Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: The Sky Is My Ocean

We don't always have the beautiful ocean outside our windows, but we do always have the sky. So sometimes the sky is my ocean. All photos taken this month just outside our front door looking east.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Remembering Reminiscence

It's been a week since we arrived home from our ten day journey south and back. I've been thinking about our time with my mom in the memory care facility and thought I'd write about it here. Because of her wandering behavior she is in the locked part of the facility called Reminiscence. The fellow residents are all in various stages of dementia and Alzheimer's. Some need a caregiver for every move they make from their rooms to the dining hall and back; some have their heads down all day long; some play games at the dining tables between meals; some walk around on their own with walkers. No one can leave without knowing the code to get out.
My mom laughing at the news, which she said seems to be all about sex lately!
It sounds bleaker than it is. The caregivers there are truly remarkable human beings. We were struck by their calm demeanor; their compassion; their non-stop work like a day care center for elderly in Depends.

We did have some interesting, weird, and a bit disconcerting (bordering on traumatizing) experiences while we were there, but it was just a regular day for the staff. On the first day, we sat in the little comfy living room area with my mom. It has a music player and a cabinet full of things to distract idle hands. While we were there we heard seriously loud screaming coming from the dining room across the hall. A woman was screeching, "This is my house. I bought it. I want everyone to get out of here. Get out!!!" She yelled that on the top of her high pitched lungs over and over. It was absolutely wild. It went on and on. The staff intervened; she persisted. The staff tried to get her to her room. She persisted. My mom decided she'd heard enough and wanted to go back to her own room. In the hallway we crossed paths with the screamer. She yelled at us, "Get out of here. This is my house. Get out!!!!" My mom, of course wanted to engage, but we quietly moved her on. Yikes.

The next day, while we were sitting in the same living room area with my mom, the same woman started screaming in the hall. SCREAMING. She had to be constrained by one of the bigger caregivers. She had to be stopped from trying to go into a restroom that was already being used by someone. The battle was fierce, like a holding back a wild creature. Another very disconcerting moment for all of us.

And still the staff was calm and attentive. It made us feel like my mom is really in a good place.

We "met' several other residents. There was one who said the exact same thing to us over and over, everyday for five days. "I want to go home. I just want to go home. I tell them, and they won't help me. I just want to go home." She said it us in the dining room. She said it to us in the hallway. She said it us on the patio in the afternoon sunshine while the hummingbirds came to check out the flowers and feeders. She said it to us in the little comfy living room. She just wants to go home; it's a fairly common lament for Alzheimer's patients, even those living in the homes they've been in forever.
My mom dancing with a caregiver
One of the highlights of the visit was seeing the entertainment provided to the residents in the afternoons. You would be surprised by the lovely performers who come to sing for an hour after lunch. They bring speakers and equipment and really put on quite a show. They offer maracas and tambourines to the residents, and they sing all the old oldies that the residents know and love. One of the things that I've read about Alzheimer's is that music somehow stays familiar even when so many other memories have faded. Residents in wheelchairs with their heads down, who never look up, would sing a refrain right on cue when the microphone came their way. It was truly beautiful to see. That, and other residents rocking their shoulders in perfect rhythm and motion to the music. Not many would get up and dance, but my mom did with one of the sweetest caregivers. I'll confess that I stood in the hallway and had a rather nice little dance with one of the residents (who swears he doesn't really live there, and really will only be there for two weeks, and wouldn't we like to come to his real house and stay with him!).

This is life in a memory care facility. We were both saddened and enlightened by the experience. I'll tell you this, it made me want to volunteer at a local facility, and maybe I will one day...maybe I will.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes From Capitola

The view when we arrived and opened the blinds

Circumzenithal arc over the house

Paddle boarders in the sparkling bay
Sunrise the morning we packed the car for the trip home

Monday, November 20, 2017

The First Half Of The Journey Home

There was a time when two 350 mile days of highways didn't knock us out as much as they do now. We have to take a day between to let our bodies recover from such an uncomfortable hurling trip on old roadways. So, we headed out on Friday from southern CA back to the beach house. We usually stop about 100 miles into the trip at the Gaviota Rest Stop. But on the way south we noticed that it was closed in both directions, so we knew we had to make other plans for the trip back. We decided to stop at Refugio State Park for our morning break to snack on our homemade granola with raisins, apples, and yogurt. We never go to restaurants, so when we paid the $10 entry fee for our brief half hour stay, we figured it was less than what we would pay for a breakfast at a roadside restaurant. When we arrived at the picnic area we fell in love.
This was just about the most wonderful place to unwind and relax. It was quiet, no sound of the roaring highway, just the rolling waves and gulls calling.
This is the view looking south.
The view looking north, curlews at the surf and oil rigs at the horizon
We sat  delighted with the choice to stop here and knew that we would do this whenever we travel these roads. Breakfast at the beach and a two minute drive back to the freeway.

From here we drove up through the Salinas Valley. It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and the hills bathed in light. The grape vines were yellowing  in the autumn air. I took photos while we zoomed through at 75 mph. I think you can see the calm beauty of the moment. It looked like this for a hundred miles.

This was the first half of our journey north to Capitola. All the way, all the way I kept saying, "I love California. I just love California." It's true.

Monday, November 13, 2017

700 Miles Later

We finally were able to make the journey south. We hit the road on Friday and drove 350 miles to Roger's family beach house. Roger has been coming to this house since before he was born. And now, he's been there every year for the past 75. I can't even imagine what that must feel like, 75 years of history in one place. It's always so beautiful there. The moment we walk in the door, I run and open the blinds and look out to the bay, then open the door to the deck and go out to breathe the ocean air. The 350 miles slip away in an instant. The ocean always says Be Here Now.
We woke Saturday morning to this lovely sunrise.
And later in the day walked down to the wharf and watched this Snowy Egret contemplating the tide coming in.
Sunday morning we headed south for the second half of the journey. It's another 350 miles, but very different from the first half of the trip. This one always has traffic jams in the last 75 miles that come to a full stop and inch along mile after mile. We're always so relieved to get out of the car and finally be done with it.

And then this happens, and all those miles just slip away. We go to see my mom in the memory care facility, and she was so happy to see us. It always makes our hearts soar to be with her. We're staying until Friday, so there will be lots of time for all this love.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Tuesday's Sky

We're expecting big rains over the next few days. Tuesday's sky told us this story.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Lookin' Out The Window

Life gets pretty small when you're sick. The view is limited. The perspective framed by glass and windowpanes. It had been foggy for days again, and then the rains came. It was boring as could be, but then I noticed this.
The yard was filling up with birds flitting about from fence to tree, from tree to garden and then back. I was delighted watching them. There were so many different species I was actually surprised. There were, of course, the usual hummingbirds and their territorial confrontations. It was this bird, the Fox Sparrow that caught my attention. At first I thought it was a Hermit's Thrush (and that's probably because my twin brother had just sent me a photo of the one he saw in his yard). So I got distracted by trying to identify it. That took time, and that was fun.
Then this lovely little Black-capped Chickadee showed up. It climbed up the tree trunk like a woodpecker, and even moved up and down the fence boards like a ninja. I loved watching it. It didn't stay still long enough for a good photo, but it took my attention, and that was fun.
I'd been noticing this Black Phoebe hunting insects in the yard for days. I love when it sits on the wheelbarrow wheel like this. I had the time to wait for it to pose, and when it did, I clicked. That was fun.

The next morning, before sunrise I saw the full moon in the western sky. Oh that halo was such a lovely sight after all the days of fog and rain. I grabbed the camera with my heart full of joy, and that was fun.

The sun came out. Oh, it was beautiful. I could see all the spider webs everywhere between the fence boards. We had no idea how removing every other fence board would create such lush spider habitat, but it did. They are such tireless little spinners. And their work is really quite lovely when lit by the morning sun. Yes, I had fun.
Even the tired old rose hips took on a look of webbed beauty after the spiders' spinning magic. I enjoyed the view even if it did remind me that I needed to go out and deadhead the roses again. Ah, when I'm feeling better I promised myself. And I will, and it will be fun.

PS- I'm getting better! My voice is a little raspy and I croak like a frog when I try to talk very much, but I am on the way to good health. Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful good wishes. I appreciated every word.