...Continued from yesterday:
On Thursday, October 3, I toured the Sunrise of Gahanna senior care facility.
On Friday, October 4, I was back to sign the paperwork.
It so happened that I returned at around 3:15 pm, which was fifteen minutes into the 3 o'clock social hour which took place each afternoon at that time in the Bistro.
But when I arrived to sign the paperwork the business manager and a number of other managers and staff members were congregated in the Bistro where the social hour was taking place.
Or should have been taking place. Apparently, often the Friday afternoon social hour involves musical entertainment, and this week's musician, a dulcimer player, was stuck in traffic and had not yet arrived. Chairs had been set up in rows for the audience, who were waiting for the performer to show up and the show to begin.
The staff members were trying to keep the audience in good spirits, apologizing, looking at the clock, assuring everyone that the musician should be arriving soon, and hoping that was true. One of the managers had brought over her i-pad to at least produce some music, but, by bad luck, her i-pad chose that moment to plotz.
Seeing that the staff was preoccupied with the situation at hand, I didn't press my business at hand, which was signing up my mom for a room at Sunrise. I did notice that there was a nice-looking upright piano in the Bistro.
I offered my services to play some piano for the residents while they waited for the dulcimer player to arrive. My offer was quickly and gratefully taken up.
"Upbeat or mellow?" I asked the Sunrise Director.
"Upbeat, please!" replied the Director.
So I started with Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," then took it down a notch with "Take My Breath Away." Someone in the audience requested "Amazing Grace," so I played and we sang a few verses of "Amazing Grace," at the end of which the very apologetic dulcimerist arrived.
He really was very good.
And so the social hour ended up being much enjoyed and my mom was signed up for a room at Sunrise.
...Continued from yesterday:
How hard could it be, I wondered.
...wasn't so hard or complicated logistically - emotionally was another matter - as it was all-consuming, and at times not a little overwhelming.
In any case, as soon as it was agreed upon by my siblings, my hubby and myself that my mother would move to Ohio under my guardianship I became consumed with the not only with the logistics of the operation, but with my sudden, unprepared-for new role as my mother's guardian.
The first task at hand was finding a senior care facility for my mother, which undertaking I began toute de suite. I decided to start my investigation with the assisted living facility closest to my house, then work my way outward.
As it turned out, the care facility closest to my house was less than a mile away, a place called Sunrise of Gahanna where my daughter Claire had worked for a summer before she started nursing school. I recalled her saying at that time what a nice place it was. And so I scheduled an appointment for Tom and I to visit Sunrise on Thursday, October 3.
We entered through the pretty front patio,
...into a bright, beautiful lobby,
...where we were greeted by a big friendly Labradoodle named Ginger who nonetheless made a beeline back to her cage when I pulled out my camera.
"She doesn't like having her picture taken," chuckled the Concierge, as the friendly lady who works at the front desk is known.
Tom and I met with the Sunrise sales manager, a sunny young lady who talked to us at length about the the facility's assisted living and memory care units. We learned that Sunrise is a chain of senior care facilities based on the Swedish model of senior care, which involves elderly people living together in community houses.
The sales manager explained that at Sunrise the assisted living residents lived in one of two "neighborhoods," each with twelve residents. There was a memory care or dementia unit as well, also divided into two neighborhoods of twelve residents each.
We then toured the assisted living area, starting with the Bistro, a social gathering and activities place situated between the two neighborhoods where snacks and drinks were always available to the residents.
We headed down the hallway from the Bistro, past another hallway leading to the memory care neighborhood,
...to one of the assisted living neighborhoods.
The residents' rooms opened into a homey great room consisting of a living room,
...and kitchen where the meals were prepared.
After our indoor tour we had a look at the courtyard where, we were told, the residents enjoy gathering in nice weather.
Now, it wasn't just that I found this place cozy and charming or that that every staff member we met that day, from the Director to the care managers to the housekeepers was friendly, cheerful and seemed to like their job (even a couple of care givers apparently taking an outside break whom Tom and I had passed on our way into the building had smiled and said hello to us as we passed); it was also this sign in the lobby:
...that made me know that my search for a place for my mom to live was over, thankfully, on the first try.
To be continued...
Congress is holding Presidential impeachment hearings and the bombshells are dropping daily; our country is on the cusp of a Presidential election year and new candidates are popping into the ring by the day; there's been another mass shooting; chaos reigns in Hong Kong; a hunter in China caught bubonic plague after eating a wild rabbit; there's a world-wide loneliness epidemic for which reason the U.K. has appointed a Minister for Loneliness; the world is on fire. Literally. And my house is a mess.
But all local, national and world events have been humming by on the edge of my awareness, as has been my neglected housekeeping, ever since I made a rather spur-of-the-moment decision about six weeks ago, a decision that took me out of the world, or at least away from my previous occupations and preoccupations in my little corner of it.
It was just about six weeks ago that my siblings and I came to the undeniable realization that a decision had to be made regarding our ninety-nine-and-a-half-year-old mother: if she continued to stay in her house it could only be on condition of finding round-the-clock care for her, along with a full-time housekeeper, plus having my brother and sister-in-law, who lived several miles away, keeping a constant eye on her welfare. Otherwise she would have to move to a senior care facility where she would be safe and have her daily needs taken care of.
"Should I offer to bring Mom out here to be with us?" I asked my hubby Tom out of the blue.
"Yeah, why not," replied Tom, just like that.
So just like that I proposed to my siblings that our mother move from Seaford, Dealware, to Gahanna, Ohio, or the nearby vicinity, where I'd surely be able to find her a nice care facility.
And just like that my sibs agreed, and within one day the decision of what to do about our mom was agreed upon. By everyone except our mom.
But, fortunately for all of us, our mom also knew it was her time to move on. In fact our mother - who's had a clairvoyant streak her whole life - had recently been having confused premonitions that she'd soon be moving out of her house. We lumped her confusion about moving - which no one had yet brought up to her or among each other - together with the other occasional episodes of confusion she'd been experiencing. But she knew she was moving. Weeks before we knew, she knew.
To be continued...
Sometimes it occurs to me that people during their lifetime actually live a number of lives within that lifetime, one life opening up the way to the next, which opens the way to another and so on, each old life being simultaneously - and paradoxically - both left behind and brought along as we move on to each new life.
Of course the frontier between one life and the next exists in each person's individual perception, if that frontier even exists at all; it could be that there are people - maybe even most people for all I know - whose lives seem to be woven of whole cloth, who have no sense of moving from life to life within the span of their lifetime.
But as for me, I feel that I have crossed a number of new-life frontiers in the six-plus decades I've been kicking around the planet, each subsequent life full of new experiences, unanticipated outcomes and quite amazing, sometimes astonishing, discoveries.
And then the strange, new, challenging yet wonderful, all-encompassing life of parenthood, the entrance into which somehow made me feel as if I'd become a card-carrying member of the human race.
It was during the years that I think of as my Parenting Life that I began to write, and became a published author.
It was also during that life that I became a piano teacher,
...a produced playwright,
...that, unfortunately, never made it farther than my living room and the living rooms of some of my friends.
Then those years were gone to wherever years go to, my children grown up and moved on to start their own lives, and I crossed over into another life in which I mostly sat on the sidelines of my children's lives, though moving in and out of their lives as I was needed or wanted, relishing along the way the joys of their successes, marriages, the births of my grandchildren,
...while helping my children with life's challenges and adversities in whatever way I could.
Meanwhile in my own life I went about my daily routine such as it was, teaching piano, plowing my way through a novel I hoped to someday finish, getting together with my Posse,
...traveling to visit my children from time to time, and occasionally thinking about the old Peter, Paul and Mary song called "Mon Vrai Destin" - my true destiny -
...and wondering whether I'd ever find my true destiny, or if I were, perhaps, already living it out.
But it turned out that I wasn't yet.
In 2013 Tom and I walked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago de Compostela through Spain (see www.tightenyourboots.net and www.andlightenyourpack.com).
A friend suggested that I write a daily blog during the journey and, following her advice, I did. The web logging of our journey along the Camino turned out to be for me the entrance to my next life, as by the time the trip was over I'd collected a very small but engaged readership, some of whose members expressed to me the hope that I would continue blogging.
But now that I was back from Spain I wondered what there could be for me to blog about. It was one of my readers who solved my dilemma when she told me, "Just share your observations on daily life."
And so I decided to do that, and on December 20, 2013, my blog "Ailantha" was born,
...with this first post, explaining the blog's title:
Ailanthus Altissima, called either Tree of Heaven or Slum Palm, is a tree that thrives in places where no respectable plant would grow: in vacant lots, between the broken glass in alleys, up through rubble and cracks in the sidewalk. It is widely considered an urban blight, an ugly invasive eye sore, and because of its tenacity, campaigns to rip it from the face of the planet are ongoing and expensive.
But there are others out there who praise the Ailanthus for standing up to the asphalt and concrete and bringing a bit of welcome shade and greenery, a little oasis for passersby. So what is Ailanthus? Occasional oasis or tenacious blight? And which will its spin-off Ailantha be?
And so, in my sixth decade of life, I crossed over yet another border into another new life as I began writing everyday and posting my observations as a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations, hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.
...it seemed not so much as if I'd crossed over into another new life, but rather as if, like a literary Christopher Columbus, I'd discovered - or rather, been propelled into - a whole new world.
And so my life had settled into a groove of blogging, writing - I recently learned that my next novel, "Hail Mary," the sequel to "Equal and Opposite Reactions" will be released in May 2020 - teaching, traveling, and taking care, more or less, of the daily business of my life such as it was, leaving me to suppose that I had finally discovered my vrai destin, and that there would be only one more new life left for me to discover somewhere in that mysterious country of my own old age.
But no. I have just stepped over the border into yet another new life, one I've head tell of so often from others of my generation that I marvel that my own entrance into it is turning out to be for me such a prodigiously unheralded experience.
And yet it is, as I now understand it must be for everyone who steps into this new life.
...moved from her home in Seaford, Delaware to an assisted living facility nine-tenths of a mile from my house. I'm now my mother's guardian, advocate, daily visitor, emotional care-giver, and provider of her needs.
It's a whole new life.
...Continued from yesterday:
Soon the rest of the family was up and about the morning's chores.
Then it was off to school again.
...where some of the big kids were playing tether ball before the bell.
After we dropped the girls off at school Tom and I took a leisurely stroll back home, admiring, as always, the flora and fauna along the way.
Birds of Paradise
When lunch time rolled around I suggested to Tom, since it was our second-to-last day, that we return to Manhattan Beach,
And when the end of the school day rolled around we walked back to the school to pick up the girls at their classrooms,
Our youngest grand daughter was having a hard time during the walk home,
...whimpering that she'd had a long, hard, day, that she was tired, that school was too long and there was too much homework. To which her older sister replied with a sigh, "Welcome to first grade." Big sister then endeavored to cheer up little sister, saying, "When we get home, how about if we make you some limeade?"
Now, I had not only never made limeade before; I'd never even made lemonade that didn't come from a mix.
But my grand daughter assured me that she'd show me how it was done when we arrived home.
First, she directed us to pick some limes from the lime tree in the front yard.
Then she procured a pitcher which she filled with ice,
It was my job to cut the limes out of their skins,
...after which the skinless limes were stirred into the ice water.
Then it was time to add the sugar which, I was informed, was the key to making the limeade delicious, as opposed to so-so. If too much or too little sugar was added the limeade would turn out so-so. However if just the right amount was added, I was told, it would be delicious.
So we add the sugar a little bit at a time,
...tasting as we went along,
So delicious and refreshing was our limeade that it gave us all a nice mid-afternoon lift, which put us more in the mood to get some chores done,
...and get the homework out of the way,
When my daughter arrived home from work she proposed that, as all the chores and homework were done, we go down to the beach to play for a while then have dinner out.
So we did.
We arrived in time for a breath-taking sunset,
...though the beautiful, surreal purple haze that hung in the sky was, sadly, the product of the wildfires that were burning to the north of Los Angeles.
We played in the sand and the surf with the other beach-goers while the sun set.
When it was dark we walked up from the beach,
...to a little restaurant called Pit Fire Pizza,
...where we shared a variety of healthy options.
Then we headed for home.
On Saturday morning, October 26, Tom and I left warm, sunny Los Angeles, and by late Saturday afternoon we were back in Columbus, where the weather was cold and rainy.
However we decided to make the best of it and headed over to a local spot called The Gahanna Grill where it was warm and cozy,
...Continued from yesterday:
During Tom's and my visit to Los Angeles the week before last, all around the neighborhood Halloween was in the air,
...and in the yards,
...and in the trees,
...and on the houses,
...and the fences,
And then on Tuesday afternoon Halloween arrived on my daughter and son-in-law's driveway in the form of a mysterious little bag of pre-Halloween treats,
...mostly of the sort-of-healthy variety.
Inside the bag was a note addressed to my youngest grand daughter with the message, "You've been booed!"
When my daughter returned home from work she unraveled the mystery for the rest of us: She had received a text from the mother of one of my grand daughter's classmates asking permission to "boo" my grand daughter, to boo being apparently a new verb form meaning to leave a surprise of a small bag of treats outside the house of a friend without revealing one's identity. However it appears that boo-acceptable protocol involves the mother of the booer asking advance permission to boo of the mother of the booee.
Now, though this was the first time anyone in the family had experienced a booing, all of us, adults and children alike, instinctively knew that when one is booed one is socially obligated boo back, which meant that one of the adults was now going to have to run to the store some time in the very near future to buy a small bag and some treats and then drive over to the booer's house to surreptitiously boo them back.
However, the following evening the same grand daughter was booed again by another classmate who left another bag of not altogether unhealthy treats. Now two reciprocatory boo bags of semi-healthy treats had to be assembled and delivered.
By then both of our grand daughters were in the spirit of the boo. The one who had been booed twice not only wanted to boo back her booers, but wanted to boo several other of her friends. Our other grand daughter who had not yet been booed nonetheless wanted to boo half a dozen of her friends as well.
Their parents compromised, allowing the girls a total of ten boos between them, and the following afternoon after school Tom and I took the girls to the Dollar Tree to pick out ten boo bags and an assortment of somewhat healthy treats to fill them.
Deciding which friends to boo was fun for the children, as was shopping for the bags and treats and assembling the boo bags. But then came the parental tasks of contacting the parents to ask permission to boo then finding the time to drive all over the town to do the booing. It turned out to be quite a schlepp.
I can only imagine that the practice of booing, having begun, will not go away but will likely lead to an era of boocular proliferation in future Halloweens.
But then maybe after a while all the over-worked, over-extended, over-exhausted parents will mobilize to ban the boo, dropping on the practice a group kibosh,
I don't expect the youngsters will enjoy Halloween any the less.
...Continued from yesterday:
On Monday morning, after the family walk to school, and after which our daughter and son-in-law had taken off for work,
...I confessed to Tom that I had a hankering to walk or drive down to Manhattan Beach for breakfast at a little beach eatery called The Local Yolk.
We opted to drive,
...deciding that we'd do our walking through the town and along the pier after breakfast.
The Local Yolk,
...to enjoy the views.
...as one of my grand daughters had asked me if I could buy some celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
I knew she was asking me to buy the fixings to make one of my specialties, Ants on a Log.
...which were waiting for her when she arrived home from school.
The next day, Tuesday, I decided around lunch time that I had hankering to drive to the next beach town over, Hermosa Beach,
...to a pizza place there called Paisanos,
The following morning during breakfast my grand daughter asked me if we could make my Coke bread after school.
"My Coke bread?" asked I.
"What you made when you came to help Mommy after I was born," said she.
"She means your Irish Soda Bread," said my daughter, who explained that she had been telling her daughters how I made Irish Soda Bread, one of her favorites, for her after she had her babies.
So, as my grand daughter was having a hankering to bake and try my Irish Soda Bread, after school we made a batch. Here's the recipe:
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup raisins
1 1/3 cups butter milk (Or add 1 Tablespoon vinegar to regular milk and let stand for 5 minutes, which is what I do).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Add the 4 Tablespoons of butter and mix with hands or a pastry blender until the size of small peas. Stir in the raisins. Beat the egg lightly and mix with part of the butter milk. Add to the dry ingredients. Add more butter milk as needed. (I always need all the butter milk).
The dough should be a bit sticky but solid.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead swiftly and lightly for a few seconds.
Place the smooth side on a lightly floured baking sheet. Make a round loaf. Cut a deep cross on top, cutting almost all the way through.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on top.
(While waiting for the loaf to cook you could do your homework,
...maybe having to help a grown-up figure it out).
When the bread is done, making a hollow sound when tapped,
...take a stick of butter and rub it over the hot bread.
Then sprinkle a heavy layer of sugar over the butter.
Let cool for a few minutes, then slice and spread the slices with butter.
...Continued from yesterday:
It had been an excellent birthday weekend (see yesterday's post), but on Monday morning it was back to the weekday routine, which started as usual with the walk to school.
Having lived most of my life in the East and Midwest, I still haven't lost my enchantment with the West Coast ecosystem nor my sense of the wonder at the concept of walking to school every morning in the midst of palm trees,
...cerulean blue skies,
...and balmy air.
I imagine my grandchildren, having been born in Los Angeles, must take the wonderful climate, skies, flora and fauna - not to mention living near the ocean - for granted, except when their Ohio Grammie comes for a visit and constantly reminds them what a beautiful place they live in.
Still, I learned during a visit earlier in the year that my discourses on the natural beauty of their environment - or at least on my love of palm trees - have not gone completely unremarked by my grandchildren, when, during a walk with the children, my youngest grand daughter,
...pointed towards the sky and said, "Look, Grammie!"
Not sure what she was pointing to, I asked her what she was pointing to.
"Look, Grammie," she repeated, sounding slightly exasperated and continuing to poke her finger heavenward.
I looked up again. "What?" I asked.
With a look that asked how I could possibly not know what she was pointing to, she said, "Grammie, Look! Your precious, precious palm trees!"
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.