Tick Tock, Tick Tock

I observed two men walk in Panera  Bakery this morning with a man with a walker. They took time in sitting him near the table. One man was in a three piece suit, the other in casual wear. I knew they were father and sons because of the “Dad, Dad,” I heard throughout their breakfast. They took out their smart phones and showed him photos and told him stories. After they left, I scribbled the following, thinking of other scenarios unlike what I had seen.

Give Me More Than a Second

Oh , oh, the test taker is here.

Didn’t I take my SAT in high school?

Didn’t I pass the Bar years ago?

Why is she here?


Here comes the test:

What did you have for breakfast, Mom?

How was dinner last night? What did you have?

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Oh no, what did I eat this morning?

I need more than a second.

Wait, wait. It’ll come.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

No time, the test continues.


Worse than the Bar, worse than college finals,

My mind aches, my heart beats.

My words have gone hide and go seek.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

I can’t remember.

Did John visit you yesterday?

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Did he? I can’t remember.



I’ll close my eyes and maybe she’ll leave.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Ah good, she’s gone.

Who cares about what I ate.

I’d rather take the SAT or the Bar.

Than to be put on trial

On what I don’t know.


Oh, oh, another visitor.

Oh, I like him.

He tells me stories.

Yesterday I laughed

When he told me how he spilled his coffee

All over his shirt before his meeting.

I like the songs he sings –

Sometimes I sing along.

Today he’s sitting with his leg on my bed,

Reading. That’s nice.

I like how he smiles at me before

He turns each page with his fingers.

I like this silence.

My heart is calm, there’s no test,

It’s like being at the beach,

Watching the waves come in.

Ah…this is nice.

No tick tock, tick tock

Not even for a second.

frances: 9-24-18





  1. I bought a Raley’s gift card at the counter along with other groceries. When the recipient of the gift card tried to use the gift card, it was blank. I spoke to the cashier and she referred me to the manager on the floor. She said without proof of purchase, she couldn’t help me. I told her it would be difficult to find the receipt since I do all my shopping at Raley’s and the cost is included with other costs. She said she had no authority to help and I had to speak to the main manager.

Why is a manager  who has no authority to help customers placed on the floor?

She took my name, credit card # and said manager will call me. I never got the call. I went in person after a week and I was told, without a receipt, they can’t help me. That many customers walk away with those gift cards and later return to use them. Common sense tells me if this is a problem, why do they continue to have these gift cards made so available?

And why am I being treated with such indignities and distrust because of others who have abused these cards? I spend hundreds of dollars at this shop . Manager could have checked my purchases to see that I’m a regular customer and could be trusted with my problem.

I called my bank to send my July’s statement because that was the month I had purchased the card. Only after they saw a purchase  that had no taxes added, did they believe that I had purchased that gift card. It took over half an hour to resolve this after I had given all the information.

  1. I had to see three personnel to get the $5 sale price on Mondays. I finally called the manager and she apologized and said she needs to train her personnel. No, I told her, you don’t place workers on the floor who are not fully trained and haven’t this store been in business for months? Not a good reason.


  1. Produce dept: Filthy with poor signage. I tried to purchase white peaches but they were all placed together with other peaches and nectarines. I asked someone in Produce to  identify them and he couldn’t and he agreed that signage is very poor. There are no prices or  names of produce on many of the items. Raley’s TV ads promote local produce but you won’t find this to be true. Very limited Organic section.
  2. Since the store opened, there is yet to be someone at the Less than 10 Items counter. Customers need to go through long lines to pay for a cup of Peet’s coffee. Many don’t have the patience from my observation.



It was such a rich and inspiring two hours to see Sen McCain’s services this morning. For you who enjoyed one of his favorite poems The Cremation of Sam McGee, his daughter read a stanza from this. There were other poems read, all selected by the Senator himself.

A young woman walked right in front of my moving car today and I forgave her and even cheered her because she was reading a book!!!! Yes, a book, not a smart phone. The first glimmer of hope in a long long time..

A Note from the Editor of the Poetry Foundation
This was Senator John McCain’s favorite poem. While a POW in solitary confinement during the Vietnam War, he and a fellow prisoner would recite all 14 stanzas of this poem to each other in Morse code on their cell bars. McCain endured torture as a prisoner for five years, and after his release and physical rehabilitation he served in the US Navy until 1981. He later served in the US Senate for 29 years. He died on Saturday at the age of 81.
( I read this aloud and hope you will, too. frances)
The Cremation of Sam McGee
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”
Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”
A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.
And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”
Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

To anyone not familiar with Hawaiian life, we take our shoes off at the door. So here it is, the last prep for Hurricane Lane.



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08-2018_Caregiving A dignifed LifeDrop by to say hello if you’re near the library.