Next Stop Milwaukee, Hopefully

There is no Marcus Welby medical care in America. It’s sad for patients. It’s sad for docs too. Lots of physicians want to do medicine that way, but it’s not practical in the 21st Century.

harold-and-bettyWe’re attempting our Milwaukee trip again. We leave from LAX this time (drive 40 miles save 50%), but again change in Phoenix. Please, no more shootouts/car chases from Tempe!

Lots of folks wrote me after I mentioned my mom in the blog. There were lots of suggestions, all different, some mutually exclusive. Still, the one thing that everyone seemed to agree on was being an advocate for mom.

That’s a nice way of saying keep an eye on the nursing facility.

There is no Marcus Welby medical care in America. It’s sad for patients. It’s sad for docs too. Lots of physicians want to do medicine that way, but it’s not practical in the 21st Century.

There was a meeting this afternoon at my mom’s current facility. Social worker, nurse, speech therapist, my dad, sister and brother-in-law plus me on the phone.

The physical therapist was a no-show. As explained, this person with the most insight to help us answer questions left work early. FML! Trudi and Jeff were justifiably furious.

As best I can tell my mom is making some progress. None of this comes easy or without effort and pain. She is frail. I can’t put myself in her shoes. We’re hoping she can reach the benchmarks that have been set.

roxie floorStef, who’s coming, drove down from H’wood with Roxie. Roxie and Doppler will be watched by Dop’s sitter who Roxie met today for the first time.

In the past Stef told me how Roxie responds as they exit the freeway. It’s a romantic story where Roxie basically comes to attention as they pull down the exit ramp to the light. She stays on guard for the next 5-6 minutes to our house.

On the way back today, in my car, I watched Roxie stand at attention as we passed that same spot! Crazy. Totally different experience, different car and length of trip. She still knew.

wpid-wp-1411080785006.jpegOf course there’s also good news in our trip. We’re lodging with my niece Melissa, her husband Mark and Charlotte who has promised to stay tiny for us, though the shot on the left now qualifies for “file photo” status.

Two full days on the ground. We’ll be busy

Disney Day

IMG_6343all of us

Trudi and Jeff, my sister and brother-in-law are visiting from Wisconsin. We’re trying to show them a good time. It seems to be working!

We went to Disneyland today. It’s a school holiday in many cities and the park was jammed.

We did a lot of walking in both the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s California Adventure. It’s as much fun to walk around and look at people as it is to ride rides… well, almost. Every shape, size, shade of person was represented.

We saw the Captain Eo Tribute. The color is washed out. The film techniques look dated. Time to ditch it.

Jeff and I discussed the amazing cleanliness of the parks. There was nothing on the pavement. The place is spotless.

We came home and had dinner out with the Irvine Foxes.

It good to get the family together. It doesn’t happen often enough.

On The Floor At Midway

Before the entry, two quick notes:

1) The marble floor at Midway, though functional, is incredibly uncomfortable for sitting. As with most airports, the only power outlets are away from the sitting area and not really meant for passengers.

2) The 8:00 PM non-stop to Bradley International will be at least 1:25 late… at least. Helaine and Stef confirm, after a walk down the concourse, some flights are delayed with not time listed. Others have been canceled outright. Gotta love Chicago. O’Hare is no better.

OK – where were we? We spent the night in the motel in Mequon. We were leaving this morning while my parents were moving in with my sister and family for a few days.

Since we had a car, we volunteered to drop them off. Of course we never thought there wasn’t enough room in the La Cross to do that!

With a little rejiggering and bags on each lap, we were able to make it the few miles to Trudi and Jeff’s house. My guess is, we were at least 200 pounds over the La Cross’ design limits. Luckily, no potholes.

We left Mequon and turned south toward Milwaukee. Helaine had stayed at the Pfister and Steffie wanted to see it.

The Pfister is a very old, nicely maintained hotel. The lobby strikes me as what you’d find in San Francisco during the Victorian era. We had a nice lunch in the coffee shop.

Downtown Milwaukee seemed past its prime. There was little traffic and lots of older, ‘short’ buildings. In a vigorous downtown, height would have swept these old buildings away.

The attendant at the parking lot told us all the entrances to the southbound Interstate were closed! There was a roundabout way to get there, which he proceeded to describe.

Amazingly enough, it worked. Before long we were on our way south of I-94 East. If I-94 really went east, we’d be in Lake Michigan, a few hundred yards away. We’ve got the same problem in Connecticut with I-95 North, which runs east.

There was too much time to head directly to Midway, so we stopped in Pleasant Prairie at the Jelly Belly factory. It is located across the way from the Dyslexic Institutes of America (there is more than one I guess).

You would probably be surprised at the crowd, waiting for the free tour. We were! The wait was around 45 minutes before we piled into our faux train for a trip around the factory’s outer wall.

It was nice, but it would have been nicer if we had actually seen them making candy. Everything we saw (other than boxes and older outmoded equipment) was on video.

We took our free samples, spent a few bucks in the company store and headed south, again.

Have you ever driven in Chicago traffic? Holy crap – this was awful. Maybe worse than awful. And, I’ve been told it’s always like this. Yikes!

We went by Downtown. There’s a lot of distinctive architecture there, including the Sears Tower, but my best ‘sighting’ were the apartment buildings pictured on the opening of the old Bob Newhart Show!

They’re still posting 9:20 PM for our flight. It’s going to be a l-o-n-g day… and they still might change our gate as I’ve heard them do to a handful of others.

Blogger’s note: The past few entries have been posted without photos, because it’s a hassle to do when you’re on the road. I’ll add them later.

Jessie Gets Married

Jessie is the daughter of my sister Trudi and her husband, Jeff. She was my parent’s first grandchild. She was Jeff’s parents first grandchild. Today, she was the first of her generation to get married.

We came to Milwaukee early, because the festivities began early. Last night we headed to the Volleydome!

Evan’s parents (he being the boy Jessie’s marrying) threw a little bash with food and volleyball. It started at 6:00 PM.

If you’ve never been to a Volleydome, it’s a large prefab building with a floor covered in sand. It is the best way for Wisconsoners (is it Wisconsinites – who knows?) to play beach volleyball without moving to Laguna Beach.

Neither Helaine nor Stef wanted to play. I entertained the idea, but just thinking about it was enough for me to pull something. I passed.

Everyone had a good time. Beyond that, I got to meet Uncle Murray’s girlfriend, Lilly.

The idea of my nearly 80 year old uncle having a girlfriend was a little foreign at first. We just don’t grow up think of seniors dating. But why not? And, she’s very nice and, obviously, very good for Murray.

Since I wasn’t playing volleyball, I brought along my camera, and clicked away. If it moved… and quite possibly if it didn’t, I clicked the shutter to capture what I saw.

A few months ago I bid and bought a monopod on EBay. This was my first opportunity to try it out. Unlike a tripod, a monopod easily goes from place-to-place. Of course, just one leg doesn’t provide the same stability, but it definitely allows you to shoot usable photos with slower shutter speeds. In a poorly lit Volleydome, that meant getting shots which would have been otherwise unobtainable.

The wedding was early Sunday afternoon. My sister had asked if I’d be an usher (well established as the pivotal wedding position), so I was in my tuxedo and at the Synagogue by 10:30 AM.

All brides are beautiful and Jessie was no exception. Her gown had a very long train. Jessie cried through much of the ceremony, as did Helaine, sitting to my right.

Helaine and I are easy touches when it comes to crying. Both of us have cried at particularly poignant commercials.

You’ll notice I’m not mentioning Evan much. Groom’s are necessary, though on the wedding day, they’re more ceremonial than important. This is the bride’s day, plain and simple.

Later, Evan will learn a ‘gift for the two of you’ is actually for her. Marriage has lots of guy benefits, so we let this small stuff slide.

We retreated to the Mequon Country Club for the reception. Very nice, again, and I was shooting up a storm. By the end of the day, I’d taken nearly 300 additional photos – a full 2 Gigabyte Flash Card! What’s gotten into me?

During the reception, my dad told me he didn’t remember his wedding reception at all. I remember Helaine and mine. It was a great party.

We had French service, which drove us both a little crazy. Every time you stood up, someone would come and refold your napkin. If your drink was down a smidge, a waiter would get you a new one. I don’t want anyone concentrating on me quite that much.

We hardly saw each that night. That made this wedding reception a whole lot better in the ‘company you keep’ department.

Happy Birthday Harold – Hope You Can Join Us

Next week is a milestone for my dad. He will be 80. This is not a number to take lightly.

I’ve asked him in the past to contrast his age with his expectations of what that age was going to be like. He couldn’t. Long ago he passed any age he had expected to see.

This is not to say my father thought he’d be gone by now. It’s just no one thinks of what life will be like at 80… until you’re late into your 79th year.

I think I speak for him when I say, these are the best times of his life. He and my mom live a wonderful life in Florida. Their condo complex is socially active, which suits them fine.

My mom has become more active in governing the condo complex, something I never would have expected. My dad has become a computer maven to his fellow senior citizens who see him as a latter day Bill Gates.

So, what do you do for an 80th birthday? My folks thought it would be fun to take Helaine and me, along with my sister Trudi and brother-in-law Jeff, to Las Vegas for a family oriented celebration. My cousins Michael and Melissa will be joining us.

What says happy birthday more than Las Vegas?

My folks don’t gamble, but they are great explorers. Vegas has so much to explore. We plan on seeing some excellent shows, taking in the sights and eating as if cholesterol hadn’t been discovered. I will also attempt to play poker 23 hours a day or until I can no longer afford Steffie’s college tuition.

My folks are due to leave Florida Tuesday. Well, they are now. I suppose it’s all Hurricane Wilma dependent.

If you look at the tracking maps, the current projections bring Wilma right over their place. It’s not a reassuring outlook. The one saving grace is, Wilma won’t be a particularly strong hurricane by then.

Earlier today I asked if they would call the airline, AirTran, and see if they could move their flight. Lots of other airlines were accommodating passengers in this manner. not AirTran… or at least not in a way that was meaningful.

October 20, 2005, 10:00 am ET