Friday, July 17, 2015

Life After Death: Random LA Shots

My mom was 93 and we've been able to spend a lot of time with her over the last two years as she lost her mobility, but not her wit.  She never wanted to be 'kept alive' and she was able to stay in her home with the help of a full time caregiver and our monthly visits.  She flunked the hospice test twice - including last May.  But this time she qualified as her body was starting to shut down and she stopped eating and drinking.  And even though it's expected, and it's at the end of a long, interesting, and very productive life of service to others, it's still the final, irrevocable cutting of ties to the past.

So we're doing our best to enjoy the memories as we start cleaning up things she wouldn't let us throw away while she was alive.  I understand.  She knew where things were.  Really, she'd tell me exactly where to find things.  But there were also way too many old plastic containers, pens, old papers, dried pussy willows, and bars of soap.  And so now we're trying to take stock of what there is.  What needs to go, what's still good.  We're reading old letters and the deed to the house, finding little surprises everywhere.

The rest of this post is just some pictures I've taken as we run our errands around LA with a little bit of commentary.

I was coming back from a bike ride to the beach to clear my head.  I couldn't imagine how this car got squeezed between the wall and the light post.  Someone told me another car, removed already, had been speeding down Pacific.  I'm guessing it clipped the front of this one and pushed it into there.  It was only a little later that I realized that I'd been right there on my bike not more than 30 minutes before this happened on the way to the beach.  And people think riding in the street isn't safe.

This iris was blooming outside my mom's window the day she died.

I was so relieved to learn I could get gluten free vodka!

I remember being impressed with the irony of this sign when I was a young kid.  It's still up in the garage 50 some years later.

We had to go downtown to get death certificates.  It took less time to fill out the application, wait in the short line, and have them printed, than it did to listen to the whole taped message on the phone so I could talk to an actual person to see if they were ready to be picked up.  Phone service - moderate.  In person service - excellent.  LA County Health Department.

After passing a parking lot where you could park for $4 for the first ten minutes, finding a meter that cost only fifty cents per hour seemed like a deal.  Plus it was right next to Mexicali restaurant, a modest but delicious lunch spot.  Here's the array of salsas. 

Korea Times - click to read more clearly

Since things went so much faster than expected at the health department, we took a leisurely ride along Wilshire Blvd to the attorney's office.  We passed the old Ambassador Hotel where Robert Kennedy was shot.  It now has a Robert Kennedy park in front and what looked like a school where the hotel was.  Across the street was a sign for the old Brown Derby, but the derby shaped building was gone.  The magnificent art deco Bullocks Wilshire department store now houses Southewestern Law school.

Korea Town edges into Wilshire as well and this sign for the Korea Times seemed a good reminder of how cities evolve.  

Here's an unfinished metro station near the LA County Museum of Art, as the subway is finally reaching west after years of opposition from Beverly Hills folks who didn't want to give the riffraff an easy way to their neighborhoods. 

And here's a lantana that I grew up with and is still blooming after so long.  But I didn't know that it was poisonous.  From the Illinois Veterinarian Medicine Library:
"Lantana (yellow sage) is a native of tropical Americas and West Africa. In the northern states including Illinois, it is grown as a garden annual reaching 12-18 inches tall . In the south, from Florida to California, it grows as a perennial shrub of 3-6 feet tall. In the tropics, it may grow even taller. Leaves are opposite, ovate, 1-5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, with very small rounded teeth, somewhat rough and hairy. Leaves are aromatic when crushed. Flowers are borne in dense clusters 1-2 inches across on the axils near the top of the stem. Each flower is tubular with 4 lobes flaring to about 1/4 inch, initially yellow or pink gradually changing to orange and deep red. Often, the different colored flowers are present on the same cluster. Fruit is fleshy, greenish-blue to black, and berry-like with each containing one seed."
I didn't know it was poisonous:
"Animals in pastures with sufficient forage will often avoid Lantana, perhaps because of its pungent aroma and taste, but animals unfamiliar to the plant may ingest enough to affect them. Fifty to ninety percent of animals newly exposed may be affected. Foliage and ripe berries contain the toxic substances with the toxins being in higher concentrations in the green berries. Species affected include cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits (Ross, Ivan A. Medicial plants of the world. Totowa, N.J.: Humana. 1999. p. 187.)"


  1. I'm sure it's a difficult time for you, despite the long life your Mom enjoyed. Cleaning up a lifetime worth of accumulation is tough. I still have some of my Mother's furniture in storage fourteen years after she died. Certain things are hard to part with.

  2. Thanks Barbara, I know that everyone should be lucky enough to have to bury their parents, but it's always good to know that others have done this too. Trying to stay cool about all this.


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