Week 265 April 27, 2019

Happy Orthodox Easter! The images here include a neighbor to our AirBnB’s decoration light up at night and the eggs that were painted  by one of our AirBnB guests’ family.

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And, Belated Happy Earth Day! A friend sent a link this week to see “80 beautiful photos from around the world for Earth Day.” While slowly inhaling the photos, I realized that Loren and I have been to 30 of these places. Of the rest I counted 22 that I would still like to visit. If you want to view the photos, you can find them online at:
https://www.cincinnati.com/picture-gallery/travel/2017/04/21/80-beautiful-photos-from-around-the-world-for-earth-day/100743930/ 

This week Loren and I helped the mom of a childhood friend of Loren’s celebrate her 98th birthday! We enjoyed one of her daughters’ delicious lemon meringue pies together, yum! We also celebrated the publication of one of her granddaughter’s newest books.

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Loren and I also received the “official” invitation to the wedding of special friends who we made in Romania. I wish we could attend. Since we cannot, I will hold hope that we will see them again someday.

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Loren and I also enjoyed dates with a friend of mine from Bikram Yoga San Jose, and, with friends from our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Sunnyvale this week. While in the South Bay we stopped to pick up our mail and so enjoyed seeing all the growth and blooms, both in our yard,

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and in the yards of our San Jose neighbors.

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I must mention our Golden State Warriors again this week. Loren and I watched the finale of the Round 1 Playoff games. We watched two of the three games at our AirBnB with other guests, one of whom texted me a couple of cute images that perfectly describe our enjoyment at the win of the 4th game. We also agonized together the loss of the 5th.

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Loren and I watched the 6th game with other friends at their home, where we were entertained again by their returning nesting owl to a palm tree, and their lovely garden and yard. The are preparing to host one of their daughters’ wedding here next week. Oh, and our Warriors won, taking them to the starting game of Round 2 tomorrow…

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This time next week Loren and I will have completed the 2019 Hike for Hope with Loren’s sister and a friend of hers. The hike is a fundraiser for Hope Hospice who helped with their Mom’s care. It will take place at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore. We are on the Team: Colibris for Lil. Colibri, or hummingbird, were among her favorite birds. 

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Week 264 April 20, 2019

Happy Easter! and Happy Passover!

We had a busy, fun week with the high of point visiting friends in the Sacramento area. Since we were headed that way we decided to spend one night beforehand near the California Capitol. We stopped in to see it, where we took an informative guided tour. 

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We learned the Great Seal of the State of California includes among other symbolism, Minerva — the Goddess of Wisdom, 31 stars — because California was the 31st state to join the union, and, the word Eureka, meaning I have found it — with “it” being gold.

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That evening we enjoyed a light dinner out with long time family friends of Loren’s. It was good to catch up, as it has been many years since we had last been together. 

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Then Loren and I spent another night seeing a long time colleague friend of Loren’s. He is an avid gardener and his yard boasts many impressive fruits of his efforts. Their newly planted dogwood bloomed beautifully just in time for our visit.

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This friend took us to a local hamburger restaurant that boasts over four hundred — 406 to be exact — different flavors of milkshake. I thoroughly enjoyed their staff suggested “Death By Chocolate” flavor. Later we tried to work it off on community walking paths.

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It was a good visit together, sharing our memories and more recent experiences.

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Then, we visited with a dear colleague friend of mine at her lovely home. Since we were there last she has added a soothing “river” to their appealing back yard. Their pink blossomed dogwood tree too is just about to burst into full bloom.

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Together we took a short ride to see the local Bikram Yoga studio, newly reopened by Teacher Training littermates of mine. It was so nice to see them! Next time I will be sure to take a class there and they have invited me to teach a class there as well. 

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It was too short a visit with these special friends, so we will look forward to our next opportunity to be together again.

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Otherwise it was another week of being thoroughly awed by aspects of California’s Superbloom from all our rainstorms — which still have not fully abated,

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and, watching some of our Golden State Warriors’ players on a 60 Minutes interview with our AirBnB friends, one of whom was making pancakes and eggs for her young teen son with her Mickey Mouse cookie cutouts.

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We also shared the agony with these AirBnB friends of one of the two Round 1 Playoff Games in which our Warriors lost — after a 31 point lead! Loren and I then listened by radio to their other Playoff Game this week, and we were elated that they completed it with a move into a 2-1 position lead against the LA Clippers in a best of 7 series. 

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Go Warriors!

Week 263 April 13, 2019

This week felt more like spring, except for the days where it was still cold enough to wear a sweater during the day. Loren and I spent one day at our house in San Jose, doing some gardening and other maintenance work. It was nice to snap photos of what’s been blooming in our front yard,

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and our back yard.

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Afterwards we stopped to see a friend. Her dogwood tree receives more sun and therefore boasts more blossoms. It was fun to catch up with her and her father too. He happened to be visiting from Wisconsin. Loren and I had met him at the suggestion of this friend a couple of years ago when we drove through Wisconsin.

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She sent us home with a rose from her front yard. As the week progressed, the bud further opened and has provided us a delightful fragrance, just as she had said it would.

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One evening Loren and I watched our Golden State Warriors in their last game of the regular season at the arena in Oakland. We enjoyed watching with other guests from our AirBnb, just as we have watched a few Warriors games together recently. We appreciated the station broadcasting the sentiments of the fans, players and coach about their history in Oakland. Except for this year’s playoffs, they will play in San Francisco from now on.

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I was inspired to write a poem about what I heard, taking me back to my elementary school days…

Basketball Haiku
Claire Adalyn Wright

Nothing compares to
the sounds of sneakers squishing
across a gym floor.

The next evening we enjoyed a BBQ with Loren’s sister, and watched the final College Men’s basketball game. She invited us to join her for a hike on May 4, to help raise money for the Hope Hospice organization that helped care for their Mom in the last 3 weeks of her life. If you would want to join us or to donate, here is the link to the team:

http://events.hopehospice.com/site/TR/Hike/General?team_id=1774&pg=team&fr_id=1140

One day I went to the dentist and was amazed that she was able to remove my old crown and replace it with the permanent one both in the same visit. I am continually impressed with how technology can enhance our day to day lives. 

Loren and I spent another day with a dear friend, her beau, and his sweet dog. We went on a wonderful hike which included a picnic, then visited and dined out together. A memorable and meaningful day.

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We are especially proud of this friend, who has generously opened her home to two asylum seekers from El Salvador. Prior to arriving at her home they each had been held in detention upon entering the United States to apply for asylum. One of them has received asylum and has most recently procured a job in a commercial kitchen. She will continue to live with our friend for the foreseeable future. The other is legally prevented from an opportunity to work yet, so her priority must be to learn English. She has a hearing with a Judge coming up next month. We wish both of these young women all the best in their goals. If you would like to hear the story of one of them, you can read about her at this site (click and click again on the headline below the photo):


Loren and I finished our week signing off on our taxes, just before Monday’s due date. We appreciate our fortune to have been born in this country – the land of the free, the brave, and the payers of their annual taxes.

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Week 262 April 6, 2019 – Year 6

This week Loren and I observed the anniversary of leaving home on April 5, 2014. We look forward to more adventure on this Journey of ours, as its sixth year begins today!

More signs of Spring greeted us this week, making a memorable tribute to the many storms we’ve had. The weather report appears to show the rains may finally have ended, but our week has felt more Winter-like, except for the flowers. Wisteria – both purple and white blooming around in the nearby neighborhoods has been outstanding to see this week, as are pink, red, yellow, orange – let me just say blossoms of all colors and shapes abound. 

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We had some nice connections with family and some of our friends this week. Loren and I had dinner with his one sister one evening and he had coffee with his other sister. A friend who had compiled a few of our travel videos from Ireland and the UK and had put them to music some time ago has posted the collage to YouTube this week. You can see it here:

     https://youtu.be/wxkEkSNhY2I

I also had a wonderful lunch date with a colleague friend, and, one afternoon Loren and I supported a yoga friend who presented her memoir at a local bookstore. Loren and I also enjoyed a lunch date together with another couple.

That evening we shared our joy of watching the Warriors with this couple in their TV room that features four comfy recliners. The station we watched entertained us during Half Time with great evening views of the San Francisco Bay area.

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As Loren has always been, I too have become quite enamored of this basketball team. Maybe you are too, but I want to highlight them here this week. There are just three games left for our team in the regular season, and they have already secured a post-season position. Steph Curry that evening had an incredible lead in points made – the only one with double digits at the half.

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Steph, the Team Captain, and his teammate Klay Thompson have earned the nickname, “The Splash Brothers” for their ability to frequently make their three point shot attempts. 

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Earlier in the week we watched the team defeat the second place team in the Western Conference, boosting their lead in first place.

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This year is additionally poignant, because it is the last year the team will play in the arena in Oakland, before moving to a newer stadium in San Francisco next year. They will play their last home game of the regular season there this coming week.

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We wish the Golden State Warriors all the best in their hope to finish this year with a 3peat – a third-in-a-row Championship win, though they are already considered by many to be a Dynasty for their prior win in the 2014-2015 season. 

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Week 261 March 30, 2019

This week I have been well aware of the many signs of Spring I just realized the first day of Spring passed by without notice here a couple of weeks ago. Maybe because it was in between the ongoing rains that brought the bounty of flowers that we saw at homes of family, friends and neighbors these past several days.

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March will soon come to an end and Loren and I continue to reflect on his Mom’s death. She had the heart attack in early February. Her prognosis was as I heard it “… because of her age she will get better, but slowly, maybe.” She came home from the hospital after a two nights stay. Then she was admitted to Hospice in mid February, and that is when we began to say our goodbyes. “Mom’s final journey here,” was how Loren put it.

One day I had the opportunity to talk with her between her dozing in bed. Each time I came into the room that day she would greet me with a cheerful, ”Good Morning!” not realizing that it was still the same day and evening. At one point I asked what she thought happens when we leave this life. She said she had no idea and we chuckled about how nobody knows. Still, I asked my question again, a few different ways before being able to convey what I was asking. As from the mouths of babes, so too from the mouth of a sage. I understood her to say:

I think of a nice little cottage, with greenery all around, shrubs and bushes, just like God would want it.

I told her I would think of her being there. Then she added, “And we would share in the grocery shopping. The owner of the store would be nice. It would be an old fashioned style grocery store.” She had always been so appreciative these last many months for the weekly family dinners I would prepare, often wanting to provide the meal herself – just like the Italian Mom that was such a part of her identity. Loren’s sister mentioned how going grocery shopping had been something she had wanted to do in those last few weeks. 

But, here is what brought tears to my eyes as I left her room. In the vein of Loren’s belief that the two most important things in life to someone who is of Italian heritage are food and family, she said, “Take good care of Loren.” I promised her I would.

Otherwise this week we had a lovely evening out to dinner with a friend of mine. Her partner had put his back out that day so we look forward to another opportunity to see him too. Another nice evening was had with taking dinner to Loren’s sister. Yet another evening we had a lovely visit with San Jose neighbors. And, while Loren had lunch with a friend of his on another day, I treated myself to a local Mexican restaurant chain. Before my meal I just sat and appreciated it. Then I dove in. Another day Loren enjoyed brunch out with some long time friends. 

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I had hoped to see the Nancy Drew 2019 film in the theater this week… reading the series of Nancy Drew books was a highlight of my childhood. I only got so far as finding showtimes – none of which worked for us, so I anticipated that more would be available next week. I am disappointed in that the film is already finished showing in our area.

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We finished this week visiting with dear friends in their new home right on the San Francisco Bay. 

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We reminisced over dinner about so many topics, another memorable evening in our bucket of collecting experiences, the main goal of our Journey toward Wholeness.

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Week 260 March 23, 2019

Thank you to our many kind relatives and friends for reaching out with your feelings and sentiments when you heard the news about Loren’s mother’s death. Loren and I are comforted by your thoughts and wisdom. One quote especially stands out from a dear cousin in Italy, as translated from her language:

     Those we love and who we have lost are no longer where they were but where we are.

We are encouraged and happy about this possibility. It reminds me of the poem that a dear friend wrote down for me that was so comforting when my mother died in 2002:

     Northwest Indian Memorial on Death

     Do not stand at my grave and weep.
     I am not there. I do not sleep.
     I am a thousand winds that blow.
     I am the diamond glint on snow.
     I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
     I am the autumn rain.
     When you awake in the morning hush,
     I am the swift uplifting rush
     Of birds circling in flight.
     I am the stars that shine at night.
     Do not stand at my grave and weep.
     I am not there. I do not sleep.

It will take time for it all to sink in…

Loren and I have been reflecting a lot. I realized that over our five years away from home, we spent about a full year of it over time, with Loren’s Mom. We are grateful for those five years, and, for that year. Specifically, Loren spent parts of seven of our initial twelve weeks when we first left home with her, while I was at Bikram Yoga teacher training. We spent parts of another week when I returned from that training. After traveling across the United States, we returned to be with her for parts of another couple of weeks before we first went overseas. We came home again to spend most of a couple of months with her before we crossed the country again and returned overseas. Now we we have been with her a lot of these past nine months. We so appreciate that we had many special times with her in these five years and many over many years before that.

If you would like to read Loren’s Mom’s obituary you can find it online here:

Lillian-WRIGHT-Obituary http://m.legacy.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Lillian-WRIGHT&lc=9581&pid=191853659&mid=8204623


At the beginning of this week Loren, his sister and I celebrated her life quietly at their home one evening for dinner, saluting her with her favorite Moscato wine.

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At the beginning of this week our weather remained spring-like. Now at the end of the week it feels like winter again. We helped his sister do some chores outdoors in the delightful weather. Loren and I also enjoyed a date night out for St Patrick’s Day dinner after I taught an afternoon Bikram Yoga class that day. We enjoyed seeing the enchanting full moon for the Spring Equinox this week too.

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It was delightful later that same St Patty’s Day evening to see a decoration in our neighborhood that I had taken a photo of one day, was lit up that night. And, it had been surprising and interesting to learn from Loren’s sisters who in the past months had their Mom take a DNA test, that, not only did she have Italian, but also some Irish in her blood!

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Another day we drove to San Jose to stop in at the Post Office to try to pick up a tax paper that had not been forwarded from our closed PO Box. That document was not there, but, I was so happy to find four Christmas greeting cards which also had not been forwarded were patiently awaiting pickup!

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This week too I finished taking the required number of CEUs online that I take each year to would allow me to return to work in the future. The courses I took this year were all about aging. I came across words for people in each decade of life and learned that Loren’s Mom and others between the ages of 90 and 99 are called nonagenarians. I can just hear her sense of humor if I had been able to tell her that… perhaps she would have said something she had enjoyed teaching us recently from her Piemontese dialect –

     Te ping de balle.

It is a little off color, but essentially means: You’re full of it!

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Loren and I are grateful that we did travel parts of the world during these past 5 years. His Mom expressed her appreciation frequently in these last several months that we had returned. Now we feel in a state of flux. We are not sure what our future will hold. We are having trouble picturing what might come next for us. So for the meantime we are staying put. We had already arranged before Loren’s Mom died to stay in our AirBnB here through the month of April. We hope our future will include more travel, there are so many places and people we hope to visit, but right now we have no energy to even consider travel. I came across this quote on another traveler’s blog, which rings so true…

     Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time;
it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable
.

          Sydney J. Harris

 

Week 259* March 16, 2019 *3/12/19

This was a hard week. It was hard in that Loren’s Mom died in the early afternoon on Tuesday, March 12. One good thing is that Loren, his two sisters and I were by her side, and the Hospice nurse and Hospice chaplain were there with us in her bedroom too. When the chaplain arrived she read passages from the Bible, said a prayer, and we all joined in together saying the Lord’s Prayer. Within moments she took her last breath. 

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One thing that stood out is that for the past several months Loren’s Mom would ask me,

     “Is today Tuesday?”

Sometimes she would ask,

     “Is today Sunday?”

More often, she would ask if it was Tuesday. I suppose it is simply a coincidence that she died on a Tuesday, but her voice asking me this will remain in my memory, as will so many other delightful aspects of the woman who turned 93 years old in January, the one who gave birth to and lovingly raised Loren and his two sisters. 

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I learned this week that she enjoyed putting together jigsaw puzzles with her kids, as my Mom and I had done. Loren and I worked on this one that his sister had put out for all of us to work on when we were at their house but not in Loren’s Mom’s room. We finished it earlier this week. By chance it happens to be of an area of the Cinque Terre, in Italy.

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Loren’s Mom led a full life. I know of it mainly since meeting Loren later in the same year that her mother had died. I did have the privilege to spend some time with her brother – Loren’s Mom’s uncle, who was just five years older than Loren’s Mom.

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She, maybe nearly as much as her elder daughter, enjoyed having pets over the years. This currently includes two birds and a cat.

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When I met the family it was nearly a decade after Loren and his Dad had completed building a Dome house at Clear Lake, the second home where we enjoyed many long weekends and special holidays over the next few years. After Loren’s Dad died it became too much to manage and was understandably sold. 

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Loren’s Mom made one visit to Italy, the country where her parents hailed from. The tour she went with, guided by the Italian language teacher whose class she had attended, took her to the south of Italy. She never did see the northern province of Piemonte where her mother and father were raised before they each immigrated to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, respectively. They later met in Oakland, where she was born. 

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Loren and I enjoyed wonderful weekend getaways together with his Mom to Napa and to Yosemite National Park, and, we remember with fondness the times when she came to visit or to stay overnight or to stay for a weekend with us at our home in San Jose.

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She had a keen sense of humor, and liked to play practical jokes. It only dawned on me some few years ago just who Loren had picked up his same trait from. She was always cheery and positive, often cooing her joy at whatever situation currently pleased her.

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Tuesday was a sunny day, like the day before had been, and like each day since has been. It reminds me now how she would so often call on the phone and say,

     “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!”

Her bedroom window looked out into the backyard, including onto the prolific lemon tree that Loren’s sister tends and that provides such juicy and tasty fruit.

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That evening, Loren and I took a long hike at nearby Lake Chabot. We encountered flooded trails from the most recent series of storms, and saw some wildlife. It is always healing to be in the midst of nature, well, at least after the storms have passed. 

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I will end this week with one more saying that Loren’s Mom enjoyed, and knowing that we will one day in the not too distant future, again,

   “See ‘ya later alligator, in a little while crocodile.”

 

Week 258 March 9, 2019

Our week was spent having more special time with Loren’s Mom, for the most part. She is fading more with each day… Loren and I have done more hand holding with her this week, and she has spent more time with her eyes closed.

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One day Loren’s Mom told us she had a stomach ache on a couple of occasions. Later that same day she had us in stitches when the visiting Hospice nurse asked her,

     “Does your tummy hurt you?”

She replied,

     “No. Does it hurt you?”

We are grateful to have this time to be with her, and especially to help a bit to relieve Loren’s one sister who does and has done the majority of her caregiving. We actually had one day this week of sunshine where his sister was able to be in the backyard for a time, doing some of the gardening she and his Mom have always loved doing. The vase of flowers comes from their devoted gardening efforts.

Here are a few more of Loren’s Mom’s frequent comments that I want to capture:

   In Italian: “A domani matina,” meaning, “See you tomorrow morning,”
   “Heavy duty,” for when she wants to emphasize her awe at something,

Otherwise, Loren and I had one day where we picked up our mail from San Jose. We were tickled to see the trees we pruned a couple of months ago are beginning to bud out.

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And, we had a few nice exchanges with relatives who live around the US recently, all who have had a brutal winter. My one cousin in New Hampshire expressed it as:

     “A wicked see saw winter weather wise with a lot of messy storms.” 

There have been similar reports of brutal weather from all corners and the interior of the US this winter. What I know about California is, this is the coldest winter here since 1949. I think we are all looking forward to spring!

Week 257 March 2, 2019

Loren and I would have left for Australia this week, where we would have caught up with some friends, like this Italian couple who sent photos from their visit there now,

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however, we have canceled our travel reservations to stay in California to help with Loren’s Mom care for now. How does the saying go? “Humans plan, God laughs.” At least that is true some of the time.

One day this week a childhood friend of Loren and his wife came to visit Loren’s Mom which she thoroughly enjoyed, and another day their son paid a visit and again she was happy, even enjoying a bite of the breakfast pastries he brought. Sadly, I neglected to take photos to post… I did try to capture one of Loren’s sister’s cat who kept me company a little while on the chair in Loren’s Mom’s room, but she refused to pose nicely this time.

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I want to record some of Loren’s Mom’s favorite sayings that I have heard these past few weeks – actually she has said them over the nearly 30 years I have known her, like,
     ”It’s a beau-u-u-u-u-tiful day!
     “How’s it going?” or, “How’s it going wichu?
     “Hallelujah Baby!” 
     “That’s yummy,” sometimes emphasized as “yummmm-mee!
          which she nearly always says on drinking a sip of water these days.

And, in her first language of Italian or the Piemontese and Genovese dialects of her heritage,
     “A domani!” meaning “See you tomorrow!”
     “Salute!” for “Cheers!” when she is enjoying a sip of her favorite Moscato wine with us!
     “Anduma!” a short form of “Anduma, stuma o cosca fuma!”
          meaning, “Are we going, are we staying, or what are we doing?”

I caught an image of her reading the San Francisco Chronicle one day, and I want to share these two precious photos, one from her Oakland High School graduation and another from her wedding day.

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Otherwise this week, Loren and I have enjoyed seeing part of the Oscars, a couple of Warriors Games on TV,

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and, it was a delight to run into a San Jose yogi friend who was also taking class at the local studio here one day this week!

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Week 256 February 23, 2019

This week has been one of ups and downs. Is it possible that Loren’s Mom’s recent heart condition could have cleared her dementia? I have felt that she has been more herself this week, cheerful and alert. On the night of the NBA All Star game I brought a special dinner to her and Loren’s sister’s home. I was pleased that she ate some of the popcorn appetizer. “It’s my favorite!” she said, and waved her thumb in delight. But, she ate next to nothing of the soup, purposely adapted for her no-sodium diet. And, she asked to return to bed before the game was over. After the game I baked the dozen cookies I had prepared for desert, but by that time she was ready to go to sleep and said she would enjoy them the next day.

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I taught my last 2 scheduled classes of Bikram Yoga this week, early on the morning that the Snow Moon was still visible in the morning sky… I am happy our “atmospheric river storm” has concluded, what one news report called “a rolling conveyor belt of storms.”

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Loren’s Mom has always been chipper, upbeat and positive, so often saying “Super!” or “Super, duper!” when asked how she is, even including this week. One time I had the opportunity to rub her back and she said it felt good. When I have had opportunities to talk with her between her dozing, often times she greets me with, ”Good Morning!” But what brought tears to my eyes as I left her room one time was when she said, “Take good care of Loren.” I promised I would. After the basketball game evening, she stayed in bed more and dozed or slept a good part of the time. We came to think it was time to say our goodbyes, keeping vigil part of the week by her bedside. 

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That next day Loren’s Mom perked up and insisted that the very next day she would get out of bed. She began eating more than she had been as well. Loren helped me with cutting apples for a cake I made at Loren’s Mom’s home, with the last of the apples picked last fall from the tree in her front yard. It was gratifying when she ate some of the cake that evening!

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One evening I enjoyed having dinner with a dear friend, and this time I thought to take a photo…

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On Friday, a Bikram Yoga teacher friend was married, and another teacher friend who attended sent photos of the happy couple and of herself, helping me feel like I was there.

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In helping to rearrange furniture in Loren’s Mom’s bedroom, I came across this gem of a photo of her and Loren’s Father, another young happy couple. What a treasure it is! Loren’s Mom also adores a home-made pink blanket that I think Loren’s sister made, and perks up when I offer it to her.

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Grateful that Loren’s Mom seems to be recovering some, Loren and I finished our week taking in one of the Oscar nominated movies, Green Book. It was moving, and I will be interested to see if it wins Best Picture.