"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Friday, December 9, 2011

Student Nurse Vampires! I'm a werewolf and It's a good thing.

It is the end of a semester and my nursing students take the pledge!  "If I ever find Professor Hanrion in a nursing home in poopy diapers...." well you can fill in the rest.  This week I watched several of my old students, (those from two semesters ago) graduate and began to think of my new-nurse days.

This photo is one of my students with a seasoned and very good nurse friend of mine.  They had a special bond and worked together for the two months we were on this unit.  He helped her a lot since she was not even five feet tall...she had a hard time reaching things.  And He was over 6'8" and could reach almost anything.

I usually ask my male students during conferences why they chose nursing as a career and get a variety of answers. Most have relatives they admire who are in the medical field.  Others have opted into the career  because they have not been able to gain entrance to medical school or the Fire Department...usually due to quotas!  Sometimes it is difficult for men in what is considered a woman's career and it certainly takes a gutsy and self assured male to venture into this world.  Several of my male students were ex-military (I had to constantly tell those guys "gentle-gentle")  and I had one student who was a paramedic and had tried 6 times to gain entrance to the County fire squad, scoring over 100% on each exam.  (He told me his girlfriend's father continually mocked him as a 'girly-man-nurse' at family gatherings.) Men with much lower scores than he were hired and trained because of their ethnicity.  I'm not sure I want the lower scoring fellows putting out my fires...but that is life, once again, here in beautiful politically correct California.  Fire fighter's loss was Nursing's gain...he was a very bright young man.

Lots of the men I know in the profession work at night...I'm not sure if it is to avoid mocking criticism about being in a woman's field, but imagine a woman who worked hard to be an engineer being teased for her career choice!  Nursing is a very difficult job as you must think, process, evaluate and DO all at once.  Both sides of the brain have to work simultaneously, not like some other well respected careers.  Like a person who is good with their hands who has no critical thinking skills, or a person who is good at solving math, or situational problems actually having to give a presentation and interface with the human race such as rocket scientists...who are known to be reclusive. (I know several rocket scientists and have found their communication skills somewhat lacking) and besides most guys can help me figure out the new computer systems that are now mandated in most hospitals.

Nurses who work at night are often thought of as vampires as they go for weeks without seeing the sun.  In fact that may be why they chose nursing as a career. I don't know but some of the night nurses do look a bit strange when I report to duty in the morning. I can almost picture them sleeping in coffins...but that may be the bad hair day they usually have by the time they have been up all night.  Not too long ago I worked for several years doing 12 hour night shifts, and sometimes 16 hour night shifts.  The bad thing is...my interior clock never quite shifted to the night-time.  At 3 am my body usually said sleep, Sleep, SLEEP!  Another clue that I never flipped to night time waking is the fact that I never peed at night.  Then at 6am when I should have been just waking up, I went to the bathroom volumes...dumping the many sodas and glasses of liquid I had consumed since about 10pm the night before.

Then my husband started bugging me to quit nights.  He said I was grumpy for several days after a long run of night shifts.  And I realized my body was beginning to rebel when I had issues with my bowels, and felt crummy most of the time.

After you graduate nursing school most students get assigned to a night shift.  Not really the best place to hone your skills.  Such was the situation with me.  Many moons ago after I graduated, at the tender age of 18, I worked the night shift in labor and delivery at newly built Kaiser hospital. (which now is closed as a hospital...it's creepy to think you have out-lived a building...)

However, the night shift in this specialty is particularly busy.  Pregnant women will relax, go to sleep and then the baby decides to emerge in the middle of the night...or at least her body says, "get out of here".  (Then 19-20 years later when that same child is staying in the room you always wanted to turn into a den or sewing room...you say "get out of here."  Sometimes it even works!)

I saw lots of action during the night in this specialty area of the hospital and got very good at delivering babies...often by myself because the doctor didn't get there in time.  I was young and pliable and slept the next day until 5 pm and never noticed that when I was giving report to the day shift I needed to go to the bathroom several times or my bladder would explode.  When I was older that same situation sent me into bad-breath, grumpy, diarrhea nasty mom.  So it's a good thing new nurse graduates make good night nurses and can give us older and wiser day-loving (werewolf) Angels of Mercy a Break!

 (My bladder and family thanks you too.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Road Trip Nightmare...almost!

Roadtrip Nightmare…almost.

The journey began two days before the trip actually began with a fellow who cut off a Cal Arts junk-auto driving purple haired student…the domino reaction then caused the fellow to jump a divider while I was calmly waiting at a red light.  I was eye to eye with Mr. Violet locks as he blammed into my front driver-side fender and door…The door was so smashed in I couldn’t get it open and was scrambling over the center console to try and get the license number of the guy who had caused the accident.

Thankfully the perpetrator stopped right there on Valencia and McBean Parkway and admitted he had swerved into the college student’s lane.  No one was hurt…except for my beloved car which has a penchant for stationary accidents.  Either in a parking lot, parked, or stopped at a red light.  Oh the woes of L.A. Calif. driving, you’re not safe anywhere.

Drivers exchanged information and the next day I took my car into the shop for repair, with insurance approval…thank goodness.  The bad thing was we were leaving the next day to drive 450 miles to Monroe Utah to spend Thanksgiving with two of our daughters and six of the 12 grandkids…with a stop in Fredonia Arizona to see Patrick’s brother along the way.  I was excited as we were planning to take my car with the seats which are much more “back-friendly” than my husband’s truck. “Oh no! “I thought, “Now we have to take the back-breaker”

However Patrick’s smile of glee (he loves to drive his truck) was soon squelched because I was offered a very large Ford Explorer…so wide it barely fit in the garage, as all the smaller cars were already rented for the long weekend.  I did the happy dance packing the monster car with all our gifts, food for the feast, and even my “Glenda the Good witch” costume at the special request of Beth, Megan’s five year old.
We had not been on the road more than two hours when the dash began blinking a tire was low.  We ignored the blinking…mostly due tothe fact we had no idea what the blinking meant…there was so muchhigh tech stuff on the dash we had not yet figured out how to turn on the radio.  I looked for the directions…which were not found until we were stopped between Glendale and Mesquite in Nevada…the middle of nowhere and not far from Zyzyx, for anyone who knows the area. 
As Patrick pulled out the 25mile do-nut tire to allow us to reach civilization, we found the directions to the intricacies of the dash board. (They were hidden under the car-jack and never been opened, I assumed as a joke on us non-initiated car-tech drivers)  We met some very nice people in Logandale who sold us a tire allowing us to drive to St. George Utah and exchange our car for a smaller SUV as no tire to fit the large Ford until after the long weekend.  After the nice people at Enterprise car rental exchanged our flat tire car for another and we put our large load into the second car and we were finally on our way…after basically a three hour detour.  I guess not as long as Gilligan on his sea tour!

On the way to Megs’ house we stopped for one night in Fredonia to visit with Don and Tony and check in on our house.  Patrick wanted to get a few things off the ranch which may be sold to the Paiute Indians.

Jacob and Beth called us no less than six times on Wednesday waiting for us to arrive and were very excited for our visit.  We went to the horse auction to see Brooke herd some of the animals into the barn for the auctioneer.  Then went out to the farm to see Ali’s new truck.  Well, it really is an old one from the rancho and belonged to Uncle Bruce.  It’s about 30 years old and was used to haul water out to the cattle when the well ran dry.  She was excited and hoped to be able to fix it up and drive it to school.  Quite different from the fancy rides the kids in Santa Clarita drive to school.

On our way home I began to write…a little ditty…

Now…I should’a known and simply said, “Let’s stay home in our big cozy bed.”
But No! The calls from kids led to the adventure that’s hard to forget.

It all began most innocently,
Tickets to go east were beyond our budget capacity
I should’a known and simply said,
“We ought ’a stay home, are you out’a your head?”

A trip to the girls only four hundred fifty miles away
“Mom, please come, we can cook and play”
The plans got set for a road trip, and almost packed to go
When sitting at a red light doing nothing wrong
A guy in leather pants singing a purple hair song

Smashed into my fender, and driver door too
The car went to the body shop, “What else could I do?”
My rental was big, “It’s all that we have”
The insurance man’s voice cooed, he applied it like salve.

So I said to my sweetie, “Let’s take this car on the trip,
The seats won’t give me a backache so I feel like a dip
Like the seats in the front of your old truck”
Off we went feeling good til out in the desert we ran out a’ luck.

Hey feller, we ain’t got that tire out here in the sticks
We thought he was gonna cheat us with one of his tricks
But he put on tire and said as we drove out of sight
“Have fun with the family and a great Thanksgiving night.”
In the next town the folks were helpful when they saw we were stuck
(I was beginning to think we should’a brought Patrick’s old crippling truck)
But they fixed us up with a rental and we squeezed in it quite tight
Finally reached our destination, from then on things went fine and right. 
I thought, “It could have been worse like when we had all five kids in the wagon
And got hauled backwards through the Mojave with our spirits a’draggin
We had a great time hiking in Moab checking out arches and edifice.  And at the end of one day our single daughter found an Irishman in the need of a kiss
So after the fun we waved and called them by name
We were full of joy and could have heard us exclaim
On Megan and Darin, Bye Ali and your horse
  Bye, Jessika, Brooke, Jake and Trevor of course.
  Colleen and Little Beth in her dancing shoes
  We were with our loved family…so how could we loose.

Some may ask

Should we have stayed home and alone for the holiday?
No I don’t think so, I would have travelled there in a sleigh
Yes, the trip filled was with flat tires and a bit of strange woe
But, just ask me again, I’ll be packed in a jiffy and ready to go….

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How do it know? It must me magic!

Here we are in 2016 and it seems the magic of Harry Potter, Star Wars and the mystery of Vampires and Werewolves are never old.  Maybe that's because everything else in the world is more confusing than the fiction writers can dream up after a bad Chinese dinner.  But the older I get, the more things seem like magic.

Years ago, the biggest question in my first innocent recollection was, "How does a thermos know how to make liquids put inside of it, hot or cold?"  Then at the age of six I was plagued by the query of, "Where do the voices come from that emerge from the radio. Is it a very small family living in there? And folks making music on little tiny instruments who live inside the box?"

Then I wondered if there were other little people inside the traffic lights to shine their red and green flashlights through their windows to help us all be safe...I had a friend tell me they were the cousins of the people who live inside the
TV box in your livingroom who change the scenery and quickly put on different costumes as you turn the knobs. This made perfect sense to my seven year old mind, and  I guess as the years passed the people in the boxes painted themselves colors because they got tired of looking so grim in black and white.  "Where do they go to the bathroom?" I said to myself.  "Oh, How silly those questions are now that I have other concerns."

At least these wonders had to be hooked up to a wall with a wire that went somewhere to make them work. In those days anything that turned on with a switch, knob or button...had wires.  Wires went all over the place running along inside your house then out to poles of power which were alongside the wires that connected to other homes so voices spoken into telephones could travel along to someone elses' wires and into their house.  "That totally makes sense, right?"  You are connected by wires which have information, voices, power to light up bulbs and appliances and also the pictures which run along wires to reveal themselves as you turn on a switch or knob.  "My, how dumb I was to think little people lived in the boxes."

All got confusing again because they cut the wires and you could carry the handset to the phone around unconnected, "wireless" (All those folks who made wire, too bad for them, as they had to find other jobs.) And still somehow you could talk to the person you wanted by dialing their number.  But did the voice travel through the air?...Yes! they say. But I say, It must be wizardry and magic to tell a message in the air how to know which house to land upon and allow it to hook up with the correct person. (Must be like the thermos.)  Then I thought, "Do the air messages bump and collide with other messages and pictures as they travel in the air.  So many are up there travelling around how can they get to the right place?"  After a while you didn't even have to be near the receiver and you could put the phone into your pocket and go mow the lawn. Just think, "That message knew you were outside cutting grass...Wow!")

Along came pagers who were for doctors and drug dealers and people who had the money to pay for a device that buzzed and informed of a phone number or a person who needed their attention. These were important people who had special messages come through the air by trickery to land in the small box they carried...and I was sure there was a little man with palsy who ran around inside to make it wiggle and let the person with the "box on their belt" know they were needed. ("I can blame those silly thoughts on the fact that during this time I had five children in our home and claim half my brain had gone amiss.")

When computers became the "thing", the world wide web was soon to follow...web what?  Like Charlotte's web and spiders?  "Well sort of," my Microsoft Padowan son Patrick would explain, and then launch into a detailed explanation of how the different parts of the computer needed to talk to each other. (I never let him know I was thinking in my middle-aged innocence, "So are we back to having little folk inside a box talking to each other?")

Cell phones and texting are the worst advances to arrive in this century, and in my estimation are "The Devil", invented to make we, more seasoned citizens, feel like dolts. But the worst is using these instruments to talk and text messages while driving, causing many a problem, and traffic tickets. I have also seen young people sitting next to one another who feel they must text each other rather than speak, and I believe soon, like our appendix, our vocal chords will be obsolete!... I have gotten on buses in Seattle that are more quiet than our Church during the passing of the Sacrament as the riders busily tap away on their phones and I-pads. (Please see previous blog, "I'm not in OZ", about our trip to Washington)

Downloading bits and bites through the magic that happens in the air; games, maps, school work, movies and inconsequential information can clog the phone and the mind...too much information can overload and confuse or kill, quicker than any accident.

Streaming TV shows and movies is a mystery that goes far beyond the realm of my grey cells to comprehend. I have
given up trying to understand because instead of the old days of going to a theater and having the guy up above you in the projector room turn the switch so the film rolls. A person can now (through the air, mind you) tell the TV box in your house to let some other person or machine very far away start up the reel of film you want to see, and have it pop up for you to view...or if you want...on your phone, if you are bored, and have the time to watch, most likely while waiting in line to pay for your groceries.  (When else would you have the time to watch a movie on your phone) and how 'bout the fact that without a wire you can play a game with some stranger in another land far far away  who speaks a dialect of Swahili. Hmm, I guess that's best because if the person in Africa or Taiwan does the happy dance because he is the winner and claims victory in front of his friends, no one in your vicinity need know you lost the war, or the journey, or the quest or whatever.

How do it know?...I am beginning not care one little bit...or is it simply Alzheimer's kicking in?


Friday, November 11, 2011

OLD PHOTOS AND BLACKMAIL!, Chicken for Halloween!

Pat the Dad
My oldest son is complaining about the old family reunion photo on this blog...he was a bit "fluffy" at the time. (I think he was still handsome...but I'm his mom)  He has worked hard to lose the weight for his health and now looks like he did when he was in high school...a really handsome guy with dimples. But he hasn't sent me any new pictures yet.  When he knows you are taking a photo he makes a face like a sour-puss, (so why did we pay for braces all those years ago)...I'll put up some better ones when he sends them, so far he has sent one where he looks like a terrorist, or a bad guy from some James Bond movie, completely covered in black from head to toe!

Chicken Me!
Now... I have some bad photos taken which seems to be the delight of my family as they post the odd and non-flattering images as often as possible.  With my husband, and his sense of bizarre humor and penchant for teasing it is amazing more of the awful photos haven't been posted for the world to see.  Okay, so here is another awful one of me and I am beating him to it.

You see he is always wanting to be a chicken for Halloween. This year when I was looking for a few props for my "Glenda the Good Witch" from Wizard of Oz, (I am usually a Witch or Gypsy but decided I didn't want to scare the little kids at the door.) I found a chicken beak for him to wear and when trying to convince he to wear it...he took a picture with his phone...(those things are evil)

Several years ago I made him a giant chicken suit....I can make really odd costumes and wonder why I was not a costume mistress (can you use that word anymore?) for film or theater as I am pretty creative.

The year I made that big chicken costume, I went as Mother Goose.  He wore that suit with giant beak and huge chicken comb for several years until one year I made us matching Mickey-Minnie Mouse outfits.  I only wore that costume for one year because I caused a medical emergency.

I was teaching at the convent at that time and thought it would be fun to wear my "Minnie" suit during lunchtime when the patients (retired nuns and priests) from the long term care area of the "Sisters of Nazareth" convent...were having lunch.

I was fully decked out with huge ears and a polka dot dress as I wandered into the dining room passing out candy to the residents.  All was going well until one of the residents needed me to do the Heimlich maneuver as she sucked in a hunk of hot dog into her trachea and couldn't breathe!  I had scared her so much she panicked.  I totally forgot that some of the patients had dementia or Alzheimer's, and this one old lady thought I was really a huge mouse!  I had truly scared her as I came up behind her using my best Minnie voice.  I never wore that outfit again!

Last Year 2010 Halloween
Becca and Family
I love Rebecca,  her husband and kids getting into the spirit of dressing up (maybe it's genetic) Becca  is never shy about taking a photo...flattering or not...(She's a really good sport as her husband is the oldest of five boys and one sister...so like my husband he is a tease)...now with four boys...she is more than ready for anything.
Pat as James Bond with Broc, Meg and kids with Hershey the dog...on a Snow Board trip...so how is this better than the family reunion one at the top of the Blog?

Patrick NOW!
if Patrick will ever send a nice photo I will most likely faint...But...here is one of him I sneaked when he was eating.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Eighth Wonder, One Hour in Church

                        Eighth Wonder of the World...

Each day I see zombie people wandering aisles with their carts
Butts tucked into stretch pants along with other parts

The girl with a petition for the ballot, banning bacon accosted me first
However, it a large man in a wheelchair who protested her impudence

"How dare you deny me bacon for without it, I can not eat
Are you insinuating that's why I can't get up upon my feet!"

They have movies in a bin, some one dollar other's five
but why get a fiction film when this place has the action of a hive

For here you can get most anything your little heart desires
Like food, or drugs or guns to shoot and stuff to make a fire

Now some say Disneyland is the best place to people watch
But if you hit this wonder, your viewing pleasure goes up a notch

For you can get a parenting lesson on the aisle with all the toys
Which is near "Appreciation of Music," It's the place will all the noise 

Adventure and Romance is at the lingerie rack where a lone burly man
Tries to buy his wife a gift wishing she'd asked for a new frying pan

So if your cash is low for frills and can't pay the power bill
Just hit the local Walmart to get your entertainment fill

One Hour in Church

Can I dance the wool from my brain as this hour begins? 
Concentration is nonexistant so watch the big-cheek baby grin
I wonder, Do I have more sunsets behind me than in front?
Can I make this time count, so my rent on earth is paid.
Will I find the flakes of gold, from the small make something great
Why does the man who spoke for just a minute make more sense
Than the one with words abundant, voice thumping like a fan

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Skate for the T-birds? Never trust a Frenchman!

For some strange reason my husband has been blessed with an innocent face and most things he says folks believe.  I have heard people say he looks like a cop...and since his name is Patrick...he looks like, an Irish cop...an honest fellow.  Not So!   He is a Frenchman...and is as slippery as they come!

He is the master of words and can croon unbelievable stories that sound true...especially regarding me his sweet and innocent wife.  I have heard it said how rude the French speak, but I think mostly they are masters of disguise, and I know for a fact the phrase, "Never trust a French Man." rings true.

Please remember I came from a quite formal New York City family where dinner was only served on a white linen tablecloth, and one never told stories unless they were the honest truth...and his family of five boys were from a ranch in the middle of no- where and quite close to cave men in their behavior.  They also delighted in deception.

Soon after we married my husband would introduce me as his "little roller skating wife."  When people would ask, he then explained we had met when he attended a roller derby match at the Los Angeles arena and I was a jammer for the Lady Thunder-Birds rollerskating squad.  He did this with such a quiet and sincere voice and face everyone believed him.  At first I was stunned and would loudly protest, but he would shush me and say, "Now Dear, don't be ashamed of your past...and you were so cute in your tight uniform and were a very skilled roller derby girl! I fell madly in love." And much to my chagrin, over my complaints...most all believed him and were in awe of my talent and also a bit afraid that if confronted I would punch them out, since Patrick would then explain, "She has a bit of a temper, so watch what you say and don't set her off."

Soon I gave up trying to protest as I knew my words would fall on deaf ears once he had persuaded all within earshot, I was only shy and did not want anyone to know of my fame and talent.  So after a while I didn't try to convince others his words were a lie, hoping this would quell his enthusiasm for embarrassing me. Oh! not so.  It didn't work.  So, I then began to agree with him and added tales of my prowess and stories of my victories.  This did not stop him either, so I gave up and when he started with his deception of my past when introduced to new acquaintances, I would walk away in disgust and leave him to weave the tale of our meeting, much to the amazement of those listening.

I found this talent extended to the office where he told the office help his wife was a "little person" or quadriplegic, or double or quadruple amputee.  Most would feel sorry for him and amaze at his kindness and concern.  That he, such a big and virile man would have the consideration and compassion to care for such an invalid never questioning what he said.  All the while he was chuckling at their gullibility.

However, as the years past, some became aware of his deception and wild imaginative stories and knew he was a tease and that he would patiently wait to spring the joke that trapped his audience.  But they were never quite sure about his tales and always held in reserve the tiny possibility that he told the truth.  My daughter Rebecca and her family a few years ago dressed as nerds for Halloween and the photos were quite funny.   About a month later he showed the photo to a secretary in the office who had a particularly tender heart.  He told the story of how proud he was of his middle daughter who was handicapped..."Eugenia" and the husband she met at the institution, and the sweet, yet mentally handicapped children they bore.

The secretary, slowly and (knowing Patrick was a tease,) quietly with trepidation responded with sympathy and concern.  It was several days later he showed her a real photo of Rebecca and her handsome...very smart boys.  This secretary didn't speak to him for several days saying she had wasted her emotions and worry about him and his daughter Eugenia.  From then on she called him "The Devil", and "Doctor Evil."  He wore the monikers with pride!  Imagine!

While he was in Chandler he told the engineers and other Superintendents his wife was a "little person".  This happened when someone in the office was speaking negatively about some TV show regarding midgets.  He told the person he was offended by the word midget especially since his wife was a "little person."  Of course he said this all with a straight face, and then immediately walked back to his cubicle as if upset by the conversation.  I guess there was a buzz in the office for a while..."Is it true Pat's wife it a...ummm "little person?"  No one knew, and so they called to the office in Anaheim Calif...those guys had never met me and didn't know, or couldn't tell them for sure. And the men were not quite sure if he was telling them the truth or not, and when asked repeatedly, Patrick of course, would only bow his head and turn away with a few tears in his eyes.

I visited Chandler for the first time during Spring break from teaching at COC.  The first morning there I drove him to the work site at Intel and dropped him off so I could have use of the car.  I guess all the guys at the office were still wondering about the little lady who was Pat's wife...quite a match since he is over 6"2 " tall.  When I arrived to pick him up that afternoon I noticed the parking lot was loaded with quite a few men milling around and talking in groups.  Patrick stood by himself near the stop sign so I slowed to allow him to climb into the passenger seat.  I noticed several of the men had disgusted looks on their faces as they turned and walked away and when I questioned the behavior the reply came..."Oh, their disappointed your not a little person, that's all."

"Up to your old tricks again.  If you had told me I could have scrunched down in the seat and looked through the steering wheel to go along with the joke," I responded, as I had learned...It's better to go along with the gag than to fight city hall.  If not, he just would have invented some other story for his amusement!  It's amazing to me after all these years he can still pull suckers in (I guess there really is one born every minute) and hook someone to reel them in like an unsuspecting catch while he laughs like mad on the inside.  Often times the "catch" never learns the truth... "Leave 'em guessing and that's the best reward," or so he says!

Somehow, after all the stories he tells, I am starting to be convinced I was quite the skater,
yes I was....
I know I was...
wasn't I?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Can I hug you?"

This week I worked two grueling 12 hour days of orientation with nursing students.  Each class has their own feel and nature.  Gratefully this cadre of kids seem eager to learn and actually listen, how nice!

I'm at a new, yet familiar, hospital (which has been purchased since I taught there a few years ago by the Sisters of Providence) so had to be on my toes to re-acquaint myself with the policy of the hospital and also with the education director, who at first seemed tough but ended up a concerned and welcoming softie.  I just hope the staff feel the same way when we show up next week and mess up their routine.

Seeing the photos of Sisters of Providence from years past in fur coats while serving in Alaska and others in boats crossing a river to care for natives on a remote island, then seeing several statues of Mary in the halls must have reminded me of a past teaching experience.  So I got into a discussion during lunch with my students about my sojourn teaching at a convent. 

It happened during the time when I was in a transition from an ICU nurse to education which was quite a while ago. I know it seems odd to be teaching at a convent, but I had a director at the now defunct Riverside Hospital who knew I liked to teach and asked me to join her group of educators during the beginnings of mandatory continuing education for Registered Nurses during the 1980's.  Every place with a long term care area of over 10 beds was required to have continuing education taught by a person with the proper credentials.  While the Mother Superior sent one of the nuns to school to acquire the necessary certificates and I had my teaching credential from UCLA I was hired to fulfill the state requirement. 

One day each week I went into Palms near Santa Monica where the high fenced facility with  ivy covered gates opened magically as I drove up the long entrance.  Right before I left my assignment teaching at the convent I was pregnant with my fifth child...and the cook, Sister Rose baked me into a chubby mom-in-waiting.  As I arrived early in the morning she had apple dumplings warm and ready for me when she discovered it was a treat I couldn't resist. She then would ask me what I wanted for lunch and seemed to be able to accommodate my strangest culinary wish. I now blame her for the 20 pounds I have never been able to shed.

Most of the Sisters I taught basic nursing aide skills were from Brazil or Peru as the Sister's of Nazareth originated in South America.  My Spanish of two semesters of beginning foreign language at Grant High School were put to the test, and grew during the two years I worked there.  At first I had a translator, but toward the end of teaching there I was able to teach CPR in Spanish.  I am sorry to say my Spanish has once again been reduced to telling a Spanish speaking mother in labor "empujar!"  (push)

My last blog entry was on my mind about possible loss of senses due to the use of technology (read...I'm not in OZ) and I was reminded of many discussions with the Nuns I became friendly with.  I clearly remember Sister Gabriel returning the gifts I had given her when she was transferred to another area.  She said her things would be searched upon arriving at her new convent and she was not allowed to have any personal things from friends or family to take her thought away from prayer or her calling.  She also confessed how difficult it was to be separated from everyone and everything she knew.

Sister Gabriel was a lovely young girl who was a novice and getting ready to take final vows in her order which maintained the traditional dress of a severe habit in white, and would be trimmed in dark blue after her final initiation.  Not long after that I was invited to the final vows of a young Samoan girl and her family came to wish her well and basically to see her for the last time.  It was a sad celebration to me.  Much like a wedding but somewhat without the joy.  There was even a wedding cake of sorts, which surprised me (I love wedding cake).  The family gave gifts to all the persons in attendance and then tearfully said good bye to their daughter who would live a life of solitary service.

"It is the lack of touch, and the training to hide emotion that is the most difficult." I was told by Sister Fernando.

"You mean I can't touch you or give you a hug." I asked.

"Yes, it's something we are to avoid so we don't form attachments and that's why we move from convent to convent within our order to avoid getting close to those around us.  It's to help us keep focus on our calling."

"But it removes you from feeling and emotion and even the compassion that is the foundation of nursing."

It is part of the sacrifice we make."

I couldn't understand and wanted to ask why?  But I knew the discussion was closed and walked down the long hall to my little office.  A few weeks later on my last day at the convent the Sisters surprised me with a baby shower and a beautiful handmade blanket.  Sister Rose was in her glory preparing a special lunch with a cake that was almost like a wedding cake as she had heard me express my favorite was that kind of desert.  She expressed her love through her deeds and actions...without human touch...no hug, no kiss on the cheek.

How must it be to never feel skin to skin, touch.  When babies are born the most important thing is to place the newborn on the mothers tummy, skin to skin contact...a measure of love, warmth and acceptance...we call it bonding.  I left the convent that day with a heavy heart.  I had learned to respect their dedication yet was sad to think the care they gave others was denied to them.

Later I taught at another school who was started by an Episcopal church and a Nun was part of the staff.  Sister Eileen wore street clothing and her "Mother Home" was back east. She went there each year for a retreat and to renew her vows...which did not include lack of touch.  I didn't even know she was a Nun until I knew her for several months...I was a bit miffed she didn't think to tell me right away and hoped I hadn't said anything wrong to her during her stealth participation in our staff discussions.  I found her to be a fun loving and dedicated woman whose "Order" was definitely more progressive than the Sisters of Nazareth.

I know today in the public school system often it is not okay to give a student a hug.  This is really unfortunate as a hug should be considered an innocent expression of comfort, encouragement, support and love, so important to the human condition. 

I don't know if at this hospital the Nuns are allowed to hug...I haven't seen one yet.  I know there  are lots of ways to give service and I'm glad I can choose to give service to my family, my profession, my students and ultimately my Heavenly Father.  But just as Christ had children sit on his knee to show he cared (and I'm sure give them hugs),  I'm glad to be free to give my husband, children, precious grandchildren and even my students....hugs!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Am I in Oz? I know I'm Not in Kansas, or Arizona!

We spent a wonderful week in Washington...Seattle, actually Redmond...the land of Microsoft and computer geeks.  The last few times I got on a plane I landed in the land of tan and flat landscape, Arizona....this was green lush and beautiful even if there was a bit of rain. 

One day we went by bus to the Sea hawks game and I noticed it was strangely quiet.  As each person entered the bus and sat they immediately pulled out their phone...(most had Microsoft ones) and began to browse and put their heads down not glancing right or left. 

"A convenient way to avoid human contact." was the comment of our youngest child, Michael, who is a Psychology degree graduate and is always looking at people in a analytical way.  I began to speculate what will happen in 20 years or so.

The sense of touch will begin to diminish.  Vocal cords will wither and our only communication will by by text, computer, or some other yet not invented form of information transmission.  So then, I thought, "What if energy is cut off, by some natural disaster...would people talk and actually look at one another.  Eye contact which in the past was used as a way to determine honesty and conviction will once again be instituted as a new an innovative way to know the person sitting next to them.

In past college classes I've learned that communication, (I mean words, spoken language), are only a small part of letting a person know what you want or how you feel about a subject.  Body language, tone and timber of voice, the tip of a head...or how one looks can tell another person volumes.  Do you dress differently for a job interview, or a date?  All of these factors feed into understanding one another. Or maybe that is the purpose, afraid to make a commitment, or not willing to be hurt of disappointed, friendships in the world of cyber communication will be a thing of the past.  Our clinical cold inanimate communication by text or tweet is so lacking in emotion or true understanding it is amazing to me we have allowed this to happen.

Another thing happening with communication is the way we read books.  On a phone, i-pad, Zune or other device...straining our eyes to avoid the glare so we scurry to darkened cave like areas (including our homes) so we can see what is on the screen.  No longer can we enjoy the pleasure of page turning and getting closer to the end of the book, or regretting that a good read will soon be over, No! unless you scroll to the end of the data transmitted to your device, you have no idea if the book is 100 or 1000 pages (unless you begin to measure a book in gigabytes instead of pages) and you have no idea when to anticipate the conclusion of a story. 

I love feeling the paper between my fingers, the smell of the binding. Today most book stores are closing or gone and soon we will no longer have the joy of browsing  through the thousands of written chunks of thought and the records of days gone by, remembered by one or many. (I hope my novel will be included in that wonderful medium before paper and pages are gone and passe.)

Library hours have been cut in most cities and access to resources is becoming an on-line activity. (no one buys an encyclopedia any more...When our five kids were young I scrimped and managed to put in our budget the collecting of each volume of the cheap little encyclopedia books sold at one of the grocery stores...I don't think I could ever find the index or the xyz volume) The necessity of those wonderful stacks of records may soon be gone.

I worked as a librarian during college.  I knew the Dewey decimal system and could return books to their proper places in record speed.  I loved the football mandatory study hall nights where I met my future husband Patrick who made extra work for me by checking out all sorts of literature, only to return the volumes in a few minutes so he could talk to me.

Now substituted for all of these visual, tactile and even olfactory sensations are circuits and bits contained in smaller and smaller receptacles holding the words of others.  And just think of what would happen if the downloads, power sources, instant e-mails (no one can write a decent letter anymore)  texts and happy faces and the new language of tweets and face book were to shut down?

Something to think about....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Once and Future King!

The "Once and Future King"...is what they call Arthur in Camelot...(I told you I am a Classic Musical Junkie)...Being back in Santa Clarita is like being back in Camelot.  When I was on the School Board we often referred to our little valley as Mayberry...like with Aunt Bea and Opie...but I have always thought it was like Camelot, as there is a law in Santa Clarita that July and August can not be too hot...and there's a legal limit to the snow here! (once every 15 years or so, ask our Mayor).

Not like  Phoenix...where to go outside in June-Aug is like stepping into a kiln...it takes your breath away.  And for me, I usually turned and went back into my air conditioned apartment.  Air conditioning that never worked...or at least every few hours it went up to 82 as the set temperature until I began to sweat and realized it needed to be reset...We had the apartment complex engineer ( a guy who wore a work belt as his only qualification as to his expertise) fix it several times...each time he told me it was fixed, "I've re-set the thing." he told me with a firm voice...as if I had done something to the little dealio on the wall!

He fixed the air conditioner like the fountain outside our apartment got fixed, and the automatic gates for our secure complex...that never worked the whole time Patrick was there.  It was sad to look out on green scum and a huge (fake) rock stained with the water which once bubbled down the sides. I imagined that even it it got fixed it was a sad sight with it spitting up in the air from time to time...instead of a nice soothing flow of clear water.  As for the gates...I could never get the entrance to open so went out the exit which was always open.

8 Months, that's how long we were there and nothing as far as I could see got fixed.  That makes me glad I'm a home owner and have control over my own fate.  So if it takes 8 months or even two years to get in a new door...that is my problem.  And by the way...the last door to go in still waits patiently in the girl's bedroom untouched by human hands for, hmmmm, now let me see  2 YEARS...but whose counting!  At least it's in our hands and not some guy who's only claim to being a fix-it man is his jingling fancy belt and the keys to a jitney to drive around the complex.

As a parting shot Pat told me the day before he left they cut down my tree...please see the previous blog on my escape from the Jacuzzi area when my key wouldn't work to get me out!   That very tree was my path to freedom.  I could have escaped from Alcatraz with how my mind spun and whirled around planning how to get out of the stinking pressure cooker of a place and not become a blob on the concrete...cooked to well-done in the enclosure where I was trapped.  I guess I should be glad they didn't cut it down until we were checked out of the place...as it gave me a bit of comfort to look out our balcony across the green scum of the non working fountain to see the tree which had been my salvation.
Ah! YES...I'm glad to be back in Camelot with my King finally home...and of all things after these many years we have decided we really like each other and enjoy spending time together...We've decided we hate being apart...go figure!   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As seen on TV never works!

Before we lived in California, we lived in New Jersey and my dad's office was in New York.   He rode the train into the city every day with his sister who worked in the city too.  Then he was told he had to move 3,000 miles away to Hollywood where all the work seemed to be.  He was the financial controller of a sound production company,"Westrex, Sound Services." The newest growth in this area was on the west coast where studios popped up like mushrooms to put together "talkie" films.  My dad was involved in the transition from silent to talking movies so my mother brother and I went with him, off to the strange land of Hollywood California.

Up until then silent films were enhanced with a few written words and the creativity of an organist or person on the piano to help the plot.  Often the music played had nothing to do with what was happening on the screen but soon specialized musicians became sought after for their ability to play music and other inventive sounds to enhance a film.  The musician had to do this in the dark while watching the screen.  The acting on screen was overdone along with exaggerated facial expressions, the makeup and costumes were very bold to help tell the story and convey the plot.  Once sound was added the exaggerated actions and other things were slowly done away with along with some actors who had raspy or unattractive voices.

I remember as a child seeing my first TV.  We were living in our little post war, plastic door knob California house.  The neighbors down the street were the first in North Hollywood to buy one of those things with pictures inside...until then my brother and I would listen to the radio every Saturday morning.  We loved "The Lone Ranger", and the "Creaking Door"....

Of course before TV came the talking films.  My brother and I were allowed to walk to the theater most Saturdays to see the latest release.  They had a great deal in the candy shop next door to the theater.  If you bought a big candy, you got a free ticket.  We always got the candy, I don't think we ever told our parents about the deal.  The theater would have a serial where each week some woman was in peril and just when the white hat clad hero was about to save her from a train or other life threatening disaster it abruptly stopped...to be continued next week!  And the next week without showing how the woman was saved the story continued.  Then there was a news reel about the armed services or war pictures and next came a cartoon and two movies....it took most of the day and the candy was gone long before the string of films was completed. I was only six, and got very squirmy, considering I even now have a hard time sitting through an hour of church, I guess I should apologize for my wiggly pestering behavior to my brother.

Most evenings that first summer of live TV the neighbors would drag their new contraption out onto the front porch facing the yard.  Many would gather on the lawn sitting on blankets to watch the very small square of black and white moving pictures.  I became severely attached to Beanie and Cecil, and Howdy Doody.

It wasn't very long before we got a TV too! (I think ours was about one inch bigger than the neighbors, with a yellowish tint screen  which made everyone look jaundiced).  After all, my dad's studio was putting the sound track on most of the shows...as well as most of the films in theaters so we were supporting his studio by watching those shows.
I continued to love watching my kiddie shows, except after a short time Howdy Doody was banned in our house...don't ask me why...my mom simply hated the show. But I would sneak watching it whenever she did the laundry and pulled the washing machine into the middle of the kitchen.  The machine made so much noise...I could have bombed the front room down and she would never have know.  I dreamed of being Princess Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring.  And sometimes still do.

Soon after my introduction to TV....I was introduced to TV commercials.  The Popiel potato peeler was amazing to my 6 year old eyes.  I wanted my mom to get one in the worst way but of course having adult common sense she never even budged to buy one.  I can't say I have always been so strong.  It could be I was  deprived of TV gadgets as a child so frequently feel I must sample many of the ones I can get my hands on...but I am finally beginning to gain some restraint. 

I have determined gadgets never work as advertised or demonstrated!  I havent' recently bought many "As seen on TV items" until I had a bank account hacked and my grand daughter saw a special metal wallet on TV.  It protected all contents from scanners so no one could get your credit card numbers. She told me I needed one of these wallets because it not only protected your credit cards it was said to be indestructible and could be run over by a truck and stay intact.  So I folded and got one for me and then one for my mom.  I used it for about a month and it seemed to work, then one day I dropped it!  Of COURSE...after it hit the concrete of the market floor with a tinny thunk,  the latch made out of plastic broke...now it won't stay closed. 

The wallet was only $10 but come on...if a truck can drive over it, how cum if I drop it, all of a sudden it breaks!  I guess, as with most of those gadget things...you can't win!  I am hoping Wallmart will take it back!   

Cleaning to Re-claim my home!

I returned from Arizona the state of guns and heat!...scary actually when you think of them together. I came home to an empty home, a blessed empty home!  I don't think I have had that pleasure in several years...because we have a large home it seems many of our kids have used it as a stopping off place...some for several years at a time; bringing "their" kids with them.

Closets I had used to put winter clothing (Yes in California there is a bit of change in the weather.) were confiscated by the "visiting" family member and hangers on...to have my stuff squished into a very small space in our bedroom.  I had one daughter state that growing up she thought I was selfish because I wanted my own things, including my own bathroom.  I think she forgot I shared most everything with a very large...often dirty from work, man.

The house was quiet, WOW! neato.  And to think I had longed for noise when the last kid moved out, now it was heaven.  The frantic cleaning and picking up began...don't forget I have a bit of OCD so I decided the only piles would be in the garage.  It took almost three days from morning until late at night to get all the stuff left in the two rooms most recently lived in, sorted and packed ready for pick up with the next visit here.  I folded and sorted and compressed toys, clothing and other bits into boxes...and piles for the garage.  After muscling them down the stairs and safely into the darkness of the garage.  I re-claimed the closets neatly putting my things in rows on new hangars getting all ready for when Patrick will move back from Chandler in a few weeks.

Purge is the word Patrick loves, almost more than any other.  Subsequently I always seem to have something to put out to donate to the blind...don't ask me how those blind folks find the house, but they do!   I have done my best not to bring anything new into the house for a few years now, except needed clothing, or food, so when we move, or go on a mission we can travel light...Ha! if packing up over 32 years of living in one house will be light.

I have decided for the most part we could sell a lot of the furniture in a garage sale.  None is as nasty as the green velvet couch that was propped up on a rock we wanted to take to the Rose Parade and leave it there!  But I am assuming the our much smaller abode will call for lots less stuff.  I don't want to use a storage place...I decided if you have so much stuff it won't fit where you live...you do need to purge.

The weird thing is I have discovered the majority of our stuff are memories.  Genealogy, mementos of trips that bring back fond memories...a plethora of photos.  (for the past 3-5 years they are now on digital Cd's).  I thought I could part with the two boxes I have stored under our bed, but after a very careful look I think I discarded only a few papers.  I'm not sure why, but some things are too difficult to put in the junk heap, and who knows it may be worth something someday.

For example, my 1984 Olympic box.  It has certificates, photos, my medical uniform...including shoes and hat, as well as daily dot-matrix print outs of winners and items of interest.  I collected pins during that time because as a thank you for medical treatment I was often given a team or other type of pin.  I usually did not have anything to trade back, so all my 50 or so pins I have in a case hung in the living room were gifts.

The journal I kept for the first few weeks at various venues was interesting.  I read that my first call was to work at Lake Casitas as medical staff for Rowing and Canoeing,  then soon after came another call to assist with the children who were part of the opening ceremonies.  Then weeks went by with no communication.  In August of 1983 I got a letter to send in my forms again and began to realize there was confusion between different agencies.  In October, then November I got requests to fill out additional paperwork.  I began to think I needed my own xerox machine.  Always the letters stated how lucky we were to be able to donate our time!  Two more sets of forms arrived in late November and again in December.

Then nothing for several months and in April of '84 I got a request to attend orientation at Daniel Freeman Hospital...we were all fingerprinted and told we would work at various sport venues for athlete or spectator first aid.  Some were told they would work checking for drugs (tinkle patrol) after each competition.  I was glad I was not selected for that job.

Four meetings in May resulted in my assignment to the photo journalists and International Broadcasting, mostly at CBS studio.  I finally got my credentials and uniform.  I met the other nurses working at the venue, and most are from Henry Mayo Hospital where I work.  So many meetings now I am away from the kids too much, but Patrick is picking up the slack.  We now are meeting many of the athletes who come to the venue to be interviewed and will be able to watch what is happening at several of the venues at once on huge monitors.

My Journal is very detailed and I am not sure how I kept it up as I was crazy busy at that time.  How can I throw it away! Or any of the papers, photos or memories...so I won't!  I cleaned off the dust from the top of the plastic container...and shoved it back under the bed.

Maybe I'll have better luck getting rid of some of my stuff in the den...maybe!