Dear Mage

You are so nice to keep looking for me. I am fine; better than I’ve been all year. I’ve just been lazy about writing. Spent much of the last eight months doing leg exercises to counteract my arthritis. I have also lost 27 pounds and am working on losing 10 or 20 more. I am no longer in pain, I can walk normally, and haven’t opened the Tylenol bottle for the last couple of months. I had a wonderful birthday celebration last month. Instead of giving me gifts, I asked my guests to make a donation to the Israeli volunteer organization, Road to Recovery, that helps West Bank Arab children get to hospitals in Israel. Here is a video that tells all about it.

You can learn more about them at

I’ll tell more about my celebration in my next post, which I promise will be soon. I have to get pictures from Robin and she’s out of town this weekend.

First adventure alone

I must admit I didn’t prepare for this trip the way I do for Japan. But I made up my mind to go about 10 days before and it took me three days to decide on a flight. So, relying on Yona, the fact that I’ve been here before and that I can read Hebrew, albeit slowly and painfully, I came without doing any planning. Not good.
Robin asked me to go to an exhibit in Haifa and Yona was busy with a grandchild so, complete with detailed instructions from her, I got on the bus and went to Haifa. I have spent a lot of time in Haifa but most of it was 45 or 50 years ago. I had just faint twinges of memory. And I neglected to carefully examine the notice, in Hebrew, about the exhibit.
Two buses and I was exactly at the place I needed to be. No one knew anything about it–not in English and not in Hebrew. No exhibit. Later we found out it won’t open until Sunday; maybe I’ll go back on Monday.
Plan B was a museum of Japanese Art–the only one in the Middle East and more or less walking distance. Of course that was on my list. The main exhibit was snow prints, which I could thoroughly enjoy in this land of sunshine. And they had Chushingura pictures by an artist I never heard of. I suspect this is just a spelling difference but I haven’t had a chance to look him up. If I could afford to collect Japanese prints, these are what I would get. This exhibit made me very happy.
Finally, tired and hungry, I stood in a bus stop and a taxi read my mind and pulled up. We had a good discussion about lunch places and he took me down to the port and I had lunch overlooking the Mediterranean.
Lunch is the big meal here; generally much more than I want to eat. It began with 15 small dishes, almost like salads: hummus, tahina, carrots with cumin, beets, pickled cabbage, egg salad, macaroni salad, some yummy but unidentified veggies and pita with butter and garlic. I never ordered an entree, and to hell with the diet.
Then I got on the wrong bus and had an unexpected tour of Haifa, finally getting back to Yona’s after the flaming red ball of the sun sank into the sea.

Chicago Thanksgiving

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I am sitting in a temporary rental apartment in Chicago with Robin and Steve and friends from New Jersey. Because of having the friends here I have this sense of displacement: I can’t quite believe I’m in Chicago, but I know I’m not in New York. I wonder if this is the beginning of senility.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Eli, Charna and three of his friends. The loft was much enhanced from its previous state that I saw last summer. The kids made most of the food with additions made by Robin and Ilana. We are all vegetarians (much more serious than me) so no turkey. I don’t miss it at all. The veggie dishes are much more interesting.

We flew in from Pittsburgh on Wednesday. I went to visit Betty; Robin and Steve went to the apartment and met up with their friends. Unfortunately, Steve had an accident and fractured a bone in his leg. So he’s on crutches and will be for the next three or four weeks. He’s having a lot of trouble sitting still.

Steve with bionic crutches

Good thing he brought work with him.

Travel (mis) Adventures

Sometimes I think I am living under a travel curse–at least for that last trip. I haven’t been happy about flying since they first made me take off my shoes. The TSA doesn’t understand how important shoes are to old ladies, especially on hard floors. So I’ve been taking the train or bus–no security, no problems. Having more time than anything else I bought a ticket on the Megabus to go to New York the day before I had to be there. I chose Megabus over Greyhound Express because they had an 11am departure, in addition to the ghastly early and not-quite-overnight trips. On December 15 I made a reservation to go to New York on January 4 at 11am. I got to the departure point about 10:30 with a few people in front of me and about 20 or 25 people finally lined up after me. It was a bitter cold day. The bus from Harrisburg arrived and passengers dispersed. The bus to Washington D.C. came and went. The bus to Philly came and went. About 11:10 a Megabus employee asked us which bus we were waiting for, then told us there was no 11am bus; we would have to wait until 12. Megabus, which does most of its business online, never notified us the schedule had changed. We walked off to find someplace warm and came back a half hour later. The employee told us we could call and complain, which I did, but never heard from Megabus again. Needless to say, except for this public complaint, they won’t hear from me again.

Coming back to Pittsburgh I flew with Robin. She could not have taken the bus and I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do it again. She had a huge, heavy suitcase and a heavy backpack for her laptop and other technology. She isn’t supposed to lift anything over 5 lbs. and I probably can’t lift much over 10 lbs. We got lots of help. A skycap took care of the heavy suitcase and someone from the airline walked us over to security. We took a bunch of those trays and put our stuff into them: my coat and shoes, Robin’s coat and shoes, her backpack, her laptop, her jacket, my jacket, my suitcase, etc. Etc. because I know there were more than six trays. I started to move the trays toward the scanner and suddenly realized I would have to move everything to another table next to the first but not connected to it. So everything had to be lifted over. This was obviously a tour de force of design and efficiency. I finally got everything going through the machine, then a little nervous about having it piling up on the other side without me, I walked through the metal detector and set it off.

I don’t know what did it. I had on my watch (plastic, but who knows what’s inside), my hearing aids (ditto), pants with a metal zipper, and of course, my pacemaker. I’ve walked through other times with same and no consequences, but I mentioned it and the TSA turned white. She literally did not know what to do with me. Finally, still in stocking feet, she patted me down. The advantage to being my age is that I’ve been to so many doctors and had so many other nasty experiences, I just didn’t care. The only really annoying part was being shoeless. She found nothing, but, surprise, something in my possessions set of an alarm somewhere. Another TSA (all female; a man would have been more fun) took me, shoeless, to another place and did another pat down. She discovered the dirty tissues in my pocket; the other one ignored them. They finally concluded I wasn’t a terrorist, then Robin and I got a ride of one of those electric carts over to the gate. We had help going down the jetway steps and up the plane steps with our stuff; by now just the coats, backpack and my carryon. In Pittsburgh we were met with a wheel chair. Neither of us needed it, so we piled all the stuff on, now including my suitcase, and walked with the attendant to the baggage claim where Steve met us. More about New York next time.

Home again

Flew back to Pittsburgh last night. Robin in doing very well. I’m having minor troubles getting organized. I’ll write again soon and tell you about our last day in NY, being patted down, twice, all of the places I stayed and a few more things.

Back to Renee’s

I think this is my fifth move. We are scheduled to return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Two more doctor’s appts and we are out of here. Steve is flying back now. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing else happens.

Robin is feeling much better; much of her energy has returned. Today we went to the Morgan Library to see an exhibit about Charles Dickens. Steve is a big fan, and he was very pleased.

Apartment #4

Today was moving day again; this time to a quilter friend. I am hugely impressed that I’ve had so many offers of apartments. I like my friend’s place. It’s not as fancy as the last apartment, but it looks like someplace I’d live in. I expect to be very comfortable. I don’t know yet whether this is for three nights or four. In any event, I’m hoping to return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Robin seems to be doing very well. We actually went to a movie yesterday. She had a Dr.’s appt this morning and I’m waiting for the report.

Today I am a nomad

Robin seems to be recovering nicely. She will have another doctor’s visit this afternoon. Renee returned from Florida yesterday and I had to move. This time I’m staying in Rose’s apartment (she just went to Florida) and it’s closer. I’m getting a little disoriented about where I am and what day it is, but it’s fun seeing all the different apartments. This one is also an art deco building with doorman. When I arrived on Monday to see Rose and pick up the key I found out the doorman was able to open the elevator door and push the button for the correct floor from his vantage point at the door. I don’t know what would happen if I pushed another button. All this is a bit spooky, but it does remove the need for an elevator man.

The apartment is lovely: very comfortable and completely modernized, like something built in 1995 (not later because there are no computer controlled things). I’m impressed with the electricity; lots of outlets and many switches that turn on wall outlets allowing for easy control of lamps. You can tell something about my priorities. Kitchen is also beautiful. That used to be one of my priorities; since I no longer cook I don’t think about it very much.

I will probably be moving one more time before we return to Pittsburgh, so you will get to hear about one more apartment.

Sunday update

Thursday, Friday and Saturday we waited and hoped. Immediately after the surgery the doctor gave her 50/50 odds of keeping the graft. Yesterday it was 90/10. Today she is being released from the hospital. We’re not in the clear yet. It took six days for the first problem to show up, but we are guardedly optimistic.

The doctor told her to be more cautious about physical activity. He doesn’t think the long walks caused the problem originally, but they might not be so good now. Since they have to continue checking the graft she is not quite so buttoned up as before. The apartment will be boring, although not as bad as the hospital, and she has plenty of toys–DVD’s, iPad, Kindle, iPhone and laptop.


Moving slow today

Wednesday morning Steve and Renee left NYC and I moved from my west side fantasy apartment to Renee’s east side New York apartment. Robin and I west out for a long walk in Carl Schurz Park along the East River. Everything seemed fine, but when we returned she said she thought there was something wrong with her right breast. We went to the doctor’s office where they diagnosed a hematoma, squeezed it out and sent pictures to Dr. A., who was in surgery all day. By six that evening she had heard from the doctor and we went back to the hospital. She was taken to the OR at 8:30, her reconstruction was opened and blood clots were removed from her newly attached veins in another four and a half hour surgery.

I was frantic. Up front the doctor said it would be about two hours. When we got to four my imagination was running rampant. Finally, another half hour and I was told she would be in the recovery room for hours. I got back to the apartment about 2am. I was ready to return to the hospital at 8, but Steve called. He had heard from her; she was still in the RR on clear liquids, so I could forget the food I had carefully packed, and they were keeping her on her back. No need for me to rush.

It was raining buckets; our spring in January was over so I went back to sleep for half an hour and then the sun came out. When I got back to the hospital they were trying to decided whether to go in again and remove the graft. As of this morning they have done nothing more and are hoping the veins will function. Steve returned yesterday afternoon and went to the hospital early this morning. It’s a good thing I can live with uncertainty; I’d be nuts otherwise.

I’m off to the hospital now.