Monday, November 17, 2014

A Trip to Reno and News of Another Death in Extended Family

Gerry and I took a little trip to Reno last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Our 34th anniversary was November 1st...going to Reno was a belated anniversary trip.  We actually did do something on our anniversary. 

A few weeks ago he sent me a link regarding a craft fair that was being held in Reno.  Since he knows how much I enjoy going to craft fairs, we decided we would go up for it.  The fair was not as large as I thought it would be, it was still enjoyable.

After we left the fair, we decided to drive up to Virginia City.  Gerry thought we hadn't been there, however we had been, it had been several years ago.  The drive up the mountain was gorgeous.  I took pictures with my iphone, however I'm not sure how to save them to my computer so I can share.  The weather was beautiful.  We had lunch at a little BBQ place...pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw on top of the pork.  It was YUM...the buns are made by the restaurant and were awesome too...and huge!

It started to get cold so we stopped at the car to get our jackets and walked a little further.  There were more shops to see...I was getting tired so Gerry went and got the car.  We drove around the town a little before leaving...taking the highway that goes to Carson City.  Virginia City sits on the side of the mountain so it was another gorgeous drive down to Carson City.  From there we got back on Hwy 395 and headed back to Reno.  The mountains look so different in Nevada than they do in California.  The trees are sparse and are mostly covered with sagebrush. 

When we got back into Reno Gerry asked if I wanted to go to Scheels which is a huge outdoors store.  He walked around looking at stuff that interested him and I looked at ladies clothing.  Saw several things I really liked, however, too expensive for my pocketbook.  Gerry did buy me a fleece vest, something I've been wanting.  It was getting close to dinner time so we decided to get a sandwich from the cafĂ© there and go back to the hotel to eat.  It had gotten quite cold by then.

We stayed at Harrah's, our room was on the 14th floor.  After we ate, we walked over to Starbucks which is in the West Tower, our room was in the East Tower.  Harrah's charges $11 per day, per device for internet.  I wanted to check my emails.

Harrah's is an old hotel...the rooms are comfortable, however kind of outdated.  We didn't eat at any of the restaurants in the hotel since we prefer the kind of places where the locals might go.  We went to a BBQ place Thursday night and breakfast Friday and Saturday were at a couple of neat was excellent at both places.

After going to two quilt shops and stopping again at Cabela's, we headed home Saturday morning.  We had stopped at Cabela's on the way up.  It is another outdoors store.

I didn't check my phone before we left Reno.  When we got home, I discovered that I had a Facebook message from Jim Alfaro telling me his father, Julius had passed away that morning.  Julius and my mother were 1st cousins...their mothers being sisters (Aunty Jane, Julius's mother and my grandmother).  I was so sad to read his message.

When I first came to California, January 1962, I stayed with Julius and Mary (his wife).  I, was of course, married to John Bledsoe then.  I first stayed with his uncle.  I had met Julius and Mary when they stopped in Honolulu, years earlier, on their way to Kaua'i.  I contacted them after I arrived and Mary would come and get me during the day and take me to their house.  John was at Oakland Naval Hospital during the day and would get leave to come to Castro Valley.  Julius and Mary lived in Hayward with their kids.  Mary decided she didn't like me being there by myself with John's uncle so we gathered up our belongings and I went to stay with them.  Their daughter, Yvonne was just a few years younger than I and the boys were quite a bit younger...Jerry and Bill. Jim is their younger son. John would come when he could get leave.  Mary taught me quite a few things to cook which was so helpful.  She even gave me some things for when we were able to get settled.  John was released from Oakknoll and stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside.  We left in March of 1962 to go south. 

Julius was also very helpful to John.  We would drive north whenever we could to visit.  We've lost touch over the years...pretty sad since Gerry and I don't live that far from them. 

Julius had cancer and died peacefully in his sleep.  There will be a small service so we will drive over to be with the family.  Jim and I connected on Facebook...for which I am so thankful.  I probably would not have found out about Julius.

This is the 3rd family passing since sister Marie in June, her son Michael Alan last month (both on the Chung-Hoon family side) and now Julius (on the Camara family side, my grandmother's family).   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Denise Noelani

Today is Denise's 45th birthday.  She was born on November 11, 1969 at Tri-City Hospital in Oceanside, CA.

I have been thinking a lot of that weekend leading up to her birth.  There was a lot going on leading up to hearing the words "you are pregnant", fertility tests and finally fertility drugs.  I was the first patient in North San Diego County to take the fertility drug "Clomid".  It was thought to cause multiple births.  I took 5 days worth of the pills and went to see my doctor for a urine test.  It came back negative.  I was going to do another 5 days only taking 2 pills at a time.  Before I started that, my doctor wanted another urine test done.  That one came back positive.  I had gone through so much, I didn't believe the news, at first.  It slowly became a reality and I was so excited.

As an extra precaution, my doctor wanted to administer hormone shots to insure I would not have a miscarriage.  So once a month I went in for my doctor visits were every 2 weeks.  Towards the end of the pregnancy, I had the shots more often...sometimes having 2 at the same time because my backside had been pricked so many times, the serum would run out.

At about 6 months I was put on complete bed rest.  I was at a friend's house and passed out.  She called my doctor who told her what to do to bring me back.  She drove me home and the next day I went in to see my doctor.  Due to my short stature, as the baby grew, she would get her feet up underneath my breastbone cutting off my oxygen. 

My due date was November 6th.  Denise's dad wanted a Marine Corp birthday baby, November 10th.  I, on the hand, was determined to have my baby on Tuesday which was November 11th.  I was born on a Tuesday.  He was convinced I was having a boy...I had been praying for a girl with light skin, red hair and blue eyes...and I got a girl with light skin, red hair and blue eyes.  Actually her hair was a dark brown with blond streaks through it.  Her daddy is a blond with blue eyes.  When the nurses brought her to me for the first time, I asked the nurses what happened to her hair.  They told me that is how her hair was when she was born.  It looked like someone had taken a tiny paint brush and painted the streaks in her was beautiful and she had a lot of hair.

I started having low back pains on Sunday, the 9th.  About 10pm or so, we went down to emergency to be checked.  My contractions were about 5 minutes apart.  They were going to send me home, however decided to admit.  I heard the nurses talking among themselves after being taken to a room, saying "she looks like she is frightened so let's just keep her...there's no one up here anyway".  One of the nurses sat with me off and on through the night.  TriCity, at the time, was a very small hospital.  Monday morning, the contractions completely stopped.  After my doctor came in to see me, it was decided that they would induce labor that afternoon if my contractions didn't start up again.  So after lunch, the fun would be a long rest of the day.  My doctor came in that night and decided to do a C-section.  He had told me if the baby was more than 7 lbs, a C-section would probably have to be done.

Finally at 2:47am, Tuesday morning, November 11th, my sweet girl made her entrance.  When my doctor said "Betty, it's a girl" I started crying...I was awake during the whole procedure...everyone got nervous...they were happy tears and God had answered my prayers.  When I had been praying I told God I would give her back to Him if my prayers were answered.  And that is what I did...she belonged to God...I've gotten to have her for a little while.  Denise weighed 7 lbs, 6 ozs and was 19 inches long.

And so her 45th birthday has occurred on a Tuesday...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

More Family Sadness

My last post on June 6, 2014, I shared that my oldest sister, Marie, passed away.  Last week I received news that her youngest son passed away.

Nephew, Michael Alan had celebrated his 60th birthday early October.  He lived alone, had never married.  His co-workers discovered his body.  During his growing up years he was affectionately known as "Tubby". 

I spoke with Ernie, my younger sister, today.  His service was yesterday in Honolulu.  All of his siblings were there except for a brother and sister.  Ernie shared some things about him that I found interesting...the last time I saw him was in the mid '60's when they lived in El Paso, TX.  I remembered him as a very happy, lots of fun little boy.  He always had a smile on his face.

He was very active in the Rotary there in Honolulu and worked with computers.  He had for many years taught cooking classes to the homeless.  He taught them at the Episcopal church where his service was held.

After the burial service, family was invited to the home of some of their dad's relatives for dinner.  Ernie, her husband and son were the only ones there from our side of the family.  She related how nice it was to meet some of our brother-in-law's family.

You don't expect to hear of the passing of a niece, nephew, or other family member younger than hearing the news of Tubby's passing was disturbing...especially so soon after his mother's passing. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Family Sadness

This is a sad day in our family...

My older sister, Marie, passed away in her sleep...sometime during the night or this morning.  I don't know the particulars...two of her daughters lived with her so I imagine the discovery was made this morning.

Marie was 91 years of age.  She lived on Hawai'i island or the Big Island as it is commonly known.  She is survived by her 8 living children: George of Texas, Marvid (Mahealani) of Washington, Dayna of Hawai'i, Mary Beth (Mapuana) of Hawai'i, Steven of Texas, Michael Alan of O'ahu, Amy of California and Loralee of Louisiana.  Her daughter, Lois, was killed in an auto accident in 1976...also numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren survive her.

Marie was the oldest of the girls in my family.  Brother Ernest and sisters Harriet, Ethelwynne and Viola preceded her in death.  Also surviving are brothers: Edmund-Paul (Paul) of Hawai'i, Edwin (Eddie) of O'ahu and Samuel (Sam) of Florida; sisters: Puanani (Nani) of O'ahu, Violet-Elizabeth (Betty) of California, Ernestine (Ernie) of O'ahu and Agnes Naomi of Utah...also numerous nephews and nieces...

Marie survived bouts with cancer, however her health had been declining in recent years and had two hospital stays in the last couple of weeks.  She was sent home a few days ago and was under hospice care.  Most of her children had been with her for the last few days including a granddaughter from New York.  Maile was the daughter of Lois who died in the auto accident.  So I would think they will be returning for Marie's services.

I will not be able to go, however my sister Ernie told me she and her husband would probably go to the she will be there for me.

Marie and I were not close, in fact it has been many years since I saw her last, yet it still hurts when a family member passes, especially a sibling.  I have some fond memories of times spent with her and her family during my growing up years.  I also remember a trip that my former husband, John, and I made back to Arkansas to visit his family.  Marie and her family lived in El Paso, TX at the time.  Her former husband, David was in the Army stationed at Ft Bliss.  I believe he was deployed at the time, he could have been in Viet Nam yet I am not certain about that...I just remember he was gone.  My dad was living with Marie at the time.  Marie worked as the librarian at the Post library.  We stopped to visit and stayed for a couple of nights.  I wanted to go to Juarez, Mexico so the kids and my dad went with us.  It was a fun time being there with all of them.  One of the things I remember about her too is that she always dressed very well.

She is no longer hurting and that is a comfort.  My heart goes out to her children and immediate family.

Along with the passing of my sister, our family has another situation going on...

A grand nephew is missing on the Big Island.  He is the son of my niece Puanani Mahoe...Pua's mother was my sister Harriet who passed away in 2005 (?).  He went opihi picking one day last week and has not returned.  The Coast Guard did a search in the area he had gone, however did not find anything.  His family has been searching on their own.  They found his ATV that he used to get out to the area and there was someone that came forward and said that they had seen him start to climb down the cliff.  To go opihi picking, one must go to an area of the coastline where there are steep cliffs.  The opihi are washed in by the high waves and cling to the side of the rocks.  It is very dangerous work to go to pick opihi...they are tiny black limpets or sea snails.  They are delicacy in the Hawaiian culture and served at traditional luaus.

Here is a you tube that I must be constantly watching the is easy to be swept away by a wave.

The family will continuously search, I am sure, until they find something.  My heart goes out to them.  He is a young man with a wife and family.

My heart is heavy for my extended family...yet the assurance that God cares is a blessing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hello, Remember Me

Thought I would drop in and do some updating about what has been going on in my life...

Patriot Guard Riders activities keep us busy.  Since the first of the year there have been 38 missions, most of which we attended.  The majority of them have been out at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery (SVNC), a distance of about 40 miles from home.

I've also been sewing like crazy...finished two lap size quilts for our two youngest granddaughters...finished a rag quilt for our youngest grandson...made a flag bag out of suede for a PGR friend....have another one to finish.  Made an oversized patchwork quilted tote bag for each of my sisters, Nani and Ernie...and getting ready to do another craft fair in June with stepdaughter Jenni...making more bags, some zipper pouches and whatever else I can think of to make.

I've taken over the dining room table to do my sewing, etc.  I desperately need to clean up my stamping stuff, like get rid of a lot of it, so I can have room in my craft room/office for my sewing stuff.  I was scratching up the table with my cutting mat and sewing machine so bought one of those cutting boards made out of cardboard like material to cover the table.  My mom had one of these and it is what she used to cut her fabric on when she sewed.  I use a cutting mat and rotary cutter.  I am reminded of my mom on a daily basis as I work on my projects. 

We have a new member to the family, a great grandson.  On April 10th, Thatcher Ray Lane was born.  He is the son of Nathanael (grandson) and Melissa Lane.  He was about a week early so weighed 7 and a half pounds at birth.  They live in South Carolina, although Nathanael has been transferred back to Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, NC.  He was stationed at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina.  Melissa and baby will stay with her folks for the time being.

Of course, last November 10th Jude Wesley was born to Denise (daughter) and Stephen...he was 9 and a half pounds.  So in 5 months time we added a new grandson and a new great grandson...Denise became a new mom and new grandmother...second grandchild for she and Stephen...

I had my one year checkup with the doctor who did my cataract surgeries, a couple of weeks ago.  My eyes are very healthy and in fact they are doing so well, I don't have to use the eye drops for lowering the pressure in my eyes.  That means that the glaucoma is not an issue now...will have a pressure check in 3 months.  I am so thankful to not have to worry about glaucoma affecting my eye sight.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Denise & Stephen

Twenty-Five years ago today, my Denise married her high school sweetheart, Stephen.  The day was cold and was an evening service.  I remember there being an exception made for the service.  First off, the teens had an all nighter at the church and would be finished about noon.  We were there before hand.  As soon as they left, we started decorating the sanctuary and the room where the reception would be held.  We had about 5 hours to do that.  Usually weddings weren't held on a Saturday evening because of the next day being Sunday and having to have janitorial staff there late getting ready for Sunday.  Stephen was home for a few days and the kids wanted to be married before he was shipped out, so an exception was made. 

We had the help of two of our kids...Jason and Jenni came along to help decorate...and our friend Rita Kissee was there too.  We started with getting the sanctuary decorated and then worked on the reception area.  That room were Sunday School rooms so it didn't take too long to get it ready.  The decorating in the sanctuary was simple too.  The colors were Wedgewood Blue and Silver...perfect for an evening wedding. 

It was a beautiful ceremony with family and close friends in attendance.  Pictures were taken before going to the reception...the guests had been directed to the reception area.  It was rainy off and on through the evening.  We served cake and punch, coffee and I think nuts and mints.  We wanted to keep it simple because of the hour.

Denise looked so beautiful in her dress that had been made so lovingly by Janie DeBoard, a friend from church.  Her only attendant was her maid of honor, Toni Williams. 
Denise and Toni worked together at Marshalls.  They found out early in their friendship that they both had Hawaiian blood.  Another friend from work, Katherine, sang a couple of songs and helped Denise with making the bouquets for she and Toni...all out of silk flowers.  Stephen's best man and ushers were friends he had made at BIOLA, that he attended before going into the Army.  Some of the children of our neighbors were also part of the wedding party.

They had a limousine to take them to their was raining pretty hard by then.  Funny story about where they spent the night...Stephen's father and step-mother had also rented a room at the same hotel...

They went out to the coast for a couple of days and then Toni and her husband offered their apartment to Denise and Stephen for a few days.  They were going to Idaho to visit family.

Stephen was home for a few days then left for his first duty station in Germany.  Denise was at home for a few months and then on Father's Day June 1987, she flew out to join Stephen in Germany.

They have enjoyed being in a few locations during their 25 years together, 3 children have blessed their home and God has richly blessed their lives.  Stephen made a promise to me the night before he flew out.  He has kept every word of that promise to me.  I could not be happier to have him in my life.  He has done exceptionally well caring for my daughter and their family.

The years have gone by quickly...I am a blessed Mom, knowing my only child has been well taken care of...she has a hard working husband, who loves her deeply...and they have given me some awesome grandchildren...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our Government at Work

Just have to do this second post...a little bit of a rant...

Yesterday I received a letter from Kaiser Permanente telling me that my monthly premium for my Senior Advantage coverage was increased.

Here's the letter:
Dear Violet E Townsend,
We are writing to tell you that starting January 01, 2014, your new premium will be $___ per month.

This new amount is a change to your current late enrollment penalty amount based on the annual change to the National Base Beneficiary Premium.  Each year the National Base Beneficiary Premium changes, so will the amount of your late enrollment penalty.

If you have questions about the information in this letter, or if you would like more information about how the national base beneficiary premium affects the late enrollment penalty, call Member Service Contact Center at....

So I called the number for the Member Service Contact Center.  The person I spoke to tried to tell me because I was late in enrolling in Medicare I was being assessed a penalty.  I told this person that I signed up for Medicare in May of 2007, two months before I had my 65th birthday.  So then she tells me to call Medicare and gives me the phone number.  Actually the number was included in this letter I received yesterday.

So I call Medicare and here is what I find out...this is priceless...

September 2009 I was dropped by Kaiser's Senior Advantage Plan because I had been late numerous times with my monthly premium.  I re-enrolled in October 2012.  Because I did not use my Part D of Medicare for 3 years, I was assessed a penalty which was included in my monthly payment.  What I didn't realize is that that penalty is for as long as I remain alive I will be assessed this penalty.  I had no coverage for 3 years, bought no prescription drugs during that time...yet am being penalized for not using the coverage...

How insane is that!!  The Part D coverage was ongoing even though I did not use it so am now having to pay for something that was never used by me for that time period...

Okay...that's my rant for today...

Small World

Gerry went to an American Legion meeting last night.  A lady that was there asked if he was from Hawaii.  He was wearing a shirt that had "Aloha ke Akua" on the front of it.  He told her no, that his wife was from Hawai'i.

She wanted to know what island...she is from O'ahu...he said his wife was too.  Then she said she graduated from Kailua High School...he said his wife did too.  She graduated in 1965...I graduated in 1960.

She gave him her contact information.  I don't recognize her maiden name, supposedly she has an older brother.  I emailed her last night, have yet to get a response from her.

I'm excited to talk to finding people from home and who graduated from the same high school.

So we are fellow Surfriders...what could be better than that...small world...yeah...


Spoke with Faynette today.  We have so much in common.  We lived around the corner from each other when we lived in Kailua.  She was neighbors to a couple of families that I babysat for.  There are 2 sisters that live in our mobile home park that are both Kailua High graduates...she is sure she knows the younger of the two.

I went to the Ulta store in Citrus Heights this morning and took some of the residential streets to get home.  I was in the neighborhood where she and her husband live.  She wants me to go to the next American Legion meeting with Gerry (if he goes) so we can hang out and "talk story".

Enjoyed our telephone conversation so much!  Looking forward to meeting her in person.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

PGR Mission Today in Truckee

Gerry and I continue to participate in PGR missions.  There was one today in Truckee for a sailor.  He was killed in a helicopter accident in Virginia a week or so ago and his service was today.

We got up early, leaving Sacramento about 7:20am to drive to Truckee.  It was a beautiful drive, although very cold.  The outside temperature was in the 30's as we got to Donner Summit at 7,000 plus feet and in the high 20's when we got to Truckee.  We were meeting some other PGR members to set up American flags at the high school where his service was being held.

First, we had some breakfast.  The 3 guys we met had hearty breakfasts.  Gerry and I had eaten breakfast so we had something light.  Arriving back at the high school, we met up with our contact person and then started setting up the flags.  A fire department ladder truck was already there and they were in the process of setting up a huge flag.  We set up 5 or 6 large flags facing the street and were going to line the driveway with flags.  Unfortunately, the ground was so hard and rock was being hit about 2 or 3 inches into the dirt.  We went ahead and got all the flags together, about 60 of them.  People were starting to line up along the street.  One of the guys suggested asking the people if anyone was interested in holding a flag.  Everyone that was standing out there walked over to get a flag.  They were lined up on both sides of the street.  It looked so impressive.  I took my tablet with me intending to take some pictures and then didn't do it.  I did take some for Bob with his iPad.  He is the one that does the flagging.

The military honors part of the program was done in the stadium and then the actual service was moved to the gym.  The stadium was packed.  The guys formed a flag line down on the field.  There is something about seeing numerous American flags blowing in the breeze that causes one to get teary eyed.  I always every mission we do.

There is a group called "Westboro Baptist Church" that pickets military funerals, protesting the United States participation in war.  Word was out that a group would be in Truckee to protest this service.  Some did arrive, however they were not able to get to the high school.  Supposedly CHP blocked them at the freeway exit.  Actually the PGR was formed to create a buffer between the protestors and the family of the fallen warrior.  As many PGR that were in attendance today, the protestors would have had a difficult time getting anywhere near the service.

We had quite a bit of help in getting the flags taken down.  I think everyone was tired.  The PGR guys that rode up on their bikes went to the funeral home and was part of the escort to the high school.  There had to be a 100 plus bikes.  That is also an impressive sight.

We were going to go into Old Town Truckee to eat after we were done.  We did drive down, then decided to just get back on the road and head home.  We stopped in Colfax and had some lunch then got home about 4pm.

It was so cold when we first got to Truckee then it warmed up and we were taking jackets off.  The temperature rose rapidly as we came down the mountain and it was pushing 70 degrees by the time we got to Colfax which is about 3000 ft (I think). 

There has been a huge high pressure system sitting over California, giving us cold nights, warm days (in the 70's) and no rain.

It is such a rewarding experience being a part of these missions.  Gerry and I look forward to being a part of them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Am Still Around...

Hi there,
I haven't posted to my blog since July of last year.  I have had some issues with my desktop computer.  Today my stepson installed a new computer for me.  I am hoping that I will be able to post again without issues.

A lot has happened since I posted last so will try to catch up in the coming days.

It is late so need to call it a day.  There is a lot to learn with the new computer, it has Windows 8 on it so will be spending time figuring out how everything works.