Tuesday, July 11, 2017


This is a photo of the bit of cream dropped by my fellow traveler which is what I believe led to the temporary loss of her kindle. Instant divine punishment on the gentler side of most punishments. The horror of it all. This is in a country where I saw steel samurai ear cleaners for sale. I looked for dental floss and went into the pharmacy area of a department store. There is a grave danger of getting the wrong product when you can't read the language. I saw what I presumed was toothpaste, but when I held my google translate app up to it I saw it was a tube of cream for vagina candida!!!! A grave error. I found an assistant and mimicked flossing my teeth. She led me to a section of dental floss, quite self evident, along with other things. One being a cardboard square with a graphic of a pretty woman on it with something in one nostril. On the other side was a graphic of a man with something in one nostril. The cardboad was encased in plastic and underneath the picture was a small green cylindrical thing with a small hook on one side. Intrigued, I asked the helpful assistant what that is. "A nosepicker," she replied, matter of factly.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Random signage in toilets

Chronicle Headline, July 6, 2017

View on page BART hit again by teen robbers Agency defends change in its way of reporting crimes on the system By Michael Bodley Above is a headline in today's San Francisco Chronicle. And then follows the shocking story of teenage robbers swarming onto BART and grabbing passengers phones, laptops, etc. This is the second time in 2 1/2 months! This headline catapulted me back to my trip to Japan. Yes, I really was there, and I have photos and memories to prove it. We spent lots of time on Japanese railways, subways, buses, trains, cable cars, and even on a plane. On arrival we went by shuttle from Osaka to Kyoto. The driver of the shuttle bus, a young woman, wore a uniform replete with white gloves. The seat tops were covered in spotless lace white coverings. We stopped at a gas station/refreshment stop and I was floored by the toilet. A heated toilet seat, spotlessly clean, with buttons to program 'actions.' A button with music for 'privacy.' A button for what looked like a bidet spray, another for a rear spray. Just astounding. All the writing was in Japanese but there were universal symbols. I was a bit hard pressed to find the 'stop' and 'flush' buttons, but after turning of all the lights and setting of an alarm, I learned. The buses were often crowded, but no one pushed against anyone. On both the buses and trains noone spoke on cellphones, and it was generally very quiet. The only sounds being that of a recording of each stop. Passengers seemed very tired, but they kept their legs together, bags on their laps, and curled forward, into themselves, to sleep. No manspreading or seat hogging here. Passengers got off the buses from the front of the bus inserting their tickets into a machine, or showing their passes to the driver who bowed, 'arigato'd' and 'haied'each and every passenger. Our first foray to the subway station left me once again, thunderstruck at the cleanliness of the floors, walls, escalators, and public toilets. This was not like BART, indeed not. To add to everything, the trains came and left on the exact second that was posted. We were on a crowded loop train in Osaka at mid-morning. One of our group realised she had left her kindle on the train. Of course she was very upset. This same woman had shamefully sullied the floor of the subway station in Osaka before losing her kindle. She took a bite from a cream filled pastry and some cream fell on to the ground. I pointed out to her that she should get down on her hands and knees to clean it up, but for some reason she did not do this. I think her leaving the kindle was a punishment. I once left a kindle on a plane to India - needless to say, it was bye-bye kindle. I understood her being upset, but for some reason was certain she would see her kindle again. Later we went to a tourist information office in a little village on Mt. Koya. The helpful clerks took all her information. At that time, just four hours later, they had no word of the kindle. She was forlorn. Once again I assured her she would get it back. Most unfortunately I did not place at least $100 bet on my assurance. Two days later her kindle awaited her at our hotel in Tokyo.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


An addendum (or whatever it is called) to my previous entry. My doctor called me this morning. I had gone online to arrange for a call from her on her return. She called 30 minutes late, but she did call. Basically she confirmed the entibiotics I was prescribed and told me why I was prescribed the inhaler. She said that the road to recovery is long, and I should drink plenty of fluids and that I should return for a follow up chest x-ray in a month. She added nothing new, really, but I find it incredibly comforting just to hear this from her. So now I rest and drink ..... and will write about Japan

Friday, June 30, 2017


My lord. I left Tokyo on Saturday June 24 with a scratchy throat. It is now, I believe June 30, and I have pneumonia!!! Sorry, poor excuse for not posting any blogs, especially from Japan, but they will, eventually and hopefully, be posted. This is unbelievable. I don't believe I have ever felt so pathetic. I lie in bed and listen to debates about the new health care bill while I try, in my small way, to get help. I have Medicare and a supplemental with Kaiser - Seniorcare Advantage. Sunday morning I felt very weak and was coughing a lot, so I called urgent care. I had to answer all sorts of questions from an advice nurse. I know she, in turn, has to ask me these questions before she can continue with any 'assistance.' How long have you been coughing? (me, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 10 sec.) Do you feel congested? (Yes, that is why I am coughing) On a scale of 1- 10 how bad would say your cough is? (really? why do you think I am calling) Is your nose running? Can you walk to the end of your room? (for God's sake) Do you have a fever? (I don't know - I will take it eventually) On and on and on. Eventually Would you like a doctor to call you? (yes) Dr. so and so will call at 10.20 a.m. do you need a reminder for this? (it is 9.20 am - I think I can remember for another hour.) Doctor calls - same questions. Then she says - you may have walking bronchitis (?) or a bad cold. Drink plenty fluids (which I am doing) and if you still feel bad in two days, call your personal doctor. Tuesday - I am feeling very very bad. My throat is extremely painful on the left side - I can't swallow. I am coughing endlessly and feel very weak. I e-mail my doctor, as I am supposed to do. It is 7.00a.m. I send a follow-up e-mail to say my throat is a bit better, as I don't want to unnecessarily alarm my doctor. I receive 2 e-mails that my doctor is out of the office until July 5. I call the advice nurse again same number of questions (same answers with the edition of the sore throat and that I am running a fever) Would you like a doctor to call? (Yes) Same - doctor ... will call in an hour and a half. Do you need a reminder? (Christ) A doctor calls and paraphrases summary of previous doctor. "You have a cold" he says (I think a little more than a cold, I say) I can send you a prescription for cough medicine (could it be mailed - I don't feel well enough to pick it up) Yes - I suppose so. A little later I log on to my pharmacy center - there is the prescription with a remark next to it that it cannot be mailed. Call number on bottle (There is no bottle and no number) I call the pharmacy and get a 'representative' for Northern California. Rep: No prescription has been sent to the pharmacy me: But I see it on my center Rep: Yes, but it is not here me: Whatever, if it can't be mailed can I pick it up? Rep: But there is no prescription This kafkaesque like conversation continues until finally she says. Call the doctor for another presecription. I explain that I don't know the doctor. I then have to call the advice line again. All of this takes 4 hours) Eventually I am told that I can pick up the prescription. The prescription has 10 mg. of codeine which is why all the prescautions and sealed packages and I have to hand over every form of ID possible. This is because of the opioid epidemic - I just want to stop coughing! By now I am feeling really bad. I have a really scary night - freezng, shivering and shaking uncontrollably, endless coughing, hallucinations about Anita Pallenberg (??????) This is NOT GOOD because a) she is dead b) why does she appear in my hallucinations? I am now truly scared I call the advice line again the next morning. This time I insist that I do not want a doctor to call in - I am really sick, I need help, proper help. Again - same endless questions - on a scale of 1 - 10 how bad is your chest pain? (oh nooooooooooooo) Then she says - I am messaging a doctor who is covering for your doctor. They will call you within 4 hours. Three and a half hours later I get a call that I need to come in for a chest x-ray and to pick up some antibiotics and something else. I drive in feeling alternately clammy, cold, exhausted, foggy. I pick up the antibiotics and some inhaler for which I fork out $84.00 Then I go for a chest x-ray ($55.00) and I go home. I get home and get a call from the doctor's office The x-ray shows you have pneumonia - you need to come back in for stronger antibiotics. I ask all of you - is this humane??????????????? Thank heavens for a cousin who called and went to get the new medication for me. And thanks to all the offers of food and shopping. I am really grateful. When and if my appetite returns, I shall take you all up on it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Murder and Mayhem

Now I understand why they are referred to as a murder of crows. Friday afternonn I was in my garden at about 5, weeding, watering, tending to the quiet wonders of nature. The mint sprad out, lavender showed. Star jasmine was flowering. The roses bloomed. Just a beauty of purples and lavenders, whites, yellows, and greens. I heard the cawing of crows, loud and insistent, indignant, agitated, and angry. I looked up and saw crows flying in from the north, south, east, and west. I walked up the steps and out into the street and looked heavenward. Crows, many crows, perhanps hundreds of crows. The noise was deafening. They were perched on the telephone wires and up in the tree branches. Still more were flying towards this spot just outside my house. Neighbors came outside and we all gazed upward in consternation. It was just like a scene from The Birds. Quite unsettling. An SUV came up the street - the driver also was looking upward. He drove slowly past the house towards the corer, made a U-turn and came back down, really slowly. He looked to his left, then stopped to tell me there was a hawk across the street and it had apparently attacked a baby squirrel. I walked across the street and in a bush there was the hawk with something in its mouth and the something's tail was going back and forth. I heard a sort of a whimpering. Then I suppose it was the mother squirrel who scaipered onto the eaves of the apartments opposite, whimpering. Suddenly the hawk seemed to gaze in my direction and flew toward me. I was so startled I ducked. It flew away, the tail wiggling from its beak. The murder of crows flew after it, cawing and cackling. Crow reinforcements were still flying in. In the bush I saw the leaves spotted with the blood of the squirrel. We were unclear as to the outcome of this display. After a while the amount of crows dissipated. All was again quiet on the western front and we, the neighbours, were left in awe at this cruel display of nature in its true form. Survival. Murder. Killing. Mayhem.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Does anyone else out there read the obituaries? For the past couple of years I get my papers online (despite my last rant against things digital.) I get The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle - that is what I can afford. I scan through most articles, but I notice that what I read faithfully, and avidly, are the obituaries. In South Africa the Rand Daily Mail had a classified section in which were posted names of the newborns, the newly wed, and the recently deceased. This section was known as 'hatched, matched, and dispatched." It always garnished a lot of attention in my family. The dispatched section was not nearly as comprehensive as the obituaries are here. They drily showed the name of the dear departed and the date on which they died. We were left in the dark as to the details of their lives. Likewise for the hatched and matched. Since my arrival in the States, I have been fascinated by the obituary notices. I am known to sob when reading about untimely deaths, diseases endured, magnificent achievements of the deceased. Many of whom apparently devoted much of their lives to animals, to horticulture, to good works. As I grow older, I am constantly horrified by the large number of deaths of my equals, or those far younger. Sometimes I observe rather grimly that most of the deaths are of my age group. On the odd occasion when people do reach at least their allotment of three score years and ten, or far more, I am not so saddened by their passing. When I read these obituaries I would like to know the reasons for the passing of my cohorts, or those younger. Their loved ones do not always offer this information. I am left having to imagine the reasons for their untimely passing. Needless to say, my imaginings are not happy ones. Some people seem to have lived lives of enormous scholastic achievement. Many married the "loves of their lives" and apparently raised large, closeknit loving families whilst they traveled, studied, played sports, played musical instruments, taught and did endless good deeds. Others managed to marry several successful times. My sister visited a few years ago at the time I still received the daily newspaper in its normal form. (will the name newspaper change?) She pored over the obituaries as avidly as I did - (a possible genetic link?) She laughed at a description of a mother who had died in the fullness of her years. Her children stated that she ate copious amounts of ice cream. This was something our own mother did in her latter years. Well, that's all for now, I have to read today's obituaries.