Archive for April 2015


April 17, 2015

Time for an update on Mary. Overall, she is doing pretty good for a 91 year old. Her mind is failing faster than her body.

A couple of days ago, one of our friends who attends our senior Bible Study at Ocean View asked us how she was doing. Mary didn’t attend that particular Wednesday. So he asked Paula, “She must be getting excited that she will be getting to meet Jesus in heaven?”.

To which we answered, actually no she hasn’t talked about heaven, the after-life or Jesus lately. She doesn’t really talk at all about death. I think that she figures that she is going to live forever.

A couple of years ago she was full of questions about what God wanted her to do with the rest of her life. But lately, there is none of that. Just what am I doing today.

She seems to be pretty much stuck in the moment. She doesn’t talk about the past and/or the future. For the most part, she gets up in the morning, eats breakfast and goes back to bed. Sometimes we get her to go out for activities like Bible study, church, getting her hair done, etc.

Yesterday, she received her high school reunion announcement in the mail. This is an event that happens every Memorial Day in Piedmont, KS. The problem we have with going, is that it takes a lot of effort to get her there. She can’t fly there by herself and deal with airlines, rental cars and hotels. Paula took her there last year. Once she goes and returns, she doesn’t remember that the trip happened. And to add to that, last year her sister Bobbie and brother Jack, didn’t make the trip. Even if they had, she probably wouldn’t have remembered it. Our biggest fear is having an accident happen far away from home.

I read an essay by a gerontologist recently about how old people develop “unmet needs”. This is the ability for a person to deal with the tasks of everyday life. (eg. grocery shopping, banking, paying bills, mail, medical, personal hygiene, etc.) As a person ages into senility and dementia they are unable to do deal with these sorts of things. Over the past 2.5 years, Paula and I have slowly taken on all of those daily tasks.

So this morning, she was scheduled to get her done at 09:30 followed by attending a funeral for a family friend. At 08:30 she tells us that she doesn’t feel well and wouldn’t be attending. She will probably feel better later in the day. So we call Rose and reschedule. Rose is very understanding of our need to be flexible.

In other news, I was walking Mary down to the garage. She stumbled for no apparent reason, (ie. no water, no trip hazards, no cracks in the pavement, etc). Just clean dry even pavement. She caught herself with her cane. I told her that if she didn’t have her cane she surely would have fallen, followed by a trip in an ambulance to local ER. But she doesn’t remember that. She just has the crazy idea that someday she will be better and able to ditch the cane.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any recent pictures to post. I will try to do better next time.



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Date Night

April 17, 2015

Last night was date night. Every couple of weeks Paula and I try to get out to have dinner and see a movie without her mother.

Last night was such a night. We were running late. It took us a while to get Mary settled in with a glass of wine and a snack. Got her set to watch the news, etc.

We decided to do dinner first at a place called “Britt’s Barbecue”. It’s a new restaurant in San Pedro and we’ve been meaning to try it. Paula had BBQ chicken and I had the pulled pork sandwich. Good food, good service and reasonable prices. Good place to go for a quick bite.

Then on to the movies. We decided to go see “Fast and Furious 7“. There wasn’t a lot to choose from. Furious 7 stars the late Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. The theater was packed with a lot of people, mostly young folks. The people sitting next to us brought the whole family including a four or five year old. Too cheap to get a baby sitter I guess. They were kind of annoying. I guess we were lucky to find two seats together on an aisle. Then there was someone sitting behind me kicking the back of my seat.

So the movie is basically two hours of chase and shoot’em up scenes. First the good guys chase the bad guys then the bad guys chase the good guys. I never quite figured out why the A team was chasing the bad guys. Something about vengeance for someone who was killed by the bad guys.

So, on and on it goes. Some how that end up in Abu Dhabi at the penthouse suite of some Arab bazillionaire. Some gadget is hidden in an expensive sports care that is parked up on the penthouse. Lot’s of good looking, scantily clad young ladies enjoying the good life.

Eventually they make their way back to LA where they commence to chase each other and blow stuff up all over LA. I kept wondering, where was the KTLA news chopper when all of this went down.

The closing credits list about 50 or 60 stunt people. I wonder how many cars were wrecked during the shooting of the film.

So Thursday night was bargain night at the theater. All seats were $5. I can deal with that. So I figure that the from the $5, $4.75 were to pay for the chases. $0.25 was to pay for the plot. Not exactly Oscar material.

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Church Music continued…

April 7, 2015

pianoSo we were watching the TV show “CBS Sunday Morning” this past Sunday. That was unusual in and of itself. We hardly ever get around to watching the program until much later in the week. Thank the lord for the DVR! We certainly don’t watch the show in the morning.

They did an interview with a hymn song writing team of Keith and Krystyn Getty that I found interesting. Here’s the pointer to the CBS piece. First, I find it amazing that people are still writing hymns. If one were look at the typical Protestant hymnal, you would be hard pressed to find a hymn that written less than a hundred years ago.

Second amazing thing is that one can make a living writing hymns. Keith talks about his start in hymn writing. Their mega-hit was “In Christ Alone”, written in 2001.

Getty co-wrote “In Christ Alone” in 2001, and as church songs go, it’s become something of a hit. Chances are, if you’ve actually been to church in the past decade, you’ve heard it, or sung it yourself.

In fact, in a 2013 survey of the best-loved hymns in the U.K., “In Christ Alone” was the second most-popular hymn of all time, just behind “How Great Thou Art.”

Actually, i hadn’t heard it. I found it on and will be playing it in the next week or so for our Bible Study group.

And finally, here’s a rendition by Keith and Krystn on Youtube.

My favorite quote from the CBS article is aimed at all of the preachers out there. Something to think about for our friends Pastor Jacques and Pastor Katherine.

“My joke with all my preacher friends is that if they finish a good sermon, the people go out singing the last hymn. And if they do a really bad sermon, people go out singing the last hymn. So it really doesn’t matter what they say!”


Fake Music

April 4, 2015

pianoOnce upon a time, a friend was visiting me and we were talking about music. You see I play the piano and once in a while I play an organ. About a dozen years or so ago, I became our Lodge musician in my Masonic Lodge in Massachusetts. Now I am the musician for LA Harbor Lodge and San Pedro Chapter OES.

How does one become the organist or pianist for such an organization. First, you have to be able to play the piano. You don’t have to be an Rubenstein or Van Cliburn. You just have to like to play the piano or organ and competent enough to play some simple and straight forward tunes. Typically, I need to be able to play the “Star Spangled Banner” and other patriotic tunes, some bit of sacred music for opening and closing of the Bible and a variety of march music when the members are perambulating around the lodge room.

Second, the lodge or OES chapter has to have a need for a musician. I got the job because the guy who did it before me died. Sometimes the previous appointee had moved or lost interest in doing the job.

So my friend had seen some of my music books that I had at the time. One such tome was a book titles “Hymn Fake Book“. He asked me what a “Fake” Hymn was. I said no, not a fake hymn but hymn fake book. A fake book is a music book with the sheet music with only the music for your right hand. You have to improvise the accompaniment. So in addition to the hymn fake book there are fake books for Broadway, Show tunes, folk music, etc.

Lucky for me that I had learned this skill as a young lad from a music teacher that I worked with while I was in high school. He taught me how to play chords and to improvise an accompaniment. At the time, I didn’t think this skill would be particularly useful. Or that one day I would become a lodge organist.

So i have at least a dozen or so fake books covering a wide range of genres. They were a getting a bit heavy to carry to lodge for the evening’s meeting. I would eventually Xerox the particular music and add to my loose leaf notebooks. Even that began to get unwieldy.

Enter Apple. in 2010, Apple announced the iPad. I said to myself, I have to have one of these. So i drove up to the local Apple store in Nashua, NH and got an iPad 1. So I began the process of scanning my music pages and loading them on my Dropbox account in the Cloud. At first, it was a bit crude. I had files organized into folders according to genre, eg. hymns, patriotic, broadway, pop, etc.

People would look at the iPad and ask can you read music on that thing? In fact, I can and do. Although there is rumblings that Apple is working on a new iPad with a 12.5″ screen (current iPad has a 9″ screen, measured diagonally). I would buy one in a heartbeat if Apple came out with such a device.

As it stands right now, I am working on my third iPad. I had the iPad 1, then an iPad 3 and now an iPad Air.

My system of filing my music on Dropbox was getting cumbersome. So I got an app called “Forscore” that is designed for organizing sheet music. This app is absolutely worth the $9.99 I paid for it. I now have close to a 1000 different scores on my iPad. The music is organized by genre and keywords. New music is imported as PDF files from my Dropbox account.

I also buy music from which is a web site that sells sheet music. They have an extensive library of tunes from classical to pop to country. They also have a wide range of arrangements. I typically prefer to buy “Lead sheets” (which is the content of a fake book) because they are shorter and I don’t usually have to turn pages. Some of the arrangements come in multiple keys which is handy when you are working with a soloist.

When purchasing from Musicnotes, you download the music for printing. You get one chance to print it. But I have a printer driver that “Prints” to a PDF file that then can be uploaded onto my iPad. Musicnotes also has a free iPad app, but it is not nearly as capable as Forscore.