Friday, September 30, 2016

Landscape Project #1b Done

I finished the first part of the landscaping along the outside of the wall to the west side of the driveway. (Phase #1a was removing the shrubs blocking the view of the oncoming traffic. It is still in progress.)
26 bags, Done!

Basically, I put down weed cloth and red cinders to the meter box outside the wall. Almost. I need about 2 more bags to complete this part. I added another piece of weed cloth to continue for the next phase of the project. Ultimately, I will work my way down to the corner. It might take a year or so since I still need to kill off the invasive shrubs and get the stumps out.
Phase 1c

Here's my landscape project #2. I want to build a compost pile in the front yard near the mailbox. The main component will be the mango leaves. The first step will be getting the weeds out of the area. Then stacking the bricks for the walls to contain the leaves. Finally, adding the leaves. And other organic matter.

Mom wanted to get rid of her old prescription bottles. But first she wanted me to remove all the labels since they had her name on it. So I did. Then she just threw them into the trash. I thought she was going to put them through the shredder to get rid of the information since she had me carefully taking the labels off so no one could get them off the bottles. Sometimes there is no logic to her actions. At a minimum, at least I sorted the recyclable bottles from the non-recyclable ones.

I watched Hawaii Five-0 again tonight. Still no sign of the neighbor's house. McGarrett & Danno went to the Middle East and Great Britain tonight. Not Kaimuki.

Happy Birthday to Gary!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lunch From Arby's

Aunty Judy dropped by today. We had a great visit with her and she also brought lunch over for us! Mom & Dad shared a turkey & bacon sandwich and enjoyed it; they rarely eat a whole sandwich each. I tried the roast beef sandwich, which was just roast beef on a bun, I added lettuce & sauce. The taste was good but a little salty for me; glad Mom did not eat it since she is having a slight problem with fluids accumulating in her tissues. (I should have given her furosemide every day when we were in Las Vegas since I had no control over how much salt was in what she ate, so we are catching up now on controlling that.) This may be hard for people to believe, but this is the first time I have had anything from Arby's. The fast food place we went to most often was 5 Guys, once every 2 months or so after haircuts. Tomorrow we try the Philly cheese steak.
L to R: turkey & bacon sandwich, roast beef sandwiches, Philly cheese steak

The landscape project is coming along. This evening, as I was in the middle of the 5 bags I was installing, a van pulled up right next to where I was working, blocking off my path. The driver was very nice and moved across the street, then he came over and offered to help move bags. I declined, but I might  ask him to help with larger projects at a later date. I've got 5 more bags to spread tomorrow to finish it off.
12 bags; 11 were finished last night

16 bags; notice the great visibility of cars coming up the road!

We're trying something new in the bathroom, tubeless toilet paper rolls. It was easy enough to put on the spindle & it rolls easily enough coming off. If this works out I would prefer it since there is no tube to get rid of at the end of the roll. Can't think of a downside to not having a tube.

Happy Birthday to Decarla & Amy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I Just Don't Get It

We were supposed to go to Haleiwa today to visit Mom's friend Evelyn. We made the arrangements last week and Mom was really excited to be able to see Evelyn again. Since Evelyn no longer drives long distances to places she is unfamiliar with, and Mom has had no driver for the same reason, they had not seen each other for several years. But this morning, when Evelyn called to confirm we were coming, Mom told her she wasn't feeling well so would not be coming. Which was news to me, she was actually fine. Later in the evening Mom ran across the message she had copied down from last week from Evelyn. And she wanted me to contact Evelyn and take her out to see her! I just don't get it. Why is it that she wants to see her friend but then when it is about to happen, she decides she doesn't want to see her? She's done this a couple other times but we have been in the car, when I ask her if she wants to go home she says no, she's already on her way there so she might as well go. And she has a great time!

I started a landscape project today. Actually, I guess I started it a year ago when I started removing the 'ohai ali'i and mickey mouse plants blocking my view when I back out of the driveway. This is just the beginning of the end for the area I am currently working on. I have weeded 95% of it, spread out the weed block material, and bought the red cinders that I will be spreading over the area. Here are some photos.
Raw materials for the project, 26 bags of red cinders

The project area, 15.5 feet x 5 feet

Weed cloth

The first 6 bags

I actually spread 5 more bags this evening. The bags are 5 to a stack, except for the 1st stack which was 6 high. It turns out I can spread 5 bags without my back really complaining. After doing the 6 this morning I had to take a break, do a bunch of self massage, stretches, back bends, etc., to get rid of the pain. But it was better by dinner so I decided to continue the project after dinner. Five bags is a good amount for me to be working with, no back pain, just a nice work out. But it was too dark for a photo. I'll take one tomorrow morning before I start the next stack of bags. If I do one stack in the morning and one in the evening, I should be done on Friday. 

Here's the final bag of cookie chips from Las Vegas, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip. They came through the best of the 3 bags that we brought back.

Curt made the reservations for the next trip to Las Vegas! Since Mom was better during this trip than she was in June and seems to be continuing to do well, we decided to set up the next trip. Mom & Dad usually go to Vegas during the week of her birthday. Which is only 6 weeks away. We will be there from November 2nd through 7th; her birthday is November 4th. We will likely have another dessert get together on Saturday evening.

Happy Birthday to Hannele, Sheryl, Dorothy, & Isaiah!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Happy Birthday, Brent!

Today is Brent's 22nd birthday! So we went to Curtis & Lori's house for dinner this evening. Ever since Lori invited us over for dinner Mom has been fretting over not getting him a card (she did) and not having any money to give him for a present (she did). We picked up the card yesterday after her blood draw; we also picked up a sympathy card for Aunty Jean. And I had cash from the house money fund. I put the card together for her today, after mahjong, and she wrote the note inside and addressed the envelope. Then 5 minutes later was worrying because she did not have time to get him a card or get money out of the bank for him! During the 45-minute drive to Curt's house she asked 7  times why we were going there. Towards the end of the drive she remembered it was Brent's birthday but forgot she had written a card and put money in the card. Here's the birthday boy.
Brent with Jenny's arm to L, in background L to R: Mrs. Nomura, Dad, Mom, & Mr. Nomura.

Happy Brent with 1 lb of chocolate!

Mom spent the morning at mahjong. Which gave me time to run errands. Which turned out to be just one errand. The RAV4 died after the first errand as I was unloading the 1st load of the red cinders (13 bags) from City Mill. I called AAA and they sent a guy to test the battery then jump it. It turns out the battery was very dead, mainly because it was 7 years old in a car that has not been driven much so it did not get many full recharges from driving. The alternator was fine, so since I was intending on doing several more short trips for errands today, I replaced the battery.

We went to lunch with 2 of Mom's mahjong buddies, the 3rd one could not join us for lunch. We went to On On Restaurant again. This time I had the Beef with Mushroom Cake Noodles.
Beef with mushroom cake noodles

For Brent's birthday party, I bought a quart of honey ginger ice cream from 8 & 1/2 Desserts. It was excellent with the chocolate birthday cake! I also got to meet Robert, the owner and maker of all the ice creams. Robert remembered the Manua Kea ice cream cake (haupia and chocolate ice cream with a oreo cookie crust) that I bought for Sarah's baby shower. We had to pick it up a day early since his daughter surprised them by telling friends that they were having a birthday party for her on Sunday, so they had to close up the store in order to do so! It was his brother-in-law Justin, a nurse at Kaiser Moanalua that we met when Mom was in the emergency room in July, that told us about this place. Lori's birthday is next week, I think I will get the lychee ice cream for her. I should also take a photo of their ice cream freezer with all the flavors and ice cream cookie creations.

Happy Birthday also to Yvonne & Angela!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Implicit Bias

We watched the 1st presidential debates this afternoon. This is the first time in all the debates that I have watched that I have heard any candidate talk about implicit bias. (However, I have not watched all of them, so someone else might have mentioned it but I missed it.) I think it is great that implicit bias is being brought up in the context of how to deal with racism. We can't correct what we don't know is happening; it is possible to change your implicit biases. Harvard University has a series of on-line implicit association tests that you can take to see what type of implicit biases you have, such as race, age, weight, skin tone, gender, and more.

Mom went in for her weekly blood test today. She is still surprised that she has to go in for a test every week, even though we have now been doing this for almost 3 months now. She says she won't have any blood if they keep doing this, we joked that this is why they have to fill her up every month!

Yay! Punu and Pebbles are back at the Hawaiian Humane Society! They were stolen last week. I was there the next day checking for Momo who is still missing and saw the end of the TV interview. When Mom saw the interview she was wondering how the HHS could "let" someone steal the dogs. The HHS is not planning on changing their policy of allowing people to spend time at their facility freely interacting with the dogs since that is the best way to know if the dog is a good match for the family and leads more people to adopt a dog.

Pebbles (Photo courtesy Hawaiian Humane Society)
Pebbles (Photo by Hawaiian Humane Society)
Punu (photo by Hawaiian Humane Society)

Happy Birthday to Mimi, Bill, & Yvonne!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Another Trip to Vegas?

Because of the dementia Mom keeps forgetting that she has leukemia. She knows she has something that will cause her to die. (Dad's outlook is that they are both dying because they are 90 or so years old and they aren't getting any younger!) Since she did so well in Las Vegas with getting the transfusions prior to the trip, we discussed going to Vegas again for her usual birthday trip during the first week of November. Stay tuned for further information; we will let you know if she can celebrate her 90th birthday in Vegas in about 6 weeks.

Cousins Baron and Mona stopped by this evening. Baron quit his job and moved in with his dad 3 years ago to take care of him when his brother Chad, who was originally taking care of their father, was injured in a work accident. Baron got in to baking to provide somewhat healthier treats for his dad; he shared some of that with us this evening.
Clockwise from top L: chocolate and regular chocolate chip, peanut butter with M & M's, mango-peach-macadamia nut bread pudding

I have started cleaning out the planting area Ewa (west) of the driveway outside of the fence. If you have been reading the blog since the beginning, this was the area with the 'ohai ali'i that I was pruning on every visit so that I could safely back out of the driveway. Here's what it looked like in the very beginning.
March 25, 2015

Shortly after the photo was taken I pruned it back so that I could see cars coming up the road. But this is what it looked like on my very next visit 3 & 1/2 months later. The hot dry weather helped slow down the growth but it was still difficult to see approaching cars. (The scraggly plants closest to the driveway are the mickey mouse plant and 'ohai ali'i that I had started to kill off by spraying with Round Up. They were struggling but not dead.)
July 5, 2015

So I pruned them back once again. But here is what it looked like when I returned 4 & 1/2 months later. The cooler, wetter weather encouraged growth including that of 2 of the plants closest to the driveway that I had sprayed with Round Up.
November 17, 2015

So I pruned them back once again. But this time I painted the cut stumps with concentrated Round Up. Here's what it looked like when I was done.
December 1, 2015

Seven weeks later when I returned it looked like this! My efforts are making progress. With the wetter weather there should have been more growth. A closer inspection showed some new growth that was struggling.
January 24, 2016

In August, David and Kai pulled out the stumps of the shrubs closest to the driveway that I had killed. Since then I have done a little weeding. Now it looks like this. I am training the yellow and orange 'ohai ali'i in the background in to tree forms so that they can get bushy at a level higher that the top of the fence. In the meanwhile I need to work on the orange one a little more so I can see the approaching traffic.

The goal here is to cover the cleared area with weed barrier cloth and cover it with decorative landscape cinders to keep weeds in this area down while I search for the plants that I want to replace the shrubs that were here. I am looking for English lavender for the spot closest to the driveway; it's drought-resistant, grows no taller than 2 feet, has fragrant leaves & flowers, & is purple (Mom's favorite color). Other plants with similar characteristics are also welcomed. I would also like to find starts of a native Hawaiian plant like 'ilima papa that I can use as a groundcover.

Happy Birthday to Layonti, Naomi, Lopaka, & Roxanne! Happy Anniversary to Rachel & Terrence!

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Mom has been having more trouble remembering things. She will ask me about something, then a minute or so later ask the same question. The word "whatever" has become very prevalent in her vocabulary, as in, "What do you call the whatever?" Which makes it very difficult for me to figure out! She has also asked me, "Who was that person who came to our house?" without giving me any more context like when, whether they stayed with us or just visited, gender, age, etc. Sometimes after more questioning I can figure it out, sometimes she can't remember enough to answer my questions.

We got the word on Aunty Jean's service, it will be on October 9th. Later cousin Baron called to talk to Mom; then I got to talk with him. He is Dad's younger sister Gertrude's middle child. I had asked Mom earlier about their family but she could not remember anything. It's been a long time since I spoke with him or any of his siblings. Tomorrow they will visit for a short time. At a later date I will take Mom over to their house to visit with their dad who has difficulty leaving the house.

It's been a while since Mom has actually cooked anything, perhaps 5 or 6 years. She has continued to use small appliances such as the microwave, toaster, rice cooker, and coffee maker. On my previous visit I had discovered she was doing things with the microwave like entering 10 minutes when she actually meant to enter 1 minute, so I have been keeping an eye on her whenever she puts anything in the microwave. Then the week after I arrived she didn't notice that a plastic lid had fallen in to the base of the rice cooker and cooked a pot of rice, melting the lid like hot glue and sticking the pot to the base. We now have a new rice cooker.

Mom has the type of automatic coffee maker where the stream of coffee is shut off when the carafe is removed. Several times over the past month she has not put the carafe into the machine properly so the coffee backs up in to the machine; fortunately I have seen it in time and corrected the problem, avoiding a coffee flood. This morning she put the filter and grounds in to the machine without the basket so the filter collapsed. I think it might be time for me to take over making coffee. Wish me luck, I'm not a coffee drinker so this will be a new experience!

We opened the 2nd bag of cookie chips, the Sea Salted Peanut Butter. They were a little more crumbled than the Original ones.

Here's a Malama avocado that we had in our dinner salad tonight. The cutting board it is sitting on is 6" x 10". Earlier I posted a photo of a bin of unripe Malamas at the co-op.

Generally after dinner Xander saunters over to the middle bedroom where Mom watches her Korean soap operas. He has taught Shiro & Chibi where to go. Usually Shiro lounges on the bed with Xander, while Chibi prefers the floor in front of the TV.
L to R: Shiro, Xander

Happy Birthday to Alan, Lane, Stacia, & Kathy!

Friday, September 23, 2016

It's a Good Thing I'm Here

Dad was not feeling well this morning. But he could not really describe it beyond, "not feeling well." Mom came to tell me about it, then added that she was going to give him aspirin, "because aspirin is good for everything." I wonder if this is what she has been doing for him before I arrived? I checked in with Dad, he feels tired but has no fever, upper respiratory issues, digestive tract issues, etc. He just doesn't feel well and is tired. When he tried the BEMER earlier it helped his energy level and he wanted to do it again. I was going to move the body pad and drape it over him as he lay in his bed but he said he wanted to go and lay on the pad like usual. The last time we did the BEMER was 2 weeks ago; Dad wants to now try it every day and see if that helps him feel better. Earlier we did it twice a week for 2 weeks and he had more energy and felt better. (Then we went to Vegas and he was too busy gambling or sleeping to use it.)

Mom was up at 5 this morning! And because she was rummaging around in the medicine cabinet and dropping noisy things, so was I. And the cats. She was looking for something to clean up the open sore on her left arm where she had scratched so much. She had already cleaned it up so I just put a band aid on it. Then I had her put the OTC benadryl anti-itch cream on the other areas that were itching. Mom is also wanting to try the BEMER every day to help with keeping warm. She knows that it worked for me, so she wants to see if it will work for her also.

Each time I use the BEMER on Mom and Dad I take a blood pressure reading before and after; the BEMER can lower blood pressure when it increases the ease of circulation through the small blood vessels. In the 7 times Mom has used the BEMER and the 5 times Dad has used it, their blood pressure has consistently decreased about 10 units for the systolic and about 3 units for the diastolic. For both Mom and Dad it is reducing their blood pressure from the pre-hypertension range to the normal range. For me it would decrease both the systolic and diastolic 1 to 3 units; I think that is because I have been using the BEMER for much longer so there is less improvement I can gain in my general circulation, I have stopped taking my blood pressure readings before and after I use the BEMER.

I watched the Hawaii Five-0 season premier tonight. But they did not have the scene that was filmed across the street from the neighbor's house.  I guess I'll have to keep watching in order to see it. FYI - Hawai'i had a female governor from 2002 to 2010. She was also Republican. And Jewish. Out of 8 governors since statehood Hawai'i has had a diverse array including Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, and one whom Mom calls a hippie.
The Governor and McGarrett

Happy Birthday to Bruce, Uncle Mike, and Christopher!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Good Check Up Today

Mom had an appointment with Dr. Pham this morning. Dr. Pham was pleased with how well Mom did in Las Vegas (medically not financially). She said Mom's blood work looked good and Dr. Chan had also reviewed the results and was fine with them. She also checked out Mom's vital signs and said she was doing good, we just need to get the extra fluids out of her tissues. In hindsight, I should have had her on the furosemide while we were in Vegas since I had no control over the amount of salt that was in her food. Dr. Pham agreed, she said to keep Mom on the furosemide until her weight is back down to 95# (she's at 100#, so has about 5# of water weight).

I shared with Dr. Pham that Curtis said Mom was 10 times better on this trip than on the end of June trip. (She went to the emergency room the day after they returned and was diagnosed with leukemia a few days later.) In June, Mom had to take breaks every couple of hours, said her legs were feeling heavy, and would be breathing heavily whenever they had to walk a bunch. This time Mom stayed up late gambling, only complained about her hip hurting from sitting at the video poker machine, and had no problem with breathing, though we did make her use the wheelchair when we went to Du-Pars for breakfast since it was a block away from our hotel.

Both Mom and Dad were back to their normal sleep patterns today. I made pulled pork in the electric pressure cooker again and we had dinner at the normal time.

A couple other things I forgot to mention earlier, there were a lot of messages on the answering machine when we returned. Several were from cousin Noreen, her mother Aunty Jean - Dad's sister - passed away on Monday. Aunty Jean was 4 years older than Dad. Now Dad is the last of his 6 siblings that is still left. There was also a message from Lei, the daughter of Dad's friend Walter. He passed away on Friday.

Mom's friend Evelyn also called. We scheduled a trip to visit with her next week. She lives in Haleiwa on the north shore of O'ahu.

On the evening that we returned from Las Vegas, after Curtis dropped us off he went to use the bathroom and the chain on the toilet broke. Since I slept till 6 pm yesterday I never got around for getting the new flapper valve, so I did that today. Trying to see into the tank was difficult since Mom has a cabinet installed over the tank so I used the flashlight app on my phone and balanced it on the edge of the tank. But don't worry! I have a LifeProof case so if it fell in it would not be a problem. (If, however, it leaked the warranty on the case would have bought me a new phone!) Sorry no photo, Smart phones can't provide light and take a photo of itself at the same time ... yet.

Happy Birthday to Bilbo & Frodo! And Happy Hobbit Day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thank You, TSA!

... for the cookie crumbs... Cousin Mae gave us some Cookie Chips (Original, Sea Salted Caramel, and Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip). They were in good condition when I packed them. I put each into a Ziploc bag and filled it with air for cushioning. Then I carefully packed them in the hollow of the BEMER body pad that was rolled up around the control panel to protect it. When I opened up my suitcase I found each bag some place else in the suitcase, including under the 2 books that I bought while in Las Vegas. It looked like my entire suitcase had been emptied out then repacked. And not very gently or with any thought in mind of keeping fragile things protected. And they didn't leave their friendly little message saying that they had examined my suitcase.
How the cookies crumbled

This morning I took Mom in for her blood draw. Dr. Chan requested it so that he could see how she is doing after the trip to Vegas. Although Mom was up early this morning, after we had lunch she took a nap. She's still asleep at 9:30 pm. So is Dad. I overslept, too. Was just going to take a short nap before I started dinner; it was 6 pm when I got up, about half an hour after we usually have dinner!

Here's the First Class dinner on the plane last night; teriyaki chicken with Asian noodles (that's what they called it), fresh mixed vegetable salad, a roll, and a brownie with real silverware, glassware, and dishes. There was also an ice cream sundae later. Things started with refreshments (including champagne) while people in coach class were boarding the plane. The appetizer was mixed nuts ... about 1/2 cup ... in a ramekin ... warmed up. The seats were adjustable, I was able to set the footrest so that my feet weren't dangling like they always do. I could get spoiled!

Happy Birthday to Joan, Terri, Pramila, & Aaron!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Last Day in Vegas

Since our plane left at 7 pm we had to be ready to board the buses at 3:30 pm so there was a lot of time left for gambling after breakfast. Here's Mom and Dad on the final day. Mom's four 2s earned her 200 credits; Dad got 125 for his four queens. Not sure why there is a difference, you will have to ask Curt for that answer.
Mom and her four 2's

Dad and his 4 queens

I will post more later. Since we left Las Vegas at 7 pm, we got in to Honolulu about 10 pm, so its very late and I need to sleep so I can take Mom in bright and early tomorrow for a blood test. Dr. Chan wants to see what effect (if any) this trip has had on Mom's blood counts. (They are, however, still on gambling time so they are still awake!)

Happy Birthday to Jun, Dale, Rebecca, & Stephen!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mob Museum, Etc.

We went to Du-Pars Restaurant & Bakery for breakfast this morning, except Dad who went straight to gambling. Curt had won a coupon for a free Vegas stack of (3) buttermilk pancakes that they are famous for. We split them between Lori, Mom, & me, while Curt had their Brulee steel-cut oatmeal. Personally, I prefer pancakes that are more substantial than buttermilk.

After breakfast Mom & Curt went back to gambling, while Lori and I went to the Mob Museum, officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. The building itself is a historical building built in 1933; it formerly housed a post office and Federal courthouse. They have incorporated portions of the post office into the entry and one of the courtrooms is a mini-theater for a presentation on the Kefauver Committee's Las Vegas hearings. We spent about 3&1/2 hours there.

It was interesting but had quite a few photos of dead gangsters and their victims; nearly all were black and white so that 'sanitized' the bloody scenes. One of the few displays that had 'blood' was the St. Valentine's Day Massacre wall; the 'blood' had to be paint since 87 year old blood would have denatured and would not still be bright red. When the original building was to be torn down a Canadian bought the wall, numbered the bricks, disassembled them, and reassembled it for a display in Canada. It was ultimately purchased by the Mob Museum.

They also had a map of the original plat of Las Vegas. In the map below Main Street is the uppermost street at the top edge of the town; with 1st through 5th streets sequentially below it. (The map does not follow the cartographic standard, North is actually at the upper right corner of the map.) The museum building is located just outside of the right edge of the original part of Las Vegas at the intersection of Stewart and 3rd. The California Hotel is located within the original limits of Las Vegas in the top right corner of the map on a block bounded by Ogden, Main, Stewart, & 1st.

We also visited The Beef Jerky Store, which actually has more than just beef jerky. They have jerkies made of pork, chicken, duck, various types of seafood, buffalo, alligator, kangaroo, meatless jerky, and more. They also have trail mix, dried fruit, 'li hing everything' (though none with the all natural li hing mui powder), and crack seed. It is run by people from Hawai'i! Here's part of their jerky wall.

On the way back we walked through the Fremont Street Experience. I had been wondering about the trees in this area; specifically whether they were real or not. Today we discovered the spiral topiaries are not; they are fake branches attached to a thick wire spiral form. Still not sure yet about the palms, where the gravel surrounding the base of the trees is cemented together and either comes all the way to the trunk or has an inch or so of bare ground. We saw this guy painting with spray paint cans. He uses some techniques that are used in other media such as putting down a base layer and letting it dry, then spraying another color over it then dabbing with a crumpled paper to remove some pigment before it dries. It looks like he uses a thin acrylic sheet as his canvas. It is likely he started by using airbrushes. Or perhaps he is a former tagger.

Mom has been doing really well. Curt said the difference between how she is doing now and how she was during the last week of June (when they returned a day before she went to the emergency room) is like night and day. Back in June she was needing to come back to the room every couple hours or so to take a nap, she complained of her legs feeling 'heavy', and she was breathing very hard whenever they had to do any walking. This time she is staying up until after midnight and waking up early, no complaints about 'heavy' legs just a cramp in her hip due to sitting at the video poker machines, and no heavy breathing. The extra blood and platelets are really making a difference! If she keeps this up she might be able to make another trip the first week of November for her annual birthday trip to Las Vegas!

Even here in Las Vegas we can't get away from those hurricanes and tropical storms! Apparently Tropical Storm Paine is heading towards Las Vegas. It is currently over the Pacific and predicted to lose even more speed once it starts crossing over Baja California. We should be back in Hawai'i by the time the remnants get to Las Vegas.
 [Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

Arrgh Matey, Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day! And Happy Birthday to Renee & Aaron!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Curtis Has a Vegas Problem

Some people who spend a lot of time in Las Vegas have a gambling problem. Curtis has a Vegas problem; he works to spend as little money as possible for lodging, food, gambling, shows, etc. This morning he spent time gambling in order to increase his points to get coupons for the dinner at the Garden Court Buffet in the Main Street Casino. He ended up getting enough coupons so that he got 8 of us in for the buffet by spending the equivalent of 2 dinners!
L to R: Lori, Neill, Myrtle, Curtis, Eileen, Aunty Michi, & Mom.

Some of the coupons he got were based on points Mom racked up with her playing. I also helped him log some points when I spent a whole $20 at one of the video poker machines; I probably spent 30 minutes losing that $20. I guess if you enjoy losing money you might as well get something else for it. Here's Mom putting points on her playing card.

Kahuku High School is on the Las Vegas news tonight! Apparently Kahuku played a game against a local team last night. That must be why we saw so many Red Raiders t-shirts in the hotel this weekend. There were also Baldwin High School alumni here for the reunion of the Class of 1964. In fact, their hospitality room was down the hall from us last night.

Happy Birthday to Aurolyn!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Good Time Was Had By All

This morning we decided to host a dessert party tonight in our rooms. So this morning we began to pick up things for the party. We got a chocolate raspberry cake, carrot cake, and custard pie from the Market Street Cafe in the California Hotel. Lori went shopping with cousins Myrtle and Eileen and got a case of bottled water, chips, and cookies. And Bick and Ron found haupia at another place nearby. Here are the desserts from the California Hotel, they were excellent!
L to R: chocolate raspberry cake, carrot cake, & custard pie

Right on time cousins Carole and Gladys and Gladys' husband Phil showed up with cousin Mae and her husband James and son Mike. They met on the elevator on the way to the party! Carole and Gladys are from the Hilo side of the family (Mom's father's 2nd brother's children) and Mae is Mom's father's youngest sister's daughter. Mae gave Mom a vanda orchid lei and a crown flower lei, both were flown in from Hawai'i. Here's a photo from the early part of the gathering, my phone started to die after this so I had to switch to Mom's camera, which I can't download straight to my laptop so I will have to share those photos after we return.
L to R, standing: Eileen, Lori, Auntie Michie, Mae, Mom, Mike, James, & Carole; sitting: Dad & Gladys.
Happy Birthday to Jim! Happy Belated Birthday to Gene, Linda, and Winky!

Found It!

Just found my phone! It somehow got packed in my suitcase. That's how hectic it was this morning after we returned from the hospital. So there will be photos after all!

Viva Las Vegas!

Well, not really ... no car racing. But Mom is here! The discharge from the hospital took forever even though she was first on the list. We got home about 10:30, Curt was at the house about 11:15 for a quick lunch before we all headed to the airport.

And because I was rushing around, I forgot to put my phone back in my fanny pack! Of all the times that I need to have my phone to coordinate with people! I'll have to send an e-mail out to everyone we are meeting here to let them know not to call me! I will be carrying Mom's phone instead, it can send and receive text messages but not much else. So there will be no pictures on the day of, I will have to upload them from Mom's camera when we get back. It's a good thing my charger works on her phone since she has lost hers.

As soon as we arrived in Las Vegas I texted the people that Mom had numbers for: Bick, Ron, & Eileen. Bick replied that they were on a shuttle to be arriving at the California (where we are staying) soon. When we checked in, we found that Suzanne had left us a note, along with her phone number. So I texted her that we were there; she responded immediately so I called. We met up for an early morning snack (it was 1 am!), Bick and Ron met us in line just to say Hi before they headed off to bed. After eating Mom, Dad, & Curt went gambling; Lori & I returned to the rooms.

Wi-fi at the California is $9.99 per 24-hour period per device. I had to put my card on file, when I log in I enter the room number and my last name; it then notes a charge against my card. I can either pay when I check out or have it taken out of my card.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Oh, Oh!

It is perhaps the most anxiety-inducing phrase in the English language!

At about 7:15 am this morning Mom asked me to come to the bathroom. She wanted to know what she should do. I shall spare you the photo of her bowel movement and what was on the toilet tissue; I shall only say that there was some blood. (The photo was for the ER doc.) The good news, if there can be good news when blood is coming out of a bodily orifice that it should not be coming out of, is that the blood was clotted and not fresh. Here is the result:

Yes, another trip to the emergency room! This is ER visit #8 since June 12th. And only one of them has been for me! (I'm glad I broke the one visit per week streak that was going on in the beginning!)

Mom had blood in her stool and the ER doc could not find any hemorrhoids. A blood test was done to check her levels of hemoglobin and platelets; both were low. And the hemoglobin was lower than it was on Monday after it had been stable between last Thursday and Monday. The original plan was to give her platelets then do a colonoscopy to find out what was causing the bleeding. But she kept asking the ER doctor and nurses if she could still go to Las Vegas tomorrow. I also walked over to the oncology clinic and left a message for Dr. Chan, letting him know that she was in the ER because she had blood in her stool. Dr. Chan was in Hilo but his nurse said she would call him.

Dr. Kamai, the internist that was taking over her case as she was transferred to the hospital, called Dr. Chan and they came up with a plan to allow her to go to Las Vegas. Similar to his earlier plan, Dr. Chan set some benchmarks Mom had to maintain in order to go. Her red blood count had to go up and stay up, she had to be fever-free, and she had to have no blood in her bowel movements while she was at the hospital overnight. To help her meet these goals she was given 2 units of packed red blood cells (PRBC) and 10 units of platelets. FYI - In 2 earlier posts I had said she got 1 unit of platelets; I found out today that what I thought was 1 unit was actually 5 units in a bag the size of 1 unit of PRBC! So previously she was actually getting 5 units each time. This time she got 2 bags = 10 units. The platelets will help with clotting, so wherever the leak is, it should get shut off by the new platelets she is getting. Here's the view from her room this visit.

Because of her low platelet count, Mom bleeds very easily. Things that would not bother a person in normal health cause problems. Like blood squirting out of the puncture when the ER nurse went to put the needle in for the transfusion! Or a minor cut soaking through 2 paper towels and taking 10 minutes to clot enough that I could get a band aid on it.

They will do the blood test at 5 am. I will show up around 7:30 am. Dr. Kamai has left a message for the doctor doing rounds to discharge patients tomorrow morning to do Mom first. And Todd, the ER nurse assigned to Mom, told me to be there no later than 7:45 and make sure I talked to the doctor to make sure Mom was the first patient. We need to leave the house at 11 am, the plane leaves at 2 pm.

Needless to say, I did not have time to pack leisurely today. And if Mom had started packing on Monday like I asked her to, I would not be scrambling around right now trying to get her things together. Fortunately she has a designated Las Vegas suitcase (a fluorescent lime green carry on-sized rolling suitcase) that she leaves essential toiletries in so I only have to round up the clothes. And the cash. Curt is already holding $800 from her last trip. And I discovered tonight at the ER that she had $900 in her purse. (I had to do an inventory with one of the nurses for the record. I kept finding envelopes with money hidden in different pockets in her purse! The purse is at home right now.) And the $2000 "house money" that she took out a couple of days ago. Definitely wearing my running shoes just in case someone snatches her purse!

Happy Birthday to Anne, Nina, & Simon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

All Systems Go!

Mom had an appointment with her oncologist, Dr. Chan, on Tuesday. He liked the results of her blood test from Monday. He said the numbers from the transfusion on Thursday were holding, he could find no other problems, so he gave Mom the green light to go to Las Vegas on Friday! He wished her luck and wants her to come in for a blood test the day after we return so he can see how the trip impacts her blood count. He recommended Mom use a wheelchair while moving around the casino to conserve her energy for winning! He also recommended a flu shot when they become available, she is current on all other vaccinations including hepatitis A.

I will try to post about Mom's escapades in Las Vegas while we are there, though I have been told there is no free wi-fi in the hotel. Since I'm not a gambler I will be paying for wi-fi access. I guess they don't give you free wi-fi so that you spend more time gambling.

It's been pouring on and off yesterday and today. There have been floods on Maui and the Big Island with flood warnings for the rest of the islands except Kaua'i, they'll get theirs tomorrow. When the first downpour hit Tuesday evening, Chibi came running in to the house. It's hard to believe she used to sleep outdoors in the cold rain of Washington a few years ago. She is such a wimp now about the rain, preferring to sleep indoors when it is wet out. Here's what it looked like this morning when I was running errands. Good thing I have a lot of experience driving in the rain!

Today Mom's mahjong buddies set up a special game day for her since she has not played since the diagnosis in early July and misses playing. Cassandra, the director of the senior center, had 2 sets sanitized yesterday and set up a space in the conference room for them to play in. (Tuesday is the usual mahjong day, this was set up special so she would not be exposed to a lot of potentially sick people.)
L to R: Sandy, Barbara, & Mom

A few of the players went out to lunch with Mom after mahjong. We went to On On Chinese Restaurant. Mom had the minute chicken cake noodle; the cake noodles are their specialty. Here's my partially eaten lunch special.
Clockwise starting with the steamed rice, crispy gau gee, sweet sour spare ribs, & beef choy sum noodles

Here's Xander helping Mom keep up with the news. He has never been an outdoor cat so he is perfectly fine with staying indoors when it rains.

A check for one of the accounts that Mom closed came in on Monday. We went to deposit it yesterday after seeing Dr. Chan. She wanted to get some money back, $7000 to be exact. I talked her down to only $2000. She wanted it in $5's and $10's; I talked her into a mix of $100's, $50's, $20's, $10's, and $5's, much to the relief of the teller. I'm hanging on to the envelope so we know where it is. And today Mom doesn't remember she made the withdrawal! (She already has $500 in her wallet that she keeps forgetting about.)

I found this interesting non-dairy milk substitute at Longs Drugs today. I haven't tried it yet. Will give you a review when we get back from Las Vegas.

Happy Birthday to Maria! Happy Belated Birthday to Marcie, Dan, Duane, & Bryan!