Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zen Hospice journal, Christmas Week

The Texter: Jean at the Zen Hospice Christmas dinner,
performing a characteristic activity 

We have been enjoying the holidays, thank you everybody has taken time out of their busy lives to visit, send cards, etc.  But all that fun has taken its toll, at least on our hospice journal.  All we can do here is briefly recount some what of made the past week memorable.  If you know of something significant that we've left out, please tell us and we'll make amends.  For an in-depth look at the hospice experience, more incisive piece, please see Jean's "A Tale of Two Woodwinds," posted Saturday December 29.

Sunday, December 23

Oded Angel visited, a colleague of Matt's and a friend of the family for many years.  Oded came bearing gifts, a Glen Gould's Bach Cd, and a copy of Calvin Trillin's Dogfight, the 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse.  We hope to Trillin's epic will be discussed in a future post; this blog does not take itself too seriously and will not eschew light verse!

Monday, December 24

In the afternoon we took our 2nd trip to the Samovar, where Jean edited a Will prepared by our attorney.  Would you be astonished to learn that Jean found a handful of typos that both the attorney and I had missed?  And by the way, if you have not prepared your own Will yet, consider doing so without being prompted by serious illness
Jean with canna lilies

The photo was taken the small park next to the hospice, on the way back from the Samavor.  We spent a half-hour there, appreciating the chill of winter on our faces, admiring the Canna lilies and a gingko tree with rich yellow foliage,

Christmas Eve

In the evening, Jean had her longest Skypes yet, a total of about two hours with her friends Amy Garber in Michigan and Yao Louis in South Dakota.  We gave Amy a video tour of Jean's hospice room, and if anybody else is interested, just ask and it shall be arranged. Yao was excited at the prospect of spending holiday time with her son Joe, back home from college on semester break.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day the Hospice had a huge Mexican-themed banquet, including tamales, turkey with mole sauce, and sweet Mexican-style coffee with cinnamon and cardamom.  We held hands around the serving table before we dined.  Daniel, one of the senior hospice volunteers, said words of gratitude about being able to share this moment together.  Words especially meaningful in our circumstances.

Nick Galloro was able to join us at the banquet, before leaving for an evening on the town.  He told us about a movie he liked, Silver Linings Playbook, which takes a humorous look at the world of the bi-polar.

Tara McCulloch and her daughter Pearl came by to visit before the banquet. As she often does, Pearl left us a gift of some her art work.  And like Oded, Tara brought a gift of poetry, Mary Oliver's House of Light.  Some classify Oliver as a nature poet, but her book casts light on the human world too.  Here are a few lines from Indonesia, taking in a tea planation:

...And the pickers balanced on the hot hillsides
like gray and blue blossoms,
wrapped in their heavy layers of clothes
against the whips of the branches
in that world of leaves no poor man,
with a brown face and an empty sack,
has ever picked his way out of...

Wednesday, December 26

Karen Creech, and Andy Brodie and Patricia Seery came by for a repeat visit in the afternoon.  Andy teaches school in West Contra Costa, and his wife Patricia is also a teacher.  After Andy and Patricia left, Jean talked to Karen about playing music, see Jean's "A Tale of Two Woodwinds" for more.

Friday, December 28

Karen Creech came by to visit again, and she, Vivien, and Jean had a great time talking late into the night.  It was one of the longest holiday social events for Jean, and one where she participated fully.

Viven Arnold with a preliminary 
version of her caterpillar fungus print
Vivien Arnold is a friend and colleague of Jean's at URS, and this was her 2nd hospice visit. She brought many gifts.  Vivien is taking a print making class at San Francisco City College, and created a graphic showing what goes by the scientific name of Ophiocordyceps sinensis, yartsa gunby in Tibetan, and Dōng chóng xià cǎo in Chinese ("winter worm, summer grass").  This is the caterpillar fungus that Jean is taking as part of her Tibetan Medicine treatment, and which could be responsible for how well she has been doing at the hospice.

The finished version
Vivien also brought snacks, a wonderful Christmas card made from a montage of photos of her brightly colored oil paintings, and a copy of the latest issue of the New Yorker.  That mag had a review by Bill Wyman of Randy Sullivan's The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson.  Both Jean and Vivien are fans, and Vivien's sister Gina has presented MJ papers at academic conferences.  Wyman presents the King of Pop as the last and greatest crossover act, going where Little Richard could not, and N.W.A. and Snopp Dogg would not. He also presents a glum picture of the last days, MJ's face hollowed out by plastic surgery, claimed for death by the prescription drugs he used to find his way to sleep, evading memories of his "silly, toxic, grasping family."