The Open

August 31, 2016

How fortunate it is that, as mom’s housebound and largely chairbound, there is something to thoroughly engage and delight: the US Open. God knows it gets tiring beating me in gin!


This is her guy:


(Novak Djokavic)

And this was my idol way back in the seventies… I think I lost interest by the eighties. I remember staring at Seventeen Magazine with her photo on the cover and .. well, I was a teeny bopper tennis player, what can I say?





I have learned a lot about health care in the past few years. Being up close to my mom’s experiences, including numerous hospital stays, has been instructive, even eye opening.

Among other things, I am comparing the Kaiser experience (mine) to the non-Kaiser experience (hers), for one, and the challenges my mom has had in building her network of doctors and services, the coordination therein, dealing with insurance and prescriptions, and etc etc etc.

Nothing easy about it. But I will say the Torrance Memorial network is excellent. It’s not an all-in-one deal like Kaiser, but the professional services are are linked together in a very impressive network and it works pretty well. In this last round, she’s taken far more advantage of the extensive support system they offer people who’ve recently left the hospital. The support is available (renewable) as long as she needs it. In the past, she’s resisted and declined follow-up home care. This time, maybe because I’m around and have helped her navigate it, she’s accepted the support, seen the advantages and benefitted greatly. Yay that.

For the first time, she has a number to call if things go south (multiple numbers, actually), or simply if she has a question (advice nurse anyone?). This was always available to her, but she didn’t take advantage. She previously assumed it was all or nothing (all being a call to 911 and a trip to the ER).

The truth is, it’s cheaper for the insurance companies to pay for in-home care services and support than it is to send a patient in the hospital, so TM piles on the services and the insurance companies gladly pay. Everybody’s happy.

So wow, almost every day, she gets a home visit from a nurse or a physical therapist, and she could have had social workers, occupational and speech therapists, you name it. She gets blood draws at home…basically they can take (and have taken) samples of pretty much anything that comes out of your body and then facilitate the lab work.  They’ll even send X-Ray techs to your house. And, best of all, everyone’s linked into the same system with access to records and each other, and, well, it’s exactly as it should be. She just didn’t know it.

Most of the time, unless her condition is dire, she goes offsite. She has a whole bunch of specialists–heart, lungs, kidneys who’ve been on her case for years.  This go-round, she added–finally–a quarterback to the team (a primary) and that is now going very well.

I’m not exactly sure how UCLA merges into all of this, but it does, which seems like icing on the cake.

Rumble in the Jungle

August 29, 2016

So, I’m crawling around in a tangle of bushes in my mom’s side yard (don’t ask) .. and come upon these guys/gals:


Best I can figure (thank you Google images and wikipedia), they are Giant Swallowtail butterflies.

The giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) is a swallowtail butterfly common in various parts of North America and marginally into South America (Colombia and Venezuela only). In the United States and Canada it is mainly found in the south and east. With a wingspan of about 10–16 cm (3.9–6.3 in),[2] it is the largest butterfly in Canada and the United States.[3]

As billed, they were huge and dramatic.

There was a third, but she/he didn’t light:


Here’s more:

In the United States, P. cresphontes is mostly seen in deciduous forest and citrus orchards where they are considered a major pest. They fly between May and August where there are 2 broods in the North and 3 in the south. They can range from southern California (where they have been seen from March to December, reaching peak abundance in late summer/early fall) [snip]

Giant swallowtails fly from Late May–August, but in some areas of the southern United States such as Texas and Louisiana, they may be seen as late as October. All giant swallowtails have a distinctive flight pattern which generally looks as if they are “hopping” through the air. Females tend to beat their wings slowly but move quickly. Because females have such large wings, each wing beat will carry it a long way. Males however, tend to have more of a darty flight and beat their wings rapidly but move slower than females because their wings are smaller and each beat doesn’t carry them far. Giant swallowtails in general fly fast and high and can be difficult to capture.


Your butterfly news for the day.




Homies Do the Plaza

August 28, 2016

Thrilled to spend the morning with one of my oldest buddies Sally and her new guy, Gregg. Being a couple of former PV-ites visiting the homeland, we had to do brunch at the Malaga Cove Plaza (the Yellow Vase is where the old General Store used to be). Gregg grew up down the coast (Newport) and spent the previous day running Sally around his former haunts. Today was her turn.

Sally and Gregg:


And Sally and me (and Mr. Neptune):


(No idea about that goofy pose, but heh, how ’bout that Neptune?)



August 27, 2016

I have been gone most of August and have missed most of this…

Peter, for whom this is his last official summer at home, has been playing golf pretty much every day (minus the two-day failed attempt at summiting Mt. Shasta). Lots and lots of golf. Golf with Ray, Seb, Dan, Dylan, sometimes Solly, and bunches of guys I don’t even know.

Jim says he’s been getting up early for near-dawn tee times. Yes, before the sun’s even come up. Peter. Out of bed. Dressed. On his way to a golf course somewhere–Davis, a surrounding city… he even went with three other friends on an overnight golf junket to Monterey.

Lots of golf.

By late afternoon, he’s whipped. Jim has texted me a nice series of Peter crashing in the late afternoon after early morning golf photos. 


I have loved these photos.


Flog is golf spelled backward…

It’s in the Wrist

August 26, 2016

If I’ve blogged already about gin rummy, sorry. But it’s what we do for many hours of each day. I thought this was a cute picture… mom wearing my reading glasses:


We play three games across, and track not only the score of each hand, game and set, but the overall record in any given period. This scoresheet shows mom won the first game, I won the second, and I’m ahead in the third [I went on to win 163 to 114]. Overall, however, I’m way behind in the total game tally. Which is typical.


I absolutely cannot figure out why that is.


Pivot, Right…

August 25, 2016


Sigh.. the language of the 2016 presidential election… I’ve had all I can take of pivoting and surrogates. Are pivot and surrogate now generalized terms that everyone’s using or it is just CNN?

Surrogates. Good lord… CNN seems to think it’s fair, balanced and somehow informative to have two Trump so-called surrogates scream at two Clinton so-called surrogates (and vice versa) for these fifteen-minute panels scheduled at regular intervals throughout the day, loosely moderated by that hour’s CNN host (some of whom I actually like). But, after a few weeks of watching CNN, and growing exhausted and evermore cynical about their tactics, I’m not so sure. I’ve wearily concluded it’s just the same old noise (I know, late to the party.. but CNN, too?).   We bounce, in these segments, from one scandal to the next, and the surrogates just yell over each other for airtime. Commercial. More yelling.


And newsflash. They manufacture the scandals.

Like my friend Paul, said: The news can’t handle a landslide election – it drives down viewers/readers/clicks – so they are busy inventing ‘scandals’ in the hopes of tightening up the polls.

I know better than to expect more, but I thought maybe there were kernels of truth if you could be discerning enough. I’m thinking no.

After a whole month in PV, in CNN land, I’m aching for some NPR.

And then that stupid pivot. It sounds like a Seinfeld episode. Just honestly.. who pivots? You are who you are. You are who you claimed to be from the onset. Isn’t a pivot just blatant marketing to people who don’t know better? What thinking person trusts a pivoter? Who believes that a man who had as his central campaign rallying cry, “build a wall, a fantastic wall, the best wall” and “yank 11 million immigrants from their homes and send them back to Mexico”–promises that inspired the ugliest crowds in the history of our nation to gather and froth at the mouth with unhinged bigotry–can suddenly soften his rhetoric on immigration and remain a credible voice?  I guess the same guy who rightly (apparently) claimed he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue, shoot somebody, and not lose his base of supporters. Do you know, this immigration pivot has been the constant news on CNN for a solid three days?

Sorry buddy. You built your whole disgusting brand on your wall, deportation message. No pivot.

Eye roll times a billion.

Here are two of my favorite cartoons of late (thank goodness for the artists):



rain on t's parade

And, gawd, as much as I enjoyed the Indecline Naked Trump statues, or the Emperor Has No Balls I think were their official names, I can’t even post a photo of them… six of which made short-lived appearances in major cities across the country. Even I thought them tasteless. Made me very uncomfortable.. that dimpled butt especially. Ewe.

I did think the NYC Parks Department statement, however, was clever:

“NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small,” said Sam Biederman, a parks spokesman.

I just think he deserves everything he gets.

And I don’t think he gets to pivot. That’s just insulting. Own your calculated, race-baiting and utterly failed campaign rallying cry, dude. It is your legacy.





Village People

August 24, 2016


Matt came to dinner tonight. He made tri-tip rubbed in coffee grounds. Oh me oh my. I’m not much of a tri-tip person, but that coffee ground thing… wow.

Matt is like our MVP. Not only does he handle all the administrative stuff–insurance, bills, house maintenance, pharmaceuticals, doctor visits–but he is the go-to guy for general ongoing counseling and consultation. Mom depends on his calm wisdom and convincing pep talks throughout the day and night. And, AND … he cooks. He comes over at least a couple times per week and makes mom these great dinners that then serve as leftovers for days to come. While here, he plays gin rummy.

I am not worthy. But I do my best.

(Kidding of course. I’m pretty good a good percentage of the time.)

Chris’ part includes being here most nights (unless I’m here) and entertaining mom with his wit and smarts. In that regard, he’s in a class by himself. Plus, he makes amazing smoothies.

We get Jay when he returns for prolonged visits from his home in Thailand. Nobody’s kinder nor gentler.

That is our immediate village.


Long, long ago, I was a cracker jack babysitter. I had a number of regular gigs… the Walters twins (Christa and Linda), the Fredricks kid (who called me Petercinder), the kids whose parents were friends with Glen Campbell who also had a water bed (and were very groovy), the kids in that cool house at the corner of Pasqual and PV Dr. North (don’t even remember how many there were), all kinds of Kramer club family kids, and the kids in this place down the street…


… which we called the Hansel and Gretel house.

Here’s the funnest thing: after about 43 years, I found Katja L. on Facebook. I sent her a private message and asked if she were the little Katja I used to baby sit. Three years later, this past weekend, and so out of the blue, she responded. Yes she was! We exchanged a couple of messages–her parents, whom I absolutely adored, moved to the east coast shortly after Katja’s little brother Nicholas was born and ended up having six kids! Katja lives in California and has kiddos of her own. Her parents are happy, healthy and enjoying their eight grandchildren. She seemed not as thrilled by the reconnection, so I let it go, but it was very nice, and really trippy, for me to hear the news.

Even as routine as my southland visits are–after 38+ years of living in faraway Davis–I still always find something to get all nostalgic about.



One week out of the hospital… time for a trip to the beach. Oh, how she loves this.