Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday Musings

He who shall not be named says, "There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame...

Friday, October 26, 2018

TGIF


 What a week.  We took a drive up into the mountains to Apple Hill on Monday.  Apple Hill is an association of apple growers in and around the town of Placerville, CA.  They work together to provide a fun fall experience for families, with delicious apple pies, donuts, cider -- the list goes on!  There are also Christmas tree growers and vineyards.

We started the tour feasting on apple donuts and coffee with our friends.  A sugary experience but I brought plenty of insulin and you are all sworn to secrecy -- can't have my doc finding out.
It was a warm and beautiful fall day.  The great benefit of going on a Monday is that the roads are fairly free of traffic and the apple farms are not choked with people!  It's a big deal up in them thar hills, with crafts people and artists coming and setting up booths.  Holiday ornaments abound: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We didn't buy any of those.  Having recently paired down our 'stuff' we are acutely aware that we don't need more 'stuff.' We did come home with a pie, winter squashes and great wines.

So, that was Monday.  Tuesday I underwent my ablation surgery and what a horror that turned out to be. It's a good thing I didn't understand the details of the procedure because I might just have refused to have it.  This was supposed to be the cure for my off kilter heart activity -- PVCs. I was going to get this done and then return to my life, build up my strength, get back on an exercise program, yada yada.  Instead, once they got the tiny camera into the interior of my left ventricle they found I have a birth defect that is causing most of the trouble, and it's a birth defect that cannot be surgically fixed -- except with a heart transplant.  Mic Drop.  Big WHOOPS.

I've been undergoing 3 months of diagnostics to figure out why my heart's electrical activity has gone haywire.  Now we know why.  The fix?  I've been started on oral medication and we'll see what that does.  If it doesn't calm down the heart then we are looking at surgically implanting either a pace maker or a defibrillator, or both.  Because, whoopee, this condition causes heart attacks.  And because the PVCs cause me to be exhausted, short of breath and retain fluids (big time).

I stayed overnight in hospital, was started on some oral meds, and had a surprise visit from the charge nurse who just happened to be my first cousin that I have not seen in years.  Silver linings, folks.  She saw my name, poked her happy face into my room, and we had a lovely catch-up session.  Both grandmas now, we shared photos of our families.  Silver linings.

I have a follow up with the cardiologist in 2 weeks.  And, folks, my cardiologist is awesome.  She is a pro, and a human being who worked her butt off for me in that operating room.  Seven hours this procedure took, which was a lot of work for her and a lot of trauma for me.  You see, you must not be sedated during the procedure, because sedation causes the electrical activity to stop, and they need to see the electrical activity in order to fix it.  You are strapped down so you cannot move a muscle, because moving when there are cameras and catheters in your heart could be fatal.  I don't know, truly, how I got through it but I did.  I cried a lot on the table; big slow tears flowing down my cheeks and into my ears (that is itchy and annoying).  I was the saddest woman on the planet.  Yes, others have suffered more, but in that moment, no one suffered more than I.

What I need to hold onto is: I was born with this heart problem and it hasn't caused any problems until now, at 61 years of age.  It kills babies and children, but I somehow made it through and led a physically active life.  And there are people who live a normal life span with it.  And there are those who die of sudden heart failure because of it.  You just never know.  You do what you can, and hope for the best.  The weeks to come will reveal more information, and we will work on plans as to what to do next.  If you're curious, look up it up here.

I'm emotionally exhausted and physically bruised.  And yet, and yet...I went to the opening of the photographic exhibit in our community tonight.  Steve and I have 4 photos each in the show, and people really raved about them.  I had many inquiries about purchasing prints or greeting cards.  Our prints were displayed prominently at the entrance and I must say I am terribly proud of our artwork.  I drank champagne, ate cheese and schmoozed with the people.

Can you spell whiplash?  This is a crazy life.  I'm not even going to touch on the politics of the week.

So, that was MY week.  How was yours?!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Monday Musings

The sounds of silence.  We need it.

It is something I crave, especially in the mornings.  I wake up slowly, drink coffee, read the news, check my Face book and email.  My husband still doesn't  understand this about me, even though I have been beating that drum for all the time we have been together.  I often wake to the sounds of a soccer game, a football game, the Tour de France blaring on the t.v.  When I go into the living room, he is not even there!  He's in his study.  I turn the sound down and fume.  I knew it would be a challenge to live in a small apartment together, given our different sensibilities here.  Sigh.

Last night we watched a story on Moab, Utah, and concerts that are given there, a hearty trek into the stone walls of a natural amphitheater.   
Just watching the piece was heavenly, and though I'd like to experience it in person, I'm not likely to. But I can imagine, and what a sweet imagining it is. It reminds me of another natural amphitheater that I was lucky enough to hike to, many times, when I was in my late teens and backpacking with friends. The Pine Ridge trail is a favorite of backpackers in the Ventana Wilderness, and only for the truly fit and rugged individual. Ah, but the silence. It was always grand. That, and the stars at night. 

Deep, deep silence all around.

 

Friday, October 19, 2018

TGIF

Waking up with Lucy is always a pleasure.  Often, she will have her head above the covers, on a pillow.  She is toasty warm and radiating heat as if she were a 100 pound dog instead of a 5.5 pounder.  How does that work?

I'm so used to sleeping with her that I never worry I will roll over and crush her.  She puts up with my frequent night time forays to the bathroom by crawling into my warm spot while I am gone.  When I plop myself back into bed, she magically and quickly moves back to her position, never to be squashed like a bug.  Her favorite sleeping positions, other than 'head on pillow' is tucked up into my armpit, or firmly wedged into the small of my back.




Here we are, well into October, and the weather is finally beginning to cool.  The trees are slowly turning to yellow, orange and gold before dropping their leaves.  Leaf piles are now a sight along our roads.  As the season progresses, parking your car on the street becomes next to impossible for all the piles waiting for the next city leaf pick up.  Just as in the city of Sacramento, 20 miles to the east, we are a town of shade trees.  With summer temperatures usually in triple digits, the original white settlers and town founders, knew they needed something to mitigate the summer sun.  Now we have air conditioning to help us through, but it must have been rough in extremis to live here before swamp coolers or air.  Fans were the only way of moving the (hot) air.  Ick.


I took the dogs out for a real walk yesterday afternoon.  More than just a short romp in the rose garden outside our back door.  That's all my health has been allowing, and Steve is the one to get them out in the greenbelt of late.

When we went out the back gate to the trail, the dogs immediately spotted our friend Claudio walking towards us.  You can't really see him in this photo, but he's there.  He's just very far away.  They see him, and want to wait (we were going in the other direction).  It's a love fest whenever they get together.

Claudio had us over for lunch the other day, and was disappointed we did not bring the dogs.  We explained that, just like having children, keeping an eye on the pups while enjoying food and company is tricky and often stressful thing.

It was a wonderful lunch, a pot luck under the gazebo with several of his friends and neighbors.  They live in a retirement facility next door to ours that was built when ours was, and was a requirement for the project to go through 19 years ago.  As with many housing developments these days, cities are requiring a certain number of "affordable" units to be a part of the deal.  

Claudio made a giant pot of meatballs and rigatoni (he once owned three restaurants!), one gal brought delicious vegetable wraps with spicy peanut sauce and some Kung Pao noodles, a another made a beautiful and bountiful green salad with all kinds of goodies in it.  We brought a bottle of wine.  Claudio's wife held court at the head of the table; she is confined to a wheelchair and an oxygen tank, but nevertheless was the hostess.  With wine lubricating the conversation, we discovered that folks at this facility really do feel like the poor cousins to their more wealthy neighbors (us).  I tried to wave it off, but it was there front and center.  The thing is, they have full access to 'our' facilities, gardens, the pools, etc. etc. and various committees have performed outreach (we recently had an ice cream social specifically for our neighbors) to help them feel welcome.  But, alas, it's difficult.  When Claudio and I spoke on our walk today, we agreed more lunches were in order.  Maybe that will help knock down the barriers between us.  Besides, it was just plain old good fun sitting around enjoying the day while chatting and eating.

Everyone would benefit from doing more of that.  Engaging with your neighbors.  Breaking bread al fresco. It aids in the digestion, don't you know?

Hope you have a lovely and engaging weekend ahead.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday Musings

The Hubs and I got away for a few days last week.  The 4 hour drive to Monterey was, at times, choked by construction slow downs, so we were glad indeed that we had many music cds to choose from.  Billie Holiday got us through the worst of it going south.  What better music than the blues to let you know you've still got it pretty good?


The weather was gorgeous throughout our stay -- autumn usually brings mild and warm temperatures, clear skies and light breezes to the peninsula.  We strolled Carmel's Scenic Drive, soaking in the views and searching for that perfect photo.  Conditions for photography were great, and the photo above is my take-away gem, out of many, many shots.  Some days you really have to work for that one image.  Plus, I was shooting with a new camera that my husband gave me a couple of months ago.  I haven't used it but one time before we journeyed south.  I've been experiencing a visual burnout, which I do from time to time, and so this lovely camera sat in its case.

The time away was a welcomed break from the routine of our lives.  S. just turned 76, so this was a good excuse to dine well, stay in a hotel (in the heart of downtown Monterey), and meet up with friends.  One friend we had lunch with I hadn't seen in 31 years!  The last time we were together was my baby shower, if you can believe it.  We've been in touch over the last few, through Face book, so there's that.  She was as warm and friendly (and funny) as I remembered.   Why in the world we dropped off each others map is beyond me.  Or, at least, whatever reasons there were don't matter anymore.

I appreciate these friendships from the mid to late 1970s very much.  The last time we were visiting, a couple of months ago, we stayed with friends at their lodge in Carmel Valley and were also joined by another friend from high school.  All the cliches about growing older are true, and too numerous (or boring?) to go into here.  Suffice it to say we are all still here, which is a gift in and of itself.  And that my husband enjoys their company, and they, his, well.  It doesn't get better than that.

Home again, and enjoying the Rose Garden out our back porch.  Now that the extreme summer heat is abating, folks are gathering out there more regularly.  It's a gab fest,  I tell you!  The dogs play and tramp through the plantings while we chat and laugh with the neighbors.


The roses ARE there, in the background.
Proof of roses!
We also practice our first two moves of Tai Chi, which we started on Saturday.  The class was packed, with people waiting outside peering in through the glass (no room at the inn).  I just knew it was going to be harder than it looked, and of course it was.  Easier for me that most, except for the two ladies who have practiced it before.  

It's all about balance and flow, and when it comes together, it feels great.  It's a four week class and will likely be extended to a regular affair if the interest is there.

I love being able to do it outside.  I'm also, finally, at that age where I can do it in pubic spaces and not feel self-conscious about it.  Just another perk of being older.

Happy Monday, and enjoy the week ahead!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Monday Musings

Never forget, these are the people that support the un-indicted co-conspirator.  Threatening to burn down and shoot up a civil rights museum.  Calling staff and threatening them and spitting their fowl language.  This happened when he was running for office.  I've been to this fine museum, and most of the staff are college kids from surrounding schools in North Carolina.  What a lesson they received on "how far we've come."

If you haven't seen the special edition Frontline presentation on the president, I highly recommend it.  Don't say you can't stomach it.  None of us can.  But it is a must see.  I remember all but one of the events, and it is stunning to see this presidency step by step, beginning with the days just after the election.  Never forget.  These are the crimes which will, hopefully, come back to haunt him and land him in jail or at the very least national disgrace.

Last Friday on Real Time Bill interviewed one of my favorite public figures: Doris Kearns Goodwin. She has written many books on our U.S. Presidents and she is one of the historians I enjoy hearing from the most.  Bill was getting hysterical over his idea that if the Orange One loses the 2020 election, he will not leave the White House.  She insisted, and I believe her, that he will be carried out if he tries to circumvent the election.  Of course we could be wrong, but I don't think so.  Kearns Goodwin also reminds us that there have been crises throughout our history that we have overcome.  The turmoil that led to the rise of Abraham Lincoln, in one case.  The Great Depression that gave us Roosevelt and our social safety nets we now enjoy (and must continue to fight for), the social unrest around poverty and racism that led to President Johnson pushing through the voting rights act and social programs to combat the problems of the day.  These are all initiatives that the current administration, and Republicans for 40 years, have been attempting (sometimes successfully) to roll back.  They must constantly be advocated for.  Especially now with the SCOTUS being packed with conservative judges. 

Here's an interesting idea I also heard on Real Time:  If the SCOTUS had not ruled in favor of Bush during that contested election, if the Electoral College had not been won by the Orange One, then Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have appointed the judges to the Supreme Court that would have given us a SEVEN to TWO liberal majority.  Imagine.  Think about that one.  And the Orange Menace is currently stacking the Federal Courts with conservative judges.  That's the pipeline for the Supreme Court.

Don't give up.  Support organizations that are working to keep checks and balances in the court system.  Here is a list of 'progressive' organizations, some of which are keeping track of the appointment of conservative Judges.

I also encourage taking extra good care of our mental/spiritual/physical health during these turbulent
Carmel Beach
times. We're heading down to Monterey later in the week.  I was going to cancel due to my physical health crap, but found out  that our hotel reservations are NON-REFUNDABLE.  Ouch.  I did cancel the kayaking part of the trip because I know I'm not up for that.  But hanging out eating good food and taking pictures in scenic Carmel, Pacific Grove and Monterey, yeah, I can do that.  Note to self (and to you, dear reader):  book directly with a hotel.  Do NOT use Reservations.com or any other similar site for that matter.  Old school, from now on.  On the upside, we get to be a beautiful corner of the world for a couple of days.  Yay for us.  A much needed mental health break.

Here's to a week full of hope, good health, and communing with nature!


Friday, October 5, 2018

TGIF

I signed out of Face book last week in order to regain some of my sanity.  But I am still reading the New York Times and watching the PBS News Hour.  On Wednesday there was the explosive article in the New York Times, rigorously researched, about the Trump family tax fraud that made that stinking orange piece of shit wealthy beyond measure.  And there's also a piece about his reaction, and his taunting of Dr Ford, to the Kavanaugh hearings.  His mocking of her, with the crowd roaring their approval, made me want to vomit all over my keyboard.

The crowd deeply disturbed me...and then I wondered, what else in Mississippi and the American south elicited such responses?  It then occurred to me:  lynching parties and picnics.  People would come from miles around at the announcement of a lynching.  They wore their Sunday best, they had their wicker baskets full of fried chicken and biscuits.  And they watched and participated in the torture of a human being as they died at their hands. They brought their children.  And holy shit, my friend Robin referred me to this article in the Atlantic which is entitled The Cruelty Is the Point.  It is well worth your time to read.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.  It'll take you 5 minutes max.

This degenerate who is our president, is stoking the fires that have never fully been stamped out.  The exhalation of male (and male identified) bonding over cruelty to women, people of color, the poor, the disenfranchised, anyone who doesn't look like them. This is his fucking base.  "Base" being the operative word.

Steve and I watched the Frontline special on PBS about the history of the Trump White House.  When you see it all laid out in chronological order, beginning with President-Elect Trump, you truly have to wonder how this man has managed to stay in office (GOP collusion?).  I cannot imagine what universe he and his supporters live in...except, sadly, in our universe. 

Then came the NYT article.  But we've seen this before, haven't we?  News that would take a President down.  But not this guy.  What will it take?

Switching gears, here, because I must, I have just discovered that one of the drugs I'm taking for my heart is probably responsible for my extreme fatigue as well as the tingling, hot skin crawlies that my head has been experiencing.  Steve looked up the drug because, well, he's a retired doc.  So I've stopped the drug and will see how I do.  It's been ridiculous: I can barely function each day because I am so damned tired.  I'm up for 5 minutes before I have to lie down again.  The daily existence of living with this extreme exhausting is terribly depressing.  Thank goodness Steve thought to look it up.  I thought it was simply due to the heart problems (which it may be) but it seems as if it has become so much worse in the last 3 weeks, which is when I started this drug.

I'll leave  you with one of my favorite Far Side Cartoons.  Say, whatever happened to them?  Why don't I see them anymore?  Maybe it's because I'm not reading a paper copy of a newspaper?  I don't know.  In any case, it's good for a laugh, which I think we all need right about now.


Monday, October 1, 2018

Monday Musings

What a time we are living through in America.  I am indeed "triggered" by the SCOTUS hearings and I've been feeling so many things about women and our place in the world, in this country.  I've signed off Facebook for now because it is all too much.  The news, daily, disturbs me deeply and makes me wonder of the gender dynamics will ever change for the better.

What I am mulling over is women's power, empowerment and ability to be taken seriously in a world that downgrades our status throughout our lives.  I am talking about a culture that hypersexualizes women through mass media, Hollywood, and the fashion industry.

That we are seen as appendages to men, to their desires and to their entitlement is obvious.  That we are vulnerable in the world in a way that men simply are not is another given.  Fashion dictates that (and this applies mostly to young, conventionally beautiful women) we constrict ourselves with impossibly high heels which make walking in the world a dangerous thing, and dress in ways that call attention to our sexual allure as it relates to the titillation of men.

Just look at the way the women on your local t.v. news program dress: curve hugging, low cut, leg showing, jewelry laden, perfectly made up faces.  They are Barbie Dolls.  When did this start happening?  Why are women broadcasters doing it?  Because, stupid, it sells.  Our physical attributes trump our intellectual ones, and so it goes, and has gone, for all time.

On the flip side, there are countries and cultures which require women to completely cover their bodies and their faces in order to keep male lust in check.  Half of the population (women, duh) are responsible for the lustful urges of the other half. The consequences of inciting lust?   Assault.  Rape. Death. Imprisonment.

It all comes back to male behavior; it is the men to which all women are forced to cater to if they seek success and approval.  No surprise there.  We have a male-dominated Congress, male-dominated Fortune 500 companies, male dominated movie making industry, male dominated sports franchises, male dominated academic institutions.  The list goes on.

How would our world look if women held half the positions of power in the above noted areas?

Steve and I saw the movie "The Wife" this weekend, and its themes dovetail perfectly with what is going on in DC.  Glenn Close gives her usual stellar performance, and the film deeply personal as well as globally political -- the rocky ground of marriage and interdependence.  The internalized subjugation of women.  It's in limited release for some reason (probably too serious and mature for the average movie goer) so catch it now if you can.  It is multilayered with fully realized characters with all their flaws.  A really fascinating piece of work.


Surly Bonds

My dad slipped the surly bonds of earth on January 13.  He'd had a massive stroke on the ninth and doctors were clear he was not going t...