sip and spell

Sip and spell? What in the world is a sip and spell? It sounds a lot like sit and spin…remember what a great dizzy inducing vertigo toy that was? Good times! Fun times! When America was once great, right?

Well sip and spell here in the Central Valley is the Great Valley Bookfest’s Sip and Spell Adult Spelling Bee where participants and spectators enjoy delicious wine and appetizers while participants spell words like synecdoche and pococurante because they can…or once did when they were elementary school and middle school spelling bee nerds back in the day.

Sipping wine and spelling. What could possibly be wrong with this?

Well, nothing really since it is all in good fun that will benefit the Sierra High 2017 Sober Grad.

I know!

Working with the Sierra High Class of 2014 Sober Grad, I can attest to the fact that the best fundraising events were the ones where adult beverages were consumed by adults. Go figure!

Still it is a fun event which supports a worthwhile local event for some kids I just happen to know and can say I watched grow up while living here in this community. So join me and my team, Thursday, October 6, 5:30 to 8 pm – or until the last team (our team) is standing! Tickets are $20/person and need to be purchased in advance here.

Until then, I’ll be here…studying.

ready for Fall

It is currently 95 degrees outside and try though I may to not turn on the AC because of last month’s crazy, stupid PG&E bill because it was crazy, stupid, typical triple-digit hot, here I am with the AC on.

I am so ready for Fall.

The jacket I received in my latest Stitch Fix box reminds me I should be thinking about Fall.

Football reminds me about Fall.

Everyone’s mad love for Pumpkin Spiced Lattes reminds me that I should be thinking about Fall. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes? Meh! I could care less. But I respect those of you who love, love, love all things pumpkin spiced…even the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. All the pumpkin spice everything just reminds me that I really should be thinking about Fall.

And the magic that my darling, first-born child did with my hair today also reminds me that I should be thinking about Fall.

Pumpkin spice she called it which is funny considering that she struggles to say the words pumpkin spice almost as much as she does trying to say moist.

As she reads this, she is probably muttering under her breath, Oh my gawd, Mom, I hate you. No, she doesn’t really hate me. She just hates the way I can say moist so easily and freely in her presence…kind of like the way her partner at Lux Salon does. Speaking of Lux Salon in the 209, it is definitely THE place to go to for all the pretty colors and fabulous hair.

 

love in the neighborhood

Excuse me people but lately I am having some serious mad love for my neighborhood.

It’s quiet uptown, I know. But it is so much more and I am really, really, really coming to appreciate it lately.

I’m not at all mad to admit that the gorgeous and unseasonable super-pleasant weather we have been enjoying has influenced me at all as I have been indulging in morning runs/walks after dropping the favorite son off to school. I mean, come on you guys…this is pretty amazing and it’s my neighborhood.

It’s different here. And yet we are literally just 5 miles uptown…east of the Dust Bowl-like dust storms and the flies and and everything else that sub-divisions that border farms offer.  Running errands on the west side, as I sometimes do, I find myself smiling to myself as I think, I don’t miss almost any of this at all.

It’s quiet uptown.

It’s cleaner uptown. The homes are older but still it is cleaner…and shadier.

And, much to my surprise, it is friendlier uptown. No, absolutely no disrespect to former neighbors who have become and remained friends and those who, well, who stalk you on social media but wouldn’t dare to reach out to say hello…

Hi! I see you there!!!!

Walking and running in a 5K plus loop around what has to be the best park in this city and the neighborhood, I m struck by the fact that people actually smile, nod, wave and call out hello to you as you pass them by. Even better, they stop and talk and invite you to sit on their porch and enjoy a cold one…as the neighborhood watch around here does.

They offer to help you with an electrical problem you’re having in the garage because they know exactly what to do being a retired electrician, you know. And they invite your son to practice putting golf balls in their yard because he shyly offers that he kind of likes golf. As the last of the boxes are unpacked, you find yourself enjoying the long summer nights shared together on each other’s front porches in a way that you have not known since the grown circus clowns were small back in San Jose, back on Amelia Drive. Without you even thinking to ask, they offer you their truck when they hear you have your eye on a sectional at Costco that would be perfect for the new Big Top so your daughter and roommate can take the old, broken down well-lived in set for their own first apartment.

I know!

Furniture from Costco!

Seriously, the sectional is that wonderful and so is the neighbor down the street who let us use his truck…and who did a good portion of the heavy lifting to get it inside the new Big Top.

And yes, even more so, the neighborhood where the new Big Top is now pitched is even more wonderful because it is a whole lot quieter and less dusty and even more friendlier uptown. Hashtag, feeling blessed.

summer readings

Read any good books lately?

My summer reading goals began earnest enough.

Goals are good and yes, I had them right here on my nightstand.

I wish I could tell you that I read them all. What can I say, life, family, work, moving often got in the way. And one book too.

Four months ago, at our Disaster Planning Committee meeting, I was asked if I had ever read Five Days At Memorial.

No.

You should. You need to read this book.

And so I added it to the pile of books to read for the summer of 2016.

So much in Sheri Fink’s 486+ page account is already known about what happened and what went absolutely wrong leading up to, during and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Most of us can pretty much agree it was an all around fuck up with pretty much any government official, agency, response team at all levels responsible for the massive fail to the people in and around New Orleans 11 years ago this week. Fink’s book reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center (now known as Oschner Baptist).and draws you into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.

For me, this was at times a very difficult read. I cheered for the nurses, the doctors, the family members, the patients. I especially cheered for Dr. Gershanik who cradled 24 weeker, Baby S, handbagging him trying to mimic an oscillator ventilator and the un-named nurse who tucked another tiny baby inside her bra as they were the last preemies to be transported out of Memorial on August 30 (page 93) But as the flood waters continued to rise and critical patients trapped began to die, I became very frustrated with the poor planning at all levels from the bedside to the corporate level that was happening at Memorial.

Yes, I had to close the book and find something else to do like searching for images of meowls because as creepy as they are, they are kind of cool too and a very much welcome distraction.

Five Days At Memorial is absolutely, positively an indictment of the poorest of disaster planning in healthcare. History of this hospital proved that they should have been better prepared even if government agencies and their own corporate owners miles away in Texas were not able to support them better…and they should have supported them better because people died unnecessarily in the absolute worst conditions…in America.

In the aftermath of Katrina and the rebuilding of some of New Orleans, Fink details the investigation of what happened at Memorial and the way that some patients died there during those five days. Again more outrage for me and the closing of the book and walking away…especially after the account provided by Memorial CFO Curtis Dosch and COO Sean Fowler who casually mentioned that the cancer institute connected to Memorial via sky bridges has a working generator and electricity throughout the disaster. Hospital executives went there to make phone calls and coffee…and watching TV for a bit. (page 320). Yes, that happened.

Five Days At Memorial digs deep into it all and so much more touching on years later with the response in New Orleans to Hurricane Isaac and Superstorm Sandy in New York City at NYU Langone Medical Center…yes, that amazing, heroic evacuation that is revealed could have likely been avoided had a better disaster plan been in place!

In the end the takeaway is that dramatic scenes like this do not occur often…but terrible triage conundrums can arise anywhere, at any time  and that they have the power to change lives irrevocably. Across the country many hospitals in flood zones have electrical backup power systems in their basement. Others, in earthquake zones, were constructed before modern building codes. Others are simply situated in Tornado Alley. To the extent that protections and plans have been put into place since Katrina and Sandy and Joplin, Missouri have shown them to be inadequate or misguided. Life and death in the immediate aftermath of a crisis most often depends on the preparedness, performance, and decision making of the individuals on the scene because disaster planning and preparedness in healthcare is so much more than fire drills.

And now, at last, I can sit down and read Hamilton!

lane changes and birthdays

You know that funny knobby thing on the left hand side of the steering wheel in your car? Do you know what it is? Do you know what’s very special purpose is? Well, allow me to enlighten you.

IT’S A TURN SIGNAL!!!!

It’s a way to let people know that you are going to turn left or right.

Amazing!

Truly.

Use it!!!

Friday afternoon commuting from the Bay Area to the Central Valley is basically nothing less than a cluster fuck. Basically. Coming home my darling husband was in an accident. I might have to give thanks for the slow crawl down from the Altamont into Mountain House because when a driver to the right of him decided to suddenly move to the left without signaling, he was not moving too fast. But he was traveling fast enough to not be able to get out of the way in time and…his hand, YES, HIS HAND hit the driver’s side mirror of the car. He broke her mirror, minor damage was sustained to his bike and one of his fingers was injured. Information was exchanged. The driver gave first aid with a pressure dressing applied to his hand, which was bleeding quite a bit. Oh, and it was her birthday. Happy birthday to her, right?!

Darling husband, being darling husband,got back on the bike and rode 25 more miles home.

Honey, I need you to look at something for me…spoken oh so casually as he showed me his left hand wrapped in a giant wad of paper towels tied up around his hand with a latex glove.

What in the world??!!…

I cut away the glove and begin to unwind the towels to see active bleeding and a very swollen, black and blue pinky finger.

Do you think I should get it checked out?

Off to the ER we went. For those keeping score, this is the third trip to the ER for this family in 2016. Seriously, 2016 is just all around not working.

X-rays, exam and 5 stitches later, we are home and my darling husband right now is oh so elegant sipping his ice cold beverage.

Pinky up y’all.

It could have been bad, bad, bad, bad. But it wasn’t. My darling husband is well aware of that as he practically apologizes to me reminding me just how careful he is on his bike on the road. For now, I will just be thankful and focus on this moment 24 hours later.

Bill turned 53 this week and today our family circus gathered together and celebrated.

That funny, knobby thingy on the left hand side your car’s steering wheel? Use it!