Archive for April 2017

My Funeral Music

April 23, 2017

2000px-GClef.svgSo, my post the other day about funerals got me thinking. Joe, what about your funeral. Mind you, I’m not planning on checking out any time soon, but you never know. So I had a chat with Paula about what music I would like played at my funeral. A while back, I had created a playlist on my iPhone titled “My Funeral Music”. So here’s my list. You might not be able to play it all inside of 60 minutes. If you are reading this (and have some time), hook up your ear buds and spend some time listening to the pieces.

  1. The intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. This is the music that is heard between the two acts of the opera. One of the most beautiful, relaxing piece of music I have ever heard.”
  2. Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I first heard this piece at a music appreciation class when I was in college. The professor was talking about 5/4 time signature which is a tad unusual. 5/4 time is five beats to the measure and 1/4 note gets one beat. He was comparing “Tchaikovsky – Sixth Symphony – Second Movement” to “Take Five” (both in 5/4 time)
  3.  A Hymn to New England by John Williams. This version is played by the Boston Pops with pictures of New England Scenery.
  4. The Entertainer by Scott Joplin. This rag time piece was made famous in recent years by reason of its use in the film “The Sting” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. There was a time when I could play this but I don’t have the hand strength to play the octaves anymore.
  5. Heigh Ho from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. This is probably one the most recognized (and loved) Disney tunes. When I first started playing the organ for my lodge back in Mass.I would play this tune at the beginning of every meeting. I don’t play it as much anymore. Maybe, I will push it up the stack for our next meeting.  Here’s another version done by Dave Brubeck in the album “Dave Digs Disney” done in 1957. Dave Brubeck is one of my all time favorite Jazz artists. Paula and I saw him in concert about a dozen years ago. Still touring into his 80’s. Amazing. And it that’s not enough heigh ho’ing for you, here is Louis Armstrong doing Heigh Ho.
  6. Next up would be the second movement from Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto. This piece was made popular by the movie “Elvira Madigan” back in 1967.
  7. Now let’s get into some actual hymns. First on my list would be How Great Thou Art, followed closely by Amazing Grace.  And one more for my friend at OVBC, Daryl “What a Friend We Have in Jesus“.


April 23, 2017

Today Paula went to the funeral for the former organist/pianist from Ocean View Baptist Church. We asked Mary if she would like to go. We explained who she was and that Mary probably knew her at one time. But of course, the name didn’t ring a bell. Showed her a picture of her. Nothing.

Here’s the thing. Right now at this time in her life Mary does not like going to funerals. Doesn’t matter who the person was. She doesn’t want to go. She won’t go. Period. End of discussion.

Normally I would have gone with Paula, but I decided to stay with Mary.

So what is it about funerals with Mary? We have tried on many occasions to have a discussion with her on what she would like for her own funeral. We get nothing. We get stonewalled.

We ask cremation or not? Where would you like to be buried? The only guidance we got was that she wants Harold’s ashes buried with her. (Harold died in 2009 and was cremated.) That we can handle. So many questions.

So Paula and I are the ones stuck with the decisions. Paula is an only child. So there’s no sibling to talk to. Somehow, we will come up with a plan. That’s both a blessing and a curse. No one to argue with but at the same no one to share the load.

I found a blog a few years ago that I thought gave me some thoughts and insight. The blog is called “The Inspired Funeral“. Take a look.


April 20, 2017

Today was supposed to be an easy day. I had a dentist appointment at 11:10 for X-Rays and a filling. So my dentist is Dr Tulley. Dr Tulley is left handed. When I first met him I followed his assistant into his treatment room. I told her, Hey this room is set up backwards. I asked her, Is Dr Tulley left-handed? She says, yes he is.

So I meet Dr Tulley. I ask him how did a South Paw get to be a dentist? Well, somehow he did. Dr Tulley went to Tufts Dental School in Massachusetts. So, Dr Tulley is a Red Sox fan. This is getting better. Every visit, we get to talk a little baseball before we get started. Another MA expatriate in San Pedro. He’s teaching his kids to be Red Sox fans. Way to go, Dr T.

So there’s cavity is on one of my bridges near the gum line. This is not good. He was only able to patch it. That means he will have to replace the bridge. He took more X-rays to submit to the insurance company for pre-authorization. Even with insurance, it will still cost me a few $K’s. We’ll start the work after our trip to Boston in May. Time to take out some mega bucks from my IRA.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mary was up early and complaining of something in her eye. So Paula makes an appointment with her eye doctor in Long Beach. Schedule is tight. I have dentist appointment and Paula is working at Asst League. Eye doc doesn’t find anything. Paula stops at MacD’s and gets Mary a chocolate shake.  Mary’s happy.

Mary has trouble identifying foods that we are serving her. ” What’s this?”, she says. Pizza I tell her. What are you putting on it? Hot pepper, but you probably don’t want it on your pizza. (Mary is not much for spicy.) Another time we made pork chops. Same question. Oh, and Mary loves watermelon. She loves the stuff. She would rather eat watermelon than say ice cream,

A couple of weeks ago, Mary said that she would sure love to have a “puppy dog” (her words, not mine). We both told her not going to happen. Told her a pet is a 15 year commitment. And who do think would be in charge of walking said “puppy dog” and picking up dog-poop? Anyways, not going to happen. No way, no how, not on my watch.

Mary gets her hair done on Friday. While she is sitting under the hair dryer, Paula and I will do the grocery shopping. I can get an iced coffee at the Starbucks at the grocery store. Venti iced coffee, no sweetener, leave room. They know what I want. They have a cup holder for your beverage on the grocery cart. This is one of the few times that we can get away from her without leaving her alone.

To my friends back east in the land of Dunkin’ Donuts, this is wrong. I tell them that when Dunky’s is on every corner and in many a supermarket, I might consider going back to Dunky’s. But for now, Starbucks it is. Closest Dunky’s is in Santa Monica, a 45 minute drive without traffic.

It’s getting hot here in San Pedro. Forecast in the 80’s all next week. Break out the shorts. Had the AC serviced last week. Just in time.



Easter’s Done

April 16, 2017

We had an excellent dinner last night. Nothing left but a small sliver of apple pie.

So Grandpa (me) was the hero because I insisted that we get vanilla ice cream AND whipped cream. Paula and Mike both don’t care for whipped cream. Jonathan and Sarah however enjoyed having both on their pie.

So after dinner, Paula brings out the apple pie. Jonathan tells us we need a candle. So we get a candle so that can make a wish. So after dessert, we give Mike his birthday gift (a polo shirt). So Jonathan was helping Mike open the package. He pulled out the shirt and then the packing paper. So Jonathan looks once again in the bag and says: “IS THAT ALL?”. The rest of us were rolling on the floor laughing. We also gave him a gift card for Amazon.

We had breakfast here at home instead of going out to eat. Our favorite diner (Pacific Diner) is closed for Easter. Easter and Mother’s Day are two days to avoid restaurants. Too crowded for my taste. Waffles and scrambled eggs. Kids searching for Easter eggs. We didn’t hide them that hard.

So Sarah took a nap and Mary is down for her afternoon nap. Now Jonathan is running on fumes. He needs a nap badly. OD’ing on chocolate. I try to console him, but the only thing that will work this time is a nap.

Mary has trouble remembering what food was served.  What’s this she asks? That’s a waffle. What do I do with it? What do I put on it? Maple syrup we tell her. We did manage to get her to church services at 9 am. Parking is a lot easier when we go to the early service rather than the service at 10:30. But it does mean that we have to be up at 0 dark thirty. Two weeks in a row that we’ve managed to get her to go to church. We didn’t have time to hang around to chat after the service.


April 15, 2017
Swan Boats

Boston Swan Boats 

Today is April 15. For most people this is tax day. For us, this is our son Mike’s birthday. We will be celebrating with Mike and his family this evening. Mike got to choose the menu for this evening. He requested beef enchiladas, refried beans and home made apple pie.

On Mike’s 21st birthday, he ran the Boston Marathon. (This year the Boston Marathon will be on Monday April 17th.) After we met him at the finish line, we went out to dinner. Mike drank his first “legal” beer. He had to run back to our car to get his driver’s license to prove his age. Restaurant didn’t ask to see it.


Paula baked the pie this morning. We are all resting now to get ready for their arrival. My job has been to take out the trash and empty the re-cycle bin.

Tomorrow is Easter and that means we will be doing brunch after church. We used to go out to restaurants after Easter, but that got a little bit too crazy and expensive. So a couple of years ago, we decided that it would be easier all around to do brunch at home. The kids can play and grownups can talk and drink coffee. We’ll be doing waffles and scrambled eggs with ham.


Ducklings at Boston Public Garden

Paula is all ready for Easter bunny activities. Eggs will be hidden in all the right places. We found a couple of old children’s books, including a well worn copy of “Make Way for Ducklings”. My job is to sit and read to Jonathan. Sarah also likes to sit and watch PBS video on my iPad.

Now about Mary, she is doing well. Her memory is shot. She remembers us, but she can’t remember what she did 20 minutes ago let alone yesterday or last week. We try to control the information flow. We gave her a newsletter from our local Shriner’s club to read. She studied it every day for the past three days. Now it’s time for it to disappear.

We managed to get her to go church last Sunday. Palm Sunday is when our church does its Easter Cantata. I don’t know about getting her to go to Easter services. It’s crowded and parking is a big challenge. In the words of Coach Belichick, that will be a game-day decision. If she decides to not go, then I will stay home with her. We try not to leave her alone. We’ll see what happens.



Mary and My Excellent Pea Soup

April 9, 2017

Paula is off at some wine tasting with Heather. I begged off. Had dinner with Mary. I did a pea soup from the ham bone left over from last weeks dinner with Mike & family.

I like to have a ham roast mostly for the ham bone that is left over. It makes such an extraordinary pea soup. And it’s so simple. One medium onion chopped, four carrots cut up, package of split peas and quart of beef or chicken broth. Add it all to your crock pot and let it simmer for five or six ours. I added 1/2 tsp of pepper and a couple of bay leaves. It’s even better as left overs on the second or third day.

By the way, that plastic thing in the crock pot is a liner that you can buy at the grocery store. Makes cleanup much easier. Can be found in the plastic bag section of the grocery store.

So Mary and I watched the local and national news. Got her over to the dining room table for dinner. Got her a glass of white zinfandel and we are all set. Poured out her meds and made sure that she took them.

Gave her some watermelon for dessert. She brushed her teeth and to bed.

Tomorrow, we will get her up early and really encourage her to go to church. Choir doing their annual Easter Cantata. Theresa will be singing in the choir. Not going to take no for an answer.



Beauty and the Beast

April 7, 2017

BeautyLast night was date night again here. We got a baby sitter for Mary and off we went for three hours of down time from care giving. So we went to see “Beauty and the Beast” playing at the AMC Rolling Hills theater in Torrance.

First, I want to talk about the theater. We’ve gone to this theater before. They charge almost double what we pay at the Terraces in Rancho Palos Verdes. And, they have changed snack prices. They no longer sell a “small” popcorn, now the medium is the new small. It’s sort of the incredible shrink ray comes to the theater. They’ve done the same thing with spring water. So instead of paying $5 for a small popcorn and 1/2 liter of spring water, now we pay $12 for medium popcorn and a liter bottle of vitamin water. And don’t get me going on the “vitamin water” scam.

So next time the bottle of water and snacks go into Paula’s purse. They also had the audio set a tad bit too loud. The effect was to make some of musical numbers sound a bit muddied.

And now let’s talk about the film. Film time was about 2 hrs and 9 minutes. It seemed to me to be a bit on the long side. At about 1.5 hour into the film, I started thinking to myself, “C’mon Belle, kiss the Beast and get it done.” But no, there was a lot more singing and dancing to be done. I mean we all know the fairy tale, the princess kisses the frog and he turns into a prince. And then they live happily ever after.

Emma Watson was okay in the role of Belle, but she just doesn’t quite have the pipes to belt out the songs like say Celine Dion or other pop diva. It kind of reminded me of the movie “My Fair Lady” where the character Eliza played by Audrey Hepburn had the musical numbers dubbed by Marni Nixon.

Dan Stevens played the Beast. I was impressed how he managed  to sing and dance while up on 12″ stilts. And impressive makeup, indeed. Good job. Paula was complaining that they didn’t have enough close up time so she could see Stevens’ baby blue eyes. Dan Stevens is also famous for his role of Matthew in Downton Abbey from 2010-2012

I loved the names of the supporting cast. Lumiere for the candlestick, Maestro Cadenza for the harpsichord, and so on. Good solid supporting cast.

For my money, the best song and dance number was “Be Our Guest”. You can’t help but be humming it as you leave the theater. I will probably play it at our next OES meeting.

Also, make sure you stay for all the credits. Overall, I liked it. It’s rated PG. That being said, I wouldn’t take real little kids to see it. There some real scary stuff in those dark woods.

We didn’t get to eat out after the show. We were on the clock. When we got home I threw a frozen pizza in the oven and poured myself a  glass of wine.