Carol Barker Remembrance Day

November 30th is the day I stop and remember my first very best friend who died a lonely death on Oak street one rainy November 30th, all those years ago.

Regular readers will know that some years my November 30th posts are sad and self-accusatory and some are whimsical and nostaglic. It is a hard thing to look back on a regret that may have caused a death. Because I did not honour my word, my very best friend walked home in the rain rather than accepting a ride from a man who she felt creepy about. She did not make it home. It was only 2 blocks but it was across a very busy main route and even at 11:45 pm traffic was an issue.

This year I realise that my daughter is the same age as Carol was when she was struck by that car. Is it any wonder I want to drive everyone home safely?

Carol Maureen Barker.
An artist, a character and a friend.
I still miss you.
I think of what you might have been. I remember what you were.
-------------- *

"Accept everything about yourself--I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end--no apologies, no regrets.”

--- Henry Kissinger


Workplace Update

Sadly, I have two new clients who are both in their last month.
In both cases the person was released from the hospital to come home to die.
In both cases the person is very independant and has trouble accepting help.

I know this one, having learned it from my mother who was the original difficult patient, bar none. My mother did not want anyone to mention cancer, (although she was terribly ill with it), death, (although it was imminent), or peri-care, (although it was necessary). My father told me that the one time she did mention death was at 3 in the morning on a night when he had taken a sleeping pill. He tried to calm her down and get her to just cuddly but she would have none of it. My father was a saint in those last months. Mom had him running around the Island for all kinds of things. When we, the kids, mentioned we were worried about dad she yelled: "Why are you worried about him? I am the one who is dying!" And that was the last time that word came from her lips.

I see my mother is so many people I do nursing for. In the determined woman who almost fell off her bed to prove she could "do it herself" and in the young woman whose hair is littered all along her hallways. We are all the same in these key ways. I see my mother and I utter a silence thank you to her.

My trainee is finding it hard to cope with all this death. She is definitly not going to choose palliative care as her speciality, but she is learning fast and doing well. Today she turned to me in the car and asked me when I learned that trick that works so well for difficult people. "Trick?" asked I.
"You know... where you go down on one knee to talk to them. I noticed you do that and I remember we read it somewhere that it works for difficult people..."

Having no idea about what she was referring to, I shook my head. Trick... hmm hmm hmm. Finally I realised she was talking about my habit of sitting lower than my client when at the first visit. I always take the passive position to give the show of control to the client. I do not think it through, I just do it. It works too. The prickliest people let me do almost anything where they send other people packing.
Again - thanks mother.

My trainee will be a free agent in the universe next week. It is doubtful she will miss my client load but she is capable of doing it, and doing it well. I was correct. Four days and she was confident and caring in an appropriate way. Do the job well, do the job at the client's pace, finish completely and leave quietly.

Job well done!


Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

... from Desiderata by Max Erhmann.



Workplace peril alert! Avoid staff meetings!
Sad. Sad. Sad.

On the positive side, it reminded me to be even kinder to the woman I am training on the job (the OTHER job). She is brand spanking new with a freshly minted diploma but very questionable skills that will come up to par quickly with the right hands-on training. I predict that in four days she will be FABULOUS.


As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

.... from the Desiderata by Max Erhmann, 1927



During one of my visits to our lady on the waters, I met a wonderful young man. He came delivering meals-on-wheels, and when he spoke, a beautiful parisienne accent issued forth. He was a treat.

He asked me my name and remembered it. Of course I asked his and promptly forgot it. Was is Rowan? Roland? --arg-- I could not get it. He told me again the next time I met him and he said it with two syllables. Ro-NAN. I remembered.
Our paths have crossed in other homes but I shall always associate him with our lady.

Ronan was there again today discussing spirituality with my dear lady. When he at last he had to leave, our lady told him she loved him. "What about you?" she asked turning to me. I smiled. "Yes Ro-NAN I love you too."

Poor young guy. He blushed furiously and then left at a brisk pace. As he passed the patio window he came back and waved at us. We both exhaled happily.

Ah Ro-NAN. What joy you bring two old ladies.


------- *
“The world is extremely interesting to a joyful soul.”
Alexandra Stoddard


A Call for Help

During my move of the last months, a strange number kept showing up on my call display. There was never a message. A week of so ago the number showed again on my missed calls. There was a message in my inbox that was almost unintelligible. All I caught was: "You of all people should get it." The rest was a mumbling rant.

There have been times in my life when I enjoyed the flavours of tasty scotches. Single malt was my favourite but a good blend was fine as well. Alas, I cannot drink. One tasty beverage is enough to send me to the land of the incohorent and so I choose not to drink. There are some friends from my long ago who never came to that conclusion and I never judge them as it could be me still singing lullabies to stuffed animals and taking cabs home. My assumption was that this was a friend from scotch drinking days.

Today I was sorting through my cellphone bill and saw this number. I called it.
"Who are you again?" a very stern and gruff voice demanded.
Once explained I heard a very sad story.

This was the number of a lovely woman I used to practise singing with back in the Starlite Lounge days when I played for my supper. Because my name is memorable, she remembered me and somehow tracked down friends of friends who eventually hooked her up with my cell number. She had experienced rather too much loss in the last years and was facing 40 with cracks in her foundations. She remembered me in my losses. She knew I had somehow triumphed and wanted to know HOW.

Farewell Sarah Slink. Farewell and God Bless.
Her partner told me she went to bed last week in a flush of scotch and lorazapam and woke up in the next world. What to say?

We spoke for about an hour. I do not know this man except for our shared grief over this, a preventable loss. November is a horrible month for loss. Of course there is part of me that wonders if I had called back last month would things be different?
I suspect not as I could barely understand the confused mumbles and likely would not have been able to get through the haze of numbing.

It could be me.

----- *

"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love, and to be greater than our suffering."

--Ben Okri

Mump and Smoot

Oh Facebook -- the truly all encompassing tool to remind one of one's life.
Whilst perusing a Fringe page, a memory of the chaotic clowns, Mump and Smoot came to mind. Discovering their Facebook page, I became a fan! In truth I have been a fan since at least 1987. Possibly prior.

The guys had a funny little tour bus-ette back then and toured with a woman who was part of their show (briefly) and were about to EXPLODE. I loved them, particularly Mr Mump. I had a kite for awhile in their honour.

One review that catches what I see in them completely is;
"They are a little bit Laurel and Hardy, a little bit David Cronenberg"
- Bob Remington, Edmonton Journal

On my list of things to do FOR SURE this year - see them again.

I still love you, Mr.


HILARIOUS quote from evilevilclown.com:


Not all Evil Clowns can be identified by the smell of cheap tobacco, booze, seamen and gunpowder.

Safeguard your mind and protect your loved ones from the menace that lurks beneath idylllic banality.



Tryin to make it through . . . .

I dragged my butt through a double shift yesterday on a statutory holiday.
The second part of the shift was really hard to get through.

This morning I woke up and rolled over. A day off to sleep. Then shop for groceries. Then taxi me.

Now I am about to go to bed. Zero energy. So tired.
Not sure I can do the double shifts. Arg.

I am using the lite book every day and making sure I eat properly. It is just the whole flu thing. I have not got my energies back.



So, I make friends with the tiredness, the occasional impatience, the moments of anxiety and distraction, the hours of not-knowing. I welcome them, knowing they do not interfere with but in fact are part of what is longed for and needed. I let go of wanting to be anyone in particular, or any way in particular, and for an instant, I am free.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer


Supernucleur Palsy

What a name! "Supernuclear" Palsy. In my mind I see a flowing cape enblazened with SNP. Of course it is not really "super", it is "supra", meaning above. The disease affects the part of the brain above the nuclei (“supranuclear”), which are pea-sized structures in the part of the nervous system that controls eye movements. Palsy means weakness. The best info I found on it is contained in this succinct page here.

This disease is comparatively rare with 20,000 people in the United States suffering from it. There is no effective treatment yet. Now you know all I knew when I walked in the door of my client's home. He was sitting in a lift chair with a transfer belt on a table behind him. Without the belt, and his walker, he goes nowhere. Even with the belt he must be guided from behind.

As we prepared to get him up, I was looking at him sitting there and trying to access how heavy this man might be. He was a bear of a fellow, big and burly. As we progressed through the visit and the tasks at hand he had difficulty with many movements. At one point he was frozen in his moment saying: "OHNO OHNO OHNO" over and over again. "What can I do to help?" I asked. "Move my leg." It wasn't pretty but we got it done.

The disease was very much like Parkinson's in presentation. The eye movements were the main give-away that is was PSP.

Here in Paradise, we have alot of retirees, especially in the Village. With an older crowd comes age-related complications. In my ten years in this area, I have seen more rare disorders and diseases than I ever believed I would see in my entire career. We are a small population, but we are greyer than most.

Nothing much surprises me anymore.
But I can still be shocked.

================= *

"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, it is the fear of being unwanted." Mother Teresa

In which I growl....

This is my safe spot to growl.


Tonight I have issues with the cook. He is behaving in a poor manner and being a blamer. I am displeased.


=========== *

"The only disability in life is a bad
--Scott Hamilton

Meow Meow Meow

Every now and then, I meet someone on the job that delights me in ways so unexpected, I take the joy with me for days. Such was this week when I found myself in the home of a woman who appeared to be mystified as to why I was there.

It was the correct time, but I was not the expected person, so the excuses were flying fast and furious. She really did not need anything at all. Did I want to hear about her son who was trying to move her into a facility where she would get full care? Did I agree that he should ask her before he decided to majke such decisions? Did I have anyone in my family like that? And, once this topic was exhausted, 25 minutes later, did I want to see her condo?

I ooohed and aaahed in all the appropriate spots and when we were admiring the bathroom I closed the door and allowed as how since we were already in there....

At the end of bathing a person, I offer them a soapy cloth and ask them if they would like to clean their personal area. I do not use any other term be it man or woman - I just say "personal area." Most people appreciate the choice even if they cannot do it themselves. This particular woman looked at me with her eyebrows arched. "Hmm? What did you say?" I repeated myself with accompanying hand gestures to the area in question.

"OOooooh," she said. "You mean my pussycat. Okay dear, I will wash the kitty."

This from an 89 year old woman.
First time for everything.


Sundry Happenings in the Beach Area.

The economic crisis continues. House sales grind to a halt.
My condo remains on the market with nary a bite. I am the proud owner of two properties - median price $160k per. One of them I live in, the other sits spotlessly empty awaiting new owners. Please God let it sell.

I do have an alternative. I can rent it to a family member. In my case this would mean an ex-husband who historically is not the most reliable in the financial department. The other alternative is to rent it to a family member of someone in my complex. I may opt for this.

In my new place, I have installed heavy curtains in my living room to keep prying eyes and the cold winter winds out. Summertime is great for huge windows. Winter, not so much. I am loving the extra space. Is it worth 80k more than my last place? As long as that 80k costs me $500 a month it's cool. Otherwise - can you say: *ouch!

Each evening when I go to bed, I sigh happily as I nestle down into my cozy blankies. My room is excellent. My brother was going to come over and help me plan the adjacent patio , but that may be some time in fruitition. He is wonderful at intentions but poor in execution. I understand completely as I am exactly the same. In my life I have missed many many important events that I wished to attend due to various and sundry happenstances. All of them preventable, and, yes, inevitable.

Alas alas.

The buggery flu has come and gone, thank goodness. It was much fiercer than I remember other flus as being. The hard part was not having the flu, it was getting the damned flu to leave. Although my worst days were two weeks ago, I still have not got my energy level completely back. It completely incapitated me. How the resident elders of our community cope with it is a mystery to me. The flu is a killer.
============ *
(In which I prove HTML is not my second language) :
The following table can help you determine whether you have influenza or a cold.

(the flu)
Fever Rare Usual, sudden onset 39º-40º, lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Usual, can be severe
Aches and Pains Sometimes mild Usual, often severe
Fatigue and weakness Sometimes mild Usual, may last 2-3 weeks or more
Extreme fatigue Unusual Usual, early onset, can be severe
Runny, stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, coughing Sometimes mild to moderate Usual, can be severe
Complications Can lead to sinus congestion or earache Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and more complications
in persons with chronic diseases
Prevention Frequent hand-washing Yearly influenza vaccine and frequent hand-washing
Treatment No specific treatment is available; symptom relief only Anti-viral drugs by prescription, which can reduce symptoms.