Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Well Do You Travel?

This week we're preparing for a week at the "beach".

<Sidebar On>
I should explain why I put "beach" in quotation marks. I'm a Floridian, born and bred. I grew up 45 minutes from Daytona Beach. To me a beach has salt water lapping at it and washing over the carefully constructed sand castles. If there's no tide, is it really a beach? In high school my best friend and I were known, once I had my driver's license and a car, to cut classes and go lie on the beach all afternoon. I had the burns to prove it. I have the basal cell carcinoma excisions to prove it.
<Sidebar Off>

Okay, I'll stop being a snob. I'll say lake, you can say beach. It's not much different from how we refer to the mountain cottage or cabin, when it's really a beautifully decorated and fully equipped two-bedroom house.

We're going to Lake Erie for a week. The Jazzman and all his friends have been making this trek for years. They all know each other well. They are used to traveling and vacationing together.

I've traveled as far as Cleveland with them before, but that involved hotel rooms—each couple in their own room. This involves several shared houses. I'm the new kid on the block. They don't know what to expect from me. Do I snore? Do I hog the sole bathroom? Do I drain the water heater? Do I sleep 'til noon or rise at 4:30 a.m. to make lots of noise?

J.R. (who died twelve years ago today, may he rest in peace) and I traveled with friends and adult family several times. The classic story is the first trip to Hilton Head, when we drove the other couple's RV down and it had serious engine problems once on Hilton Head. The mechanic had to come to the condo to discuss the problem with the vehicle's owner, who was sitting on the couch in the living room, unabashedly flossing his teeth.

Okay, if flossing your teeth in public is the worst thing you do, that's not too bad. This guy also berated his wife morning, noon and night. Now that got real old!

I believe I'm a considerate fellow traveler, and I think I'm pretty flexible. And I always want to make a good impression, so there should be no problems.

After all, we already have reservations for New Year's week on Hilton Head Island, and we want to take friends along, so it's in my best interest to be a good housemate.

Oh, the picture on today's post? That would be the Jazzman, in all his summer-vacation-at-the-beach glory. I think the coming week is going to be filled with laughs!

(Thanks, Amy H., for the photo.)

(And you're wondering about the couple with the unkind, berating husband? They divorced a few years later. Understandably!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You're *How* Old?

As you know, I'm 60 years and one week old today. When I say 60, it seems impossible. I know I've lived a long life, walked a circuitous route, but 60? How did that happen?

I'm lucky to have many friends, many good friends, who span a wide age range. One of my best friends and favorite people is 26. Every time he sees me, he hugs me. And a number of friends from my former job are in their 30s and 40s. Many of my Tucson friends are in their 30s, with a few in their 70s.

When I'm with a friend, I forget how old I am. I think I'm the same age my friend is. We have similar interests, we pursue similar activities. How can I be 20 or 30 or 35 years older than that scintillating person?

Then I get home and look in the mirror and I'm shocked that a 60-year-old woman with hidden gray hair and age spots on her hands is looking back at me!

I guess this age-forgetfulness is a good thing. If I think I'm able easily to walk three miles or throw a pot on the wheel or stand up and sit down repeatedly for a three-hour rehearsal, then maybe I'll retain the ability to do those things.

If I stay around young people and communicate with young people, will I retain my young outlook on life?

I can only hope. And keep trying.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Leaving the Saints

I spent three years of my life in and around the Mormon church. I married a LDS man and embraced his lifestyle in my neverending quest to fit in—somewhere, anywhere.

I made many good friends during that phase of my life. And, of course, lost them all when I left him and left that church family. No one cared that my life had been threatened. No one cared that I went to sleep every night in fear that I would not be alive to wake up in the morning. When I heard "Leaving the Saints" discussed recently, I just had to read it.

I was touched by Martha Beck's writing. I found her incredibly open, and felt awestruck by the turmoil she must have experienced to lay these thoughts and feelings down on paper.

Since finishing the book, I have read several criticisms of it written by other members of Dr. Beck's family. We each have our own memories of how things happen. She has recounted her memories, and I respect all she lost—and gained—in doing so.

I was raised in a strict religious environment that is, in practice, similar to the LDS practices—specifically in health and dress restrictions, but also in some beliefs of what to expect in the end times. You've heard my schtick: I was raised Seventh-day Adventist, then I married a man who was raised Southern Baptist but got off into all the charismatic stuff, then I married a Lutheran, then a Mormon, and then a golfer. I liked the golfer's religion the best.

All joking aside, I would have to say I don't like religion. I don't like people presuming they're better than everyone around them, simply because they hold different beliefs. I don't like the rampant criticism that accompanies many religions—in my experience, the Adventists. I don't like the thought that if I vary one whit from the stated game plan, I am a horrible person. I want to be unconditionally loved and accepted while I mature and grow as a human being.

Can't we just be nice? Can't we speak the language of kindness?

When I was on Match hoping to find a nice man with whom to share my life, I stated in my profile that I was "spiritual but not religious". For me that translated to, "I don't really know what I believe, but please just let me believe it. Or not believe it."

So my interest was piqued by the following passage in "Leaving the Saints":

The word religion comes from the Latin religos, meaning "to tie together again." On a grand scale, I think this means the reconnection of all souls, all spirits, all the bits of divine creation that briefly imagine they—we—are separate and alone.

Instead of tearing people, families, groups, … apart, why can't organized religions seek to build their members up, imbuing them with a sense of togetherness, unity, and self-worth.

Don't tell me what a sinner I am—don't tell me of everything I'm doing wrong. Encourage me to want to do things right. Encourage me to be a better person.

There was one more passage that set the chimes in my head to ringing. Dr. Beck was describing the work she had begun in Phoenix after she and then-husband and children left Utah. In helping students prepare for and advance their careers, she would counsel:

"You'll know when you're in the wrong job interview," I'd say during a lecture, "because the pit of your stomach will tell you to get out. Your first daily priority should be stillness, attention to what you really know and what you really feel. Don't 'network' into meaningless relationships with colleagues who bore you; find the people who can make you laugh all night, who turn on the lights in your heart and mind. Do whatever work feeds your true self, even if it's not a safe bet, even if it looks like a crazy risk, even if everyone in your life tells you you're wrong or bad or crazy."

I feel like she described my current state of life. I left a sure job with a good salary in which I was absolutely miserable. I have a wonderful new job where every day I'm scared about being able to pay my taxes but where I love my work. I can always make more money. I can't make happiness.

And in my personal life, I have always been serious. Hyper-serious. Always trying to do things right. Always seeking approval and love. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I have this wonderful man who loves me and encourages me and helps me. And makes me laugh. Daily. Uproariously. Laugh-giggle-titter-smile-guffaw-laugh. Laugh.

My life is beyond good. My life is a miracle!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Brain, Please Don't Fail Me Now

Yesterday morning I glanced at the family's shared calendar and realized I had to go to Akron-Canton Airport today to pick up the vacationers when they returned from Denver. The calendar said 1:20, so I had the perfect opportunity to schedule a detour to my favorite salon and hairstylist in Fairlawn to have repair done to my Horrible Haircut.

I scheduled my haircut for 10:30, which would give me plenty of time for some lowlights and a cut, then time to work on my laptop while waiting for the family to arrive. After picking up Jaci's van, I started driving toward Akron, with just enough time to make the entire schedule work.

About a third of the way to Akron, I glanced toward the back of the van and realized, to my horror, that the kids' booster seats were not in the van. Someone had borrowed the van in their absence, removed the boosters, and forgotten to return them to their rightful seats.


When I spoke with Jaci to tell her the situation, I asked if they were at the airport yet. "No," she replied, "we don't have to go for several hours." I said, "But you're arriving here at 1:20, right?" "No," she said, as if to a child, "we're leaving at 1:20."


Hair done, I quickly called one of my work buddies and hooked up with two friends for lunch. Then I sat in the Fairlawn Barnes & Noble for an hour-and-a-half of work. Then I headed for Canton and sat in the Border's for another couple of hours.

When I arrived at Border's, I found the restroom to prepare for settling into a chair for two hours. I noticed that the restroom was particularly gross, and thought that unusual for a ladies' room. Then, when I left my stall, I noticed a urinal. Hmmm, I thought. That's also unusual for a ladies' room. I washed my hands as quickly as possible, then opened the door to inspect the sign. In big white letters on a black sign: "Men's".


If you find my brain, would you please return it to me?!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pour More

Son of a gun! Did you know June is National Iced Tea Month?! This is my month, People.

Since my first glass of iced tea at the Steak 'n' Shake on Orlando Avenue in Winter Park when I was about 18, I've been addicted. Add.I.Cted!

Just plain ol' tea. Lipton is best. No sweetener. Occasionally a slice of lemon. But brewed. Absolutely brewed. Never out of a fountain.

Hand me a glass of sweetened tea and pretend it's unsweetened? I'll spit it out. It's an abomination.

Snapple or Arizona Tea? If I'm in the middle of the desert and that's absolutely all that's available, I'll drink it. But I won't savor it.

If a restaurant doesn't have their iced tea prepared, I'll ask for hot tea and a glass of ice.

And I'm usually packing a few Lipton Tea bags in my purse just in case the restaurant only has frou frou tea.

And speaking of Steak 'n' Shake, Daddy would let me drive his Corvette when we circled through the parking lot. That's where he taught me that you unobtrusively wave one hand to other 'Vette drivers without lifting the hand from the steering wheel. Your right hand, usually. You never wave so as to draw attention to yourself. Be cool.

Corvettes, Steak 'n' Shake, and iced tea. Ah, youth.

Now if they'd just bring back the fried egg sandwich, I'd be their biggest fan.

How Does That Foot Taste?

One more quick Chicago story:

As we entered the Museum of Science and Industry, I walked over to the "Enter Here for Tickets" sign and started navigating the ropes to get up to the clerk, even though there was no one in line. The Jazzman, of course, ducked right under the rope and went straight to the clerk. As I was walking, I was reading the sign to see what our tickets would cost and whether the senior citizen discount began at age 60. It didn't; it was age 62.

The entry price for adults was $15 and for seniors, $14.

Jazzman had already handing the money to the clerk and was waiting for change when I walked up and said, "Oh well, we're not senior citizens yet. Aren't you glad we're not senior citizens?" I wondered why he gave me a Look. Then the clerk said to him, "That's $28, and here's $12 change," as he handed Jazz his change and the tickets.

Oops. He had asked for senior tickets, and the clerk had done what he had probably been instructed to do—don't argue or ask for proof of age.

(Well, at least I said it quietly. Maybe the clerk didn't hear me. Maybe.)

I laughed the whole way up the escalator into the exhibits. Jazz and I both have a tendency to put our feet in our mouths. Then we twist and shove to see if we can get them farther down our throats.

Trust me, they're not tasty. But the incidents are rather humorous in retrospect.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Ultimate Schmoozer

(Look at that face. Look at those sweet cheeks. Don't you just want to pinch those cheeks? What a sweetie!)

Oh, where was I?

I laughed all weekend at the schmoozability of the Jazzman.

Incident 1: We got onto the train at Alliance earrrrly Friday morning. The conductor stopped to check our tickets, and the Jazzman immediately reached out to shake his hand and introduce himself as a fellow conductor and secretary/treasurer of his UTU local. He always teases me about my membership and pride in Pi Beta Phi. He says he was in a fraternity—Phi Zappa Krappa. Well, his union identity is damned close to my Pi Phi identity, in my opinion. I kept teasing him about it all weekend as he introduced himself to every conductor we came across.

Incident 2: Continuing with the fraternity of conductors, I told you earlier about our having bought $6 round-trip tickets from the Ogilvie Transportation Center out to Ravinia. In the furor of the thunderstorm and heavy rain, one of the tickets fell out of Jazzman's pocket, never to be seen again. We had just boarded the train for the return trip when he realized it was gone. The sassy, constantly-joking young conductor came by to take our tickets, and Jazz told him it had gone. He tried to make the argument that we went out together, so we must have had a ticket, but got no leeway from the conductor. The conductor said he'd be right back, and went to finish collecting tickets. When he came back, Jazz whipped out his N&S ID and said, effectively, "Can't you give a brother a break?" The young conductor just moaned and said, "Man, you're killing me." We rode free back into the city.

Incident 3: A very nice young desk clerk checked us into the hotel on Friday morning. (Okay, I'll admit it. At our age, everybody is young!) We went up to our lovely king room. There was nothing wrong with the room. It was a very nice room. But as we looked out the window at the building across the street, Jazz suddenly said, "I forgot. I read that we should ask for a lakeview room." He called back down to the young man at the desk and said, "Do you have any lakeview rooms? I'm here on a special anniversary with my lady and wonder if there's anything you can do." (Jazz, of course, didn't divulge that it was the anniversary of my birth sixty years earlier.) The clerk told him to come back down to the desk, where he gave Jazz keys for a suite! A friggin' suite!

I never would have dreamed of doing something like that. But Jazz, the wheeler and dealer, knows whose hand to shake and when to shake it, and doesn't miss an opportunity to do so!

It was a lovely suite, and a lovely weekend!

So, the moral of my story is: if you need some special deals cut and some hands shaken, I've got your man!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Selected Reading Materials

Y'know how many hotels have a Gideon Bible in the bedside table? And how Marriotts have a Book of Mormon for your reading pleasure? I opened the drawer in the Allegro and found this card:

"… diverse selections of inspirational, spiritual, and religious books are available through the front desk."

Does it make you wonder how many people go request any of these books? And which books are requested?

Love it!

How I Spent My Vacation

Well, not so much the laptop part, but definitely the ice on the knee part. I love to walk. I love to walk in big cities. And all I could do was hobble, wince and complain.

Big kudos and salute to the Jazzman for putting up with my kvetching and constantly amending our schedule to accommodate my bum knee.

(Do I look 60? I'm hoping not. Or I'm hoping that this is what 60 looks like nowadays.)

Trip Report - Chicago Birthday Celebration - Day 4

The final day in Chicago was another of those long days where the beginning was hard to see from the end!

We finally got up and going Monday morning around 11:00. We thought we'd try Petro's Restaurant and Bakery across Randolph from the hotel. It was nothing special, but a fun way to start the day. Old-fashioned downtown restaurant. Scrambled eggs, hashed browns, bacon—something solid and predictable. After breakfast we took a swing through 7-11 to stock up on snacks for the trip home, then back to the hotel to finish packing.

We decided to spend our final hours at the Museum of Science and Industry. I had great memories from childhood summers in Chicago of visiting the museum and walking through the enormous heart. Well, they don't have the enormous heart any more, but they have so much fun stuff to see. We walked around and enjoyed for over two hours, then learned we could take the #10 bus right back to the hotel. $4.50 to get back to the hotel, versus $20 for the cab ride from the hotel to the museum. Hmmm. I should have done more exploring about the CTA at the beginning of the trip. Look how much we would have saved on cab fare!

We spent the final hour-and-a-half sitting in the lovely lobby of the Hotel Allegro. This place is amazing. In the lobby, there's a coffee and tea bar setup in the morning, lemonade and iced tea in the afternoon, and wine and cheese at 5:00. All free for guests. And free wi-fi. There are several secluded lobbies off the main lobby, so we found two comfortable chairs by an electrical outlet and sat, sipping our Arnold Palmers while we juiced up our phones. I even got half-an-hour of work done while waiting for the moment when we needed to leave for Union Station. We enjoyed this hotel so much!

Once we got to Union Station and figured out what gate and track we needed, we learned there was a problem with the train and we were going to have to sit for a while. "A while" turned into two-and-a-half hours! Our train, that was to depart Chicago at 6:50, didn't leave until 9:30. Our train, that was to arrive in Alliance, Ohio, at 3:05 a.m., didn't arrive in Alliance until 5:30 a.m. The Jazzman needed to be to work at his normal 6:30, and had to get me home and change before going to work. Let's just say—he was late. And tired. I laid down when I got home and finally forced myself up at 11:00.

And now I'm 60.

We dozed off and on during the trip. One time when we woke up, Jas asked me what time it was. I pulled out my phone and said, "1:05." He stood up, reached into his bag, and pulled out a hilarious birthday card—something about being an old fart. Then he leaned over and sang "Happy Birthday" quietly into my ear.

This is One Sweet Man. I am One Lucky [Old] Girl.

It's gonna be a good year!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Get a Load of This!

We spent the afternoon in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Worn down after absorbing so much knowledge, we headed for the Brain Food Court. As we rounded the corner, Jas said, "Jan. Look!"

Is this too funny for words?! I just had to share it with you.

(My only regret of the museum visit was that the grandbabes weren't with us to take it all in. It's a Must See!)

More later ….

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Trip Report - Chicago Birthday Celebration - Day 3

At the end of a busy day, I can hardly remember what happened at the beginning! Today is Sunday and we're staying downtown, not on the Magnificent Mile, so it's a challenge finding places open unless one wants to eat in the expensive hotel restaurant.

We set out this morning just walking to see what we could find. We finally found a very nice franchise sandwich shop named Cosi. I had a fab whole wheat wrap with scrambled eggs, mozzarella, spinach and artichoke spread. After breakfast we meandered back to the hotel, where I iced my knee for half an hour or so. At 12:30 we left the hotel, went to the theatre box office to get tickets for balcony seats, and went back to Argo Tea for some noshing before the show.

[Editing on Tuesday afternoon—I finished this post and, I thought, published it on Monday morning, but now don't know what happened to it. I will try to remember what I said …!]

Billy Elliott was fabulous. As an accomplished musician, I will tell you that it's hard to perform in a way that mimics not being able to do your art well. These sweet little dancers, in ballet class, doing jetes across the floor that look like they don't know how to do jetes. They are incredible. And the Ford Theatre is exquisitely beautiful. Being able to attend this show in this venue was a wonderful experience.

Our evening meal was a low-key relaxed time at Singha Thai, followed by a long walk along Michigan Avenue and Millenium Park. A gray day had turned into an incredibly beautiful evening. (See the photo for Day 4 post.)

I don't remember what brilliant thing I said to close the post when I wrote it the first time, but let me just tell you I had a fabulous birthday celebration, hosted by a kind, generous, loving man.

I am so lucky!

Trip Report - Chicago Birthday Celebration - Day 2

As wet and nasty as last night was, today was correspondingly gorgeous. We started by having breakfast at the doorman-recommended Wolfy's Original Chicago Steak House, just a block away from the hotel. Eggs, steak, Texas toast, fabulous fried potatoes, …. Can't you just taste them? Totally not good for your body; totally delicious. One of the online reviews I read called it "great recreational eating." Yep. I love that phrase and am going to employ it again and again.

After breakfast, we walked across the street to the Chicago Transportation Authority station and spoke with an attendant there, who advised us to go to Walgreen's and buy a $5.75 24-hour pass, that would give us unlimited use of the subway—the famous "L". We found it very easy to get around town on the L, and enjoyed this mobility. My knee continues to bother me, and I hate continuing to ask the Jazzman to pop for a cab.

We road the L to the Chicago Art Institute and saw the Matisse exhibit, plus the Seurat "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte," which is a personal favorite. This art exploration was followed by a lovely half hour relaxing on McKinlock Court with a pastry and a drink.

Moving outdoors, we walked to Millenium Park and wandered, relishing this treasure in the middle of downtown. It's wonderful to see so many people out-of-doors, enjoying all their city has to offer. This is one of the reasons I love Chicago so much.

After a brief nap, we went west on Randolph to Butterfly Mandarin, which had exquisite food. We sat outside and people-watched everyone on their way to the Randolph Street Fair. Gorgeous weather, blue sky, lots to talk about. It was a fabulous evening.

After dinner, we slowly strolled west on Randolph back to the hotel, then lingered in the Encore lounge for a final glass of wine before returning to our room to plan tomorrow's activities.

What a great escape this has been!

(The picture is taken at Cloud Gate in Millenium Park.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trip Report - Chicago Birthday Celebration - Day 1

Yesterday seemed like it was 48 hours long, at least. And it was filled with fabulous experiences—oh, and a lot of rain.

We left home at midnight on Thursday, then got on an Amtrak train in Alliance, OH, at about 2:00, half an hour late. (No, that was not an omen!) I finally fell asleep a little way west of Cleveland and woke up somewhere in Indiana. We went to the cafe car, grabbed coffee and a muffin, and went upstairs to the observation desk and watched corn fields, deer, bunnies, and a strutting turkey. Great fun! I loved having the map feature on my iPhone to be able to see where we were at all times. Once I discovered that it knew railroads as well as highways, I kept using it all day.

We arrived in Chicago around 9:00 a.m. and grabbed a cab to the Hotel Allegro. Once in our room, the Jazzman remembered that someone had told him to ask for a lakeview room. He called the front desk and did a little song-and-dance about being "in Chicago with my lady for a special anniversary" and they upgraded us to a corner suite. That boy is smoooooth! (He didn't tell them the special anniversary was of my being born 60 years ago!)

We dropped our bags and wandered out on the street, finding Potbelly Sandwich Shop for a breakfast sammich. Then back to the room for a little nap and a shower.

We had been talking about the architecture boat tour since we began planning this trip. We had expected rain all day, but it was sunny and hot, so we grabbed sunscreen and hats and headed to the riverwalk. The boat tour was 90 minutes long and very interesting, but there comes a point where one's brain is just full of who designed this and look-at-that-cupola. I don't want to downplay the cruise—it's definitely a must-do in Chicago. I was just hot and tired by the end.

We walked west along the riverwalk toward our hotel, stopping at Argo Tea on Randolph for a pick-me-up. Okay, I love this Argo Tea place. Interesting tea drinks, a great mocha for jazzman, and delicate pastries. And, outside the window, rain. Uh oh.

Back at the hotel, I laid down to ice my knee. Did I mention my knee? My bad knee? I'm having difficulty walking as a result of my fall-plus-golf-lesson. Not good to injure your knee a week before a vacation. Just. Not. Good.

As I lay there, I searched across several Web sites to figure out how we would get out to Ravinia for our evening's planned activity. We needed to get over to the Ogilvie Transportation Center, then get on the 5:50 Union Pacific-North and get off at Ravinia Park, a few hundred yards from our seats in the Pavilion. Because of my bad knee, we wanted to take a cab to the OTC, about eight blocks away. Alas, when we walked outside to grab the cab, it was raining. Heavily raining. On a Friday. At rush hour. Got the picture? We walked, um limped, to the train station, got our $6 round-trip tickets, and got on board. I followed our journey all along on the iPhone, remembering places I had visited in Wilmette and Winnetka as a child on our summer visits to my aunt.

By the time we got out to Ravinia, the rain had stopped. Gorgeous, gorgeous night.

I won't go into all the ins-and-outs of the evening, as I'm hungry and want to go find breakfast. (Yes, I'm selfish that way.) But I will tell you we heard the All-Steans Jazz Band Quintet (fabulously-talented students), the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Dave Brubeck, and Nancy Wilson. It was Ramsey Lewis's 75th birthday, so much was made of that. And Dave Brubeck? The man will be 90 on December 6. Ninety! And he plays with all the panache he had at 30. Holy Mother of Ivory! If I live to ninety, I hope I can still play the piano with half the elan that man possesses.

Actually, I kept thinking how appropriate it was to be attending this concert on my 60th birthday weekend. With the exception of the Steans students, all these musicians were older than I, and all were just incredible.

Dave Brubeck, with a nod to the afternoon rainstorm and a comment that he was shocked we had all attended the concert, opened his set with "Pennies from Heaven", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and "Stormy Weather." He was a hoot! On "Blue Rondo a la Turk," Ramsey Lewis came out and sat down to play a duet with Brubeck. It was just outstanding!

Right before Nancy Wilson came on (about 9:40) the thunderstorms rolled in. Everyone on the lawn headed for trains and cars, and the pavillion sitters hunkered down for more music. The winds were so strong that Nancy Wilson could feel the rain on the stage! She was hilarious—every time one of her songs mentioned rain, she started laughing.

My only complaint of the evening was that the concert, at over three-and-a-half hours, went on too long. At least too long for two people who had been traveling all night the night before. Jazz and I kept falling asleep. But Ravinia is beautiful, the concert was great, and I'm so glad we went!

When it was over, we walked in the rain to the train platform, where we stood in the rain for 25 minutes waiting for the inbound train. The train came at 11:05 and we rode the hour back into the city, sitting in our soaked-through clothes and rain gear. By the time we got home, I was wet, tired, wet, hurting, and wet.

But what an incredible day!!!

Day 2: museums, fine restaurants, and a beautiful sunny sky. More later.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Less Lone Traveler

Saturday 027
Originally uploaded by jaycie622

I simply must write one more quick post before heading to Chicago for the weekend. My dear friend, the Traveler, will marry his beloved Judy on Saturday.

I salute these two for being willing, past 60, to take such a risk. I have watched Lee grow and blossom since meeting Judy. He has a love of life that surpasses the optimism he already displayed, even through his former loneliness.

They're going to be a couple of dancin' fools as they make their way down the aisle to the judge on Saturday evening, and I only wish I could be there to celebrate with them.

Lee and Judy, may you have many more wonderful years together.

Filling Time

The Jazzman and I are leaving around midnight to hop on a train bound for Chicago. We're going to celebrate my upcoming birthday. Activities will include a jazz concert at Ravinia, a boat ride to view Chicago architecture, some great meals, and who knows what else. Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit, and the Jazzman is my new favorite person to travel with. So there you go.

Today I'm rushing to get as much work done as possible, so I'm going to cop out on today's post. I'm posting a few photos from our recent trip to see Mother in North Carolina. I've been visiting this place off-and-on since 1960. Oh, that's fifty years. Wow!

Enjoy these pictures that are deeply ingrained in my mind.

Stopped at a scenic overlook along 26 in Tennessee, almost to NC.

In the next development over—don't you love those trees? The original property purchase comprised 155 acres. When all was said and done, we ended up with 55 acres, which Jerry has developed into a lovely lakeside development.

My darling cousin Bruce, at the helm of his ship. (Can I confess to having a favorite cousin?)

Bruce and Cindy's South Carolina getaway, to which they escape from D.C. as often as possible.

I realize this isn't so many photos, but the weekend didn't exactly go as we expected, either. Mother's falls meant that we left the cottage early, didn't all travel to SC to see Bruce & Cindy and my other cousin BJ and her husband, Mel, and spent more time in Asheville than we spent in Cashiers. But I still love going up there, no matter how short the time period.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You Only Think Your Data is Safe

On Sunday evening I received an e-mail from AT&T telling me that I had exceeded my data plan for the month. The e-mail was addressed: "Dear Charles Crews." Hmmm. There have been a considerable number of men in my life, but aside from my daddy, my brothers, and a couple of random cousins, none of them were named Crews. I immediately e-mailed my younger son, who manages our cell phone account and asked two pertinent questions: 1) Why TF does AT&T think my name is Charles; and 2) Don't we have unlimited data? He quickly responded: 1) I don't know; and 2) yes. He can be succinct when required.

The more I read and re-read the e-mail, the more things became clear to me. The cell phone number in the subject of the e-mail was not mine. This didn't alarm me; I just determined that first thing Monday morning I would be on the phone to AT&T.

The first person I reached at AT&T was the kind of CSR who only knows how (or is only allowed) to read from a script. After being transferred a couple more times, I got to a young man who was a step above reading from a script, but whose pencil was just not very sharp. I had to explain several times that the e-mail on the phone number I gave him was mine, but the phone number was not. Even after about 15 minutes on the phone with him, I'm not sure they have my e-mail address listed correctly on my phone number.

When I finally got off the phone with him, after receiving his assurance that they would immediately call the other party and get the correct phone number on the account, I called the other phone number. I didn't, however, get Charles Crews. I got Cousin Charles's 12-year-old daughter. She didn't quite grasp what I was saying, but I just told her to tell her daddy to call AT&T, and got off the phone.

Last night, about 32 hours after the calls, I happened to notice there was a message on my landline answering machine. When I played the message back, lo and behold, it was Jan Crews. Really. She said her daughter hadn't understood my call, and would I please call her and explain again. I called her this afternoon and said, "Hi, Jan Crews. This is Jan Crews." It was fun. But I learned from her that AT&T still hadn't called her or her husband, 48 hours later.

But should I be alarmed? Is it a simple keying error on the part of the original CSR when my Cousin Crewses set up their account? Or is it a more egregious error. My e-mail address somehow migrated from my account (well, really, Tyler's account) over to Charles and Jan's account? I've had this e-mail address for three years. Could Charles have set up the account and not remembered his wife's address? Could he have misspoken? Or is it a matter of opening up my account without my authorization.

I'm not usually a Chicken Little. I don't suspect the sky of falling any minute. I'm really not concerned with the amount of information that's available about me, floating all over cyberspace. Now if AT&T takes away my unlimited data plan and replaces it with Cousin Charles's limited data plan, I'm going to have to have a serious talk with someone at AT&T.

But for now, I think I'm going to assume it was a keying error, and figure my social security number is still safe with AT&T.

At least I hope so.

Photo credit: Sven Grzebeta

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's a Conspiracy!

The days are dwindling. One week—seven too-short days—from today I will be 60. And my body is just imploding!

Sunday a week ago the Jazzman and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. (He's being very supportive of my doctor's order to get back in shape.) We were not three houses away when I tripped over the uneven sidewalk and fall with a resounding thwack! on my left knee. I caught myself with my left elbow and the palms of both hands, but my knee bore the brunt of the fall. I have since seen the doctor, gotten x-rays, and learned that the knee is not fractured. It's just a contusion, a very painful, sprained knee that will take about six weeks to heal. Okay, I guess I can live with that.

The Jazzman and a posse of friends and relations go up to a community of cottages along the shore of Lake Erie every 4th of July week. I've been invited along. They play a lot of golf. I took golf in my first year of college, 42 years ago. I thought I'd pick up a club again and see if it's something I want to pursue, an interest that we can share.

Last Saturday morning, we headed off to Mill Creek Park to play nine holes on the par 3 course. He is a wonderful, patient, kind teacher. I couldn't ask for a better teacher. I had a wonderful time playing golf with him, and I didn't do too badly. It made me think John was wrong when he said I didn't have the temperament for golf. I think I could really find a lot of enjoyment in golf.

But choosing to start my learning again on the heels—or knees—of a painful injury? Not too smart!

By Sunday morning, when we were discussing going out for another nine, I realized I was in tremendous pain and all my twisting and turning and stress to the knee on Saturday was about the worst thing I could have done to facilitate the healing of this knee!!!

Yesterday I was having great difficulty descending stairs from my office to the kitchen. Friday we're going to Chicago for the weekend and planning on doing a lot of walking. Why do I not have a good feeling about my ability to get around Chicago easily?

And continuing with the conspiracy theory, yesterday I had three migraine attacks, the third one ending in excruciating pain to the right side of my head. And yes, the pain came on while I was driving to Cleveland for rehearsal, where I was going to have to learn the Russian necessary to master the 1812 Overture.

It's just one damned body part after another. Clink, clank, clunk. Can you hear them hitting the ground?!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Ten-Year Nap

I heard a recent interview with Meg Wolitzer on one of the afternoon talk shows I listen to on Sirius/XM—I believe it was on Broadminded. Something about the way she spoke or what she said about her latest novel grabbed me.

Now I'm not a good book club member. I don't go looking for themes and rationales and what did the author really mean when she said, "increasingly and transparently annoyed"? I just want to be entertained. I want to escape my troubles for a half-an-hour and revel in someone else's troubles.

Certain book topics, certain key words an author might say in an interview, will always reel me in. Adoption is, of course, a hot topic. Love late in life interests me. Sewing, quilting, pottery, beading—I like to see how authors such as Debbie Macomber or Kate Jacobs will thread one of my interests through a story. And once I find a book I like, I tend to read everything that author has written. John D. McDonald, Agnes DeMille, Harry Kemelman, Nora Roberts—read 'em all! (My lifelong best friend just sent me another bookmark for my birthday, saying someone as well-read as I can never have too many bookmarks. She's right!)

So as I got into "The Ten-Year Nap," I couldn't remember why I bought it. The Publisher's Weekly review on the Amazon product page says, "In her latest novel, Wolitzer (The Wife; etc.) takes a close look at the opt out generation: her cast of primary characters have all abandoned promising careers (in art, law and academia) in favor of full-time motherhood." I couldn't see that as I was reading. I saw the interconnectedness of the one generation of women, but the jumping around from generation to generation and story to story lost me. About a third of the way into the book there was the introduction of an adopted child, so I thought maybe that was what had grabbed me, but that character didn't figure too prominently in the book.

So the story itself never grabbed me—I kept reading because I hate to just drop a book midstream. I kept thinking I'd find the reason for my purchase if I read one more chapter. That never happened.

But what happened is I discovered an author who is simply fabulous at choosing words and meshing them together to make absolutely beautiful sentences. As sentences and paragraphs unfolded in front of me, I kept thinking, "Oh, that's brilliant." "Oh, that's how I could put those words together."

So you can bet I will be running to the library to find more books by Meg Wolitzer. She is an incredible craftsman, and I look forward to reading more of her works.

This week I'm reading a chapter of Martha Beck's "Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith." My third husband was a Mormon, and I considered the friends from that time in my life to be very dear friends, even though I lost all of those friends when the marriage ended. Within the Mormon community, you're either all the way in or all the way out, in my experience. There's no halfway, and if you don't believe everything they believe, you're not going to find a place on my calendar. Just sayin'. Just my opinion. Beck is an excellent writer and story-teller, and I look forward to each breakfast, lunch, and dinner break to devour another chapter.

And what are you reading?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Lesson in Listening

I just had my hair cut. I am frustrated. That's the whole story.

For the past year-and-a-half, I've been visiting the most wonderful stylist named Amy who works at Nolas Salon and Day Spa in Fairlawn. She's an angel, a genius, and a really nice lady. But I no longer work in Akron, so driving to Akron to get my hair cut drives up the cost of the cut into the just-can't-do-that range. It's been two months since I've seen Amy. I was looking a little shaggy.

Now, I've lived with shaggy before. But I've got an audition on Friday evening for a position I really, really want, and I didn't want to go into the audition looking and feeling shaggy. So today I ran over to a salon in Girard. I know the owners, who are dear and longstanding friends of my daughter-in-law. I've gone there before for haircuts, but the owner who is the principal stylist always thinks I'm chic, rather than simple, and wants to give me the latest hairstyles. I don't want the latest hairstyle. I want what I've had for the past 15 years. I want what I know looks good on me.

Amy and I have been adjusting and playing and changing until about eight months ago, when we got exactly what we wanted from my thin, fine hair. And I don't want to change.

I walked into the salon this afternoon and sat down in the chair of the stylist who had been assigned to me. She was a pretty young lady, covered in colorful tattoos. But the tattoos don't affect her hearing, do they? From the book I was carrying, I pulled out three photos of me, each showing a variation of the hairstyle Amy had given me. I told the young lady, "I'm simple. I want this hairstyle, just a little shorter. Just trimmed up. I don't want anything chic or fancy. I'm just a simple person."

Whoosh. In one ear and out the other. She fiddled with my hair a minute, then said, "Well, I'd like to stack the back to give you a little more shape." I grimaced, and said, "Maybe just a little." I told her this haircut was about two months old, so needed over half-an-inch cut off, and that the top needed to be kept shorter because of how fine my hair is.

She took me to the shampoo bowl and spent what seemed like fifteen minutes shampooing my hair. Then she took me back to her chair and spent another twenty minutes on the back, followed by about two minutes each on the sides and the top. I said twice that I didn't think she was taking enough off the sides. She held her fingers up and said, "I'm taking half an inch." I'm a sewist; I deal with half-inches and five-eighths-inches on a regular basis. That was no half-inch.

The longer I sat there watching her, the more upset my stomach became. She asked if she could put mousse in my hair, and I said, "Just a little." She asked if she could tease the back and I instantly had a most-pained expression on my face. She saw the expression and said, "Just a little." By the time she had the top poufed up about two inches higher than I ever wear it, I said, strongly, "No, that's too much."

She patted it down where it looked okay, but all I could think was that I had been assaulted. The sides and the top look like only about one-eighth of an inch has been trimmed off. The back has this danged shelf of hair hanging over a neatly trimmed portion. And my bangs look like nothing has been taken off. I just got my hair cut twenty minutes ago and already I can see my bangs without a mirror. And then she sprayed my hair. Spray!

As I stood from the chair, stomach in knots, I knew I would not be coming back into that salon, as much as I personally like the owners. This young woman, who had no appointments booked for the afternoon, had just lost a potentially long-standing client.

I am angry. I am missing Amy. I am upset about having my perfect cut focked up. I am concerned that I will not be able to get this ridiculous cut to look decent for my audition. I am disgusted with myself for …, oh, I don't know for what. For wanting to get it done quickly. For trusting the personnel of a salon that screwed me up two years ago. For not being willing to make the time or money to drive to Akron for a haircut. For thinking I could get it done quickly.

I feel sick.

And to the service professionals reading this post, I say this: When a person tells you she likes simple things, simple hairstyles, give her the god-damned simple hairstyle. Don't feel like you're betraying the reputation of your salon by not giving her the latest spiky chic cutting-edge hairstyle.

Wouldn't you rather be known as a stylist who can listen and implement in a manner that's pleasing to your clients?

Just as every woman of dating age knows that you can't change a man, I would also proffer that you can't change a woman's opinion about her hair. I've been living with this awful, unmanageable hair for 60 years. I know what it will and won't do. I need a simple hairstyle that will look good for six weeks before forcing me back into the salon. Period.

I didn't get what I wanted. I'm just thankful that I only paid $35 for this travesty of customer service.

P.S. Annnnd, the fragrance in the hair spray is so strong I'm going to have to go wash my hair before much more time passes, or risk incurring a migraine. Argh!

From the Mouths (and Tummies) of Babes

I spent quite a bit of time with the babes over the weekend, including piano recital time, dinner time, and Barnes & Noble time (our personal favorite!). Much discussion took place surrounding the plans for Ridley's Sunday birthday party.

On Thursday evening I asked what she planned to serve at the party. She said she didn't really know, that she would have to go to the grocery store with Rara (their name for their mom) and see what they could decide. (I knew, of course, that Rara already had matters well in hand and a firm menu, but seven-year-olds don't yet understand planning.) She continued, "I know it will be some food for kids, but I will also have some food that adults will enjoy."

She paused and thought for a moment.

"Cucumbers," she blurted out. "Adults like cucumbers. I don't really like cucumbers, but I know adults do. I'll have to make a cucumber salad. Rara will help me."

At another time during the weekend she told me that she and [her little male friend] were planning to have a lemonade stand during the summer. She asked if I knew how to make lemonade. (If you stick "lemonade tycoon" into the search bar at the top of this blog, you'll quickly understand what a superfluous question that is.)

I asked how she thought you could make lemonade. "Well," she started, "you squeeze the lemon." I nodded. "Do you add water?", she asked. I told her you needed water and sugar, and the best way was to make "simple syrup" because then the sugar would dissolve. She acknowledged that without sugar the lemonade would be too sour. I made a puckery face. Then I told her we could look it up in a cookbook. She quickly responded, "We could look it up on the Internet." Trying to keep her grounded in our old ways, I told her I really liked "Joy of Cooking" and had a copy on the dining table. "Oh," she replied, "we have that cookbook, too."

Yea! Maybe I can encourage these children to keep one foot in the ways of their elders while they're forging ahead with technology!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

There Is No Catching Up

I'm feeling like a slacker for not posting on a regular basis any more. I used to be able to sneak in a quick post at the office, and just hope that no one with any power over my employment would notice. But now I work for my son, and I constantly feel I'm not doing enough. Of course, most mothers think they're not good-enough mothers, so I guess my attitude at my new job is simply a follow-on to my attitude as a mother.

A couple of notables events: my cousin, Cindy, visited Mother at the nursing home last Saturday, cell phone at the ready, so I was able to speak to Mother for a few minutes. By all accounts, she's anxious to get back to her beautiful apartment at Fletcher Park Inn. The more she hangs on to that desire, the harder she'll work in physical therapy. At least that's our hope. My oldest brother is supposed to go to NC this coming weekend, and we're hopeful he can move Mother back to her apartment.

Little Miss Ridley turned 7 on the 29th of May, and her talented mother threw a fab Beatles Rock Band birthday party for her on Sunday. I don't believe I've ever seen a 7-year-old with as much self-confidence as Ridley possesses. She was in her element, surrounded by friends and the star of the day. And what a hoot to hear all these elementary school children singing 50-year-old songs perfectly. I never knew all the words to the Beatles' songs, choosing rather to sing what I thought the words were. ("Lucy in disguise with diamonds.") The babes will take their first solo plane ride on Thursday, off to visit the Colorado set of grandparents. Their daddy and their uncle had taken many solo plane rides by the time they were 7 and 9, so Boston and Ridley are just following in well-worn footsteps.

I have good days and bad days at the new job. The bad days are when I can't figure out a piece of software or a quick way to make things work correctly—when I feel stupid; when I feel my 60-year-old brain just doesn't work like it did ten or twenty years ago. The good days are when I learn something new—when I master a technique or figure out a cool way to do something. I love those days, and I cling to the hope that they will become more frequent and the bad days will wither away.

The Jazzman and I snatched a little piece of time yesterday to visit the Y and the J to check out their gym plans. He is being enormously supportive of my doctor's directive to get my ass in gear. We're leaning toward the J, which is more reasonably priced, has better parking, and is just two blocks away from my house. We've taken morning walks twice this week on the neighborhood sidewalks. The first day I tripped on an uneven square of sidewalk and dropped my knee to the concrete with a thwack! Clearly I need level surfaces on which to walk.

And I'll close with the note the newly-60 PianoLady sent me. She was quoting one of her son's best friends. He had just returned home from his first year of college, after a year of institutional food. He shook his newfound protruding belly and said, "Don't tell me to get in shape. Round is a shape!"

You're now as caught up on my life as you're going to get!

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Answer to Your Dreams?

Two weeks ago I started work on a new felted bag. The base and body is Lion Brand® Fishermen's Wool from Jo-Ann's. About two inches up from the base I added a strand of Karabella Silky Tape in Spring Green. This yard, made of silk, viscose and rayon, is hand dyed in a yummy range of greens and browns, with a little glitter to add interest.

But I digress. After adding the Silky Tape to the project on Tuesday of last week, I knitted for a day before noticing my hands were itching. All day Thursday my hands itched. When I picked up the Jazzman on Thursday evening to head for NC, my knuckles on both hands were red and inflamed. By Friday morning, I was in bad shape. We ran into a drugstore in Beckley before resuming our drive, and picked up some Benadryl, plus a non-drowsy antihistamine, and some cortisone cream.

On Friday afternoon as we were sitting on the front porch of the cottage, I was dying to knit, despite, the itching, so put on some non-latex rubber gloves and tried to add a few rows to the project. Nope. The non-latex gloves don't have any elasticity to them, so the tips of the fingers hang off and keep getting knitted into the pattern!

While wearing the gloves, I didn't really feel the itching, but once I took them off, I was itching again. And that night the itching and redness was worse.

On Saturday and Sunday the itching and redness and swelling kept getting worse, and I could hardly not keep myself from scratching. By Monday evening, back in Youngstown and attending a friend's Memorial Day party, I began notice spots elsewhere—on my forearms, on my wrist.

Tuesday I went to the dermatologist, who prescribed Doxepin to ease the itching. Holy Mother of Naps! I couldn't stay awake on Wednesday. When I visited my internist Wednesday morning for a followup to an earlier appointment, she was surprised I had driven to her office on the Doxepin.

And the dreams. Oh. My. God. Wild and crazy, frenetic, busy, exhausting dreams. I remember when I went on Paxil eight or so years ago. When I was trying to wean off the Paxil, I hated going to sleep because I knew the dreams were going to begin and I was going to be exhausted when I woke up.

So the bottom line of this long, drawn-out story? The dermatologist thinks the itching has nothing to do with the yarn, so I continued working on the bag last night. We'll see if the itching picks up tomorrow. And I'm going to cut my dose of the Doxepin in half tonight and tomorrow because I just can't stand the fatigue—life is too short to be so tired.

And the funny story of the day? I pointed out a raised place at the base of my thumb to the dermatologist to ask if that should be zapped. "Nah," he said, "that's just like a barnacle on an old ship." Excuuuuse me? I'm almost 60, not almost 90!!!

We'll give this boy an F in bedside manner this week.

And for the knitters in the audience, here are a couple of pics.

This is the Silky Tape in Spring Green.

And this is the Work In Progress bag, in poor lighting so you can't see how fabulous the yarns are together. Once I finish the bag—oh, and find my camera—I'll post a finished pic.

Updated at 10:39 a.m.

So, you wanted to know what the dreams were, didn't you.

The first morning, I dreamed I was still with my second husband. (Refresher: Montgomery Village, MD; 48 to my 33 when we married; daughter who told him lies about me and he believed them and didn't ask me to confirm or deny—i.e. guilty until proven innocent; would get severely depressed and not speak to me for five days at a time.) In my dream, he had decided I was moving out of his house so he brought in movers and packers to get all of my stuff out of his space and I had no idea where I was going.

This morning, I was on a group tour with my mother. (Note: this would never happen.) We needed to pack up to go to the next stop on the tour, and I was finding way too many things that needed to go back into my bag, including four New Yorker magazines!

These dreams have wayyy too much detail and wayyy too many old painful emotions!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Friend

Today I wish a very happy and healthy 60th birthday to my darling friend of forty-one years!

Her pseudonym, PianoLady, pops up here regularly, and three years ago I documented her birthday.

She is 20 days older than I, and we were born in the same hospital. She grew up less than two blocks from my elementary school, we took accordion lessons at the same studio, and we took piano lessons at the same studio for a while. We never met until my first semester at University of Central Florida. And our lives have never been far apart since that day.

I played for her first and third weddings; she played for my first wedding and was my matron-of-honor at my second.

We differ drastically on a handful of issues. For example, she prays for me and I think.good.thoughts for her. She would like to see me come back to a church, and I would, with equal depth of interest, like that never to happen again in my life.

But we love music. And we love each other. And we have a lot of history and understanding of each other. She has had a lot of challenges in life with a handicapped son, and I have done everything in my power to support and encourage her. She loves and accepts me unconditionally. Could anyone ask for more in a friend?

So, Darling Cheryl, I hope you have a wonderful day. Sixty looks damned good on you!

See you in October!!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Unexpected Tears

This is the first in what will potentially be a recurring theme in this multifaceted blog: My mother fell last week. Twice.

Those of us who are in the second half of our lives frequently say, "You can't take it with you" or "Everybody dies" or some similar aphorism. The bottom line is this: No one lives forever.

When you follow that adage with the fact that yesterday was Mother's 97th birthday, then we have to acknowledge that she probably doesn't have that many years left. As I've observed her over the past few years, I've repeatedly stated that I don't want to live to be 9x years old. She has very little hearing left. Her eyes are fine, but she'd rather sleep that read. Her life revolves around walking down to the dining room of her retirement apartment complex for meals, Sunday night Scrabble with like-minded residents, and sleep. Lots of sleep. She forgets to take her meds; she forgets to shower and wash her hair; she forgets to put on clean clothes.

<Sidenote On>
It could be worse. It could be so very much worse. I've observed the parents of many friends who are not aging gracefully, who are battling Alzheimer's or Parkinson's or the demon cancer. In fact, my mother-in-law (John's foster mother) is almost 103 and is pretty much deaf, blind, and wheelchair bound. Quality of life? Not so much. Mother's brain is in darned good shape for 97. She still has a quality of life. We are lucky. Still ….
<Sidenote Off>

We have a lovely companion who comes in to help her with laundry and who takes her for manicures and pedicures. The complex provides a Fletcher Academy student who comes in to clean once a week. You and I would kill to have that much uninterrupted time to read. She sleeps.

If you've read this blog for very long at all, you know that I don't feel very bonded to my mother. She and Daddy adopted me when I was six days old, and I've never felt like she gave me unconditional acceptance, as I believe one should give to one's child, whether adopted, stepped, fostered, or natural. For y*e*a*r*s, I've said I would not cry when my mother died. I've presumed I would just feel an enormous sense of relief.

But Sunday, as the Jazzman and I were preparing to leave the hospital to begin our journey back to Ohio, I hugged her goodbye and told her I loved her. She had a look of helplessness in her eyes. This strong woman is never helpless.

I cried.

It broke my heart. The sense of what she's feeling right now—mortal, helpless, hopeless—broke a heart I didn't think could be broken any more by her.

Monday morning she was moved into an assisted living/nursing home facility where she will receive physical therapy for at least two weeks until she can increase her mobility and at least get out of bed and to the bathroom by herself.

It's going to take a hell of a lot of hard work on her part, and a commitment to maintaining the status quo that existed before last Tuesday's fall.

My sense over the weekend was that this was the beginning of a slippery slope to the end, be it six months or six years away.

I hope I'm wrong.

Note: The photo was taken a year or two ago in Mother's apartment in Hendersonville. I did not take any pictures of her on this trip, as she just wasn't looking good at all—not like I expect her to look! May she be able to get things together and look this good again!