Saturday, March 25, 2017

REPRIEVE ---- LOSS

REPRIEVE FOR AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

The Trump/Ryan Health Care Act has been side-lined for now for the wrong reason – only because a minority group within the Republican Party refused to vote for it as they wanted even more draconian measures – not because the Act was a travesty against efforts to provide reasonable health care for the vast majority of American citizens.  

How about the rest of the Republican Representatives, or some of them, meeting with some Democrat Representatives – they could actually try to examine the ACA aka Obama Care to adjust for more cost effectiveness and efficiency.   Some adjustments were expected to be necessary after that legislation was implemented.   Congress could actually perform some meaningful work to earn the salary we hired/elected them to do. 


LOSS

Schmidley's Scribblings  daughter reports her mother has passed away.   I've enjoyed visiting this blogger who offered a true elder's perspective, garnered from years of significant work in our government and a master's degree in history obtained in her seventies.  She was grounded in contemporary life but respected the influence of previous generations she explored in her genealogy.  Her observations were concise, evidencing humor with a sharp wit.  I only knew her through a few years of blogging, but I'll miss her photos, stories, commentary on the world we live in.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"THEM THAT'S GOT -- GETS"

  
"Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” was an incredible understatement not long ago from President Trump – a fact that for years everybody but him seemed to have recognized to be true.  Why else would it have taken his Republican Party legislators, after seven or so years of legislative dawdling, an inability to create a plan to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) , aka Obama Care?   But what did they create by throwing together a last minute plan when they suddenly had to fulfill their President’s campaign promise? 


This blues tune was written by and is identified with jazz singer Lady Day -- Billie Holiday.    The unique vocalist Eva Cassidy, with a style all her own, performs this arrangement.  She died much too young due to melanoma.   "God Bless The Child" 
from Eva's album "American Tune" (2003).

"Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose                                            
So the Bible said and it still is news"

The lyrics seem most applicable to the Trump/Ryan Health Care Act, formally known as the American Health Care Act.   The details, kept hidden so long from the public, were finally revealed at the last minute, rushing the Budget Office to assess the particulars.   We finally learned the real beneficiaries of this health care bill are for "them that's got" from this administration.     "Them that's not shall lose" evidences in the fact that those who can least afford the costs -- and even more millions who will lose health insurance -- will be the people most heavily hurt.    Where are the compassionate Republicans?   But – when selecting legislators -- will 2018 voters remember?

Gradually, I would think eyes are being opened to the fact that those with the least, also seniors,  middle class, are all going to have even less, maybe nothing at all,  or more expense -- not what the minority of citizens whose votes enabled this administration to acquire extreme power were led to believe would occur.   But – when selecting legislators -- will 2018 voters remember?

We "ain't seen nuthin' yet" -- cuz when we get to tax reduction, other plans in the works, we can only wish we could reap such benefits like the wealthy 2%  will – nothing more than token reductions, if at all, will be thrown to the vast majority of citizens.  Who was it once said “let them eat cake”?   But – when selecting legislators -- will 2018 voters remember?

Meanwhile plans are being worked up to reduce consumer protections, eliminate financial safeguards under the guise of needing to eliminate regulations to free up the business and financial world to --- rip us off.  But – when selecting legislators – will 2018 voters remember? 

There’s so much more, but I’ll save it for another time when there are sure to be even new matters to address.   Meanwhile, I maintain my sanity by finding the humor in the ridiculousness of much that is happening, some of which is predictably unpredictable.  I recognize the seriousness of the situation.  I continue to be committed to preserving our democratic republic.  I persist in resisting the inequities. 

* * *

Behind the scenes information about those who bankroll, influence, our political candidates, even “call the shots”, or all three, can be interesting.    Here’s a link to one such article just published introducing a family some may find to be of interest written by Vicky Ward:  “The Blow-It-All-Up Billionaires”.  


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ANOTHER DAY

When I wrote this the day had been a mixed one of accomplishment for me.  I felt really good mid-morning, finally being able to safely dispose of an accumulation of papers needing shredding -- thanks to our local Senior Center arranging for a shredder truck.   Maybe I can keep up with shredding here at home now.   Still lots of materials to sort through as I gradually whittle away in one of my latest projects.

Seem to be more spring time pollens in the air since February rains ending, temperatures warming, blossoms and blooms emerging, but stimulating a few sneezes and my eyes watering a bit.   Actually, it’s become suddenly summer with temps pushing 90 degrees. 

A handyman/carpenter was able to complete painting, weather/bug sealing a door replaced following also security screen door installations.  The latter I wanted because they allow me to look out but the person outside cannot readily see inside.  Also, the screens do allow more fresh air circulation in the cooling evenings if I want to catch a breeze.

Then, there was the matter of an incorrect phone bill invoice for the second month in a row.  I phoned at 5:30 pm successfully navigating my way through the recorded messages, instructions, inputting on the correct keys to then listen to interminable music before a live person answered.   Then, until 6:30 pm I related my past one year history since this new company became the provider of my land line and internet services.  Having exhausted her ability to correct my March bill by confirming the rate I had been promised in January, and the February bill had been corrected to when I phoned then, she then transferred me to another department.

Another recording and a hold for fifteen minutes more before, once again, I had to relate the past year history to which I added reference to all the internet connection outages to which I’d been subjected.  Presumably, her putting me on hold to seek further clarification, allowed another fifteen minutes to go by and then its 7 pm when suddenly my line is disconnected.   Knowing this service person had my phone number I mistakenly assumed, whether we lost contact by her accidentally or deliberately disconnecting, that she would phone me to apologize.  Wrong!   Is this a “wearing down” process?

I took the opportunity to fix and eat my dinner, but the call never came.  I was ready to let it all go for the rest of the evening, but then thought maybe I could actually reach her as I had her name – or at least the name she gave -- I always get names.  So, at 7:35 pm I phoned again, waded through all the recorded steps, and eventually reached a person, but had to eventually hold with this new person.  She was unable to resolve the issue, so I requested speaking to someone else.  At 7:50 pm she informed I would be called by another person but would be in two days.   

They better call today, or I’ll be calling them again – getting an address to write their President with a copy to the Federal Communications Commission who approved their purchase of our phone company with service strings attached for them to meet.    I’ve had a history of tolerance with this company since they took on the responsibility for our service over a year ago.  My patience has reached its limits.

 I was really tired by days end – all this wasted time as need to do further work on my income tax – another day, I guess.  


Monday, March 06, 2017

AROUND THE WORLD BLOGGING

One day in February, on a whim, I viewed my blog "Stats", which I hadn't done for years.  I was startled to see that almost six hundred "Page Views" were occurring in Russia after I published “Spirits Huddling” -- those Russian numbers continuing most of February, finally dwindling toward month’s end.           

This caused me to start thinking more about who is blogging from where.   On our own continent I enjoy visiting Canadian, Newfoundland bloggers.  I would really like some bloggers from south of our border "down Mexico way" and any of the South American countries. 

I've gone blogging across the pond again in recent months having been intrigued by comments I've read on the blogs of others I visit.   I've already been to Great Britain, Scotland, India, periodically crossed the Pacific to Australia, New Zealand, probably some other exotic places, but more recently I stopped off in Ireland and Wales.  I thought I'd share a few brief thoughts about some of them here as I used to do when I first started blogging and featured other blogs, as I added them to my sidebar list. Please note there is no significance in terms of ranking assigned to these blogs order.

I want to note, I'm always interested whenever those in other countries write their thoughts and impressions of the United States.  Such commentary is especially of interest to me now given our government's current administration and actions.

Nickhereandnow writes from Northern Ireland and has a cadre of followers who engage in some interesting conversations.   Recently several who commented introduced terms with which I was quite unfamiliar, so quickly searched them on the internet -- expressions in common or slang usage there, just as we have our own in the U.S.  such as “posh" people.  But in another post discussing discrimination there was mentioned "pikeys" and "orange people".  I brought up "gingers" since, as a redhead, I knew the term was used in Great Britain but not so much in the U.S.  

Going Gently is a blog I just found.    Chickens pictured in the head bar greeted me at this blog, but then a whole raft of side bar and other colorful photos of various animals really intrigued me.   I especially enjoyed seeing Albert and Winnie.   Their home in this picturesque small Welsh village where all reside will have me visiting to learn more about the community.

Betty Bishop Hangs Here presents some of her interesting paintings, and drawings.    Recollections are prompted with one of her paintings "back in the day" where she stayed at Manhattan's famed Chelsea Hotel.   This Canadian octogenarian activist's various posts reveal a wide variety of experiences including the tragedy of her brother's death.    

Big John, having survived the WWII Blitz, Cold War and heaven only knows what other calamities, especially in the 20th century, is in Great Britain presenting as a great danger with his blogging as might be expected from an elder.  So, all should be wary about visiting there -- do so at your own risk!

Write Into Life by Rachel McAlpine in New Zealand features poetry, prose and photos for a stimulating variety of words, thoughts and ideas that can be a real pleasure to read as she shares her joy in writing. 

Ramana's Musings from India I've been visiting for a while, as well as a few of those above.   He writes especially with several others regularly on a variety of thought-provoking topics.   He also shares interesting commentary on his homeland.  I always welcome reading what he might have to say about events in the U.S. as I do with all those in other countries listed above. 

Day to Day Life of a Very Busy Gardener  in Scotland posts infrequently, but I've done much the same at times, so doesn't prevent me from stopping by occasionally to see what she's been up to.  Most recently I became interested there because she was incubating some chickens of a breed I was unfamiliar with -- and heaven only knows I'm no foul expert,  though my parents did raise chickens of a few more common U.S. breeds during  several years in my youth.   While the outcome wasn't as she had desired, I'll be checking back periodically to see what's next in her Scotland garden, or other "stuff" in her life.   

Still the Lucky Few sheds some interesting observations from Canada.  She writes about her pre-Boomer generation and why they are important.  She grew up on a farm but now lives in a major city with her husband, "a talented piano maestro".   Their family adds to her life's pleasures.  Her wide variety of interests reveal themselves in the topics about which she chooses to write.

The Other Side of Sixty I've been visiting for a while.   Wisewebwoman, "Irish by birth, Newfoundler by avocation"  introduces many subjects that set the wheels turning in my head.   She presents such a broad range of topics from the seemingly mundane, that can subtly transition into the profound, to a major idea that might not be so overwhelmingly important after all.  Her observations and photos keep me returning.

Vagabonde and her recollections must be included here, even though she resides in the U.S.  She is originally from France, a nation I hold in high regard.   The United States and France have a special bond, I believe, for many reasons, but especially because of their significance to our nation's founding.    Our Statue of Liberty is  also a very symbolic gift from France.   What it stands for as printed on the statue's base are sentiments that are so pertinent now  -- perhaps more than at any other time in our nation's history. 

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The writings at Vagabonde's blog reflect her views as a world traveler that I enjoy as being informative,  entertaining and educational about France, at times, as well as historical sites in the United States.  She and her husband visit interesting places that she describes in fascinating detail and share in often spectacular colorful photographs.   Recollections with visual memorabilia add special attraction to her thoroughly researched subjects.  I also appreciate the observations and commentary she offers about our nation from a unique perspective.

I especially enjoy all these blogs above because while serious topics are sometimes explored, each of these bloggers demonstrate a delightful sense of humor which has always been an important quality I've valued throughout my  life.

I mentioned earlier there is no significance in terms of ranking assigned to these blogs order, but in retrospect,  there might be one exception.   I may have saved the best 'til last.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

BEST STATE - TAXES - PREZ ACTING?

Truth Or Consequences?

Listened to President Donald J. Trump address Congress and the nation.  For the first time to my ears and eyes, he actually behaved and spoke like he might be a country’s leader -- but what kind of leader?   Knowing his history, the words that flowed from my television’s speakers accumulated very deep in my room as I waded through them.  Some of them sounded good as I wanted them to be.  Still, when he has so repeatedly violated trust with his mendacity, how do I know much of what he said isn’t more of the same?   
    
When I texted a friend for their reaction, the response I received was:

"He’s acting as if he was on the Apprentice.   Someone else wrote the script -- he rehearsed  -- and delivered!  Maybe he should get an Academy Award.”

I found myself wondering -- has the leopard changed his spots?   

We’ve heard his talk -- now let’s see his walk.     
                

Tax Time

Time for me to go to work on my income taxes.  I’ve been doing them myself as my husband had, when he was living.   I still do them by hand rather than on my computer.  I like math.   I know there are internet programs available, also software programs that can be purchased, or even can hire someone -- the idea of paying money in order to pay taxes just doesn't sit well with me.   Why should a person have to pay money to pay taxes?   That's right!  I'm not a member of the 1%.   


Where do you want to live?   

There are many considerations when we think about desirable places to live: 
Health Care, Education, Crime and Corrections, Infrastructure, Opportunity,  Economy, Government are factors in the following report.

U.S. News and World Report offers a ranking of what states best serve their citizens.

This can be of special interest since expected federal government budget cuts will require individual states to have to assume more responsibility for many services to their citizens (cutting or eliminating services).  Middle class, poor and the less affluent segments of the population in many states may not fare so well, contrary to what citizens are being told by this administration's good intentions wishful thinking.  

As with many such rankings we may not necessarily agree with all their assessments. For many these rankings would be weighed against many other factors, not limited to, but including, cost of living, environment, and climate.   


--  No.   1  Massachusetts 
 -- No. 23  California

What do you think about where your state is ranked?


Saturday, February 25, 2017

RESIST ----- PERSIST ! ! !

Muzzling and Intimidating the U.S. Press

There is no longer room in the United States for dissension as continuing actions by the country's current administration demonstrate, despite what our leader would have us believe.

Excuses and reasons the administration gives for why "pick and choose" news outlets are blocked from White House press briefings simply are smoke screens in our leader's ongoing efforts to demean, discredit, destroy the Fourth Estate -- our free press.

More and more the question arises as to whether or not this leader has much to hide -- so, no wonder he wants to curtail press and other investigative efforts with loud pronouncements -- "not true" -- "did not" -- "lies" -- reminiscent of past presidents' later proven false claims.  "Methinks the man doth protest too much" to paraphrase Shakespeare's Hamlet.  So far, though truthfulness has hardly been one of his strong character traits, we've given him the benefit of the doubt as is the American way. Would he do the same for us?  His words might say, "Yes", but his actions likely would say, "No".

Only a Press that supports our current leader's point of view is permitted -- his administration's alternate facts -- fake news -- reporting his outright lies, distortions of which he's proven to be a master.  Eliminating such phony reports is laudable, desired by most, but this administration arbitrarily excluding credible credentialed news outlets from Press news briefings is a blatant effort to control the news the media reports that has little or nothing to do with the accounts legitimacy.

These news media attack actions also serve as a distraction -- a tactic our leader often uses when there are matters he doesn't want the public and news media to focus on, such as issues like
-- questions of  Russia's involvement in U.S. politics, even our government,
-- questions of conflicts of interest with his business dealings,
-- questions about what he may be hiding by not releasing his income taxes.

Citizens, who in good conscience to safeguard our democratic republic.....

    -- our nation's founders, WWII veterans, especially, other military service men and women fought and died to preserve,
    -- those in the Press who attempt to provide the truth to the rest of us to preserve our nation's sovereignty and freedoms, some of whom have also died in the process,

are under assault by this administration!

The 'Cool' Aid (misspelled deliberately to not malign the commercial product) that this administration's leader serves -- already drunk by a large but minority number of our population -- is addictively sweet to the many drinking it.  His possibly hypocritical words often espouse their morals and values, that some of them are all too willing to impose on everyone else rather than allow all individuals the freedom of determining what is best for themselves -- contrary to what our nation promises us.  

His words feeding false fears of inadequate existing security measures with a need for excessively more, scapegoating others, fosters a willingness by a worried segment of the public to relinquish freedoms, little by little, for contrived safety.

History tells us this is a repeat of the pattern that ultimately resulted in nations leaders evolving into dictators.   Before that final step occurred some of a leader's programs might even temporarily have increased his country's prosperity, disarming his people into believing he has their best interests at heart.  They were increasingly willing to grant him even more power unaware he was becoming what seemed to be a benevolent dictator.  The price they paid -- their freedoms -- for too many, even their lives -- was high.

Those who recognize the danger today -- who express disagreement with any of his actions -- who publicly resist his efforts to thwart reality and the truth -- are increasingly prevented from expressing themselves -- chastised from his bully-pulpit.   In time, probably subjected to much worse.  His vindictiveness for those who disagree he freely demonstrates.

Early on in the leader's campaign to gain power -- by making gross flamboyant statements to appeal to the basest of human nature's qualities -- his words (later excused simply as violating political correctness which many applauded) incited the subsequent unleashing of an unsavory segment of supporters to begin initiating violence into the community.  Later lukewarm statements condemning such actions are periodically uttered by the leader, but they know through subtleties unknown to the public that he doesn't really mean it.   The documented instances of racist, sexist, other discriminatory violence increases as is happening in the U.S. such as this most recent crime.

In fact, this administration's leader wants the violence to increase the public fear which he can grandiosely exploit with a promise to quell by using more and more law enforcement -- hopefully, for him -- to a level he can marshal the military, declare martial law(?)   Then, his power will have no restraints.   Our leader's supporting segment of the public embrace their, essentially, benevolent-seeming dictator so they willingly relinquish each little freedom for safety like mindless sheep led to slaughter.

Just the other day one of his most trusted advisers in a rare public interview stated an intent for "deconstruction of the administrative state" which clearly could lead to a different form of government (bet you didn't know you elected as pseudo-President the author of that statement).   Continued characterization of  "media" as the "opposition state" dominates the White House position.   Our leader in another context used the term "military operation" inappropriately toward those he's scapegoating that discloses his real mind set on executive actions he's ordering as his minions rushed to try to explain away what he said as being otherwise.

In the meantime, the Legislative Branch of our democratic republic's government has decided to go along with this leader in order to accomplish some of their goals --  and they like the power.  After all, they believe, they can control him if he goes too far astray.  They're thinking, don't we have checks and balances to protect us?   History in other nations shows us some supporting government officials thought that once, too, only to be rudely disabused of that notion when they realized too late they were impotent and dissident purges began sweeping up even some of them.
  
Our Judicial Branch becomes subverted with appointment of an Attorney General who seems likely to have a rubber stamp perspective on his leader's views.  The Supreme Court may take a bit more time to mold but expected additional appointments may bring them around.   We might wonder, will they be a check and balance to protect our democratic republic?

The Fourth Estate -- the Press -- the last bastion of the people to help us preserve our democratic republic -- continues to be under assault by an administration that is busily.....
.....disparaging, demeaning, destroying all Press dissension,
.....punishing perceived Press dissension by exclusion from attending briefings,
.....preventing true transparency in disseminating executive branch government actions information,
.....obfuscating executive branch actions using the smokescreen of necessary secrecy from the press,
.....eliminating the means by which citizens can expose government wrong-doing,
.....requiring all news stories about government be reported only in a positive light, even if untrue.

When this leader happily tells the American people all is progressing just fine for his administration, he's correct.   He's thinking of the plan above, not the people's goals they're thinking of, no matter what verbiage he spouts to them.  We already know he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

The chaos and confusion his governing manner creates that is so distressing to so many in the U.S. and around the world is exactly what he wants in his march toward consolidating power in himself despite --
--his behavior, whether rational or irrational,
--his words, whether or not factual and true,
--his actions, whether in the best interest of the people or not.

Make no mistake, this administration is not just a routine change of one political party assuming office over another so many want to believe as has been the case throughout the history of our country which so many of us have accepted in the past.

Mollifying this administration is exactly what they're counting on -- the people's belief their leader shares their basic ethical, moral and spiritual values despite the fact his lifetime of actions, words have demonstrated otherwise in his personal and most notably business practices.  A failure to recognize that their leader's pursuit is primarily for his own personal interests -- anything that's legal, or not, if he can get away with it.  

Our system of government.....our democratic republic.....is under assault by means of taking over from within.....by using our own systems of law, then stretching and going beyond laws limits -- in the beginning -- then, further and further afield.   Laws will eventually be whatever the government dictates with no freedom protections, quite unlike today as imperfect as law may sometimes be.  


SAVE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC,  AMERICA!   

RESIST -- PERSIST!!!



Monday, February 20, 2017

DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

Rain…rain…rain…glorious rain for drought-ridden California!

Our  multi-year drought may well be coming to an end -- at least as far as surface water, streams, creeks,  rivers, lakes, reservoirs, mountain snow packs are concerned.  

Some experts say we shouldn’t be too optimistic, too soon.   Not only do we depend on surface water, but underground are aquifers, some shallow, others extremely deep that fill more slowly.   Our towns and cities are drawing increasing amounts of water from the aquifers, depleting them, due to more irrigation and industrial use.    

They say some agricultural areas may never completely recover to pre-drought levels.   Ground water will stay low leaving some wells stranded causing increased pumping costs for years and maybe decades.   

There are even more long term effects on California’s forests which have been depleted of water.   Warmer temperature trends continuing could permanently alter the ecology.  Populations of native fish eliminated will need years to recover since their ecosystems have been altered by the drought. 

We’re told we should think of California as a dry place with permanent water shortages.   Landscaping designed to not require a lot of watering is needed.  Conserving and not wasting water needs to be our way of life.  Increasingly, this may be true in other states, too.

But rain is not wonderful for all .....

Snow welcomed in our Southern California mountains has seen a couple avalanches burying skiers ….

Hikers requiring helicopter rescues.

All this rain, which is predicted to continue through this month, in our normal rainy period, has brought disaster to many. 

The drought all these years dried so much greenery. 

Fires consumed more -- stripping ground cover from the mountainsides. 

Mudslides ensued – threatening lives -- necessitating evacuations.   Some homes destroyed – causing family heartbreak.  

Huge old trees uprooted, falling on cars, homes, and even a few people, as tonight’s news reports a young girl found by her family under a fallen tree when she didn’t arrive at a neighbors to walk their dog.   She's hospitalized in critical condition.   

A few sink holes developed -- consuming houses or vehicles such as a van and car in last night’s news – but both drivers rescued. 

Floods – sweeping cars away -- causing others to be stranded – needing rescuing. 

Unfortunately, in all these events there have been some injuries and a few lives lost. 

My immediate community has not incurred instances of high winds, water devastation, uprooted trees, as far as I know.  Only ten minutes drive west, mud slides from fire-stripped mountain sides have been a concern for several years -- with every rain they have evacuation alerts.

More rain is coming that I welcome here, but I hope others are spared tragedy. 



Friday, February 17, 2017

HEALTH ISSUES - SCHMIDLEY

Two of my favorite bloggers who offer thought provoking, informative, intelligent, factual, and opinion commentary -- not only deadly serious on current topical matters, but often with satirically good humor --  have revealed, or a family member has, serious personal health issues interfering with their lives. 

Schmidley’s Scribblings, I just learned about tonight, Thurs., 2/16 P. M. in this message her daughter posted on her mother’s blog:

This is Diane’s daughter. Mom has had a stroke and is in ICU at the hospital. If anyone reads this, please get the word out and keep her in your prayers. Thank you. 

The other blogger will be coping with medical treatments to overcome cancer that has intruded into her life.  Though she has revealed this on her blog, I hesitate to identify her here since I have not contacted her to obtain her permission to do so.   She continues to post some of her experiences as she realigns her focus more on needed self-care.   I look forward to her completing all her treatments on the road to wellness.   
On opposite geographical sides of our nation, these bloggers each share so much more about their daily lives, family, plus entertaining fare such as travels, local governing issues where they live, good reads, interesting links and occasional nonsense. 

Selfishly I’m more than annoyed with anything interfering with their doing so as I appreciate and enjoy visiting their blogs.  

Much more importantly, I care about them and want them to be well and happily engaged with their families.  



Tuesday, February 07, 2017

SPIRITS HUDDLING

Our U.S.  founding father ancestors’ spirits must be huddling together seriously concerned over the state of our  union.    They may be wondering…..

--will our constitution’s checks and balances be sufficient to preserve our democratic republic’s ideals? 

--will the executive branch continue to disrespect the morality, ethics, and values that are the soul of our country?


--will the executive branch be prevented from dictatorially running roughshod over
the will of the majority of the people?

--will legislative branch members have the courage to vote against actions they don’t really believe in to appease the executive branch?

--will the judicial branch become a rubberstamp for executive branch acts?  


Thursday, January 26, 2017

FRIENDS -- MEMORIES -- GENEALOGY

Holiday greetings of colorful cards, letters, family photos received from friends were most enjoyable this past season.    Two friends weren't heard from which has given me concern.  Such missing responses become an increasing occurrence, especially in my older years.    One card, still with my unread letter inside, was  returned, stamped "undeliverable", also, "no forwarding address".   A follow-up phone call elicited a " no longer in service" response -- but we had talked just last summer. I found  no obituary on the internet (yes, I resort to checking there sometimes).

My former neighbor/friend  had become a widow in recent years, spoke of  gradually losing her vision, so maybe she's had to relocate from her home, and/or  is no longer able to communicate.  Two of three sons tragically died due to different causes years ago, so maybe the remaining son who lives elsewhere hasn't thought to let her friends know about her.  Strange a letter wouldn't have had a forwarding address if she's still living, even if in a different city.  I'm stymied in checking further.

The other friend hadn't been able to use, first,  her computer, then write, due to increasing hand tremors she said   Later she told me she was going to have to begin dialysis.   Also, earlier memory issues she described  to me were becoming more serious.    Then I didn't hear any more for the past year.  But I've continued to write periodically, as she previously had asked me to do, with letters she could put in her purse, carry along to read while in waiting rooms or receiving treatment, or whatever.  I finally phoned her, left a recorded message a week or so ago.  I received no response,

I was considering what else I could do to obtain an up date on her condition,-- maybe I could prepare a postal card to mail to the house -- write several short statements with check-off boxes, self-address the card so a family caregiver could just mark a box, then drop in the mail.  She often marveled we were so lucky to have each other still in our lives.

She's the only living person who's known me all my life -- is one year older than me -- we knew of each other's family beyond the immediate relatives.  Her parents visited me in California when returning from a Japan trip to visit a daughter there at that time.  I remembered meeting some of her other relatives, an aunt, grandmother, other grandparents who had a little candy store in their garage.   So much history though we haven't seen each other in over fifty years.  

Then as I wrote this one recent evening, my phone rang.  Her younger sister, that my friend resisted letting play with us when we were little, called me after receiving word from the youngest nurse sister that my dear friend's time was short -- hours, days.  She'd stopped eating.

I recall a few years ago being asked to see a patient for swallowing -- to establish her eating/drinking refusal was not due to an actual swallowing deficit.  She presented with appropriate alertness, attention, orientation, cognitive skills.  She then successfully accepted and safely swallowed water trials, agreed to a few bites of pureed consistency fruit similarly tolerated.   She pleasantly refused any more.  My having established her swallow function was intact, she then  nicely refused any further oral trials of any liquid or food, or to name anything else she would like.in the necessary subsequent few sessions I was obliged to see her.

My encouragement for her to eat or drink was respectful, not badgering, threatening, but offered her an opportunity for intake if she desired some for any reason as she could also request from staff and/or her family any time.  Alternative feeding (tubes) was not an option.   She had other professional contacts to assess her condition..  She had chosen to not eat or drink as her way of resolving her personal terminal medical prognosis.   Usually after about three days, if not sooner, reality mental functions deteriorate with the absence of water intake and further body decline.   Staff informed me this lady actually lived about two weeks, longer than her medical status might have been thought to be the case.  

I'm thinking of all this as I reflect on my friend with hospice -- in her home on the east coast far away from my home in California.  Family said she had long ago ceased having dialysis treatments, her memory has wandered about though sometimes she has responded to prompts from the past.  I cried.

I wrote once again through the tears of memories -- preschool recollections playing with our paper dolls -- each of us with quite different ideas.    I had few paper dolls, but they were whole people, though with limited changes of clothes. (I began to make more clothes and paint them by school age).  I was troubled by her dolls out of a catalog -- because she cut off all their heads so whenever she wanted a change of clothes, she simply held another head on the clothed body.   What bothered me was a body could be turned one way and a head facing another in what was clearly an impossible body position.  Also, when she put them down to get another doll the heads would easily fall off and it was disconcerting to me for my dolls to be interacting with headless dolls, or heads detached from bodies into strange positions. Years later we chuckled over these childhood complications in our friendship.  

Another issue was why wouldn't she allow her little sister to play with us occasionally?  In our elder years when I queried her about that she said it was because she wanted all my attention for herself.

We were also part of a tap dancing quartet, each girl with a different color hair -- my red, her brunette, a blond and one with black hair -- tapping our hearts out to the "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" in a real theatre stage recital.   When we were Jr. High School age, my family had moved to an isolated rural situation for a few years and I often felt lonely.   Her family had moved to our state's capitol -- the big city -- when I was next able to visit her.

Tap dancing was still very important to us, though we both, years earlier, had to give up our dance classes.  I had been so impressed when she told me she had seen Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in person -- perform his famous sand dance.  In our elder years when we reminisced and I recounted how much I had admired she had actually seen him tap, she admitted she didn't remember actually seeing him, causing us to laugh about some of our youthful behavior when she added, "I sometimes lied then".



She was then living in the projects which I thought was wonderful with so many people around, but in our elder years she said she had been embarrassed at having to live there. Her father had a military injury and was temporarily between jobs.  I thought she was pretty lucky because my father had years earlier abandoned our family.

She surprised me, too, because when we went to the movies, she had secretly arranged, without her mother knowing, for her boyfriend to join us there.  He actually sat beside her and she allowed him to put his arm around her shoulders and even kiss her.

She told me of getting mad at me when I visited her there because she had an asthma attack one night when we had been fast asleep in our shared bed.  She started coughing, paramedics had to be called to take her to the hospital and she wanted me to go with her, but I only vaguely was aware of what was happening and never really fully woke up.  Of course, they never would have let me go but that didn't matter.  

Years would pass and we wouldn't see one another.  Our contact fluctuated as we became caught up in our own lives, but our mothers were friends and corresponded so we kept track of each other.  We usually exchanged holiday greetings, wrote a short note, or some years longer letters.   I was a single young college graduate when next I visited, meeting her finance' as the two of them showed me the apartment they had rented to move into once they were wed following his college graduation.  "Yes", she told me, "I know I said I swore I would never like red-headed boys because your older brother teased me, but here I am marrying one."

Then, years later I lived in the same city as her, I was married and she had several sons.  When I visited I recall seeing those little boys busy in the sand box loading and dumping with their Tonka Trucks.   Who could have imagined after she moved to the East Coast and they became young men that they would start playing with the huge real trucks as they established a landscaping business, prospering to this day.

Each of our long marriages ended in different years, when our husbands with some similar medical issues could no longer overcome the effects of their gradual health decline.  We could commiserate with each other during some of the challenging times, provide comfort when needed, then share observations about the world of widowhood we encountered.

I never got to tell her last summer that I had my genealogy researched by another blogger who really did a remarkable job and presented the information really well.  Wish  my friend could see the genealogy book prepared for me, plus even some special sections for other family members.  My friend would really be surprised to learn as I was -- some of my ancestors actually were among those who founded that fair city where she and her family have lived all these years.   I know she would have been motivated to check into even more information there with any local historical groups with which to surprise me.

We haven't even had an opportunity to hash over this past presidential election, or to discuss our shared dedication to women's rights in this current environment.  So many more memories.....

..........Just as I was editing this to schedule for future posting, the call came -- she passed gently into that good night, surrounded by her loving family.

I celebrate her life -- this woman who spent many years providing innovative comforting interventions augmented by her religious orientation for hospital hospice patients in her city....

I celebrate her life -- this loving, nurturing wife, mother, grandmother....

I celebrate her life -- this true.lifelong friend.....

I cry tears thinking of all we'll no longer be able to share.

Her death symbolizes so much more.  

I miss her.

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