Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One of those days

Another one of those days yesterday. Plumbing is wrong, welder didn't show up and on my 4th trip to the cabinet shop for the finishes, he still doesn't have it right. Last time there I gave him something to match and he seems to have ignored it and come up with something entirely different. My computer had to go into the shop and the sprinklers at the rancho are all screwed up. Yikes.

Today we leave for Benecia in Northern California for Thanksgiving. Hopefully we'll be ahead of the crowds and we're staying in Fresno. Tomorrow we can take a more leisurely ride to complete the trip. On the way up we'll visit with Pat. She is mostly unconcious now and it simply waiting for her last breath. I'm surprised that they are not giving her drugs. For all the time she was in the nursing home, they gave her anti-depressants and morphine. Now when you'd think she'd need it most, they are giving her nothing.

I will read all day in the car with my ear mufflers on which is the only way I can stand the road noise for the long run.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Bateman Building

Is this building cursed? I wonder. The first bar owner murdered his wife. A series of strange incidents happened over the years. Since we owned it, the bar owner was convicted of manslaughter and served time in jail. His wife, suffering from advanced MS "fell down" the stairs in their home and died, I guess, under suspicious circumstances. Copious amounts of alcohol were involved.

About the building:

Bateman Building (1949) 303-311 W. Kennewick Ave. This picture is pretty old and the building looks much better now.

Bateman building, July 2000 The Bateman building was built upon the site of the old Hotel Kennewick (built 1906) that burned down the year before, in 1948. The following article appeared about the building a 1949 issue of the Kennewick Courier-Reporter newspaper:

A new departure in architecture in the Northwest has been employed in the construction of the new Bateman Building at Kennewick Avenue and Cascade. This is the front of the building facing Kennewick Avenue which is known as a "splayed" front.

Designed by Robert H. Goss, Kennewick designer, the front serves a useful function. When the building is completed a second floor "corridor" shop will be included in that section of the building. The indented front affords an opportunity through the use of windows that reach to the floor to provide display space. In addition, the front makes possible a unique and effective lighting for the front of the building.

"The building is of functional design," Goss said, "planned for the fullest use of all space."

He added that there is "nothing fancy" about it. Plenty of strength has been provided though the use of masonry and reinforced concrete walls with mill construction.

Roman brick, an old and popular material, has been employed in the east wing. This brick will be combined with limestone in the front of the building.

When completed, the building will provide 28,000 square feet of space to make it the largest commercial structure in Kennewick. Throughout, the building has been designed for the greatest possible fire safety. A fire hose system is being installed in all parts of the structure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Meeting Eisenhower

Fran told us a story today as we were pulling into Palm Springs. Years ago a friend of her mother-in-law went to school with Mamie Eisenhower. Dwight and Mamie wintered in Palm Springs and on one occasion Fran and Nick got invited along with her mother-in-law to a lunch they attended. Fran described them as the most down to earth people you could imagine and said that Dwight particularly liked Nick - no surprise. Eisenhower told them a few stories and they had a lunch - Fran remembered the lunch consisted of two items out of cans...she couldn't remember what they were, but they were canned things! One of them was some kind of pasta. Oh the food thrills of the 50's.

At some later date, Mamie asked Nick's mother for a recipe (I hope it wasn't for the canned pasta) and Nick drove over to the Eisenhowers to deliver it. As soon as he got out of the car a swarm of secret service people were all over them. Nick, terrified kept saying over and over, "My mother sent me over with this recipe!".

Palm Desert

We had a great day with Fran visiting Ed and Diana at their new home in PGA West. The home is gorgeous with a beautiful view and they have tastefully decorated with unique furniture and art. After visiting a while we had lunch at The Stuft Pizza. I had mahi mahi, Fran - a Cobb Salad, Richard had Poke with a slice of pizza and Ed and Diana had the calamari salad and greek pizza. Everything was very good.

The drive over on highway 79 was so much more interesting than the freeway. Traffic was light and we made very good time there and back.

The Palm Springs area looks pretty good despite the recession. Ed and Diana report that many of the golf courses are suffering although the PGA course that they see through their large view windows is still pretty crowded. I'd forgotten how lush and beautiful the PS golf courses are.

Fran told us her new mantra is that she was born in the depression and she's probably going to die in a recession. An interesting thought.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My birthday and Patty's hospice

Five therapy sessions are completed as of today. The "girls" shook my head until it felt like it would fly off my neck. They are forcing me to focus on letters while my head is spinning. There are immediate benefits from this and once the shaking stops, the world is more stable for me. Even though our session was only 45 minutes, it was exhausting.

At the pharmacy when I stopped to pick up a prescription, they ask for your birthdate. When I told her the date, she burst into a big smile and said, "It's your birthday!". As I was leaving she shouted out - "Have a great birthday." We are going to the Elephant Bar in Vista for dinner.

As a treat for myself, I bought Margaret Atwood's new book and started to read it. Another piece of fascinating science fiction, Margaret weaves a tale which immediately pulls you into its web. A post-apocolyptic tale, this time earth has been stuck with a "waterless flood". The first character we are introduced to is alone, a survivor assessing her resources and remembering times past.

Sadly Richard was notified today that his mother has been sent back to Solheim the nursing home and is in hospice. She has her intravenous tube set-up but they will be only giving her liquids. At the longest she will live 2 weeks, but considering her age and condition I don't expect that she will live past the weekend. We will go up tomorrow and basically say our goodbyes. Oddly they are not medicating her now - you would think this would be the time to give her plenty of morphine and ativan. Patty will be happy that she is finally slipping the surly bonds of earth...she has felt that she's being punished for her sins by staying alive for so long.

Monday, November 16, 2009

LIttle Mexican Tiles

Today I ordered little Mexican tiles or "dots" as the tile guys call them. Eight designs, 10 of each will be incorporated into the outdoor patios. First I looked through all the available 2" tiles and chose a dozen designs which I printed from the web site. I cut them into 2" x 2" squares and took them up to the rancho, laying them out on the large 17" x 17" slate-like tiles at the back. Once we picked the designs, I calculated how many we would need for the pattern and placed the order. Two day turn around will get them here for Friday, when Mannie will start laying them in.

I could only post 4 designs so I guess they limit the amount you can put on your blog.

Richard and I love this type of colorful Mexican tile. Once the house is complete, I hope to mosaic the risers on our outdoor concrete stairs and maybe do a couple of pots. I enjoy piecing together the broken parts into some sort of eye-pleasing arrangement. Hard on the knees, everything seems to ache and you have to crouch over the work so it's back-breaking but rather satisfying once done.

Now when I recall Pompeii and other ancient sites when mosaic artists were commissioned to coat so many surfaces, I can better appreciate the artistic effort and the physical effort this craft requires.

The tiles are "Talevera". The designs originated in Talevera Spain, but have been copied in Mexico for so many years that they are now known world-wide as Mexican tiles.

Book Club meeting

Woman in White: Everyone liked the book and the discussion was lively. Most were impressed with Wilkie Collins' life and his experiences and how he incorporated some of them in the book. There's a Wilkie Collins web site loaded with interesting information about the man...pdf files of most of his works including commentaries he wrote on various subjects - marriage, friends etc. I can't believe how much he wrote considering that they were using nib pens, ink and writing by candlelight in tiny script to save on paper. Think of what he could have done with a word processor?

Barbara had some documents from the same era, 1860, which she purchased in England.. one of them was a probate document for a spinster's will. It's written on sheepskin and in that beautiful penmanship that most educated people used - it was so interesting to see it and imagine the clerks in a law office on high stools scratching away creating public records. The advent of the typewriter must have thrown tons of people out of work. The documents added to the discussion of that time in history.

Women's rights issues were discussed and the fact that women were thrown into insane asylums when they caused "problems" - well I guess they are still doing that in India. Wilkie apparently was particularly sensitive to this and of course, incorporated many interesting and unusual (for the times) women into this story. He modeled Marion, after his good friend George Sands.

The menu: Stuffed shells, short ribs, crackers and cheese, pumpkin cakes and Halloween cupcakes. Kathy brought an interesting wine named, Pee no Evil.

The girls told another one of their hilarious stories. They were talking about being drunk in Mexico city and how someone fell out of the car onto the median in the road. They were trying to remember who it was, when one of them remembered that it was their mother!!! Apparently she was having some sort of mid-life crisis...and ended up going off that evening with an architect. I've got to hear more about her.

Vickie picked for January and besides the book we chose, Half Broke Horses - Jeanette Walls new effort, she had four others she'd picked- two of which I thought I might read: Baking Cakes in Kilangali (Rwanda) and The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver's new book.

We are going to donate collectively to a charity (Susan has been collecting information) for Christmas and the meeting will be at Roxanne's house again - this will be her third year as hostess.
Busy week ahead of us. Tiling, plumbing, cabinets are all demanding attention. It's taking both of us to supervise, run for "parts", return calls and try to keep moving. Finally we seem to have gotten rolling again after a few set backs that made us grind to a halt.

Richard's mom had another stroke on Saturday and was taken to the emergency room and then to a neuro ward for observation and further treatment if necessary. At 97, there's not much anyone could or should do. She can no longer swallow or even stick her tongue out so no food or liquid can go down the throat. They were starting an IV feed for her yesterday when we left. She was really exhausted as they'd been testing her or poking and prodding all night long. We're on call and on hold, waiting to see if they will return her to the nursing home in Glendale or what the alternatives are.

Our closet "guts" will be in the works this week and probably ready next week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TJ's Meatloaf

Thank God for Trader Joes. One Italian meatloaf served as dinner for the last two nights. It's pretty good - very moist with a flavorful Italian tomato sauce topping.

This morning we are having pomelo for breakfast. While in Asia, we ate salads with pomelo and seafood - an excellent combination. Whenever we buy pomelos at home they are disappointing. Richard picked up a few at Costco, and they are - once again disappointing. In Asia, they are juicy and delicious with very large pieces. Here they are almost taste less, sort of tough and chewy without the nice indivicual pieces. I think it must be the variety that is being grown here.

We have a new estimate from another plumber which looks good. We'll go ahead with him and hope he will stay with us til the end. Yikes, we are tired of plumbers coming and going.

The handyman can start next week on the miscellaneous odds and ends that have accumulated. And the electrician can hang the next-to-the-last lamp. The lamp came with a fancy chain that was too short. I tried to order an extra length and this required that LampsRUs add the item to their inventory list. One month passed by until they were able to institute a system so I could buy the chain. Argggh....this is why everything takes so long!

Parking Lot Thrills

More therapy today. This will be my third session. Last time we worked on my walking and turning my head. Exercises accompany each session and of course, like anything else, you have to work at it to get the benefit. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have enough time to devote to it. Some of the exercises I can do while driving, er...while sitting at stop lights. They did conclude that I am in danger of falling, so I'm making sure I take my calcium tablets. If I do have some falling incidents, I'm hoping nothing breaks.

Yesterday was one of those days, you'd like to erase, starting in the morning with the refrigerator on the blink. Water was running out of the freezer compartment - a mess. Cleaned everything up and moved things downstairs, tripped the circuit breaker and it all started up again. Went to the cabinet makers and Will didn't have my samples ready and I spent an hour getting over there due to detours. From the cabinet maker I went to see the furniture store where some built-in units were well priced and a possible for our office. Turned out all the marked prices were wrong and I wasted time there. More detours on the way home.

I went to the bank and Richard came in after me..he had been in the parking lot and saw me walking along. Apparently he honked and honked and then came in. I didn't hear him approach of course and jumped about a foot. He stood talking to me while I was searching for my bank card. Because of the noise in the bank lobby, I couldn't hear a word he was saying so he finally left. The inability to hear in public building's is very inconvenient - usually I just nod and smile...but in the bank I have to hear what they are saying so I cup my ear and lean in. Usually people are very cooperative.

In parking lots, my greatest danger lingers. It feels like one close call after another - both in the car and on foot, because I cannot figure out where engine noise is coming from. I park in the farthest away spot so I don't have to back out too much but then as I walk between cars, I don't hear them getting ready to pull out. Eventually I'll figure out a coping strategy but for now, it's a thrill going to the market!


The bombing of Nagasaki is what you think of first about Nagasaki and indeed, the biggest tourist attraction is the Atomic Bomb museum. There's far more to see here than just the remnants of that sad event. The museum, by the way, is excellent - well laid out and the information is organized in a logical way. Information cards are easy to read and in both English and Japanese. A Japanese man about our age approached us and spoke to Richard at length. He is a school teacher and brings his kids to the museum so they never forget what Japan did and why the bombing saved so many lives by stopping the war. It was an interesting exchange between the two.

From the top of the park where there's an observation tower, the view is terrific. To me, the bay reminded me of Rio. The ride into the bay is long and green rolling hills unfold on either side. The city is big but not unmanageable with readily accessible trams running through the main parts and cabs everywhere. The cab drivers wore suits and white gloves. I noted with interest that all the drivers pull the emergency brake at every stop.. I wondered if it was the law. Cabs were expensive. Everything was expensive.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I spent an hour today at the cabinet shop picking out finishes. The saws and drills are buzzing and the designer has a very soft voice. My head felt like it would explode from the vibrations. I'm still struggling with blues...trying to find the right shade for the island.

On the way home I stopped at a furniture store which had a big "last chance clearance" sign hanging on the front. A very nice woman shadowed me as I was looking around. A few minutes into the conversation and I found she was a Canadian from Vancouver and so another hour flew by as we talked about her career and how she ended up in California.

Patio tiles were delivered today and Higinio the Guatemalan welder was up working on the gates. Richard unloaded all the patio tile and will probably have a back ache tonight. He's amazing for a 70 year old...the lady who delivered the tiles kept referring to him being in his 50's. If she only knew!

I'm working on closet configurations. I had everything figured about before we left on vacation and should have placed the order. During our three weeks away, my head totally emptied and now I am having to start from scratch again.

Richard bought swordfish for dinner. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tea at Huntington

I had a wonderful day today. Tea at the Huntington Gardens and Museum with Shari, Robin and Laurie - three November birthday partners. The tea was great. First they served a basket of scones and you could eat as many as you wanted. One was citrusy with currants; another was fragrant with rosemary and had hazelnuts kneaded into the dough. They were light and fluffy and served with clotted cream and butter. You could help yourself at the buffet which featured cucumber and mint sandwiches; smoked salmon and cream cheese; spicy egg salad. There were several salads including broccoli with nuts and sprout salad. A big bowl of caviar along with hummus and a few other dips were at the ready for spreading on a variety of crackers. Several kinds of cheese were cubed up and on display - unfortunately, they didn't have name plates. For dessert, there was mousse in dark chocolate cups, several delicious small cakes, maple leaf cookies and Mexican wedding cookies. There was actually much more, but I reached my capacity and couldn't squeeze in anything else.

After tea, we walked through part of the rose garden, inhaling the incredible fragrance and enjoying the hundreds of roses on display. As if that wasn't enough sensory stimulation, the grand finale was a walk through the new Chinese garden - a subtle and beautiful, calming space with weeping willows, fountains, birds, koi fish, very unique rocks and pathways. A stunning space.

We couldn't do the venue justice and visit with each other at the same time, so we decided another trip was necessary just for garden gawking.

I drove home IN THE DARK on busy freeways and did just fine. The vestibular therapy is working!

Rose Garden Tea Room Menu

A pot of brewed tea and a basket of freshly baked scones are served at each table. From a central buffet, guests may choose from an array of savory finger sandwiches, imported and domestic cheeses, fresh fruits, chilled seasonal salads, and specialty petite desserts. Return to the buffet as often as you like; limitless refills of tea and scones are served upon request.

White albacore salad on white bread
Spring watermelon radish and sun-dried tomato cream cheese on egg bread garnished with chives
Prosciutto and fig puree with roasted shallot cream cheese on marble rye and white bread
Spicy egg salad with cayenne pepper on egg bread
Cucumber and mint with cream cheese spread on egg bread
Chopped watercress and cream cheese spread on white bread
Curried chicken salad with walnuts on whole wheat bread

Bacon and feta cheese on baby greens with marinated onions and feta vinaigrette
Asian broccoli and turkey salad
Rice noodle salad

Toppings and Spreads
Olive provençal tapenade

Imported and domestic cheeses

Desserts and Pastries
Freshly baked scones
Fruit tartlets
Coeur de crème
Assorted petite pastries

Fresh fruit
Hot brewed tea or coffee