Monday, April 25, 2016


tumblr_ldce14GFKC1qbz270o1_500.gif (500×280)     I am at the end of my rope...
     OK, OK, I'm being over-dramatic. I'm somewhere in the middle of my rope. Mostly, because I don't know, if what I'm experiencing can have a bad effect on my health.
     I went to sleep pretty early (for me) last night. For a few months I sleep on the couch in the living room. I do it, because Roberta is becoming more and more childlike and capable of walking out of the house in the middle of the night. I won't go into other reasons, why the bedroom becomes more and more of an alien territory to me.
cup-of-coffee.jpg (500×334)     So, went to sleep around 12 at night. In an hour or so I heard footsteps in the kitchen. Upon prying my eyelids open, I saw Roberta creeping toward the hot water machine with a cup in her hand. 
     - "Roberta, no coffee! It's 2 o'clock in the morning!"
     Reedy voice of my charge was not at all convincing:
     - "I wasn't going to get coffee! I want a cup of tea!"
     - "No tea, no anything! Go to sleep, close your eyes!"
     I'm not sure, how much time passed, because I dropped off into the dreamworld again, but it couldn't be long. 
     Again: Plop, plop, plop, - footsteps on the tile. What was missing, was the sound of a cane. I opened my eyes and yelled:
     - "Roberta, where is your cane?"

     Roberta in a night dress with the holes for arms too big for her fragile figure froze on the way to fill her cup with something hot to drink.
     - "My cane is over there!"
     She really doesn't get the rhetoric questions! 
woman_laughing.gif (242×268)     Dejected, she turned back to her bedroom. I offered her water then, but she didn't want any, and I was not about to start a tea party at three o'c lock in the morning!
     After that, no matter, what I did to fall asleep again, my brain refused to believe, it was tired. Hello, TV, hello laptop! Did you miss me?
     By six I began to doze off. I lay down and closed my eyes. The light in the dining room, immediately adjacent to my "sleeping quarters", went on. Taka dragged Sonny out of bed to do some spiritual reading, prescribed by the Unification Church. 
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     This with some variations repeats almost every night. Sometimes the cats throwing up or singing ancient songs of their people follow Roberta's attempts to find out if I'm OK. I am usually asleep at the time, so: yes, I WAS OK!
     The worst of the situation is: I am not able to wake up on time and function in a healthy, alert fashion the next morning! We already missed the Bible study and a doctor's appointment that way! And don't start me on my driving! Yesterday I could hardly make it home, after not being able to sleep all night!

Friday, April 22, 2016


     OK, friends, here is a story that's guaranteed to make you gasp!
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     I am 58 now. Yes, my birthday just passed, and, although many friends, the Facebook ones ONLY, and some relatives sent me their best wishes, I feel a bit down. 
     On the morning of the 19th Taka as usual went to work. He hesitated before exiting the bedroom, and I thought, he'd say something about my birthday, but he only yelled: "Don't use credit card, we have no money!" I was understandably disappointed!      
     Roberta - the one, who is losing her memory, - remembered, but Sonny woke up at 5 pm and only then dropped a casual: "Happy Birthday." That's OK, I'm a big girl, used to feeling neglected!
4HvbX+KPXwzNoAAAAASUVORK5CYII= (230×219)     I don't feel old. I easily recall being in my twenties! I lived in Long Beach, CA then, working with the Unification Church. To tell the truth, it was interesting and rewarding work. We contacted local clergy, offering to send them to the ecumenical conferences in Korea. It was done in order to sway them toward the Unification Church and Rev. Moon, of course, but then I was very much into it, inspired to undergo any difficulties for the sake of my cause. 
96459b2883af7193be11222b26c7284a.jpg (223×320)     We sold flowers to support our work. One Friday evening I was standing in front of a posh restaurant in Shoreline Village. The crowd was gathering, and I had a whole basket of wrapped roses in my hands, waving them at people. 
     Cars pulled up to the curb, letting the fun-seekers off. I felt a little under-dressed in my casual slacks and jacket, but smiled and joked with the perspective buyers anyway.
     A white limo pulled up. A young couple got out. A man was African American, with a mane of shiny black curls. A girl was Caucasian. 
     I didn't know, who the man was, but the crowd went nuts, chanting: "Prince, Prince!" A recent immigrant, I still didn't know, who it was, but just waved my roses at him expectantly.
     They looked annoyed with each other. The argument started in the car, but the girl was not ready to give up. She yelled to me: "He's not gonna buy it, he's cheap!"
    6a00d8345295c269e201b8d166246e970c-250wi (250×187) Prince glanced at her, walked up to me, bought a single rose. He then gave it back to me and leaned forward. Before I knew it, he kissed me on the cheek and went into the restaurant. The girl looked like she was struck by lightening! She shut up and followed him inside.

     That's it, that's my claim to fame! I was kissed by a Prince! Good thing, I didn't turn into a frog!
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     Good bye, fellow traveler! You brought joy to many people's lives. I hope, therefore, you are in a happy place yourself!


Sunday, April 17, 2016


     "It's the beginning of the end"- went through my mind, as I saw someone, walking on the street.
wp846bf756.gif (160×160)     I sat on a bench, waiting for Taka to bring the car. We just finished our Tai Chi lesson, and I was pleasantly relaxed, but a bit tired from it.
     Berkeley is one of my favorite towns. Everywhere I looked, it seemed, its young and old residents carried with them the air of free thinking and innovation.
     A black cape swirled among the pedestrians. No, surely, it couldn't be a cape! I peered at the figure, advancing down the street. The sun reflected off of its black armor and helmet, but the cape swallowed the light. 
61G2e2J.gif (718×404)     Was that the Star Wars' theme I was hearing in the din of the traffic? Yes! Now, with the music confirming my vision, I couldn't deny it any longer: Darth Vader was moving toward me!
     In front of him walked another man with the video camera. As he passed, the film villain's dark figure approached and... handed me a leaflet.
962.jpg (680×400)     "Darth Vader is here" - I managed to squeeze weekly - "and me without my light saber!"
9ejUrVa.jpg (1024×742)                                                                                                                                                                                                       

     "The Hempire strikes back" - the leaflet said. OK, that was clever and, kind of, funny to a science fiction and the Star Wars's junkie, like me. But what is it about?
     I changed my stance toward the marijuana and hemp issue. Now I believe, they can be beneficial to humanity in many different ways. As I read the small piece of paper, though, different bells and whistles went off in my mind.
logo-110.png (110×100)     As a kid growing up in the Soviet Union, I learned a lot about the "class struggle" and various strategies, employed by the communist party's cadre to undermine a society and cause a shift in people's attitude, leading to a change in political regimes. My own son scoffs, when I tell him that, some, seemingly, "cool" movements, like "Occupy", suppose, display the above mentioned strategies. "The Hempire Strikes Back" is a campaign of another such organization, called the Radish Rebels. 
     I am not 100% sure, of course, if the Radish Rebels are the agents of the communist movement. Perhaps, they are just some more liberal proponents of change, that we all crave. On the other hand, my instinct tells me, they are not as innocent, as they seem. After all:

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Saturday, April 16, 2016


2Q== (186×186)     Death and taxes. It's no wonder, Mark Twain put the two of them in the same sentence!
     There are few things that I like less than uncertainty! As those of you, who can define themselves as "not a spring chicken", know: the older we get, the less certain we are of the things that once seemed clear as a whistle. 
     The first time Taka and I were faced with the prospect of filing taxes, I said to myself: "there should be nothing daunting about it!" After all, all I needed to do was, follow the computer program and put right numbers in the right places!
0c832c380ef24941c90927f81acf627f.gif (540×304)     Ah, the naivety of youth (and I stretch a concept a little here, because at that time I was already 35)! The longer I spent, plucking at the keyboard, the more I began to realize the futility of that endeavor! The program would ask me a question, and as soon as I put a check in a box, another ten boxes would spring into view! What's worse, after completing a return, I tried to verify my results by doing it again. Different amount popped up! I did it once more, and got the third sum! Filled with dread, Taka and I had no other recourse, but to make our way to the H&R Block, where a cheerful CPA in no time at all whittled us a nice, hefty return!
     Ever since then we don't waste our time and use tax professionals, no matter, how much we have to pay them for dealing with our mess. 
zbZFRqd.gif (500×279)     Sometimes I think, though, of the fact that we expose ourselves to such a degree to a total stranger! They get to know all the details of our lives, from the money we make to the money we spend on: cars, learning, medicine, investing, business, travel, etc! 
     It took me about ten years to find a tax preparer, who didn't demand that I do all the work, didn't take too long completing her task and, from year to year, brought us very satisfying results. She also always manages to put my mind at ease, which is not a small thing during the tax season with a husband like mine, who gets hysterical, when our finances are threatened. 
     This year, though, Cherry got sick. When I brought tax documents to her, she didn't want to discuss her illness, but it took her much longer to finish her work, and, I suspect, if Taka didn't begin to question the results, she would've been satisfied to let us pay a considerably larger amount, than what we finally paid, after she put more effort in preparing the return. 
giphy.gif (500×280)     I feel bad. It seems, we'll have to take our business somewhere else next year, but that would mean, we used Cherry for all she's worth, while she was able to take care of our financial needs, and as soon as she lost some work capacity, we'd abandon her! 
     "It's just business" - you'll say. Nothing personal against her. Those are some of the most frightening words, in my opinion: "nothing personal"! When we stop seeing others as people with needs and feelings, it gets easier to treat them as things: spoil them, when they are beneficial to us, or get rid of them, when they are in our way. 
     I pray, God will help me balance out the needs of my family with my responsibility, as a member of human race. "Do unto others, as you want them to do unto you" is not just a nice quote, we like to remember at church. I'd like to have "heart smarts", so I can make wise choices in dealing with my friends and neighbors.
200_s.gif (483×200)     So, paraphrasing Mark Twain, you can't avoid neither death nor taxes. Can we avoid life? Life demands that we pay taxes - or just pay - for everything, worth experiencing. Life demands that we take care of the others, no matter, what it will cost us.
     How about you? What do you think of this topic? I welcome your comments and opinions!

Friday, April 15, 2016


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     Who is this person, you ask? Nobody you - or I - know, but she is an announcer at a Bingo game!
images (175×288)     Roberta's brain is deteriorating so much, we see that she needs an activity to sharpen it. Taka suggested playing Wii with her, but because of my previous experience with my dad I know, it's going to be impossible. He could not integrate technology into his life and his mind wasn't as far gone as Roberta's. We set up a computer chess game for him, but every half an hour or so he would push a wrong button; his      game would disappear or change in some way, and he was unable to deal with it by himself. Same happened, when we tried to include him in playing Wii: he couldn't figure out or remember the ways to use the remote. Heck, even using the TV remote was challenge for him, as it is for Roberta. So, no, sir, no Wii!
Z (290×174)Taka's next suggestion was much better: to take her to a Bingo 

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Z (258×195)We are very fortunate in our area. Hayward, where we reside, is a sister city with a Japanese town, Funabashi. There is therefore a lovely spot in our fair city: a Japanese Garden, full of roses, shaped trees and small pools with koi and little turtles. Next to the Japanese Garden is located a Senior Center. Roberta and I went there for Bingo.
     A big hall was only half filled with tables and seniors, sitting at them, peering into the rows of cards with numbers. They have a different kind of cards there with little levers which pull pieces of clear red plastic over numbers, that have been played. 
     I bought a couple of cards for Roberta and myself. As newcomers we received another free card. At first I was keenly watching Roberta's cards, but, with some exceptions, she appeared to be quite able to follow the announcements and find the called digits. I focused therefore more on my own business at hand. 
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     The ladies sitting next to us were friendly, but also businesslike. I didn't want to distract them with questions, but when an unexpected thing happened, and I saw a winning combination on my board, I timidly asked one of them, if it was true. She blinked at my lonesome card (most of the people there had four or more cards in front of them to maximize the chance of winning) for a couple of seconds and then incredulously admitted that I won that one game!\
     With that revelation even Roberta pouted at me a little! I heard some whispers among the other players, like: "Isn't that the her first time playing?" - or - "Gee, I really didn't need that!" 
     A gentleman brought me my winnings - the whole of $9.00! 
54e8a320fa00d6e80bb36b0b3444d11c123.gif~c200 (200×200)     "The beginners luck" was, what everyone agreed on and philosophically returned to the game. 
     The whole day, when an opportunity arose, I pulled out the bills from my wallet to pay for things with mixed feelings of  amazement and triumph. Free money! I wonder, if I have to declare it as capital gain on my income tax return!