Roger and I just spent two weeks on the road. We
drove 350 miles (563 km) south to the family beach house in Capitola on
September 20th expecting to be joined by my mother, sister, and nieces
and nephews to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday on September 25. That
did not happen. My sister ended up in the hospital for most of that
week, so we drove another 340 miles south to stay with my mother to both celebrate her birthday and to take her
for her third monoclonal antibody treatment for follicular lymphoma.
mother lives in a one bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchen featuring a
single electric burner stove and a microwave. The apartment is in an assisted living
facility that has a nice restaurant for the residents (we call them
inmates!), so not much cooking takes place in those small kitchens. We
don't particularly like eating food that isn't organic or that we
haven't prepared ourselves, so we have found ways to make fine meals on
that one little burner. Of course, breakfast is easy. We travel with a
toaster, cutting board, and frying pans. Dinners are a bit trickier.
Luckily, there's a Trader Joe's within walking distance of my mother's
apartment. We don't have to risk losing our very precious parking space
to head out to the store for some of their frozen organic brown rice. We pop that little package into the microwave and within four
minutes there's steaming bowl of rice. In one frying pan I can make
stir-fries of various flavors. We love tofu and veggies with spicy
peanut sauce. Yum. It's an interesting challenge to try and be inventive
there, but we give it our best.
A screen grab of my eclipse photos from the camera
So, that's how we
spent most of the eight days we were in southern California. We did
celebrate my mom's 90th at a lovely restaurant with her grandchildren
and their partners. My sister could not be there because she was still
the hospital. We took my mother to a doctor's appointment to meet her
new primary care physician. We also took her shopping and to visit my
On the day before we headed back north to
the beach house (and then home from there), I spent four hours at the chemotherapy lab with my
mother while she had her infusion. The lab has nine reclining chairs for
the patients. There are Registered Nurses, nursing assistants, and
administrative staff in the room at all times. Each reclining chair has
one of those devices next to it where bags of liquid medicine hang and
drip into the veins of the patients. There is only the sound of beeping
machines and muffled conversations. On the day we were in the lab all of the chairs were full, and eight
of the nine patients were women. My mother was the oldest in the room.
There was one woman who looked very close to death. I was surprised she
was getting a treatment. One woman entered the lab looking like a
well-coiffed and well-dressed business executive. She clicked in high heels all the way
across the lab to the recliner next to my mother's. She sat down in the
chair, took off those shoes, and put on slippers. Then she proceeded to
take off her beautiful long-hair wig and revealed a head of sparsely
grown-in hair. I enjoyed her presence very much. We had some light
conversation, while her medicine dripped into a vein in her chest. Some
of the people had friends or family with them. Most didn't. One woman
slept during the process, wearing a beautiful cloth eye mask. One read
on her kindle. I sat next to my mother the whole time. She read her
book. I played on the computer. At one point I showed her the headline of
that day: A Mass Shooting At A College Campus in Oregon. We shook our
My mother after the infusion
While I was in that lab I thought about how that
scenario is repeated all over the country and the world day after day.
There are places where people are doing all they can to live as long as
they can, and there are medical staff to help them. There are places
where madmen have guns and are intent upon ending the lives of
strangers. There is desire and disaster, dreams and deadly dramas.
We are on the road and quite weary from a long day of travel. Drove from Arcata to Capitola, a 350 mile (563 km) journey. We took a walk down to the wharf after dinner and watched some sea otters in the sunset waters. They reminded me that I hadn't posted any photos of the river otter we saw in early September at the marsh. So here are two otters for you, one sea and one river. Both very toothy indeed!
Sea otter eating something
We came to Capitola to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday this Friday. If all goes as planned, she and other family members will be driving up from southern California over the next few days. There will be more posts very soon and more pictures!