Posts Tagged With: people


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These last two days have been horrendously busy ones. My friend Ann was hospitalized, I went to visit her. She is out now home and her caretaker is sick. I went to look after her on the 5th for several hours while her live-in caretaker went to prompt care.  The home healthy care nurse ordered the place quarantined because both of them have pneumonia and don’t want Ann exposed to anyone else’s germs.

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My living room propane heater needed servicing. I have wood heat for back up, but just like to take the chill off cold mornings before starting my day. We don’t need to fire up the wood stove yet because daytime temperatures are still ambient. Art Alexander fixed it. It needed a new thermocoupler and the fan needed oiling. Art is a good friend.

His daughter was murdered for insurance money by her husband, Karl about 20 years ago. She was in the shower when the house erupted into flames. The broken bathroom window was boarded over. The fire supposedly started from a kerosene soaked rug in front of the bathroom door. In those days we had a volunteer fire department and they were not educated enough to detect whether the fire was deliberately set or not but Art and the neighbors suspected. Karl took off with their two kids and moved to the East Coast as soon as he collected the $100,000 insurance settlement. (The house was rented.) Karl then collected $700,000 in insurance money on his 21 year old son last year. He saw the opportunity to kill him by shoving a car the son was working on off the jack so it crushed him. This time, Karl’s wife turned states evidence. She was wired, she got him to admit on tape that he killed him and now the investigation into Christine’s death by fire is also part of the investigation. Art is jubilant that at last this monster is behind bars and facing a trial. He prayed for this day to come and we celebrated over a glass of wine.

I also had my Prius serviced before Art arrived. The check engine light went on while I was on my way to Orgeon.  These smart cars have a computer in them. The computer told me that some dampness occurred near the inverter board which is installed under the driver’s seat. Doug and I verbally traced the probable source of moisture from my air conditioning system. Now I can have my air conditioning system flushed without an expensive trip to the dealership in Modesto.

I began work on fixing a sprinkling system leak. The pipes are buried about ten inches deep and digging them out around entwined root systems was a huge job. I put a soak hose on them to finish the job today. I found the crack in the pipe. Two major water leaks have cost me a bundle in water bills over the last three months, two of those months I was gone. My yard worker fixed one leak two weeks ago; this leak was pretty invisible but the water bill alerted me to the second leak.


Ann’s situation reminded me of my friend Sandee Voges, who has myasthenia gravis. She fell and hit her head on the tile in her bathroom and couldn’t get up. She adopted a medium sized dog who was about to be euthanized. The dog she rescued saved her life. Amy came to her rescue, licking her awake. Sandee held onto Amy’s collar and the dog dragged her to the nearby bedroom where Sandee could reach up,  pull the cord of her phone down off the night stand, and call 911. Pets. They are such a wonderful presence in our lives, especially as we age. (Sandee lives in Arizona.)

Then, I like to keep up with the news and politics. Saw this funny poster:


I hope this doesn’t offend anyone. I thought it was pretty funny.

Then the rather meager “study”, where two scientists dissected two different chicken nuggets from two different fast food restaurants and found 40% chicken in one, and 50% chicken in another, except, the chicken had ground up blood vessels, cartilage and skin with very little muscle meat. That, as they say, is disgusting. The scientists admit, not all chicken nuggets were examined and it was a tiny sample just to see if the nuggets lived up to their claims of “healthy and good for you..” etc. I guess, they’ll do a bigger sampling in the future. Fatty, breaded, laden with sugar and flavor enhancers, you would do well to keep your kids away from such stuff no matter how good they taste. (That is my opinion.)

Yes, I’m busy. Retired people I know claim they don’t know how they ever worked and raised children. They are busier than ever. Would I have it any other way? NO!




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Shangai is an impressive city for its ultra-modern skyscrapers, shopping, culture,  night life. You can easily think you are in a Western city with a grand Chinatown.  With  camera/disk problems I have  few pictures to show you. The night scene photo above has no attribution but it came from a tourism website. Our first night in Shangai, after our daytime city tour, we have dinner at the gorgeous Hilton Hotel and ate bland food. It was decent, but by comparison with the rest of China, we decided it was our worst meal so far.  On balance, we had our first real alcoholic drink. Good scotch.

It has been a long day but that night,  we are taken to visit the tallest building in the world with 88 floors. (Since eclipsed by the 105 story Japanese building with-in sight of it.) We don’t go up an elevator, we ascend, seamlessly, all 88 floors in 45 seconds,  with no sensation of being on an elevator whatever. An endless line of tourists paid $7 for the ride. It goes without saying the views are spectacular. It is a Saturday, and the waterfront is alight with skyscrapers projecting ads 20 stories tall on the sides of their buildings. We see a video of men who illegally parachuted from the building. We drink it in, reluctant to leave. The waterfront buildings are alight on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, the lights are turned off as a cost saving measure. Smart!

The next morning, we visit the Children’s Palace, very aptly named since Mau took over  mansions from the decadent rich ministers and government employees and devoted them to boarding schools for gifted students. The education is free and only those identified by their teachers with special talent may attend. Children  move to cities all over China where other “palaces” are located. Some concentrate on art, or music, science, dance, sports, martial arts, gymnastics, etc.  We were impressed with the pictures these young kids drew and painted.  The walls going into the school are  filled with exceptional artwork.

Another room held  a music class with students age four to sixteen learning the violin. First they tap out the music, then hum the notes, then  strum the notes. The teacher strikes her stick loudly when a mistake is made and scolds. We cannot understand her words, but we understand her tone.

Next we watch as  five girls play for us on a zither-like ancient instrument, similar to a harp in sound. It may be admirable to help children achieve  their special potential, but we found the fierce discipline offensive. Not a smile  from any student and we can’t help but wonder where goes their childhood? Talented and unhappy is not  a good goal. The parents are honored that their child is chosen and wouldn’t think of turning down this opportunity.

After lunch, we visit a silk factory. Employees stand. Again, we see poor working conditions. The cocoons are drowned and the larvae removed. The fine fibers are twisted into a fine yarn size, then dyed in special batches of color to be woven into shirts, scarves, ties and rugs.  Hard work. Bats of coarser silk, are used to make comforters with a reputation for being very warm compared to their light weight.

The process of making a comforter was fascinating. Each bat of silk is stretched and stretched and fit on a form like a fitted sheet fits a mattress. After several bats are stretched, it becomes a comforter and is fitted into a case for size, queen, king or double. I bought two, at $10 each. Of course, a fancy cover to make them beautiful, costs twice as much. One woman from our group opted to make her own cover. A machine squeezes them so tightly, they fit into a small purse sized case with a handle.  Cool!

After dinner we attend a show that is the highpoint of Shanghai and all tickets have been sold out for months. Chinese acrobats are famous for their extraordinary muscle control and balance as they do difficult feats in slow motion. A girl balances a tray of glasses in her mouth while doing carefully modulated trapeze acts. Another balances on one hand while doing contortions with her body, forming a butterfly, frog, cricket, then she jumps to the opposite hand and becomes her own twin. Breathtaking twists, falls, jumps from unbelievable positions. High jumping, hoops, tumbling comic acts…we hold our breath and gaze entranced at such talent.  On the way back to our hotel, we catch our last look at the fabulous lighted Yangtze River boats and skyscrapers and know we are looking at a burgeoning new capitalistic economy that is rocketing skyward to awe the world.





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