Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Carriage Horses of Central Park

I've been snapping some quick photos of the Carriage Horses in Central Park lately.  Beautiful creatures.  Hard lives.

carriage horse, central park, nyc

carriage horse, central park, nyc

carriage horse, central park, nyc

carriage horse, central park, nyc

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Tulip Gardens

Tulips. French Garden, Conservatory Gardens, NYC (circa 2010)
French Garden, circa 2010
Sadly, the glorious tulips that usually bedeck the Conservatory's French garden are no where to be found in Central Park this year.  In their stead, a display of pansies interspersed with daffodils.  All is not lost however as tulips have burst out all over the upper West side.

Tulips. Shakespeares Garden, Central Park, NYC, 2013
Shakespeare's Garden, Central Park
Tulips, English Garden, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC 2013
English Garden, Central Park, NYC
72nd & Central Park West, Central Park
Community Garden, Upper West Side, NYC
Community Garden, Upper West Side
Tulips, English Garden, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
English Garden, Central Park
Tulips, Shakespeare's Garden, Central Park, NYC
Shakespeare's Garden, Central Park
Tulip, Community Garden, Upper West Side, NYC
Community Garden, Upper West Side
Tulips, Broadway Median, Upper West Side, NYC
Broadway Median, Upper West Side

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Give a Gift to Your Loved Ones: Make Your Wishes Known

Tulips, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
Today is National Health Care Decisions Day (NHDD).  NHDD was established to raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning and as a moment in time to encourage all of us to converse with our families and loved ones about what we would want if we are unable to make decisions for ourselves.

The best advance care planning includes conversations about what we would want and the folks over at NHDD have put together a few great resources that can help you get those conversations going:


The Conversation Project

If you are in need of an advance directive form, Caring Connections offers state-specific forms as well as a slew of other resources that can help.

Because I think one of the of the things that keeps us from these conversations and this planning is how overly complicated it can all seem, I've pointed to just a few key resources to help get you started.  There are more organizations out there that have resources and these can be found on the National Health Care Decisions Day Website.

If you are reading my road map for my surrogates below and saying to yourself -- that's me, that's what I would want -- it's yours for the taking. It's a gift we give our loved ones when we make our wishes known -- it matters not one whit whether its a conversation or a written document.  It just matters that we do it and that, in the end, is what NHDD is all about -- helping us to develop our own advance care plans by pointing us to the tools and resources fwe need and highlighting the importance of making a plan.

What if my family doesn't talk about such things you might be asking? 
That about sums my family up so I blogged a road map for my sister Mary (who is my surrogate) to follow last year in Making Decisions for Me. It's a long post reporting on all the reading I had done on Advance Directives and Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).
Tulips, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC

It's a year later and my road map and the underlying philosophy still ring true to me.  Having recently spent some time with my Mom in the hospital, I know that there are going to be a lot of decisions -- some big and some small.  There are going to be consent forms that Mary will need to pay close attention to given that consent to do a larger intervention might be embedded in a form should the smaller one go awry.  A small learning which lead to an additional comment about consent forms that reminds Mary to pay close attention to these so she understands what she is agreeing to before signing off on a procedure no matter how small.

I remain convinced that I shouldn't try to control these decisions by spelling out what I would want on an advanced directive form.  The below is an addendum to my Advance Care Directive form -- a gift to my sister should she ever need to serve as my proxy.  

Who You Are

  • You are my advocate and you are most definitely the person who has the final say in the decision.  Make that clear from the get go!  Collaborative decision-making in tandem with my doctor is OK -- but you know what I would want better than she ever could.  
    Tulips, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
  • You will not let anyone rush you through a conversation -- you'll make sure all your questions are answered.
  • You'll pay close attention to consent forms and make sure you understand what you are consenting too before signing off on a procedure no matter how small that procedure is.
  • You'll make sure I'm getting the best care possible -- you'll know who my doctors are and where they trained (and for sure you'll know if they are done with training!).
  • You are someone I trust to do whatever needs to be done -- and that includes letting me go gently into the night if that is the right decision.  And by "right", I mean your right -- others can advise you but the decision is yours to make.

What You Know about Me
    Tulips, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
  • You know that quality of life is more important to me than length of life.
  • You know that I have no religious or moral beliefs that are relevant to decisions about life-sustaining treatments.  You should make those decisions based solely on my medical condition and my long-term prognosis.
  • You know how I feel about artificial nutrition and hydration.  I think it's an OK short-term solution if you are "waiting and seeing" if I'll recover.  Please don't feed and water me if I'm in a persistent vegetative state or if scans show no activity in a substantial portion of my brain.
  • You that I would ask for prognosis, weigh all the facts, make a decision, and then stick to that decision.
  • You know that I don't believe in miracles.
  • You know that I firmly believe that there are no wrong decisions.
  • You know that I am not afraid of living with disability nor am I afraid of dying.

It’s About My Long-term Prognosis
  • Get the facts and that all important “prognosis” from the doctor (or doctors) overseeing my care.  
  • Ask about how I will physically function.   Ask if I’ll have all of my marbles?  If some of my marbles, ask which ones and what that means in terms of my ability to function.
  • Weigh those answers within the context of what you know about me and make your decisions accordingly.

And my final words of wisdom for Mary?  
I still want her to  make time time for herself -- being some one's proxy is not an easy task.  I know, I've been there and done that.   Most of all, she needs to know that I am going to be AOK with whatever decisions she makes.  I trust her.

Tulips, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Of Raindrops and Gingkoes

Central Park's Conservatory Garden, Raindrops, NYC

We had a rain storm yesterday -- a nasty one as a matter of fact (heavy downpours, winds, temperatures more befitting of March than of April).  Today was a bit warmer, mostly grey with blue patches every once and a while.  The rain had left it's mark though with fallen petals galore and the daffodils bending down instead of standing tall.  Here and there one could find leaves sparkling with rain drops.

Raindrops, Central Park, NYC
Rain Drops in Black, White, and Grey

Sadly, it looks like the spectacular tulips of the Conservatory Garden's  French garden (it also has an Italian and an English garden) are not to be this year as they continue to plant pansies where the tulips should be.   All is not lost though as English garden will boast some tulips soon enough.  Some of the gingkoes that dot the park are beginning to sprout their leaves.  Gingko buds are not all that big so it's pretty amazing when the leaves start to bust out.  These two trees are near each other in the area around Bethesda Fountain and offer the perfect juxtaposition of bud and pop.

Central Park, NYC, Gingko Bud
Ginkgo Bud
Baby Gingko Leaves, Central Park, NYC
Baby Gingko Leaves

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fred Couples: Win It for You. Win It for Us.

Masters Lock

In a reprise of 2012 (Short Bursts:  Fred Couples),  we're 36 holes into the masters and Fred Couples is sitting one stroke off the lead

So, a year, later, my heart still belongs to Fred and my hat is still off to him.  He's in the hunt for the green jacket and I'll be rooting for him to best the field and win it.  He's 53 and atop the leader board at the Masters.  Keep your eyes locked on the prize Fred -- just 36 more holes and that green jacket is yours.  

Win it for you.  Win it for us.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shakespeare's Words to Live By

Daffodil, Central Park, 2013, NYC
Daffodil (Central Park 2013)

After a few false starts with the new instructions from Pinterest on how to embed Pins into my blog, I seem to have mastered the task (they changed the rules on us).  Of course, I'll believe it when I publish this and my Pin shows up!  The good news, I guess, is that I am still on Pinterest (see PINcensured for why I might have thought I would be kicked off).  But I digress.

Right around the holidays, I decided that I wanted to get rid of a desk and so I started to empty out the drawers.  I came upon an old red wallet and buried within it was a beat up piece of paper with a Shakespeare quote typed in a small rectangle on it.  Yes, I said typed as in an IBM Selectric typewriter placing ink ever so gently onto paper.  So quaint.  So old-fashioned.

Of course technology has changed since then and rather than transferring the paper to my current wallet, I snapped a photo of it.  Yep -- some 30 years later -- I still love the quote.  Shakespeare for sure gave us words to live by no matter how old we are.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

India: A Snippet from 1989

Tulips, Conservatory Garden, Central Park (2012)
Tulips (Conservatory Garden 2012)

From the archives -- the below was written about three months after I went to India on a work trip that took me from Mumbai (then Bombay) to Delhi then up to Landour Mussoori and Dharmsala via Chandigahr then down  to Pune and back to Bombay (somewhere along the way there was a stop in Lemonpur.  The photos are tucked away in hard copy someplace and so a few colorFULL photos in an effort to channel the visual vibrancy of India.

Crabapple Blossoms, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, 2012
Crabapple Blossoms (Conservatory Garden 2012)

I'd just gotten back from India -- a little weary, a little overwhelmed and a little unsure how to answer the question did you like India?  How to explain that I remain intrigued by India; that I want to see more of India.  Yet, I'm not really sure that I like India. 

India is nothing if not a land of stark contrasts.  The lush rice paddies and sugarcane fields of the Punjab give way gradually to the peaceful serenity of the Himalayan foothills as a roller coaster road winds up to Dharamsala, home of the Dali Lama.  The hot humidity of Bombay contrasts sharply with the
parching dry heat in Puna -- only a half hour plane ride away.  The dry, dusty plains of this state spread as far as the eye can see.  The grid pattern and neat bungalows with wide verandas left by the British Raj exist in the midst of a helter skelter maze of streets and alleys.

Tulips, W 69th Street Entrance, Central Park 2013
Early Tulips (W 69th Street Entrance, 2013)
Everywhere, the streets are a hive of activity and motion.  Beggars -- ranging from wizened lepers to the tiniest of children approach and retreat in their dance of despair.  Oranges, broccoli and bananas are piled perilously on wooden carts next to the neighborhood barber giving someone his daily shave.

Untouchables polish shoes for less than a penny a shine as the local pharmacist offers folk remedies for every known disease. The next stall down is piled high with silks and cottons flecked with gold and in vivid hues.  Dentists extract teeth at the side of the road and fortune tellers predict the future for a pittance.  In smaller villages, statuesque women walk with brass urns of water balanced on their heads.  In the midst of all this, the ugliest -- and holiest beasts -- I've ever seen wander aimlessly undisturbed by the melee. 

Every form of transportation is used.  Produce is loaded onto carts pulled by bullocks and ford tractors or onto bright green and blue trucks garlanded with tinsel.  People are crowded onto red buses with the overflow clinging to the roof.  fortunate few have cars and drivers or the wherewithal to hire one from the local TAJ or Oberoi Hotel.  Motor scooters, bicyclists and auto rickshaws weave merrily in and out of traffic. 

The driving style of most Indians is beyond description.  They are masters at producing gridlock so perfect that it would take Einstein to unravel the pieces.  It's every man, woman, and, I suspect, child for himself once behind a wheel.  Trucks are emblazoned with the legend "honk" and everyone does as they pass.  The roads are littered with abandoned car, truck and bus carcasses that look like they'd been driven over land mines and not just involved in mere automobile accidents.  Makes one wonder if anyone ever live through an auto accident in this country.

Hydrangea, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, 2012
Hydrangea (Conservatory Garden, 2012)
I know, it ends a bit abruptly. Maybe I got interrupted and never returned to write about the drive up into the Himalayan foothills.  We had hired an expensive car because, in my boss's view the more the car cost the better the driver.  And our Mr. Singh was good -- no doubt about that.   Yet it was still a terrifying drive.  I can remember that narrow road with blind curves, no guardrails, and trucks and buses and cars careening around corners as if it was yesterday.  It's a wonder I survived!

Roses, Shakespeare's Garden, Central Park, 2012
Roses (Shakespeare's Garden, 2012)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Anchorage Port Tour? Oh Yes!

Container Ship Off of Cape Town

Ports and harbors are among my favorite places.  They are full of energy, colors, and textures.   More importantly, they are full of mystery.  Where did that ship come from?  Where is it going?  What's in those containers?  Who keeps track of all this stuff?  How do those cranes work?  How much of this is automated these days?

It should come as no surprise that I've been hankering for a tour of a working port since spending some time in and around the docks of Capetown, South Africa a few years ago.  It just hasn't quite been in the cards -- until I met the fabulous Michele Glass of Entree Alaska who has worked her magic and arranged for a private tour of the Port of Anchorage on my upcoming trip to Alaska with my niece Kristen.  Icing on the cake?  There's gonna be container ships in that there port!

Harbor, Capetown, South Africa
Cape Town Harbor
What a great way to end a trip -- boats and water and heavy equipment.  I'm going to have to save some energy for this because it's a long trip with lots of other things packed in by Michele (she is like a wizard when it comes to putting a trip like this together).  Hard to know what would be more exciting -- seeing an Orca breach OR a container ship OR crossing the Arctic Circle!  Looking forward to taking it all in and -- in the meantime -- I'm savoring the anticipation that is a part of the planning.

Easter Island, Boats
Easter Island Boats