Posted in Around Town

Rose Parade 2009: The Prep Edition

Old, cynical Pasadenan that I am, every year I think to myself, “Oh, the parade. Ho hum.” Then it gets to be the 28th or 29th of December, and I feel the anticipation in the air.

I find myself on south Raymond Avenue, where a parking spot has miraculously opened up. In true Harriet the Spy fashion, within seconds I’m up close and personal observing parade floats under construction.

May I present to you a special Rose Parade…
rb-09-prep-sneak

Continue reading “Rose Parade 2009: The Prep Edition”

Posted in Cool Stuff

A Death and A Birth

seascape
Photo by The Scout

My condolences to the family and friends of Neil Barry. Neil was a fellow parishioner at Church of the Angels. He had a 6 year struggle with pancreatic cancer. Neil was an avid 49ers fan, and after church we’d stand on the sunny patio and talk football. He wore these sunglasses:

49erssunglasses

Still, I managed to take Neil seriously. RIP, Neil. Your 49ers just beat my father’s Redskins, 27-24.

* * * * *

Welcome to Navah, daughter of Dave (Pa Kettle) and E, and sister of Ronen.

navahandronen

I was honored to be there just after Navah made her grand entrance. My role was to keep an eye on Ronen, who is one of the world’s smartest three year-olds. Ronen said, “I’m going to draw a beautiful picture for the baby. I’m going to draw a baseball diamond!” (Sadly, he will grow up a Mets fan, but some things can’t be helped.)

Happy Birthday, Navah!

Posted in Cool Stuff, Friends

In Which I Am Reduced to Tears

Oh YOU!  You nice, nice people!!!  YOU lovely, kind-hearted souls!  THANK YOU for the gift of in-home, his-and-hers massages for The Scout and me.

You didn’t see but I opened the envelope and burst into tears.  Heard of projectile vomiting?  I was projectile crying.  LC had to sprint for the box of tissues.  THANK YOU!

kiss_lips

Posted in Around Town, England, Green & Pleasant Land, Pasadena

In Which I Struggle With the Season

There are so many reasons to hate Christmas as it is celebrated in these United States. The buying-ness of it all gets to me. I don’t want buying to make me happy. I don’t want things to make me happy. I hate it that our whole economy is based on consumption.

But who am I kidding? Some things make me happy. Opening a wrapped gift makes me happy. Watching someone else open one makes me happy too. Afterwards, burning the wrapping paper in the fireplace satisfies my inner pyro.

I’m as guilty as the next guy—I buy at this time of year. I do nostalgic buying, as in: “Well, I have to get something from Canterbury Records because I always get something from Canterbury Records, and Lord knows I don’t want Canterbury Records to go out of business.”

canterbury-records

Photo credit: The Sky is Big in Pasadena

Canterbury Records offers up some wonderful things. My favorites for this time of year are:

bellsofdublin

The Chieftains: Bells of Dublin

Are you about to tear your hair out of your head because you can’t stand another scintilla of tired old holiday music? The Chieftains will save you, along with musical guests Jackson Browne (The Rebel Jesus) and Elvis Costello (The St. Stephen’s Day Murders). Sample lyrics from the latter (referring to “Uncle”):

While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly,
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop

See? That bit irreverence truth makes you feel better, doesn’t it?

vince-guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the melancholy Christmas Time is Here. I love Linus and Lucy, and I dance just like the kid in the orange shirt.

By the way, The Carol of the Bells is PURE TORTURE, wouldn’t you agree? Chaney approved it for use at Guantanamo, I’m sure.

* * * * *

I always miss England at Christmas. I would like to take the train to London and look at Selfridge’s windows.

hangingsanta1

Photo credit: Laura Porter

I would like to hop on a Number 15 bus starting at Marble Arch and travel through London and see the lights.

debenhams

Photo credit: Laura Porter

A few years ago, The Scout worked in London on a Marriott commercial. He had a birthday while we were there, and I bought him a flask at this very Debenhams. He likes to fill it with Patron Silver and take it to the movies. And the golf course. And the…oh, never mind.

hamleys

Photo credit: Laura Porter

Here we have the Hamley’s where I bought AP’s Tardis Piggy Bank.

* * * * *

Sigh. This post was actually therapeutic for me. The photos of London helped. If you’re of the Christmas persuasion, I wish you a Happy Christmas.

UPDATE:  My friend Adela is selling her muy sabroso tamales.  If you’re in the Pasadena/Altadena/So. Pas/Highland Park area, she’ll deliver them to your house!  You can reach her at 323-691-0073.

Posted in Current Events, Life

Offers

The economy is rotten. People are losing their jobs. The wars are getting worse. A few crooks are running off with our money. It’s ‘holiday time’ but it feels like anything but. It’s time to ante in.

tums

I got Tums. Whadda you got?

heating-pad

I got a heating pad. Whadda you got?

big-teddy-real

I got Big Teddy. Whadda you got?

vinnie

I got a fuzzy picture of Vin Scully, one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time. I took it myself during the playoffs. Whadda you got?

colin-pop

I got some family (representative sample pictured above). Whadda you got?

Posted in Current Events

Fake Baby Birthin’ Church Lady

Show of hands: Do you think Sarah Palin is Trig’s mother? It’s been a while since I’ve visited Sarah’s Baby Storyland, but Godammit I’m Mad mentioned that Andrew Sullivan has a photo of Sarah, 3 weeks before Trig’s birth, here. Sullivan says:

I begged the McCain campaign by private email and in a private meeting to give me something – anything – to kill the story off. I promised to run any evidence that would blow this out of the water. That offer still stands. Please make me look like an idiot for asking these questions. But they didn’t offer a thing, asserting that even asking the question was an outrageous reputation-destroying offense.

Again, my issue with this whole thing is that I think people should tell the truth. That includes politicians. If Sarah is content to lie about Trig’s birth, I imagine she would be content to lie about other sorts of things as well. In this particular case, it was Sarah’s own fantastical statements and actions reported in the Anchorage Daily News that caused me to question her. Get on a plane while leaking amniotic fluid? Drive by the hospital in Anchorage that has a NICU and instead go to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center to deliver your high-risk baby? If these things are true, then Sarah needs her head examined.

I’ve been reluctant to hang this whole thing on photographic evidence. Between “the camera always lies” (as my brother Ken says) and photoshop, who knows what is true?

palin-and-obama-dancing

Photo and (title of this post) via Cajun Boy.

Still, the photo screenshot below screams “I have a pillow in my pants so it looks like I’m pregnant.

palin4-8-08

Screenshot from Jack Bog’s Blog.

A childbirth professional agrees with me here.

Posted in Life, Mental Health

Stubborn Through This Season

Well, my mother’s mania continues. Last week, she accused me of stealing family photos.

Mom: Kelly, I think you may have accidentally taken the pictures of my children home with you.

Me: No Mom, I didn’t bring any pictures home with me.

Mom: Well, I can’t find them. I’ve had them since 1965, and I’d like them back. Are you sure you don’t have them?

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t have them.

Mom: Yes, you are sorry. Very sorry. Click.

Now, she won’t answer when I call. I’m not taking it personally, but it does feel a bit odd to leave soliloquies on her answering machine. “Happy Thanksgiving” and the like.

rancho-san-j-barn

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Today a ringing phone woke me up with Dr. H, my father’s urologist, on the other end. My dad has been dealing with bladder cancer for about a year-and-a-half. They basically “took care of it” via surgery to remove a tumor and BCG therapy.

I call my father “Pop”—a compromise between ‘Papa’ (what he wanted) and ‘Dad’ (what I wanted). A few weeks ago I say, “Pop, it’s time for you to get your bladder checked out.”

Pop: What do you mean? They said I’m cancer-free.

Me: The doctor said you have to get checked out every few months to make sure you’re still okay.

Pop: I don’t remember him saying that to me.*

Me: Call Doctor H and make an appointment to get checked.

rancho-san-j-window

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

The upshot is that my dad went into the hospital yesterday. Dr. H poked around in his bladder and removed part of his prostate because it was blocking the flow of urine. Originally scheduled to go home after the procedure, my dad had to spend last night at the hospital which he loathes and detests. In fact, the doctor called to tell me to get him to an internist ASAP because his blood pressure is dangerously high. I’m sure that some of that is related to his present location.

My father is great insisting he’s perfectly healthy in the face of evidence to the contrary. Like the time he got drunk at DanTana’s and was hit by a car (we surmised—he doesn’t quite remember this) and ended up in Cedars-Sinai. I swear, his body was one giant purple bruise but after one night he checked himself out of the hospital despite the doctor’s recommendation to stay.

My dad had lined up a friend to pick him up yesterday, but he didn’t have a Plan B if they kept him overnight. Fortunately, I’m able to go collect him from St. Joseph’s and take him to his apartment in Hollywood.

*My dad freely admits that he is forgetful. It surprises me that he is forthright about it and not particularly defensive.

rancho-san-j-lone-tree

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, not seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.

-Sylvia Plath

Posted in Mental Health, Travel

Then the Quail Came

Mom update: She’s about the same—perhaps a bit more paranoid. My brother stopped by last night and the meds are all hanging out together in a big bowl, like Halloween candy waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Me update: I’m tired of blogging about my mom (sommayous will be relieved to hear that!). Worrying about her doesn’t do either of us any good. Wishing that things were different leads to the cul-de-sac called Maudlin. So, I’m on the one-day-at-a-time plan, and today is a good day. I’m in Santa Barbara! Specifically, I’m here:

java-jones-2

Java Jones on State Street. Image courtesy of SantaBarbara.com.

The Scout is looking at ranches in the area for a John Deere spot. I’m going to sit here, get some work done, then I’m going for a big ole walk. Later, the Scout and I will probably have a drink and perhaps even dinner at Dargan’s (we’ve had fun watching tennis matches there, and the Irish Stew is good enough).

In this season of thanksgiving, my thanks again to you for your good thoughts, kind words, prayers. For joining me in my outrage about our health care system. For understanding how frustrating it is to be in a relationship with someone who is bipolar. For continuing to read during my struggle to describe mania. To Susan for her verbal spa. To Suebob (I waved when we drove through Ventura!) who left a comment pointing me to a post entitled The Crazy Mothers Club over at Godammit I’m Mad. I’m now a member and have almost mastered the secret handshake.

Though I recognize that I’m emotionally exhausted, I’m having a good day. I hope you do the same.

Here we are, alone on a desert, fed dawn to dark, dusk to day
Every morning we wake up. to find just the measure
Of food we need for the way
Oh once we would ask if we could have more
To see that our future survived
But we know now at last, that nothing is sure
Except that at evening the quail will arrive

Michael Blanchard

Posted in Mental Health

Around the Barn

I heard Malcolm Gladwell on Rachel Maddow’s show the other day talking about decoding institutions. The journey that I’m on now vis-a-vis my mother’s mental illness is one of not simply decoding institutions, but of decoding a system that involves multiple institutions.

My bipolar mother is not, in the strictest sense, a “danger to herself or others,” so she is not currently in the hospital. However, she is manic, and she isn’t taking care of herself very well. She hasn’t been taking her medication (not regularly; most likely not at all). She’s still ‘cleaning’ her apartment. I don’t know what, if anything, she has been eating. Without medication, she is probably sleeping very little.

forest-grove-barn

My brother called me at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to say that mom had gone to the emergency room via ambulance, but then had been discharged and sent home via ambulance company van (cheaper than full-on ambulance). The ambulance driver called my brother because my mom didn’t have a key to get back into her apartment.

I just repeated the events as they were presented to me. So what actually happened? My mom managed to call 911 and apparently requested that she be taken to the Tuality Hospital in Forest Grove (which is not the closest hospital, but it is the one that has the geriatric-psychiatric unit). She was so sleepy in the emergency room that they could barely get information out of her. She said that she needed to sleep, but couldn’t sleep at home.

They asked her if she felt safe at home. Oh yes, she said. (My question: So why aren’t you sleeping at home?) She said she’s been taking her medications (even brought them with her!). She said that I stole a ring from her but that, upon reflection, there is one more place that she may have put it. She asked for hot chocolate and something to eat. They fed her mushroom soup (she’s decided to become a vegetarian—since this manic episode started, that is). She said she wanted to talk to her psychiatrist (at midnight on a Saturday night?).

Actually, the emergency department staff were talking to the psychiatrist that treated my mom when she was an in-patient about another patient, so they did mention that my mom was in the emergency department. But the upshot of the whole deal is that my mom passed muster (not a danger to self or others) and was sent home. (By the way, all the beds in the geriatric-psychiatric unit were full anyway.)

So she got back to her apartment and didn’t have a key to get in. The ambulance-van driver called my brother, who lives locally but does not have a key. The apartment building manager is on vacation at the moment. After an hour of trying to figure out what to do, the driver looked in the handbag my mom had with her. Sure enough, there were keys in the bottom of the bag.

It is now Monday morning. I called my mom.

Me: Hi Mom, it’s Kelly.

I hear the phone sliding back into its holder. Click.

Since I’m a thousand miles away (literally), my main option at this point is to (once again) call the police and ask them to do a welfare check. That’s how this system works.

Previously in this series:

#7 Uncertainty

#6 Talking to Crazy

#5 A Fist Full of Meds

#4 Blogging in Absentia

#3 Disappointed

#2 Getting Back to the Garden

#1 Mother’s Mania