Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope all the Moms out there had a wonderful day.  I did.  We celebrated with brunch at my daughter's.  (Since I'm the honoree, I got the bring home the leftover half of the strawberry pie.) We had sandwiches and salad and admired my daughter's new living room couch.  

It's nice to be a mother, especially when your children are adults.  I remember being terrified of the responsibility when we brought Lori, our first child, home from the hospital. I remember my first day home with Michael.  My neighbor took Lori to the pool but she insisted on coming home to Mommy.  When she arrived, plumbers were making a hole in my bathroom ceiling to fix some sort of problem in the apartment above us, Michael was screaming and now I had two crying children to quiet.  I remember when Lori, age 4, convinced Michael, age 2, it would be a great idea to draw all over my bedroom walls with lipstick.  I remember story time and charades at night, indoor picnics on the living room floor on rainy days, making green eggs and ham (minus the ham)  in our kitchen and our monthly Surprise Outings.  I'd love to have one of those early childhood days over again.  On the other hand, I would not wish middle school on anyone, nor would I want to go through it again.

I asked my children if I needed to apologize for anything I did during their childhoods and my daughter said, "No, I think we turned out all right."  So do I.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Joyce Roberta Miller Alper died on May 1 from ovarian cancer.

JR, as she preferred to be called was a friend.  Not a close friend, but I considered her a friend nevertheless.  For the past three years, she and another friend have been my High Holiday companions.  All of us were widowed and had no one to go with--one with children who attended a different synagogue, one with children out of town.  Last fall, when Beth Yeshurun, our congregation, was flooded, JR and I made our way to Landmark Church, the home of Joel Osteen, to celebrate the New Year in a different location but with the same tradidional service we were used to.

JR was a remarkable person.  She was a dedicated teacher who received numerous award, once becoming a finalist for the National Teacher award.  She published, spoke at conferences, and even after she retired from Spring Branch ISD, she continued teaching at the Houston Community College.
She was also involved in politics, friends with people in both parties, active in campaigns, and never uncomfortable about expressing her opinion.  In fact, that was one thing I admired about her.  She was forthright and willing to stand up for what she believed was right.

She was a world traveler.  Her home was filled with items she collected from all over the world.
Last year, after her cancer was in what proved to be a temporary remission, she was awarded a grant to interview Korean War veterans, and she traveled to South Korea to learn more about the country where so many lost their lives.  She even traveled to the DMZ and crossed into North Korea, something that few Americans have done.  I so admire her for that.

She was terrified of needles and of doctors and postponed getting medical attention, probably too long, when her cancer reoccurred this this year.  That fear, unfortunately, was her one major weakness, but I'm sure she died on her own terms, so like JR.

JR was a strong, energetic, vibrant person who will be missed by many, including me.  May she rest
in peace.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Books of March

Not a book for everyone, but recommended reading for those with aging parents or those who are aging themselves.  Lisa Randall recounts her father's last days...months.. when his pacemaker still worked but his mind and body had essentially ceased to function normally.  She points out the dangers of overtreatment when there is no quality of life.  I gave a copy to my daughter (but, no surprise) she hasn't read it yet.

I'm having lots of trouble uploading pictures these days, so here are the next two books with (alas) no cover pictures

Celine by Peter Heller
Middle-aged detective and her husband search for a young girl's missing father.  Is he dead?  Hiding out?  They have to solve the mystery/

A Beautiful Poison
Dont' waste your time with this one.  Cardboard characters, senseless plot.  I forced myself to finish it because it was a book club selection.  We didn't like it.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

5 Wishes

No one likes to think about dying, but, face it, we're all going to do it someday.  So why not be prepared?  Even if you're relatively young, it's always good to let someone know your wishes for end of life care.  The 5 Wishes exercise is a way to accomplish this, and I found, having done it, I feel much more secure about my children's knowledge of what I want.  To do this exercise, go to to find the forms to fill out and the instructions.  You can download a form with 5 questions about your wishes for end of life care/treatment, fill them out and then discuss them with family or with a friend who you expect to be there when the time comes.  You explain your wishes, then hand them a blank form and have them fill it out as if they were you.  That way, you can see that they understand your wishes, or if they don't you can clarify for them.

My children absolutely did not want to do this, but my birthday was coming up and I told them that was what I wanted for a birthday present.  So they grudgingly complied, we had our discussion and afterward, my daughter announced, "It wasn't as hard as I expected."

And, by the way, I just finished reading Knocking on Heaven's Door, a woman's memoir about her parents' difficulties during the dying process and a clear message that overtreatment is often worse than undertreatment or no treatment for elderly people.

And on a lighter note, tomorrow is our World Champion Houston Astros's first home game of the new season.  We're hoping for a repeat.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Year of Reading Dangerously

If you guessed the title of the post refers to mysteries/thrillers, you're wrong.  This is a twelve-months' reading of books sponsored by End of Life University, dealing with end of life issues.  I'm enrolled in this reading group, not because I'm old, although I am, but because I've been interested in this topic for many years, and this was an opportunity to join a group with people from around the world reading and discussing books about how people have dealt with life's final days.  

So far we've covered When Breath Becomes Air, which I'd read several years ago and was just as inspired as I was before by the author's courage in the face of a devastating illness at the beginning of a promising career.  

Our February book was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.  If you've ever wondered what goes behind the scenes at a crematorium, this is the book for you.  I didn't want to read this--I've done the "burning thing" already--I suffered third degree burns when I was 19--but I actually enjoyed this memoir about the author's life in the funeral industry.

This month we read Knocking on Heaven's Door, a book about a family longing for a peaceful death for their husband/father and unable to get doctors to cooperate.  I bought a copy for my daughter and asked her to promise me that she'd read it.  Now is the time, while I'm still healthy and active, not later when my children are struggling with medical decisions.  (I skipped the online chat--okay, I watched Stormy Daniels on 60 Minutes, say nothing she hadn't said before.  I'm sure the book discussion would have been more interesting).

If you're interested in joining the Facebook group for the Year of Reading Dangerously, you still can.  It's a tough topic, but worth your time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Speech Ladies' Lunch

Last Friday three of the four Speech Ladies (#4 was ill with bronchitis) had the best lunch ever at Flo's Cafe on Westheimer.  It was my first visit but certainly not my last.  It's a charming place with black and white plaited chairs, a delicious menu (best quiche I've ever had--I recommend that sun dried tomato and feta cheese), and the most enticing baked goods I've seen in ages.  I was seated facing the slide screen and I wanted to sample everything that flashed by,  The cakes were creatively decorated and I understand the croissants they serve at breakfast are outstanding.  They have award-winning macaroons, all kinds of tarts, jars of preserves for sale.  I was, as usual, the only one who ordered dessert, a lemon tart. 

 While we ate, we caught up on professional news (aka gossip), what's been going on in each other's lives and the books we've been reading.  We plan to go back to Flo's again, (and again!) but we've decided our next lunch will be at Nordstrom's at the Galleria.  We obviously didn't think this through; the traffic is awful there and there's road work all around, but we'll brave the traffic and shop afterward.  But Flo's is my new favorite place.  Check it out.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Books of January and February

The heroine is this story is an agoraphobic woman who spends her time peering out her window at her neighbors.  One day she thinks she sees a murder.  Does she?  Or is she crazy?  I give it a B.

Her husband has left her for another woman.  Why does she keep following the new woman in his life?  Another B.

Yes, another wife.  This one's husband has been accused of having an affair.  She stands by him.  Then the mistress disappears.  You wonder what happened but don't care too much.
A student from liberal Brown University decides to learn about Jerry Falwell's evangelical Liberty University so he enrolls for a semester.  A true story.  Interesting.

Part of the Hogarth Series, taking Shakespeare's plays and setting them in the modern world.  This is Othello in a sixth grade class.  It didn't get great reviews on Amazon, but I really enjoyed it.

You'd think a memoir about a young woman who goes to work in the funeral industry would be depressing, especially since she starts out working in a crematorium, but it's fascinating and often hilarious

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