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December 9--At St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast

It's starting to feel like the end of the year, whatever that feels like. Things are winding down, the weather is cooperating with the mood, and some non-specified third thing that illustrates my point.

I got up at about 5:15 this morning after my watch woke me up to remind me to take deep breaths. I laid there for a while thinking about work things for a bit, then reminded myself it was Sunday and I didn't have to think about that stuff today. I got up and made some coffee, and walked back to my office to look at the pictures I took yesterday during my walk along the creek.

abstract #1

Abstract number 1

I have an old email address from when I was a deacon in the Catholic church that I never use, but for some reason I have been getting all sorts of random emails intended for other Deacon Mikes throughout the country. I think it is some sort of gmail glitch. I got emails inviting me to parish events, emails with questions about wedding planning, and even emails informing me that I had some hits on some other Deacon Mike's Christian dating site profile.

In any case, I tried writing these guys telling them I was getting their emails, but it kept happening. Finally, I started responding to each and every email I received with, "Will there be a pancake breakfast?"

That seemed to fix it.

Now I want pancakes.

abstract #2

Abstract number 2
  • Current Music
    Grant-Lee Phillips--Buried Treasure
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December 6--62001

Well, it's my birthday. I am old enough now to get the senior discount at the movie theater. I told one of my co-workers that, and she said, "I thought you never went to the movie theater,". Yes, but if I did....

I am also old enough to qualify for the National Parks Senior Pass, which is, by far, the best thing about being this age, other than living to be this age, which is also pretty awesome. I've been waiting for this for years now, and will purchase it when we go to Yosemite in a few weeks.

kitty birthday

I got lots of Hello Kitty birthday wishes, including this one from Malida, along with a new sweatshirt from the college store. We were going to go out for dinner, but Malida is feeling a bit coldish, so we stayed home and I made some delicious seafood. Now I am having my birthday scotch--some mystery 18-year-old Speyside single malt from Costco. It's good, and getting better and better with each sip.

I worked this morning. We are approaching the end of the semester, so a lot of that stuff to do. It's a nice break from doing all the accreditation stuff, which I still need to finish. Soon, soon, it will all be over, and I will be off to frolic on winter break.

Autumn Angel

I felt like I needed to go out and take some pictures today. Every year, on my birthday, I open a new file on my desktop for the photos I take that year. I just opened "62", and needed something to put in it. I went out to the old city cemetery, which is always a good source of inspiration, no matter what the season. It was quiet, pretty, and not too cold. I walked around for a bit looking at things.

leaf

I decided that I would teach again this coming summer, rather than spend the summer in Thailand. It will be good to have the money to pay for the house that won't yet be finished when I am not there this summer. One nice thing about teaching this summer is that it is the same course I taught last summer, but it is now all set up, so much less work. I'm hoping, anyway. In any case, the house will be done the following summer, and I am already there in my mind.

I never really get excited about my birthday on the big years--40, 50, 60, etc., but every once in a while, one of the off years really resonates with me. It was like that for my 41st year, and it feels like that for this year. I'm really happy to be 62, and looking forward to an interesting year.

And so it goes.
  • Current Music
    Counting Crows--Le ballet d'or
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December 2--All aboard the analog Tilt-a-Whirl

Sometimes I think about the subject line long before I have anything of substance to write about (if ever), and I will write it down in the little black notebook I keep on my desk next to the computer. I also write down song titles that I have heard and liked, and other random notes. Sometimes the prospective subject line is written on a scrap of paper that ends up in my pocket, and lost in the wash. Sometimes the subject line is a song title.

analog

Sometimes I have a hard time reading my own handwriting. And no, I have no idea what I was thinking about when I scribbled down "Analog Tilt-a-Whirl". So there's that.

I haven't written here since last Sunday. We all went back to work on Monday after the rains cleared the air and made it breathable again. The week started out with a bunch of meetings, and catching up for the week we missed. At this point, all I'm thinking about is getting through the rest of the semester, finishing my portion of the accreditation report, and taking off for winter break. Actually, I am already thinking ahead to next summer's break.

I got talked into teaching a three-day class at the beginning of summer on using patient simulators for high school students. It's based on the curriculum I got talked into writing earlier this semester. It should be kind of fun and interesting. I'm not sure if I will have to teach any other classes over the summer--they are running the program I taught this past summer again, but I think they might hire someone to do it. If so, I am thinking about taking off and spending a good part of the summer in Thailand as our house is being built.

It would be fun to have a bunch of unscheduled free time there where I could just wander around and take pictures and explore. Or just hang out. Or learn the Thai language.

campus in the late fall

We have had some good rain this past week, and are expecting some more on Tuesday. Everything seems kind of delayed this year, though not like the years where we got no rain at all. We are spending Christmas in Yosemite again this year, and are hoping that there is some snow on the ground up there. Things are looking hopeful in that regard.

flamingo funeral

There were flamingos, who, when asked said, "and so it goes".
  • Current Music
    Jarlath Henderson--Courting is a Pleasure
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November 25--Spatchcock, bring me my slippers!

So things are settling down after the holiday and the week plus off from work, and now it is back to the routine for a few weeks before winter break starts. I very much enjoyed this unexpected time off, and it was long enough that I started to get into winter break mode, meaning I'm not ready to go back to work. I did manage to keep up with stuff, so I won't be overwhelmed when I start back tomorrow, but I will be busy until the end.

Our Thanksgiving dinner went well. We had 9 people, and I made all sorts of stuff:
Turkey, prime rib, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, green bean casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, buttermilk yeast rolls, homemade cranberry sauce, and gravy. I was pretty worn out by cooking, but everyone enjoyed it. I forgot to take pictures.

I made a bunch of stuff differently this year than in previous years. I spatchcocked the turkey, which worked really well, and I will do it again next year. I cooked the prime rib in the air fryer. I cooked the stuffing in a slow cooker, and did the potatoes in the instant pot. I tried to use all those things at once, and blew the circuit.

laguna creek after the rain

We went for a walk in the late morning. It was a beautiful day after the rains. The air was clear, finally, and everything smelled good. The trail was flooded in a place where it isn't usually flooded, so we turned back. It has rained on and off since then, and the fires up here have mostly been contained.

Fleetwood Mac

Friday, we went to see Fleetwood Mac. I had not thought about going, but my friends invited me, and paid my way for my upcoming birthday. I reciprocated by paying for the Uber rides to and from the venue. The show was great. I missed Lindsey Buckingham--he was kind of the heart of the band, but Mike Campbell is a better guitarist. I've been to some concerts by bands that have been around for a while who just phone it in, but Fleetwood Mac was there to play.

fleetwood mac lights

Our seats were off to the side of the stage, which offered an interesting perspective on both the band and the crowd.

Yesterday was kind of a lazy day. I brought the ladder in and changed all the burnt out light bulbs that are way up in the ceiling. I cleaned the kitchen. That's about it. I will work on some accreditation stuff this afternoon, and back to work tomorrow.

and so it goes.
  • Current Music
    Mississippi John Hurt--Richland Woman Blues
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November 21--Exile Tidal

So I'm still off from work, sort of. I still have to work, and have been going in to the hospital, but haven't had to go in to the office since last week. I've stopped in a few times to pick up files, etc., but that's about it. It has made for a very stress-free week so far. I've been getting up early and doing my work work stuff, then going to the hospital at about 10 to visit students, and am done by about 11. I get way more done here than I do at the office, though I miss going there.

I went out to the cemetery on Sunday morning and brought some roses from the garden to put on Arlina's grave, to commemorate the 14th anniversary of her death. I was surprised that there are still roses out there. They are usually gone by this time of year. I'm surprised so much time has passed, though it seems a lifetime ago.

I've had plenty of time to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. I went shopping yesterday, about mid-day, thinking it would be quiet, but I forgot that every school in the area is closed, so everyone's off and shopping the same as I am. In any case, I got all the stuff I needed, and spent today cleaning the kitchen and dining room.

I bought a new tablecloth, and was surprised when I later found the exact same style of tablecloth, still in the package, in the cabinet where we keep that stuff. I must have bought it last year, but I have no memory of it. I set the table even though Malida warned that the cats would wreak havoc. They haven't so far, but she's probably right.

We have about 10 people coming for dinner. One is on a Keto diet, one is gluten-free, one is lactose intolerant, one is allergic to beans and nuts. I decided, other than to leave the nuts out of my cranberry sauce and dressing, to pretty much cook how I usually cook. There will be something for everyone, I'm sure, and everybody's bringing a dish.

turkeys

The turkey candles that have graced my family's Thanksgiving table as far back as I can remember. They were my grandma's. They had never been lit until Arlina decided to light them at some Thanksgiving, years ago. I was pretty upset at the time, but I'm almost over it now. It gives them character.

I have the window open a bit because it is raining outside, and it sounds wonderful. Hopefully the rain will help put the fires out and clean the air a bit. I think about all the people who lost their homes in the fires, and those who lost loved ones, both human and animal.

I will go out to the kitchen in a bit and do some prep work for tomorrow's dinner. Maybe have a glass of wine.

And so it goes.
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November 17--The beard apron

I saw something on social media the other day about the Beard Apron. You tie one end around your neck, and the other end has a couple of suction cups that stick to the bathroom mirror. You use it when you trim your beard to catch the trimmings. The Beard Apron. My birthday's in three weeks--just sayin'.

School has been closed since Thursday due to the poor air quality from the fires north of us. The air quality index has been up in the 300's for a good part of the time, which is considered not just unhealthy, but hazardous. It's been unhealthy all week, but they didn't cancel classes until faculty started stinking about it via email.

smoke in the air

From yesterday morning at the hospital. Even thought the school was closed, my students were still doing their preceptorships, and I had to go visit them. I spent as little time outside as possible, but could still feel the effects of the smoke.

work from home

I don't have any lectures or anything until next week, so not going to work is no big deal. I went over Thursday morning and grabbed a bunch of stuff too work at home. I have ended up pretty much doing the same things I would normally be doing, but just not in my little cubicle. And I can wear my t-shirt and sweat pants.

While I was walking in the hospital yesterday, I passed someone in the hall and had a thought about something I could say that would be totally wrong--my internal dialogue. I never say that stuff, but I sometimes worry about what happens when I get old and start saying all sorts of crazy stuff.

I finished the book I was reading--Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. It was a good story, but seemed like it went on forever, and it is only the first book in a trilogy. Not sure I am up for the other two volumes. I need a change of scenery.

I guess that's it for now. Oh wait, no!

flamingos

Someone put up a bunch of garden flamingos around the art department. I'm not sure what they are for, or what they represent artistically, but I like it. I briefly lamented that even if we had flamingos to put out near our little trailer village, there is no grass or dirt to put them in. I'm adding that to the list.

And so it goes.
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November 13--Scored on a curve

I ended up taking that walk yesterday afternoon, after I had some yummy bbq brisket for lunch. I drove down to the Cosumnes River Preserve and took the walk that curves around near the river. It is one of my favorite places to go when I need a bit of solitude and renewal, which I did need.

Cosumnes Rvier path

You can see the line of smoke just above the horizon. This was looking east, and most of the smoke is to the north and west. I didn't have any breathing issues, but I could tell the smoke was still there.

The weather was fall-like, with temperatures in the mid 60s. I wore a sweatshirt and it was just about right. There were a number of people out hiking or looking at birds, but it felt like I had the place all to myself.

fall colors

Some leaves turning color. It was pretty--not spectacular landscape pretty, but small things that catch your eye pretty.

I didn't think about much while I was hiking around, other than which direction to go. It was nice to clear my head. I put in about 6 miles altogether.

squirrel in a tree

I think I surprised this guy. He was busy doing something in the tree, and eventually turned toward me and had a sort of "oh shit!" look. I said "hey", and took his picture. We stared at each other for a minute or so, and then I walked away as he watched me.

Three days off is just about enough time to start getting comfortable with being off, and when it was time for bed last night, I wasn't ready to go to sleep. I wanted to stay up late and sleep in, but I had lecture this morning, so not an option.

And so it goes.
  • Current Music
    Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young--Country Girl
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November 12--Counting Stars

It has been way to smoky to go out and do stuff, other than go from one place to another. The fires are just horrible, and there is so much destruction. So many people have lost everything. It's heartbreaking.

I thought about my grandfather yesterday, on Veterans Day. He was 14 when he ran away from home, changed his name, and enlisted in the Navy. He was sent over to France, and within a few months of being there, was injured when a wall fell on him and fractured his hip. By the age of 15 he was a disabled war veteran. Thereafter, his left leg was about an inch shorter than the right. The government gave him a special pair of shoes every 6 months, and a $15 monthly disability benefit. As with so many things, I wish I had asked him more about his experience.

We finished our site visit with the Board of Nursing on Friday. It is such a relief to have it done with. I don't think I realized how stressful the past couple of weeks have been until this weekend, when I finally had nothing much to do and decompressed. Next up is our accreditation visit in March, which will probably be more stressful.

fall at SCC

The tree outside our classrooms. Other than this one tree, we are pretty much surrounded by concrete and asphalt. Our somewhat dilapidated trailer village came up during the visit, and administration will have to answer for why the nursing department is living in such a shithole. We'll see where that leads.

Yesterday was the perfect day for not doing much of anything. I went early to the farmers market and got some stuff, and talked with my friend Allie for a while.

I stopped at the dim sum place on the way home to get some breakfast for us. The old dim sum lady is always happy to see me. Even if the place is packed with people, she will shout across the room to say hi. This time she saw me through the window and started waving at me. I am not sure why I stand out for her--I think it is some sort of nursing connection. I seem to recall that her daughter is a nurse.

After I got home we ate and spent the day relaxing. Malida camped out on the couch with the cats, and I listened to music and read. In the late afternoon we tried a new Thai restaurant, which got Malida's seal of approval.

cats

The cats rarely spend time together like this. Usually it is Chocko chasing Mook away so she can have our attention all to herself. I guess it was cold enough that they tolerated each other for their warmth. Look had something matted in her fur and got a bit of a haircut. She seemed happy to be rid of whatever it was.

I have to head over to the hospital for a while to see a student this morning. After that I will take a walk if the air quality isn't too bad. It looks a bit clearer than yesterday, and I can see some blue sky again.

And so it goes.
  • Current Music
    Michelle Malone--Counting Stars
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November 7--Gravity always wins

It's such a strange time in American politics.

dragons

I ended up working about 13 1/2 hours today. I knew it would be a long day, so I got a good night's sleep. I woke up a bit too early, though, and thought about some work stuff before falling back asleep and getting up at 5.

It was an interesting day. We had a test this morning, our nursing regulatory agency was here all day, and I had a bunch of preceptor meetings this evening. The nice thing was that none of it was particularly stressful, and I got lunch.

As I was getting ready to give the test, I encountered the reviewer from the Board of Nursing, and showed her around the computer lab while we waited for my boss to show up and whisk her off to wherever. I would encounter her pretty much throughout the day. I enjoyed the experience, and learned a lot. In the afternoon, she met with the entire faculty, and listened as we talked about our program. On Friday, we will gather again, and she will tell us her perspective on the program, and what we can do to make it better. And so it goes.

After all the meetings, I headed over to the hospital to meet with students and preceptors who are starting tonight. I have three students on night shift this semester, which entails going in either late, or really early. I don't mind, really, but it does make for a long day.

When I got home this evening, Malida asked me to explain the whole Robert Mueller investigation thing, and I said, "Not now darling...". The situation is fluid.
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November 6--I voted

I was thinking about sleeping in until about 6 this morning, but woke up at 4 again. I got up and had some coffee, read the news, then went in to work. It was kind of a long day, as I had to lecture this afternoon, but manageable. I got the stuff done that I needed to get done.

We had another phone conference this morning with the accreditation people, along with a bunch of other schools who are preparing for accreditation. It was kind of a general guide to how to get ready. We are on the right track.

As we were listening, my boss whispered that she had an email from them with the feedback to what I wrote up last week and submitted. The feedback was generally positive--mostly formatting suggestions, with a few areas where we can beef things up. I was relieved. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are on the right track.

I had a big salad for lunch, which kept me vaguely uncomfortable all afternoon as I lectured. The topics were prostate and breast cancers--kind of a his and hers thing. The lecture was to the third semester cohort, who will be our class next semester. These lectures are always my "first look" at who we will be getting in January. One guy stood out for asking really good questions.

I asked them if they voted and almost everyone had. I then asked who didn't, and one girl raised her hand. I asked her why, and she said "too busy".

"Too busy," I repeated out loud, and thought about what to say to that, and had nothing. So I launched into the lecture. One of my first slides about breast cancer talks about health disparities, and how some populations with higher breast cancer rates have less access to care.

I talked a bit about how the ACA had increased access to care for many, and how it has been systematically dismantled over the past two years. I talked about how this election could influence that, one way or the other. I resisted the urge to repeat "Too busy". You never know what's going on in someone's life that influences their decisions.

In other news, I watched an interesting movie over the past two nights. It is called Se7en, a thriller based on the seven deadly sins. It starred Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. I really loved the cinematography and the music. Kind of a disturbing story, though.

I voted