My New Year’s Eve Plans



What? I get up at the butt crack of dawn people! I will not be partying hard or any other way.  I’ll probably watch the rest of the Arrow episodes I have waiting.  On second thought maybe not, there are way more than I can watch in an evening, especially after getting up so early. But I think I can manage three or four before I fall asleep.  And there’s still at least half a bottle of Jack’s honey whiskey so there’s that.

Happy New Year everyone!  May you be blessed with good health and whatever makes you happy in 2016!


The Power of the Pedicure

I didn’t have my first pedicure till I was 50 55*. I’ll pause for a moment to let that sink in. To my male readers (and perhaps some of the female ones) this statement alone will be meaningless. Allow me expound.

Yesterday I took my best friend for a pedicure for her birthday. This morning I’m admiring my cheerful, polished toes. I emphasize polished because I mean it both literally and descriptively. Polished with bright red-gold enamel and as in “finished” or “put together”.

There’s a sense of confidence isn’t there when we feel polished or put together? I look at my toes and feel feminine while also feeling in control. I don’t often feel in control. It is a good feeling.

There is power in that feeling. Back to the fact I didn’t have my first pedicure till I was 50 55. While sitting here admiring my toes and recognizing their power, it occurred to me, what if I had had regular pedicures beginning in my 20s or 30s when I was so much more out of control? How would that power have impacted me then? Would my life look even a little different now if I had felt more powerful, more in control, more confident then?

Questions I’ll never have an answer for I know. But I think I may have to introduce my granddaughters to the power of the pedicure soon.

*Wishful thinking I guess but I realize now it was only four years ago, not nine.

How about a toast?


Merry Christmas from Janey!  You’re on your own for libations. I don’t share well.

Janey out.

*Well shit. No matter what I do I can’t get the damn glass in the right configuration. And I swear that’s my first glass! So much for a Smart Phone!

What I’m reading now

In case you’re interested –

Body & Soul by Frank Conroy.

book cover

From the back cover:

“In the dim light of a basement apartment, six-year-old Claude Rawlings sits at an old white piano, picking out the sounds he has heard on the radio and shutting out the reality of his lonely world.”

Imagine a little boy left alone while his mother goes off to drive a taxi in New York in the 1940s.  Can you put yourself in his place?  Claude spends a lot of time watching people walk back and forth on the sidewalk outside the apartment window.  All he can see is their legs and shoes, but at least it’s something to do.

“An old woman with thin calves, a kid in sneakers, men in wingtips, women in high heels…. If anyone paused he could see detail – straps, eyelets, a worn heel, or cracked leather with the sock showing through – but it was the movement that he liked, the passing parade of color and motion.”

Claude eventually discovers the piano that is stored in the back room where he sleeps.  As the back cover blurb mentions, he begins to copy the music he hears on the radio, filling the long hours his mother is gone.

As novels go, this one starts slow but builds into a very enjoyable read.  Claude is a likeable, genuine character, as is Mr. Weisfeld, a music store proprietor who takes Claude under his wing.  One of my favorite characters though is Al, a furnace man at a ritzy New York apartment building where Claude goes to collect bottles for the refund.  Al’s character develops slowly, almost deceptively.  When he appeared to be leading Claude astray I wasn’t sure I was going to like him.  But Conroy redeems him in my eyes later on and one of my favorite quotes from the book is his.

Al and Claude’s mother, Emma have become friends and the three of them are having dinner when Claude learns that Al’s been unjustly fired.  Claude is accustomed to is mother’s passionate outbursts and overreactions so he is surprised at Al’s calm demeanor.

“I mean, you’re not even angry.  That’s terrible what they did.  It’s outrageous.”

“I’m angry.  I just don’t give in to it.”  He sipped his tea and then put it down.  “Stuff happens all the time.  What’d you call it?  Outrageous.  Outrageous stuff make you so mad you can just burn yourself up with it.  You got to decide if the mad runs you, or you run the mad.”

How wise is that?

I’m not doing the book justice with this post, but it’s worth your time if you like character studies.  I should have finished it long ago but I’m lingering over it, savoring it.  I don’t want it to end.

Oh, and Merry Christmas if you swing that way.


I’m a terrible person

We stopped at 7-11 for coffee on the way to the train station this morning. No, 7-11 coffee doesn’t make me a terrible person. That only makes me frugal, or cheap, if you want to be picky.

Getting coffee at 7-11 removes the barista, meaning I get to “doctor” our drinks. Here comes the terrible part people, pay attention. While stirring hazelnut creamers into JD’s cup this morning Janey wondered briefly what she could stir into that cup to put him out of his misery.

See? Terrible. (Shudders)

To bring you up to date

It’s been eleven days since Mom was admitted to the hospital.  For the past week they have said every day that they think she’s almost ready to transfer to a skilled nursing facility.  On the one hand we’d like to see her moved because that’s a sign that things are progressing.  On the other we want to be sure she’s ready to be moved.  Duh.

When she developed a raspy, wet cough we were concerned about bronchitis or pneumonia but she never ran a fever and her oxygen levels have remained in the normal range.  They eventually started her on cough medicine and when we visited the other evening she sounded much better.  I was still surprised yesterday to learn they were moving her to the nursing facility.  I guess I got so used to hearing they wanted to observe/evaluate her overnight that I wasn’t prepared to hear she was ready to go.

The nursing facility is not as convenient as the hospital was for visiting.  After work I would request a ride via Uber and off I’d go, arriving at the hospital within 10 minutes.  Then I’d visit a while with Mom, waiting for JD and SIL to arrive.  We usually stayed for a couple of hours, grabbing a bite in the hospital cafeteria or a coffee from the Starbucks in the lobby at some point in the evening.  We don’t make it home till nearly 9 and by then I’m ready for bed.  On top of that schedule, I haven’t been sleeping well – go figure.

No way I can visit the nursing home like that.  I understand it needs to be closer to where Mom lives with my sister and brother in law but we won’t get to visit except on weekends.  Visiting here in Seattle every night exhausts me.  No way I can travel up to Lynnwood after work, visit a couple hours and then head home.

Lest I fail to look on the bright side – this IS a good sign!

On to other news …

The other day I had some time on my hands and I was looking for a wide version of my favorite wall paper:

Not now Jack

The old one doesn’t work on my new monitors.

I couldn’t find this exact wallpaper for wide dual monitors but here’s one I did find:


It looks so much cooler on my monitors than it does here!

Finally, on Tuesday we had a department white elephant holiday party.  Pizza and dessert were eaten; gifts were opened and some were even traded.  There was a lot of laughter.  Here’s what I’ll be taking home:


Um, yeah, I am so ready for this weekend.  Too bad it’s only Thursday.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The good news is Mom’s stroke, while not small, didn’t leave behind the amount of damage it could have. Dr. S was pleased that she is still mobile albeit with supervision for the time being.  The stroke was in the basal ganglia region on the left side of her brain. That’s a mouthful of unintelligibility isn’t it? I looked up basal ganglia but Uncle Google wasn’t very helpful this time.  More on that later.

The bad news is sometime between the first blood draw in the ER Saturday afternoon, and Monday night, Mom had a heart attack. Women don’t usually exhibit the typical clutch the chest type symptoms and it was missed by everyone until the telltale marker appeared in her blood.  By itself this isn’t better or worse than the stroke.  In conjunction it makes finding the appropriate treatment protocol a bit tricky.

Dr. S recommended keeping Mom’s blood pressure slightly elevated in order to be certain blood was getting to the stroke area, where the blood vessels are extremely narrow from the arterial blockages.  Now that they know her heart is unhappy with that level of BP they have to figure out another, heart-friendlier treatment going forward.

The Ugly:  My dread that this is just the beginning of the end. It has brought back sad memories of my grandmother’s lengthy battle with stroke and her gradual decline.  I keep reminding myself that was over 30 years ago and the medical field has advanced by leaps and bounds since then.  In fact, I really like Mom’s neurologist, which brings us back to the basal ganglia mystery.

Monday in a coincidence of timing, I managed to slide into Mom’s room in the midst of the doctor’s explanations to our daughter and son in law.  I use “slide” because as we were searching for parking daughter A texted that the doctor was there.  JD dropped daughter K and I at the skybridge and we very nearly ran from there to the other side of the hospital where we took the elevator to the neuro floor, then speedwalked through the unit and slid to a (in my mind) screeching stop at the foot of Mom’s bed.

Dr. S was so patient (unintended pun!) and when JD arrived a few minutes later after finding parking he even went over the information (abbreviated a bit this time) again for him.  Here’s where my confusion was – I looked up basal ganglia and found the definition below.

ba·sal gan·gli·a



  1. a group of structures linked to the thalamus in the base of the brain and involved in coordination of movement.

Granted I didn’t have a lot of time to look at other hits for more detailed information so it was more my failure than Uncle Google’s.  As a result, I jumped to the conclusion that this meant she wouldn’t be able to walk or move her arms.  Dr. S explained what I was missing in the definition I read:  coordination of movement.  It isn’t that she can’t move but that she needs to think about it.  When we reach for a spoon we just reach for it without having to consciously think about it right?  Well Mom now has to decide she wants the spoon and then make up her mind to reach for it.  Then there’s the actual reaching.  She does everything very, very slowly now.  But the good news (yes, more good news!) is she is doing things!  She gets up with help and attends to personal needs; she eats and drinks and smiles with recognition when we arrive to visit.

Other good news according to Dr. S is that she understands us (and the doctors and nurses).  That makes things a lot easier because she responds to simple instructions and can answer simple questions correctly (Where are you? What day is it?).  If she was having trouble understanding us it would make her recovery more complicated.  However, she is also experiencing what the doctor referred to as a “word salad”.  All her words might still be there but they’re mixed up together and she has difficulty finding the ones she wants to use.  You can imagine her frustration.

I don’t know how to sum this up or sign off or bring it to a close.  There is a good possibility she can recover and have a few more years of a full life.  For the family’s sake I’d like to see that happen.  On the other hand, how many more of these incidents will she have to endure before she goes to be with Dad?  And how much worse will they get?  The doctor said very clearly that they cannot stop a recurrence, only try to slow down the arterial blockage and find ways to get blood flow to the damaged areas.  I dread watching her fail bit by bit.  More, I dread watching JD watch that.  I wish there was some way to spare the family that experience.


It’s Sunday

I wish I was on a bus. On a bus heading to Seattle right now.

My 85 year old mother-in-law had a stroke and is hospitalized in Seattle. There’s some debate when it actually occurred so they couldn’t use the wonder drug the neurologist described. The risk to benefit ratio wasn’t good.

She was taken for an MRI last night around 11:30 and we headed home, leaving my brother-in-law to wait for them to bring her back. He went home after. Because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast we stopped at Denny’s on the way home. By the time I was climbing into bed it was almost 2 am.

JD paused to check email, fell asleep in front of the computer and didn’t get horizontal for another hour and a half. He then woke before me  after only a few hours of sleep. Since it will more than likely be a long day at the hospital I wanted him to have more rest. He’s lying down again for a couple hours while I’m struggling with impatience. I hate the idea of S being there alone. She was in and out of confusion all yesterday. You could see her frustration when she couldn’t find the words she wanted. She called JD Scotty at one point. My regular readers know JD stands for John Doe but his name in real life is not Scotty.

This brings back memories of when my grandmother suffered stroke after stroke. She recovered quickly and fully from the first ones, but eventually they got the better of her. Near the end she had to be fed by tube, she couldn’t speak or write. Her frustration was so palpable!  It physically hurt to witness that strong, beautiful woman become a shell of herself. 

I don’t want to think of watching Mom disappear that way, losing herself bit by bit. Hell, watching JD witness his mother’s suffering is going to about kill me.

What the fuck was I whining about on Friday? It doesn’t seem all that important now.