In a way I’m glad it’s over . . .

While crossing the northern tier of the country the week before last in “The Beast,” as a buddy has named our RV, I had too much time on my hands to think. Mist and Smoke were asleep on the floor (on a soft rug, one of two I’d put in just before the trip). And I was listening to iPod music while driving east on a two-lane highway.

It had been almost ten months since Di (Charlie) passed away, and I was thinking about her and our previous journeys. Looking to the seat where she usually rode, I couldn’t help thinking how different our experiences of countryside were.

I have never tired of gazing at people and animals, cars, trucks, license plates, roads, towns and cities, lone houses and other structures decayed by time, farms, fields, trees and forests, rolling hills, buttes and mesas and the plains which separate and, yet, tie them all together.

Di, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less about most of the scenery. She buried her nose in a book, or a dozen of them, and, in the last few years, her iPad and played games (primarily Candy Crush and Mahjong). Occasionally, when I spotted something out of the ordinary, I’d bring it to her attention and she’d look up, comment and go right back to her previous activity.

Even so, this trip was far, far lonelier than any I’d taken before; even lonelier than those I’d ridden, alone on a motorcycle, before our marriage.

As an aside, my iPod contains some 19,000+ songs and tunes encompassing most music genera. I cannot abide rap and hip-hop; although some of them appear due to Di’s Grammy award disks and movie soundtracks. Most of my music consists of classical, jazz, pop, oldies and country.

At any rate, while I was thinking of Di, Willie Nelson came on singing a song by Jan Crutchfield: It Turns Me Inside Out.

I know the song dealt not with life and death but with the end of a relationship, a love affair. So, maybe it was life and death.

It hit me.

In a way I’m glad it’s over,” begins the song, and I thought of all the reasons why I was glad: Di was no longer in any physical pain, her back no longer hurt; her arthritis and osteoporosis were no longer a concern. She was no longer confined to her chair(s) and dependent on me for fixing meals, bathing her, and helping her to the bathroom, even to use the toilet.

Parkinson’s had completely taken away the independence she had cherished her entire life. She couldn’t drive, couldn’t golf, couldn’t teach.

She’d been forced to retire several years previous after falling three times in as many weeks in her classroom.

Prior to that we both thought that when she retired she’d be able to go golfing several times a week. (Our home on Lake of the Woods sits on the 12th hole dogleg of the local course; almost a 500 yard back lawn.) I’d accompany her, if nothing else, to drive the golf cart. The illness robbed her of that.

I like to take long walks. And, occasionally, she’d meet me on my return route and we’d hold hands and talk about everything and nothing, the way old friends and lovers do. It hurt, and hurts so much, when I see other couples walking hand-in-hand, to think even that was denied us.

. . . and to continue a week later

I don’t have the words to describe my feelings over the last decade of watching her physical condition deteriorate to the point of being unable to take of herself. From a vibrant air of being able to handle everything, usually with a smile, to an inability to take care of almost anything and the realization that such was the case.

But her mind was okay; she was still here in every mental sense. But that was another kind of pain. We both knew what was happening, and was going to happen to her. (Her father died from Parkinson’s.)

Her world narrowed, not just physically, but mentally as well. She’d play on her iPad ignoring her books and TV shows; visits by her friends grew infrequent and, eventually, they stopped coming by at all.

She began to lose her ability to concentrate. She’d read a paragraph or page over and over; yes, sometimes without turning the page for an hour or more . . . and, sometimes with the book upside down.

A couple (?) of years ago she began to have “anxiety attacks.” I’d help her into the car, and we’d go for an hour’s ride which seemed to calm her. She liked the roundabout in Long Beach; it reminded her of England. She also liked to stop at Starbucks for a white hot chocolate or at Dairy Queen for a chocolate shake.

I, also, took her on “walks” at the beach or around the neighborhood, pushing her wheel/transport chair. As with the drives, a hot chocolate or shake was often included. And, of course, I always had a supply of humbugs, or other British sweets, with me.

I don’t know when I first noticed it. But Di began to make comments on our walks about the location of our house, or our “other” house and about neighbors having furniture like ours, even though we’d never been inside said neighbor’s house. A, yeah, . . .

It got to the point where a month or so before she died, she got her rollator (rolling walker) and telephone out in front of the house. (Yes, I was hovering over her every step of the way.) She refused to go back in the house as it wasn’t “her/our” house.

She called 911 and told the dispatcher that her husband was trying to get her into a house that was not hers/ours. She then handed me the phone and said the operator wanted to speak with me.

The dispatcher asked if I really wanted a police officer to stop by. I told her that it would probably be a good idea. A few minutes later a young HB patrolman pulled up to the curb and asked how he could help.

Di and I shared our points of view, and he was able to persuade her to enter the house. By pointing out the pictures showing us and other family members (and, of course, her cats), he was able to “convince” her that it was, indeed, her house and that we lived there.

A part of me died that day. I began to seriously look into options for her care, both part- and full-time care. . . . I knew I could no longer handle it by myself.

A month later she passed away. So, both expected and unexpectedly sudden. “Alone” in a hospital bed at one in the morning as I pulled into the parking lot after a doctor’s call that they were losing her; prevented from being with her by COVID restrictions . . .

So, yes, in a way I’m glad it’s over, but . . . in so many ways it turns me inside out.

And, on that two-lane highway headed east? Well, for the next few miles I just let the tears come.

COVID-19 and us — 6.12.20

A Few, Not So Random, Thoughts on COVID-19, the Police and School

Yes, I’m going to keep wearing my mask while I’m in public and around people. If I get seriously ill, my wife is in trouble because her health issues mandate 24-hour care. If she gets gets COVID-19, she probably won’t survive.

This summer, we stay home and wear a mask in public. And, if you don’t wear one, STAY AWAY!

The Police

I believe that the police, or someone who performs their functions, are a necessary evil.

Given the above, de-funding the police will not accomplish anything positive. Are reforms necessary? Yes, most certainly.

What Reforms?

I’d like to propose two reforms.

First, there is a need to better screen those we recruit and train to be members of our police departments. We need to make sure that those who become policemen, and policewomen, are primarily, if not exclusively, interested in helping people. Those who, for whatever reasons, need to bully people must be weeded out. We must screen out those who are inclined to throw around their authority and hide behind its badge and who lie to cover up their mistakes.

Think lying is not a problem facing our police departments? Look first at the videos currently circulating on the internet, and then think of how many times your friends complained about a run-in with the police in which they claimed the police lied about what they did. (I would imagine most of us know someone who was given a traffic ticket they didn’t deserve because the traffic cop lied. Maybe, it’s happened to you. Did the cop actually lie? If the cop lied about something small like a u-turn, missed stop sign, unsafe lane change, what would stop him/her from lying about an assault or firing a weapon?)

We need honest police who believe that violence is a last resort, not a first response.


Second, we must de-militarize our police departments. Police departments are not armies and police are not soldiers. The primary purpose of the police is to protect a community and its people. The primary purpose of an army is to, using extreme violence, destroy an opposing army.

When a police department becomes an army, the people it is supposed to protect become the enemy. If you doubt this, look at any recent, or not so recent, video of police behavior at rallies in which people are exercising their rights to assemble and protest. Yes, like the right to bear arms, the right to protest is a right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

And, maybe, we should give the police a chance to become members of the community they are hired to protect. How about we subsidize their purchase of housing in the cities they work. Beginning officers aren’t going to be able to afford to live in high priced cities like San Francisco or Newport Beach. If they lived among those they policed, might they better identify with those they came into contact with? And, again maybe, have them park their cars and walk around the neighborhoods they patrol. Once or twice (or, maybe, more often) a year knock on people’s doors, introduce themselves and ask about the community. Make the police us and not them.


Ghads, the more I think about making schools ready for the 2020-2021 school year, the more I want to laugh or cry.

Social distancing? Take a class of forty students and set it up for social distancing and you have a class of fewer than twenty. If you give teachers the same 240 students, they must now teach twelve classes. (No, this is not a fantasy. During most of my forty year career, my classes had 35-40 students and I taught six classes each day.)

More classes? Or, shorter classes but teachers are still responsible for students learning the same material? Students coming to school every other day? On-line school on the other days?

Do you know any teachers who are looking forward to teaching under COVID-19 conditions next year? How about, do you know any teachers who have just retired and are breathing a sigh of extreme relief?

How about, do you know any teachers who are considering early retirement because they, belatedly, see what is coming?

Remember, the economy tanked and tax receipts will be down, school budgets will be down; teachers will get fewer supplies and salaries and benefits may, will, be re-negotiated.

More work, lower salary — they all have college degrees; do you think many of them may look for work in some other profession?

Can you imagine being a newbie, first-year teacher, just beginning his or her career under these conditions? I can and still cannot decide whether to laugh or cry.

California State Department of Education

Cal-Ed recently published a guide on how to open schools in the Age of COVID-19. What’s in it? A lot of educational and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. Don’t believe me? Read it yourself.

In essence it says local districts are responsible for everything, reasonably practical or not, with no realistic how-tos.

Typical response like Donald John: I take no responsibility; handle it at the local level. I imagine it will devolve to individual schools and teachers, like most things educational do. They have no real authority but have all of the responsibility and will take all of the blame when (not if, in my humble opinion) things don’t work out.

My take: by October everyone gives up and things go back to the way they were last October (pre-COVID-19), come heck, high water, illness and death.

COVID-19 and us — 4.06.20

COVID-19 now seems to be the current determinant in our lives. It keeps us at home and away from our friends and jobs. When we are out amongst them, it forces us to keep our distance from each other. There are lines at grocery stores and temperature checks at medical centers.

One becomes disgusted, or more so than before, at politicians and office holders who offer nothing but self-serving verbiage. Ghads, the current POTUS makes even W seem to have been almost competent. James Buchanan must be smiling that he is no longer considered, by me at least, to be our worst president.

Home and Doctors

Di and I have stayed at home most of the time. We haven’t been taking many drives to calm her nerves and have been to the doctor’s only once in the last two weeks.

On the 31st we saw her rheumatologist for her twice yearly Prolia shot. Following the injection we went upstairs to the lab and had blood drawn (a ten minute wait and two vials). A day or two later the doctor called and said the results were good and she would see Di again in six months.

All the rest of our medical/dental appointments have been moved to May or June for re-scheduling, as have Di’s hair (I cut my own hair.) and nail appointments.

Most of the food I usually purchase is again in stock at most markets, although paper products are in short supply (and missing altogether at Target).

The pharmacies are open and have our meds.


I went shopping yesterday afternoon. First to Trader Joe’s and there was a line fifteen or twenty people deep — all of us six feet apart standing behind taped lines on the walkway. Had to take my re-usable bags back to the car as they weren’t allowed in the store — TJ’s paper bags without charge. Bought a hundred dollars worth of goods (most I’ve spent there without buying alcohol) so I won’t have to return for a week instead of my usual two or three visits for fresh stuph each week. They even had kleenex and toilet paper — in limited quantities.

All employees were wearing face masks and gloves.

I then drove to Von’s and picked up some meds for Di and a couple of loaves of the bread she likes. Oh, yeah, the Starbucks inside was open and I got her a white hot chocolate with whipped cream, her fave. One barista had on a facemask and the other did not. Some Von’s employees had masks, others not, go figure. And, they allowed re-usable bags.


Last Tuesday our cleaners came as usual. The gardener came on Thursday and the home care service called yesterday to say that Di’s caregiver would be here, as usual, on Wednesday.

It began raining last night/early this morning and is supposed to continue off and on until Thursday — the lawn, trees, flowers and Di and I appreciate it.

Di’s family is getting together once or twice a week on Zoom. Noon here for Di and David and eight in the evening for Tricia and Helen in England.

Mist and Smoke are in Di’s room sleeping curled up together on a window chair and Di is watching TV in her new recliner. I’ll fix her a fortified milkshake for dinner tonight. For myself, lima beans and a largish baked potato.

One more thing to do before dinner. Update the medical sheets I print out periodically with our medicines and doctors names and phone numbers. Di’s is up to date in the computer but I need to do mine. I have to include a few notes about her condition so. If I get unexpectedly taken to Emergency people will know about Di and be able to have her, and the cats, taken care of. Remember folks, the only precautions and preparations you’ll ever regret are those you didn’t take and should have.

Stay healthy.

COVID-19 and us — 3.26.20


It’s a few minutes before 1:00 pm here in breezy, sunny SoCal. Yesterday’s video-conference with my cardiologist went fine. Although my ascending aortic aneurysm has slightly increased in size, it is not yet large enough to warrant surgery. So, an increase in my meds by half a tablet/day and another CT scan in six months. Oh, and keep checking my blood pressure and heart rate, which I do on my Omron.


With Di’s caregiver looking after her I went shopping after the video-conference. First to Old World for some day old Farmers Bread and some of their fine liverwurst. I didn’t notice the sign and box as I entered and was admonished to don a pair of gloves while in the shopping. OK. I didn’t have to spend any of my money as I had three gift cards (spend $5 and get a $10 gift card) — it pays to check one’s email for offers like these.

Then it was off to the beach for lunch. The city parking lots were closed along with the pier and pier plaza but the beach was open.

The Beach

I stopped at TK’s for a Big Bargain Special (burger and fries). The chairs and tables were in storage and fix-up work was being done but they were still serving take-out food. I parked along PCH (parking sticker was still good at the meters) and walked across the parking lot at Tower 17 and ate on the sand wall.

There was a steady stream of walkers, joggers and bikers along the path but the numbers weren’t large — a half dozen people per minute, maybe. Within view of my seat there were three homeless tents and belongings, all on the city beach. To my pleasant surprise the restrooms were open as I needed to get rid of some of the morning’s coffee.

More Shopping

Went to Von’s and picked up Di’s meds and some of their bread that she favors. I was going to also do some shopping at TJ’s and Target, picking up a white hot chocolate for Di at the Starbucks in Target, but I’d been gone for a couple of hours and decided to get the hot chocolate at the Von’s Starbucks and stop at home before finishing my errands — good choice, at the Starbucks in Target was closed.

I went to Pet Supply to get cat treats and some food as our Chewy shipment was being delayed a few days.

Picked up some vitamins for Di at Target — they were still out of TP and Kleenex; I mean the shelves were completely empty.

Trader Joe’s was limiting amounts of some items and the number of people in the store at one time — I had to wait for about five minutes to be let in. Most things were available, although some were clearly in short supply. Bananas – check, cheese – check, milk – check, creamer – check and so on. Until the paper aisle. No TP, no paper towels and no Kleenex. Ah, well, I wasn’t out of any of those but Di uses a lot of Kleenex and we’re down to three unopened boxes.

Got home and shortly thereafter Di’s caregiver left.


Oh, our gardener came while I was gone, he usually comes on Thursday. I doubt he’s in an occupation considered “essential” but I’m glad he’s still working. I don’t believe he is any danger to us and I doubt he has enough saved to get through this situation without working.

Well, it’s about time for Di’s video-conference with her brother and sisters . . . Stay safe my friends.

COVID-19 and us — 3.24.20

As I type this COVID-19 cases number some 417,582 with 53,660 here in the US. Really, with some 7+ billion people in the world the numbers don’t seem large; when one considers the curve of new cases, both worldwide and in the US, it is frightening.

COVID-19 Graphics

The above links and others give graphic evidence as to the spread of the virus. Just use your search engine of choice (I like Duck Duck Go) and key in COVID-19 graphics.

Since my last post . . .

. . . not much has changed. Both medical and non-medical appointments have been re-scheduled for some time in April or left in limbo. My appointment with the cardiologist has become a video appointment. I’d added an hour to the time foe Di’s caregiver to be here on Wednesday so I could be at my appointment and a couple of hours later got a call from the cardiologist’s office. Would I be able to attend via phone or video (Zoom) on my computer? The scheduler was working from home. Video? Yeah, I could do that. So, tomorrow I’ll have a video medical appointment (my first) at somewhere near the same time the physical appointment had been scheduled.

I’m hoping two things. First, that, yes, I will not have to wait long and, second, that he’s already seen the CT scan’s results and that means I’m OK for the next few months. Fingers crossed.


The supermarkets have quieted down. They are no longer crowded, at least at the times I go, and the shelves are mostly full. Paper products and cleaners seem to still be in short supply.

It looks like the idiots who panicked and have supplies of TP and wipes good for several years are out of money or space for storage. It should only take a week or two for suppliers to get shelves stocked again.

There is plenty of milk, fruit and salad fixings available.

Tomorrow, after the video meeting with the doctor, I’ll go shopping. Milk, salad, fruit, ice cream, frozen veggies, bread, cheese, creamer, potatoes, and kleenex are at the top of the list (and a roast chicken). I’ve got a Chewy order for the cats, including a new cat tree to replace the current torn up one, coming this week, hopefully.

A few days ago we drove along PCH into Long Beach (to get Di out of the house during one of her anxious periods) and parking lots of shopping centers were mostly empty. It reminded me of the days of my youth when stores were mostly closed on Sundays. The only lots with cars were those having grocery/drug type stores, restaurants set up for take-out and laundromats.

The beach

There didn’t seem to be too many people enjoying the beach, at least not as many as I usually see. There were few vehicles in the parking lots of the state and city beaches and the RV lots were mostly empty. The only place I saw a large number of people was Huntington Dog Beach and even there people didn’t seem to be in large groups . . . mostly.

There were too many people in the downtown/pier plaza/pier area for the city authorities and some of our self-appointed nannies so today the pier and pier plaza were closed and tomorrow the beach parking lots are going to be closed.

I’ve seen a lot of people out biking, walking, walking their dogs and families but not in large groups. Mostly, it’s singles, couples and parents with children and pets. Social distancing exercise.

For those of you who don’t believe in the efficacy of social distancing here is a graphic from the “Spanish Flu” of a century ago. It shows a comparison of the death rates of Philadelphia (which took few precautions) and St. Louis (which closed itself down). I believe the graphic is self-explanatory, but here’s the entire story:

Stay healthy my friends.

PS: I don’t know about you but I think the number of cases of this virus are way off. I’ve never really believed the stats coming from China — do you? and from the United States? We can’t even get enough tests, much less actually test people. Oh, Well . . . muddle through time . . .