Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mid-February

With February being a short month. it's whirling by at record speed.  I'm amazed that the speed with which it passes and the fact that I stay on the go without accomplishing anything of consequence.  Maybe this is what retirement is about!!

The month began with the demise of another cat.....I'm now down to one!  Smokey, being almost 20 years old, was having more and more problems......but I was not wanting to let him go.  About two months ago he went to the vet and it was found that he had fluid collecting around his heart.  I didn't want to go to extreme measures so they set about making him as comfortable as possible.  I could tell his breathing was becoming more labored and on the night of Feb. 1 he had such a coughing spell that he was hassling and having trouble settling.  I knew I didn't want him to go through that again so the vet was called and they confirmed my assessment.  Even though he had a long, spoiled life, it was still difficult to do it......but I did.  I was with him as they put him to sleep and the only consolation was that he would no longer be in pain.  He really was a sweetie... So, what else has happened?  My yoga class was cancelled for a week, which provided the excuse to become a slug.  It has been so cold, and on some days so dark, that I've taken to doing the minimum ablutions in the morning, running to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.....and getting back into bed!!  How bad is that!  I do sit up and listen to the news, check emails, etc......but not enough to be redemptive.  It's really bad!

Speaking of cold.....tomorrow the HIGH is to be 36F!!!!!  That is 30 degrees below our normal temperature for this time of  year.  My first thoughts are of Georgie and Zorro, the feral cats.  I fed them tonight and it was windy and cold.  For the first time, Zorro looked like it was getting to him.  We have boxes for them, but I don't know that they have found them yet.  My hope is that their natural instincts will serve them well and they will get through this.  As an aside, as I was feeding them tonight, a lady drive by, turned around and gave me money for food for the kitties....then she turned around again and went into the Crescent.    It is so nice to know that people do care.....

As you know, I've become the reluctant leader-of-the-pack at Bloom.  After writing two letters  (signed by 12 other family members of residents at Bloom) to the powers that be, I received a call from the new COO.  He had read our letters and wanted to meet with us on his next visit......which is what we wanted all along.  So, I returned his call and we are scheduled to meet on the 24th.  Our major issue at the moment is that there are not enough RAs on the floor do all that needs to be done AND keep an eye on everyone, especially when issues develop......and things can develop very quickly!  So, this is one of those things that I've done as much as I can.....and I'm hoping it will come to a positive conclusion.

Well, you saw the aggressive turkey video.  Now, residents here have seen coyotes!!  The POA has called in Critter Management to take care of them.  First, let me say that it could very well be a dog!  Secondly, if it is a coyote......is there evidence of it having done anything??  Did anyone ever think that the coyote/large dog might actually take care of the turkey "problem"?  Believe me, when I got the email that they were contacting Critter Management to deal with the coyote, it was all I could do NOT to email the board and ask them to send Critter Mgmt to my house.....I'd seen a squirrel and was in fear for my life!!  If you don't want to see nature and wildlife,why are you in SC (or on this planet!)!!

As you can see, not a lot has been happening, but things will pick up soon!  Jan will be visiting next week and I'm really looking forward to it.  We plan to have a couple of days in Charleston and a night in Savannah, to say nothing of just catching up.  I'm hoping  the weather will be more cooperative, but we can't do a lot about that.  We will make the most of it and have a good time!  That's one reason for my writing now, before I get too far behind.  

I hope all is well with you and that 2015 is off to a good start!  Love to all.



Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday...and January is Gone!

January was a hectic month, which included my birthday (and those of many friends!).  And, yes, I did survive it and I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'm within two years of turning 70!!  Well, that's still a couple of years away and a lot can happen in that time......no need to worry about it now!  I did have a very good birthday....the best part was hearing from friends and family, near and far.  It is always great to receive a card in the mail and I received quite a few.  Other friends called or emailed, and there is the marvel of Facebook, which kindly reminds us of special occasions like birthdays  Whatever the form, it was great to hear from everyone.  I appreciate those connections more and more as I age and it means a great deal to be remembered by friends.  Other than hearing from everyone, it was a fairly quiet day.  A friend and I went to see Selma, which was very good and well done.  I  seldom see movies in the theater so it was a nice treat.

Slideshow can be enlarged by clicking icon on right side (4 arrows pointing out)

January and the New Year started off well. My former neighbors always have an afternoon open house on NY's day. I hemmed and hawed about going but finally decided to walk over, a total of about 3.5 miles. It was a lovely, brisk day and that turned out to be an enjoyable thing to do.  I have continued to walk occasionally, but not enough to consider it a routine.

Early in the month I began de-cluttering and have been fairly consistent with doing "something" toward that end on most days.  I've even tackled my closets and am just doing one section or task at a time (without being overwhelmed by the thought of having to do it all at once!).  This approach is working better than I expected so I hope to stick with it up the job is done.  The only problem with this method is that by the time I get it all done, it will be time to start all over again!

Also on the home front, we have lost one of our kitties....Blackie.  She was the black one who liked to eat in the back of my car.  We don't know what happened, she just stopped showing up about two weeks ago.  In all likelihood, she probably got run over by a car....we just don't know.

You know how I always post photos of the turkeys passing through my yard.....well, it didn't take long for someone to complain.  I've never seen more than 30 at a time and they always just seem to be walking along, pecking for food.  Suddenly there were stories of 100's, attacking people, pooping in yards (well, yes......that's what turkeys do!).  It even made headlines in the Island Packet.  The fumiest thing they do is stop traffic, which I think is a riot.  Obviously, other's do not share my sense of humor!


 Well, the POA called in the Dept of Natural Resources, who was going to relocate them.  Then, they found that the turkeys have intermingled with other turkeys and was not of pure lineage, so they couldn't relocate them.  Now, they are culling the flock/rafter, having determined the appropriate number per acre (by human standards).  All of that kerfuffling allowed time for a counter-group (pro-turkeys) to form....and you can guess where my allegiance fell!!  While I'm fairly certain the turkeys will outsmart them, they have taken retreat and I don't see them as often, which is too bad.

A new session of OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) classes has begun and I've already attended one.  It was at our local Olive the Above shop that sells olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  The owner is very excited about her products and it was quite informative.  It was also interesting to sample many of the oils and vinegars.  She presented some, but we then got the opportunity to sample others of interest.  At the end, they served a salad assortment on which we could taste wares of interest.  That was followed by a little dish of ice cream, who which was drizzled a tasty balsamic (I forgot which one!). It really was fun and informative, motivating me to be more adventurous in my cooking.  I cam away with a butter flavored oil and a fig balsamic.....yum!

My neighbor, Ana, and I have gotten together again for Zentangle.  This time we only completed one project each because the first hour was show-and-tell.  Even so, it was lots of fun and we've schedule regular meetings. We both started with the same string/pattern, but you can see that the results are very individual.  It's fun to do, especially for those of us with  no art background of any kind.  There is definitely room for improvement but it isn't so daunting that I don't feel I'll ever get it.  So,along with all the other things I'm doing, I'm also trying to make time for practicing this between our get-togethers!
Ana's                                                          Mine
Within the last few days, I watched a special on CNN on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  I've not been there and the aerial views of the buildings, the sheer size of it, was daunting.  It brought to mind a workshop I went to not long after I moved to San Diego.  The speakers were a Jewish lady who had been in several camps (her married name was Waterford) and a man you had been in the Hitler Youth movement.  They had made these presentations often and were very comfortable with each other.  I remember it to this day because there was just so much to take in and digest in some way.  She spoke about the various things people did to get through the horror, with her saving grace being to maintain her hygiene.... trying to have enough water to bathe 

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I've spoken to Jan to wish her team, the Seattle Seahawks, well.  I remember poo-pooing the whole thing last year and then it turned out to be a great game.  This year I'm keeping my mouth shut!!  


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

The end of the year is here and the speed with which it has arrived is amazing.  We had a good Christmas here.  I had some small goodies for my mother to unwrap and treated myself to some practical things to use around the house....a new toaster oven, a new wireless mouse, etc.  My major splurge was to have my diamond ring repaired, having lost one of the stones a year or so ago. Below are a few photos of a few days before Christmas. 




I managed to do a little baking (one frantic afternoon!), as I did want to do something for the staff at Bloom.  I purchased some decorated cookies and added my almond bars, chocolate truffles, and ginger thins to make two bountiful trays.  The staff were surprised and delighted.  A few neighbors got a much smaller version of the same thing....and, of course, I had my portion!

In the midst on all that, there has been major upheaval at Bloom and I remain the reluctant leader of the pack.  On this occasion, Bloom is going from 3 to 2 shifts, making the staff work 12 hour shifts, which will be a major conflict for those who work two jobs.  They also refuse to even provide a "regular" schedule so that those who need to work two jobs can find a second one. And, of course, South Carolina, is one would expect, is a "right to work" state, which means the employer has all the power and the employee has none.  I wrote a letter to the owners on behalf of the Bloom Family Advocacy Group and did all the kerfuffling to edit, get signatures, etc.....what a headache.  The last time we did something like this, the owners sent a standard "form letter:" acknowledging the receipt of our letter.  This time we asked that they address the problems stated, so we have heard nothing!!  The 12-hour shifts will begin of Jan. 1, so they have just waited it out.  It's obvious that the bottom line in their only concern.....

On the kitty front, Zorro got hit by a car about a week before Christmas. He didn't show up for two days. Everyone was concerned but couldn't find him. On the third day he showed up, all scraped around the right ear.  He ate ravenously and then went missing for another two days.  By that time, emails were flying after each feeding and other feeders were even stopping by at feeding time to see if he had shown up.  He then appeared again and has been regular.  I think he was just doing what people don't do.....resting and recuperating!  


video

I had a great treat on Monday night.  Linda, who was a co-creator of our local Drinking Liberally group was coming to town for a few days and she asked around for those who might be available to get together.  Harry, the other co-creator, came up from Savannah, and Cheryl and I joined them on-island at the Frosty Frog.  It had been two years since I'd seen Linda (since she moved to Charlotte), and I've seen Harry only a few times since he moved to SAV.  It was a fun gathering and so good to catch up, especially with folks who love to laugh and have easy conversation.  It was a perfect way to spend a dark, rainy night!

As a new year approaches, it's time to look back at 2014 before "letting it go"!  Unlike 2013, which was a difficult, trying year, this year has had many high points, most of them centering around friends.  My small group of close friends here has strengthened, which is comforting. This was also the year that many long-distance friends visited - Jim & Anthony, Cheryl, Sandra & Howard, Bill & Betty, Dennis & Carol, Ann, and most recently, Linda (hope I haven't forgotten anyone).  And of course, the high point of the year was my trip to the UK and the UK Aramcon Reunion.  It was even better than I'd hoped and it was wonderful to see everyone together....just like old times!  Unlike previous years, I'm thankful to  also have had the time to do some things for my own enjoyment.....and I did thoroughly enjoy them!  While there were the usual ups and downs, the low points were the death of my kitties, Gabby (TMPKITWWW) and tinsy, little rat-tail girl, Chloe.  Their loving attention is still missed

Enough of looking back!  Onward to the New Year!  It seems that 2015 is going to be a wonderful, productive year.  For months (while I've been doing nothing!), I've become aware of myself saying, "in the New Year".  It seems that "in the New Year",I'm going to be doing wonders!!  I'm going to...
  • Eat more healthily.  The holidays have really put me off my routine and, in an effort to get back, I've purged the house of most temptations.  The others I will have eaten by Jan.1!
  • Restart my walking routine and alternate it with yoga.  With the exception of Christmas week, I've maintained yoga but have let my walking go entirely.  i need to do them both as walking controls my weight.
  • Lose weight.....see above!  With all of my partying in the UK and over Christmas, I've put on about 10 pounds, in all the wrong places.  January is the time to get serious about losing it.  
  • Strengthen my meager meditation practice.
  • Better maintain relationships with friends.
  • Declutter the house and garage.....have you heard me say this before?  I really would like to do it but find it so hard to start.  This is the year!
  • Explore Zentangle more.  I enjoyed it and it is a hobby/activity that is easily taken out and put away.  Unlike painting, it requires few materials or space.....just my kind of thing!  I'd at least like to do it enough to see improvement...or whether there will be improvement!

I'm sure there are other things that I've neglected to mention (already forgotten), but that is the basic direction I'd like to go. Those of you who know me, feel free to place bets on which will actually be accomplished!  However it turns out, it is good to get a new beginning, a fresh start, and to give some thought to the future.  I've long since given up making resolutions, but it doesn't hurt to set intentions that will make life healthier, easier and more fulfilling.



Whatever your intentions for the coming year, my hope is that 2015 is filled with good health, happiness, prosperity and joy.



Happy New Year!






Saturday, December 20, 2014

Yo-Ho-Ho!

It's been almost a month since I posted last and I don't know where the time has gone, though I have been running around like the proverbial headless chicken!  Most week days I've left home before 10AM, if a yoga morning, or 11AM and not returned until around 3-3:30.  There have been some days that I've just eaten a bite and gone back out, not returning until after feeding the ferals.  But don't ask me what I've been doing - I've not done much for Christmas and I certainly don't feel that I've done anything worthwhile or constructive.  

It has been a very social time and I've enjoyed seeing friends.  Jim and Anthony stopped in twice on their way to and from DC.  Cheryl and I met up once....all of which was lots of fun, with time passing much too quickly.  I had Thanksgiving with another friend from my synagogue days and one of my "Progressive Ladies" group invited me to her Christmas brunch, which was very nice.  Chris and I also went out for a leisurely Sunday lunch to celebrate her birthday, to catch up after her trip to a family wedding, and to fortify ourselves for the remainder of the holiday.  It has all been fun, but a lot packed into a short time.  It is literally a "feast" season and the rest of the winter will probably be famine!

The busiest time of year is also the time I chose to get back into reading.  When my mother was here, I was too frazzled to read and I've never really gotten back into the habit.  It's too easy to get addicted to iPad and forget about books.  When I heard about Gone Girl, I thought it just the type of book I would like and I wanted to read it before seeing the movie.  Boy, was I right about that.....what a tale!  From there I went straight to Wild, which was based on a true story and equally as good as Gone Girl, but in a different way. All were very enjoyable and I'm now reading another one by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).

In the midst of all that, I've decorated the house for Christmas, which was touch-and-go for a while.  Had Jim and Anthony not come in early December, I probably would have done very little, but their visit spurred me to get going.  At the end of the season last year I bought a 4-ft pre-lit tree with clear lights.  I never even opened the box and pretty much forgot about it.  When I saw the box I thought I may as well see what was involved and, much to my surprise, the tree was together in 10 minutes.  It allowed me to us my white ornaments, which I've had for years and used only once!  It also prompted me to put my large tree on craigslist.....and it was sold and gone the next day.  I'm now on the lookout for a large pre-lit one with multi-color lights.  You will then no longer hear me whine about stringing lights on the Christmas tree ever again!!




Smokey in 2012 
In addition to Mama's ups and downs (she's started trying to get out of bed and they've found her on the mat by her bed about four times, including today!), there is also a frail cat.  Smokey, Mama's old cat, is pretty much "on his last leg".  I now have a better understanding of that phrase as he is having problems with his back legs.  He had to see the vet two weeks ago for severe constipation - I was afraid he wasn't going to make it to the morning to get there  Part of his problem was that his back end was too weak to push (more than you need/want to know!) .  Once that problem was alleviated, I became concerned about a cough and gag reflex, so back he goes to the vet Friday a week ago.  He has fluid collecting around his heart.....and now I have to give him one pill and a liquid medication every 12 hours. Anyone with cats knows how challenging that can be!  So far, it's gone better than expected, but he's just old....and I know his chances of recovery are slim.  He isn't eating very much and is boney....but, he's a sweet, old kitty and I'll do my best for him.

Today was a dark, rainy day....one of four leading up to Christmas.  So, fighting another head cold, I stayed in bed all morning before going to Bloom. Then, I came home, ate lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the slideshow below.  I could make a simple one in much less time, but I do enjoy playing with it and learning new things.  So, it's a labor of love and I hope you enjoy it.  Merry Christmas!






 Christmas Humor

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Busy Days!

It's 6PM, dark as pitch, and I'm already in bed, where I've been much of the day. For the last two days I've felt like the beginnings of a cold and today I had no energy whatsoever.  So, I went to yoga, visited my mother; then, came home and went to bed for the afternoon......getting up at 4:30 to feed the ferals, have dinner and tuck myself in again.  I'm also doubling up on Vitamin C and sipping hot green tea with lemon and honey. Tomorrow has 100% chance of rain, so it may be more of the same for me!


video
I've fed the ferals all week since my neighbor, who began this, has been on vacation.  Other than it being cold, I continue to enjoy it.  It's nice to be out with them at the end of the day....quiet, peaceful and lots of kitty love.  Blackie is in-your-face loving.  By the time the car stops, she's trying to get inside!  Georgie wants me to come to him, but he's also very loving and likes the attention.  When he finishes his meal, he turns around and does a long, low stretch of the back legs and walks back to the corner (where he gets his second helping!).  It hasn't taken them long to train me well!!  I'm amazed at how many people stop and chat about the trio.....I thought I was the only one keeping and eye on them.  Many people thank us for looking after them, which is heartwarming. Since Joe has been looking out for them for a long time, I figured all of their questions and curiosity had been answered.


Well, the election is over and I almost survived it!  I'm amazed at people with such short memories and who vote against their own self-interests.....usually based on factors not related to the issues. The day after I was in Kroger and there was an older black man bagging groceries.  He was very pleasant and friendly, asking me how I was and so on.  I gave him my usual "fine" and then, for some unknown reason, said, "That's not really true.  I''m having a hard time coping the the election yesterday."  He said, "Mam, I've got three works for you......Forgive and ______!"  He left the last work blank for me to fill in, which I did.  We discussed it a bit and I left with the feeling that, in the overall scheme of things, it would have little impact on most of us.  It was when I got home that I realized that, with his experiences in life which were likely much more difficult than mine, if he could forgive and forget, then I should stop grousing and get on with things.  It was a short but meaningful encounter....and it did help me shake the disappointment and sadness I felt. 

I'm really enjoying my yoga classes and feel better to be doing it on a regular basis.  Haven't been walking as much, but I will as weather and time permit.  My last OLLI class for this session was De-Cluttering and Organizing your Home and Life"......which was taken mostly for motivational purposes. That didn't seem to work as all I've done is make lists but no real de-cluttering!  


Chris and I went into Savannah to hear Drs.Dean Ornish and Andrew Weil speak. They were in town as part of the Gulfstream Live Well. Be Well Program that I attended last year. They were as informative as one would expect and both very supportive of a plant based diet.  We then went to a new vegetarian restaurant within walking distance of the event.  It was jam packed, and the food was tasty.  Savannah has quite a few vegetarian restaurants from which to choose, which is unusual for this area.

My mother is doing better, which is always a relief.  Even tonight, when she was a little out of it, she wasn't in distress.  She has now had a string of days when she's been stronger and alert, even at the evening meal. Sometime ago I mentioned that because I offered to put together a spreadsheet of anyone having a relative at Bloom I somehow became the leader of the pack!!  All who know me know that isn't my thing, especially since there have been so many ups and downs there over the last year.  Because of the upheaval, the staff seemed so down and anxious that I suggested that some of us get together and treat all shifts to a meal.  No sooner than I sent an email to see if anyone was interested than I got this back in a flash...
Well-- food is something they get for free every day.  Also, we give to the Christmas Fund and that is certainly a way to show appreciation. Actually, I wish we could customize the fund because some caregivers are very deserving, and others are not. Call me sour grapes if you want, but I do not see why we should give an extra reward to those who are just doing their jobs, or worse yet, to those who are not doing their jobs.
I'm going to avoid tying that comment to political views (you can do it yourself!), but this lady has attended one meeting but has complained about everything......not actually wanting to do anything but wanting everything "customized" to her liking.  My prompt reply was " I assume that's a NO!"  She then backpedaled a bit saying she guessed we looked at it from different perspectives (we do, and I'm happy I'm not that mean spirited!).....ending with a smiley face!  I left it there. Yes, there were enough people very willing to chip in for the staff, though I did the leg-work.  Since many of the staff are from the Caribbean, we treated them to Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas and Slaw, from a Caribbean restaurant owned by one of the worker's dad.  They were surprised and pleased that we would do that for them.  They were able to all sit down together and have a leisurely meal, rather than eating on their break (and, no, Bloom does not feed them!). I was happy that we did it.  That was yesterday (Thursday) and the Thanksgiving celebration at Bloom was the day before.  So, I'm hoping things will settle a bit, but that isn't likely with the holidays coming up.

! confess to not even wanting to think about the holidays!  The Christmas tree is usually up the weekend after Thanksgiving, so if I'm going to do anything, I'd better muster the energy soon!  But, lets take things one at a time.....here's wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter Has Arrived!

Today has been our first introduction to winter.  The wind gusted through the night and this morning it was in the low 40s, with the wind still gusting strongly throughout the day......burr!!  It looks like it will be in the 50s or 60s for the next few days, which will be much easier to deal with if the wind subsides. November is also here, which means two things: we survived the Halloween hype and the days are now shorter.  When it gets dark earlier, I get nothing done (as opposed to very little!).  November signals that the remainder of the year will fly by at record speed.


My big news is that I'm now technologically empowered.  I've stepped into the 21st century! As much as I resisted, I finally caved and bought a smartphone!!  There was never a doubt that I would love it (as a gadget, not necessarily a phone!), but I couldn't justify the cost, especially since I already had an iPad.  But I started looking around and found a deal I could go for and never looked back.  At some point I will give folks my number, but I have to build up to that!  It is actually my old cell number, but when I originally gave it to people I assured them that it would be a waste of time to call me on it because I seldom kept it charged or with me.  I am doing better on both counts, so you may stand a better chance of reaching me on it. There will still  be times when I probably won't answer - while driving, at mealtimes, when on my walk, and so forth.  At some point I will get into the phone part, but I'm not rushing it. I have found it very useful on my walks as that tends to be a time when I remember things that need to be done or something comes to mind.  Now I can just whip out my phone and make or dictate a note!   There's an app for grocery lists, which is great as it eliminates the possibility of leaving the list at home, which happens more than I want to admit.  

My new project, feeding the ferals, is going well and is as much fun as I'd hoped. It's really nice to go out around sunset and have time with them and it's amazing the number of passers-by who stop and ask questions or thank us for taking care of them.  Like me, they kept track of which ones were there and when.  As for the kitties, the original two, George and Blackie, are friendly.  I can hardly get the food prepared for Blackie being in the back of the car winding around my arms, wanting to be stroked.  The last two times George has let me stroke him and approached me with his tail up.  Zorro is new to the group and they haven't figured out how to incorporate him yet.  He only comes out of the brush far enough to get his food and the slightest move will send him back.  Friday was the closest they have come together so there is slow progress.  It IS very enjoyable and I'm happy to be doing it.
video


In the photos, you will notice my pimped-out car with political signs front and back.  In a few days they can be removed, but that doesn't negate the fact that it now looks like I live out of my car!!  I have reuseable shopping bags, a yoga mat and towel in the back seat.  The back area is full of cat food and accouterments, my plastic box to secure groceries and my bag for cold foods.....You get the picture!

My mother seems to have reached a plateau and has regained some of her strength.  It is just hard to know what to expect from day to day or even from one part of the day to another.  Yesterday and today she was awake and responsive, but there will be days when she's out of it and non-responsive, or totally in a world of her own. She continues to eat well, which has been her saving grace.


I did recently take a day for myself and spent it at the library. I went for yoga in the morning and a class on meditation in the afternoon.  It was a nice change.  I've started a yoga class there on Wednesdays and Saturdays (intending to do it at home on Mondays).  The instructor is in her mid-70s (less depressing than a young, perky gal!), a little wacky, but does a good job.  It is more "zen" than most, ending with about a 20 minute meditation at the end.....the class runs about an hour and a half.  I'd forgotten how much better I feel and how much more aware of my posture I am when doing yoga regularly.  I hope to get that feeling again! 

I've been to another Olli class as a guest of my friend Chris and have two more coming up in early November.  I also attended another Mom's for Demand Action for Gun Sense meeting, which was depressing as there were so few people in attendance.  I'm rationalizing that it was just because it's this time of year and people are getting busy. I've also voted early and volunteered to drive anyone to the polls who may need a ride. Needless to say, I'm on pins and needles about the election and am glad it would be over soon.  If I have to listen to one more ad of John Barrow trying to be a republican - with his homespun humor, exaggerated accent and his "Daddy's gun" - I will scream!!

Tom recently asked for the photos I took at the reunion, which made me think that I would provide the link to the slideshow - don't know why I didn't do that sooner.  It is:
Feel free to share it with anyone who might enjoy it.

Eileen posted a great video of current day Abqaiq, which was fun to see.  It seems to be bustling and has definitely been modernized since my time there.  Even so, it brought back great memories.  The video can be found here:

Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Post Vacation

Vacation seems long ago, and I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I've looked at my photos and relived the fun of it all.  It was wonderful from beginning to end!  When friends here ask me about life in Saudi, I always say that I met exceptional people...people, who if planted on Mars, would throw a party and then go about making life as liveable and fun as possible.  I'd never really been around so many people with such positive and generous natures, and it was a huge growing experience for me.  The wonderful part of the reunion was to discover they have maintained all of that....the joy for life, positive outlook, and easy humor.  It really was like old times, in the best kind of way.

It had been a long time since I'd been to the UK and I was struck my many things that were differently/better than here.
My last airport experience there was Gatwick, which was crowded, long waits in line, etc.  Heathrow was wonderful.....open, airy, easy, and that's without the Arab music and dancing girls!  My bag was searched because I forgot to empty my water bottle, but the young man was so polite and helpful that I didn't even mind.  I came back into Dullas and the personnel were rude and unhelpful...and I'm a citizen!  I can only imagine how foreigners must feel...what a disappointment!
As we were driving from Rickmansworth to York we passed several wind farms, each with 6-8 windmills......something you don't see in this part of the country (nor do you see solar panels in one of the sunniest parts of the country!!)  I find the windmills not at all objectionable in appearance, but Martin said they were quit noisy, which I didn't' know.  In any case, it is good to see other countries moving forward with alternative energy sources.
I loved the fact that garbage collection included composted foods!  At both Ann and Jean's there were small kitchen containers with bags to collect kitchen wasteI've been wanting to compost for a while but don't feel secure enough to get started, AND I'm afraid it might smell with the heat of the summer If it were done in conjunction with garbage collection, that would be great.  I think you can also buy the compost for yards at a very reasonable price....a win-win all the way around!  In that same vein, everyone arrives at the grocery store with their reusable bags rather than pay for plastic bags.  We use plastic bags like they aren't an environmental problem.
The train and metro systems are as efficient as ever.  I've always enjoyed train travel there and am glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy it again.
 
Anyway, I came home to a week and a half of overcast, rainy days, which made me appreciate the wonderful weather we had in England.  It has now settled into our usual fall weather.....low to mid-80s, sunny and nice. I've managed to walk most days this week and hope to start a yoga class on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I wish I loved to exercise, but....

The second Saturday after I got back, I thought my mother was dying.  She couldn't eat....it was like she'd forgotten how to chew!  Her body was locked and it seemed to be painful to move.  It took most of the following week for her to show any improvement.  Hospice thinks she had a TIA....a mini-stroke.  Once she was more responsive, she spent every waking moment crying, pleading, praying....Oh, God.....Oh, God, help me, help me!!  Over and over again.  It was heartbreaking.  Finally they gave her a low dose of Ativan at morning and night.  While it makes her sleepy, it does keep her from being so distressed. 

By the time that was under control, I had to go to the doctor myself for my locked shoulders and neck.  That is the area I usually carry stress but now, in addition to being locked, the discomfort began moving up into my head and my movement was limited.  I was given meds and exercises, which have helped a little, but only a little. 

Otherwise, I've kept up with my Living Liberally group, touched bases with friends, attended another concert  at the Unitarian churcg, and signed up for several OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) classes with my friend, Chris.  My most enjoyable new commitment is helping with a feral cat colony.  My neighbor, Joe, who has been feeding several colonies for a long time, asked if I'd be willing to help with the two kitties who separated from the main colony.....they are the two shown in the July 31st post, along with the raccoon!  Needless to say, this was right down my alley!  When I went with Joe to see what he does, another black cat showed up....and appeared when I fed them on my own.  So, we may have a growing colony and I'm happy to be a part of it.  I think I'll really enjoy it.....so be prepared for lots of photos!!!

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