Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Movies / Judy

1. Just last Friday we saw Hugo. It was amazing! It was directed by Martin Scorsese and I understand it's his first PG movie in 18 years. I guess when you're good, you're good because this movie has it all--great visuals, wonderful cast and a great story. You never know what's going to happen next, which is sort of rare at the movies. The 3D here was how it's supposed to be; it enhances the movie without detracting from it. In fact, you hardly know you're watching 3D except you are in the scene. I heard that when James Cameron saw this movie, he said the 3D in it was better than he'd done in Avatar.

 Sometimes the pace is leisurely and sometimes it is almost too intense, but just know that there is a very happy ending. If I'd known that for sure I would have enjoyed it even more.

2. Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1. Of course we had to see this one and Lloyd and I liked it a lot. The reviews were scathing, but I'm glad we didn't pay any attention to them. The first part where Bella and Edward get married was beautiful and very romantic. Lloyd says the reason the critics don't like this movie is because it portrays waiting for marriage and then shows how incredible marriage is and that's not a popular notion in Hollywood.

When Bella is pregnant, she looks really terrible and much too skinny because they say the baby is taking all her nutrients. I can't imagine how they made her look like that, but it's very effective. So the bottom line is that next to the first Twilight movie, I liked this one the best of the four.

3. Unknown with Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger.

I think this one is probably out on video now and I would recommend it for the grown-ups. It has an intriguing story and I was totally surprised at the explanation at the end so I won't tell you what it is. But do check it out.

4. Tower Heist with Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, etc.

This one was okay, but I think they put the funniest parts in the trailer. I liked the cast, which is always a good thing if  you're going to spend some time with them and Eddie Murphy was the best. We forget how funny he can be because he's in so many dumb movies. But I would wait to see this one on video and don't waste your money in the theater.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Movies! / Judy

We've been to several movies lately so I thought I'd give you my opinion on them. I'll go alphabetically:

1. The Big Year with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black.

It's about competitive bird watching, if you can imagine such a thing. It's called "birding." These three men have decided to have a "big year," which means they are going try to see/identify the most number of species during a calendar year. If they see the most, they get written up in bird watching magazines and get bragging rights, but not much else.

I thought it was a very enjoyable little film. We saw it in the theater, but it didn't last long there so it will probably come out on video at some point. I'd highly recommend it. The reviews I read didn't like it because they were evidently expecting a broad comedy with big laughs, but it wasn't like that. It was more that you just had a smile on your face all through it (with the exception of one uncomfortable scene where one of the men blows it with his wife).

2. Footloose (the remake) with Julianne Hough, Kenny Wormald and Dennis Quaid as her father.

I liked this movie a lot! Maybe even better than the original with Kevin Bacon because I thought Julianne Hough was way better as Ariel. The story follows the original pretty close but now it takes place in the South. Of course the dancing is the best part and it was great. They did a couple numbers almost exactly the same, but there was new, more modern stuff too. The best part was probably when they were teaching Willard to dance--absolutely adorable scene. I think at the prom at the end, both Ren and Ariel are wearing the same clothes as in the original.

3. Hannah with Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, and Saorsie Ronan

I think this one came out last summer or even longer ago than that. I thought I'd put it in to warn you. It was a thriller and I didn't like it at all. It was too depressing. Lloyd said it was as if it were made by and for Germans, to give you an idea. Roger Ebert said it well when he said, "It is a cross between a Grimm fairy tale and a high tech action movie." And he called it a "first rate thriller about the drawbacks of home schooling."

4. Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams

This is the best Woody Allen film I've ever seen. If you don't see anything else on this list, see this one. It is still in theaters around here and has been for a couple months at least. It is funny and has a wonderful, imaginative story. An engaged couple are in Paris with her parents. One night he is able to travel back in time to the Paris of 1920 and he meets several of the literary giants of the time. Also his little adventures show the cracks in the couple's relationship. I loved the costumes of the 20's. Roger Ebert said, "this film is a sort of daydream for all of America's lit majors."

5.The Muppets with Jason Segal and Amy Adams and the Muppets.

Delightful movie! Very fun and innocent and I thought it really showed up movies like Shrek, which are all snarky, wink-wink. The Muppets show how to be entertaining with being snide. Also, I really enjoyed the musical aspect. It's just fun to watch singing and dancing and they included some of the good Muppet music along with some new stuff.

This is all for now since it's kind of a long blog. Next week I'll talk about four more recent movies.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our 50th High School Reunion / Lloyd

The flurry of impassioned emails began once the committee published it's plans for our 50th High School Reunion. Clearly the emotions are from deeper wells than suggested changes in venues and scheduling.  If nothing else, this ongoing conversation showcases the personalities we knew so well 50 years ago. 

Beyond that I am reminded of a passage from Exile's Return by Malcolm Cowley adapted to evoke the aromatic eucalyptus and jasmines that permeate our beautiful Central Coast Community.

Somewhere the turn of a dirt road or the unexpected crest of a hill reveals your own childhood, the fields where you once played barefoot, the kindly trees, the landscape by which all others are measured and condemned. . . This is your home . . . but does it exist outside of your memory? On reaching the hilltop or the bend of the road, will you find the people gone, the landscape altered, the [eucalyptus trees & jasmines] cut down and only stumps, dried tree-tops, branches and fireweed where the woods had been? Or, if the country remains the same, will you find yourself so changed and uprooted that it refuses to take you back, to reincorporate you into its common life? No matter: the country of our childhood survives, if only in our minds, and retains our loyalty even when casting us into exile; we carry its image from city to city as our most essential baggage:

                Wanderers outside the gates, in hollow
landscapes without memory, we carry
each of us an urn of native soil,
of not impalpable dust a double handful

anciently gathered-­-was it garden mold
or wood soil fresh with [eucalyptus leaves &
jasmine blooms] this little earth we bore
in silence, blindly, over the frontier?

--a parcel of the soil not wide enough
or firm enough to build a dwelling on,
or deep enough to dig a grave, but cool
and sweet enough to sink the nostrils in
and find the smell of home, or in the ears,
rumors of home, like oceans in a shell.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New House / Judy


We moved out of the San Luis house on Fri., Oct. 7, but could only put our stuff in the garage at the new place because the guy who lived there wasn't completely out yet. We hoped to be able to close the following Friday, the 14th, so the weekend of the 8th and 9th we stayed with the Kleinmans.

On Monday we decided to get away from it all because this time is officially Lloyd's annual leave and we wanted some kind of real vacation. We went to Monterey and stayed at a bed and breakfast for two nights and visited Carmel and saw lots of galleries. It was great.

We came back on Wednesday evening and stayed the next three nights at a Motel 6 (a little different from the B & B). Turns out there was lots for us to do but we expected to close on Fri. the 14th, like I said, then we planned to move in on Saturday. HOWEVER (cue scary music), on Thursday we learned that we couldn't close until Mon or Tues. of next week. Meanwhile, we have to pay the owner $50/day in rent till the house is officially ours. Then we had the carpet cleaning man come and tell us the carpet was so saturated with dog urine that we'd have to trash that carpet and buy a new one. Then the flea treatment man came and said he could kill the current fleas, but more would probably come later. Then we saw that the whole backyard was covered in dog poop and nobody could walk back there. (sigh) Did I mention that the previous owner had two huge dobermans that evidently lived in the house and never went for walks anywhere but the back yard?

So we thought maybe we could still move some of our stuff into the house and use one of the small bedrooms that didn't seem to smell quite so bad. We tried on Saturday morning, but soon everybody had watering eyes and scratchy throats from the smell and we realized we couldn't even be in the house until we replaced the carpet. We tore it all out that afternoon, including the pad and you would not believe how stained the carpet looked underneath. Lloyd had to spray the concrete under it with a strong, even toxic deodorizer that night. Meanwhile Kristen's son Jacob, with a little help from Alec, spent most of Saturday cleaning up the yard. They ended up with several white trash bags full of the stuff.

Since we were going to have to wait till Thurs. or Friday before they could lay the new carpet, we decided to go ahead and paint the whole interior in colors we liked instead of just pure white everywhere. I feel like this is a sweet little house that has been abused and it's now up to us to nurture it back to health.

But in the meantime, here we are, homeless; thankfully Kristen and Nathan have taken us in. We may close Tues. or Weds., the painters should be finished on Weds. or Thurs. and the carpet may be down on Friday. And then maybe we can actually move in NEXT Saturday.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Goodbye Grandpa / Judy

As many of you know, Grandpa passed away on July 23 and I'm now ready to blog about it. It must have been exactly as he would have wanted to go. He was at home, Lloyd was with him, and it happened so fast that as Lloyd said, "His body didn't know quite what to do without the spirit." It was like it just slipped away.

Then came all the excitement of everybody gathering for the funeral. For about a week people were coming and going and actually it was a lot of fun seeing them--sort of like a big family reunion. During that time I hardly had time to think about things. The following week was taken up with arrangements with the lawyer for the trust and other such stuff. This week we've been really busy getting the house ready to sell, which means going through EVERYTHING, sorting into piles of "trash", "Goodwill" and "keep", then taking loads of stuff to the dump or to Goodwill.

Occasionally I think of Grandpa and start to feel sad, then I think of where he is now and what he's doing--meeting all the people he loved who were waiting for him--and I just have to feel happy for him. I picture his meeting with his wife (my mother), Ruth,  and his own mother and father and sister Norma Jean, not to mention all his friends like Tracey Call and I have to smile. I think of all the physical problems he had, some for most of his life, and some for the past few years, and again I'm happy that he no longer has to deal with them.

So now our plans are to sell this house and move up to be with some of our family.

May we all live so that at our funerals we can have the same huge outpouring of love and respect that Grandpa had at his!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grandpa, Again / Judy

Grandpa had gone nearly two months and two catheter changes without a UTI (urinary tract infection) and we thought we were home free. We'd been giving him some supplements that seemed to help. Then last Sunday night he started the muttering/hallucinating and we thought, Oh boy, here we go again. So we immediately started him on an antibiotic and he did pretty well all week. But yesterday (Sunday) he was restless and wakeful all day and sure enough, last night he started the talking again. It's kind of discouraging because right now he's in the middle of taking the antibiotics and he's still exhibiting this behavior. Sigh.

I thought it might be interesting to write down some of the things he says when he's in the middle of his hallucinations. Thankfully, it's never that someone is after him or negative in any way. But here are a few of his quotes:

Did Lloyd tell you we were robbed last night?
There are all those people in the living room. Should we invite them to dinner?
My friend is under the bed and I think we should ask her to come out and eat with us.
That man singing in the living room kept me awake all night. He had a nice tenor voice and was singing The Battlehymn of the Republic.
What town are we in?
It's a word salad.
Did you see all those boys and animals running around in here?
Here's something I don't understand. That is a section of farmland with nothing on it so I'll go ahead and run that.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Women's Sacrifice / Judy

I want to quote part of an amazing article I recently read in Mormon Times: June 4, 2011. You can probably go to the paper itself for the whole article, but I'd like to quote the parts that impressed me the most. It's written by a woman who was sitting in church, seven months pregnant with five young children. She said the speaker was talking about pioneers and he told the story of the Sweetwater crossing when grown men and women sat down and cried on the banks of the half-frozen river because their strength was utterly spent. That day three young men carried dozens of people through the chunks of ice and onto the opposite bank.

 She said at that moment the Spirit whispered to her in a deep impression: Your sacrifice is like unto theirs. There are spirits on the other side needing to cross to this life and any pregnant woman is carrying them, one or two (usually) at a time so they can continue along their own path to Zion.

Then she quoted Paul in Romans 12:1: I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God...

Present your body as a living sacrifice. Sacrifice--from the Latin meaning to make sacred. She says that a couple years later she had a miscarriage and even then she felt strongly, it wasn't a waste. She wasn't sure exactly what she meant by that except that somehow, that great loss COUNTED. It was known by God and would, in some inexplicable way, contribute to His work and glory as well as to her personal holiness.

She continues, "I realized this is true for women in a variety of circumstances: women who try and try, but are unable to conceive; women who subject themselves to the rigors of adoption; women who remain single and must forego not only maternity but also intimacy on a number of levels.

"I came to this conclusion. Every woman of faith consecrates her body as a living sacrifice. Whether our particular burden is fullness or emptiness, each of us is pushing against the world's current with our eyes on the kingdom of God."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Life Goes On / Judy

Even though our lives are pretty much the same as always, taking care of Dad and all, I decided I wanted to blog about the rest of our lives. Dad/Grandpa is actually doing pretty well. He hasn't had a UTI for over two months, which makes life better for everyone. The reason, I think, is that one of the nurses who comes to see him, gave us a list of products that other people in his situation found useful. We got them for him and they are working. 

But on to some other aspects of our lives. We saw the movie "Super 8" and thought it was great! It takes place in 1979 and even the film looks like it's from then. It not only has exciting things happen in the story as well as explosions and everything, but it also has very good interpersonal relationships.

On Friday we went to a new restaurant in Morro Bay that we've been wanting to try for a while and loved it. It's called The Galley and it's right on the water. It's always crowded and you need a reservation which tells you it's good.

Last Sunday I spoke in church and I talked about patriotism. And what I found interesting was that among the people who congratulated me afterwards, were 4 immigrants from other countries. These were extremely shy women who hardly ever say a word to anyone and they each came and thanked me for talking about America and how right I was about the greatness of this country. Seems like it's those who have seen the contrast who know it most clearly.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Taking Care of Dad - An Update / Judy

We've gone two full weeks now with no sign of a UTI so we're feeling pretty good. In fact, Dad seems to be doing remarkably well. He got a haircut yesterday--the lady who cuts my hair comes over to the house and does his--and he looks probably ten years younger. Also, his face has filled out so he doesn't look so gaunt.

I think it really helps that Lloyd has been home for the past two weeks to help. Between the two of us we take very good care of him. We care for his hair, his skin, his teeth, his fingernails, his diet, and his "intake and outgo".  During his dinnertime we've started reading him a Tony Hillerman book about a Navajo Tribal policeman in the four-corners region; he thoroughly enjoys hearing about that area that he knows so well. It's true that everybody likes to be read to, no matter what your age.

Meanwhile Lloyd continues to get better. He can wear a regular shoe for up to two hours a day now and today he drove for the first time (to a near-by home teaching appt). Last night we went out to dinner for the first time since his surgery and he did all right but was tired and limping by the time we came home. Actually, it was the first time he's left the house, except for two post-op doctor's appointments.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Taking Care of Dad and Lloyd / Judy

Last Friday Lloyd had foot surgery. It was an outpatient procedure in which they removed a large lump on the top of his right foot. The podiatrist said he thought it was something called a rheumatoid cyst, since Lloyd does have rheumatoid arthritis. Anyway, he's doing very well now. We have pain pills on call, rented a pair of crutches, and of course have a wheelchair for use on occasion. In fact, I wish I could show you a picture of Dad and Lloyd side by side in their wheelchairs on Saturday. For the most part, though, Lloyd uses the crutches and gets around pretty well. He just has to be sure to keep his foot up as much as possible so he spends most of his time in the inclined lazy boy in front of the TV.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Taking Care of Dad, 4 / Judy

Some people might say that Dad doesn't have a very good quality of life at this stage, but he thinks he does. He gets to sleep all he wants, which frankly has been his goal most of his life. He looks forward to eating when he does get up and he enjoys his meals tremendously. He always thanks me "for that delicious meal." Occasionally he likes to watch TV or a movie (if it's short) with us. For example, he recently watched something on the BYU channel about the church in France during WW2 that he talked about for a couple of days. Also, he likes to see episodes of the old JAG TV show that we get from Netflix.

And he doesn't have to worry about the things the rest of us do, like paying bills or doing our taxes or keeping the house clean. He doesn't even have to worry about keeping himself clean because the aid that comes in does that for him.

He is still a "people person" and always like to visit with anyone who comes, although he tires easily so he can't do it for very long at a time. His 90th birthday was a week ago and we invited several of his old friends from Cal Poly and the church and the neighbors in to help celebrate. He LOVED it. (See the pictures that Hilary posted on her blog because I can't seem to get pictures onto this blog.) Unfortunately, he had another UTI a couple days later and is just now coming out of it, but he is coming out of it.

So he continues longer than anyone thought he could go and Lloyd and I consider every day a gift.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Taking Care of Dad, 3 / Judy

We had another bad night, meaning Dad was awake all night "talking," which we can hear from the baby monitor in our room. This happens when he's having a urinary tract infection (UTI). Since September, he's had one every month or so, but this is the second one in January. They say it's because of the catheter that he's more susceptible.

Every time goes through specific stages: 1) he's wakeful and energetic for long periods. He will wake up early in the morning and go to bed late, be awake all day with no naps at all, eager to be doing exercises or go outside or go through his office. Once he was convinced he needed to look for a job. He wants to try to use his walker again. Many times he'll want to watch TV or a movie and once he was all excited about a championship football game, which he watched all through for nearly three hours. He seems more lucid even than usual.

The only thing that lets you know something may be slightly off (besides the job thing) is his complete lack of empathy--he has no idea he's keeping us awake along with him. Since he's such a sensitive, generally kind person, this is unusual. (Side note: everybody who comes in to care for him, from nurses to physical therapists to social workers comments on what a sweet man he is, always so gracious and grateful for whatever they are doing for him.) When we see the beginning of this wakefulness we immediately give him a basic antibiotic, but still he goes on to the next stage before it can take effect.

Stage 2: he starts having hallucinations, both visual and auditory. Evidently this is usual among older people with infections. Once he said there was a man singing so loudly in the living room that it kept him awake. He often asks who all these people are in his room and he has long conversations with individuals or groups "surrounding his bed." This is what happened last night. We would probably ignore it except at the same time he's anxious to get out of bed and will try everything to get around the bed rails we put up at night. Once he slithered all the way down to the bottom of the bed, then right off the end between the rail and the footboard, where we found him on the floor. He was going for a walk and was very surprised when his legs didn't hold him up. During this stage we can hear him talking all night long, like last night, so we know he's not getting any sleep.  And we know we have to check on him frequently. We give him a medication for agitation and insomnia, but it doesn't seem to do much good.

Stage 3: I don't know if the antibiotic is starting to work at this point or if he's just worn out, but after a day or two of hallucinations and agitation, he sleeps deeply for long hours. Once it lasted 24 hours and he was completely unresponsive, meaning we couldn't wake him up. It was more like a coma than a sleep. Then after 24 hours, he woke up and said he was hungry, which also happens no matter how long he sleeps.

Last Tuesday, when the first symptoms appeared, the doctor ordered a urine sample. Yesterday (3 days later), it came back positive for an infection, now we're waiting to hear which antibiotic will specifically target this particular bug. Since the broad-based antibiotic we've been giving him since Tuesday doesn't seem to be doing much good, I'm anxious to start him on something that will.

Thank goodness today is Saturday so there was no Seminary this morning and also Lloyd has the day off. Maybe we can spell each other with naps today.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Taking Care of Dad, 2 / Judy

When Dad came home from the transitional care center at the end of August, he was not doing well. He'd been very sick and was still extremely weak. He'd lost a lot of weight, mainly because he didn't want to eat anything. In fact, we had to spoon-feed him to get him to take any food at all. The only conversation he'd initiate was, "I want to go back to bed." Other than that he didn't participate. At the care center he'd refused to even try the physical therapy because all he wanted to do was sleep. He had a catheter, which we were told he'd have from now on.

We asked if he were eligible for Hospice and he definitely was, so we signed up with them. They were wonderful! A nurse checked on him twice a week, and they made sure we had the equipment we needed: we already had a hospital bed, but they supplied a special mattress to prevent bed sores. In addition we had a bedside commode and a wheelchair. Hospice is all about palliative care (just make sure they are comfortable), not about getting better.

But lo and behold, after three months, he was no longer eligible and they said he'd "graduated" out of Hospice because he got better all by himself. He got stronger physically so he could scoot from his bed to the wheelchair (although we still have to lift him back into the bed); he got his appetite back and really enjoys his meals; he's awake during the day now more than he has been in years; and he's very involved in the household doings. He loves to have people come visit and stays awake much longer when other people are around.

Bottom line is he's doing very well--until he has a urinary tract infection. Which will be the next topic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taking Care of Dad / Judy

I've considered blogging about this experience of being a caregiver for an elderly parent because it's such a huge part of my life right now. But I've hesitated because I didn't want to be disrespectful to Dad in any way...and some of what I could write about might be. But I've decided to go ahead for a couple reasons: I need to write about this as therapy for me, and also--maybe someone else can use it.

Some background: it's been almost fifteen years since Lloyd and I gave up our jobs and house in Maryland to return home and basically be here with Dad. He had recently been divorced and I could tell he wasn't doing well living by himself, so here we came. It was great watching 3 of my kids graduate from my old high school and of course we were able to live in the house I grew up in.

I did all the shopping, cooking and cleaning and considered it a small price to pay to be here in this place I love. Up until now Dad has been independent and a fun "roommie." Although he has gradually become weaker and more frail over the years, he could still get around with his walker. He enjoyed reading the newspaper when he woke up at 5:00 pm and then played chess on the computer or surfed the web, reading news and the family's blogs and sometimes staying up most of the night with a good book. He went to church, to visit family nearby, out to dinner occasionally and life was pretty good for all of us.

Then last summer he had a serious urinary tract infection, landed in the hospital for almost two weeks, then a rehab facility for three weeks after that, and when he came home in September (with a catheter), everything was different. The main difference is that he's immobile--his legs don't work at all. This means he's essentially bedridden although we get him up in his wheelchair for meals at the table two or three times a day. For those who've done this, they know there is a world of meaning in the words "he's bedridden."

More about this next time.

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