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So I've been thinking that since garbanzo beans seem to be low on the glycemic index, and I already have one way of using garbanzo flour in a thing to replace a wheat flour thing, I ought to look at making garbanzo flour things.

The one I already knew how to make is farinata, which is rather like a pizza. You make a thinnish (a little thinner than pancakes, a little thicker than crepes or blintzes)batter of just garbanzo flour and water, and you make a small-skillet-sized pancake of it in some olive oil, and you put a handful of yummy things on it. Don't make two: they don't work as leftovers.

So then I have made two kinds of dumplings. The first ones I made like matzoh balls, with egg and butter and water and a dough stiff enough to roll into little balls the size of cherries and then boiled forever in water and they still were a bit undercooked and dry. But promising. I'm going to work on these some more.

The next kind was made more like knodeln as I understand knodeln. A batter like pancakes or a bit thicker, with oil instead of butter, more water, some baking powder. Dropped from a spoon to the bottom of the boiling water,rose up and boiled less than forever, texture perfect and since I had flavored them with garbanzo-friendly spices (cumin, dill, savory and pepper) they tasted very nice. They went into the water a bit smaller than a cherry but irregular because of the spoon and came out about half again bigger. These I think are a reproducible and desirable recipe.

We ate them with pumpkin soup. My freezer is way full and so I felt I must use one of the bags of frozen pumpkin I put in there a while back, and we also pulled a batch of cabbage rolls. Just to make it enough vegetables I made a little salad of lettuce with quick pickle and parmesan on it. Quick pickle is you finely slice up what you want (in this case, radishes, cucumbers, and carrots) in seasoned rice vinegar and keep it in a jar in the refrigerator until you finish it off. I've made a liter in the past and kept it for over six months and it just kept changing flavor and not going bad.

Next up: garbanzo flour noodles? Because pasta with things is comfort food. Not so much the red sauce spaghetti, but throw your odd bits in with the pasta and there you are kind of thing. If the noodles stay together well enough, I may attempt ravioli or piroshki.

On another front. my Gloria is in hospice care and I haven't seen her in months because I've been working overtime and sick all the time. So that's on my agenda. I have tomorrow off, I'll go then, after I meet a couple of good friends I don't deserve for breakfast.
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I think it has been three weeks since I've written about Gloria. It has not been an uneventful three weeks.

Three Thursdays ago Gloria and I started out with a normal morning -- we went out, had lunch, came back -- there were no suitable movies. I sat down to write while she lay down to have a nap. She woke up a couple of hours later, bright red, warm to the touch, clearly having trouble, saying "I'm so sick," which is not how she ordinarily describes a headache, an upset stomach, or any normal discomfort (she says "it's terrible," and then gestures to the part of her body that's bugging her). I dithered for a bit, and then bundled her into the car to take her to urgent care -- her doctor's office was closed and I didn't think she probably warranted emergency care, which was a mistake, as it turned out.

At the urgent care parking lot she vomited all over herself and my car. I took her in the bathroom there and I changed her shirt (we always have extra sweaters and things because she is afraid of getting cold) but didn't have a change of pants for her so I had to just wash and towel-dry what she was wearing as best as I could. After the usual long wait the doctor came in and said she had to go to emergency care because he couldn't rule out heart or other hospitalization issues with the resources at urgent care.

Now, for non-USians, what you need to understand is that her primary care doctor is part of a private practice which leases office space from a private medical shopping-mall sort of thing ("Valle Verde Medical Plaza"): urgent care is a separate private outfit in an actual shopping mall on the opposite end of Watsonville in the north-south direction (east-west if you're following the highway deignations, but that's a quirk of the coastline): the hospital they took her to belongs to another private corporation (headquartered in Salinas? or is Salinas just the regional headquarters of a larger hospital group? The pharmacy in the Valle Verde center belongs to a group headquartered in Palo Alto) and the ambulance that transferred her belongs to a separate private company with a satellite office five or so miles west (north if you're following the highway designation), next to the hospital they didn't take her to (which belongs to Catholic Hospitals West, which is yet another private corporation, but since CHW belongs to the Catholic Church it gets to be called private nonprofit even though it makes a profit).

If I had had the wit to realize that Gloria was going to be hospitalized, I would have cut out the urgent care, the ambulance, and Watsonville Community Hospital, and gone straight to Dominican, which for all its faults is the better hospital. Oh well.

They kept her at the hospital for a week. She had a urinary tract infection, not at all surprising as her grasp of hygeine has been crumbling and we had been behind the curve in taking over (i.e., she didn't want other people cleaning her up and we didn't force the issue, we just fretted to each other about it). After a week they transferred her to a skilled nursing facility.

Let me just say here if you have any say about what somebody is given to control their agitation, refuse Halidol. It didn't make her calmer, it just made her weak and even more confused. We thought she had lost tremendous ground cognitively, never to regain it, and it was horrible to sit next to her and her her muttering "help . . . help ... anybody? got to go home, help . . ." and not be able to get through to her or even get her to look at us.

A day at the skilled nursing facility, where there are very strrict rules about medicines, and she had returned to almost pre-illness consciousness. She has lost some mental capacity, but much more in line with the general trend of the condition of progressive aphasia, not the catastrophic loss she seemed to have in the hospital. Let me say this one more time: Halidol does not make the patient calmer. It just makes the patient weaker and easier to manage. It makes the patient less rational and more anxious, but easier to ignore.

Halidol is not kind.

Two days at the skilled nursing facility and Gloria was walking again, and trying to refuse the walker and walk on her own. We had to persuade her to use the walker for another week and a half because we couldn't get rid of the Foley catheter yet and really she wasn't that stable yet. Ever since, she has spent most of her waking hours on the move. She wants to leave. She wants to go home. She has no patience. But she's going home next week.

There are criticisms to be made of Pacific Coast Manor, but it is still overall a very well-run, very warm, very lively place. It seems to serve two populations. There are the acute rehab patients like Gloria, who have been ill or have had an injury or a surgery and are being treated before they go home,. Then there are the long-term care patients, whose condition will probably not improve enough for their families to care for them. You can't tell who's who by looking at them once or twice. There's a good staffing ratio, but they're really glad that we're there all day. For one thing, Gloria is still trying to escape whenever someone from her family is not there (Elaine and I count as family). They have this "wanderguard" bracelet on her that causes an alarm to go off if she walks out the front door (deactivated rather easily by sticking a finger or a pen into a depression at the bottom of the sensor box: I wonder that some of the wander-prone don't figure that out), but there are at least two doors that I have found that are not alarmed, the one by the laundry and the one that goes out of the physical therapy room, and neither of those places is always staffed. So when I'm with her, we walk and walk and walk and walk, mostly laps around the facility, but also out into the neighborhood a little. I've been trying to sign her out for longer walks -- it's only four blocks to the ocean and there's a pretty little park right across the street (which I'd have to convince her to let me wheel her in because it's on the bank of Soquel Creek, too steep for her to walk -- hello Soquel Creek, my darling urban watershed I monitored all summer!), but she balks when she realizes I'm not going to put her in my car and take her home.

They have a lot of activities going on, some which seem kind of dumb but some of the patients always participate (and not just always the same ones). The most annoying that I've seen is the Cowboy Church on Friday afternoons. The Cowboy Church is headed up by this big guy who is the maintenance director of the place. He has a five (six?) piece band, all these kind of recovery-looking guys -- you know what I mean, they look like they led a hard life and credit leaving their rough and rowdy ways behind to Jesus's tender mercies and the fear of God. The frustrating thing is musically they're pretty hot so you kind of want to listen to them as they go on and on and on, but they spend most of the time bragging on how they have worked black magic on God (no that's not how they say it, but they do boast that when they pray to God for something to happen, it happens, just like that, and they give weirdshit promises that God will do obscure things for the old folks -- what does it mean to say "He will establish you?").

Yesterday was Gloria's 80th birthday and she got sung to over and over. First the activities director who is probably over 21 but only just came to her with a mylar balloon. Gloria's daughter (here from Australia, spending a klot of her time clearing uop Gloria's house and doing research on the next phase of care) bought her a kid's picture book and an ice cream cake. The Cowboy Church guy ambushed us with a full instrumentalized version, which was nice, but he had to ram a "Jesus loves Gloria" verse down our throats, even though what he must have observed is that Gloria spent all afternoon running away from Cowboy Church! -- it happens in the front lobby so it's almost impossible to avoid if you're doing laps. Gloria loves music, but she's a Unitarian.

Gloria's definitely lost more language than cognition, though. She's doing more communicating with gestures. She's become even more clingy than she was, which is understandable since we abandon her for several hours at night. Thursday she wore Shelley's jacket for a long time. Friday she wore my jacket, which was so much too big for her that it was cute. It was my jean jacket that I try to collect pins on (my election volunteer pins are currently lost, and the Lenin pin won't stay on, so it has only the Heart Association donor pin, the Watershed volunteer pin, and a thing from Germany with the hammer and sickle replaced by a divider and hammer indicating that East Germany used to think that it was "workers and intellectuals" not "workers and peasants").

This is too long already, so no other fronts: instead, I'll spam. Later.
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llygoden's fault.


rosy clouds in a moonlit sky (toronto chinese orchestra)
i pity the poor immigrant (dylan, but it's a cover, I forget who)
transdanubian lament (I forget who, but it's on piranha)
arsovka nevenka: karabin 30-30 (that is, the Mexican song "Treinte-treinte" sung by a Yugoslav)
xodo de sanfoneiro (thank dog for the portuguese language)
i'm going to live the life I sing about (Mahalia Jackson)
speed the traktor (3 Mustaphas 3)

I'll tell you all about Gloria and the skilled nursing facility when I recover. She is exhausting me.

exhausted

Mar. 16th, 2007 08:55 pm
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So yesterday we moved Gloria from Watsonville Community to Pacific Coast Manor, a "skilled nursing facility." I'm pissed off at Watsonville Community. They had given her Halidol Wednesday night because she was anxious and trying to leave. Okay, I understand treating the anxiety medically, but the Halidol did not wear off for about eighteen hours. She was somnolent and could not keep her eyes open. But she was not calm. She was just as anxious and just as frightened and just as determined to leave: she kept saying, in this tiny, tiny voice, "help, help, I want to go, I need to go." But she was too drugged out to even hear me telling her I was there and she was going to go home as soon as she was strong enough.

Today, in the morning, she still seemed out of it. However, by lunch time, when her son Tom (my favorite archaeologist) showed up with his dogs (one at a time), she perked up and started demanding to practice walking. I had been telling her that she would go home when she was strong enough to do her own walking and getting in and out of chairs and beds and stuff, and she has apparently taken this to hear, because she spent the rest of the day determinedly practicing. One of the aides is a worry wort: he kept having conniptions whenever she tried to stand up ("you'll fall! That;s very dangerous!" -- in a thick accent -- Shanghainese, Tom thought, but I think Korean: whatever it is, there are a lot of people at the nursing home who seem to have the same accent, which is only interesting because it's noticeable, if you know what I mean). But other than that, they're very homeward-oriented there. The people are competent, pleasant, engaged, and most of all, there's enough of them. The place does not smell of pee or disinfectant. It's a little noisy with all the people moving around and clattering trays and things, but it's not excruciating. The halls are full of patients wheeling and walkering around, which I think is a good sign.

There's a resident at the place whose name is Jeannette Rankin. She would have been born when the famous one was already famous.

So anyway, I spent a lot of today helping Gloria practice walking. She was happy to listen to the classical guitarist in the morning, but what we thought was cowboy music turned out to be "cowboy church" in the afternoon, with a whole lot of bragging about how this guy had prayed for this that and the other and it had come to pass, so she didn't want to stick around for it and just wanted to walk some more. She was able to say a few more cogent things today, too, and some wry smiles, very Gloria.

Oh, and her ancient old dog disappeared while she was at the hospital -- we think the coyotes ate her, most likely.

Belle of Portgual is in bloom. Here's an old picture:

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Gloria was much improved yesterday. We took her for a couple of short walks and some turns in the wheelchair. She still screamed when they took her blood pressure -- she tolerated the manual cuff better than the automatic one. She kept telling me to go away when she was agitated. I wrote down some of thethings she said. For a while she was calling me "citizen," and I don't know which of several places it came from. She told me, too, to "find the fields I like," which meant "go away."

fotomania below the cut )
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Okay, the Gloria thing. The doctor says yes, she thinks it's the urinary tract infection. She has a nice doctor, actually, youngish, Hispanic, sweet-voiced and smart. But the doctor thinks she should not be discharged to home when she's stabilized and eating again, because she's gone beyond home care. We're all pretty well agreed that we're at this stage or near it anyway. I wasn't there today -- I was in Oakland visiting my brother. But Friday I was there pretty much all day. She needs someone by her side all the time because she's anxious and wants to walk away from the catheter and IV and discomfort. She didn't eat anything yesterday but a bite of jello and a bite of this orange dessert substance. We had to struggle to get pills down her. She screamed when I washed her bottom. She screamed when they took her blood pressure. But when she heard her youngest son's voice she calmed down a lot. She calmed down the most when we got to talking about politics and retirement and things. The other caregiver bought her a stuffed bunny in the gift shop and she loved it. She sort of touched it absently but when the nurse was adjusting her pillows she clutched the bunny and said "it's mine." She's dropped a couple of cognitive rungs and I think she's run out of the wherewithal to regain her place.

Today supposedly the doctor and the discharge nurse were going to talk to whichever sons were available (the daughter being in Australia at the moment). Places in nursing homes are kind of tight. Nursing homes used to be a major industry in Santa Cruz but the property values have skyrocketed so it's not so profitable as it used to be. Also, there's been some closures due to licensing issues -- that is, they were hellholes. The ones that are left tend to be okay.

Tomorrow I'm goig to go do Gloria all day again.

This week I need to look for another job.

I'm taking Glucosamine now for the neck thing but I'm not sure I'm doing it right.
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So along about 4:30 in the afternoon, Gloria woke up from a nap saying she was so sick which is not a construction she usually uses. She was gesturing at her face and lower abdomen in ways that have meaning but they have too many meanings to be sure of right off the bat. Her skin was bright red and she was hot to the touch. I decided she had to go to urgent care. As we pulled into the parking lot there she threw up, violently and nastily.

At urgent care they couldn't rule out serious problems like heart attack which apparently frequently presents as nausea, so they sent her in an ambulance to Watsonville Community Hospital's emergency room. She was confused and panicked and combative and screamed bloody murder when they put in the IV, inserted the catheter, took the Xrays, and even when they wiped her butt. I really worked my ass off calming her and getting scraps of cooperation and, I'm sorry to say, holding her down.

They got her settled and I left for home at 11:30. I've been home for an hour and a half and I think I am finally ready to go to bed. I had dinner at midnight.

The diagnosis they came up with was urinary tract infection. I don't think so. Not that she doesn't have the urinary tract infection -- she always has one -- but this is different.

I'm going to sleep in some in the morning, go to her house, do the laundry, and go in to the hospital with clean clothes, in case they send her home tomorrow.

That hospital does not inspire confidence.

On another front, we've had somewhat more than half the normal rainfall this year and the water department is finally beginning to say the d-word -- drought -- even if just to say no, not quite. They're talking restrictions but not rationing. Restrictions is not much in Santa Cruz, where we already tend to save water more than most USians: no irrigation between 10 and 5, no washing the car with a hose (have to use a bucket and sponge). That kind of thing. We already do that. I say, if we're looking at a dry year, just start the damned rationing already.
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Bulgarika played at the Caygua Vault tonight. If you're in California, follow the link and you too can be amazed by the astounding Ivan Malev, the most mind-boggling accordionist you'll ever see. You kind of have to see him as well as hear him, because he's all showmanship. He looks rather like the Good Soldier Schweik (in the illustrated version I read as a kid), ugly as a bulldog, but he lights up on the stage. He capers and grimaces and smiles and flirts with the audience while cavorting on the accordion keys and making the most incredible musical jokes as he goes. He even worked "This Old Man" into a piece. It says here he's a founding figure in "modern wedding bands." He has his own band. I'd link to an explanation of what a wedding band is but I can't find a good one. It's like ceilidh is to Irish music: folky, modern, exuberant, and integrated.

I bought a little book and CD about Thracian folk life, from which the title for this post comes -- the Kolevi (Nikolai Kolev, the gudulka player, and Donka Koleva, the singer)write about the changes in twentieth-century Bulgarian folk life with great gusto. And the translation-English is only hysterical in isolated moments. I can't figure out how "loan" becomes a word for a fire pit, for example, though I did figure out that it was a fire pit in question from the context (it was a recipe for beans in the Haiduk manner)

You can hear sound clips of each of Bulgarika at that first link at the beginning of the post.

on another front, we had a Gloria milestone of a sad sort today: she couldn't quite remember where or what the bathroom was. No, she didn't do something in an inappropriate place, but she had to get me to show her. How did I know that was the problem? She said, "I have to go, but I don't know where to go."

Friday foto

Feb. 2nd, 2007 11:55 pm
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Everybody else seems to have their "Friday Something Blogging." I've been dithering because the things I take pictures of are only around part of the year. So I decided I would do that: seasonal pictures.

Two pictures below the cut: laying pipe and slitting the plastic in a berry field on Calabasas Road )

So. Today is the sixteenth anniversary of my mother's death. For maybe the first time, I'm not messed up about it. I was thinking today about something else. I don't know what it means.

Emma's going to turn twenty in a few months. When my mother was twenty, my brother was a year old.

Frank will turn twenty-eight on the same day. When I was twenty-eight, Frank was two.

So maybe when one or the other of them is thirty-six, their firstborn will be three?

Lately Gloria's been having days when she's not sure how to manage underpants. She gets dressed without them and then doesn't feel right and she needs to have them shown and explained to her. Then she puts them on right and she feels better. She has this thing about filling up her already very heavy purse with objects. Gloves, combs, brushes, hankies, partial rolls of toilet paper, socks, and now lately underwear. And rubber-banded stacks of ancient bank statements. On bad days she starts panicking about leaving the house. No, she wants to leave the house -- too early to go to the things she's supposed to go to. Today, since she wanted to leave the house two hours early I made her go to this little shopping center and walk a whole block to the store called "Susie's Deals" where I found presentable clothes for $5 each (I now feel the need to throw away twice as many clothes as I bought). That much standing up and walking was sufficient to cause her hip and knee pain the rest of the day. This may be because she's dug up an older pair of leather sneakers and they might be throwing her gait off. Also, I missed "The L Word" because she wanted to see "Everything is Illuminated" and then she kept wandering around finding things to fret about myhsteriously.

And of course you understand that Groundhog Day is more or less sixish weeks from the Spring Equinox, right? So if the groundhog sees his shadow, which he will on most days, there will be six months more of winter. Because they will. You've got to admire a joke that nobody even tries to get. A sleeper, maybe.
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If it seems like I'm seeing a lot of movies lately, it's because I am. Gloria can't do very many things but she has an appetite for experience yet, and movies and lunch are the two things she can almost always do. Sometimes it's hard to find a movie she can watch. So I figured that since she had enjoyed the first fifteen minutes or so of "The Black Dahlia" before it turned into a sordid lump of grim stupidity, mostly on the grounds that it looked like her early youth, "The Flags of our Fathers" might actually work out for her, in spite of being a war movie. She thought "Rang de Basanti" was good too, and that was not only about people you'd have to call terrorists but it was also heavily subtitled. So we went.

It's certainly hard to watch for long stretches. I'll have to say that once again the trailers were misleading. The trailers look like the whole movie happens Stateside except for a few minutes. But really I'd say half the movie is Iwo Jima, and that most of Iwo Jima is in battle, waiting for battle, or cleaning up after battle. And like all new modern war movies, there's no cutting away from the severed head and so on. There's one body they didn't show us, and since by then you've seen a lot of awful things, it's very effective not to show that one.

Remember what I've been going on about, regarding suffering at the movies? I freely admit I had to spend a fair amount of time looking at the ceiling and letting the movie play out in my peripheral vision. I did suffer in those scenes. But here's the thing: it was worth it. This is not a movie that slaps you in the face over and over with bloody guts just to show how hip it is to the realities of war and to inflate the special effects budget. There's something going on. There's a real story, and some real questions -- no answers, really, despite the kind of weird moral-to-the-story voiceover at the end: that's just tacked on because ol' Clint or maybe Spielberg couldn't walk away and leave the thing just hanging there. But really, they could have: the last words have already been expressed really well by the story itself and it just doesn't add anything to have them intoned.

Really this movie isn't about an analysis or a position or an ideology. Good thing, too, because honestly Clint Eastwood's politics stink. He seems to do pretty well with a movie that just looks at stuff, though.

The movie seems to think it's all about what a hero is or isn't, but I think it's more general than that: when you look at the things that the people back home are doing, and hear them justify themselves, there's a definite parallel, which is unsettling to say the least.

Anyway, it's very well crafted, and it's compelling, and it feels very authentic. Opening day at the Green Valley there were lots of cars in the parking lot, but maybe they were there for "The Prestige" (which the other caregiver gets to take Gloria to because she couldn't believe the war movie could be bearable and because I kind of wanted to see "the Prestige" with the nice fellow).

Gregory Bateson used to say that nothing happend for just one reason. He said everything is overdetermined. So the overdetermining factor in me seeing this movie is Johnny Cash singing about Ira Hayes dying drunk a few years after the war. It turns out the movie not only has a very attractive man (Adam Beach) playing Ira Hayes, but it spends quite a lot of time on him so you really get to understand him.

At this point Joe Bob would list all the kinds of fu in the movie and then say "check it out," but I'm not Joe Bob.
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Well, at least she did the research for me. But she reported that the only place that has chickens for sale in October (not chicken season, surely) is this guy who lives in Corralitos "next to Five Corners" -- which I believe is the Corralitos Market and "next to Hansen Feed" which I believe is at Five Mile, at the opposite end of Corralitos Road. However, this is not relevant, because when I called the guy I found out he's off Salinas Road, which is about five miles out of Watsonville in the opposite direction. At least the phone number was correct, and I was able to make a date for tomorrow (so that we can get the cat carrier out). She left me a phone number to call her, but when I called it, I got a recorded message: "If you want to send a fax, start transmission now. If you do not, hang up and check the number."

Well, I don't have to call her on the phone, she lives on the corner.

I have a bad feeling about this though: as far as I know she hasn't built a fence for her chickens yet.

Though the contractor did patch the temporary fence on my yard, that's good. Truffle doesn't seem to mind not being able to roam around the neighborhood: she's very grateful that she can go outside and pee.

Frank needs an absentee ballot, but I don't, because I'll be working at my regular precinct. Also, there's only a little time left for precinct walking and to research the initiatives and propositions and local measures.

I know this: I'm voting for Simba Kenyatta, Bruce Van Allen, and Mike Rotkin. Marilee, I thought about the one-vote strategy but I'm not sure it's relevant in this kind of election. Also, I'm voting for Michael Watkins again. More reports later.

Must go check Gloria.

edited to add: the chicken lady is also trying to get me to give her ten dollars for chicken medicine above the agreement we already made, and she wanted to dictate the color of the chicken. I ignored the money and said I wasn't going to go to any effort to get her the right color of chicken.
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Here's a transcript of the Chavez speech and a link to the video.

He called Bush the devil. Bush is the devil.
He called for resistance to American imperialism. He said Bush sees extremists everywhere. He said the American people want peace and its government doesn't. He said Bush is trying to impose his own model of democracy on other governments by violence and he wondered what kind of democracy that could be. He said Bush calls the worthy Evo Morales of Bolivia an extremist.

He was very jovial and eloquent.

I like Chavez okay: we'll see whether I can keep liking him or not (I'm a little wary of being overenthusiastic about politicians above the level of state representative -- I guess I have to see them in the grocery store before I think I can know them and their self-interest well enough to trust them farther than I can throw them. Plus, Chavez has done some dodgy things in the past)

Over at Scalzi's Whatever, he predicted the right wing's heads would explode seeing Chavez with a copy of Noam Chomsky's book (which he urged everyone to read) calling Bush the devil. And . . . there they are, exploding all over his blog.

Has anybody in the US been paying attention to the fact that Latin America is increasingly laughing at the US's notions of hemispheris hegemony? In different ways, of course.

Edit: the BBC has nothing on its site about Evo Morales more recent than April.

Just file this away in your important-but-fermenting section of your mind: Latin America is doing a lot. Latin America is electing native and creole leaders who question why they have to take guff from the US. Mexico is basically in a state of civil war (Hugo Chaves, Evo Morales, Lula, Lopez Obrador isn't but that's where his power base is). I think it's best described as a cold civil war, because it's armed skirmishes and political maneuvering rather than all-out battle with tanks -- oops, got that wrong, there were armored vehicles on the streets in Oaxaca last month.


On another front, Gloria's ill today. I'm working on a bit about engineered "embryo practitioners," that is, people whose job it is to incubate babies. I don't think I'm predicting anything: it's just an idea. I think it's about how taking on the job disrupts the character's relationships.
finally: why does Livejournal allow me to drag and select sometimes if it's not going to allow me to drag and select other times?
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This afternoon I heard this interesting yipping. Puppy yipping: "le'go of my ear you're hurting me I'll get you back with my sharp little milk teeth you nasty little brother" yipping. I looked out Gloria's sliding door, and there, maybe a hundred feet downslope, was a pack of coyotes, three adults and four babies, all kind of doofing around in the cut grass. The little ones were doing just what it sounded like, tumbling over and over and generally making nuisances of themselves. One adult kept scratching himself because summer is flea season. The mother noticed me right away and considered for a while before relocating the whole pack in the shadows where I could no longer steal their souls. I do not know what the third adult was doing.

I've put up eight pictures in the gallery under "Calabasas Road." Here are the best ones -- I'm still not happy with the pictures I'm getting of animals, I need to work on it more.








just stuff

May. 12th, 2006 07:49 am
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1. The Namenda (anti-dementia drug) is working for Gloria. She's much more with-it that she was a week ago. However, this is not a magic cure, and the inevitable direction of things is the same.

2. Frank had a ride-along with the fire department yesterday (for his EMT recertification). The students were advised to take treats with them for the firefighters. Frank took his signature pecan pie. One of the firefighters said "Hmm, do you know how to make a chocolate mousse cake?" and gave him the recipe. I'm thinking, if there's an opening in the fire department, somebody might say, "Hey, this is the guy who brought the pie!" (he also got a good evaluation for his professionalism and stuff, too)

And also, the captain who signed off on him is a local celebrity -- Brett Taylor, who has a Salsa and Latin Jazz public radio show and mcs a lot of music events -- the all-city kids' band concert (by which I mean, not a single band recruited from the best players in the district, but every band from all the schools, elementary on up), the all-weekend free outdoor concert in the street put on by the Cabrillo Music Festival (which, I am told, is a world-class event, but I've never been to the festival proper yet, just the outdoor thing), stuff like that. He's an impressive guy, too, smooth deep voice and fine to look at. Yes, he's a fireman, so of course he looks good, but he's also especially handsome, with really dark skin and just a really nice twinkly-eyed expression. He came to my Spanish class and did a presentation, too.

3. It looks like we're going to have a good plum crop after all, but not much in the way of apples, and I didn't for a moment think we'd have many apricots after the severe pruning we did last year (part of which happened by accident: I accidentally broke a major branch and had to trim it all the way back instead of just taking off this sucker I was trying to get)

4. It's really summer by my usual measures except the grass is green.

5. I'm considering doing more vignettes for Afterwar from the refugee's POV, mostly to make it longer, but I'm thinking I might be able to develop some of the things I have regretted not getting to.
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However, I did finally get those five stories mailed today. And I used the treadmill at Gloria's house though it was terribly boring because I couldn't get my book to stay in a readable position. The book is Kim which I read four times forty years ago. I wanted to read Zola, but I keep having this problem -- I hate the books. Is it the translation? Or is Zola really hateful?

We saw "Akeelah and the Bee" today and it is very heartwarming and sentimental, but it is also interesting and cool. There's some stuff about redemption through what? the dictionary? competition? helping? reconciliation? jumping rope? I'm not sure. Maybe all of these things.

Gloria's on a new medicine for the dementia, its stats look good. In general, her cognitive deterioriation has been accelerating, and physically she's been getting frailer. But this last two days, while she's been really very befuddled, she's been engaged, and her eyes have the light of human intelligence in them. No thanks to her regular doctor, who did not prescribe the medicine, and who, when I took her in last week for pelvic pain (and a history of bladder infections and intestinal difficulties) prescribed 800 mg of ibuprofen twice a day. No, we didn't do it. The other doctor gave her the dementia medicine and treated her bladder infection.

Tedious bad radio luck and annoying music most of the last two days no matter what station I turn to but I hit "The Elvis Blues" on the way home.I started free-associating about songs in general.

On another front -- I finally know how Winston got his own apartment.  And it sucks that there's only one person in the whole wide world who's actually read The Conduit besides me and who therefore has a chance in hell of knowing or caring anything about it.  Since Forager Girl is the protagonist of the next thing I'm writing when I finish Afterwar  (real soon now, I've got five or no more than ten pages to go, and I'm able to do this again), I understand that Winston is a major supporting character.  And he also gets a true lover in this book, in the process of F.G. getting hers.  I'm pretty happy with the way it's shaping up and it just might be one of those fast ones like The Conduit.  

I'm about to get maudlin about writing all these terrific things and not getting them read, so I'm off to bed.
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It's Gloria's birthday and she's completely uninterested. The deterioration caused by the progressive aphasia has accelerated in the last month. Her personality has suffered. But she still loves music and flowers and her dog.

I'm almost finished with the silly little romance and I've poked at other projects. The new drug for blood pressure ("Avapro") doesn't seem to actually lower my blood pressure but it does leave me much more chipper and energetic than I've been for a long time. So I'm doing the dishes, and paying the bills, that sort of thing. It's kind of too bad that it doesn't lower my blood pressure, because I like the way I am on it.

I even tracked down the cds that were lying all around the house. I found "The Gift of the Elves," (hungarian bagpipes) "Protoyp," (hurdy-gurdy as synthesizer)and the one that I was actually looking for, "Gratitude," my father's last compilation and his statement about the world.

I'm not ready with the third installment of my literary history of gay coming of age erotic romance online serials yet. The only reason I posted is that someone on my friends list had a "location" feature on her entry and I had to go find it and use it.
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A bit before eleven-thirty last night my son called me to say that purple car (my father's car) had been causing him adventures and he thought it was driving well enough right then but he was on his way from Oakland, so . . . "And you called me to warn me that you might be needing to be rescued later?" I asked.
"Um, yeah," he said.
"Well, that sucks, but I sleep next to the phone."

This morning, he's home, and I didn't get a call last night, so I suppose that purple car didn't cause him any more adventures but I guess it has to go to Greg at the Engine Room to get its insides sorted out. White car (mine) needs a new alternator and I want to get its suspension checked out because the road to Gloria's has descended into pothole hell and descends a little deeper every day, and especially deeper after every rain. Lately I have to take that road so slowly the speedometer doesn't register it. I should document it. The road is pretty close to unbelievable, and is evidence for why it's better to have taxes and governments with their own transportation departments than private roads with only voluntary expenditures by the immediate neighbors. And green car (the nice fellow's) needs an oil change.

On another front, I took Gloria to the U.U. church yesterday. I don't usually do Sundays, but her eldest who's supposed to do Sundays was in Guatemala doing archaeology. It was pleasant and I don't get why none of her family will take her. She said there were too many people and it's true that it was confusing for her at the end when they were breaking down the meeting room to have room for coffee and cake. But I think she'd like to go again. I didn't suddenly become a church goer but I surely wouldn't mind taking her again even though there kept being triggers for weeping about my father. I don't mind crying now and then. My friend Elizabeth lit a candle for him, in this ritual thing they do where they light candles of sorrow or joy and talk about the dead person or the cancer remission or whatever. The songbook was cool, very thick, with many good songs in it and a preface that reads like one of those jokes that U.U. people tell about themselves. Naturally I think if you're going to have a church at all you're sort of obligated to have good music.
Gloria was also pleased because there was a woman carrying a little dog like it was a purse.

On still another front, Elizabeth's picturewindow was shattered by a large dark grey raptorish bird flying through it (and leaving unharmed after much effort by Elizabeth and her lodger). I suspect it is the same type of hawk we saw so much of on our way South a couple of weeks ago.
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So Gloria has shown signifigant deterioration in the last couple of weeks. We're sure that she's having those little strokes all the time -- she has these headaches, she becomes less coherent, she feels bad, she lies down. Yesterday she was frantic all morning to get things done -- mopping the floor, which has been the job of the weekly housecleaner forever, and various other strange little tasks. And we were talking past each other all day.

I went googling for advice, and nobody has any, apparently, for what to do during these little stroke things (if that's what they are). They talk about aspirin or warfarin for prevention, but nothing for during and after. I decided I have to become more proactive again about talking with her and doing things with her -- I've been sort of passive this last month, I think because I'm just generally tired from driving to San Francisco and back twice a week. (which also means I've been eating badly: I always overeat when I'm tired: and I've regained, I think, the four or five pounds I'd lost. And my new blood pressure medicine that doesn't make me cough also doesn't keep my blood pressure down, which will be addressed in a couple of weeks)

On the other hand, things are better in San Francisco. My father has had his first week of radiation therapy, and while he's not bouncy, he's not exactly wasted. Frank has been making him tiny meals many times a day and he's eating better. Moher is walking without a cane and taking charge again (she's the take-charge kind of person. She had started to insist on being in the know a week or more ago, and that was definitely a milestone).

Okay. personheadhttp://hrj.livejournal.com/ tagged me for one of these silly list things that I've come to the point of maybe resisting. It's the only time I've ever been tagged for anything, so it would be discourteous for me to refuse, or to refuse to tag somebody. But before I do that, can I register my disappointment that a word I hate has been adopted by the world online?

Goodness knows I'm not opposed to neologisms. I'm no kind of purist about neologisms, either -- when I see a painful hybrid of Greek and Latin and Germanic roots I think it's funny, not sacreligious. But sometimes a word comes along and a person just can't abide it for their own reasons. I hate hate hate the word "meme" for two reasons: 1)it originates in a stupid fashionable misunderstanding of the way genetics and evolution work and 2)it has unpleasant connections for me because it first spread in usenet by people I don't like. Lots of people I do like participated in this spreading too, so if you can recall being one of the first people to spread this word and the unfortunate stupid idea that clings to it like a mind-numbing stumbling block to comprehension, don't worry -- if you're reading this and you're one of those first people, you're probably not one of the people I don't like, though you probably know who I'm talking about. (probably better than I do because I have not had anything to do with them for a while)

Okay, the silly list thing goes like this: you list five guilty pleasures and then tag five people.

My silly list of five guilty pleasures:
1. fried fish sandwiches in a fast food restaurant
2. salty Japanese snacks
3. dumber and dumber and dumber romantic comedies with fakey cryey spots ("In her Shoes," "Just Like Heaven")
4. mint chocolate ice cream
5. amateur online gay coming of age erotic romance serials. Which I feel less guilt about as the genre develops and I realize I'm watching a new form of literature evolve, and I'm also watching a very interesting phenomenon develop in the interactive community of readers and writers involved with them, and I think I may be able to produce a stuffy analysis of it all, if I can remember how academic writing is supposed to go.

Okay, I'll tag, um, [livejournal.com profile] del_c,[livejournal.com profile] mayakda,[livejournal.com profile] orangemike,[livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses, and [livejournal.com profile] aynathie.

On another front, I have finally finished transcribing Chapter 21 of The Donor and will upload it sometime after I tour the water treatment plant and look at orchids with the nice fellow. And I wrote six hundred new words in that story about boys who don't: I think I know what it is now: I think it has four sections and they're really quite grown by the third one. Maybe five, depending on how I work out this one thread of the story.

Oh yes: the manzanita in front of Gloria's is in full bloom, and so are my two almond trees, and the apricot tree is in advanced popcorn stage, and the plum tree is in early popcorn stage, and the Belle of Portugal (rosa giganta) is blooming. And the mustard and oxalis are blooming all through the apple orchards on Calabasas Road. No arguing about it: it's springtime.
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I finished transcribing chapter sixteen of The Donor-- it will go up tomorrow.
I finished the story "Seven Little Men." I'll polish it down below 4.5K probably. I need to do an orgy of sending stories out.
I wrote today's, yesterday's, and tomorrow's bits for Bella and Chain. Besides the fact that it's almost midnight, the reason I'm not doing any posting until the morning is that I need to drastically fix bits in Bella and Chain and I want to be fresh for that.

We went to visit the animal shelter, I don't know why, and had an immense lunch at La Bruschetta in Felton. They don't call it La Bruschetta for nothing. They have a separate menu for bruschetta. They make a big deal of being Sicilian but the food was mostly not really unfamiliar. Though the nice fellow's sandwich had "ammogliu" sauce on it. That appears to be a typo for something that ends with an o but I am no wiser for googling other than that. Last week we went to a restaurant with cuisine from Puglia, where they seem to live on eggs and parsley.

Okay, here's a question for Anna or Anna -- in restaurants in Italy, do they try to grate cheese and crack pepper on every single plate anybody orders? With immense graters and grinders?

Or is that a USian Italian restaurant thing?

So I promised Nicky Browne or is it Matthews that I'd keep her month of short stories project company with two a week. Thursday and Monday. I am cheating this coming Monday with a piece that's half finished. Then I need six more ideas and while ideas are easy to come by not many of them are manageable as shorts.

And I ordered the soundtrack of "Everything is Il;luminated" for Gloria, who wanted to see the movie twice (we did), and whose taste in music appears to be as wide ranging as mine: but when I hit on KPIG she asks me to turn it up loud.
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Frank has sent me two messages today.

I think I may have figured out what to do about Afterwar. I was at loose ends at Gloria's today (and watch this space for more thoughts about her condition and stuff, soon) and I couldn't work on the stuff I have on the flash drive because I have misplaced it (again) so I just started writing what I thought would be compost material for the book -- some stuff not from the good bureaucrat's point of view but from the pov of the man without a country, as a small child, and it was, of course, really intense, being the aftermath of a massacre at a displaced person's camp, and I thought I might be able to do three of these pieces, or so, and I might be able to place them in some respect to the other pieces -- maybe break up the long pieces?

Anyway, something to work on this weekend, which also has the Mime Troupe in it. And I pormised to finally finish that review.

And on other fronts, I keep getting a strange whiff like the smell of depilatory cream, which I think comes from the beauty salon I took Gloria to today, which is next to a beautiful little Salvadoran bar-and-cafe where I had a pupusa with loroco and truly strange horchata with peanuts and sesame seed and cinnamon in it. And I figured out, I think, the original inspiration for the babosas that the villagers eat in Luba's home town in "Love and Rockets." Babosas, are, of course, huge slugs. But I think it's a pun on "pupusas" and it's a way for Mexicans to make fun of Salvadorans.

Oh, and we played the simplified "Ode to Joy" theme together on the piano today and it made Gloria really happy. It was hard for me, because I have never been comfortable with written music, always preferring to learn by ear, but it wasn't too hard because I knew what it was supposed to sound like. Gloria wanted to work on simple things she hadn't played before to see if she could learn things. She's really quite aware of her disability and the degenerative aspects of it, and also quite fierce about the mental abilities she's retained. She was reminiscing for a long time with her son Rolfe this morning about the events of his early childhood in Fresno. I realized that Rolfe grew up about the same time and I think in a nearby neighborhood to Gary Soto, so know I want to get some of Soto's semi-autobiographical pieces for Rolfe.

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