A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Noteworthy Weekend...

...in many ways.

My dad is holding his own. He's thin and tires easily but keeps doing things. He still plays baritone in a community concert band and also plays trombone in a senior citizen swing band. My mom drives him to the swing band rehearsals which is no small feat for her. The retina in her left eye detached a few years ago so she only sees out of one eye, which means her depth perception is impaired. For that reason she hasn't driven a freeway or even out of her neighborhood much in years. But she's driving Dad to the town where I live - 35 minutes from her home - so that he can continue to play.

His biggest challenge has been weeks and weeks of unremitting nausea and anorexia. Finally he got fixed up with some medical marijuana. In just fifteen minutes after his first dose (it was in confectionery form) his nausea was gone, and the next night he ate a full meal for the first time in over six weeks. I've never used any illegal drug (in fact, have never had a drink of an alcoholic beverage), but I've become an advocate for legalization of marijuana only because it has been such a nightmare getting the stuff for my dad (who has a prescription, but that's not enough). The man is 84 years old and has terminal cancer but for a while it looked like he would not be able to get the one thing that made life worth bothering to hold onto. Without it, he was saying he just wanted to "get it over with" because he was so miserable. Fortunately he is now in hospice and it appears they will be able to help him stay supplied with a pill form (which was his preference, anyway). With marijuana he is not only nausea-free, his anorexia is gone and he eats well and, in his words, "feels almost like himself again."

I've been spending lots of time in the garden. This was today's accomplishment. I attended Otto & Sons Rose Days event last weekend and bought two roses which I planted today. The rose for this bed is called "Honey Perfume." I was looking for a scented rose with a color between "Brass Band" and "Sutter's Gold." I was happy to find this one.

Also in the bed with this rose and "Brass Band" is "Hot Cocoa." I've divided each bed into two sections. The section with the roses has a thick layer of wood mulch to try to keep the weeds down. In front of this bed are a couple of scabiosa plants (the lavender goes great with these apricot-y colors), some "Apricot Chiffon" California poppies (my new favorite plant),

and a gorgeous penstemon. I don't remember what it's called but it looks very similar to this one that is called "Blue Springs."

For the first time this year I've purchased plants via mail order (the local nurseries are just not offering anything much other than the common stuff. I've been particularly pleased with the plants from Annie's Annuals and Bluestone Perennials.

I'm still teaching, of course. We just finished our standardized testing, which means the eighth graders will be checked out. As CJSF adviser I've been working on the annual Disneyland Ditch Day, their reward for academic achievement and community service. That will be on Friday May 21. I have a couple of other trips planned there in June, and am hoping my dad feels well enough for me to take him on our annual trip there to see the All American College Band. Last time I was there I spoke to the nice lady in the first aide center. She assured me that Dad was welcome to go there to rest whenever he wanted and they had facilities to keep his medication refrigerated if he needed it and even to keep his oxygen there if we wanted.

I took Mom to Disneyland two weeks ago (I had a Monday off) and she decided it had been a perfect day (I had to agree). We left her house early so that we could have breakfast in the park (their cinnamon roll French toast is pretty yummy.) Then we did some shopping, checking our purchases at one of several locations that will hold them for you while you go have fun. By 10:00 am we were in California Adventure where we rode Soarin' Over California, Mom's favorite ride, a couple of times. Then we went back to Disneyland to see Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. It wasn't her favorite version of their show, but good nevertheless.

Mom has had one knee replacement, but the year she was due for the other surgery was the year she lost the retina, and the next year she came down with shingles. By the third year Kaiser was not longer willing to do the surgery on her other knee and her arthritis is so bad in that knee (bone on bone) that she can hardly walk now. I have no problem wheeling her around the park in her wheelchair, but getting on and off rides is no longer appealing to her so we didn't ride anything. I had made reservations at the Blue Bayou restaurant. We got a waterside table and the ambiance was worth the effort and the money; the food was secondary to the experience. Once we finished this "linner" (late lunch, early dinner) she had done everything she wanted to do except for one thing, so we headed to Coke Corner to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with Ragtime Michael. (Mom is almost as big a fan as I am).

Michael never disappoints.

After his last set we picked up our purchases and headed home. Had a bit of a panic when Dad wasn't home in bed as Mom had expected. As I was unloading Mom's stuff from my car, my sister drove up with Dad. We had totally forgotten it was Monday and that Sis took Dad to concert band on Monday.


I'm finally having some success at losing weight thanks to my physical therapist and trainer at one of the local gyms. The pt got me back and functioning (after close to six months of not being able to walk well) and then the trainer put together a weight training program. I'm at the gym after school four days a week for 1.5 to 2 hours at a pop. It's hard to believe but I am now actually enjoying going there and am thrilled with the results. I'm losing about a pound a week (total of 22 pounds) and can't get over how strong I am and how well I move. Like Mom, I have arthritis in my knees, but after two months of working out I noticed one day last week that I had stepped up onto a curb with my right leg and never even felt a twinge. And today I worked in the yard hauling bags of compost, digging deep holes, sawing thing roots and dragging plants around for about eight hours. I shocked a woman (about my age and much thinner) by hoisting my bags of compost into the car without assistance. A couple of months ago I wanted to buy a cast iron patio umbrella stand but couldn't lift it. Yesterday I was not only able to lift it off the stack and put it under the cart, in the parking lot I was able to lift it out from under the cart and up into the car. 64 pounds! I have a long way to go yet, but hope I never forget how good it feels to be strong and able to move easily as compared to barely being able to get around before.

Oh, and I almost forgot (how could I?) A couple of weeks ago a colleague and I were talking about a mutual favorite of ours, singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith. I said that I hadn't checked in a couple of years to see if she was going to be in California. When I got home that night I checked and Griffith's ONLY California performance was just over a week away in our backyard (a town 20 minutes away). I'm trying to be more adventurous and spontaneous and after just a little bit of dithering got a ticket to go see this delightful artist. It was a fantastic show in a great venue (dinner theater style). She sang for almost two hours straight and the music was just as good as I'd hoped (just as good as the recordings which doesn't always happen). Loved it!

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