Sunday, July 14, 2019

Rehab pool

A rather large woman with learning difficulties dropped, feet first, into the pool in front of a life guard. The pool is only 4.5" deep where she took her plunge. The woman jumped in with a big splash soaking an elderly woman floating very nearby. The life guard didn't react. Startled and wet from the splash the older woman belted out: WHAT IN THE HELL WAS THAT?! Still no reaction from the guard. Ah, well.

This is 'open swim' at the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Pool, ladies and gents. During this hour, folk with physical disabilities/limitations share the pool with people who have cognitive disabilities (and sometimes physical impairments as well) and that mix can become rather interesting at times. I tend to keep out of the way in the deep end, treading water for much of my pool visit. I do enjoy, however, seeing some of the other swimmers' unbounded joy at being in the water. There's usually lots of laughter and some squeals of delight. The occasional splash in the face happens, too. And that's fine. If I were elderly and in the pool, then I might worry a bit about colliding with the the more rambunctious visitors. This is especially so given that the lifeguards, like the one mentioned above, don't really seem to do much in terms of regulating behavior. Some of the more dependent pool-users come strictly with hands-on carers, but many visitors who seem to perhaps need looking after (like the woman who jumped in feet first in the shallow end) do not.

The Pomeroy Center boasts being home to the largest public rehab* pool in a 'forty mile radius'. That said, single visits to the pool cost $9.00. An annual pass could be had to the tune of $685.00. I have no idea if insurance could pick up part of the tab. I've heard from other pool users that most rehab pools are closer to the size of a Jacuzzi. This pool, by contrast, seems to be larger than your average backyard pool, but nowhere near an Olympic-size pool. (I tried to find the Pom's pool dimensions, but that info. doesn't seem to be anywhere on their website.) There's usually enough room to swim a bit, perform water exercises and not get in anyone's way, really. Occasionally, it's a 'full house' and at those times I usually shorten the length of my stay or simply hang around the edge of the pool and do some serious leg kicks for exercise.

*What qualifies the Pom as a rehab pool is the fact that it's heated to 92F/33C. I think most pools are slightly cooler, generally around 84F/29C. Dipping into the Pom feels like entering a warm bath. I find it very pleasant.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Lunch with Bill

I called Bill, of Billy the Goose fame, and set-up a lunch date with him and his cousin, my Uncle Jim. Initially, Bill wanted to us to meet at The Eagles Club. 'We'll have a couple of belts before we go to the restaurant'. I nixed the idea as the thought of hanging out in a dingy bar mid-day did not tickle my fancy. We met across the street from the bar instead.

It occurred to me during lunch that cousin Bill and Uncle Jim had probably not had any sort of prolonged chat with each other in DECADES. And, certainly, we have never sat together at a table and yakked it up. What a trip. I also figured out that we three are all exactly 15 years apart in age. Jim and Bill shared a bunch of familial reference points. I remembered some of the sort of adult stuff going on from when I was a kid, but certainly have scant knowledge of the things they seemed to know about fairly well: grandma and her siblings loved to play cards. It sounded as if some of them played poker for 'paychecks'. I knew that great-grandma and her friends played cards around the kitchen table, a smoke and drink at arm's length. Was this a Scandi-thing or just the social activity of the time among the working-class? Did they, too, play for money? There was mention of penny-ante stakes. I don't who engaged in that. 

Bill has no regrets about how he's lived his life and all the money he has frittered away in the process. He talked about his life-long love affair with horse track betting at all the race tracks (only one track currently remains) around the Bay Area and beyond. I don't know if one could be actual friends with bookmakers as a gambler, but it sounds like Bill might have been. At the very least, he knew a slew of them. There was mention of a gambler buddy of his---I think it was a neighbor-lady's son---crossing 'the wrong people' and wound up being taken out to the desert and beaten to death. He was dressed in gloves for the funeral. Even Uncle Jim knew that story.  

What's interesting to remember is that up until the mid-to-late 20th century most of the family members lived in close proximity to one another. Parents lived near their adult children and grandchildren. Cousins lived near cousins and so forth. Bill and Jim, although 15 years apart, share so much history because their mothers and their mothers' siblings all lived a few miles apart from each other, some lived on the same block, and spent a lot of time together. Both Bill and Jim recounted how their Uncle Roy, a somewhat hardened WWII vet, would pull up to grandma's house on his Harley (I'm imagining a Marlon Brando a la On the Waterfront style bike) with a pint of Fleischmann's in his hip pocket to share. He and his sister would sit at the kitchen table, drink and shoot the shit. An afternoon well spent, I suppose.

Bill is moving to Reno come August. We went over to his flat after lunch, so he could show us his digs. It would seem that he's already given away a lot of his furniture in preparation. I think he said that he'll be moving into a retirement community very near the casinos. This is just what he wants. He told me: 'Everyone's dying around here--one a week. And the younger ones don't want to do anything. They don't want to leave town. I need people and I'm a social guy.' He also mentioned the fact that he's sort of the last of his generation in the family both still living and still living locally. I can't fault him, really. If there's no one to hang out with outside of the bar, then that could be a drag. Bill will be 79 in October and he's ready to start a new chapter elsewhere. I wonder if there's a horse track in Reno? Anyway, good for him.

Cousin line-up from right to left: Bill, my pops, cousin Lee, Uncle Ray, Don and Stanley, Doreen and Shirley

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Coffee shops and how to find them---

Coffee spots on 8.5 x 11 paper. 

A buddy of mine recently gave me a nifty, hand-drawn map of San Francisco ice-cream parlors she had picked up at a craft fair. The map came folded up & packaged as a postcard. This friend had seen the various mental maps of SF I'd drawn & thought I could make something sort of in the same vein as the ice-cream map, but instead feature coffee joints. Above is one of a few different coffee maps I've since drawn. I don't know if I have a favorite among them, but this is one of the earlier renderings & I like the placement of everything on the page fairly well. 

Here's another version going down the length of the page. I suppose it's less cramped-looking than map #1. 

I sent my friend a copy of one the coffee maps. May she both like it and use it! 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Billy the Goose

To us kids, my dad's cousin Bill was the dude at the holiday table you didn't want to hear from. He was kind of a blow-hard, a bit of a drunk & a gambler par excellence. Word had it that he had lost his mother's San Francisco rental properties on a slew of bad bets. His 'lady friend', Evelyn, as Bill would refer to her, was a sweetheart, however. She smiled easily and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Upon her retirement sometime in the mid-90s, she upped sticks and moved back to the South to care for her mother. I remember thinking: I can't blame her. Bill stayed behind, relocating to a small flat in a town just south of San Francisco called Brisbane. 

Back in 2009, through an old acquaintance, I got a gig tending bar at The Eagles Club, a members' only joint where one can drink on the cheap, in Brisbane. Given that 2+2=4, I had a strong hunch that Bill probably would be a member of this club, so I started asking around. -pretty much the everyone in the bar said: 'Billy The Goose? Oh, yeah, we know Billy!' Bill's surname is Le Gasse, so there you go. Bill finally came in one night when I was behind the bar. We hadn't seen each other in a good ten years---sometime before my Dad's death in 2002. I don't know if he immediately remembered me, but he began warming up once I reminded him of who I was. He seemed a bit frail and somewhat out-of-sorts. Maybe he was just pickled? Anyway, we had a nice, initial chat from what I recall. 

Flash forward ten years and I find myself this afternoon back in Brisbane at a burrito joint with my husband. The Eagles Club happens to be just across the street from the restaurant, so I make my way over after our meal. Peeking my head in to the bar, I can make out Bill sitting in almost exactly the same spot as he was when I last saw him there. I walk up to him, say hello and remind him of who I am. He looks a bit stunned, asking me how I had known where he'd be today. I smile and say, 'because I used to work here.' He asks me if he could 'sign me in'. I tell him I can't stay, so he comes out to the pavement for a chat and to meet my husband. 

Bill circa mid-1990s at my Dad's house. He looks much the same, but with solid, white hair & minus the beeper on his belt.

We caught up on who in the family is still kicking and who is not. And, then, for some reason, he recounted what happened the day my Dad died. (I know the story already, but didn't feel comfortable cutting him off.) A rather short story even shorter: Dad and his wife had taken Bill and Trini, his next 'lady friend' after Evelyn, out to dinner for Bill's birthday. Dad was feeling poorly, and, on his way to the toilet, started to collapse, but not before Bill caught up with him and literally caught Dad as he fell. 'He died right in my arms'. Again, I knew this story, but I don't think I had ever heard it directly from him. Or maybe I had? Dunno. 

Bill also mentioned that our Swedish Family Picnic at the usual spot was still up and running after Dad revitalized it back in the 1980s. One of my second cousins, a cousin of Bill and my Dad's (that makes one a second cousin, no?), has been organizing it since Dad's death. I haven't been to the picnic since before Dad died. I took Bill's no., so I suppose I will call him for a firm date on the picnic. It's either in July or August. It might be a bit weird to attend, but it could also be nice to visit with some of the other 'Swedish' relations after all this time. 

I will leave you with the reason why we picnic--my great-grandparents, Axel and Anna, two Swedish immigrants meeting and marrying in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, ca. 1904. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A happy coincidence.

Yesterday, I found this stamped card (approx. 2" x 1") pressed in a book. I drew this image out for a friend's wedding back in 2012. I then took the image to a really nifty stamp shop in London called Blade Rubber Craft and had them make it into a stamp. I used the stamp to decorate wee thank-you cards attached to gift bags for Tessa's bridesmaids. The card I stumbled over in the book was a sort of 'test run' that I had kept for myself. 

After making the discovery, I sent a message to Tessa, she of the stamped image above, telling her of the discovery. She and her wife happen to be celebrating their anniversary this very weekend along the coast just up from Brighton. Good timing, eh? 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Hot cocoa with a twist!

I first became aware of Jack Monroe's blog 'A Girl Called Jack', when I lived in London. Jack was, at that time, becoming known for creating tasty recipes cobbled together using little money & a lot of ingenuity.   

In addition to having a website, Jack is on Twitter dispensing gratis recipes that are pretty dang tasty-looking. It was from there that I pinched the recipe for Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

For those of you who are keen, here you go: 

Ingredients (for one mug):
50ml water
3 squares of chocolate (I used, ahem, a bit more than that)
1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter (I used chunky peanut butter)
150ml milk (I used almond milk & the consistency and flavor were gorgeous) 
Melt the choco and peanut butter with water in a saucepan. Stir until ingredients form a sticky paste. Then slowly stir in milk a bit at a time so as to prevent the cocoa from clumping. 
I topped mine with cinnamon & it all went down a treat!

If you fancy a peek at Jack's work and amazing creations, here it is the link to her website:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Two cents' worth and more

It would seem that Harvard does not admit racist shits. If I were to have a child attending Harvard, then I’d want him or her to have as few classmates as possible with a history of repeatedly saying “nigger”. Harvard's decision to rescind offers of admission from such persons should not be considered controversial. For those of you interested in who was denied admission to Harvard, here is a link detailing what occurred---Kyle Kashuv.

This month I began attending an SF rec & rehab pool. One needs a doctor's note in order to access the facility. Most of the attendees are older retirees and many are recuperating from surgery. The beauty of the pool is that it is heated to a comfortable 92F/33C. It feels as if one were swimming in a giant bathtub. I attended a 30 minute water exercise class at the pool today. It wasn't too easy, fortunately, and the music didn't suck--lots of Paul Simon and Cat Stevens. I shall return. 

The hubs is between jobs (he has a new gig, but starts next week), so we've been tidying up the house together the past few days. He found my Swiss driving license tucked away in a pile of papers. Although I will likely not have need for it again, I do like having this driving license as it NEVER expires. I can hear you all saying: Say what now?! Yes, and I paid about 100 CHF for the pleasure. 

Note that the DL describes itself in the four, official languages of CH (German, French, Italian and Romansch) with English sort of being the unofficial fifth language. 

Rehab pool

A rather large woman with learning difficulties dropped, feet first, into the pool in front of a life guard. The pool is only 4.5" deep...