a roofer, so at least we have someone to call after we call insurance.
What’s been interesting during this whole thing is Russ remains calm. In fact, he thought we needed to wait until it stopped raining. I say no, we call and they can put something over until they can get to it, but in the meantime we won’t be flooded. That’s the difference between a guy who didn’t grow up around construction and a woman who did and was a realtor to boot. We kind of have to know those things.
He doesn’t seem perturbed in the slightest and I will probably not get a wink of sleep!
Everybody knows by now that the United States and the world are in the grip of one of the dangerous coronaviruses called COVID-19, but what’s a virus and how can it make us feel ill? Why do our bodies react the way they do? Are viruses alive?
“Viruses aren’t considered alive – in class I call them pseudo-alive,” says Dr. Eric Mendenhall, an associate professor of biological sciences at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
A virus has got to have a living cell before things can rock and roll.
“They require a host to even begin to function. However, since they use DNA or RNA to pass information to the next round of viruses the cell makes for them, they are subject to some of the same principles of evolution and selection that alive organisms are subject to,” Dr. Mendenhall says.