Joann’s story, part two

Eric, her social worker at Sunnyvale Community Services, called me yesterday.  It was a follow up to visiting her early last week.  He found her to be a cheerful senior lady, sitting happily in the midst of a sea of unbelievable clutter, not concerned with her current inability to walk from one place to another in her home, without tripping and falling.

A second appointment at her home was requested, which would require either Carol or I to arrive at her home, unlock the door, and ensure she was awake and presentable.  I took this opportunity to update him on the occurrences since his last visit.

On our last visit, Carol began vacuuming her bedroom rug, on her hands and knees, after I helped remove the nearby interfering boxes, most of which were empty, or just contained sheets of tissue paper.   I had just been informed that I would NOT be folding her professional wardrobe,  in preparation for donation.   In her bedroom, we managed to get the patio door open,  allowing us a breeze.   We used this as an exit point for the debris that wanted to clog the path.   Joann wandered in periodically, refusing the admire the headway we had made and the difference in the appearance of the rug without its thick layer of dust.  Her only response was to tell us to put everything back the way it was.  Very shortly, she told us to GET OUT.

Today, she has a caregiver, named Asia.  She is a kind girl, that doesn’t force Joann to do anything she doesn’t wish to.  She is there for six hours, during which she cleans any surfaces that are exposed for her cloth.  If she starts to delve into the massive collection of paper bags or boxes, she is sharply reprimanded by Joann, telling her to keep her hands off!

At this moment, the two ladies are out on the back porch, enjoying the breeze.  Joann is wearing her usual flannel nightie and is in good spirits.  When I asked about the timing for his visit to replace her burned-out kitchen light fixture, they both agreed to this.  I specified that he had time to do this between his online meetings, between 5pm and 6pm.  Asia mentioned that her shift is over by then, so she would leave the door unlocked.

I think that it is time to call Joann’s social worker, to bring him up to date on her status of late.  Since this can and does change, day by day, one can never be TRULY up to date!

Corona Virus Aftermath, etc.

Hundreds of deaths from this virus that no one, myself included, took seriously, at least initially.  The wave of death continues today in May 2020, but it started in February, in Wuhan China.  This virus started its kill by preying on the weak, like seniors with pre-existing conditions, like ME, with my diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Civilization around the country is slowly waking, and very slowly emerging into day to day life as usual.  Each state governor is making their recommendations to begin to unlock the shutdowns and ease into normalcy.  Some are hedging their bets, and are hanging on to the shelter in place recommendations.

California is hesitant to creak open the gates, to allow the more insistent individuals to resume their familiar lives.  This would involve opening tightly shuttered businesses in order to allow people to work in their accustomed occupations.

More recently, nursing and care homes are showing a significant uptick in diagnosed coronavirus cases.  This makes sense in these situations, given a shared environment, including the care workers, and nurses.  Since these workers have lived in the outside world, it isn’t difficult to imagine how the virus could be introduced to such a closed environment.

New York has had some disturbing increases in diagnoses in children.  These pediatric presenting illnesses as a Kawasaki type disease, which causes rashes, fevers, and inflamed arteries throughout the body.  These are usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications, despite COVID being the root cause.

Many authorities continue to voice concern for a resurgence of serious illness,  once the restrictions are completely removed.  Even though many people have currently adhered to wise precautions of wearing masks and gloves when in public, there is the real risk of relaxing these precautions.  The autumn is estimated as to when this could possibly recur.  This may be a lesson we will have to learn the hard way!

Imagine heading to the beach on a hot sunny day, with only a water bottle, sunblock, and beach towel.  As you make your way to the surf, you pass someone who sneezes.  No matter, you think, the hot sun beating down will take care of that!

Or will it?

What I have been up to lately…. AKA JOANN’S STORY

My across the street neighbor is an 88-year-old retired teacher, with NO family.  As neighbors, Carol and I, have been trying to help clear all of the clutter that surrounds her and is responsible for more than one of her falls of late.  YES, you could say that she is a bit of a hoarder!

Since Covid 19 has shut down her work as a housecleaner, Carol has spent a large part of her days, helping to declutter Joann’s home,  While she has been doing that, I have set up a ‘folding station’ on her deck, using a card table as a flat clean surface on which to work.  Until the restrictions are lifted, we are just stockpiling the carefully folded bags of pieces of her wardrobe,  She must have been a real fashion plate, working as an elementary school teacher!  Most of her wardrobe comprised of many designer pieces by Ralph Lauren and other more recent designers.  I hope to take these items to Dress for Success, which supplies appropriate pieces for ladies trying to break into a career that requires a more sophisticated attire!

Any pieces that don’t fit their requirements will be taken to the Salvation Army, or another receiver of good clean clothing,  As a career focussed lady, Joann never washed anything herself, instead, dropping everything off at a dry cleaner.  But until the ‘stay home’ orders are lifted, the clear bags remain on the premises, easily identifiable as NOT garbage

Once all items of her former working wardrobe are packed up and will be dispatched to a charity with a mandate to supply professional clothing.   After this is all packaged up,  we can start dealing with the vast amount of papers, those simply need to be recyled, or hauled to the dump.  The young fellow that fixed up her second bathroom offered to stop by weekly or as needed, to haul items to the dump for her.  But until we can see our way clear to do this, nothing has been identified as disposable!

We are trying to get a ‘conservator’ identified for her, and will be arranging for a new caregiving association for her ASAP.  The group that had been assigned to her was making it difficult for us to help her, and actually called the police on us, saying that we were interfering with THEIR work, and attempting to swindle this senile old bird!  She most definitely NOT senile, just mildly affected by dementia.

Given her druthers, she would consume just ice cream and burgers with mustard and onions.  If she is given a salad, she will eat it, but it isn’t her preference.  During this period of isolation, Carol has been bringing her a portion of the dinner she prepares for herself, her husband, and her son.  Joann gets a weekly delivery from ‘meals on wheels’, but she needs a caregiver that can deal with that plus a few ingredients like peanut butter and ice cream, and some pieces of fresh fruit, and supplied by neighbors (Carol and I).

Another neighbor has just enlisted the help of a caregiving service for his parents that have bought the unit behind him.  Carol spoke with them, and then I added the caregivers that used to help my friend Cathy, until she moved further north in the state, so she could have a small ‘Granny Unit’ built on a cousin’s acreage.  I got to know the folks that came and helped her out, with things like meal prep and bathing.  So, I contacted this company, ‘Aloha Born Caregivers’ and asked the owner, Albert,  to stop by on Sunday later morning, to meet Carol and Joann, to see what kinds of services they could offer and at what price.  THEN we can discuss and decide who to hire!



Freezing Green Onions

This is Tuesday evening, March 24th.   I’m spending another evening in front of the TV, while Glenn participates in yet another conference call with the folks in China.  This is the 3rd night in a row where he worked all day, remotely of course!  It has been a week of LOCK DOWN, thanks to the Covid 19 virus.

His working hours for this week are 4pm to midnight, but he isn’t in bed much before 3am.  He is also up by 9am, since dogs insist that their lives run like clockwork.  He grinds the fresh coffee beans, adds the water, and gets the pot brewing, before he heads out for his morning dog duty.


When he returns shortly before 10am, he is already answering calls from his local coworkers.  After breakfast, he is in his makeshift office, computers and monitors all set up on the IKEA desk in the guest room.

Seven bags of baby clothes, all washed and folded, lay on the bed, patiently waiting for us to take them to Loved Twice.  This charity was started several years ago, in San Jose, when a group of concerned mom’s gathered all their childrens’ outgrown clothing, and shipped the box down to New Orleans, to help assuage the hearts and souls of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  That experience felt so right, they registered their charity with the IRS, and with the help of many citizens and volunteers, it took on a spirit of its own!

At this point, there is no big rush to transport these items.  Now, the social workers at Bay area hospitals help by identifying moms that will likely benefit from donations for their little ones.  Thanks to Loved Twice, Mom’s receive a two cubic foot box, holding sufficient  clothing for baby’s first year of life.

While the entire Bay area is quarantined, Lance will be unable to assemble a team of volunteers to sort all the baby clothes.  We are all supposed to practice life at a distance! Some say six feet, others say ten feet!  Since this enforced antisocial was mandated, there has been NO talk of sorting meets, or get-togethers of any kind!  Anything that would involve a large group gathering together, even to sort baby clothes by size and sex, even for the best cause.   NO EXCEPTIONS!

Two weeks ago, when life was normal and ordinary, a gentleman  came into the gym where I volunteer, carrying a huge sack of knitting wool.  He said that he had heard about what I did for the area’s babies, and wanted to know if I could find someone to knit this load of yarn into lots of baby clothes.  At that moment, I thought of the knitting group that contacted us last year, saying that they’d be honored to knit baby things for us, if we could just help them get yarn.  So I went to a yard sale nearby, where a lady was selling her yarn, due to arthritis making hands balk at this creative enterprise.  For $40, I got 3 massive bags of yarn, which I happily handed over to the knitting guild.

A few months later, I met up with the lady that had contacted me initially,  She handed me a paper bag containing 2 wee baby sweaters, and a pair of booties.  The group had made a good amount at their bazaar, she said, more than ever before.



So what’s the deal with the green onions?  When the 6pm news finished up, I flipped open my gardening magazine.  I’ve grown  green onions several years back, in Canada.  They double, and re-double, and silently take over the garden.  At the price of them, I can’t imagine feeling the need to freeze them.

CRISIS!! ….or so they say….. We are stuck at home, in quarantine, due to the Novel Coronavirus #19

The media is having quite a time with all this sensationalism.  You can just see them snapping at the bait, provided by the various government representatives.   State government officials are now saying that school has ended for the YEAR, causing angst amongst should-have-been graduates for this year.  

Every single person has been hit by this crisis, with most smaller retailers told to close their doors.  The exceptions to this ruling are grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and doctor’s offices.  These are all considered ‘essential services’, so they must stay open.

Interestingly, a company called Harbor Freight has also been deemed to be an essential service!  It is a somewhat trashy little store, that operates under the name Princess Auto in Canada.  But a lot of people turn to it for the odds and ends of life, and super affordable price!

Hopefully, all the people that are suddenly out of jobs due to these closures, might be able to use their skills at some of the more essential services that are suddenly going to find themselves swamped by customer demand.

Also in the exceptions category is our son Evan’s company Patch Panel, located in Peterborough Ontario Canada.  Lately, they have gotten contracts with various military and police organizations, making custom patches for these groups.  Happily, for Evan the demand for these items is soaring.  He has recently hired several more staff members, but they are still racing to keep up with demand.  Because they are working with the police and military, they are deemed to be an essential service, so this won’t constitute a break for them.  I guess this comes under the ‘be careful what you wish for’ category!

The news at noon said that there have been over 2000 confirmed cases in the Bay area, and 75 deaths.  Italy still has the highest statistics, although it is considered to be continuing to spread, with the peak expected to be at least two weeks away,

Because breaking news comes through on my watch,  I have just seen that Trump is canceling the ‘in-person’ version of the G7 meeting, in favor of a massive conference call!

EVERYTHING is being modified, postponed or rescheduled.  Many newscasters advise that this is the NEW normal, which I’m still having trouble getting my head around.  The Food Bank  (Second Harvest) where I used to volunteer in their accounting department, is begging teens and young adults to come and help them out!  Their normal crew of volunteers generally are seniors, and they are the people that are being told not to be out and about.  They should avoid being near other people, due to their frequent comorbidities.  THEY are the ones that would be especially susceptible to this  particularly nasty virus du jour!


Waiting for change….

We are fine, although it is cooler than usual here. Ryan and Carolyn were here for a few short days this weekend. It was great seeing them, but was so short, as usual.  At their request, we went to Alcatraz, which was very interesting.  
I’m having more and more trouble getting around, even here on clear ground! I hate to think of what the snow and cold will have in store for me, when we move back after he retires. None the less, I hope that these intervening days pass quickly, as I miss the girls so much.  We have been told that they are the only grandkids we are going to have, so time is wasting!
Glenn is having an uproar with his job at Apple. There is a constant state of flux, so much so that he is contemplating changing departments. His current management is NOT in favor of that, but time will tell. He has two different possibilities he’s considering right now, but can’t discuss then yet. One is labeled Ultra Black, which means that he won’t be able to talk about it, even when he finds out the details himself!  His direct boss, Adrian, is not at all in favor of him moving departments, but Glenn is getting rather desperate.  
One opportunity is with the Semiconductor group, and he has had several interviews with them!  They are quite keen on getting him on board, but his move still has to be organized.  He has become quite the commodity at Apple, and his current VP doesn’t want to let him go.  Since this would be a fairly major move in that way, putting him under a different Vice President, there is a lot of give and take between the big shots.  .  
The reason that he is so anxious to make the move is that the new opportunity would be a marked difference for him.  An entirely new role would add significantly to his skill set.  It’s just a shame that it is happening so late in his career!
The second opportunity only appeared more recently.  He has been asked to interview for an Ultra Black project.  This means that it is very top secret, no talk, SHHHH!!
Technically, he can’t even discuss it with me!  Whatever, as long as he is happy.  He’ll have to tell them that his wife says NO travel, but he probably won’t discuss that at this initial meeting with them.
Our local trees are all in bloom, with pink, white, and yellow petals on every breeze.

Day time temperatures usually hit a high of 20C, but quickly taper off as sunset approaches.  Darkness brings a biting chill, with temps dropping significantly, to 10 or 12C.



sniff, sniff

I just found my second beautiful Monarch, laying on the ground, waving his legs.  I already have a corpse in my dining room, one got stepped on by a delivery dude yesterday.

I need to get Evan to use his sign maker and create a sign telling folks to;

WATCH YOUR STEP!!  Newborn butterflies are in the area!”

In case his weakness is caused by hunger, I’ll get out some salad greens and place those beside his head.  Don’t know if he’ll accept anything besides milkweed, but it is worth a shot!


Congratulate me, I’m a new Momma!

Last month, we found that the side of our house was swarmed by black and white striped caterpillars!  They crawled up the siding, across the driveway, and all through my garden!

They were Monarch butterfly caterpillars, noshing on the milkweed plants that I had planted on both sides of the driveway.  Within a week, they had stripped those plants of ALL green leaves, and were busy turning into calyxes, making them look like pale green stockings, wadded up into small neat packages.  There were still a few latecomers that remained in the caterpillar phase, but we watched in amazement as these little green orbs attached themselves in the most curious places!

Last weekend we had an especially warm, clear day, which made the white siding simmer in the full sun.  As if choreographed, any of the calyxes there turned translucent, and popped open, revealing gorgeous Monarch butterflies!  Those five stretched and jiggled, and eventually lifted off to fly somewhat haphazardly into the air.

Sadly, one large fellow got caught in a spiderweb, in his struggle to be free.  A little while later, I found him, entangled in the grey web, and called out to my neighbor, Chris.  He came charging over, and gently picked up the eerily still insect.  Ever so carefully, he pulled each tiny bit of fluff off.  The poor unfortunate  creature trembled very slighty, so Chris eased the wee morsel onto a patch of soft moss.

This morning I went out to check on the remaining ‘babies’.  There had been an early morning delivery for Glenn from Eddie Bauer.  That is when I discovered only 8 calyxes, and one dead butterfly.  Undoubtedly he had just wriggled out of his sleeping bag, and clumsily fell to the ground.  On his wings was the impression of treads from a workboot.  Once again, he was settled onto the garden.  We are willing to wait and see if Mother Nature has any tricks up her sleeve!

Now, I still have eight calyxes, as shown below.



IMG_0017As of today, I only see two remaining calyxes, so hopefully everyone else has flown off in search of more milkweed!  I just ordered several bags of other kinds of milkweed!

Whither though goest, i

I’m not sure if that has anything to do with memory, or if it is a coincidence that my chat with Diane this morning caused me to have an epiphany.  Time is passing, as it wont to do, and I need to mark its passage with more exacting accuracy!

As was demonstrated last year, when we tried to convince Hutch and Mary Lou to come and visit us, here in southern California.  We pointed out that it is a comparatively quick and inexpensive endeavor to fly from Florida to San Francisco, or even better, San Jose.  Ba da bing, ba da bing, as they say!

They were in the process of deciding if their annual Florida forays were coming to an end, or not.  They had always enjoyed these ‘escape winter trips’ so they could golf in the sunshine with their friends.  But they were soon informed that Mary Lou would no longer be eligible for out-of-country travel insurance, due to a small irregularity in her heart function!  No sooner did they discover this, than most of their friends made similar discoveries.

Now, they are Snowbirds no longer, stuck in the fluffy wet cold, and a snowblower won’t even help!

To help keep them company, they have added two tiny fraternal Siamese kittens to their family! From the pics, they look adorable, and their hi-jinx will probably keep them from the blues!

This past winter they stayed home and snuggled, by the fireplace, and undoubtedly, moped.  So, as the calendar announced the end of January, they and another couple that they are especially fond of, they announced their plan to fly to Portugal, and spend a month of leisure, sunning and funning, with a lackadaisical yee-haw to the lack of health insurance for this adventure!

The other couple have the same issue,  since Ken recently had a bout of Epstein Barre, that paralyzed him completely, but he came out of it. They plan this trip to take about a month there,  health depending, of course.

We have been here in California, since February 2014.  At that time, Glenn was 55, and delighted beyond words to accept this job at such an age..  Now, he is 62, and still strong and capable, both health-wise and intellectually.  In the intervening time period, he has finally ‘nailed’  his dream job.  He is a firmware specialist.  Although, it sounds to me like he is THE Firmware Specialist.

The problem in my eyes is that our two little grandgirls aren’t so little as time skips by!  They are now 7 and two, and we have been assured many times that this is IT,  Ryan and Carolyn are more career-oriented, and Evan has had the ‘big snip’.  I know, never say never, but seriously…

If Mary Lou and Ken can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.  I know that we tried before he joined Apple, and it was a NO.  His insurance with the company reassured us that anything was do-able, but otherwise NO.

Now, this makes me realize that our wonderful New Zealand trip is going to have to be moved up, to our fortieth anniversary, which is next May 2021.  Talking him into an earlier retirement is getting me nowhere, so we might as well take advantage of the current opportunity.

The Kiwis, as they are called, have a particular fondness of Canadians, which adds to the appeal for us!

New Zealand has an Apple office, in Christchurch, and he has indicated on his personnel file that he would consider a transfer there.  Needless to say, there has been no response. It cost the company over $100K to get him out of Canada, and down to the Bay area, with our 5 animals, our furniture, and all the legal fees involved.  Add to that the cost of getting us Green Cards, for which many of his more qualified colleagues are still waiting,

Now, thanks to COVID-19, GLENN has worked from home, since May 2020. I’ve not minded him here at all, especially since my MS has decided to thoroughly mess up my balance. I tend to fall much more often these days, and having GLENN home is an insurance policy that I never knew I would need! He has engineered a way to ‘lever’ me up onto my feet again, that doesn’t mean me has to lift me!

COVID-19 has spread right around the whole world, affecting some countries far worse than others. It was first identified in 2020’s early spring months, and set about spreading around the globe, killing hundreds of people as it went. It wasn’t long before it felled THOUSANDS, preying on the weak and elderly, as those individuals were already in compromised health. We learned recently that Mary Lou contracted COVID-19 while in Portugal, last winter, before most of us had even heard of it. To this day, she still struggles from the weakness that it wrought.

These days we are waiting to be able to travel back to Canada, to visit loved ones that we haven’t been able to visit in two years. Our granddaughters are growing up, so we really do need to keep up with them!

Cottage country in central Ontario has really hot real estate market at the moment, just in time for us to want to return, and buy a retirement property! Clearly, this may not be a perfect time, but that just figures for us. Being a retired real estate person, I can’t stop myself from searching for properties near family! Where Evan and the girls are is a darling little town called Norwood. Nearby, there are several cute little villages, like Stirling, Campbellford, Frankford, and Hastings, to name a few. New construction is popping up in most nearby centers, like Carleton Place and Peterborough. We are hoping that this will mean more selection, rather than less, as a new build allows for customization, if you can buy ahead of time!

Claire tells us that it isn’t looking hopeful for kids returning to school in the fall, which will mean challenges for families like theirs, with one school aged kid, and a toddler! Last year, she was able to find a ‘Nursery School’ for Hattie, enabling her to focus on home schooling Willa. *sigh*. If we were there I could take Hattie, and leave Claire to work with Willa. But we are not there, and can’t get there, by Ontario’s rules!

Bake Sale contributions!

Chocolate Raspberry Squares

These are the best squares ever!

1 3/4 C all purpose flour

1C granulated sugar

1C butter/margarine

1 egg lightly beaten

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 C raspberry jam

1 C chocolate chips

3/4 C sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 13X9 baking dish.  In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Add egg and almond extract, mix.

Set aside 1C of this flour mixture.  Press remainder into prepared 13X9.  Spread raspberry jam on crust.

Mix reserved flour and sugar with 1C chips and almonds.    Scatter over jam, and press with back of spoon.

Bake  40 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool in pan on rack.