Friday, April 30, 2010


After having previously declared that I am cutting back on my spending, as are most everyone I know, I confess to an indulgence.

I have my eyelashes dyed.

Why do I do this? Why do women have 'permanent' eyeliner and eyebrows tattooed? Why do they get liposuction, breast implants, breast reductions? on and on? The answers of course are myriad, from psychological to sociological.They are not in the scope of this blog. However, there is one saying, "Vanity, thy name is woman," and I resonate with that.

I went to Benefit (the cosmetic 'boutique') for a 'lash tint.' A $20 perk I indulge in every few months. This is something my eye doctor will never know, I am sure he would not approve, but the odds of him coming in to a Benefit store are not very high. Besides, he would not recognize me. If I saw myself I would be highly unlikely to recognise myself, perched on a white padded stool, my eyes closed tight while a perky young woman places plastic things under my lower lashes, applies the equivalent of black shoe polish on my lashes, and tells me to relax. Within a short while she returns, rinses my eyes, and, bingo, my lashes are dyed blue black for a brief period of time.

This time, when I opened my eyes at her command it was to see Groucho Marx, in the form of an attractive young lady, sitting on a nearby stool, staring at me.

"Your eyes look lovely," she said. I looked at her and burst out laughing. Apologetically I explained that she looked like Groucho Marx. She had two patches of thick dark goo where her eyebrows should be. I bemoaned the fact that I have very light sparse brows. The perky young tinter said she had a light colored dye which was perfect for my no brows, and told me to try it.

"Oh sure" I shrugged, "what the hell?" She then applied whatever it was to my eyebrows, no doubt I now looked like Groucho Marx. There we sat, a row of women sporting black goo eyebrows and eyes. What strange things we do. Soon one brow was rinsed - "hmm, too light, a bit longer" said my young lady. Eventually my brows were declared perfect, and I walked out, with perfect lashes and brows.

Not a soul has noticed, or commented on, my new and dazzling look.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


At just after 11.30 am today I walked out of a house toward my car. I heard the 'tak'tak'tak' of a helicopter overhead.

Ever since living in Israel I do not like helicopters - they always seem to be forerunners of something unfortunate - bringing in wounded soldiers, or here in California bringing in victims of coastal accidents, road accidents, or looking down on some clandestine action.

I looked up - they were police helicopters, so I knew something was 'going down.' My thought was to drive down San Pablo Avenue to a new coffee shop I had seen. It was 11.38 am when I turned on the ignition, exactly time for traffic and weather. The broadcaster announced the trouble spots, then said that in Richmond there was a situation going on at 39th and MacDonald (exactly where I used to work) and all the blocks had been cordoned off. No word of what the situation was. The coffee shop wasn't that close to MacDonald so I decided to go. I kept listening to KCBS, and sure enough I heard that there was 'some kind of a hostage situation.' I thought of the Health Clinic, the courts, Familia Unidas, WIC, the things I knew in that area. Then they said that a reporter was on his way to the situation. Before I returned to the office I heard that a woman suspect had held five people hostage at a nutrition center, as yet there was no explanations of what had happened.

Of course I told our AA as soon as I got in, "great" she said, just what Richmond needs now. Was she out of Vitamin C?"

When I went to the program the physical therapist had just come from a middle school in that area, and had already told everyone what she had heard, which was the same as I had heard," a hostage situation." What is so sad is that none of the staff were particularly shocked - they all said the same thing. "Things are crazy, people are desperate, it is only going to get worse."

Yes, there is a general feeling of desperation. On Friday I visited a little girl I had worked with. Her family were the first I knew to lose their home, at the end of 2008. Their home was in North Richmond, not exactly a wonderful area, but it was their home, and they loved it. They moved into a drug infested area because they found an apartment they could afford. Since they have been there there have been major shootings in the area. It is an open area drug market on the streets outside.Of course the matriarch wants to move. She works, her husband works, and his sister who lives with them works, but they have a hard time coming up with the monthly rent, let alone all the other necessities. A wall in their kitchen is black from mold, and the tiles and flooring around it are spongy. The little girl has asthma, the adults have been sick on and off with respiratory problems. They are hostages. Many of the families I work with are hostage to their situations, and so, no wonder there has been a hostage situation in a women and children nutrition center.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Today is a furloughed day, our second one this year. The organization I work for has tried to make it easier on us by spreading the days over two pay periods, so we won't be 'hit' really badly when we receive our next paycheck. But no matter how hard they try to make all these reductions easier on us, we definitely feel them. Like so many others all over the country, I have made changes in my lifestyle, which wasn't extravagant to begin with. In the office we bring lunch to work, instead of buying something. The positive side of this is that we share some wonderful meals. Much of the office talk revolves around food, and recipe sharing. My latte consumption has reduced drastically, and when I do buy a latte it is from MacDonalds!!! This was my first purchase ever at a MacDonalds. I went to the one closest to our office, in San Pablo. I ordered at the drive through and drove up to pay. The young woman at the window was all smiles. "Hola," she smiled, and continued in spanish "don't you recognize me?" But I did. I had worked with her son about three years previously. She told me they are all well and said she is expecting her third child in a few weeks', that is why she looks so fat, she said.

"Come and visit" she said, as I drove off.

Pleasant little surprises like this highlight my days, which are definitely becoming increasingly difficult. It is hard for children to qualify for services. Some services, like feeding specialists, have to be supplied, or denied by the child's insurance. If they are denied, then maybe Regional Center will cover them. I am working with a little boy whom I saw last year. At that time he also had a feeding specialist and a physical therapist (PT) in the home. We all came once a week to work with him, and instruct his family who were wonderful in following through. As a result, he progressed so well that he began attending our program for three hours a day. He obviously loved coming to 'school,'(his 'escuela') waiting for the bus everyday, waving goodbye to his parents who wiped their tears, and happily participating in the activities, playing on the gym and in the go-cars. He began eating by mouth (he is on a g-tube) and drinking from his bottle. Unfortunately, after some really good months, he became very ill with the RSV virus and was hospitalized for almost a month. They had to put him into a medically induced coma and he was placed on a ventilator. He came back home, but sadly he has totally regressed. I can see him until he turns three, and the physical therapist can come, but the feeding specialist can no longer come to his home. His mother can take him to see a specialist at Childrens Hospital once a month, to get some advice. This child needs to be worked with constantly, and the fact that his mother has to take him out of the house and into a hospital environment only puts him at increasing risk of being exposed.

Another little fellow I work with has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and recquires a specially adapted headrest for his wheelchair, which is on order. However, this is not covered by insurance and his parents really cannot some up with $160.

Another boy who has profound hearing loss in one ear, and some loss in his other ear would benefit from a conductive hearing aid. He would hear, and learn to speak, however, this device is considered "cosmetic." It costs $6,000. Everyone is busy finding out about where the parents can find devices, or used equipment, which is not readily available, if at all.

These things are making work more trying, so furloughed days are, in a way, welcome, if only they didn't impose severe limitations on us as well.