Monday, November 30, 2009

The San Francisco Budget Cuts, My Poem, &The 2008 Truth About Nursing Awards

I can't believe it was just a year ago that I was walking a picket line, protesting the massive 
( about $80 million by the time it was all over ) in budget cuts to the Department of Public Health in San Francisco.  I had written a poem to the mayor, not only about the cuts to our child abuse agency but pleading with him to save much needed services to the elderly, the poor, and others in dire straits.  A writer for the San Francisco Chronicle published my poem in this article:

The rhyming nurse at S.F. General

We've been hearing from a lot of nurses, doctors, counselors and nonprofit directors advocating that their particular program or job not be slashed in the coming budget cuts. But this is the first time we've received a plea in rhyme.
The Chronicle

S.F. General will see cutbacks due to the budget crisis

Carmen Henesy is one of four forensic nurses at the Child and Adolescent Support Advocacy and Resource Center. The clinic within San Francisco General Hospital treats children who've been victims of sexual abuse, child abuse or witnesses to murder or domestic violence.
In addition to conducting exams and providing medical care, the nurses are trained to conduct interviews of the children to be used as evidence by the District Attorney in court. The nurses handle every child sex-abuse case in the city.

If Mayor Gavin Newsom accepts the proposed cuts in the Department of Public Health -- he's asked for a list totaling $26.7 million -- just one nurse will be left at the clinic. The others will lose their jobs or be reassigned.  Henesy, 64, has worked at the clinic for 21 years and has been writing poetry for 58. She's had a few poems published over the years and plans to present this one to the Health Commission in the coming weeks.  Keep reading to see Henesy's ode, "The San Francisco Budget Cuts."

The San Francisco Budget Cuts
I love San Francisco,
This city by the bay,
But there's a looming darkness,
The song does not portray.
It's not the part that tourists,
Spend dollars on each year,
It's what, I'm sure the mayor,
Hopes visitors never hear.
While some are riding cable cars,
Climbing halfway to the stars,
The Public Health Department,
Is suffering irreparable, lethal scars.
Healthy San Francisco,
Is really just a joke,
The only kind of health care,
Is for the moneyed folk!!
The mayor is downsizing,
The clinics for the poor,
And some that serve the neediest,
Won't be there anymore.
The children of the city,
The most vulnerable of all,
Don't deserve to suffer more,
Just because they're small.
The same goes for the elderly,
Infirm, with many ills,
As they near the end of life,
They're deprived of nursing skills.
For children of this city,
CASARC has been the place,
To begin to heal from sex abuse,
With experts on every case.
LVNs are replacing RNs.
Unskilled workers will take on more,
This poor solution to cutting costs,
Will make incidents and errors soar.
The budget cuts are drastic,
To the poorest of the poor,
Please look at other measures,
Mr. Mayor, I implore.
Read more:

Of course, as you all know, much to my regret, my job ended in February 2009.  The agency still functions in a different form but I still maintain that, in my opinion, the services provided before the cuts, were superior. 

One surprise that came out of all this is that I was contacted by an agency called "The Truth About Nursing" whose mission statement is such:  The Truth About Nursing seeks to increase public understanding of the central, front-line role nurses play in modern health care. Our focus is to promote more accurate, balanced and frequent media portrayals of nurses and increase the media's use of nurses as expert sources. The Truth About Nursing's ultimate goal is to foster growth in the size and diversity of the nursing profession at a time of critical shortage, strengthen nursing practice, teaching and research, and improve the health care system.

I was most honored that I was among those receiving the "2008 Truth About Nursing Awards."  This organization, founded by Sandy Summers, in 2001, and seven other graduate students at John Hopkins University School of Nursing.

If you are interested in knowing more about this group, or have nurse friends, please refer them to the Truth About Nursing website at: 

I am attaching those because I thought you  might be intererested in seeing what the organization considered the best and worst representation of nursing last year.

The 2008 Truth About Nursing Awards

The Truth About Nursing Awards rank the best and worst media portrayals of nursing that we've seen in 2008.
Ten Best Portrayals
  1. Theresa Brown, The New York Times, "Perhaps Death Is Proud; More Reason to Savor Life," September 8. In this "Cases" item about one oncology patient's death, a new nurse offered a compelling look at how her practice has influenced her view of life.
  2. Lee Hill Kavanaugh, The Kansas City Star, "Nurse's Booklet on ICU Helps Kids Cope," July 6. The booklet What's All This Stuff?, created by nurse Holly O'Brien, helps families understand all the intimidating procedures and machines in the ICUs of one Kansas hospital.
  3. ER, "Haunted," episode written by Karen Maser; executive producers Christopher Chulack, Michael Crichton, John Wells, David Zabel, Janine Sherman Barrois, Joe Sachs; NBC; October 30. In this episode of the veteran TV show, skilled ED nurse Sam Taggart counters the dismissive attitudes of some physicians toward nursing, particularly the nurse anesthetist program she recently started.
  4. Carmen Henesy, "The San Francisco Budget Cuts" (poem), and Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "The rhyming nurse at S.F. General," blog entry posted December 8. Knight's item described a clever, heartfelt poem by nurse Henesy protesting proposed budget cuts that would eliminate the jobs of 3 of the 4 forensic nurses who practice at the city's clinic for sexually-abused children.
  5. American Association of Nurse Practitioners, "Petition to End the Use of Physician-Biased Language in DTC Advertising," April 9. The AANP launched a campaign to persuade drug and other health care companies to end their frequent use of consumer advertising language like "ask your doctor," which undermines the expert care given by the more than 125,000 U.S. nurse practitioners. 
  6. Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein, HealthStyles, WBAI, New York. For more than 20 years, nurses Mason and Glickstein have produced and hosted this extraordinary radio show, which provides cutting-edge health information few others do and regularly presents nurses as the health experts they really are.
  7. Laurie Tarkan, The New York Times, "Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive -- and a Doctor," December 1. In addition to the amusing level of surprise evident in the headline, this article offers a good look at abusive physician conduct, which continues to play a significant role in poor patient care and nurse burnout.
  8. Janine Rankin, Manawatu Standard (New Zealand), "No-lifting policy sees nursing injuries drop," September 8. This report describes Palmerston North Hospital's "No Lift" policy, which relies on lifting equipment to help nurses move patients without the serious injuries that have often been part of nursing practice.
  9. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "Nurses to refuse 'non-nursing' tasks as impasse escalates," September 30. This item reported on a Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union job action to protest hospitals' expectation that nurses do non-nursing tasks like "emptying garbage pails" and "defrost[ing] the fridge."
  10. IRIN, "Zimbabwe: 'I am not a nurse anymore, I am a mortuary attendant,'" December 12. A young government hospital nurse appears to be at his wit's end--and looking to join colleagues abroad--because of his nation's severe lack of health resources, which has made avoidable deaths common.

Honorable Mention
  1. NOW, "Nurses Needed;" producer Bill Gentile, senior correspondent Maria Inahosa, host David Brancaccio; PBS; October 24. This half hour television report on the U.S. nursing shortage described the critical role nurses play in patient outcomes and gave a sense of some key issues, including the faculty shortage.
  2. Julia Le, Missassauga News (Canada), "Nurse wins prize to create diabetic exercise program," November 1. Nurse educator Heather Nesbeth won a cash award from Bayer Inc. to create an innovative exercise program for people who have diabetes and experience mental illness.

Ten Worst Portrayals
  1. Grey's Anatomy, created by Shonda Rhimes, ABC. This popular hospital drama generally ignores nursing, except that its heroic physician characters perform many critical tasks that nurses do in real life.  
  2. Private Practice, created by Shonda Rhimes, ABC. Nurse Dell means well and is supposedly studying midwifery, but he works as a clinic receptionist and office manager for the physicians who dominate the show.  

  3. Benjamin Natelson, The Washington Post, "Lost in a System Where Doctors Don't Want to Listen," August 3. According to this physician, nurse practitioners and other "physician extenders" can handle "easy-to-diagnose" conditions like "a splinter" but need physicians for conditions that are not "immediately evident."  
  4. House, created by David Shore, Fox. Despite a couple tiny suggestions that nurses have skill, the show continued to have its physician characters perform important nursing tasks, and to effectively endorse its brilliant lead character's contempt for nurses.
  5. Hopkins, executive producer Terence Wrong, ABC, June-August. This seven-part documentary-reality series spent a few good minutes on pediatric transport nurses, but the vast majority of it--like the producer's Hopkins 24/7 eight years earlier--suggested that heroic physicians provide all important hospital care.
  6. Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, Fox News Channel, April 1 episode. Gutfeld and his late-night guests turned a misreported story about a Spanish clinic requiring its nurses to wear miniskirts into an ironic (but still awesome) tribute to the naughty nurse stereotype.
  7. Neilson Dairy, Ultimate Recovery Team advertising campaign, August. This Canadian dairy marketed its flavored milk products with an awesome multi-media campaign using models dressed as naughty nurses, until the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario persuaded the company to reconsider.
  8. Desperate Housewives, "Sunday," episode written by Alexandra Cunningham and Lori Kirkland Baker; executive producers Marc Cherry and George Perkins; ABC; April 13. This episode included a notably disdainful portrayal of a hospital nurse who revealed confidential patient information in exchange for a free lunch.
  9. Angela Moore Jewelry, "Nurse Nancy" necklace and bracelet. This company sold jewelry featuring hopelessly angel-oriented nursing imagery, in order to "celebrate the ladies who give lollipops and band-aids a whole new meaning."
  10. Deal or No Deal, executive producer Scott St. John, NBC, October 22. This episode of the popular Howie Mandel game show featured the usual decorative female models, but this time dressed as naughty nurses, apparently to titillate a male nurse contestant, or something. Awesome!
Many of the shows listed, show physicians doing tasks that are routinely done by nurses in all hospitals and are rarely, if ever, done by doctors.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

65th Birthday Celebration - 4th Photos - 24 Hours in Malaga, Spain

Malaga is a beautiful city on the Costa del Sol in Andalusia, Spain.  It is rich in history, dating back to Phoenician, Roman, Arabian and Christian periods.  From its spot on the Mediterranean Sea, with its mild climate, endless sunny days, and brilliantly blooming bird of paradise, it is a mecca for tourists.  

I have visited in the past, on a cruise, and once overnight as I was headed for a three day stay in Marbella.  This time, we stayed at Don Curro, a wonderful hotel right in the heart of everything.  It was adjacent to Larios Street and near the cathedral.  We enjoyed Malaga so much, we regretted not spending an extra day there and a day less in Barcelona where all of us had been several times.

 The long line

Disembarking with 3500 other passengers is always chaos.  We joined the long queue of other passengers waiting for taxis.  We had a pretty good system, though.  I waited in line while the other four in our group inched the luggage up slowly from the cruise terminal.  I managed our purses on top of my rolling walker ( some time that thing comes in handy ).

This beautiful cathedral was right around the corner from our hotel

This is a view of the cathedral at night

This great shopping street, minus traffic, was also a block from the hotel.  We loved it and made an instant beeline there though, with the euro, there were no bargains for us!

While the others shopped, I made a quick stop here for a glass of a wonderful wine
and some tapas - I figured lunch would be delayed while the others looked for nonexistent bargains.  I was on a budget that didn't allow too many purchases!

A pretty scene - nice buildings, flowers, light fixtures


Just as in Rome, we chanced upon some newlyweds - such a lovely couple!

Nice getaway car for the bride and groom!

With my sweet waiter at Restaurante La Dehesa, Malaga

At last, my cohorts got hungry and we found a nice outdoor cafe near the hotel.  It was really packed but this nice young man found a table for us and we had a fantastic meal.  My Andalusian salad was delicious and I followed it up with grilled calamari - I always seem to order that in Mediterranean countries!

The police were out on their little bikes at  night ( no Harleys here! )

Fountains across from our outdoor dinner spot

Outdoor promenade at night

Definitely, if I ever get to Malaga again, I will stay at least two days.  We didn't even get to any of the historic spots of the city and there are so many that I wanted to see. 

65th Birthday Celebration - Third Photos - The Navigator of the Seas, Villefranche, France, Monte Carlo, Monaco

65th Birthday Celebration - Third Photos - The Navigator of the Seas, Villefranche, France, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Well, I started posting photos of my 65th birthday trip some time ago, after my  return in October. I never got around to doing any more because the trip to care for my mother in GA interrupted, then other things came along, as they will do.  I hope to sort through the rest of the pictures in the next few days so I can get them all posted and sent out to my friends who made the trip with me.  Honestly, it seems like that European adventure was last year, not less than two months ago!!

After our day in Pisa and Lucca, Italy, we had a day at sea before our next port.  I actually like that sort of itinerary best - a sea day in between port days.  It gives one a chance to relax, visit with other passengers, enjoy the ships services such as massage, shops, etc, a respite from a hectic day of sightseeing.  

In midmorning of our sea day, there was a special party for the Diamond Plus passengers 
( above 24 cruises -with this cruise, I achieved 77, in 14-1/2 years with Royal Caribban! ) and those who had booked suites.  It was a lovely day and it was nice being out on this spot on the ship where I'd never been.  The crew had set out champagne, juices, fresh fruit, and assorted
canapes and pastries.

Visiting with Leroy Moulton, head bartender

One of the nice things about having cruised so often, is that you run into crew members that you have sailed with many times over the years.  They get transferred from ship to ship and you come across them time and again.  It is amazing that they remember you, can often tell you what ship you were on, and, often, become like family.  One such person is Edsel Toscano, the 
handsome gentleman, in the dark suit.  He is from Mumbai and I have known him almost since my first Royal Caribbean cruise.  When I visited India twelve years ago, he was home on vacation and came to the crew member's house where I was staying and celebrated my being in India.  Edsel has even spent a couple of nights at my home in the San Francisco area!  Over the years, I have acquired so many Indian crew friends that they have given me the title of the American mother of the Indian crew, an honor for me!   The other handsome Indian is the assistant manager of the photography department of the Navigator of the Seas.  These ships take hundreds of pictures.

Phil Zaragosa and Brenda Garison

Villefranche, France is a beautiful port but most cruise ships are far too large to dock there.  Instead, passengers must board the ship's tenders to be carried back and forth to port.  The town is just beautiful but most folks opt for the short train ride to either Monte Carlo or Nice or Cannes after a brief stop in Villefranche.  This was my fourth time to visit this port in the past twenty years.  I would really like to come someday and stay for awhile!

On the tender, headed to Villefranche, France which is one of the deepest natural harbors of any port in the Mediterranean Sea, which gives it safe anchorage for large ships.  It is the most
visited cruise ship port in France.

Approaching Villefranche

In Villefranche again!

Laundry day in Villefranche

Train station

Floral balconies

Former Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas, now part of Pullmantur Cruises, Spanish based, bought by Royal Caribbean in 2006.  Pullmantur acquired the Sovereign last year.  I sailed on this ship out of Port Canaveral eight times and, in fact, flew directly from Rome last October to sail on their second to last cruise.  I wanted to say farewell to many friends I'd made among the crew there.  It was quite nostalgic to see her in port in Villefranche.

She kept the name "Sovereign", minus "of the Seas"

Next stop, Monte-Carlo, Monaco

 This has always been a special place to me.  Grace Kelly was my favorite actress and I still have the scrapbook I kept as a child.  She was named Turner Classic Movies November 2009 Star of the Month and I just saw a lovely video, narrated by her son, Prince Albert. 
You can watch it at the following link:
I actually spent two nights in Monte Carlo about ten years ago but have been back there
three times on a cruise ship and another time, driving over from Barcelona.  

Monte Carlo is second only to Vatican City as the smallest country in the world and I read in Wikipedia that it only takes about an hour for a person to walk the entire length of the country.  I think that would be hard as it is definitely very hilly, being part of the Maritime Alps that extend to the sea.

The harbor at Monaco

The Grimaldi Royal Palace, home of Prince Albert II, son of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly.

 Mailboxes near the palace

Beautiful building in Monaco

St. Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco

Grave of Her Royal Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco

Madonna and Child in the cathedral

Gendarmes near the palace

Bird statue near the cathedral

Back on the ship, for formal night, sipping a Cosmo, at Vintages with Michelle

Brenda Garison & Phil Zaragosa

Promenade fountain on the Navigator

Carmen and Phil

Final pictures of Malaga and Barcelona, Spain to follow in the last installment!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 Remembered

Thanksgiving 2009 Remembered

I know I gained a pound or two,
Okay, it might be three,
We had a feast fit for a king,
With friends and family.

We really had a lovely time,
It warmed this mother’s heart,
To have three sons around her,
Sometimes, we’re far apart.

The table looked resplendent,
Set with Grandma’s silverware,
And china that had long been mine,
And is now in Laura’s care.

There were festive decorations,
Pumpkins, gourds and such,
Done by my son’s bride-to-be,
With her special, loving touch.

All the food was sinful,
Topped off by FIVE desserts,
Finally, someone spoke for all,
“Not another bite, it hurts!”

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2009 by Carmen Henesy
All rights reserved. 

This is my youngest ( 25 ) son, Jeremy, with Laura, Alex's wife-to-be

Shawn Smith ( my oldest, 38 ), Alex Vukasinovic, 27, Jeremy Vukasinovic, 25

One of the two Thanksgiving dining room tables at Laura and Alex's

I actually had a few more photos ( none of me ) but I did not have permission from the other guests to use them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

What I’m Thankful For

This hasn’t been the best of years,
So much for me has changed,
I’ve lost a job I cherished,
And my life’s been rearranged.

I’ve joined the ranks of pensioners,
And learned to live on less,
I’ll be the first to say,
It’s been a time of much duress!

In spite of this, I’m thankful,
For very many things,
Most of all, for my sons,
And a wedding, the new year brings.

I’m now the age for Medicare,
And my joints are stiff and sore,
Yet I still get about our planet,
So I’ve that to be thankful for!

I’ve rarely felt a hunger pang,
And I’m thankful every day,
I’ve eaten every type of food,
From ethnic to fine gourmet!

I’m blessed with many friends,
Who often stay in touch,
I’m thankful that I have them,
They have given me so much.

I’m now a full fledged blogger,
Which helps to keep me sane,
Thanks to those who “follow” me,
And keep coming back again!

I’m thankful for the oceans,
And the shores of distant lands,
For the brilliant painted sunsets,
For my life with less demands.

For the cool of foggy mornings,
And a baby’s dazzling smile,
For the whisper of “I love you,”
This all makes my life worthwhile!

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2009 by Carmen Henesy
All rights reserved. 

Pumpkin Fudge

I moved to the San Francisco area on January 2, 1976.  It wasn't long until I discovered the lovely coastal community of Half Moon Bay, just to the south.  The area boasts beautiful beaches, incredible seafood restaurants, tide pools, hiking trails and a world renowned Pumpkin Festival which takes place each October.  At my very first such festival, I came across something that is now worn and spattered and a treasure to me:  "The Pumpkin Book."  I have tried, over the years to find another, without success, even by writing to the address inside the cover.  It is an incredible collection of all sorts of pumpkin recipes from savory to sweet, vegetable to dessert.  I have tried so many of them, all wonderful.

One of my favorites - and that of my boys, is the recipe for pumpkin fudge in the book.  It is sinfully good and I only make it at this time of the year - since I could easily eat the whole batch!

I had never seen a recipe for pumpkin fudge before this one.

Pumpkin Fudge

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts ( optional ) 
Combine sugar, milk, corn syrup, pumpkin and salt in a large saucepan ( 3 quart size ), mix
thoroughly.  Bring to a bubbly boil on high heat, stirring continuously.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches a temperature of 232 or until a small amount of the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water.  Remove from heat
and stir in pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and butter, and nuts.  Let cool until lukewarm ( 110 ).  Beat mixture until it becomes very thick and loses some of its gloss.  Quickly pour into a buttered 8-inch square pan.  When firm, cut into squares.

Thanksgiving Side Dishes - Gulliver's Cream Corn and Yellow Squash Casserole

Recently, someone posted and wanted suggestions for Thanksgiving side dishes.  These are just two that I serve every year which get rave reviews from guests at my house.

Gulliver's  is a California restaurant, that specializes in hearty cuts of prime rib, served with Yorkshire pudding and their famous creamed corn side dish.  Various recipe sites have reader donated recipes that compare with mine.  It truly is delicious and I always double or triple the recipe for holiday serving.  My three sons always want left overs for the following day.

Gulliver's Cream Corn

Makes 8 Servings


  • 2 ( 16 - 20 ounce) packages frozen corn kernels, thawed ( I like to use a package each of C & W Petite White Corn ( 16 oz ) and C & W Petite Sweet/Golden Corn ( 16 oz )
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • white or cayenne pepper( I use cayenne and, since we like it spicy, I use a couple of pinches, at least
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Place corn kernels, whipping cream, milk, salt, flavor enhancer, sugar, and white or cayenne pepper in a large stockpot. Bring to a slow, low boil beginning on medium heat, stirring frequently. Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
  2. Melt butter in the microwave, or in a small saucepan on low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Stir into the corn until well blended. 
    This is NOT a low calorie recipe but it is delicious!
    Yellow Squash Casserole
     Makes 8 Servings
  • 2 lbs. yellow squash
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked, chopped bacon
  • 1 t, salt
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 t, pepper
  • 3/4 c. bread crumbs
     Clean and slice squash.  Cook in enough water to cover for 20 minutes.  While squash is cooking, fry bacon until done.  Saute bacon drippings and saute  onions until soft but not brown.  Drain onions.   Drain and mash squash and combine with onion, bacon and cheese.   Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with bread crumbs and bake in 350 degree over for 1/2 hour before serving. 
      I may add a little more onion, bacon and cheese to the recipe, I must  confess.  As though there aren't enough calories already!


This poem is mere fiction, in some aspects. I don't have a dog named Bo and I have plenty of aches and pains. I do spend a lot of time, however, dreaming about cruising and keep hoping my $1 lottery tickets will, some day, allow the luxury of never having to worry about how I will afford the next one!  Oh, yes, the working brain is debatable.


Jet planes soar overhead,
Fluffy pillows top my bed,
Dancing shoes adorn my feet,
A cozy fire gives me heat.

I haven't got an ache or pain,
I even have a working brain,
I like to write a poem or two,
When I haven't very much to do.

I have a scruffy dog named Bo,
That follows me wherever I go,
I haven't met a food I hate
At every meal, I clean my plate!

Wealth eludes me, sad to say,
How I wish it weren't that way,
No first class cabins when I fly,
I'm just glad I get up in the sky.

Here I am at sixty-five,
One who loves to be at sea,
I sit for hours and often muse,
On when I might afford to cruise.

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2007 by Carmen Henesy
All rights reserved.