The "Egg Yolk" Flower

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Look Up, Look Down Challenge, Week 84 - San Francisco - April 9, 2015

With more than fifty hills within the city limits, San Francisco is definitely a "look up, look down" place.  I fell in love with her, with a layover of six hours, en route to Hawaii when I was only eighteen-years-old.  I knew, someday, I would make the Bay area my home and I moved here just after New Year's Day forty years ago.  I am just as in love with this city where cable cars climb "halfway to the stars" as I was
when I was eighteen.  

While I am a Tony Bennett fan and even got to hear him sing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" at the San Francisco Opera House several years ago, my favorite song about the city is "On a San Francisco High," penned by Jerry Holland and performed by his beautiful wife, Sony Holland.  It is on my phone, tablet and computer and I play it everywhere I travel when I'm feeling a little lonely for this city which has been my home now for over half my life.

Here are a few "look up, look down" photos taken recently.

Looking down at Alcatraz and at the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts,
built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition

An affluent neighborhood built on San Francisco hills

Imagine carrying groceries up all these steps!!!

San Francisco encompasses a land area of only about 46.9 square miles.

The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline.

Looking down toward North Beach landmark, Saints Peter and Paul Church,
and up at Coit Tower

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Friday, April 03, 2015

Rest in Peace, Mom

My mother, Mary Frances McGee Quinlan, died early in the morning of April 1, 2014.  She had been a resident at the Gwinnett Extended Care Facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia for several years, thanks to the quick thinking of my sister-in-law, Susan Henesy, who had worked in same day surgery at Gwinnett Medical Center.

As far as that type of facility goes, there are few better.  Her care was excellent - though she was relatively unaware of her surroundings - and she could be quite a handful, to say the least.  

My mother was one of thirteen children, born of Mississippi sharecropper parents, and she labored picking cotton as the whole family did.  She was very intelligent, though, and managed to graduate near the top of her class at Pelahatchie
( MI ) High School and headed off to nursing school in Columbus, Georgia where I was born.  

Frugal, somewhat stern, and, a single mother, she rarely handed out praise but she worked tirelessly to see that we were educated well.  I took after her in some ways but, in many, I was totally the opposite. We knew she loved us but she rarely said it.  For most of my adult life, I have lived on the opposite side of the country from her.  She always came to San Francisco to visit for a few weeks each summer to see me and her grandsons and to escape the soaring Georgia temperatures. 

Besides being a nurse, she was an avid reader ( especially of poetry ) and she did praise my poetic efforts.  Sadly, by the time my poetry book was published, with its dedication to her, her mind was incapable of comprehension.

They say that "things happen for a reason."  When my 21 year nursing position ended in February 2009, I fought desperately to overturn the budget cuts but, when it was clear that my Public Health position was doomed, I began going to Georgia to stay with my mother for visits of one month at a time.

Those were special times for me.  She lived alone in a duplex for 18 years and, though her eyesight was failing because of macular degeneration, she was able to get around her apartment, prepare meals in her microwave, and she was adamant that she would not move.  A lady came in weekly to buy groceries and clean and do laundry and she still read with magnifiers.  She stubbornly refused books on tape, insisting, "I like the feel of a book in my hand."  She refused my offer to help her with a computer which I felt would open up new worlds for her.

Coming home was made even nicer for me because of my lifelong friends, Beth and Luther Stanton.  After my mom was ready for bed at night, I would join them for dinner and it was as though we were back in high school, reminiscing, laughing, the bonds of friendship holding us close.  They were always an incredible help to me with my mother and I can never thank them enough.

The evening I arrived for my final visit with my mother in Columbus, I was startled to find her front door unlocked.  She was sitting in her recliner, staring into space, babbling gibberish, and she did not recognize me.  When I took her to her doctor in the morning, he admitted her to the hospital:  atrial fibrillation and a stroke.  Within a few days, she had recovered enough to be discharged to the Atlanta area facility.  My brother came and transported her, my sons flew in from California and, with Luther's help, we cleared out Mom's apartment and her life in Columbus was over.  

Last year, when I was home from India in January, I flew to the South to see my dearest friends and, while in Atlanta, Camilla Arthur, who had been a friend since our boarding school days at 13, took me to see my mother for a final visit.  
Her caregiver that morning ( a lovely Indian lady ) had her up in a wheelchair and my mom said, "I recognize that voice," when I walked in the room.  She then grasped my hand and said, "I love you," something I seldom remember her saying to me.  It was a cherished moment.

There was no memorial service ( except in our hearts ) as my mother had predetermined many years prior, just as she had donated her body to Emory University more than a quarter of a century before.  As one of her suitors told me, "Mary is a tough old broad."

I just hope, wherever she is spending the hereafter, she's in a good frame of mind, has a lot of her favorite books to read, and a heaping plate of catfish, cheese grits and hushpuppies every day for lunch.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Mellow Yellows - One of My Favorite Pictures of All Time - March 16, 2015

This picture was actually taken in February 1997 when I did a
Royal Caribbean cruise from the Thailand to Singapore.  The Sun Viking was a small ship, carrying only about 600 passengers, but it was one of the most memorable cruises of my life.  

Prior to that sailing, I visited India for the first time, spending ten days with Odelio Santos, his lovely, wife, Lorna, and their son, Nick.  Jake, had yet to make his debut.

Once, on board the ship, I met my tablemates for the cruise and, two couples, have now been friends for 18 years.  Jenny and Steve Clark, at the time, had a 14th century manor house in Godalming, Surrey, England - he was a 747 pilot with British Air and she was a hospice nurse.  Honor and Willie Paterson owned a pub in Berick-upon-Tweed, just a few miles from the Scottish border.

Since that cruise, I've been to England several times to visit the Clarks, with the Patersons joining us on one occasion, we've all met up in Sarasota where Willie and Honor opened a assisted living facility after giving up the pub, and the Clarks met me twice for a Barcelona rendevous.

Anyway, on our overnight in Bali, this incredible dance troupe came on board and I was in awe of the exquisite performances, especially this dancer, with her hand movements, her beautiful Balinese dress, the memories they left me with that remain to this day.  I chose this picture as the cover for my first ever poetry book, "Life's Journey," which was published in 1994.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Urban Chickens - March 15, 2015

I don't think of West Sacramento as being in the country, or even the suburbs of Sacramento.  The state capitol of California is less than five miles from my son's home.  Regardless, there are wineries within a few miles and some
rural locales in close proximity and the Sacramento River is very picturesque near us.  There are still some wide open spaces for building and new apartments and housing are going up in the area.

My son, Alex, is the dairy manager at Safeway in Davis, 20 miles from his home.  That's really handy for us since he can bring groceries when we need them, saving us a foray to the supermarket.  We go through a flat of 5 dozen eggs in record time ( three adults and one toddler ) since both Laura and I like to bake.  When the price of those eggs went up from under $10 to $17, Alex began doing research on having his own chickens.  

He checked zoning laws and found that he could legally have four chickens, then he researched which breeds would be the quietest so as not to disturb the neighbors.  He didn't want a rooster.  During his research, he found an animal rescue facility that had farm animals AND chickens, saved from huge industrial egg suppliers that eliminated chickens that didn't meet the laying quota demanded of them.

Using fence boards recycled after a new fence addition on one side of his house, he and Laura made a nice coop and, after some red tape, the rescue facility gave him four pullets.  The family dogs, Bucky and Taffy, were most unhappy with the arrival of the feathered flock since they no longer were allowed free access to the back yard.  Efforts to make them friends with the chickens were unsuccessful.  Finally, the kids just fenced off that entire section of the yard so the dogs could, once again, have most of the yard whenever they wished.  

What was most exciting, was watching the "ladies" and their antics.  Harper keeps a chair pulled up at the dining room window to observe, on a frequent basis.  The hens are doing a fine job of laying eggs, producing three a day, usually.  We don't know if one chicken never lays or if each one takes a day off from time to time.  Maybe it's my imagination, but the eggs seem to taste better than the ones from Safeway.
Alex has read that they are healthier, containing less cholesterol, more vitamin D, more vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.

Of course, we still have to buy eggs to meet our baking needs but, for eating, we choose the eggs of the ladies.  

The coop is quite spacious compared to the commercial accomodations

The "ladies" don't seem to mind Harper as long as she doesn't try to pick them up

At dusk, they usually return to the coop on their own initiative - or we round them up

Taffy had to be kept on a tight leash...she's a pretty strong dog!

The chickens usually stay together in the yard....unless one is in the laying box

It's amazing that they stay pretty white since they like to indulge in dust "baths"

Harper strolls outside with the chickens, usually carrying one of her stuffed animals

Our first eggs!!!

I certainly think it will be some time before the kids recoup the outlay for the building materials, bedding and feed but, no matter, it has been a fun project for them and Harper has enjoyed it.  I have delighted in sampling the eggs!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Three Word Wednesday, Week 415 - Cheers - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 Here are this week's three words, to be used in some form
of writing:

Content, adjective: in a state of peaceful happiness; satisfied with a certain level of achievement, good fortune, etc., and not wishing for more; verb: satisfy (someone); noun: a state of satisfaction.

Evolve, verb: develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form; (with reference to an organism or biological feature) develop over successive generations, especially as a result of natural selection.

Sober, adjective: not affected by alcohol; not drunk; serious, sensible, and solemn; free from alcoholism; not habitually drinking alcohol; muted in color; verb: make or become sober after drinking alcohol; make or become more serious, sensible, and solemn.

I'm not an alcoholic,
I'm sure that this is true,
Though I like my wine and spirits,
I'm CONTENT with one or two!
( sometimes )

I'm not the designated driver,
But  somewhat SOBER I will stay,
A second pair of eyes can help,
On the crazy world-wide roads today.

My drinks of choice have often changed,
My tastes EVOLVE throughout the years,
But whatever I may hold on high,
I salute you all with heartfelt "cheers!"

Carmen Henesy

Copyright February 18, 2015 by Carmen Henesy

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Seventy and Still in Love - Valentine's Day, February 14, 2015

Now that I've got your attention,
Let me make it clear,
I haven't a romantic interest,
For Valentine's this year.

Roses weren't delivered,
In a long stemmed lush bouquet,
And the only chocolates that I ate,
Came from me to me today!

I won't be wined and dined,
Though I have been in the past,
I have such wonderful memories,
That will forever last.

But I feel surrounded by such love,
From regions far and near,
And I hope I send that feeling out,
To everyone each year.

Know that you are in my heart,
Not just this designated day,
In happy times and those less so,
Prayers and love are sent your way.

Carmen Henesy
Copyright February 14, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Skywatch Friday - Valentines Day 2015 Edition - February 13, 2015

In my fifteen plus years of cruising about the world with Royal Caribbean, I've seen some magnificent sunsets - in places like Bali, Hawaii, Thailand and other equally exotic places.  Last night's beautiful display of sky colors in my temporary home of West Sacramento, California was just as awe inspiring.  

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Sundays in My City - Bits and Pieces - February 1, 2015 o

On the 3rd of February, it will be two months since my return from India!  My days seem so full, I can't catch up on all my projects and I still didn't complete Harper's stocking in time for her second Christmas.  I am determined to finish it before I return to India on May 5th.  I made the excuse that she is still too young to really find fault with her Nana's procrastination!

When Alex or Laura are working, I look after my granddaughter who will be two-years-old on April 13th.  She constantly amazes me.  Harper is so intelligent and is
learning Spanish as well as English.  Alex speaks fluent 
Spanish and reads her bilingual stories and identifies colors,
animals, etc, in both languages.  She is full of energy and
doesn't realize that Nana, at 70, can't quite keep up the pace 
that she does.  The other day, as we walked to the park, she
kept telling me, "Run, Nana, run," as I tried to match her little rapid footsteps!

My granddogs, Taffy and Bucky, are just wonderful with her,
tolerating having their tails and ears pulled - though we admonish her not to do so.  She constantly uses Bucky for a seat and MUST have Taffy, her doggie mother present whenever she goes in for her nap or bedtime.  If they go into
their kennels for a brief respite, she wants to go in with them!!

Watching Sesame Street with Taffy

I really miss San Francisco.  I've only been down once, for three doctor's appointments.  It's a hundred miles from Sacramento - thankfully, the gas prices have dropped to about $2.60/gallon - but, with my baby sitting responsibilities, I just can't get down there.  

I was able to see my orthopedist, Dr. John Belzer for cortisone injections in my right shoulder and left knee.  Probably, next time I'm home from India, I will have to get a total right shoulder replacement.  The procedure done on my left shoulder was such a success, I won't continue to suffer much longer with this pain. 

Thankfully, for the time being anyway, one of my really dear friends, Kris Bleything, has moved to Sacramento.  It is so nice to be able to have a pal to try out some of the area's restaurants and with whom to enjoy movies and to catch up on the latest gossip.  Last night, we watched a really nice Helen Mirren movie, "The Hundred Foot Journey."

I've managed to gain eight pounds since my return home, thanks to the ability to find so many good, reasonably priced wines and to access all sorts of decent restaurants near me.  
Alex and Laura are only about fifty miles from California's famed Napa Valley and there are several nice wineries within twenty miles of their home.  One of them, Bogle Vineyards, is in Clarksburg, only fifteen miles away.  I've always liked their wines, reasonably priced, and with many varietals from which to choose.  This past year, I attended a wine event at the Sacramento Convention Center and tasted their "Essential Red" for the first time.  It is a a blend of Old Vine Zinfandel,
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Sirah.  

Bogle 2012 Essential Red, received a rating of 91 points in Wine Enthusiast as well as a "Best Buy" designation.  In many stores in my area, it is available for under $12/bottle.  
Rich and complex, with flavors of boysenberries and sweet cherries, it is a wine that is sure to please, in my opinion.  Costco, this past week, had it for $8/bottle.

I've eaten at some good restaurants, especially Japanese places for sashimi and sushi - since I won't do raw fish in India.  The Bay area abounds in these, often within a block or so of each other.  Most of the time, these are a bit hard on the budget but worth the indulgence!

My computer is on its last legs so I have been trying to read the latest info in hopes of getting a new one before I return to India. I do have a tablet but it just doesn't seem adequate to me for blogging, research, etc.  Anyone have suggestions for me?  

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