SoCS: waterfalls

I don’t live near a waterfall, but I like to visit them.

One that is not too far from home is Taughannock Falls in Ithaca. I especially like to walk on the trail to its base. There are a lot of waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region, due to, well, geology…

Of course, these are small falls compared to Niagara Falls, which I saw first as a child and have visited several times as an adult. I love to look at the power of the water and see the mist and occasional rainbows. I also wonder how loud it must have been when it was having its natural flow. For decades now, some of the water has been diverted to harness the hydropower. I admit to having a particular interest in hydropower because I grew up around it. My father worked for many years for New England Power, including lots of years as superintendent of the Upper Deerfield. We often visited the network of dams and hydro stations, including Bear Swamp, a pump storage project that was constructed when I was a child. Some of the dams were designed to spill when the water was too high, looking somewhat like waterfalls. Usually, though, you tried not to spill excess water, as you wanted to store it for generation later.

Some of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen were in Hawai’i. Because all the islands are volcanoes, the sides are quite steep, giving lots of opportunities for waterfalls to develop. Often, the peaks have hundreds of inches of rain a year, which flows down to meet the surrounding ocean. Often, too, it isn’t raining where the waterfalls are, so there are often rainbows as the sun shines through the mist caused by the falling water. Of course, the beauty of the Hawaiian waterfalls is enhanced by the lush vegetation nearby, watered by the rain falling on the heights of the volcano. Now that E no longer lives in Hawai’i, we haven’t visited recently, but I hope to get back there someday.

Do you have a favorite waterfall?
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This week, Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was to ask someone for a prompt! I asked my daughter T who gave me the prompt “waterfalls.” Join us! Find out how here:¬† https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/28/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-29-18/

SoCS: cookie time!

There are several tins of delicious cookies sitting on my kitchen counter.

Although I can bake, my spouse B long ago took over making the bulk of the Christmas cookies. Right now, we have cinnamon pizzelles, gingerbread decorated with icing, shortbreads, and cherry pistachio biscotti.

Yum!

Our cookie season is extended more than usual this year because we started with St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6, celebrating with E and ABC before they left for London. We continued our celebration last weekend with my older sister and her husband and we are expecting my younger sister and her family the day after Christmas.

B has made multiple batches of some of the cookies this year, but is making fewer kinds than he has in some years. We often have pfeffernuesse, pecan puffs, and different flavors of pizzelles in our assortment. Also, we sometimes make sugar cookies, including some that look like Reddy Kilowatt in honor of Paco’s many years of service at the New England Power Company.

This year, though, I am happy with fewer types of cookies. Fewer choices to make! It’s hard to have one of each when there are eight or nine types. ūüėČ
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “tin.” Join us! Find out how here:¬† https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-22-18/

SoCS: Words with Friends?

I’ve run into a bit of a hairy situation with Words with Friends.

I’ve been playing for years with both in-person and longtime Facebook friends. Occasionally, I also play with some friends of friends who challenge me. WWF lets me know in those cases with whom these new challengers are friends.

Lately, I’ve been getting challenges from people I don’t know.

They are all men.

Some of them have a much lower word strength than mine. My average word is 21. Some have no average word strength listed.

I start to send moves and then these guys start to chat. It tends to start with “Hi.” Then they may ask where I am from or start calling me “dear”.

I don’t answer. I don’t talk to strangers online. I’m perfectly willing to play a game but I don’t want to divulge any personal information to somerandomdude27 or whomever.

After a few moves back and forth without my answering the chat, these guys stop sending moves.

And then I win!

This has all happened since I changed my Facebook profile picture back to a picture of me (and a suitcase) after several years of using a photo of me and B on E’s wedding day.

Is it a coincidence that men started to try to chat me up on WWF after I changed to a solo pic?

Probably not…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “hairy.” Join us! Find out how here:¬† https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-15-18/

SoCS: a musical controversy

There are radio stations here in the US that play Christmas or holiday music 24/7 for weeks before Christmas.

At least, that is what they say they do.

A lot of the music they play is secular but related to Christmas, being about gifts and Santa Claus and such. Some is more winter-themed than Christmas or New Year related.

There is a musical controversy this year about one piece that is often on the playlist, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

This is definitely one of those pieces that is not related to Christmas at all. It is a winter song though, so some people have conflated it with the holidays.

It is a decades-old song in the pattern of a man/woman duet and is familiar and typical and pleasant enough – if you don’t pay attention to the words.

If you do, as I did last year, you quickly realize that the sub-text – scratch that, text – is pretty creepy. The man, who is trying to get the woman not to leave for home, is trying to get her drunk, with the possible implication that something else has been put in her drink. He is also trying to make her think that she owes it to him to stay and do whatever. (This is a generally family-safe blog, so I won’t speculate on his expectations.)

In recognition of the loaded nature of the song’s text, some radio stations have pulled it from their playlists. Others and some people are adamant that it is just flirting and should be left in the mix.

I adamantly agree with those who want it kept off the air. In these days when consent is part of the conversation for intimacy, a song that flies in the face of that is not a good example for behavior. It is especially hurtful to pretend this is an example of Christmas music. Christmas is about true joy, love, and peace, not coercion and trickery.

I’d rather hear “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World” or any of the dozens of other carols that truly evoke the Christmas season.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “musical.” Join us! Find out how here:¬† https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-8-18/

SoCS: Ma and ABC

“Ma” is one of the first syllables that babies say, often when they are sad or upset, which is a bit of a bummer for moms to whom this sound is usually attached.

ABC is about to turn eighteen months, so we have been treated to the evolution of “ma”. Right now, it is the sound she makes when she is giving kisses, whether or not these involve physical contact.

It is so sweet at bedtime or other times of the day when she walks or runs over to give a kiss – Mmmmmmmaaaaa!

She and daughter E will leave mid-month to spend four weeks with dad/spouse L in London, where they will have holiday celebrations with her other grandparents, aunt, and extended family.

We will miss them and ABC kisses over the holidays.

Maybe she will kiss the computer screen when we visit digitally as we have seen her do many times when she sees her daddy on the screen…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “ma”. Join us! Find out how here:¬† https://lindaghill.com/2018/11/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-1-18/¬†

SoCS: saying what you mean

I try to say what I mean without ever being mean.

Some people would call that being diplomatic.

I am dedicated to being truthful and I do believe that facts are important and exist independently of opinions.

I get perturbed when people confuse fact and opinion. I do, however, always try to respond in a civil way, even if someone is not being civil in their own remarks.

And, if nothing else, I rely on the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing.” I remember learning this as a song when I was seven or eight. Fifty years later, it is still useful advice.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “mean(s)”. Join us! Find out how here:¬† https://lindaghill.com/2018/11/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-
for-socs-nov-10-18/

 

SoCS: birthday week

My birthday was this week. I am also away from home. I received cards from my daughters and granddaughter and a card and flowers from my sisters before I left, but the only card I have with me here is a handmade one that my spouse B slipped into my luggage and that I have kept on my bedstand, just to the right of my bed. Even though I am in a double bed by myself, I sleep on the right side as I do at home. Here, I use the extra pillows on the bed to lay on the left side of the bed, where, at home, B would be sleeping. It makes me feel cozier.

Back at home, my birthday cards are on the mantle, along with other cards dating back to our last set of household events in June, B and my wedding anniversary and the birthdays of daughter T and granddaughter ABC, who today is 16 months old. That four month old cards are still on the mantle is a testament to how roller-coaster, topsy-turvy things have been for us.

That is a story that needs to wait for a non-stream of consciousness post.

Someday.

Perhaps soon, but, if past is prologue, most likely later…

[Update from a few minutes later: As I was sharing this post on social media, I wrote this: “I used to have a set of Ziggy cards that said, ‘At last, a note from me. Hope you still remember who I am.’ Or words to that effect. That is how I feel.” As it is stream of consciousness and relates to cards, I thought I’d tack it here, too.]
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “card.” Join us! Find out how here:¬†¬†https://lindaghill.com/2018/10/05/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-6-18/

SoCS: an unexpected call

[Warning for family: This post is about Nana’s hospice care. You may prefer not to read it.]

I got an unexpected call this week from my mom’s (Nana here at TJCM) hospice social worker. She wanted to set up a family meeting with her and the hospice nurse. It was a bit unusual to have a formal meeting time set up, but we agreed to meet in my mom’s room at Mercy House, the hospice residence where she moved in May. We were fortunate that my older sister was here visiting, so she was able to join in, too.

What I hadn’t suspected was that the meeting was about re-certification issues. In most hospices, acceptance means that life expectancy is six months or less. With some diagnoses, that determination is relatively clear, but, with heart failure, as my mom shows, it isn’t so clear.

Nana was re-certified at three months, at six months, and then every two months since. We are now at fourteen months. There have been lots of ups and downs, but, sadly but not unexpectedly, the overall direction has been one of decline with continuing weakness and fatigue that has worsened significantly over the course of this year.

Therefore, we were shocked that the social worker told us that the medical director was considering de-certifying Nana. I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked, as there had been a couple of other times that the medical director has questioned re-certification, but it seemed so clear that symptoms were worsening that I never thought there was a possibility that he would think Nana didn’t meet the criteria to remain in hospice care.

As I understand it, there are two basic issues. One is that the medical director only has access to data points collected during visits from the hospice personnel, perhaps two or three hours a week and always during the day. Second, the criteria to stay under hospice care have to do with rate of decline, so, even though Nana would easily qualify to enter hospice care in her current condition, it doesn’t necessarily follow that she would be re-certified to remain under hospice.

So, on hearing the news from the social worker, I freaked out a bit. Well, not outwardly. But losing hospice care at this point would be very complicated. In order to be in residence at Mercy House, one has to be under hospice care, so de-certification would have meant having to move Nana, which would be complicated and exhausting. We had a preliminary plan in place, but we hoped not to have to implement it.

What we could do was give the social worker more information of what we were seeing when we were there visiting, which covers about nine hours most days. Nana was also able to give us some more information about night-time issues.

The social worker took the additional information we were able to provide and the medical director was able to see how it fulfilled the criteria for Nana to be re-certified. We were very relieved. From now on, though, I will be more deliberate about noting changes in case we need to fill in the blanks again.

Through it all, we are grateful for the care hospice has been able to provide. If it were not for their expertise in managing symptoms, it is likely that we would already have lost Nana. As it is, we continue to have the hope of more time with her.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “call.” Join us! Find out how here:¬†¬†https://lindaghill.com/2018/08/03/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-4-18/

 

 

 

SoCS: three Ts

At my blog, I refer to my younger (now adult) daughter as T. Usually in person, I call her by her name, although, with granddaughter ABC in the house, we sometimes call her Auntie T. One of her high school teachers nicknamed her TNT because she was usually quiet until she gave forth a brilliant and insightful flash.

One of the things that T loves is tea. Not just any old tea, though. Along with sister E, she is somewhat of a tea connoisseur. At any particular point, we will have at least a dozen varieties of tea in the house, most with fanciful names and specialized blends. We have various tea pots and strainers and other accouterments. We also have a very large assortment of tea cups, mostly inherited from Grandma. It always feels special when we use them.

Another thing that T has always loved is tee shirts. She has many special tees that she has accumulated over the years. Many of them have science or environmental themes, which is fitting for T who has two degrees in environmental science. There are also some science fiction and fantasy tees, and, of course, some Harry Potter tees.

And some tees involve clever wordplay. One of her all time favorites involves the word ”¬†hippopotomonstrosesquippediliophobia” which means fear of long words, a malady which certainly does not inflict T!
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “T, tea, tee.”¬† Join us! Find out how here:¬†¬†https://lindaghill.com/2018/07/27/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-28-18/

 

SoCS: organ

While I have been delinquent/busy/overwhelmed and a few other adjectives lately, I have mostly been skipping out on Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which I once did diligently, but when I saw that this week’s prompt was “organ,” I knew I had to write.

In my younger years, I played the organ. After several years of childhood piano lessons, the priest in our tiny Catholic church asked me if I would learn to play the organ so that I could take over when our current high-school-aged organist went away to college in three years.

So, I learned.

I was lucky that my first organ teacher was very good, so I developed good technique. It was also good that he played in a larger church in North Adams which had a pipe organ, so I got to learn on a decent instrument, even though I was practicing on a not-great electronic at my own church.

I played at my church, first substituting and then becoming our organist my sophomore year in high school. I earned $5 for playing two masses every weekend and $3 when I played for weeknight masses a couple of times a week. I played a few weddings and funerals, too. I admit that playing funerals as a teen was really hard.

My original organ teacher had moved away and I was back to studying piano as I was looking for a college to attend, but my teacher used her connections to get a list of nearby colleges that had good organ/music programs. Smith was on the list and I fell in love with it on a campus visit, applied early decision, and was accepted. I wound up being the only organist in my year and played often at Catholic mass and played preludes and postludes for ecumenical services and at some college events. I used to joke that I had the biggest practice rooms on campus, as I played the three-manual Aeolian-Skinner organ at the chapel and the four-manual Austin in the 2,000-seat John M. Greene Hall.

After college, I spent a couple of years in an assistantship at an Episcopal church and after my daughters were old enough, I went back to playing, mostly on a volunteer basis.

Unfortunately, there was a problem. Even as a teen, I had pain in my right arm. It would come and go, but I sometimes had longer bouts of pain, especially if I played the piano a lot. (I will spare you the discussion of how piano and organ technique differ.) As time went on, I had more and more problems which led to doctor visits, physical therapy, various diagnoses including what is usually called “golfer’s elbow” and eventual surgery. We had hoped that would finally solve the problem, but I developed calcifications which have made the problems permanent.

I have shifted some things that I would ordinarily do right-handed to my left hand to help protect my right hand from over-use and pain. Obviously, this strategy does not work with playing the organ which takes both hand and both feet. If I had been one of those people who was a fantastic sight-reader and improviser, I might have been able to continue playing because I wouldn’t need very much practice time; alas, I am someone who needs lots of practice to play well.

For a few years, I was able to continue some accompanying with the youth choirs at our church, swapping over to conducting as needed to protect my arm. When that parish fractured and we had to leave, I no longer had a reason to continue playing or access to an organ and I stopped playing totally.

Sometimes, it’s still hard. Sometimes, it seems like another lifetime. Most times, I don’t think about it – and then, something happens to remind me, like hearing organ played on public radio or getting ready for Christmas or a prompt from Linda, and I miss it…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “organ.” Join us! Find out how here:¬†¬†https://lindaghill.com/2018/07/20/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-21-18/

 

 

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