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.

Week 255 February 16, 2019

Loren and I have heavy hearts this week. On Saturday, Loren’s Mom had pain in her lower abdomen, then later in her chest, then in her upper back. His sister who lives with her was concerned, and on Sunday she, Loren, and their other sister took their Mom to the Emergency Room. I joined Loren and one sister there later in the day after their Mom was admitted. She stayed two nights, receiving a diagnosis of a heart attack and resultant congestive heart failure. Thankfully she looked more like her cheerful self the next day. 

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On Saturday too, our AirBnB home was forced into a gas outage, the result of a broken pipe that fortunately other guests reported smelling in their room. We were without gas in the kitchen and also without heat for a couple of days, then we experienced unrelated internet and cable service outages. Almost everything is back in service now…

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We had a wonderful dinner out with a friend and her son who are housemates at our AirBnB. The food was excellent – and complimentary, thanks to a new restaurant that our friend’s sister is managing, and having what I consider a dress rehearsal to the restaurant opening. We so enjoyed our special time together, and also enjoyed meeting some of our friends’ extended family members.

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And I met a dear colleague for lunch halfway between where she has moved to near Sacramento and where Loren and I are staying. Afterwards she and I enjoyed a good walk in the brisk but not rainy weather. We have continued to have much rain this week.

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Loren’s Mom came home that same day, and that evening I took dinner to her and Loren’s sister’s home. His Mom only had two bites of part of what I brought, then a spoonful each of two different soups that his sister offered her before insisting she was full. She has been regularly eating small portions for a while, but I began noticing that has been even more dramatic starting with when I brought a special dinner for Super Bowl Sunday.

The next day Loren and I again spent the evening with her while Loren’s sister had a dinner date with a friend. Once again his Mom ate very little though was willing to drink more water than she has this week. With her heart pumping at only half capacity, she also wants to spend much more time in bed than she has in the past.

The next day was Valentine’s Day. Loren and I treated ourselves to a massage after a yoga class, then returned to the studio to present a wedding gift to another teacher who will be married next week. I regret missing a photo of the bride to be, but did at least snap a photo of two of us instructors with our gift to her.

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and then I had to also snap pictures of some other Valentine’s studio decorations…

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That same afternoon I took advantage of a Valentine’s Day promotion from a pharmacy’s walk in clinic to have my heart checked. I was grateful to find that all my numbers are better than they have been in the past. That evening, another of our AirBnB housemates was creating a masterpiece Valentine’s Day seven layer red velvet cake. I just had to capture a few photos. She lit it to take a photo for prosperity, then she and her husband – who she captured in an embrace were taking it to his brother’s home nearby.

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On Friday Loren and I took his Mom for a follow up doctor’s appointment. As we wheeled her outside she was delighted to see the backyard up close. Her vitals were good and the doctor seemed pleased that CHF symptoms like retaining fluid were not present.

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Still celebrating Valentine’s Day at the end of the week, a teacher invited me to wear a pair of festive glasses during class. I took her up on it, and can now say officially that I have seen my Bikram Yoga practice through rose colored glasses!

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Week 254 February 9, 2019

When we came back to California last June, Loren had advised his Mom and sisters that we would stay through their Mom’s birthday in mid-January. In January, just before her birthday his Mom said to his one sister, “I’m going to miss them, they’re leaving again soon.” Ironically that was the day before Loren approached his sister about us actually leaving on March 2, which will be six weeks after her birthday. Both his Mom and sister seem supportive of us picking up our dream travels again. This time we’ll return sooner.

* * *

This week we celebrated Chinese New Year with friends, enjoying great conversations over a delightful spread of delicious Chinese dishes.

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The next morning I taught the 6 and 7:45am Bikram Yoga classes, and wanted to share the good sentiment with my yogis and yoginis. I hung a homemade tissue paper sign on the studio door to say Gung Hei Fat Choy! Good luck to everyone in this year of the Pig.

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The yoga studio lobby is also decorated for this coming week’s special day, courtesy of my colleague-yoga teacher friend in the photo above…

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What I was surprised to find early that same morning as I drove through Crow Canyon to the studio to teach was… snow! It had been raining, and through the canyon the raindrops turned to wet snow. It was beautiful on my windshield. The next day as I drove to take the 7:45am yoga class, it was pretty to see the many snow capped hills in the surrounding terrain. Please trust my memories, as I have no photos to share about that… 

This week I enjoyed dinner out with a dear colleague-friend, who had relocated to the next city to where Loren’s Mom lives and where we are staying. It’s wonderful to have her so close that we can see each other once in a while, more easily than if she were still in the south bay. But how could I again forget to snap a photo?

I did remember to capture a picture the day that Loren and I had a great time with friends over Thai food for lunch in Jack London Square in Oakland…

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Loren and I rode BART to Oakland and back. We boarded at the Castro Valley station where we are staying. I know that this station was not built until long after Loren and I had met, which was also after he had moved to the South Bay when we were married. I looked it up online and learned that the station was built in 1997. I also learned that Castro Valley is an unincorporated area which I hadn’t known. BART’s website add this:

Once known for its chicken ranches, Castro Valley was named after Don Guillermo Castro, a local rancher and magistrate in the mid-1800s.

Once we were on board, we switched lines a couple of stations later to reach the Oakland City Center stop. There is quite a lot of construction of tall buildings going on, and Loren was impressed with the renovation that has already happened in this area. It was a gorgeous day. We enjoyed walking twenty minutes to the restaurant and back again afterwards. Along the way we were treated to decorations honoring Chinese New Year, 

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and, we saw a few murals of and advertisements for our beloved Golden State Warriors. We’re Dubs, (W shortened, spelled out) of the Dub Nation, aka Warriors fans. It’s a team we enjoy watching on TV whenever we can. This year with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson as the “Death Lineup” players, now incorporating the achilles-tendon-injury recovered “Boogie” – nickname for DeMarcus Cousins, and other excellent players who’s abilities are hot, they are a strong basketball team. We’re hoping for a three-peat – three championship wins in a row, that they need to officially claim themselves a Dynasty. Even so, they actually have won three recent championships, but the wins were not in three consecutive years. 

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The next morning, as well as the morning after that again on the way to take a 7:45am yoga class each time, there was a thick layer of frost on our car before leaving our AirBnB home! That said, I found this image online to convey my resolve in still going. 

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One of our housemates from Atlanta questioned one evening this week as the cold came in with us through the front door,

     “Isn’t this supposed to be sunny California?”

     “Yeah,” I replied, “that’s southern California, where it’s about 10 degrees warmer…”

And today it was raining again… intermittent though sometimes heavy, and totally overcast. That’s how the winter weather changes in the San Francisco bay area. 

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We finished our week with a wonderful dinner date with friends at their home, and it was fun to have their cat be a part of our after dinner gathering by the fireplace.

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The evening of meaningful conversations went on into the wee hours, with us enjoying refills of nightcaps together…

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Week 253 February 2, 2019

Loren and I have big news this week… we have made plans to begin traveling again. We have been in the San Francisco Bay Area for seven and a half months now, staying at an AirBnB two minutes drive from Loren’s Mom’s home. Our main reason for being here has been to help Loren’s sister, the primary caregiver for their Mom who is 93. Both Loren’s Mom and sister are doing better than when we first arrived – after his Mom’s bout with pneumonia, and we will be going again with their support. We depart on March 2, to travel back to Australia, where we had cut our visit there short to return to the US in June. This time however we will not be away for anywhere near as long…

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* * *

A couple of weeks ago Loren had had an incision on his arm to remove a squamous cell carcinoma, and last week we had been pleased that the lab reports confirmed it had been fully removed. Around the same time though we had been concerned at what looked like an infection at the wound site during a re-bandaging, so we returned to the doctor. As a precaution Loren was prescribed antibiotics. This week, we learned from another lab report that it actually had been a staph infection, so we were grateful that our quick visit to the doctor to inspect it had been the right action to take. 

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Loren was able to go about most of his normal his routine during these couple of weeks. That meant he could take his Mom to nearby Lake Chabot to enjoy what had been beautiful weather at the beginning of the week. They actually went two days in a row. After that the weather changed, not unusual as this is our normal rainy season, and given the past several years of drought, is much welcomed. As for me, with not teaching so many Bikram Yoga classes, I have been able to pick up more of my own regular practice again. One day this week, I found myself going deeper in some of the postures, which is always a wonderful experience when I notice that. Alas, I have neglected to take photos this week, and Loren too overlooked taking a photo at the Lake with his Mom. 

We spent another day this week in San Jose, taking care of some business, and catching up with a couple of friends. At least I did capture one photo that day…

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We also attended a performance of Frost/Nixon that evening. Nixon’s is the one US Presidential Library that we had intended to visit during our US travels, but had not made it there, and I would like to add, “as yet.” This show was not a replacement for seeing the Library, but certainly informed us more about his administration. 

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We finished our week – well ok, this post is late so we started our next week with taking dinner to Loren’s Mom and enjoying watching the Super Bowl with her and Loren’s sister together. It was interesting in that it took so long for the first team to score, and remained such a low scoring game for so much of the time. Congrats to New England.

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Tomorrow evening we look forward to celebrating Chinese New Year with friends…

 

Week 252 January 26, 2019

For the past two weeks Loren and I experienced unexpected troubles. At the beginning of this week I made lemonade, twice. I’m happy to say nothing untoward occurred since… 

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One evening I noticed Loren’s sister’s enormous gorgeous homegrown calla lilies and just had to take this photo.

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Loren noticed a concert announcement in a newspaper, and that same evening we drove to Fremont to attend. It was a one man show of folk repertoire, featuring works from his career-long inspirations from and collaborations with Pete Seeger, a memorable evening including some opportunities for sing-alongs. 

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Another evening we had dinner with Loren’s Godson, and it was meaningful as always to spend time with this young man. I regret not thinking to pull out my camera…

We also spent a day in San Francisco this week. We took BART and UBER’d from the station to Golden Gate Park to visit the Botanical Garden. It was a beautiful day weather-wise to be out and about, and we exclaimed that again and again during our afternoon.

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The featured showings at the garden was the host of Magnolia trees in bloom. The peak of their blossoms are throughout this and the coming week. 

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It was mesmerizing to look at the carpets formed of Magnolia petals all around.

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Rhododendrons and other flowering plant species were coming into bloom too.

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We were also able to reminisce here about our visits to Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch and Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, for example easily picking out Banksia, Cycad, and Wollemi Pine species,

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In the late afternoon we met two friends for an early dinner. Again, I regret not thinking to take a photo, before the four of us went to Grace Cathedral to see another friend’s annual Movement Arts Festival. We were impressed to see how much it has grown in popularity and participation since our last time attending

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A very impressive event, and we continue to be proud of our friend for founding it, as it touches the lives of so many artists and those who appreciate the arts.

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Week 251 January 19, 2019

We started the week enjoying a Bird of Paradise bloom that I had salvaged from our yard work last week. In our bedroom it went from pretty to prettier to gorgeous to more gorgeous in the span of just a few days.

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By far the highlight this week was Loren’s Mom’s 93rd bday. We celebrated by taking  dinner to her and his sister’s house – a little more elaborate menu this week than usual.

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We enjoyed watching her open the gifts we brought…

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and afterwards shared an ice cream cake, with the backdrop of a Warriors game on TV. We continued the celebration later in the week by going out to dinner with her and Loren’s sister, and watching another Warrior’s game with them at their home.

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Then it was back to the routine of the week. Fortunately Apple was able to fix Loren’s Mac, but this week we had more misfortune in that the windshield replaced back in June leaked with the torrential rains, resulting in the floor of our van being absolutely soaked!  We were able to get a warranty repair appointment, and will hope it was fully corrected. We will hope too for no further mishaps. In the meantime, we will work to make lemonade from Loren’s sister’s prolific lemon tree harvest, and aim for what a car seen in a parking lot this week suggests.

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Week 250 January 12, 2019

We hope you are able to avoid the colds that are making their rounds at this time of the year, or that you find comfort in some home remedies until they abate. Loren had made out with a short, mild one recently that he attributes to taking more Vitamin C, but his sister has had a tougher time this week with hers. 

Our week started off a wonderful one, with it being my last being scheduled to teach several Bikram Yoga classes, finally finishing a monster crossword puzzle that I had started around the holidays, and, with having a delightful lunch-and-coffee date with a dear friend. As is so often the case these days, I neglected to capture a photo of my friend.

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I did think to make a photo of the adorable puppy that our yoga studio manager has brought with her to work a few times this week. The pooch remains unnamed at this point, though I have heard her say more than once,

     “I think I will call her ‘Scout.'”

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Then it turned into a week of challenges. We may have proved the theory that bad things come in threes. First, one of our van’s headlamps went out. The next morning as I was about to take the car in, the dashboard’s yellow

     “Maint Req’d”

light came on. Actually the timing was good,  I thought, in that I could attend to both in one visit to the repair shop. But, the reason for the light being on turned out unresolvable by this particular repair shop.

     “The light is on for a catalytic converter,” they said.

Our third challenge was on that same evening when Loren’s Mac died. It was totally unresponsive, not even confirming by green light its connection to the power adapter. The next day we disproved the theory that bad things only come in threes. Or maybe they do and we had double or even triple three’s this week… I’ll spell out our experiences and you can decide. We took Loren’s Mac to Apple, but could not get it looked at without missing a couple of other important appointments. Normally I try to bunch multiple errands or activities into single trips or set aside time to wait to minimize driving, but this week we wound up spending more time in the car…

On the drive in between the two appointments, we then were pulled over by Castro Valley’s finest for our outdated car registration sticker. Actually this was not necessarily a bad thing as it forced us out of inertia. We had been waiting on DMV to mail our sticker and given up on two-hour phone call hold times with them to find out why it had not arrived. I had allowed myself to believe that DMV’s delay was just another example of how backed up they are. In retrospect, we had waited way too long. So as we awaited the officers to return to us from their lengthy conversation next to their vehicle, my mind raced to consider our most severe possible punishment. At Loren’s suggestion I let that thinking go. It ended up that we were let off with a minimal 60 day fix-it ticket. Phew!

So, that evening we were able to visit with a friend who let us know the day before that he was passing through Oakland on his way from seeing his 100 year old father in southern California. When we arrived to where he was staying he suggested we all sit in his camper van to enjoy the chips and beer we had brought.

     “Here’s your seat Claire,” he pointed out.

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As we were leaving I thought to snap a photo of him and Loren with his travel companion – his cat, Spot. After a brief nap Loren and I also kept a dinner date with another friend, but, oh where was my camera?

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We were not happy with having more things to attend to taking up the precious time that we had set aside for other pursuits this week, but that is how life unfolded. As a result of our fix-it ticket, addressing the reason for our “Maint Req’d” light became a more immediate need, second only to the urgency to have Loren’s Mac looked at. Not being able to use his personal computer is a seeming tragic sign of the times. So, with regrets we canceled dates with two friends that next day to attend to both. On our first attempt of the day for a tech appointment at Apple we were once again unsuccessful in that their availability to meet with a technician conflicted with a morning dermatologist appointment for Loren. After the doctor’s office we returned to Apple, and this time were able to meet with a technician. As Loren likes to say,

     “The third time’s the charm.”

This was true for us at Apple this week, or should I say,

     “So far.” 

Please wish us luck when we are scheduled to pick up the Mac next week, as it had to be sent out for more thorough diagnostic work that could not be completed in the store. We then took our van to the catalytic converter shop. They ran diagnostics and found nothing amiss. Great! Or maybe not so great. We now have no idea why the “Maint Req’d” light was triggered. From the catalytic converter shop, we then drove to DMV and were successful in obtaining the necessary sticker, after a long wait. Now we just have to make one more unanticipated trip to the court to prove – and pay for – having fixed it.

The next day we were able to keep to the plan with our tenant to finish the heavy yard work at our house in San Jose. This week I took before and after photos of the three trees we pruned.

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Seriously, we had a large pile of new trimmings out front at the curb, though the photos may not do justice to our work. While we had known that the forecast was for rain, we took our chances, and just as we were finishing up, heavy raindrops began to pummel us. We retreated to a nearby coffee shop, and on the way I had to snap a photo of a Camus quote on a front window of one of the neighbor’s homes down the street.

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     “I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice,” it says.

We finished up our week with a lovely dinner visit with some of our across the street San Jose neighbors. One of their homes has not yet taken down their “Lawn Tree” and lights that our neighborhood is famous for during the holidays. At least I did think to take one photo of two of these special friends!

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Week 249 January 5, 2019

Happy New Year! 

Loren and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with Loren’s Mom and sister, enjoying a dear friend’s eggplant parmesan recipe, then ringing in the new year with the New York time zone as the Warrior’s post-game interviews came to a close. We finished off our evening together by eating 12 grapes – one for each second after “midnight” that is a Spanish tradition.

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Then back at our AirBnB we enjoyed eating 12 more grapes each with some of the other guests at the house,

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and, I stayed up with them to watch the ball drop at Califoraia’s actual time of midnight.

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Loren and I then also celebrated New Year’s Day with Loren’s Mom and sister, enjoying Bubbly Moscato and burritos. Loren’s Mom talked about taking down their Christmas decorations and I suggested they could wait until January 6th for Little Christmas. And, she then told me the story that her mother had grown up with in Italy of La Befana, the witch who rides a broom and bestows candy and small gifts to children’s waiting shoes…

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We also had the sad news this week that a friend’s sister was taken off life support after she had been in a coma for a week, and she died at the end of the year. This is our friend’s solace from a sign he saw where she had been cared for…

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Then Loren and I were in San Jose for another yard work afternoon at our house. We first enjoyed a breakfast with some of our special friends… 

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then we spent several hours pruning the flowering pear tree had and retraining the jasmine vines over the car port.

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We finished off our week visiting with a couple of friends, where we were reminded of the batch of elderberry wine that we had made together with them and another couple of friends nearly 30 years ago! The bottle only had a little dust on it, but it was put back in storage for some time in the future…

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This week we wish you Happy Epiphany! Merry Little Christmas! And, may La Befana appear with some small gifts and candy for you!