waiting is hard work

I haven’t been posting much this week because I have been busy helping my dad, known here as Paco, and my mom, aka Nana.

Paco’s doctors had been keeping an eye on a partial blockage in one of his carotid arteries and his last ultrasound revealed that it had reached 70%, which is considered time to intervene.

So, on Wednesday, I brought my parents to the hospital for Paco to have carotid angioplasty with possible stenting.

After a morning of doing bloodwork, starting IVs, and asking more questions than you would think possible, the team was ready to begin.

Nana and I waited in the coronary care waiting room because Paco’s procedure was taking place in the same kind of catheterization lab that is used for heart vessel procedures.

It was the same room in which I sat alone in July 2014 when Nana was in the cath lab while Paco was in surgery.

Not my particular favorite place to be.

After an hour, a nurse came out to tell us that a stent would be needed, which would take another hour.

So, we waited some more…

I was using the hospital’s wi fi to read email and such to keep occupied. A rejection notice came through from a submission that I had sent for expedited review. I should have heard back over two weeks ago and had been anxiously awaiting hearing from the journal. Under other circumstances, I might have been upset by the rejection, but, current priorities and perspective definitely put my reaction in its proper place.

We waited for the second hour we expected – and for most of the next hour, too. Nana was very anxious that something had gone wrong. I tried to be reassuring, knowing that things often take more time than anticipated and that informing the family takes a back seat to caring for the patient, but I don’t think I was very successful.

Happily, a nurse came out and said that he was all set and doing well. We got to see him for a moment in the hall before they took him to his room in the ICU, which is best equipped to monitor the heart and other vital signs after these kinds of procedures. They were supposed to come get us after they got him settled.

After a few more minutes, the doctor came out to speak to us and explain some details.

Then, we waited and waited and waited some more.

When we could finally visit in his room, we waited for his nurse to get back to go over more paperwork and for other practicalities like ordering Paco some dinner.

When Nana and I finally left after having been at the hospital almost eight hours, we were both exhausted.

Waiting is hard work.

Postscript:  Paco stayed overnight and was released around 1 PM the next day. We are all still tired and trying to get back on track. And we have to change the clocks for daylight savings time tonight. Goody.

wedding surprise

As some of you know, my parents, whom we call Nana and Paco, live in a retirement community near us in an independent living apartment. Last week, there was a knock on their door. Two of their friends came to visit to ask a special request – that they would be the witnesses at their wedding!

Nana and Paco were so happy for them and immediately agreed.

The wedding was yesterday afternoon, with just my parents and the bride’s daughter in attendance. The officiant was an Episcopal minister who gave a lovely reflection on the importance of listening.

To announce the happy news to the retirement community, last night at dinner there were large cakes for the residents and staff that were a gift from the bride and groom. The cakes had a message of thanks written in icing.

Many people were surprised at the wedding announcement, but I think it is a wonderful reminder that love is a vital force at any age.

While I wish the happy couple as many years as possible together, even if their time together turns out to be short, they have already been a great example of sharing love with each other which radiates out to their friends, family, and community.

Love wins!


SoCS: food!

It’s Saturday morning and I just now looked at Linda’s prompt. I was so excited that the prompt was “food”!  Maybe Linda is psychic, because it is exactly what I would like to write about today.

B and I are on a getaway for a few days and food was a very important part of the plan. On Thursday, we travelled to Deerfield, Massachusetts to stay at the Old Deerfield Inn. We had never stayed there before because it is pretty pricey, but we had discovered that on a weeknight in the off-season, it was affordable.

We had, however, eaten at their restaurant, Champney’s, before, and that was a big factor in deciding to go there. B had chicken piccata , which was a special that night, and I had a steak and ale pot pie, which was made with a local beer and local root vegetables. It was totally amazing. And very hot, because it came baked in its own little iron deep-dish. It took a long time to eat because it stayed very hot.

One of the reasons we love to eat at Champney’s ,though, is that they make an excellent Indian pudding. As people who read Top of JC’s Mind may recall, we have a thing for Indian pudding. It’s a tradition in B’s family and I have even written poetry about it!  (Poems here, here, and here with recipe here.) Being pretty full after our main course, B and I savored a serving of Indian pudding together. Amazing!

Like most inns, breakfast in the morning was part of the deal. I had fresh local yogurt with fruit and homemade granola and a half order of French toast with local maple syrup. B had French toast with scrambled eggs. Then, we ambled out for the day.

We were heading to Lenox and went via Northampton, where I attended Smith College. We had some lovely soup in Thorne’s market – potato leek for me and sausage lentil for B – but then moved on to the real place I want to eat – Herrell’s Ice Cream. Herrell’s was new to Northampton when I was at Smith in the late ’70s – early ’80s and makes astonishingly good ice cream, or, as New Englanders are wont to say, wicked good. I chose malted vanilla, which is one of my all-time favorites. I was afraid B, who is lactose intolerant, would have to settle for sorbet, but they had a couple of “no-moo” flavors, so B got to have peanut butter no-moo. Yum!

We proceeded to Lenox to stay at the Cornell Inn, where we have often stayed on getaways. We had made a dinner reservation at Alta, one of our favorite places in Lenox. B and I shared a salad that featured candied pecans and fried Brie and moved on to our main courses. I had trout, which was excellent. B thoroughly enjoyed pork cheeks braised in cider and served over squash and other seasonal vegetables. If it weren’t a Friday in Lent, I would have sampled it. He said it was great. We wondered if they were really pork cheeks, but I think they must have been as Alta is very particular about all of their menu items.

This morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the Cornell Inn. Breakfast is a highlight of any trip here, as there is always a lovely variety of homemade options. Today’s selection included broccoli fritatta, berry crisp pancakes and cinnamon french toast, mixed berry and oatmeal blackberry muffins, and fruit plate with yogurt on the side. So good!

Now, I am writing this post, but, in a bit, we will check out and head up to Williamstown to stay with a high school friend. Her husband is a (mostly) retired chef, so more great food is on the agenda!

Hope I didn’t make anyone hungry. (I also offer apologies to all my vegetarian friends for rhapsodizing over meat-containing dishes.)
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week was “food”!  Yum!  Join us! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/02/26/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2716/ 

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The middle of last week, I came down with a cold.

In my younger days, I would have kept going full-tilt and powered my way through – which sometimes worked and sometimes resulted in developing bronchitis or a sinus infection or another not-so-fun complication.

Now, being older and not having so many other people depending on me, I decided to do the wise thing and cancel some of my activities, rest more, eat soup and drink warm beverages, not push myself to work out with my Wii Fit, and generally take care of myself and let B help to take care of me, which, I might add, he does superbly.

I thought I could get well faster and be back to normal strength and activity level in a week.

It’s not quite working out that way.

While I have been able to do more over the last few days, I’m still tired and cold and sniffly and achy and a bit hoarse.

I had hoped to go to poetry open mic tonight. I have been AWOL for months due to travel and other conflicts, so I had hoped to go tonight and read before the next batch of obligations hits.

But, no.

I don’t want to drag myself out in the cold (and possible mixed precipitation) and go on a coughing jag in the little bookstore and mess up the other poets’ readings.

So, I’ll curl up under a throw and rest and try to take it easy for another weekend, hoping to have some voice for chorus rehearsal on Monday. I missed rehearsal last week and can’t afford to miss again.

Don’t I deserve some reward for trying to take better care of myself?

SoCS: trigger finger

Grandma has developed a trigger finger. It’s a cute name, but not a cute condition. Basically, the tendon rolls over the bones in the knuckle at the base of the finger down where the fingers meet the rest of the hand. This makes the finger bend down and catch so that it can only be straightened by taking the other hand and prying it out of the bent position.

And it hurts!

I brought her to see the orthopedic who had done a prior hand surgery for her – and who had done shoulder/arm surgeries on both my husband and me. He is the best person in our area to see for hand and arm things because he has done advanced fellowships.

He injected cortisone into the tendon sheath and, after a couple of days, the pain was gone. After a couple of more it would occasionally catch, but could be unbent without having to be pried open with the other hand.

In a few days, we have a follow-up with the doctor. I’m not sure what he will recommend. The original finger is still catching once in a while and now another finger is getting in on the act. He can do an in-office surgery, which may be necessary to have a permanent solution to the problem.

Trigger finger – not just a gangster term.
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “finger.” Join us! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/02/05/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-616/

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Revenge of the Wii Fit

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I was being pretty diligent about healthy diet and exercise. Before E and L’s wedding in Nov. ’12, I even lost a few pounds.

Then, a multigenerational melange of personal and family health issues appeared, entailing a combination of worry, lost sleep, shuttling back and forth to appointments, rushed meals, and general lack of routine. My diet and exercise habits suffered – a lot. I gained about ten pounds.

Over the last several months, I’ve been making an effort to move more, keeping track of steps using the Fitbit I inherited from E. I’ve been making a concerted effort to eat more healthfully without putting my body into starvation mode. I started doing a plank exercise most days.

And, when B was away on business last week, I dusted off the Wii Fit balance board and fired it up.

Although it wasn’t quite that simple…

First, I put fresh batteries in the Wii remote. Then, I had to replace the batteries in the balance board. I opened the compartment to find that not only had the batteries leaked but they had also deposited crusty white stuff onto the contacts. I had to contact tech support, aka B, for recommendations on a safe way to clean them.

Finally, I got everything working and slipped the disc into the console. Our entire family of Miis (our on-screen avatars) was asleep. I woke mine up and was greeted by the news that it had been 1249 days since I had last visited.


I gamely started out with a fitness test, which involves weight and body mass index. I had gained just enough weight to cross into the overweight category and my Mii suddenly got chubby, which was sad and a bit discouraging, but I didn’t let it stop me.

I chose a range of exercises from the different categories, with a mix of core and upper body strength, flexibility, and aerobics, and found that my conditioning was actually still fairly good. Errands, lugging groceries and parcels, and work around the house have kept me stronger than I had thought.

I have been going back to the Wii for exercise most days since I fired it up and am happy to report that I have already gotten my BMI back into the normal range. Granted, part of that is tied to one of my medical conditions that can cause bloating. I am in a better phase with that right now, but I am hoping to lose a few pounds so that, even when it is acting up, I keep my BMI in the normal range.

Wish me luck!

SoCS: Animalia

When our older daughter E was in elementary school, there was a wonderful program called PASTtimes. PAST stood for Parents and Students Together. About once a month, there would be an early evening program for families centered around books. It was great because we could bring along our younger daughter T and have a fun evening together.

One of the books to which we were introduced through PASTtimes was Graeme Base’s Animalia. It is an alphabet book featuring fun and complex captions for fantastical paintings. For example, the letter I:  “Ingenious Iguanas Improvising an Intricate Impromptu on Impossibly Impractical Instruments”.  For V, a sign reading: “Victor V. Vulture The Vaudeville Ventriloquist Versatile Virtuoso of Vociferous Verbosity Vexatiously Vocalizing at the Valhalla Variety Venue”.

How could you not fall in love with such a book?

We went on to purchase Animalia and several other Graeme Base books for our home library. I think my favorite may be The Eleventh Hour, but it is hard to choose.

Even though our daughters are long grown, his books have remained on our shelves in the living room. I did look up the quotes above; my memory is not that good!

Wishing everyone some happy book memories today.  Have one to share? I’d love to hear about it in comments.
Linda’s prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “an-“. Join us! Find more information here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/29/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-jan-3016/

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This post is also part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! Visit here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/30/just-jot-it-january-30th-an-socs/

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To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here.

Saint Francis Prayer

Because I have been (somewhat uncharacteristically) posting every day this month as part of Linda’s Just Jot It January, I have been more proactive than usual in planning my posts. I had a topic picked out for today and had written most of the post in my head.

Then, today happened.

My mom asked me this morning if I could send her a copy of the Prayer of Saint Francis, which a friend who recently passed away had chosen for her prayer card. I wrote a note to remind myself to do it and set out on a day of errands, a meeting, and an appointment.

I wasn’t expecting it, but it became a day when human needs for peace, love, compassion, healing, strength, and joy were placed before me again and again.

The best that I can hope to offer is to share the words of the Saint Francis Peace Prayer, which, while it is a Christian prayer, can also speak in large measure to people regardless of their belief system.

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Shared for my mom, for Wilhelmina, and for all those in need of any of the gifts that Francis calls for in this prayer.

In peace,
To join Just Jot It January, visit here:   http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/28/just-jot-it-january-28th-serendipity/

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To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here.

mochi ice cream!

When I visited with daughter E in Honolulu for five weeks last year, one of our favorite treats was mochi ice cream, a Japanese-style bon bon made of pounded sticky rice wrapped around ice cream. The shops in Honolulu had many different flavors, a number of them tropical fruits.

When I returned home, I tried to find mochi ice cream. I finally found some green tea ones at Wegman’s, but my body doesn’t react well to tea, so I did’t buy them.

Yesterday, I happened to walk by the case and there were vanilla and strawberry mochi ice cream available.

I bought a box of strawberry and ate one after dinner last night.

It was delicious, but the memories of eating them with E made it all the sweeter.
This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! First here first:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/25/just-jot-it-january-25th-prestidigitation/

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To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today.

Stay safe!

This morning, I am thinking about all those facing severe weather. There is a blizzard approaching the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Seventy-five million people will be affected, including my sisters and their families and B’s brother and his family. The forecast calls for a large swath of 2-3 feet (0.75-0.95 meters) of snow coupled with strong winds.

I live further north where we will only catch a few inches, if anything at all.

I am also thinking of others in the United States and around the world who are suffering from floods, droughts, tornadoes, cyclones, mudslides, avalanches, dust storms, and all other weather disasters.

I wish everyone safety and and the swift arrival of whatever aid they need.
Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Start by visiting here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/22/just-jot-it-january-22nd-felicity/

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To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today.

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