10 January 2021
I usually title my notebooks: I named the 1994 notebook “This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards” after the Diane di Prima 1958 book. Flying through these five notebooks I read about happy dinners with friends and lots of work anxiety. I even read in one line only my first meeting with my companion of over 30 years hence, Henry. I’m astonished to read only that I met a guy on the bus while going to the Magic Castle. In later pages I read all about our dinners and walks and many happy moments. Thirty years later we can still do all these things but for the virus that keeps us from going anywhere.
11 December 2020
I go to the market nearby nearly everyday. I buy a few things fresh for our evening meal. For now it’s the only time I walk the streets during the lockdown. The walk is meditative and part of my MBSR practice...
Be fierce and thrive...
10 December 2020
My habit is to sit down by my front door (I haven’t decided what to call it, being too small for a porch and not a stoop) and have a drink at the end of the day and before nightfall. My choice of drink varies but I really like a Jack Rose with apple jack or calvados but often I’ll have a Manhattan. I don’t do much thinking while sitting here in the falling dusk waiting for the night.
Be fierce and thrive...
09 December 2020
This photograph is what I feel like here in Los Angeles on this warm December day. I go to the market with a mask over my nose and mouth and to the pharmacy too but nowhere else unless I accompany Henry to an appointment. Like everyone I know, I miss my friends here and abroad only communicating by phone or texts. Los Angeles was never much of a Café culture but I think once this is over, everyone will begin to meet up at outside tables to catch up after a long spell of quarantine.
Be fierce and thrive...
01 November 2020
This morning Henry and I agreed that from now on our year begins on November 1. We are so grateful for life! I couldn't imagine the pain and struggle my cherished husband would have to go through to thrive this year. Not only brought down by a horrible accident when a careless driver rushed the traffic light and caused horrible injuries to his body; then to suffer through the isolation from the pandemic when he needed the physical support of his friends. After being hospitalized for 12 weeks and then 8 weeks at California Rehab and another six months of home rehabilitation he is beginning to enjoy his independence once again. Henry has had the best care imaginable from doctors and physical therapy professionals but all the progress he's made is due to his courage and determination to "get his life back' as he never tires of telling me. In a few weeks he will begin outpatient physical therapy to begin to strengthen his legs and learn how to deal with whatever comes to him.
I learned this year to challenge doctors and nurses when I got vague or conflicting
information; I also learned to challenge the insurance companies who denied him coverage when he needed it the most and while his care was never delayed I had to act on his behalf to make sure he had continued care from his employee plan. Like all caregivers I had to learn a skill I didn't think I'd ever have to learn. People tell me Henry is lucky to have me but I remind them all that we took vows to support in sickness and in health until death...My job is to keep others out of his way so he can reclaim his life-potential.
Thank you to everyone for the kind words of support we received today. Your loving kindness helps us more than you can know. This year was one catastrophe after another but thanks to our mindfulness practice and our friends we got through this and will remain fierce and thrive...
29 September 2020
09 September 2020
I have no idea if Beethoven was black but he was called The Spaniard because of his dark complexion and the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, himself of African descent, made the claim 80 years after Beethoven's death which is recounted in this article I found the other day in The Guardian. As the article points out this phrase became a mantra: ""Stokely Carmichael raged against the deeply ingrained assumption that white European culture was inherently superior to black culture, the baton was passed. “Beethoven was as black as you and I,” he told a mainly black audience in Seattle, “but they don’t tell us that.” A few years earlier, Malcolm X had given voice to that same idea when he told an interviewer that Beethoven’s father had been “one of the blackamoors that hired themselves out in Europe as professional soldiers”." Read the article here...
Alexandre Dumas was black!
This article reminded me of in incident with our beloved nephew TJ (RIP). TJ came to live with us twice and I greatly enjoyed watching him grow up but he died too soon. When he was in high school at John Marshall here in Los Angeles, his reading teacher gave the class an assignment to read a black author and write a one page report on the book. When TJ came home that day he asked me if I could recommend a book by a black writer he could read. I asked him if the writer had to be American and he said only that the author had to be black. Knowing TJ had a taste for adventure I pulled a copy of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. We had watched an old movie of the book and he liked it so I figured he would like to read the book. He read the book over the course of the following week and wrote a little one page report/summary. He told me several times how much he liked the book and I was happy he found reading a pleasure. A few days later he came back with the report and it had a big red F on the front with a note that Dumas was not black but French! I was furious to say the least and wondered how this teacher did not know Alexandre Dumas was black...and French! I went to a parent teacher meeting and asked the teacher if she had assigned the class to read an American black author and she said no he could read any black writer but that Dumas was French. After much discussion I was able to get her to understand that while Dumas Grandfather was white his grandmother, Marie- Cessette Dumas, was, in fact, of African descent. Alexandre Dumas the great French writer was black. This was a fact well known in Dumas' lifetime and something he never hid. Dumas wrote a novel call Georges about a man who was of mixed race. TJ's grade was changed and he got an A which was probably the only A he ever received. You can read about Alexandre Dumas here
Many white people have a hard time conceiving that cultures and races other than white European culture have any value. Of course this is the genesis of the problems we are experiencing in American now. Black lives are valued less than white lives for no reason other than the color of the skin covering their bodies beneath which we are all very much alike. This same entitlement reminds me of the outrage that was expressed when Larry Kramer (RIP) announced that Abraham Lincoln was gay even though that same thought had been expressed obliquely by Carl Sandburg in his multi-volume award-winning biography (read here for interesting commentary). If one is an example of white European entitlement the other is an example of heterosexual entitlement.
Update on Henry
On September 1 Henry had surgery on his left hip and thigh at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood. The surgeon, Dr. Moon, removed the hardware from his hip and cleaned out the MRSA infection. Blood cultures now show no sign of infection. He spent a few uncomfortable days in serious pain after but was able to sit up and take himself to the toilet. On Sunday, September 6, he was transferred to California Rehabilitation Institute in Century City where he is going through rehab under Dr. Cushing and his team on the fourth floor. He's doing great and spending the days in therapy and watching tennis on the television. We hope he will be able to come home next week. He currently can only have one visitor a day and visiting hours are between 5 and 8 in the evening. Please call him if you plan on visiting as he has a schedule of visitors already and can only have one visit per day. Of course this is all due to the Covid pandemic and we want to make sure he and the staff remain virus free. I hope you are keeping safe and isolating when possible as well. Los Angeles seems to be coming out of a critical time but that doesn't mean the virus is gone. I suspect you and I will be living this way for a very long time.
Remain fierce and thrive!
BEETHOVEN WAS BLACK!
03 September 2020
Here we are again: on Tuesday (09.01) Henry had surgery on his left hip and femur to remove the hardware and infected flesh. The surgeon also put a "nail" with antibiotic coated on it to kill off any remaining MRSA. This was a planned procedure but stressful and very painful for Henry. Today (09.03) he's still at Cedars and we think he will be there to Saturday. He really wants to come home but there are therapy and tests that have to be done before he can be safely released. Needless to say this is very stressful for the two of us and he appreciates the prayers and chants everybody gives him. All the staff on the 7th floor remember him and come in to say hello and wish him well—he's well liked and taken care of. The nurse in the recovery room after surgery remembered him and he remembered Halim as well. Halim was the nurse who helped me put Henry back in bed after he tried to get out of it after the amputation and when he was delirious. If you know Henry you know he bonds well with people.
I am taking care to eat this time around and get sleep and I thank everyone who annoy me by reminding me to take care of myself. It's taken me these ten months to get over the shock but I understand I need to be strong and healthy for him to fully recover.
Thank you everyone!
Be fierce and thrive...!
03 August 2020
|Autoportrait of the right hand by a camera obscura—August 2019|
25 July 2020
All I know is that I look for the long moments of joy and happiness. Henry looks for independence from having to have me or anyone else do for him what he used to do for himself. Henry and I are solitary people who love to come together and enjoy the company of each other and talk about what happened in those times when we are apart. I know we are getting closer to that boundary but so far it's unknown territory. We have longer moments of joy and happiness than moments of despair and anger. Henry is spending much more time up and walking with the prosthetic and walker and he's learning to walk with a cane. Six weeks ago we measured his walks in feet and now we can measure a mile or more in a single walk.
09 July 2020
28 June 2020
13 June 2020
06 June 2020
Woke at 4.
Slept better after MBSR practice for 45 minutes
Arrived and Henry was still asleep. He finally woke at 7:30 and reported that he slept through the night. He got up immediately and had cereal and coffee in the front room. Still in pain and none of the supplies have arrived and the provider and our doctor still haven’t connected to extend Henry’s wound care. It’s frustrating that I have to bird-dog these guys to get them to fill out an authorization. Dr C is good with getting the scripts requested. I spent all day writing emails, texting, and making phone calls speaking only to voice mail or answering services and no one responded. Such is my life.
• • • (Deleted text)
I bought another 10 cloth masks today. Henry and I now have about 40 pairs of cloth masks that I wash and disinfect when used. I keep the surplus for friends who visit who don’t wear a mask. I need large gloves or xl gloves but can’t find them anywhere. Every day I count back 14 days and look at who I interacted with, where I went, who came to the flat. I live like so many others in constant terror of contracting the virus. I don't believe either Henry or I could survive it.
• • •
Woke at 5
It’s only 19:00 but I am very tired and will go to bed in 30 minutes. I spent all day on the telephone and on the hospital app trying to get wound dressing for Henry. Finally at the end of the day the Doctor got the fax and called the Health Care company so we can get a nurse again. It’s been six days since his wound has been dressed and I still don’t have any supplies. I’ve order a few boxes from Amazon at $50 for five pieces!
Henry had a speech class and then we met with the Social Worker for an hour.
Meanwhile the country is still in turmoil over the Police murdering black men. I really dislike the Police Culture.
Meditated for 45 minutes—
Woke at 3
This is the 84th day of our quarantine or isolation. Though neither of us has been entirely isolated and I am in constant fear of contracting the virus. I wear a mask everywhere I go and I wash and disinfect my hands constantly. This morning the Uber driver told me he works at night and picks up young people who are coming home from late night house parties that they pay a cover charge to get in. The host pays the local cops to ignore the party. All our police are corrupt in one way or another. It’s the culture the police are trained in that bothers me and so many others. They are above the “law” and act as judge. Now that there are cameras everywhere it is harder for a police officer to get away with bad behavior. Unfortunately, our justice system favors authoritarianism.
• • •
I am reading Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary and it’s a great insight into her experience in quarantine. Very personal and very interesting. She writes wonderfully about her family and neighbors. I'm very interested in how much time she spends on social media. I gave up on FaceBook a long time ago and I deleted my Twitter account when I retired from Disney. But I do miss the social interaction of bulletin boards and message boards. It seems Chinese people use the medium a lot though It may be my misinterpretation. Some people speculate that the virus will go away once the weather turns hot which it did last week and will do again later this week. I don’t know if the warm weather affect SARS or not.
The manager of the building I live in posted signs outlining how to use the pool during the pandemic. He likes to use words like “protocol” and “procedures”. The young tenets all think it’s amusing.
Henry is sleeping late today. I arrived before 7 and made coffee and it is now 8:30 and he is still in a light sleep. The birds are singing loudly but the sky is grey with clouds. It is supposed to be cool today but next week very hot. Luna is already up and barking at every person who dares to walk passed the building. Luna is our downstairs neighbor’s dog. She is a large mixed breed and very gentle though her bark is deep and gruff sounding. She loves Henry because he used to bake dog biscuits for her and gives her left over steak.
Looking back on the last seven days I have to say it’s been rough dealing with Henry’s pain—though he has to experience the pain directly it affects me as well in that I worry about him and there is little I can do to help him. When he has physical therapy with E or A he feels better and the activity gives him a morale boost. He’s walking a lot during the week: back and forth on the sidewalk up and down the block where we live. Last week he walked a third of a mile in one session.
Next week he has an in office appointment with Dr. Cushing and I am setting up his next appointment with Dr. Moon to see when the next surgery will take place.
I am waiting for UPS to arrive for a delivery of dressing supplies that were ordered over a week ago. The Health Care company claims the delay is due to the protests which sounds like BS to me. We have no dressing for Henry’s wound and I want to make sure we get these on hand so he can be comfortable.
It is 10:30AM. He’s had breakfast and so the day begins.
Sitting quietly reading and writing and listening to Jazz with Henry sitting close by reflecting. I went to the market to buy some dinner and I made a lasagna that we’ll have with broccoli. I also found some bottles of rubbing alcohol and I spent part of the early afternoon disinfecting the bathroom and the hard surfaces of the front room. The store manager told me, incidentally, that they can’t keep rubbing alcohol in stock for much longer than half a day before word gets out and someone cleans them out of every bottle. He put four cases aside to put out slowly so people like me could have some to buy. The store I go to requires the workers there to change masks every hour and disinfect the counters every time a customer uses it. They keep hand sanitizer nearby as well.
We waited eagerly for the post to arrive as I hoped the dressing supplies would arrive and when they did not I texted the case manager who wrote back that they had been delayed until Monday. I was so angry I cried. It’s unacceptable for this to happen since the company knew three weeks ago that the authorization was ending last week. Instead the case manager waited until last Wednesday to seek approval. It is painful for Henry to sit or lay on his back for long and the pain becomes all encompassing down his leg. It puts us both in terrible states of near despair but somehow we both manage to stay somewhat happy and even content in our quiet sitting. He meditates for 45 minutes to help with the peace.
• • •
He didn’t really want any dinner but he ate a big slice of
lasagna and a hotel spoonful of broccoli. He went directly to bed at 17:45 and I kissed him and left for home. Tomorrow is Sunday and Henry will attend his Church service by YouTube and take communion which the Church delivered to him a few weeks ago. He’s a believer and I’m not.
I’m going to have a glass of wine and read a bit of Fang Fang then go to bed at 19:30.
Be fierce and thrive...!
©2020 Ph/HOPBELL—Beware The Thin Ice
17 May 2020
|Out for a walk|
He's also working hard on balance and exercises to strengthen his right leg and arms. He is very determined. All of his therapists are very committed to his goal of being independent around the flat. Some of the upcoming exercises will be cooking and going out on field trips when the lockdown is lifted. His recreational therapist has even promised to get him to the beach as soon as he is able. Anyone who knows Henry knows the beach is what he lives for in the Summer! Rehab Without Walls has been fantastic for our morale and I am sure he will progress fast under their care.
His two nieces are out from Atlanta to help with chores around the flat while I take some time to myself (though I am with him everyday except for today). One of them arrived a week ago and will stay until next Saturday. I am very grateful for the help. Three weeks ago his sister came out for two weeks. This has been great for me. While I love taking care of Henry's needs, I am in need of some time to recharge. Having help from his family is great, even though I stress about Covid: we all practice hand washing and isolation. There have been several folks who have showed up unannounced and I ask that you refrain from that until June. Also I will ask that you wear a mask and sanitize your hands. I think the mask and hand washing will remain with us for many years to come.
Stay safe and healthy.
Be fierce and thrive...!
08 May 2020
Henry did well. He pointed out to me that everybody in the IR knew us from November and remarked on how well he looked; they all knew us by name. Henry and I are very grateful to the staff of doctors, nurses, and technicians at Cedars-Sinai for saving his life and making it possible for him to continue his life. They are rightly proud to see him in such great condition and able to do so much more than when they last saw him in December.
Henry is back home and feels great. He's walking on the prosthetic daily for several hours in the morning and afternoon. He's also able to sit in his chair much longer than before. While his pain is still constant it is becoming manageable thanks to his constant use of his legs. On Monday he starts with a new rehabilitation team from Rehab Without Walls and they will work to get him independent and able to work again if he desires. What he desires most is to be independent and mobile and able to drive again. We are both happy our insurance company approved this intensive rehab. CIGNA has been great in quickly approving and paying providers particularly compared to AmeriBen which has been, in my opinion, negligent and uncooperative.
We are both well and keeping ourselves isolated from general public except for when I have to go out to market. We hope you all are also well and keeping safe.
Be fierce and thrive...
01 May 2020
Yesterday he walked unaided down his stairs and to the landing at the entrance and back up. He was excited as he stood on his balcony looking out for the first time in weeks. He told me he felt "normal" again. Everyday is a new day and another day of progress for him. Henry told us he wants to walk alone by the end of summer and we all believe he will be able to meet that goal.
We both took the tests for Covid-19 today at the office and we are awaiting the results. We all feel well and strong and we are keeping separate from strangers and our many friends. But like all of you we long for our friends' presence and touch. Until then virtual kisses and hugs have to do.
Be fierce and thrive...!
25 April 2020
|Not my image...|
Meanwhile Henry is progressing. Like all of us he has good days and not-so-good days but his good days are beginning to outnumber...
15 April 2020
How are you? We hope you and your family are well.
We are doing as well as can be expected during a difficult isolation here in Los Angeles. Henry is walking a little on his own and even walked down the stair case at the flat. Our lives could be easier but everyone is experiencing difficult times, no?
We spend the day with Henry performing his exercise routine in the morning. Today our housekeeper is coming to help us get a little more organized. I spend the day cooking our meals and working on insurance matters that I'll share with you in a future post. I also write in my journal at the end of the day before reading a little and retiring for the evening early. Our spirits are generally good though we have emotional moments and so appreciate your calls and good will.
As always, be fierce and thrive...
11 April 2020
Of course we can't accept visitors yet but he is taking phone calls and texts from his friends.
This is the next phase of our journey and I am optimistic for his recovery even though we both know there is a long way to go. Your support, prayers, chants, and meditations are welcome!
We are sheltering in quarantine and wish everyone good health and peace during this difficult time.
Be fierce and thrive...
07 April 2020
|Le Marais, Paris|
Meanwhile his nephew and I are getting his home equipment set up and stockpiling provisions for us over the difficult quarantine period. Naturally there can be no visitors until it is safe, but your phone calls and video chats are always welcome. Thankfully all of us are well. I hope you are too.
Be fierce and thrive
There is a link in my bio if you wish to contact me by e-mail.
05 April 2020
|From my walk down Los Feliz|