Thursday, August 17, 2017


I am very pleased, thrilled in fact, to be able to report that at last I am feeling better.
Anything would be preferable to how I felt before. But as of this week, on Monday, I can say that I truly do feel better. I resumed work at Yaza (more of that later), I walk around my neighbourhood which is decidedly hilly. In fact, some streets are not just gentle inclines, they are quite steep. I go for long walks on the Bayshore trail and around the Berkeley Marina. I actually eat again, not much, but I do eat. I work in my garden and am knitting and reading. I can converse with people without being interrupted by bouts of coughing. I am exceedingly grateful.

The downside of feeling better is that I can listen to, and read, the news again. Need I say more ...

I look back at the entries I posted last year after the Iowa Caucuses, and pre and post election (this year.) Simply put, all the horror I foresaw is coming to pass. What shocks me is how so many people still seem surprised that there are people who support this man. I wish I could say I was surprised, but after working in Contra Costa County for so many years, this hatred and ignorance is sadly a representation of how many people feel. I would like to say how many people think, but thought does not come into it. Just knee jerk reactions.

In my book Tree Barking I wrote about the anti semitism I encountered. Of course not just anti semitism, racism and bigotry in all its forms. These superstitions and ignorance and deep seated beliefs exist everywhere. So, no, I am not surprised at all. I am deeply saddened.

What does surprise me is that some people still look to the so-called leaders in the hope of hearing some condemnation of the perpetrators of this hatred and violence. Some voice of calm and reason. They cannot look to those in power for any kind of reasonable, moral, articulate statements.

As a citizen of both Israel and the United States, I am further saddened by Netanyahu's lack of response to Trump's historical statements. The corruption and lack of humanity spreads across the globe. I am heartened somewhat by peoples' responses to what is going on. I am heartened that the CEO's resigned, and that citizens are making a stance, but those n power are very greedy and very short sighted, they don't, in fact, give a hoot about anyone except themselves and their pockets.

So ... I am feeling well enough to feel angry, saddened, and outraged. I am not sure whether this is good or bad.

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 coughed sort of non stop, 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.


Would you like a doctor to call you?

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-mail replies 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?


doctor ... will call in an hour and a half. Do you need a reminder?


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 prescription"
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. 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 scary night - freezing, 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?

Now 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 me - I am really sick, I say. I need help, proper help, like actually seeing a doctor. Any doctor would hopefully use a stethoscope and hear the wheezing and rattling which I can hear loud and clear without a stethoscope.

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 that is at the pharmacy. I do not get an appointment with an actual doctor.

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.