The Knee Bone's Connected To ...

Such a face! Daddy Bones@ age 12, gracing the book's cover.


 How to Keep Your Sanity Intact When a Loved One Needs a Nursing Home  

It’s estimated that more than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.

Studies show that extremely stressed caregivers can age or die prematurely. 

“Bette Davis said ‘old age is no place for sissies,’ but caring for an older loved one isn’t for the feint of heart, either,” says Bones. “I loved my dad and we were very close, but the strain of ‘putting’ him in a nursing home was so overwhelming for all of us that I felt like I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown.”

Becoming aware of some of the don’ts” of long-term care can make daily life easier for nursing home residents and for their family caretakers,” she notes.

Bones offers some key examples from her Nursing Home Checklist:

· Ask clergy, family, and friends - especially those in the health care field - to recommend outstanding nursing homes.

· When touring a nursing home, ask other visitors for frank feedback about the facility. Don’t just inspect the “sample” room, look into residents’ rooms to check for cleanliness.

· Assure your loved one that you will be their ongoing advocate.

· Visit your loved one often and at varying times of the day - and night. This alerts all of the caregivers that you are keeping an eye on your loved one.

· Get to know the staff, especially your loved one’s immediate caregivers.

· Thank the employees for the thankless job that they do.

· Put your loved one’s name on all their belongings, including clothes and personal products. Never leave money or valuables in their room.

· Place a quilt, photos and other small touches to create a “homey” room.

· Put a brief bio and picture of your loved one at the entrance of their room to “introduce” them to staff and visitors.

. Bring old photos when you visit your loved one - it will give you something to look at if conversation lags.

. Bring different edible treats to spice-up the resident's menu.





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Yo.....Welcome to the Bonesblog of Diane Bones. I am a freelance writer specializing in feature articles. I also teach a Humor Writing course at Temple University. See Bonesbio for more.

Check out my new book, Tea, Sticky Buns and the Body of Christ (Postscripts From a Nursing Home), a memoir of the year I spent with my Dad before he died. Watch as my family and I laugh, cry and crumble as we become the raw meat of the "sandwich generation."



Cursing That Little Red-Headed Girl...

Every time I spot a piece of litter on the ground, I blame it on the little red-headed girl who bullied her way into the neighborhood. 

And let me tell ya, I see a LOT of litter.

Like, every...single... day.

And many a time, the trash has a picture of that little girl on it...

It was several years ago when the corporate meanies razed a beautiful Victorian home around the corner and replaced it with a Wendy's fast food franchise. 

We neighbors ranted and raved at civic meetings, swearing that the demolition of the historic structure was an abomination and that we'd eat raw beef before we'd let that smiling red-headed corporate symbol plant roots in our little corner of the world. 

But, alas, despite our wringing of hands, the Wendy's people - and their very well-dressed layers - won.

And before you knew it, where a glorious home stood for a hundred years sprung a boxy, single-story building that was shiny but utterly putrid.

I felt powerless to stop Wendy's arrival, but vowed to do my part by never stepping foot into the place.

But have no fear, America, business is BOOMING.

Seems like every time I pass by the place, there is a snakelike line of vehicles at the take-out window. The customers love to sit in their cars, yell their burger preference into a speaker and wheel on over to pick up their Wendy booty. (It's estimated that the majority of customers - 57 percent - at hamburger fast food joints can't bear the thoughts of actually walking in to grab a bite to eat and instead use the drive-thru window.) 

Then - or so it seems - the whole gang throws their Wendy's wrappers out their car window and onto the ground.

I see it every morning when I go for a walk. A wrapper here, a cup there, a napkin everywhere.

Of course, it's not only Wendy's litter I see.

 Yeah, even though the nearest Mickey D's is miles away, news and garbage travel fast.

So I'm sorry, little Wendy, for picking on you. 

It's just that I knew you'd have a real impact on my surroundings, and not in a good way. I have no bias against your famous Frosty or your Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, but I do have a problem with picking up the remnants that your customers love to toss away like confetti. 

In the ultimate NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) mentality, I would have preferred it if you opened up elsewhere, like next to your franchise owner's suburban five-bedroom, three bath colonial. 

Today, pardon me for saying so, was the last straw.

Curses to you, little red-headed girl, and all the calories, crassness and rubbish that you represent. 



And They Called It Puppy Love...

We lost our beloved mutt Sammy over a year ago, still missed her and weren't actively looking for a replacement

But, like many love stories, this. one happened unexpectedly.

It all started in February.

I  was with a friend whose son texted her a photo of three puppies.

Now pay attention, because this puppy tale takes a long and winding road.

My friend's son's girlfriend's family was on vacation when a small, furry dog suddenly approached them while they were relaxing on a beach in Puerto Rico.

The pooch appeared to be hungry and alone, and when they tried to locate her owner, a local resident told them that they'd have no luck. Turns out that the area where they found her was known as Dead Dog Beach, a well-known spot in Puerto Rico where people abandon pets they no longer want.

It was apparent that Wookie, as the family named her, was a throw-away animal and even though they were "cat people," they decided to bring the little mutt home to the States. They called the airline to add her to their entourage, bought a small dog carrier and successfully whisked her past the scrutinizing eyes of Customs' agents. 

One of the family's daughters took Wookie back to college with her in Washington D.C. When this college kid brought the pooch to a vet for a checkup, she found out that the dog was pregnant, and soon Wookie gave birth to three puppies, two boys and a girl, at midnight in her new owner's dorm room. 

All three needed a good home, so my friend - the one whose son's girlfriend's family had rescued Wookie - asked me if I was interested. 

I was on board, so I texted Dave about his thoughts on adopting a puppy and he responded with the dreaded phrase "It's up to you."

Everyone knows that those four little words can be used against you in a court of law - or at least in an argument - so I sent him the puppy photo. It was worth a million words and he responded with just two: "Get her."

I gave Dave naming rights and he dubbed her "Emily," which sounded more like a Bronte character than a Latino sweetheart, but a promise is a promise.

College officials frown upon a litter of puppies residing in their dormitories, so after the babies were born and until they were weaned, Wookie and her puppies were cared for by the mother of the family who had first found the stray on Dead Dog Beach. She fed, cleaned and loved all four of the dogs, unexpectedly turning her home into a doggy day care for two entire months. 

When Dave and I picked up eight-week-old Emily, she wasn't quite four pounds, but had the feistiness of a rottweiler and the big brown eyes of a Kewpie Doll.

Today, she is far from her roots in Puerto Rico, but seems happy hanging with me in my home office in Philly.

Dave and I are smitten and busy cleaning-up after Little Miss until we get this whole housebreaking deal down pat.  

We're so grateful for all of the caring folks who helped orchestrate Emily's unlikely pilgrimage, especially the selfless family who discovered - and fell in love with - her homeless Mom.

People ask us, "What breed is she?" but we don't have a clue.

All we know is that we weren't looking for a dog, but it seems that a dog found us.

Thanks, serendipity. Can't wait to see how this love story unfolds. 

Visit The Sato Project ( to learn about an organization that rescues canines from Dead Dog Beach, where Emily's Mom Wookie was abandoned. 


What to My All-American Eyes Should Appear

Do politicians ever cause you to murmur "Whatthebloodyhell?"

For instance: When Pennsylvania's Attorney General announced that the Altoona diocese covered-up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by priests, she did it in front of a distractingly ginormous screen that read "Pennsylvania Attorney General, Kathleen Kane."

"Today is their day," Kane said of the victims.

But you wouldn't know it, because the oversized, overpowering screen behind Kane seemed to infer that "Today is my day and in case you chumps forgot, I'm Kathleen Kane, attorney general."

She may have needed to remind us of that fact: In September, her law license was suspended by the PA Supreme Court because she is facing perjury and other charges for lying about a grand jury leak and her job as Top Lawyer in the Land is in jeopardy.

In addition to the mammoth sign, the other weird aspect of the announcement was that Kane also read, in excruciatingly slow detail, grotesque specifics about individual cases of the clergy's abuse. I'm not against exposing the priests' perversions, but I felt sorry for the victims who had to hear Kane's deliberate, public recitations. It was like listening to your strict teacher read a sex manual aloud - information that should be shared, but not in such an uncomfortable manner by someone you don't particularly admire. 

Another strange political undertaking arrived in my mail a few weeks ago. It was a large, glossy four-color brochure from my local member of Congress, Chaka Fattah.


It sure was purty, full of color photos of the smiling politician and a list of all he has accomplished over the past year.

But there was one point he omitted in the gleaming pamphlet: Fattah was indicted in July of racketeering charges for public corruption schemes and misappropriation of federal funds.

Whoops, guess that takes some of the sparkle away from the grand pronouncements in the mailing, like this one:"This year, I reintroduced the REDEEM Act, legislation that will help transform our country's broken criminal justice system."

Oh, irony, thy name is politics.    

Here's an idea: Why not skip the grand PR mailer, telling all us little people how wonderful you are, until your own legal troubles have been tidied-up?

Last, but absafreakinglutely not least, was the story about Sen. Ted Cruz and his family celebrating his Texas primary win at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, TX.

Holy moonshine, are you telling me that they actually named a country club after a clan of hillbillies? And that a presidential hopeful would actually patronize it? 

Turns out that the "country club" is actually an unapologetic good-ol' boy venue offering food, drink and live music, and was founded by a controversial conservative radio talk show host (is there any other kind?).

Whew, was I glad to learn that it was not an actual country club, because that might start a weird naming trend,like Prosperous Money Launderers Country Club or For Really, Really White People Only Country Club.

But, hey, these days, the Redneck Country Club is the least of our surreal political head-scratchers. 

Know what I'm sayin, Donnie?



Divan to Our Chairs...

It all began with a simple trashpick.
If you're a normal person, you pass some rubbish that's sitting on the curb and go on your merry way.
But if you're a trashpicker, you slow down, survey the "merchandise" and calculate if: 
a) You can fit the bounty in your super-compact auto; and
b) You really need another faux wood end table from Big Lots. 
But we were at the shore, where my trashpickin' standards are set relatively low.
And there were two nondescript yet perfectly good white plastic beach chairs among my neighbor's trash that had my name on them. 
Since our house is situated a block from the bay, I thought it would be a swell idea to transfer them to our beach permanently. No one would mind because it's what is diplomatically called a "rustic" beach, unlike pristine oceanfronts with the "no dogs, no alcohol, no running, no loud music, no fun" rules posted everywhere.
My plan worked great and people throughout the land were ecstatic with the arrangement. Folks used the chairs to watch the sunset, fish, and play with their kids.
Winters came and went, and still our Little Chairs That Could remained in their appointed spot.
But then, one winter, the chairs disappeared, swept away either by the bay's unpredictable moods or thieves. 
 No need to fret, they were replaced the next season by other (trashpicked, natch, by sharp-eyed friends/scouts) plastic doppelgangers.
One evening, as a group of neighbors sat on the chairs around a small bonfire on the beach, someone suggested that we pitch in and buy some snazzier versions, maybe a florescent Adirondack chair or two. But that idea was squashed because it missed the point of using only "recycled" beach furniture as communal property. 
Then, one recent fall weekend, our chairs vanished, too early for the bay to sweep them away.
Soon after, during a walk on the beach, my hubby Dave spotted them.
"How do you know they are our chairs," I asked.
"I just know," he replied, lugging them behind him. "And I left the people who stole them a note in the sand to keep their hands offa the chairs."
Apparently, the thieves may not have been pleased with his message. They sent one to us, presumably, via a bag of doggie-doo left on one of our repositioned chairs.
Thems is fighting words, I thought.
But then I recalled the purpose of the chairs: share with others and embrace a Zen "if you love them, let them go" mindset.
Today, though some chairs have disappeared, a collection of six salvaged seats remain on the beach.
Will they be there when next we visit?
Who knows.
For now, if you happen to pass by our little North Cape May oasis, sit a spell and give thanks to faded throwaway items that - eventually - find their day in the sun.

Seeing the Pope (Sorta...)


 pope-page-header-940x540.jpg (940×540)

So let me start off by saying that I did NOT see the Pope in Philadelphia this weekend.

Yes, I was a volunteer for the World Meeting of Families on Saturday morning, but I was stationed in a spot where the only Pope you saw was the cardboard rendition that a shady-looking guy on a corner was selling for a few bucks to elated tourists.

Who cares if I had to walk miles up Broad Street from the parking lot at Temple University because someone on the street (mistakenly) told me the subway wasn’t stopping at my volunteer destination? You know those super fit women who can trek for days without grasping their hearts like Fred Sanford? I’m not one of them, so it was quite a hike and I felt like I certainly did my duty for La Papa.   

The second and final day of the Pope’s visit to Philly, my sister Re and I headed down to Philly to see if we could catch just a glimpse of Francis himself. After all, we were with our parents in 1979 when the last pope visited our town, and we like a nice tradition that obligates us once every 25 years or so.

When we arrived downtown on Sunday afternoon, it was full-on madness, the city awash in Vatican yellow, angelic music blasting from speakers overhead, naysayers lambasting the Pope using megaphones (everyone blithely ignored them), people streaming everywhere and nary a car in sight. (Philly officials prepared for the Pope’s visit by ordering everyone with a vehicle to sell it, stash it in a garage until Halloween or leave town with it - I’m surprised they let the Popemobile within the city limits.)

Among all the throngs of the faithful, we were lucky enough to meet up with one of Re’s daughters, Anne Marie, her husband Devon and their baby boys, Kip and Davis. Pope Francis was right – La Familia is what makes the world go round, and holding those two little boys for a half-hour while streams of visitors swirled around us was both incredibly loving and surreal.

After the babies went home for a nap and we couldn't use them to lure the Pope in for a hug, Re and I hunkered down at a spot where we hoped he might do a driveby before his scheduled mass on the Parkway. We were in the first row of a line of folks situated on a curb when a nicely dressed man and woman about our age plopped themselves right in front of us. Yes, we were all for Francis’ message of love, but we weren’t about to let these two obstruct the view that we had cornered for a good half-hour already. When we tried to politely tell them to get lost, they turned on the charm and tried to schmooze us with chit-chat. “Where ya from?” the husband asked. I wanted to say “From 10th and I’m gonna kick your ass if you don't get outta my way, mister” but I refrained, muttered “Philly” and gave him a stony stare to rival Mount Rushmore. Good thing the third Bones Sister wasn't with us for reinforcement or one of those big burly Philly cops keeping the crowd in line might have had a dustup on his hands.

Of course, none of it mattered because Francis didn’t even pass our way, due to the fact that we were in an “unsecured” area, meaning we didn’t wait for four hours to go through a checkpoint. Hey, we’re Catholics, we never said we’re dedicated Catholics…

After the crowd dispersed with the whisper-down-the-lane knowledge that Francis had started saying mass and we had no hope of seeing him up-close-and-personal, it was downright humbling to see crowds of men, women and children praying and silently watching his every move on numerous Jumbotrons. The Pope was kind, loving and forgiving and the people responded in kind. Re and I even saw a priest giving out communion near City Hall and we were lucky enough to partake. Turns out he was distributing pieces of white bread that he said were a “spiritual symbol of Christ.” After I swallowed it, I wondered if I had just eaten poisoned carbohydrates from a homicidal maniac in a brown robe. “Is he really a priest?” I whispered to a woman nearby. “Yes,” she said, “He’s our parish priest, we’re from Illinois.” Whew, that was a relief, because, honestly, I saw more than one “clergyman” in the crowds that day that looked like he bought his robes from the Halloween Shop and had just come from Happy Hour.

By 5 pm, Re and I had walked a mini-marathon around center city and even nabbed some half-priced T-shirts (hey, it was the end of the day, ya gotta at least ask for a discount). We chatted with people on the street, on the sidewalks and on the subway. People had come on foot, on buses and on planes to see the Pontiff and all agreed that it was a heart-warming, soul-firing experience. 

So in answer to the question that everyone asks, no, we didn’t actually see the Pope.

But that's Ok because we definitely felt him and his positive, loving energy.

So thanks for a wonderful weekend, Francis - it was a grand adventure and a fine time was had by all.