Friday, February 28, 2020

Choral and Crickets

I attended a lovely choral concert last weekend. The Ars Nova Singers are based in Boulder, Colorado, and sing all over the United States. I wish there were a video of the concert we heard, as it was magical, divine and deeply moving. It was Music of the Renaissance: The Earthquake Mass. It was performed inside a church with exquisite acoustics, and when I closed my eyes I envisioned the night sky filled with stars and celestial bodies. It was a peaceful and inspiring concert.

I loved it so much, as did my friend. As we were warming up the car, she played some music for me. I adored it. She told me what it was. See if you can guess.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Almost Wordless Wednesday

From our dear friend, Adam Bridge, who was a great help to Steve after he was moved to Skilled Nursing at Christmastime. This was originally posted on Adam's Instagram account and when it came up on my feed, I was immediately reduced to tears. Deeply meaningful and moving.

"Remembering Steve Barbour. He loved Paris. This is my last image of Steve along with a photo of Paris by Lluis Ripoll used by permission. I like to think he is always, now, in Paris. City of Light. Hail and farewell, my friend." Adam Bridge

Monday, February 24, 2020

Life in the Time of High Maintenance

Part One

Getting ready for bed, I take all my meds, gargle after the steroid inhaler I use for asthma control, brush my teeth with a very expensive high fluoride toothpaste to stave off my receding gums, pop in my bite guard to keep me from grinding my teeth down to tiny nubs, perform a bedtime check on my blood sugar levels and correct with the appropriate amount of insulin if need be, insert my earplugs to mute the sound of the BNSF railroad that screams down the tracks near my home, blowing its whistle excessively and loudly even though there are double guards and flashing lights at the intersection of Harmony and College Avenue.

My last task is to slather cream on my hands and feet to prevent obscene skin cracking, similar to the ice sheets calving in the Arctic. Once in bed, I position the CPAP nose buds over my nostrils (after making sure I’ve filled the water reservoir with distilled water), pull the head strap on to secure everything, and then settle down into the comfort of my bed and pillows. The cool air that is expelled from the mask makes it necessary to tuck my arms under the blanket. On the best of nights, I lie on my back and drift into sleep after about 15 minutes.

On other nights, I remember I did not take the dog out for her final release of bodily fluids and solids. I get out of bed, put on a coat and, at this time of year, snow boots, and coax her out to the snow covered lawn. She’s a Chihuahua and doesn’t like the cold, for obvious reasons. When the snow is high, she sinks in up to her chest and quickly jumps out to find something shallower. Often times she goes on the front patio or quite near the front door. I’ll hose it off when the snow melts. It’s 11:40 at night and I just want to get her inside and back into our shared bed so sleeping may commence. Am I freakin’ freezing. Time for the warmth of the bed.

An hour later I get up to use the loo. Then I check my blood sugar because I’m feeling a little woozy. I find it is low and so I pierce a box of juice, made for the kiddies, with the sharp plastic straw and suck down 22 grams of carbohydrate just as fast as I can. Then back to bed while the shakes and sweats from low blood sugar take about twenty minutes to leave me in peace.

Except the damn BNSF disrupts my sleep again. I remind myself to get an estimate on triple pane windows for the bedroom. Alternately, I fantasize about standing close to the tracks with an AK57. Finally, at some point I am not aware of, I am asleep.

Morning begins sweetly in a sleepy haze that knows neither time nor space. I am a teenager again, lolling in my bed dreaming of my three breakfasts of choice: protein fruit shake, an vegetable omelet, or Bircher’s blend cereal mix cooked up hot with oat milk and fresh blueberries or a banana (not forgetting the healthy dash of cinnamon). Before long, I know I must take the dog out again or risk a piddle or a pooh on the wall-to-wall carpet. Why she never goes on the vinyl floor, which is easy to clean, I’ll cannot for the life of me figure out. Once her majesty has had her toilette, I pull out the whole roasted chicken from the refrigerator and carve off a hunk for her. Pulling it apart into manageable pieces with my clumsy morning fingers, I set her bowl on the (vinyl) floor, wash the meat off my hands and return the chicken to the refrigerator, wondering all the while why in God’s name she can’t return to canned food. I’ve tried the tough love on the canned meat but she wins every time. At five and a half pounds, I worry about any weight loss and if she skips a day or two of eating because she can’t abide the canned stuff anymore, I panic and break down. This bitch is running the show and we both know it.

Then everything comes to a screeching halt: I realize I haven’t checked my morning blood sugars, which rise precipitously between six and eight in the morning. If I don’t get my numbers and correct accordingly with the life giving insulin, I’ll end up ridiculously high (and not in the good way) and it will take hours to approach something close to normal.

After breakfast comes the vitamins/minerals etcetera: Calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D (5,000 units), CoQ10, Iron and Baby Aspirin. All, apparently, play a vital role in maintaining my health, fragile though it may be. My doctors have recommended all: primary care, diabetes care, pulmonary care and cardiac care. I wish I received the perks for a Frequent Flyer program in the health care field. You know, a free cocktail while waiting in the reception area or a free visit for every ten. Why can’t this be a thing?

BNSF: Moving our economy for one hundred years, and pissing off sleeping people the whole damn time.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

I was recently reminded that this time, ten years ago, my wife Nicole and I were moving into a enormous rental house in Aptos California. It was up a long road to the top of a hill, and our back gate let us out into the forested Nicene Marks Park (this was the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake). It was a five bedroom, two and a half bath home, which was much too big for our needs, but the price was right and the owner was not only allowing all three of our dogs to move in, she adored the fact that we had this creatures (plus a cat). The yard was large as well, and I indulged my love of gardening to build upon the great flower beds and raised vegetable beds. We hosted my daughter's wedding party for a Mexican Fiesta the night before the wedding. The yard was decked out in paper cut outs, brightly colored as only the Mexicans can do. I hired a taco truck which was able to pull into the yard through a large gate made specifically for letting in cars and or large equipment. It's how I also got my hot tub in there.

I had no earthly idea that eighteen months into renting this home we would part ways and I would move out. The divorce took years after that, as we were hoping we'd reunite. So, in keeping with Music Fridays, thank you Robin, I wondered what music I was listening to ten years ago. I had latched on to Patty Larkin, and was lucky enough to see her in concert at the relatively tiny Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. This song, "Me and that Train" grabbed me, and it's still one of my favorites.

Four years and a divorce later, I had been in Sacramento for about three years. I moved there to get out of town and to help my parents move from their San Diego home of 40 years, north to Sacramento to be closer to one of my sisters. I managed to co-habitate with mater and pater, lovers of Fox News (and I use that term lightly and mockingly) for two years. I was there to help my dad with the day-to-day care of my mother who has Parkinson's. The only problem with that is that Dad is a control freak and nobody does anything better than he can. My efforts were not appreciated, and the old paradigm of father and child played out, with me being the 53 year old child. That didn't go over well with me, needless to say. We had 'words' and often times I would leave the house to take very long walks through Sacramento streets, often finding my way to the lush Capital Park which also serves as an arboretum of sorts, with very old trees carefully tagged with their names and dates. It also boasts a large and beautifully fragrant rose garden. My dad is allergic to roses. Oddly enough, they are one of my favorite flowers.

I dated a couple of women, getting back into the swing after eleven years being with Nickie. It was a heady time, and though I was coping with the painful aftermath of a contentious divorce, I was moving on, making friends, and discovering college courses at our local Sac State. I took a couple of classes (Ted Talks and a Rock and Roll History class) before I signed up for a photography course.

Lo and behold, that's where I met my future husband. In addition to our mutual love of photography, we both enjoyed music as well. He was a great lover of classical, and spent many years going to concert halls and hearing the greats in Philadelphia, Cleveland and Phoenix. His knowledge was encyclopedic and his classical and jazz music collection was vast. So vast, that I had to pry the bulk of it away from him when we bought our home together. It was boxed up and took up one entire space in his three car garage. He had it all downloaded, but had insisted on keeping the compact discs. He probably had thousands of dollars invested in cds. We donated many to the local public radio station and they were thrilled to get them. We also sold twelve boxes to a music dealer in San Francisco who drove up with his wife in their van, and took it all away at a bargain price.

My musical contribution to our union was a solid knowledge of popular music and folk music, which he had mostly missed out on. (He also missed out on many, many fine movies -- being a medical student and then a doctor didn't leave a lot of free time, and he chose to spend it listening to symphony orchestras.) We had six years together before he died last month, and those years went by in a blink of an eye. The time with him almost seems like a dream to me now.

The next song is one that would bring him to tears of exaltation. He sometimes would play this video multiple times a day. We both loved it, as it is powerful and the crowd shots are marvelous. Everyone was getting in to the music -- it was a religious experience!

Happy Friday to you all, and have a great weekend if at all possible. Make it happen.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Gleeful Music by Bob

Well, here's an artist I've never heard of, but my Blogging friend, Bev, who lives in Nova Scotia, posted about him on Facebook. He was born in Toronto and bought land in Nova Scotia when he was in his mid-twenties, and really lives simply on that land. Like, no electricity! A very small cabin. He loves it. This delightful song is very clever and I laughed a lot listening to it. Hope you like it, too.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 10, 2020


Oh, joy! Last night my grandson spent the night with me.  We had pizza (cauliflower crust), cherry tomatoes, crispy snap peas and fruit chunks for dessert.  We camped out on the couch with a tray between us and watched his shows.

Eden loves rolling around on the round foot stool (pouf) I have.  And he likes to balance on it, standing tall and moving his feet as if on a surf board.  That pouf is getting a work out.

He was pretty wound up after an afternoon at a rock climbing gym with one of his pals.  He explained to me that this particular friend gets grumpy quite easily -- mad, even.  Today it was the 'prize' he got for reaching the top of the climbing wall:  a Cliff bar.  His pal wanted a toy.  Eden was quite thrilled with the cliff bar, his friend was not.  Eden said, with equanimity, that his friend didn't speak to anyone while in the car going home.  He was pouting.  I told Eden he was very patient with his friend, and his reply was, "Whatcha gonna do?"  Exactly.

My son-in-law is on a business trip to India, of all places, and his mom and a friend drove to Boulder to see a drag show, of all things. 

His little sister was with the wife of the woman who Laurel was with, and she took my little grand daughter, who is about their son's age.

Eden was picked up bright and early by his Nanny in order to get him ready for school.  My daughter leaves for work about 6:15, and I know she won't have returned home before midnight.  She's going to be one tired ass teacher today.

And this, my friends, is why I moved to Colorado.  To experience the lives of my grand children and to imprint the totality of my goofiness upon them.

I had one very cool grand mother, and she was my favorite.  Not all grown up and stuffy like the others.  She modeled good grand parenting.

Crossing my fingers there will be many nights like this to come.

Have a good week!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Sign of the Times

There's a guy who stands on a street corner near my house. It's a busy intersection, one where I take a right turn whenever coming home from downtown. He's there come snow or shine, and he dances holding a sign advertising I don't know what. Perhaps you have seen these guys, too. I've never seen a female out there doing this. A guy thing. I got curious and did a little research: they are called, get this, "Human Directionals!" Businesses love them and think they are a very cost effective way to advertise. I personally think they are a distraction for drivers, and I can't tell what they are advertising because they are, well, spinning those signs super fast. The other term for this Human Directional is 'spinners.' Towns are trying to regulate them, to keep them from both blocking pedestrian traffic and from spilling out into the road. I find them annoying and I'm really not sure how much business they bring in for their employers. I do admit, however, there is a skill and an art to what they do.

Can you tell me what in the world this sign is advertising? Sign spinning has become such a thing that there are championships where spinners compete. Who knew?

What a week we've had, eh? While all the political turmoil was raging, I at least was taking care of my business: new driver's license for my new state, new vehicle registration (difference office, wouldn't you know), driving to Loveland to get fitted for a new CPAP mask, mailing back my old iPhone since I purchased a new one, and faxing the County of Yolo for my husband's certificate of death. Feels pretty damn productive to me. All while the snow was falling in big fat flakes and we had -3 temps the other night. I'm becoming acclimated, I tell you.

But really, the state of the world and the politics of the U.S. has got me concerned. Will my grandchildren have a healthy planet and political climate when they become adults? I shudder to think. I despair. I've seen some pretty awful stuff this week, like the video of the woman in Iowa who is shocked to discover that Pete Buttigieg is gay and is asking if she can have her ballot back. "Can't have a man like that in office." she says. Does she get her ballot back? Hell no. The caucus worker is very calm with her, which is the best way to handle this kind of bigot. The bigot starts paraphrasing the Bible, all wrong of course. But the highlight of the political week for me was when Speaker Pelosi rips Trump's State of the Union speech at the end of his chest thumping, lying, oration. You GO, Nancy! Of course she's being criticized by the GOP, the same GOP who knowingly voted to acquit our Liar in Chief. They dishonor the constitution and their oath of office, and they want to complain about Nancy's behavior?! Puh-leasssse.

This song is pretty bleak, and that's how a lot of people are feeling right now. When will we ever learn? I've spent the week listening to the good old protest songs of the 1960s. Give it a try -- it uplifted me, particularly Dylan's The Times They Are a Changin' and Trini Lopez's If I had a Hammer, sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. I hope if you are full of despair, that you will come out of it and join those of us who can still muster up some hope that we can vote the Cheeto Bastard (and the GOP senate) out of office this November. Or at the very least, play some good old and new protest songs, like Green Day's American Idiot. That's an excellent one.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Entertainment, both natural and man-made

John, on his blog By Stargoose and Hanglands, shared a great video last Friday with Captain John singing a lovely sweet song.  John mentioned the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which I'd never heard of.  I went to the site immediately afterward and it brings me great joy that this foundation exists.  They are working to preserve American musical heritage, to help the great older musicians who never made big bucks from their love of music.  Take a jog over there and have a look.  I think it links well with our music Fridays that Robin got started on her blog, The New Dharma Bums (with husband Roger).

Speaking of music, Friday night my family and I went to Mesamerica at our local Discovery Museum's planetarium.

Our music was recorded, unlike the video. We took my 8 year old grandson and he sat there transfixed. Until he fell asleep thirty minutes into the 60 minute show! It was a dizzying visual display that put me into an hypnotic state. There I sat next to my first husband, joking about all the mind-bending drugs we had taken in our youth and how we could have just skipped all that if we'd had this technology back then! The same planetarium is running Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon later this month, and I am tempted to go. There was another fantastic visual show this week on Saturday, the sunset! I saw the house next to me all lit up it a pink glow, so I grabbed my new iPhone 11pro and ran outside. There I met one of my neighbors, also taking photos of the sky. It was changing minute to minute and we talked while we took our pictures. It was insanely beautiful.

The weather was warm all weekend: 68 on Saturday and 70 on Sunday. I mean, so sweater at all! Just a cotton shirt and some jeans and I was good to go. I had lunch on Saturday with a new friend, and we ate and chatted for two hours. Her husband has Parkinson's, so we did talk a lot about that. On Sunday, my friend of 31 years who lives near Boulder, came over and we went to lunch in a restaurant that turned out to be very noisy, so when the waitress brought our water we informed her we were moving to the patio. There was a stiff breeze out there, but it was better than the noise inside, and as long as you were in the sun, the breeze was not a big bother. Another yummy lunch, eaten leisurely while talking with a very dear friend. Afterward, we walked a couple of blocks to an amazing store called Nature's Own. My friend is quite knowledgeable amount gemstones and minerals and she wanted to check it out. She ended up buying a couple of beautiful stone bowls and a vase. They have extraordinary amethyst geodes that I would love to have, but at a cost of $7,000, I had to pass. Sigh.
I finished up my Sunday by going over to the kid's house to watch the Super Bowl. Actually, eating was my main objective and the ads came in second, with the game finishing last. I had heard that POTUS bought a thirty second commercial, but I sure didn't see it. The half-time show was the usual over-the-top music production with scantily clad women bumping and grinding their way through a medley of their hits. Oh-la-la. Maybe I'm just jealous of their youthful exuberance (though both performers were in their 40s and 50s) and physical fitness. I mean, pole dancing in your fifties? You've gotta be in damn good shape! That, I am not.

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...