Books, Fairs and A Bit More …

OH, MY. A BUSY AND INTERESTING week with a new venue for Joyce Oroz and I. The Cesar Chavez Library’s Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith's tableFirst Salinas Book Fair was a hit with the locals—mostly Hispanic, with the two of us sticking out like sore thumbs. All announcements were made bilingually; most of the authors spoke Spanish, and many of their books were written in Spanish. It took us very little time to realise it wasn’t exactly the best fit for us, but we made sure we had dj jameson smith at the First Salinas Book Fairfun and each of us did make a few sales. It was fun meeting many of the authors—and quite a few of them, including yours truly and Joyce, had to read from their books. Aaack! I’ve only done that once before—in front of a bunch of teens (tough audience). Well, I did okay … and Joyce did too. Reading a selected bit from the book gave the audience (aka: readers or parents of readers) a chance to hear what many of the books were like, then come to the booths and get more information … or better yet, make a purchase.

Now, Joyce and I have a bit of a respite from our books—well, at least I do. I’ll be taking some “personalOne Big Pile of Weeds To Go Please ... time” for the next two weekends. On the week days, I’m trying to fulfill CalFire’s requirements to make my property fire safe. I’m making progress … slowly. Weeds, dead trees and branches … ugh. I’m looking forward to my weekends—I’ve decided to pop over to Carmel Valley to check out (and probably purchase) a few glass pumpkins. I’ve found myself collecting them (insert eye-roll)—just what I need! They are so gorgeous—I want to buy, buy, buy—but they are also a little on the pricey side.

Anyway, not only am I doing that stroll amongst pumpkins, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from Forest Theatre, Carmelbut I’m also going to see the play, Peter Pan, at the Forest Theatre—an outdoor theatre (a very cool theatre)—in Carmel with a friend and her kids. I know I’ll have fun—no matter what the weather (I always come prepared)!

The following weekend will be another double-header for me. On the calendar for ages is the Alzheimer’s Walk—the only one I’ll be able to attend will be held in Aptos at the Walk to End Alzheimerslovely Seascape Resort. Depending on how I feel, I’ll either walk the full 2-3 mile walk—which includes a bit of a walk on sand with Taiko drumerss at the turn-around point (love, love, love Taiko drums!!) or I might do the short circuit if I’m not feeling up to par. Either way I am going to have a wonderful time, walking for a cause that is near and dear to me. For those of you that don’t know, my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about this devastating disease, go to my personal page or to the Alzheimers.org page.

I did say it was a double-header, didn’t I? Well, after the walk, I’ll be jumping in my car and traveling up to Los Gatos for their annual Magical Glass Pumpkin Patch event (yes, My Glass Pumpkins Are Lonesome ...more glass pumpkins!). I’ve never been, but one of my friends brings home a number of exquisite pumpkins for me to choose from. I decided this year, I’d go there in person. I just hope the drive up will be enough to re-coup my energy, because I believe there will be plenty of walking involved!

Next week, I believe I’ll be giving you a sneak peek—snippets from two stories in my series: Book Four, Mischiefmaker and Book Five, Catalyst (working title). I’m all excited about these two books. It’s hard to edit my first book, knowing I’ve got the edit for book four waiting (I have been working on it, but bouncing back and forth between two edits makes my head spin) and book five wanting completion.

With that said, I do believe it’s time to say Belladonna Lily (Naked Lady)good-bye for the week … I’ll leave you with one last photo. A beautiful pink flower (Belladonna Lily—aka: Naked Lady). I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Friday and weekend. Enjoy!

 

Precious Memories …

MY FATHER STRUGGLED with memory issues for quite some time — oh, it’s just normal aging process, everyone would say. He’d misplace keys, important papers, gardening tools, etc on his five-acre patch of heaven on earth …  I’m sure my mom started keeping a closer eye on him, but never let on that his forgetfulness was getting worse. Still insisting it was “normal”, we could only wonder since we lived so far from each other. Finances got a little strange — then unmanageable … Dad wasn’t able to juggle all the different financial things on his plate and they eventually lost their beautiful built-from-the-ground-up home to the bank. Finally, they moved up north to be closer to me — I was so grateful … and relieved to have them close by. It wasn’t long before both my husband and I realised there was a serious problem and started suggesting doctors to evaluate his declining memory. It took a lot of arm twisting, as Mom still didn’t want to believe that her still physically-strong husband could possibly become mentally weak.

Finally, the diagnosis my husband and I knew was coming was pronounced. Though still in the early stages, it was definitely Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease, striking twice. First, bit by bit, taking recent memories away, then memories of adulthood, of childhood … until it has taken every precious memory. Forgetting friends, family, close loved ones. Forgetting how to brush teeth, to use the toilet, to shower. The basics we all take for granted. Gone. Then it strikes a second time, finally taking the shell-of-a-person once known — permanently, in death.

After my dad was diagnosed, we introduced my parents to the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Association and signed my parents up for the support group — an awesome tool for caregivers. Then, we schemed amongst ourselves how to convince my dad into accepting a “babysitter” so my mom — the primary caregiver — could get some respite from the energy- sucking 24/7 care.

It was difficult. We thought about many things, amongst them, a gardener, but my dad wouldn’t stand for that. His green thumb precluded any assistance there. None of the ideas panned out. So, I helped out, taking dad on drives and walks in the surrounding country side. He loved it … and my mom got the break she needed. Plus, I began a long journey of getting re-acquainted — acquainted with another side of my daddy … a side I really never got to know that well whilst growing up since he spent so much time traveling on business … or on camping trips bonding with my brothers.

My parents made it very clear that they wanted to remain in their home “until the end”  and we agreed to work with their wishes by finding a “housekeeper” (alternate caregiver) to help Mom around the house, when dad began to decline. What I didn’t realise at the time, was that my mom was hiding something from us. Things were getting worse and he started to wander a little bit. Not far thankfully, but it did concern us. It was then we registered him with the county, in case he wandered off and couldn’t find his way home. This was long before the Silver Alert system was in place.

Soon, they needed to move from their protected cul de sac rental due to the owner selling the property, so we started searching for something in a relatively small, protected community. We found a cute little trailer park not far from me — I could be there in five minutes if need be. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Something else my mom kept from the entire family — though we should have seen the signs — was her failing health. Apparently, she quietly suffered a series of mini strokes and told no one. Looking back, I kick myself … all the signs were all there screaming at us to see. To do something. Slurred speech, forgetfulness, lack of strength (grip) …

We received a call from the park’s manager — both had been taken to the emergency room. My mom had collapsed and my dad was completely distraught. Mom was cleaning up the floor where a new dishwasher would reside when a massive stroke struck. She never regained consciousness, and lingered for five days before succumbing to her injuries.

Dad kept asking where she was … and not realising — or thinking — how it would effect him, I told him she’d passed away from her stroke. The love of his life (over fifty years) was gone. He crumbled in tears. I allowed him to grieve, staying close, just in case. Later, he asked again where she was and, without thinking, I told him again. Immediately, I knew I made a mistake. The anguish cut deep, like the fresh wound that it was. For him, it was the first time he was hearing it — again. This went on for days … with me trying to figure out how I could lessen the pain with the telling, trying different tactics with the same anguishing results. Finally, I simply fabricated a story that seemed to satisfy him till his next inquiry.

There are many stories I could tell about his decline, but I’d rather focus on his strengths. In all the time I spent with him in those last few years, I was amazed. His love for life, his patience, sense of humour and the twinkle in his eyes … his devotion to God … even in his “broken” state, what I saw in him was a wonderful living example of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control … I never saw him as that person with Alzheimer’s. What did I see?  Something beautiful. Watching him, interacting with him … always made me think, that’s what I want to be when I grow up. My brothers distanced themselves from him because they didn’t want to lose the memories of who he’d been to them when he was “whole”. When they did visit, he didn’t know them … they were complete strangers. I felt sorry that they were not able to stay connected. But I had the advantage of being able to see him daily. It made a difference. Definitely.

Yes, he had self-control issues (that is part of the menace called Alzheimers), but it usually was because his fierce protection skills came into play a few times when he saw injustices happening around him. Or when his caregivers at the nursing home became impatient and tried rushing him or using the wrong words (we did switch facilities after than and his anger disappeared). Yes, he forgot my name … and even what my relationship was to him, but not down deep — he told me once that he knew there was some sort of important connection. He just didn’t know what it was. That I was special to him for some reason. It made my heart burst with love. He was a blessing to me in those last years. And it was a blessing that Alzheimer’s did not get to take him all the way down the path to death. His heart gave out whilst he was still able to communicate with people. He died peacefully in his sleep.

What I haven’t mentioned is, after my mom died, in addition to taking on my dad’s day-to-day care, I became more involved with the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual Walk to End Alzheimers to raise awareness of the disease and to help raise funds for research to find a cure.  I walked in the events, both in Salinas and Monterey every year — still try to do both, but my schedule sometimes gets in the way.  I’ve walked as an individual and in a group as the captain, but I’ve tried to walk every year, without fail … and financial support both chapters.

I’m walking again this year — but only at the Aptos location. For my dad. And for everyone out there struggling with or helping someone with this crippling, devastating disease.  I’d like to ask you to help, either by joining me in the walk or by donating to the Alzheimer’s Association. Help finance the cure. Spread awareness of the disease to others. If you are local and want to join in, I will only be walking in the Aptos Walk to End Alzheimers event this year. I will support both Monterey and Santa Cruz chapters. I’m a team captain for Monterey County Walkers … for both the Monterey and Santa Cruz walks, so if you want to walk with me, click on the Aptos link — please! Later today, I will be setting up the page for the Monterey walk for those that wish to donate directly to that one — or want to walk as a group (without me, unfortunately). Here’s the hyperlink for the Monterey group on this page — thanks for checking back!

Walk to End Azheimers

Please join me in Aptos or Donate in the fight against Alzheimers Disease.

Bless you!

Have a beautiful weekend, folks!

Upcoming Events

WELL, IT’S BEEN AWHILE SINCE I’VE let you know any specifics about my schedule, including my fundraising fun and upcoming book signings/readings, so here goes:

Yes, I know—these are not business related, but very dear to my heart:
Sat, 27 September from 8:30-12:30
Walking for Alzheimer’s at Aptos Seascape Resort.
Sat, 11 October from 8:30-12:30 Walking for Alzheimer’s at Monterey’s Custom House Plaza.

I know…two walks? Am I daft? No. The Santa Cruz walk is the one I started with—Monterey didn’t have one. When Monterey finally did start up their walk, I felt since my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease and I felt fully invested in the cause, I chose to do both. Sometimes it is a bit much, but I will always support one or the other in some form.

Alzheimer’s Disease hits straight across all the demographics and does not discriminate—it hits the rich and famous, poor, average joe, intellectuals. You or a family member could be its next victim. There’s a higher risk if someone in your family has had it. Right now, there are some good drugs that will slow down the progress of the disease, but the end result is the same: loss of memory—not just memories of friends and families, but the basic functions to be a productive person, and then, eventually death. Wouldn’t you want research to be trying to find a cure? You can help raise awareness and help fund research for this cruel disease by supporting Alzheimers Association, either through the walks or direct donations to the organization.

If you are interested in supporting me in either event, click on one of these links—donations received up to a month after the events will count toward my total (Santa Cruz or Monterey). If you choose to make a general donation to Alzheimer’s Association or simply want to find out more about the disease, that’s fine with me.

My Secrets Beyond Scymaria series book signings and sales:
Sat, 25 October from 2-4 Book signing at Open Ground Studios 1230 Fremont Blvd, Seaside CA. Come and meet me, ask questions about the series and have your purchased copies signed.
Sat-Sun 14-15 November (times TBA) Holiday Crafts. Several authors (including yours truly) will be available to answer questions and sign purchased books at Watsonville Elks Lodge, 121 Martinelli St, Watsonville CA
Sat-Sun 22-23 November (times TBA) AHA Holiday Crafts event at Aromas Grange, Corner of Rose and Bardue, Aromas CA. Again, several authors (including yours truly) will be present to sign books and answer questions.

Check back for more details (times) as they become available.

I’m working on getting some events for out of town, but not sure when they will happen…still in the works.