Archive for July 2017

Dunkirk

July 27, 2017

Wednesday this week was date night. We called Dawn to come over and stay with Mary while Paula and I went to the movies. This time we went to see “Dunkirk”. This is the story of the Dunkirk Evacuation in June 1940 where the Allied forces are evacuated from the shores of Dunkirk across the British Channel.

This was a bit easier on the wallet. The theater is close by and Wednesday is $5 for Seniors Day (Woo Hoo). We went out to eat at a new Korean BBQ joint that opened up recently (Also nearby). More on the Korean BBQ later.

The movie is directed by Christopher Nolan and tells the story of Dunkirk from three points of view. Air, Sea and Land. For the most part, the actors were all unknowns with the exception of Kenneth Branagh who played the role of a British Navy Commander who was supervising the evacuation from a pier on the Dunkirk beach.

The constant switching of the main threads in the movie made it a challenge to follow at times. I also had a little trouble understanding the British accents. I was also confused due to the change from day time to night time depending on which thread was up on the screen.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. You really felt sorry for the soldiers who were waiting to be evacuated. Man did they look miserable. So close but so far.

** Spoiler Alert **

At the end of the film the last fighter pilot runs out of petrol (as the Brits would call it). It seemed like he was gliding for 10-15 minutes after his engine conked out. Why’d he land on the beach? He would be sure to be captured? Why not ditch next to one of the boats. Hated to see that beautiful airplane burn.

Okay, the film running time was 1 hr 45 min. Which meant that with a posted start time of 4:40 pm, it was still daylight outside when we came out of the theater. That meant we had time to have dinner, without running up the clock on the sitter.

Dinner

We ate at a new Korean BBQ joint on Western next to the US Bank. The name of the place is 3BBQ. I got the chicken rice bowl and Paula got a beef wrap and we got some appetizers to share.

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My Piano

July 24, 2017

One of my hobbies is playing the piano. I learned to play the piano as a young lad. First lessons from the good Sister Olivia, CSJ at Mount St Joseph’s Academy in Brighton, MA. When I was in high school, my mom and dad found a new teacher in West Roxbury who taught me how to play chords and how to improvise from a fake book. That’s a skill that I use today when I play for our OES chapter.

So when we lived back east, I owned a piano. It was a Wurlitzer console piano that I acquired back in the late 70’s. At the time, Wurlitzer was trying move into the Malls to sell pianos and organs. The move ended up badly for Wurlitzer. We felt that it was not worth paying to ship it across the country, so I donated it to our church. Giving away a piano is not so easy. Our music director wanted to see if it was worth taking.  He ended up taking it.

So fast forward to 2012. We arrived here in August 2012 and one of our first tasks was to buy a piano. My daughter in law had received an invitation to a Steinway sale at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. We needed a reservation for a particular time slot. They didn’t want too many people in the hall at the same time banging on a Piano. After we had agreed to terms on the particular piano for about $6000, I asked the salesman if I could bang out a tune or two  on the concert grand Steinway going for about $150K. He said go ahead have a ball.

So we ended up buying an Essex Console model. Essex is the budget line of Steinway pianos. They are designed by Steinway and manufactured in Japan. Think of it like Honda and Acura or Cadillac and Chevy. Don’t have room for that Steinway concert grand anyhow.

So back in early 2014, Pastor Jacques had come by to visit Mary while she was recuperating from her fall that left her with a broken shoulder. So Jacques asks Mary, “Do you play the piano?”. To which Mary answers, “No, that would be Joe’s piano” So Jacques and I figured that I would play a hymn at the beginning of our Senior Bible study on Wednesday mornings.

I pick a hymn and email it to Jacques on Monday or Tuesday. Jacques prints out about 25 copies for the group. I tend to pick hymn “oldies” and sometimes gospel tunes. Usually, I find material in my “Hymn Fake Book”. But today I found a piece on Musicnotes.com done by Hank Williams called “Jesus Died for Me”. That’s just the ticket. Sometimes, I receive requests.

Joe’s Chili

July 24, 2017


Today we had our chili cook-off at LA Harbor Lodge in San Pedro. Here is the recipe for my entry. It didn’t win any awards but everyone who tried said that it was very tasty.  We all had fun doing it. And even I liked it.

Ingredients

  • 3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño Peppers, seeds and core removed, chopped (I usually use surgical gloves when handling jalapeños. If you skip the gloves you will soon learn why I use the gloves.)
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage meat
  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 packet of chili seasonings

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil
  2. Sauté the onion and Jalapeños until they are soft and translucent
  3. Add sausage and stew beef.
  4. Sauté until the meat is completely browned.
  5. Drain off the fat
  6. Add the seasoning packet and mix
  7. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the crock pot
  8. Add the peppers and celery
  9. Add the cans of kidney beans (including water) and cans of tomatoes.
  10. Stir to combine.
  11. Important Step: Plug the crock-pot in and turn it on!
  12. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Stir occasionally

Fidget Spinner

July 22, 2017

Last night we had our son and his family over for dinner. At the request of our grandson Jonathan, we had tacos, soft tortillas and NO onions. When Jonathan arrived he noticed my fidget spinner on the dining room table. He of course knew what it was and what to do with it. So both Jonathan and Sarah took turns playing with it during the evening.

Jonathan said he would trade all of his toys for one fidget spinner. Oh, the power of a toy that is the hottest thing in the toy universe. I considered letting him have it to take home with him, but Paula and I decided to leave it here and let him play with the next time he comes to visit.

It seems that the fidget spinner has been around for a while but only recently become popular. If one were to search for “fidget spinner” on Amazon, you get about 20 or more pages of offers. It brings to mind some other toys that were all the rage back in the day. There was the pet rock and Rubik’s Cube. Both of which were the rage long before our kids time.

Rubik’s Cube reached its peak in the early 80’s and can still be bought. The cube was invented by Ernõ Rubik, a sculptor and professor of architecture in Hungary.

The Pet Rock made the inventor a millionaire. Here’s the wiki. The inventor (Gary Dahl) died a couple of years ago. And of course, one can still buy a pet rock on Amazon.

In my recent post on Mary, I promised to get a recent picture of her. This picture was taken shortly after she got home from her appointment at beauty salon. As you can see in the picture, she has her chocolate shake sitting in front of her. Her chocolate shake is one of her favorite things to eat.

Mary

July 20, 2017

Okay, it’s been a while. Here’s my update. Paula and I were having a conversation with Mary last night after dinner. We were retelling our story of how we came to be out here living with her. She listened attentively and she did something that I have been waiting for now for five years. She finally thanked us for being here for her. I called it the big “Thank You”. Of course, she remembers none of this.

The big “Thank You” was one of my issues with her. She would thank me for getting her a cup of coffee or fixing her oatmeal, but never thanking us for giving up our lives in MA and moving out here to be with her. Last night, she finally did that. It only took her five years to do it.

She continues to get weaker and weaker. She sleeps all night, then eats breakfast and then goes back to bed and sleeps until we get her up for dinner. Once in a while she will join us to watch the evening news. She will read the newspaper in the morning and then reread it again in the evening. She doesn’t quite get that it is the same newspaper.

I saw her reading the sports section. I asked her why she was reading the sports section? Mary is not much of a sports fan. Doesn’t care a whit about baseball or basketball. Of course, Paula reminds me to STFU. Let her read the sports page if she wants. So I do.

We struggle to get her to wash her face and brush her teeth. Some evenings, she just goes straight back to bed. We try to get her to do a bath 2 or 3 times a week. That’s Paula’s department.

Paula and I started having the “Nursing Home” discussion. We’re not quite there yet, but we might be there sooner rather than later, especially if she becomes totally bed-ridden and/or incontinent. I talked with my doctor at my physical this week about the situation. He gave me the number of Kaiser’s social worker department. Or perhaps, we will talk to Mary’s doctor.

We are looking forward to a weekend away in first weekend of August for an OES reception up in the Sacramento area. We will have caregivers for the weekend.

I don’t have any good recent pictures of her to post. Perhaps, tomorrow after she has been to the beauty salon to get her hair done, I will take a picture.

Later,

Joe

 

Wonder Woman

July 7, 2017

Wonder WomanLast night was date night. We hired a baby sitter for Mary and went to see “Wonder Woman“. The cost for our baby sitter was three times as much as the price to see the movie. Here’s a link to the official trailer.

The movie stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Chris Pine as the dashing pilot/spy Steve Trevor. The film was directed by Patty Jenkins. It is interesting that the film was directed by a woman. And she is the first woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million.

Okay, first and foremost this movie was about a half hour longer than it needed to be. Run time is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Butt getting sore and beginning to wonder when the big finale scene is going to start.

So here’s the basic story. Trevor’s plane crashes into the sea off the coast of Amazon Island and Diana saves him from certain death by drowning. Steve Trevor tells Diana about the war that is raging in the outside world. The war is WWI of course. Interestingly, the comic book version, the war is WW2. The first battle is between the Amazons and the Germans who are chasing Trevor on Amazon Island. Seeing as this is a PG-13, movie there is little blood spilled. Soldiers get shot but don’t seem to bleed very much.

There’s an amusing scene early in the movie where Steve is recovering from his wounds in a hot tub somewhere on the island. Then Steve gets out of the tub and stands there buck naked in all his glory for Diana to see. The look on her face says that she has probably never seen a naked man before. Oh my… Luckily for the kiddies present, the scene is back lit and you can’t actually see Trevor’s (ahem) equipment.

So Amazon Island is located somewhere off the coast of Italy or maybe Greece. Think warm blue Caribbean waters. So Princess Diana begins to discover her super powers. And then Steve persuades her to go with him back to England. The two of them find a small fishing boat and set sail for England.

So the pair arrive in London after a brief voyage. Steve helps Diana get some new clothes that would meet the approval of the Londoners of the era. Anyways, to make a long story short, the pair manage to make it to the battlefield in France where Wonder Woman proceeds to kick serious ass. The film has some real nasty German baddies that get their comeuppance. And finally, we get to the finale battle between Wonder Woman and the evil lord Ares. And of course, you know who wins that battle.

Overall, it was a fun film though a little bit on the long side. We stopped at KFC’s drive thru to pick up some fried chicken for our dinner. Going out to an actual restaurant would be nice, but tick tock.

 

Mary

July 5, 2017

Time for an update on Mary. It’s been a while and I have some stories to tell. First overall, she is doing fine. Though it seems that all she does is eat, sleep and go to the toilet. I had told Paula a cruder version of that statement. But this is a PG blog.

We’ve managed to get her to go to church a couple of times so far this summer, but not without serious nagging.

So this morning, I was in charge. Paula was off doing something at Assistance League and she left me in charge. So I get Mary up and offer her breakfast. I give her the usual oatmeal and blueberries with cream on top. So she eats about 75% of it and asks me to put the rest in the refrigerator. I tell her no I wouldn’t. Just finish it, I tell her. It takes up valuable space in the frig. and you won’t eat it anyway, because you are up only for breakfast and dinner. I don’t think anyone ever told her no before. So she finished it toddled off to brush her teeth and went back to bed.

Here’s another morning story. First, she has trouble differentiating between morning and evening. So she was eating her oatmeal and I hand to her meds to take. I fill up her water glass. Can I have some wine please.  No, you can’t have any wine with breakfast. If I drink water, I have to go to the toilet she says. That’s a good thing I tell her. I give her one glass of wine a day with her dinner. This was the second time I got that request from her. Rule #1, no wine with breakfast. I’m not sure anyone ever said “No” to her before me.

She has complained about not getting enough exercise. We would be glad to take her for a walk. I tell her that she needs to get up out of bed and come out of her room and tell us that she would like to go for a walk. That hasn’t happened.

So this elder care stuff is beginning to suck the life out of me. We were watching “CBS Sunday Morning” last night. (Ah, the joys of DVR’s). They were doing a piece on the Grand Canyon. So I was telling Paula, I would sure like to go there one of these days. She agreed with me. That won’t be happening any time soon.

The thing is that any travel means that we need to arrange 24/7 care givers for her. That gets expensive. Care givers get about $22 per hour with OT over 9 hours. Do the math. We already are doing a trip up to Sacramento in August. And we did a trip back to Mass. in May. Oh Lord, I need a vacation.

One more thing and then I will STFU. We just got a notice that our condo HOA is doing termite extermination in August. That means for a weekend in August we must be out of our condo three days and stay in a hotel with Mary. Not looking forward to that.

Travelling with Mary is a giant PITA. At first, we thought of taking her to Las Vegas. But that won’t work, she wouldn’t do well with a four hour drive. Last time we did that (3 years ago) she complained about the ugliness of the Mojave Desert. Not doing that again.

Staying with relatives won’t work. Our son doesn’t have the room. His life is crazy enough with out having three extra guests. I’ll try and find a suite somewhere local that will be comfortable for three days. We have to go to a meeting in July that will explain all the things that we need to do to get ready. UGH!