Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wild Animal Park 01.10.09 with Keith and Robb

Through facebook I recently reconnected with college boyfriend, and roommate (but that’s a whole ’nother story), Robb, and his partner Greg, who I hadn't seen for nearly 20 years. They were already planning a trip to San Diego for a conference of Greg’s so we made arrangements to get together.

Friday, after work, I met them at Top of the Park to get reacquainted. We had a great time bringing each other up-to-date on our lives, meeting friends, and enjoying the views of the city. Eventually we walked across the street to Jimmy Carters for Chicken Mole.

Saturday morning, after Greg went to his conference, my roommate, Keith, and I picked up Robb and went to the Wild Animal Park. It was a perfect day for it; warm but not hot and incredibly clear, Santa Ana winds having blown any hint of haze back out to sea.

About 1 o’clock we left the Park and headed across the wilds of North County to meet Robb’s oldest brother, Rodney, and his wife, Joy, for fish tacos in La Costa. Later that evening, after dinner at The Prado, Greg and Robb dropped by Kickers to watch the line dancing and Robb joined me for a 2-step.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Mom’s not doing so well.

This photo of my mother was taken, I think, in 1995. I know it was shortly after her 60th birthday. It’s a glamour shot, where she got all made up with fancy clothes and jewelry and the photographer took extra time to get flattering shots. She got a lot of different pictures from this; I just wasn't thinking fast enough when I was at her house with her over Christmas to have her get them out.

I know looks are mostly a matter of genetics and not smoking, but I can’t help but think that someone this beautiful in her 6th decade is doing something right on the inside as well. Of course, I’m not prejudiced at all.

At the end of this past summer a cancerous tumor was found in her brain. The doctors said the average survival time from this diagnosis is one year.

I haven't written about it on Blogger before because when she was well my mother read this blog and I didn't want to make her feel worse than she already does. I wrote a couple notes in facebook and my friends there have been incredibly supportive. Thanks, guys!

Right after her diagnosis she had surgery to remove the tumor. Shortly after that she had some radiation and very mild chemotherapy to further treat the cancer. The plan was for her to recover from all of that and then enjoy herself until the cancer returns. Unfortunately, she's never recovered from the radiation and chemo. Ever since November she's been in a nursing home because she's been too weak to take care of herself. All of her blood counts are really low. Every 1 or 2 weeks she gets to feeling really bad, ends up in the hospital where they give her transfusions, and then she's back in the nursing home.

For Christmas, SKEA and I got to DRL’s house in Peoria very early Chrstmas Day. That afternoon we drove to Bloomington and took Mom to her house to open presents and have Christmas Dinner. We had a nice time and Mom seemed to do well, until about 7pm when she was very tired and asked to be taken back to the nursing home.

The next day, Friday, we picked Mom up again and this time we all went to Borders bookstore. I had sort of bailed on being creative with presents and just got everyone gift cards. But they were all great sports. Becky printed out online coupons for everyone and we had a nice time picking out books and music and sharing what we got. Then we went back to Mom’s house for left overs and games.

Saturday afternoon we picked Mom up from the nursing home and we all went to see The Tale of Despereaux. A fun movie, although we couldn't figure out why a land dominated by soup was called the Land of Door. After the movie we all went to Famous Dave’s for barbecue. It’s a fun place and one of Mom’s favorites. We were gratified to get Mom to eat more in one sitting that she had up until that point.

Sunday the plan was for SKEA and I to get an early start from Peoria and drive back to Kansas City. But Mom hasn't felt up to going to Church since this all started and mentioned a couple of times missing it and the new Pastor, who she liked a lot. So early in the morning we all got up, dressed and packed, to pick up Mom in time for Church. DRL stayed home to a well-deserved day of rest, and SKEA and I headed to Bloomington. She was really happy to go to church and everyone there was surprised and very happy to see her. After church we went to Panera, another of her favorites, and she ate her entire half-sandwich and cup of soup, which amazed us all.

Although it tired her out and her knee was really bothering her Sunday morning, she seemed to do well getting out everyday. She liked all the attention and enjoyed going out to eat. So I’m feeling a little guilty about not being back there to take her out to eat more often.

This morning I got an update from my brother, Dan (who’s doing an amazing job of taking care of her):

“ Mom went into the ER New Years eve, in a lot of pain from her right knee, which was very swollen. (The ER on New Year's eve is VERY interesting!!) They drained the knee, but also found she had a urinary tract infection, and her blood levels were low. They did admit her for transfusions, and also found she had a staph infection. They are going to keep her in the hospital over the weekend, and probably send her back to the nursing home on Monday.”

I’ll be flying back to the midwest sometime in the spring to see her again, possibly for my niece’s high school graduation.

In 1995 I was doing customer service work in an office of mostly women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. They all had glamour shots done and had a lot of fun bringing in all their pictures and talking about it. When I brought in the pictures of my mom, they put all of theirs away.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Defiance: The Bielski Partisans Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Defiance is a historical, well researched through interviews and documents, account of how Polish Jews attempted to survive WWII by escaping into the dense Belorussian forests. Specifically the book tells the story of the creation and survival of a group led by Jewish Tuvia Bielski that grew to over 1200 Jews by the war’s end that not only had to avoid, and sometimes battle the Nazis, but also Polish and Russian anti-Semitism. It’s an amazing, harrowing tribute to the will to survive against unspeakable evil.

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Life After Death: The Burden of Proof

Life After Death: The Burden of Proof Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A thought provoking, fascinating book. Deepak Chopra pulls insights from all the world's spiritual traditions and life-after-death experiences. I like his general assertion that the world of spirit isn't somewhere else, but right here, in the same space we inhabit; it just vibrates at a higher frequency that we usually can’t see, much like radio waves coursing through the air that we don’t detect. I also like his general conclusion; that after death what the souls sees and experiences is largely what it expects to see and experience. Beyond that, of course, it’s impossible to know.

The last section of the book is a description of what we currently know through quantum physics. That he does this in a very easy to understand way, without any technical jargon, is masterful writing. As we discover and study smaller and smaller particles and try to understand how they behave, his conclusion is that the overall course of the universe seems to be guided.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ghost of Christmas Past

Like other bloggers, while visiting Mom's house for the holidays I scanned some old photos on her computer and emailed them to myself.

This is me, 1967, our first winter in the house on Graham Street, I think. But it may not necessarily be from around Christmas time so I'm using artistic license with the title. Those are my two older brothers peeking out from underneath. That mulberry tree sat at the back of our backyard and had a tire swing that was the center of summertime activity for the neighborhood. There was an alley just behind me and that's our neighbor's house in the background.

I remember that coat as a favorite. We didn't usually get so much snow but I always liked it when we did. Dad would often take us sledding on the big hill at the golf course on the south end of town or ice skating on frozen lakes.