Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why I love "House Hunters""House Hunters" is a reality TV show on HGTV. (I used to feel oh so superior to people who watched reality TV ... come on, you can't say you haven't felt that yourself.)

I love "House Hunters," "Property Virgins" and all those other shows about people looking for a house to buy not because I like the houses, but because I love watching the people.

I have always been a people watcher. I see the subtle changes in an expression, in a movement - and then I analyze it. To death. But that's not my point.

Recently, I saw an episode of "House Hunters International," which, as you would expect is people buying houses overseas. It's funny because some of the people are already living "overseas" (England, Australia) and I could make several observations about how non-U.S. families react to their son/daughter moving to another country as opposed to the pearl clutching that goes on in an American family ...

Anyway! There was a couple and the husband whose company sent him to work in Shanghai for a bit so he was bringing his family along: his wife and two children.

One place they saw was a palatial residence with a beautiful big yard outside the city. I should mention here that the guy had a housing allowance from his company.

As soon as they hit that house, the wife and kids lit up like a fireflies. Wife got all dreamy, kids were choosing bedrooms and husband said, "There are too many chandeliers in here. Who needs this many chandeliers?"


He then said it was too big. It was too far outside the city (he had a driver to drive him to work).

Wifey, with tears in her voice, asked him how many more times in their lives they would get to live in a beautiful mansion, rent-free.

No way was that man budging from his inexplicable unwillingness to make his wife really happy at no apparent expense or trouble to him.

When she realized he was not going to budge, her mouth went into a straight line and stayed there while she said, "I love you" and kissed him - and it was still in a line two months later after the show went back to check on them in the house the husband had chosen. I don't think he was getting much Shanghai Surprise, if you get my drift.

There have been, of course, reverse situations - ones in which the husband has made extraordinary sacrifices and gone to great expense because he realized he was uprooting his family and wanted them to be as happy/comfortable as possible.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"She's very sick"

I'm so tired of hearing those words about my mother. People, I can see for myself that she's very sick. The thing is, as my sister points out on her blog, she's not ready to die (as in, pulling the plug on the dialysis).

For months now it has really disturbed, to say the least, me that there is really no place for my mom. If she were wealthy, we could afford quality care for her as she teeters on the brink.

Likewise if she were poor. MassHealth would provide for her care and there would  be little, if any, problems.

Sadly for us, my parents are solidly middle class folk. That means that  Michigan Blue Cross will pay for "rehab" but not nursing home "maintenance" care. Many people, I read, end up dying because they can no longer afford to live.

Even 20 or so years ago, she probably would have been allowed to slip away last January, when the renal failure was diagnosed. And don't even get me started on the cause of the renal failure. Just don't get me started.

None of us plans to ever be in his position ourselves. But who knows what our reality will be?

Guess what?

Gloucester calls itself "The Port," too!

And they want a (controversial) hotel, only not on the water.

Aside from also being on the water, that's about where the similarities between Gloucester and Newburyport end.

I've been here - and I have cried 96 tears - for, what, 7 months now. I have a lot to say, but I'm saving it for later because it's sooooo hot.  Sea breeze, baby, sea breeze!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The elusive Dr. Patel

Well as many - or some - of you know, my mom nearly died several weeks ago. Being me, I have to turn this into a serio-comic blog post.

When my mom was admitted to Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, I think it was Jan. 28, she appeared to be suffering from a GI bleed and possibly pneumonia.

A quick transfer to Beverly Hospital's CCU within hours confirmed those 2 diagnoses plus acute kidney failure. I don't remember when the 2 dissected aortic aneurysms, the (possibly septic) diverticulitis and the bleeding ulcer were detected, but I think the latter came at Mass General Hospital.

As my mom's health care proxy, I kept getting calls delivering bad news and asking for permission to perform various procedures, including putting a screen in her leg to stop an (existing) blood clot from traveling somewhere we don't want it to go, dialysis and some procedure to drain the confirmed abscess on her colon (the diverticulitis).

As it turned out, they put the drain in the wrong spot, and it was not draining anything.

Through all the days at Mass General, we kept hearing about Dr. Patel, the vascular surgeon who was going to tell us all about the 2 aneurysms, which to my mind were looming large. One of them is 7cm wide.

Long story short; we aren't sure that there is such a person as Dr. Patel.

It was like a Seinfeld episode. "Oh, he's just leaving, let me catch him! ... Oh, no, he's gone."

My mother, in a dialysis-crazed and nearly starving* moment, said she had seen a man she described as "a nice looking Indian doctor," but we're still not sure it was Dr. Patel since she also persisted in confusing one of the interns with my brother-in-law and consistently thought the dialysis technician (a woman) was my brother.

*They did not feed her solid food until they discovered the source of the bleed, which had stopped back in Beverly.

As we continued to wonder how one 80-yr.-old woman could have so very much wrong with her and still be here to talk to us, it became clear that Dr. Patel was never going to talk to us.

My mom was discharged to the Salem location of Spaulding Rehab Hospital - oh, sorry it's not a rehab hospital anymore, as were were firmly informed - and she's now back in what they call a skilled nursing facility; back in Beverly.

Because, you know, having 2 untreated aneurysms does not warrant being kept in the hospital if you're an 80-yr.-old. (Supposedly keeping her blood pressure down controls the aneurysms.)

Clinically, we are told, she is stable, although somehow she has pneumonia again.

And oh, yeah. Spaulding at the end of last week got a letter from MGH saying that Mom had likely been exposed to TB while she was there.

Parking, Malden style

Well bless my soul, I can't believe I'm still around ... actually, I'm not around Newburyport and likely won't ever be again, but that's another story altogether ...

So, I'm down here in Malden, where the parking situation is pretty close to what Newburyport officials are proposing (or not proposing): that is, free on-street parking with time limits downtown, one free lot, etc. The only difference is - and forgive me if this is part of the plan - validation.

If you shop or eat or otherwise patronize enough businesses while downtown, you can erase your parking fee entirely through the validated parking scheme. Of course, I'm not sure how this would work w/a pay-and-display machine because you can't hand your validated ticket to a machine - and have it respond favorably.

(I've been downtown Malden w/my sister a few times now, and whereas the downtown Malden of my memory was a virtual ghost town, it's pretty bustling now. I don't know, but maybe it's that fabulous Asian restaurant w/the best sushi I've had in quite a while ... yum ...)

Anyway ... I'm not saying that Malden is Newburyport, or anything like Newburyport, because of course it's not. Like my opening paragraph, any reference to the multicultural aspects of Malden is another story altogether.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Is Facebook working for you and your 702 friends?

Twice now in the last 3 weeks, I have noticed that some friends of mine on Facebook had missed wall posts that I and others had posted, of more or less an important nature. I also noticed that both of these people have 500+ "friends" on Facebook.

Pondering the meaning of the words "social networking," I wonder how either of these people - who seem to be relying on Facebook for the "networking" more than the "social" - are finding Facebook works for them.

I admit that part of my dismay is based on the fact that neither of these people - who are indeed what I would consider friends - have commented on the fact that my mother was rushed to the hospital and came very close to death over last weekend (we were advised to gather the grandchildren for their final goodbyes.)

One of them, a woman, sent me a series of texts yesterday morning that clearly showed she had no clue. She was making some banal inquiries as to where I was living now and about the status of my relationship with Mr. Y.

Yo, yo, where have you been, woman?

So ... I really have to wonder what benefit one can get from a Facebook with probably a few hundred status updates/hour whizzing by.

I sometimes find it hard to keep up with the status updates from my 198 or so "friends," but I do make the effort, every day.

Spreading yourself too thin seems to be the norm these days ... both of these people are looking for jobs and are not having a huge amount of success. I wonder if one or more of the Facebook posts they missed could have been about the job they could have secured?

It happens. I know I posted about at least one job, passing along information sent to me ... anyway, here's hoping everyone is warm, dry and reasonably happy.

And now on to the beach ...


Even I did not think the Plum Island Foundation/Newbury would be so bold as to proceed with beach scraping sans the proper permits.

But, as Councillor Tom Jones always says, it's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission. And probably nothing will happen, punishment-wise, to the perps.

Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to someone whose parent owns a large home perched on the dune in Newbury. I was trying to make excuses for them - "but they probably did not know the environmental impact on having a house on the dune," or words to that effect.

"No, they knew," was his response.


I was not quite sure if he was trying to say his parent did not care, or that he was defending the parent against the perceived label of ignorance. Whatever.

Read more here.

Time to get real and move on

From my new perspective, here in Gloucester (where you have to pay to park everywhere that's a public spot, by the way), I find this whole paid parking debate kind of ... "namby pamby."

Just last week, Gloucester imposed a new law in the city:

Adopted by a council vote of 7-1, the new ordinance language is designed to "regulate the practice of shuffling cars from one metered space to the next throughout the workday."

A ban on the practice has been imposed within the downtown area from Main and Spring Streets to Tally's Corner, at Main and Washington Street.

The new ordinance language declares: "Once a meter expires, it shall be unlawful to park the car in another metered space within the area" on any day except Sundays and holidays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

I've been in downtown Gloucester a few times now, and I don't find coughing up a couple of quarters to park to be too much for me to handle.

I think that this (Newburyport) City Council needs to be a bit more decisive and stop the endless meetings, information sessions and whatnot on every issue. There are plenty of opportunities for people to voice their opinions during the regular process for implementing plans and passing laws.

And you do NOT get to park for free in Gloucester, with a resident permit, except at the beach.

Life's a bitch, ain't it?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh, well, that's much better!

WHDH is reporting that Richard Heartquist, husband of Ward 1 City Councillor Alison Heartquist, is now claiming he was not in the SUV that hit another vehicle because he was in the car of another woman, doing whatever.

Also there is a report in today's Daily News.

Drunken people often do stupid things. They need help.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My dressers!

In this time of turmoil and distress (Is that any surprise to any of you?), I count the little things as blessings.

I refer, of course, to the dressers in my sister's house ... two of them, that used to be mine.

The white and gold one was in my bedroom when I was a teenager. It's in the upstairs bathroom here. My dresser!

The blue one my parents gave me after I moved into my own place, so many years ago. I gave it to my sister after I moved into a studio apt. in Boston and did not have room for it. It is in the bedroom that I am using. My dresser!

As I said, it's the little things ... the huge thing, of course, is that my sister (the one that lives in Gloucester) and my brother-in-law took me in after I fled Newburyport.