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

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Broadway at the Box

Friday evening a group of us piled on the bus to go to the Music Box Theater.  I won't tell you what our residents' association president named us...oh, never mind, I will.  He calls us the Creeping Herd even though must of us  honestly do not creep.  Some of us call ourselves The Circle of Friends--sounds much better.

The Music Box features five young and enthusiastic singers (pictured above).  They are two married couples and one young lady (shown in the middle), who literally do everything at this little theater--take tickets, serve drinks, direct people to vacant seats, and of course perform.  This month's performance was Broadway at the Box.  It featured songs from well-loved musicals, some old like Oklahoma, some new like Dear Evan Hansen.  Some of the tunes were familiar and we almost wanted to sing and dance along with the performers.  For some we'd shake our heads and whisper that we'd never heard them before. There were songs from Chicago, Camelot, Hamilton, Beauty and the Beast, Fiddler on the Roof and more.

When the show was over, our bux was waiting out front.  It's fun to go out with a group, especially when you don't have to drive.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Winter Olympics

Now that the excitement of the Super Bowl has died down, it's time for the Winter Olympics in South Korea.  Honestly, I didn't know South Korea was a winter site with high mountains.  Sorry that my geography background is so limited.

This Olympics has lots of political implications.  Will combining their athletes lead to peace between the two Koreas?  Did Mike Pence ever interact with Kim Jong Un's sister, or if he's still there, will he?  Given the political climate in today's world, I worry a lot about these things.

Thursday night I watched the figure skating and wondered why it was scheduled before the opening ceremony.  It seemed like most of the men favored to score highest fell down, including Nathan Chen of the U.S. Imagine how it must feel to skate the event of your life and fail.  Of course, they have another chance but still, it must be humiliating to topple over in front of the biggest audience in the world.  The pressure has to be excruciating and maybe that's why things don't go well.

I wanted to watch the opening ceremony but kept falling asleep.  When you think about it, watching dozens of athletes marching into a stadium isn't the most riveting spectacle.  I missed the lighting of the Olympic torch, which I always enjoy.  Oh well.

I watched the snowboarding and wondered who would allow their kid to engage in such a perilous sport.  Those guys jumping into space, twisting and turning themselves into pretzels, was terrifying.  I was happy for the 17 year-old from the U.S. who won gold, but he could have killed himself along the way, and given his age, he'll probably compete again and again.

Today I watched the "skiathlon" a cross-country ski race and cheered for the Norwegian who crashed during the race, got up and kept going and won gold.  What perseverance does that take?  Amazing. 

 I wonder if the silver and bronze medalists in Olympic events are disappointed they didn't win gold.  No one seems to remember #2 and #3.  But worst of all, imagine coming in fourth, so close to the podium but so far.  That must hurt.

I now know the difference between Alpine and Nordic skiing.  Alpine skis are wider and the skier's heel is fixed.  Alpine skiers go downhill. Nordic skiers have longer, narrower skis and their heels aren't fixed so they can lift them.  Also, they go up and downhill both.  Cross country skiing is a Nordic event.  Will I remember this when the next winter Olympics comes up?  Maybe. 

The 5000 meter speed skating event was fun to watch, too.  The Dutch athlete who won is the "king of speedskating."  He's now won 3 gold medals.  He seems like a nice, modest young man, too.

More figure skating to come, more skiing and speedskating.  My TV watching for the next two weeks is set.


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