August 20--The lessons of aging

I was supposed to go into work this morning. Not because it is a work day--our semester doesn't technically start until Friday, though we have meetings on Thursday. No, it's because I still have stuff to do to finish up this summer class, and get ready for the fall class. Totally self-imposed. Part of my nature, that I have to be on top of everything.

Well, I don't, actually. I just need to get it done eventually. One of the best things about getting older and wiser is that I am now able to allow myself to slack off when I feel like it (and can). I can stay home and write my journal and have coffee.

So here I am, back out in my lovely garden, enjoying the morning. It is a bit cooler--in the high 50s, but sunny and clear, and the birds are noisy.

scrub jay

A scrub jay visiting the bird feeder yesterday. There is more than one of these guys that comes around--I think this is the smallest one. He sat there looking at me for a while. I looked back.

We headed down to see my dad at about 9:30. It is a two-hour drive that is fairly boring. We spent most of the time talking about some trips we want to take. It started with some random comment about the Oregon coast, and talking about how we ought to go back one of these days. This morphed into a side-trip to Seattle and on up to Victoria. It now looks like a drive up to Seattle, a few days there, a few days over in Victoria, back to Port Angeles, and then a slow drive down the coast. We will take this trip in May, right after school lets out.

We also decided on a four-day trip to New Orleans over the winter break--probably in January. Malida has never been there, and expressed an interest. I love New Orleans, and am always ready to go back.

The time flew by, and we were at my dad's before we knew it. We went to lunch at our usual place--The Fish Market. The manager there is a friend of the family, and always stops by our table to say hi and give us a free appetizer. This time it was cheesy bread with crab. Mmmmm!


My dad loves getting post cards, but the Thai postal service is spotty, so I just carried it home with me. We had a nice visit. My dad will be 89 in October, and has had some health issues this year, but is looking pretty good. He hates having his picture taken, so I always have to get it when he is otherwise occupied.


A double-crested cormorant hanging out near the restaurant. We made it home and watched Spirited Away. I couldn't find it streaming anywhere, so I ordered the DVD.

I think I'll take a drive down the river road today.
  • Current Music
    Elvis Costello & The Imposters--Unwanted Number

August 19--The corndogs of autumn

I enjoyed the day yesterday and didn't do too much other than to walk for a while and eat leftover meatloaf. I walked along the creek trail. I got out there when it was about 75 degrees out, and by the time I was done, it was close to 90. It got hot fast.

tortuga lady

The Casa Tortuga lady was sitting out by the trail, giving out free ice water. I have met her before once, when she was out there with coffee, being neighborly. I accepted her offer of some ice water and talked with her for a bit about the future of healthcare. After I left, I thought that I should have asked her if, when she was a little girl, she had a lemonade stand. One of the best things about that trail is the friendliness of the people I meet there.

wild corn dogs

It's the end of the season for wild corndogs. Soon they will be harvested for the last of the late summer county fairs and carnivals. By Labor Day, they will be gone, not to be seen again until opening day of baseball season in the spring.


The Tagalog word for dragonfly is tutubi. It is one of my favorite words in any language (too-too-bee). There are a lot of them out this time of year.

We are heading down to the Bay Area to have lunch with my dad this afternoon, so that's the day. For the moment, I am sitting with my coffee, watching the birds enjoy the feeder we have put out for them, and watching the little neighbor cat watching the birds as well. He seems very excited, as if he is in cat Disneyland. Maybe he is.
  • Current Music
    The Frames--Fitzcarraldo

August 18--A visit to the land of luxury loungers

We went to the movie theater (thee-ater) yesterday for the first time in at least a few years. A lot has changed. They took out all the old seats and put in "luxury loungers". It's more comfortable and more roomy, but it still isn't my own recliner in my own family room.

luxury loungers

The other thing that has changed is that all the seats are reserved. No more getting there early and staking out the best seats in the middle. I didn't see any Good 'n' Plentys either. Time marches on.

We saw Crazy Rich Asians, which was good. It was both funny and touching. Malida just finished reading the book, so she was excited to see it. After the movie we went out for dumplings and noodles at a place we had been meaning to try. The garlic noodles with shrimp were delicious, as were the pork and shrimp dumplings. Another place to add to the places we like to eat.

trumpet babies

I've been watching some TV (television) lately, which is kind of unusual for me. I finished the second season of The Crown, and will wait patiently for the third to appear next year some time. I told my friend that I had been watching The Crown, and she suggested I take a look at a series called Broadchurch, which I did. It is intense, well-written, and well-acted, which is what I like in a series. I finished the first season last night, and started on the second. The lead actress in Broadchurch will be taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the 3rd and 4th seasons of The Crown.

Today is my final completely unencumbered day off before I start back to work full-time next week. The semester doesn't actually start until a week from today, but I have a lot to do between now and then. I am thinking about how I can get enough done to give myself another unencumbered day off on Wednesday. If I can, I will take a drive somewhere and take pictures.

I start my new landscape photography class next Saturday. This semester we are going to the east side of the Sierras and photographing Mono Lake and that area. I'm looking forward to that. The only cloud on that horizon is that the person who is supposed to be taking my clinical group this fall seems to have disappeared, and is not responding to emails. If she fails to materialize, I will have to do clinicals, and that means no photography field trip.


I shaved off my goatee yesterday in anticipation of the upcoming semester. I have had it since a year ago May, and I was kind of done with it. Malida found its absence somewhat disconcerting, and noted that "You don't look like a real man anymore." This is despite her regular complaints about my having facial hair. Since I hate shaving, I'll probably grow it back eventually, and then she can complain, "You look like an old goat with that thing!" Whatever.
  • Current Music
    Elvis Presley--Mystery Train

August 17--and they lived happily ever after

Wednesday I had to renew my advanced cardiac life support certification. I've been certified since about the late 1980s. When I worked in ICU and in rapid response, I used it all the time, but I haven't been in a cardiac arrest situation in at least 5 years now. I don't really miss that. I keep renewing to keep up with the changes, so I can incorporate them into my teaching.

The training also counts toward the 100 continuing education hours I need to renew my Critical Care RN certification, which I'm not required to maintain either. I maintain that because, even though I teach now, I will always be a critical care nurse. It used to be that if you didn't do a minimum number of hours at the bedside, you couldn't keep your certification. They changed it a while back to reflect that a lot of old critical care nurses were now teaching, and doing things that support critical care nursing. So now my certification is CCRN-K. The K stands for knowledge.

Yesterday I had to attend a four-hour update on stuff at the clinical site where I take my students. Mostly it was about all the online stuff we have to complete before bringing students into the hospital, and the electronic health record. The great thing about the training was that it was done in less than two hours. I went back to the office and did a bunch of still I needed to do to get ready for the upcoming semester, which starts at the end of next week.

I walked to the other side of campus to get some lunch, and saw that they were cutting all the trees down around Mohr Hall, our old home. This is because they are supposed to be starting demolition of the old building next month, and starting on the new one.


These trees have been there since before Mohr was built. Back in WWII there were quonset huts here, where soldiers were billeted. After the war, it was the dormitories for the nursing students. During my time as a student, we would sit under the trees and study, shaded from the hot summer sun.


It's too bad they have to cut them down to make room for the new building. Assholes.

Malida called while I was at work and asked if I could stop in one of her favorite hole-in-the-wall Lao stores to get her some sticky rice and laab. It was on the way, so I did. As I was waiting for the food, I looked around, and was surprised to find Beer Lao in one of the refrigerators. They sell it there! I talked to the girl behind the counter, and she told me all about how they could never get it until they found someone in San Francisco who was importing it. They even have Beer Lao Dark, which is even better than Beer Lao. My life is complete.

beer lao

I was planning to go in to work today, but I have to start up again for real next week, so I rolled over and turned off the alarm. Now I am in my lovely back yard, and all is well.
  • Current Music
    Austin Lucas--Immortal Americans

August 14--"Hoo boy--Groatcakes again!"

I'm sitting out in the backyard tonight. I had to teach this evening, and when I walked out of class at about 9 pm. I noticed that a. it was no longer hot, and b. the sky was clear and I could see the moon and the stars. and there is a delightful breeze blowing in from the west. So here I am. Malida has to get up at 3 am for work, so she's already asleep. One of the cats is looking at me through the screen door.

The class went well. I taught about all the different types of shock, and how to treat them. I also went over the last test, and made some suggestions for how to do better next time. I like this class--its only 10 students, and feels a lot more informal than my normal class of 30. I wore a Hawaiian shirt. Tomorrow I have to go to a class to renew my advance cardiac life support certification. Last time they got me in and out in under two hours, so I am hopeful for the same this time around.

Malida and I went to lunch at a new sushi/Korea place that just opened near where we live about a week or two ago. This will be the 4th restaurant that has been in that location since I have lived here. It's not really in the best location--no visibility from the road, but I am hopeful for this place. The food was great, and the service was earnest.


Malida's crab thing. I don't eat sushi, so I had a delicious bento box.

I had a nice nap in the afternoon before I had to go back in to teach my class. I dreamed about a big party at my grandma's house. The police came, and I had a big bag of weed, so took off out the back door. Not sure what that's all about.

I read an article today about a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, that reported how the Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse by more than 300 priests. What a horrible thing. Even with all that has come out about sexual abuse by clergy, this was stunning.

I thought back to how, when I was thinking about getting married again, the director of the deacon program told me it would be a scandal. Yeah.

August 13--Trippy little squirrel

When I was first clearing the corner for our fountain, I found a dead squirrel buried in the old leaves. It looked like he had been there for a while. I told Malida about it, and she said that once we finished the fountain, we had to put a little squirrel monument out there for him. I finally found one that I liked, and put it out there.


He's kind of trippy looking. Hand painted. I found him on the internet. He seems happy out there, and the squirrel spirits are placated. Not sure what the real squirrels think. I should name him.

I bought a couple of begonias to put out in that corner. A red one and a yellow one. Then I bought another red one, but a different type, at the farmers market yesterday. I like begonias, but have never been successful at growing them. I am, however, flush with the success of my efforts with my orchids, and am willing to try again.


I had a relaxing weekend, but I'm looking at a busy week. I have to teach tomorrow and have to attend a class both Wednesday and Thursday. I went for my doctor visit this morning and things are well, though he wasn't as impressed with my cholesterol as I was, and I am now on a statin. It's a good strategy to minimize the risk of heart disease, so I am ok with it.

It's still warm, but only in the low 90s, which is better than the 100s. Pretty soon the evenings will start cooling off and I will sit outside with my squirrel and enjoy twilight hour.
  • Current Music
    Iron & Wine--Naked as we Came

August 11--Rye toast and coffee

I'm sitting out in the back yard munching on some rye toast and drinking coffee. It is a lovely morning, and I am savoring these last summer days. Malida is inside making cleaning noises. On the weekends we generally divide up the tasks ("Ill clean the cat box and the living room if you clean the kitchen and wash the sheets"). Mine are already done, though I will have to remake the bed and fold the clean sheets eventually.


It's pear season, so I bought some at the farmers market last week. We live near a big pear-producing area along the Sacramento River, so they are always good. I put them on the kitchen table near the window so they could ripen. They are just about there. I brought them outside so I could take some pictures. I have a whole series on pears. When I was first really into photography, I would buy pears at the market, and set them up in a little makeshift studio in my living room. I made prints for the pear growing people, and they gave me free pears whenever they saw me at the market for a few years thereafter.


Since my cholesterol and other lipid levels were so good this week, I decided to make macaroni and cheese. What was different this time was that I made it in my instant pot. It turned out great, though I will tweak it a bit next time. It takes longer to cook in the instant pot than it would in the oven, but when it is 100 degrees outside, it's perfect.


Some nice California peppers enjoying the dry heat.

I went into work for a while yesterday and got some stuff done, though I kept a leisurely pace. I was the only one there, so it was quiet, and I could turn up the music. I made a list of things I need to get done next week on a post-it note. I find lists helpful. When I was an ICU nurse, I made lists of things I needed to do for my patients on one of the long, rectangular post-it notes.

We were going to go down to the Bay Area and see my dad today, but he wants us to come next week instead, so I will go for a walk and do some other stuff.
  • Current Music
    The National--Peggy-O

August 10--Time relentlessly pushes on

I was debating last night about whether or not I needed to go in to work today, or whether I could afford to hang out in the yard drinking coffee. I came to the somewhat shocking realization that summer break is over in two weeks, and the machine is about to start up again. I do have to go in--there's just too much to get done with this summer group before I have to start gearing up for the fall.

I came to a compromise with myself--I will sit out in the yard and drink coffee until about 9, then get ready and head in. It's going to be 100 here anyway, so I would be driven indoors eventually. But dang! Two weeks left. How did that happen?

red sun

Red sun. We are still having bad air, and the fires are still burning all over.

I got my lab tests back yesterday afternoon. My health system has a phone app that sends you messages about these kind of things. The labs look good. My A1C results are the same--hovering near prediabetes, but it hasn't gone up. My cholesterol remains remarkably good. My doctor added a note that we will discuss them at our appointment next week, when I see him about this abdominal lump that is still there.

I finished up with one hard drive yesterday, and plugged in one of the older ones--a 500 gb one from a ways back. I was surprised to see that the years 2003-2006, plus 2008, were all neatly categorized within. At some point, I must have gone through and put most of this stuff together. Makes it a lot easier.

The 2003 files start in mid-May, which was about the time I bought my first digital camera. I think there might be some stuff from April somewhere, but it's possible I just didn't save any of it. I still have some other drives to look through.

The thing that took me by surprise was that when I opened the first of the files from May 2003, was that they started on the day my first wife, Arlina, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It still packs quite an emotional punch. I don't think I was prepared to have all that spill out in front of me, and pretty much let 2003 and 2004 be for the time being. I know what's there--it is a visual journey of her illness and eventual death in November 2004, as well as my attempts to escape that reality through photography.

I skipped forward to the middle of 2005, which was about the time I quit my job and started to travel--my ghost journey.

the plan

The only thing missing from this shot is my old iPod, which shows up in another picture all by itself on the map. that computer conked out on me about three days into the trip and I had to buy another one in Oregon. You can kind of see the outline of my starting up the west coast of the US, and into Canada. Once I got out of the Canadian Rockies, though, and into the prairie, I deviated from my plan and just followed secondary roads east, going wherever seemed interesting at the time.

One of the more interesting things I noted when I went through the files yesterday was that, the longer I was out on the road, the less pictures I took. I think that was partly to do with some discouragement over my lack of photography skills at the time, and partly due to my state of mind, which was pretty dark most of the time. You can't outrun grief.


In any case, the prairie suited me. The great emptiness outside matched the great emptiness inside. In that respect, it was probably the perfect place for me at the time.

I would love to go back up that way again, and Malida and I have discussed a road trip for either next summer or the summer after. Between trips to Thailand, I guess.

That black cat just walked by,along the fence, and gave me the eye. The hummingbirds are back at it, chasing each other and chattering away. My coffee cup is empty, and it's time to go do the things I must do. Time goes by.
  • Current Music
    Van Morrison--Cry for Home

August 9--Anyone but you

No coffee for me this morning. I had to go have a lab test at 7 am, and needed to be fasting. I figured coffee would be ok--what could it affect? But I googled it, and there was some stuff out there that indicated it can affect fasting tests by activating the digestive system. I'm such a nerd.

So I went and had my tests done. I had an appointment, which is a cool thing the lab has instituted lately. My appointment was at 7, and I was out of there by 7:02. There was some old guy waiting there with his wife. he asked the tech, "Can I request someone in particular to draw my blood?" She said, "Sure--who would you like"?

"Anyone but you."

This prompted his wife to scold him, and apologize to the tech, who took it like a pro. When I was first doing bedside care, it would upset me when someone didn't want me caring for them. I would fret about it. Eventually I figured out it wasn't about me and it stopped bothering me.

I am still backing up pictures, and finished 2011 last night. 2010 is backing up now. Those were the last of the years (working backwards)that were fairly well organized. The rest of the years are scattered across a bunch of random external drives and DVDs, and will take a bit more work.

my left foot

My left foot in the early evening light, which is still red. The fires are still burning everywhere, but it sounds like they are having more luck with containment. Hopefully the firefighters can get the upper hand on them. The air is still smoky here, but not as bad as the other day.

new growth

Some new growth on my old, old orchid--the one that came from my grandfather's garden. My primary gardening motivation is to keep that thing alive. The orchid guy at the farmers market has been really helpful with advice about how much sun, water, and when to feed them. So far it's working. My newer orchids all have new growth as well.

Now I get to enjoy my coffee in one of my favorite mugs. It's the one that has "MURSE" printed on it. I am finishing the first of the three bags of Lao coffee I brought home with me, and wondering why I didn't fill a suitcase full of coffee to bring home. Next time!
  • Current Music
    The Drunk Monkeys--Always Wasted

August 7-From the Archives: March 3, 2007--The day we met

the day we met

This was taken on the bus to Pakse, Laos, just after we had met. We were sitting next to each other on the bus and I had Malida's friend take the picture with my camera. It is somewhat blurry, but it tells the story just fine. Just 363 days later I would be back in Thailand and we would be getting married.

Still going through all my old hard drives. I found this one in a document file with about 10 other pictures of the two of us. I had made prints of them and added them to the immigration application for Malida.

So far I have archived about a terabyte's worth of pictures from the years 2007-2017. There are still a lot more from that period on other drives I haven't looked at yet. This will be the first time I will have all my pictures, archived chronologically, one a single drive.

Everything prior to 2007 is stored on CDs and DVDs. I think they are in a box in the closet. Not sure what is there--it wasn't until 2007 that I really thought about keeping things in any kind of order. That was the year I went to Southeast Asia for the first time, and took thousands and thousands of pictures.

I went into work today and fooled around with a case study I'm working on for next week's online class. My boss and I met with a university rep who wants to create a concurrent enrollment collaborative for our students so they can finish their BS degrees sooner. They offered to fly us out to Phoenix for a few days to see their campus, so we will go in December. I'm always up for a free trip to somewhere. After the meeting my boss and I talked about life for a while. I left feeling good. I have an awesome boss.

In the afternoon we took Malida's iPhone and MacBook to the Apple Genius Bar for various repairs. I ran into an old friend who works there. She used to own the camera store where I bought all my film and photo paper and stuff like that, back in the day. Her store was a victim of the digitalization of photography. She's an amazing photographer.

I got a notice that someone de-friended me today. It was kind of surprising as we seemed to have friendly interactions. I think it was related to some sort of peripheral drama that didn't involve me, but created undercurrents. Or something.

Who knows, really. In social media, as in life, people come and go. Sometimes we get nice little notices informing us about it and sometimes we don't.

363 days later

363 days later. This is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, and it's the one that is thumbtacked above my desk where I can see it when I rest from my labors.
  • Current Music
    Porcupine Tree--The Start of Something Beautiful