Monthly Archives: March 2014

¿Donde Esta El Bano?

A recent phenomenon I discovered on my  travels in Europe is the improved equipment in the lavatories. Europe is well advanced of the United States in handling the waste created in the public restrooms at places like the “aeroporte”. Relax folks…. I am speaking about the paper products and management of electricity and water, not the actual human products deposited there in!

We have seen the Dyson hand drying units in some of the forward thinking, progressive restrooms in the US. Let me assure you, the units across the pond have taken this concept to a whole new level.

Walking up to a sink in the women’s restroom of the Brussels airport, I found what looked like the joy stick on a plane! Not only could one elicit water flow from this appendage, but the dryer unit was part of this same device… right there in the basin. No more dripping across the counter and floor, to reach the paper towel dispenser, which is usually far,far away from the sink you have just used to wash your hands.

Of course there are no paper products in use in these uber-modern facilities.  Don’t panic ladies, they do not have Dyson dryers in the actual toilets… not yet anyway. There are still the paper dispensers that remind me of my grammar school days. The very small squares of paper will do the job, if one is patient enough to pull them out, ever so gently, one at a time, a serviceable amount can be collected.

The last innovation is somewhat of a surprise, literally! Because if one dawdles a bit too long, the automatic flush will turn the ordinary looking toilet into a bidet! This could be the newest Dyson test model that would eliminate the paper products in this area as well…who knew?

Such ingenuity some with a price tag of course! Most public restrooms, even those in the gas stations in Europe, require coins to be dispersed before entry is allowed. This requires some planning as the coin slots are only sized to accept a certain coin. So if the sign says; “, 20 Euros”, one must have a single, 20 Euro coin. The door will not open, no matter how desperate one may be… if you were to insert 2 of the “,10 Euro” coins into the slot!

Finding someone to resolve the issue is not likely either. Most of these lonely outpost potties are remarkably clean and hygienic, given the absence of any helpers aside from the guy at the counter in the snack shop.

He may refund your coins, if you are able to speak his language!

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Today is Pi Day

The Math Nerds get major points for this one. Not normally noted as a group that seeks out social interaction, they have come up with a tasty carrot to lure out the shy techies that normally are not so community oriented.

Tonight I am attending a Pi Party. I am in Brussels right now, so will indulge in dipping into my culinary recipe file and do a sweet tart and also a savory torte.  Will post the recipes’s link and a pictures guaranteed to induce copious saliva production!

Pi day is celebrated on March 14th… 3.14 get it?

Pi Day was first officially celebrated on a large scale in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Since then, Pi Day has been celebrated by millions of students and math-lovers. The holiday is celebrated on 14th March, since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits in the decimal form of pi.

If you’d like to learn how to celebrate pi in due fashion, read on and it will be as easy as pi.Do a pi mile run. Run 3.14 miles, which is just a tiny bit longer than a 5K.  This part is extremely beneficial if you have eaten too much of the above mentioned PIE party.

You can take this a step further by organizing a pi mile run with friends or colleagues.Lay down in pi formation and take a picture. If you’re bold, have two people standing up while holding up a third person who is laying sideways in between them. Make sure the lightest person is on top.

here is a link for recipe. Bon Appetite!

PCC ChocPearTorte

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Tine Thevenin Slept Here

I was ecstatic! I was going to host one of our main speakers at the State La Leche League conference, author Tine Thevenin.

Best known for her book “Family Bed”; Tine gave many a parent, especially the breastfeeding moms, “permission” in the form of well documented research, to sleep with their babies. I have always been grateful to be exposed to this concept early in my parenting. Our baby slept in our bed, happily nursing during the night. Everyone was well rested and content with the arrangement.

One of the most avant-garde concepts since the breastfeeding renaissance that started in the 1960’s, was the idea that it was OK and even advantageous, to have the infant sleep in the same bed as their parents. The subtitle to the book, “an age old concept in child rearing” spoke to the fact that most other cultures, outside the US, routinely had children sleeping with their parents.

My Dad and step-mom trekked from the humid Midwest to the desert. It was a multi-purpose trip. They’d yet to set eyes on our first child and my sister was being married that summer. They went from the “steamer pot, into the oven” since July in either part of the world was not pleasant.  Successive visits were planned during the winter when golf clubs replaced the Osborne portable computer in their luggage.

They admired the lovely nursery I’d created. I had restored some of my own baby furniture. My parents had invested in sturdy maple hardwood pieces.  The chest of drawers had survived not only three children’s use but had seen me through my single days before I was well off enough to purchase a bedroom set.

We had not advertised the fact that our nursery was only used at naptime to many folks outside my circle of La Leche League friends. I certainly didn’t greet my parents at the airport with the announcement that we used “Family Bed”. After a night or two my step- mom wryly commented “That is a great nursery you have set up there. Will the kid ever sleep in that bed?”

I had to admit that “No, to date he has not spent the night in there.” I launched into the Family Bed concept.  I explained why my husband and I had opted for “more sleep through family bonding at nighttime.” She chuckled; “We were so poor, that we didn’t have a crib. All the babies slept with Mom when we were little.” Several of the siblings shared a bed most of their years at home. A single bed was a luxury that they didn’t experience until they’d left home.

As the Area Conference Coordinator for our state La Leche League organization, I had a full plate. I’d given birth to my middle son, in January of that same year. I had foresight to enlist lots of support from our local membership to get organized events moving along. La Leche League has a tenant “Family First”, which means we all took time out to tend to our families as needed and others pitched in to take up the slack.

Operating an a limited budget but determined to pull together a meaningful program for all of the attendees,  our state La Leche League organization relied on assistance from local families to provide lodging for our guest speakers  and attending members, from out of town.  It was an honor and a much cherished memory, to have one of the Founding Mothers stay in one’s home.

This particular year, I was able to have Tine Thevenin as our special guest speaker at our Area Conference. My second child was only 4 months old. Swaddled in my “Rebozo style” cloth baby carrier, he was experiencing the life of the Mexican farmers’ children that inspired the wrap’s use.  Not yet crawling, he was content to be snuggled on my chest. He was toted along to planning meetings, previewing the conference facility, napping in between nursing, without a care.

Our conference went well. We had over 200 attendees, not counting the nursing babies and toddlers that accompanied their moms.  As the afternoon went on, Tine expressed the desire to return to our home for a nap. She was a bit jet lagged from her flight from Minnesota out to Phoenix.  A nap would get her refreshed before speaking at the evening banquet that was the finale of our conference that year.  I was still bustling around the facility and not ready to depart just yet. Being a Toyota owner herself, Tine was comfortable with driving my Tercel back to the house. Equipped with a map and good directions she set off.  I would catch a ride later with another mother who lived close to my home.

The directions worked perfectly but as she made the last turn indicated on the directions and arrived on our street the house number was not noted on the paper.  In the early 1980’s cell phones were a luxury item found in the limousines of the wealthy.  The only optional equipment in my bare bones Tercel was the infant seat.

As a stranger she did not want to disturb neighbors or possibly raise alarm, to ask which home belonged to Kathy. Calm and resourceful she pondered the situation. Looking up she spotted the automatic garage door opener. Slowly she cruised down the street, depressing the button repeatedly. She was at last rewarded by the friendly gesture of a garage door swinging up to welcome her into our garage.

After hearing her story later that evening I apologized profusely for forgetting the most important piece of information on the directions. She burst into laughter saying it was just another adventure in her life.  She then confessed that she’d had a very refreshing cold shower as her ingenuity with the garage opener had failed her in decoding one armed type shower control.

In spite of the minor challenges she appreciated our hospitality immensely. She truly disliked staying in hotels. She loved being able to get up and make a cup of tea, from my well stocked pantry. The porcelain tea cup transformed our home tea service to that of a luxury suite, in her estimation.

Thirty years later, I still treasure my personally autographed copy of Family Bed.

It keeps good company with my dog eared copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and a copy of Ashley Montague’s books; Touching: The Human Significance of The Skin and Growing Young.mexican rebozo

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Designated Driver?

Those of us over a “certain age” know the drill for outpatient medical procedures. I say “certain age”, because hitting age fifty is the threshold. There begins the not so subtle pressure from our medical practitioners, for tests to be done. The ominous Colonoscopy and other checkups, require one to be sedated during the process and therefore deemed not capable of operating a motor vehicle. . A “designated driver” must show up when the outpatient staffers are ready to release you from their realm of responsibility.

My recent experience revealed a much scripted process that none of the nurses or staff wished to deviate from. Nor was new information accepted. No messing with their perceived normal routines was tolerated.

“Hello, this is Nurse Nelly and I am callin’ to let you know that Miz Kathy is ready to come home”. Her Eastern Seaboard accent was delightful as she drawled on.

“Who is this?” a bit sharper now, “Do you know a Kathy Passage?” Nurse Nelly paused to listen to the response on the other end of the phone line… “Oh, she’s your Mother?”

By now I am sitting up on the gurney and gesturing to her, to confirm just what number she dialed! It sounds like she has mistakenly reached my home number! Yup, the continuing conversation confirms this:

“Oh! you are Nick Baker? And Kathy is your mother?” Nurse Nelly now resumes the script, oblivious to my frantic waving and verbal request to intervene into this conversation. “Well, as I was saying… Miz Kathy is ready to be picked up from the Surgery Center.” “What!  You can’t drive? Oh, you are blind.”

Finally Nurse Nelly turns around to me, quizzical look on her face, but she does respond to my gesturing and relinquishes the phone. “Hi Nick, yes, it’s Mom.”

“No honey, I am just fine. I am not sure why Nurse Nelly called our home number.”

“Yes, Hubby is going to come and get me from the Surgery Center. He is at work right now, just waiting for the call from Nurse Nelly saying that I can leave.”

“While I have you on the line, could you please tell me Hubby’s cell phone number?” I repeat back aloud the number and watch while the nurse jots this down. ( I have to share with you readers that my son knows this number by heart. He is blind and can’t see the contacts on our phone.)

It is a mystery why the Surgery Center nursing staff had not been successful locating Ray’s cell number. When I arrived several hours earlier this day, my Hubby’s cell number was noted by the admitting team and put into my chart. After asking me who would be in the waiting room, I explained that Hubby worked downtown, literally ten minutes away from the center. I assured the intake worker that he would arrive to drive me back home, as soon as he was called on his cell phone.  “What was that number?” she asked, proceeding to write it on a bright blue Post-It. I actually saw this, I swear.

I was handed the skimpy gown, booties and a bright orange plastic bag in the Pre-Op area of the Surgery Center. I had to relinquish all my clothes and other worldly goods, including my Droid phone to the intake nurse and hopped up onto the gurney.

“Who is in the waiting room to take you home today?” she asked as she consulted paperwork.  I went over the facts, again.  “Hubby will be picking me up today. His cell phone is the phone number to call to arrange my pick up from the Surgery Center!” The nurse rifled through the folder on the table and asked me to give her Hubby’s cell number again. The bright blue Post-it was nowhere in sight.

I sighed and explained that I did not know his cell number by heart. As a special favor, the bright orange bag was returned to my curtained area.  I rummaged through clothing, shoes, socks and other items and found my Droid. I waited for a seeming eternity while the sound effects played and various red designs flashed on the screen. Finally I was able to access the contacts section and read aloud Hubby’s cell phone number. The nurse noted it on the folder. She returned the orange plastic bag back to the locked storage unit where all  patients’ personal belongings were secured.

A medic appeared through the curtains with the first of several treatments to ready me for my procedure. These included a shot into my IV drip, a relaxation drug that he called the “I don’t care” drops. I was fully aware during my procedure, but in a state of narcotic bliss. I truly did not care what the doctors were doing to me! As long as they kept me swaddled with those nice, soft, toasty blankets, I was happy as a clam.

Shift change happened while I was in the Operating Theater. I had a new nurse, named Nellyy. She was from Massachusetts. She brought me a large cup of water, complete with the bendy straw. I gulped it down like a lost pilgrim just entering the Oasis in the midst of the desert.  This was followed by crackers, orange juice and individually wrapped Tillamook cheese slices to help me recover from the pre-operation fast.  When she determined that I was sufficiently  hydrated and nourished she opened the folder and dialed.

Eventually it was sorted out that Hubby was indeed coming to rescue me… but there was more to the “script” that was still running in Nurse Nelly’s head.  Apparently our pickup arrangement deviated from their normal routine. “When your Hubby pulls up to the Out Patient Loading Area, designated by the white paint on the cement curb, I will deliver you, in the wheelchair and help him get you into the car.”

I reminded her, again, that I had actually driven myself to the facility and parked my car in the garage. “We’re simply going to get into the elevator and go down to parking level B.” She  sternly reminded me “You are still not allowed to operate a motor vehicle!”

“No, no, I am not driving home. Hubby is driving us home.”

“Will he bring the car up to the Patient Loading Area?” Nurse Nelly was struggling to stay on script. Her hands gripped the handles of the wheel chair as she looked at me expectantly.

“Nope, I am walking out of here, under my own steam. But thanks for the offer.”

We made our escape! In the car going home, we chuckled at the tenacity of the nurse and the rest of the staff. “No one is going to get away with any deviation to their program, for sure.”

A step will be added to my next encounter with Surgery Center. I will ask them, whilst they are writing with a Sharpie on the appendage or area to be treated or investigated… to write my Hubby’s cell number on my hand!

Even fully alert and not coming out of anesthesia, I cannot remember that number!



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